Eli Lipmen, communications strategist for the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in Los Angeles, was raised in Bermuda, the island and British colony in the Atlantic Ocean.
“I used to wear Bermuda shorts,” said Lipmen, 28, in an interview, wearing a business suit—proper attire for his job at AJC, an international Jewish advocacy organization.
Born on the East Coast, Lipmen’s father is an oceanographer and moved the family to St. George’s, a town in Bermuda, when Lipmen was six-years-old. Lipmen spent his childhood on a biological station, growing up in a place with plenty of surf. In fact, when he was 17- and 18-years-old, he worked as a scuba dive instructor in a dive shop.
Despite the lack of Jewish life in Bermuda, there were moments of real Jewish-ness, he explained, recalling when Chabadniks visited and went around on a motoped.
“Tzizit blowing in the wind,” he said nostalgically.
Living on an island that “99 percent Christian,” he was apart of a Catholic youth group, “because that was the only youth group I could join,” and he was president of a Christian drug-free organization.
After high school in Bermuda, he traveled in Israel – where he met his future wife – and afterwards, attended University of Pennsylvania, as well as University of Southern California and the London School of Economics and Political Science for graduate school before coming to Los Angeles.
His mother was a layperson for the Jewish Community of Bermuda – a community known as JCB - and eventually became a rabbi.
“She got the calling,” Lipmen said.
What’s the difference between an epiphany and a calling? I asked.
He laughed. “One’s for atheists and the other is for religious people.”