Jakob Khazanovich encounters every new opportunity to be a part of the Jewish community with the confidence he built up as a child actor.
Born in Toronto, Khazanovich was an infant when his family moved to Scottsdale. Growing up, he was involved with numerous Jewish organizations, particularly in high school. After graduating from ASU in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering, he became a resident of Moishe House in Scottsdale.
Now an associate engineer at West Pharmaceutical Services in Scottsdale, Khazanovich serves on Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix’s NowGen board, which engages Jewish adults in their 20s through 40s in philanthropy, connections to community and leadership.
As part of his involvement with NowGen, Khazanovich is one of the co-chairs for this year’s Mazelpalooza event, which will take place on December 24.
Though he regularly attends services and events at Chabad of North Phoenix, he tries to go to multiple congregations to get a broad look at the community.
How did you become one of the co-chairs for Mazelpalooza?
I have been on the planning committee for Mazelpalooza for the last two years and was honored to be asked to be one of the co-chairs this year with Shoshana Greenberg.
Mazelpalooza is the biggest gathering of Jewish young professionals in Phoenix and is also the largest young professional fundraiser for Jewish Federation.
I’m always excited about opportunities that get more Jewish young people involved in the community.
This year, we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of Mazelpalooza and we are making it bigger and better than ever.
What made you decide to stay at Moishe House after college?
Since I was young, I have always been involved in as many Jewish activities as possible. In high school, I was heavily involved in BBYO, Hebrew High, AIPAC, JSU and many other activities for Jewish high school students.
When I went to college, I also participated heavily in the Jewish organizations on campus like Chabad, JAC and Hillel.
Being a resident in Moishe House was a logical next step for me when I graduated, as I wanted to stay involved in the community.
I am grateful to the previous residents who started up the house and then selected me to carry on their great legacy. Living in MoHo was a great opportunity to help foster the young professional community in Scottsdale.
Biomedical engineering is a very specialized focus. What made you pick that as your major?
I studied biomedical engineering because I’ve always had an interest in health sciences, and I like problem-solving.
Biomedical engineering is a fast-growing field with many great job options in Phoenix, so it was a great fit for me.
We found a few Jewish News articles that featured you as a child actor. Was acting a passion of yours when you were growing up?
Acting was a hobby for me when I was younger, and I decided to give it up when I started to get busy with other extracurricular activities in middle school.
I haven’t done it in a formal way for many years, but the skills I learned in theater continue to help me today. Self-confidence, public-speaking skills, improvisational skills and a show-must-go-on attitude come in handy on a daily basis.
So what are you enjoying these days in terms of entertainment?
Lately, I’ve really enjoyed the Netflix shows about the cartels like “El Chapo” and “Narcos.” It’s hard to believe that these shows are based on true events.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I hope in five years I’ve progressed in my career and in my Jewish communal leadership. JN