Alumni Spotlight: Joanna Mesh Rice

As a Freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, a friend from camp brought Joanna to her first JHP meeting. According to Joanna, JHP allowed me to keep my connection to Judaism alive when I moved away from home and provided another community of Jews to maintain that cultural connection.”

Over the next four years Joanna became very involved in the program and even came up with the idea for the first PB&J-A-Thon, which just took place last week for the 13th year. In 2002, “Leading the Way with PB&J” was launched to cap off JHP’s Mitzvah week on College Green. As Joanna explained, “We were looking for a way to spread awareness about JHP, our mitzvah week, and helping the Philadelphia community, so the PB&J-A-Thon was born.”
Currently, Joanna lives on the Upper West Side in New York with her family and just began a new job as the Finance Director at OkCupid. She is also currently working on a new project, promoting “Maccabee on the Mantel,” a rhyming children’s book that tells the story of Hanukkah and comes with a plush doll.  In part inspired by reading Jewish stories with her three-year old son, Joanna got involved with the company, Toy Vey, Inc., which is based in Dallas.  “The book accurately tells the story of Hanukkah and the doll is so cute, so it continues to reinforce Jewish traditions for younger readers.” The doll and book are now part of the curriculum at dozens of synagogues across the country. Learn more and get your own Maccabee on the Mantel here: