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4 Nice Jewish Boys. 1 high-stakes pageant. Who will win?

Four contestants will compete in Washington, D.C., for a chance to win the title of Mr. Nice Jewish Boy 2022

What does it mean to be a Nice Jewish Boy?

An annual pageant in D.C. aims to give an answer — with a twist.

The pageant, held this Sunday with proceeds donated to Keshet — a national LGBTQ+ organization that supports queer Jews — will feature performers like local D.C. drag queen Venus Valhalla, the event’s host. So if you hear “Nice Jewish Boy” and roll your eyes at the concept — so staid, so traditional — think again. 

Four contestants hoping to take home the coveted sash, crown and title will take the stage and compete in three events: a talent show, a dance number and a Q&A session. 

We asked all the contestants why they should be the one true Mr. Nice Jewish Boy 2022. All are persuasive, but only one can win. Who will it be?

Alejandro Bolivar-Cervoni

Alejandro Bolivar-Cervoni. Photo by Michael Cervoni

Age: 31

Hometown: San Juan, Puerto Rico 

Profession: Marketing and data analytics manager at a tech company 

What inspired you to enter the Nice Jewish Boy Pageant?

2022 has brought me many changes, and through them, I’ve celebrated new experiences. I moved from Arlington, Virginia, to D.C. after buying my first condo in the heart of the gayborhood. I switched jobs and entered the tech industry. As a goal, I wanted to be more spontaneous in the spirit of embracing change. That led me to compete in the pageant. Participating in a choreographed dance number wasn’t in my 2022 bingo, but I’m honored to be a contestant! I’m very proud to represent Latinx Jews and showcase our diverse community. I’m the type of Jew who brings homemade vegan Cuban black beans and rice to Shabbat dinners! It’s my late grandmother’s recipe that becomes kosher seamlessly.

Who is your favorite Nice Jewish Boy, and why?

Yotam Ottolenghi. He’s a British-Israeli gay chef who made Israeli food accessible for me. Growing up closeted, I didn’t have any gay role models, and it was amazing to see someone democratize food and cooking while also being authentically himself. I love to cook — when I started working after college, I purchased his cookbook “Jerusalem” with my first paycheck.

Who is your all-time celebrity crush?

Andy Samberg. I have a thing for nerdy men who can make me laugh.

What does it mean to be a Nice Jewish Boy in 2022?

To strive to be the best version of yourself, supported by an inclusive community.

Toreno Herbert

Toreno Herbert. Courtesy of Khorey Baker

Age: 30

Hometown: Reisterstown, Maryland 

Profession: Consultant

What does it mean to be a Nice Jewish Boy in 2022?

It takes a lot to be a good kind person in this world where there is so much anger. As an NJB, I’d like to put those good vibes into the universe for everyone to experience.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

I would like super strength.

What’s a cause you’re passionate about, and why?

I am passionate about our marine life, especially the orcas in the Pacific Northwest.

What’s the most stereotypical nice Jewish boy thing you’ve ever done?

Call my mother every evening after work.

What would winning the Mr. Nice Jewish Boy Pageant mean to you?

It will show that all Jewish people have a place in the spotlight in our community.

Herb Meisner

Herb Meisner Photo by Ale Clark-Ansani

Age: 25

Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio

Profession: Senior national campaigner

What’s the most stereotypical nice Jewish boy thing you’ve ever done?

I text my boyfriend’s mother weekly, sending recipes and Washington Post articles back and forth.

Favorite Nice Jewish Boy and why?

Andrew Garfield. Hot, nice, and I would love to just cuddle with him and talk about our days together.

What’s a cause you’re passionate about, and why?

Labor rights. We are seeing so many basic human rights being stripped right before our eyes. With the government not acting swiftly to protect these, it is on our employers to protect us. I think labor rights ties with absolutely everything, including racial justice, LGBTQ+ justice, abortion and reproductive justice. Working is such a huge part of many of our lives (especially in D.C.), so it is incredibly important that working conditions are acceptable.

What does it mean to be a Nice Jewish Boy in 2022?

It means to fight for racial, social and economic justice for all those around us. It means welcoming those from all diverse backgrounds into our homes. It means cooking for your friends, being a shoulder to cry on, and having eight different opinions on a subject.

Who is your all-time celebrity crush?

Kehlani.

Alex Melnik

Alex Melnik. Courtesy of Alex Melnik

Age: 26

Hometown: Rochester, New York

Profession: Program analyst, Department of Homeland Security

What does it mean to be a Nice Jewish Boy in 2022?

It means being authentically you and showing that being Jewish can look however you want it to.

What’s a cause you’re passionate about, and why?

I am passionate about the arts and think everyone deserves access to music education and performing arts. Growing up, singing and theater were important avenues for me to express myself and gain self-confidence. I can’t imagine my life without these things, and I strongly believe that performing arts should be accessible to people from all walks of life.

What makes you the ultimate Nice Jewish Boy?

I can cook a mean brisket, have a master’s degree, and can gab with your mom for hours!

What would winning the Mr. Nice Jewish Boy Pageant mean to you?

I feel like winning the pageant would culminate my personal journey in Washington, D.C., having moved here two years ago during the pandemic. Throughout my time here, I have gotten more connected with my Judaism and made many new friends through the NJB community, which has given me the confidence to be more free with my identity and expression. Winning the title would be the icing on the cake of my journey of self-growth as a young professional.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

Magic (a la Harry Potter).

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