The Lighter Side: Q&A with Alyssa Banford

Alyssa Banford: The Lighter Side

Ellen Futterman

Alyssa Banford, Director of Civic Engagement at the Jewish Community Relations Council

How long have you worked in the St. Louis Jewish community?

Total, about 7 years. When I was 15, Rabbi Janine Schloss hired me as a teacher’s assistant at Congregation Shaare Emeth.

In a couple of sentences, can you please describe your job?

I represent the Jewish community in social justice, interfaith and advocacy work. I build relationships, develop educational and volunteer programs, respond to crises, and go to A LOT of events.

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Has the pandemic affected the work that the JCRC does?

Absolutely. I can tell you that everyone at JCRC misses running into familiar faces at in-person events, but going virtual has allowed us to connect with folks across the nation in a new and exciting way. Some of the speakers we’ve hosted over the last year wouldn’t have been possibilities if we were bringing them for in-person events.

I hear you were once serenaded by a very famous British rock star. Can you tell us about that?

I remember it so clearly, even though I was only 16 or 17 at the time: I was standing at the aisle seat of the Fox Theatre’s third row when the magnificent David Bowie locked eyes with me, pointed, and sang, “Oh no, love, you’re not alone!” Thanks, Mom, for making me close my eyes and listen to “Space Oddity” in a parking lot when I was but a wee babe.

What have you been doing to relax and wind down during the pandemic?

Switching between watching horror movies and watching our newly adopted kittens, Loki and Freyja, play.

Where’s the first place you’d like to travel when it’s safe to do so?

I’ve been dreaming of Spain, Portugal and Morocco by way of England to visit with my family.

The Lighter Side is a weekly feature that highlights people who work and live in the St. Louis Jewish community. March’s selections are sponsored by the late Harris Frank, who was a champion of the Jewish Light and the St. Louis Jewish community. If you are interested in sponsoring future installments of this feature, please contact Betsy Schmidt at [email protected].