If you look up at the jumbo video displays during a Ravens home game, you may just spot Owings Mills native Sara Hantgan, a self-professed “major sports fan.”
“I’m the biggest Ravens fan,” she said. “Football for me growing up was playing football, whether at lunchtime, or with my father and brother in the court I grew up in. I was playing football before the Ravens even came to town.”
She likes the Orioles, too. But don’t be fooled into thinking this multi-faceted young woman spends all her time cheering her favorite home teams. After playing soccer, doing art, going to summer camp and participating in mock trials at Krieger Schechter Day School, the JCC, Camp Louise and Beth Tfiloh Community Dahan School, Hantgan went on to George Washington University undergrad and grad schools, majoring in criminal justice and forensic science, while also concentrating on her Jewish roots and giving back to the community.
The 30-year-old now lives in Hampden, where she enjoys working at MOD Pizza and practicing her love for Judaic-inspired needlepoint.
How did you get interested in law?
Since I was really little my family always said, “You talk like a lawyer.” I used to watch the reruns of “Perry Mason” with my mother and “Diagnosis Murder” and all of those law shows. But I don’t know that it was the law shows that really pushed my love for it. I think it was always reading about it, through news articles that would pop up from time to time.
I always wanted to be a prosecutor growing up. I felt it was important to help victims and that’s why I ended up pursuing forensic science. As a senior in college, I worked for the police department in D.C., And I loved working there, in the detectives unit, as an aide, going out to crime scenes.
How did the Judaica art come about?
My grandmother taught me how to needlepoint when I was very young and I really enjoyed it. It was very calming and soothing and it gave me something to do while doing other things. I’m a multitasker.
I’ve always been involved Jewishly, which came from both sides of the family, my grandmother being a very big influence. Not only did she give me needlepoint that had Judaica in it — I’m working on one with the Hebrew alphabet — she went to Israel over 30 times in her lifetime and she worked as a principal for a religious school. I pursued Hebrew a little bit during college and I did a little bit of Hillel.
The Judaica is focused on needlepoint right now. I ended up pursuing that and I’m really happy I did. I do challah covers and hopefully mezuzots and tzedakah boxes, coasters. Everything’s a work in progress. I’m going to be selling it through Hillside Needlepoint in Stevenson Village.
Why is it important to give your all to whatever you’re involved in?
Everybody in my family was a huge influence on my Jewish identity. I always knew that there was a connection to Israel as well, which is huge for me, and that giving back to the community really mattered. Naturally, I got involved, and started out as a member of IMPACT’s Young Professionals Committee. And then I was asked to be on The Associated Israel and Overseas Committee. I was always volunteering through Jewish Volunteer Connection, whether it be through Repair the World or other JVC initiatives. This year, I was asked to be on the advisory council of Repair the World. Then I was surprised by also being asked to be on the board of Shemesh, which is for children with disabilities.
How do you relax?
I think friends are so important and integral in your life. I spend a lot of time with friends outside of work, going to Moishe House events — they give back to the community as well.
I do a little bit of everything. I like puzzles, movies, shopping, sports. I have a whole football family. We tailgate and then go to the game and sit together. We have a blast. I love to try new restaurants in my spare time, as well as traveling and seeing different cultures. And I love Shabbat dinner with friends and family, which was one of my favorite things growing up!