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Profile: Jonny Umansky



I’m a writer/producer living in Los Angeles. I make all kinds of stuff from kids movies and cartoons to documentaries and cooking shows. I first discovered NuRoots when I friend asked me to check out the silent meditation during Collective Escape a few years ago. Since then, I’ve tried my best to make it to as many events as I can. And this year, I was fortunate enough to host one of their seder’s at my place — which I called Tikkun Anushim (Heal The People). I wrote the Haggadah to retell the story of Passover while connecting it to the parallels of refugee pain and suffering around the world today. You know, real fun stuff.

Ma Nishma (what’s up)?

I like that you asked this in Hebrew then threw in the English just in case.

What defines Jewish culture for you?

Our mothers? I don’t know. I mean, on one hand you got the Beastie Boys and on the other you got Bernie Sanders. We cover a pretty wide spectrum… but more than anything, I’d say summer camp.

What song describes your mood right now?

All The Stars by Kendrick Lamar. It’s a good track to dance to while walking your dog down the block. Which I do pretty much every morning when we go for coffee.

 You know you’re from / live in LA when….

You know the best sushi in town is in strip malls over in Studio City.

What’s your favorite place in LA, and why?

There’s this hike all the way into Franklin Canyon up Beverly Hills. And at the end of it, you come upon this meadow with the sun shining down, it’s a nice place to eat lunch.

What was your Bat Mitzvah theme?

Jonathan’s Beach Club. I grew up in St. Louis but always had dreams of California. So my folks (Jews from New York) went nuts with it. They flew out vendors from Coney Island for the happy hour and even filled one of the ballrooms with sand to make a volleyball pit. Tough childhood.

A past trend that you wish would come back?

Sanity. Ever since Trump took office, it seems like everyone’s losing their minds all the time. So I long for a time when something stupid like the blue dress/gold dress debate was the great debate.

Do you have a favorite Passover memory or tradition?

My family always throws these huge parties for holidays. Everyone’s welcome. And my mom cooks and bakes for weeks straight leading up to them. That was something I wanted to continue when I moved out west. Because to me, Judaism is really all about community. So a house filled with family and friends is my favorite tradition. Last year, I threw a seder for 35, this year it grew to 55. As long as I’m in town, my door’s always open.

If you could accomplish one big thing in 2018, what would it be?

I just started looking at houses. So hopefully by the end of 2018, pending an earthquake or maybe something like nuclear war, I’ll have bought my first.

A piece of advice you would give 13 year old you?

Right now you’re probably eating pizza rolls and watching Legends Of The Hidden Temple. Good. One day, you’re gonna write that movie with your best friend who’s probably sitting right next to you. Those big dreams of yours, they come true. So take chances, say yes to everything, and remember that B minus you’re about to get in math won’t matter much. And  maybe instead of buying those guitars, take your Bar Mitzvah money and buy Apple stock. Sorry buddy, but you never get that good playing Dave Matthews covers.

Best piece you’ve recently read or watched

David Chang’s Ugly Delicious on Netflix. It’s an indie film version of Chef’s Table that’s a love letter to low brow food like tacos to pizza.

A piece of good news you heard this week

Spielberg’s making another Indiana Jones. It’ll probably be terrible, but Raiders Of the Lost Ark is the greatest flick of all time, so here’s hoping


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