“I’m definitely thinking about it and I’ll have to see how it goes,” says 27-year-old Ari Teman.
But when he meets President Obama this week, he may go with this one: “I’m a Republican- It''s not a political thing I just don''t like helping people.”
The Brandeis University graduate who lives in Manhattan’s west village said he was happy to get the call to visit the White House.
“I was a little surprised, but I knew I wasn’t being punked,” Teman said.
The reason Teman thought it might be a possibility is that he recently won the Jewish Community Hero of The Year Award after more than 500,000 online votes as part of an initiative to highlight volunteerism. The contest was run by the Jewish Federations of North America.
Teman is the founder of JCorps, enlisting thousands of young Jewish volunteers in eight cities, serving meals to the elderly and helping various organizations and helping youths connect to their Jewish identity. JCorps will receive $25,000 in prize money for winning the award.
Teman joked that he was surprised to be invited since he’s a Republican. But his non-political organization is something he said was his vision to bring young Jews closer together while giving them a chance to volunteer, something he said is a rewarding experience in its own right.
Teman, who performs standup at comedy clubs in the city and also does private events, said he’s thankful to his mother for supporting his career path, even though she’s sometimes the butt of his jokes.
Teman said he was humbled to win the award when there were so many others that he considered to be heroes.
“There are many on the list who did amazing things,” he said.
In describing his emotions, Teman quotes one of the most influential films of all time.
“In my head I have the voice of Wayne and Garth, ‘I’m unworthy. I’m unworthy,’ he writes on his blog, www.ariteman.com. “And the fact that I just quoted Wayne and Garth proves it.”