Jewish Guy of the Week – Ben F.

1.) We hear you’ve been to Israel many times. What are your favorite places to visit that we might not know about?

Wow. That’s a tough one. Here it goes (by city). Cafe Mia, in Tel Aviv’s Neve Tzedek neighborhood, is a dream. It never disappoints. The Betzalel Art Fair every Friday near Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem is worth a visit, as are the small cafes inside Machane Yehuda which are all too frequently overlooked. Getting lost in Jaffa’s small alleyways is a great way to escape the buzz of Tel Aviv. One place that I think would be a favorite visit is the design museum in Holon. It opened about a year ago, right at the end of my time in Jerusalem, so I wasn’t able to get there before coming back to DC. Finally, on Dubnov Street, about a 10 minute walk northwest of Emek Refaim, there’s a stretch of 3-4 beautiful modernist houses which make you forget about Jerusalem’s all-pervasive stone facades.

2.) So you’re a fan of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Frank Reynolds or Charlie Kelly?
Easy: Charlie Kelly. Though Frank represents the best that television has to offer (comedic or otherwise), Charlie is from Rhode Island. No way I turn my back on a fellow Ocean Stater.

3.) What is the best movie/book you’ve recently seen/read and why?
Though I’m loving Michael Pollan’s A Place of My Own (which he wrote prior to his current food phase), I’ve gotta tip my hat to Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris. Not sure if it was the seductive accordion (or because it was a late-night showing and I was dozing off), but I was slightly mesmerized by Owen Wilson’s adventures. Luckily, I found myself in Paris soon after seeing it so I was able to recreate the magic for myself by having dinner with Gaughin, Dali, and Hemingway.

Don’t worry, they’re all huge GTJ fans. (Editor’s note: Win!)

4.) You’re on the board for DC Minyan. What do you do there and how can GTJ readers get involved?
‘Tis true. Since I’m one of the two co-coodinators of DC Beit Midrash (with the wonderful Sophie Krentzman), I also have the honor of sitting on the DC Minyan Leadership Council. DC Beit Midrash is a welcoming, pluralistic Jewish learning space which meets every Monday night at the JCC. Co-sponsored by DC Minyan and the DC JCC, DC Beit Midrash promotes open, text-based discussion in an intellectually curious environment. After snacking and shmoozing from 7-7:30, we have a different community member each week teach a class from 7:30-8 and then have group learning and paired/chevruta learning from 8-9. Our teachers come from nearly every part of the greater DC Jewish community (Jewish professionals and lay-individuals, alike), as do DC Beit Midrash attendees. If you are a GTJ reader, it’s time to join the fun. We’re in the JCC Community Hall every Monday night (except for when we’re not) and you should be too.

5.) If you could open a restaurant in D.C., what kind of food would you serve?
Without question, a brunch place. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have to wait at least half an hour for brunch. I’m worried about our city’s weekend-morning culinary options. There are some great brunch spots in DC, but there just aren’t enough of them–it’s a frustration that I’ve spoken about with several friends. 18th Street in Adams Morgan could use two more breakfast-centric restaurants; Columbia Heights, U Street, and Foggy Bottom are breakfast deserts (don’t even try to bring up IHOP; Busboys is a start); it’s a pain to get to Georgetown and not so fun when the bill arrives; several Dupont restaurants think they serve brunch but the discriminating eater knows better; and I’m pretty sure H Street doesn’t know what this “brunch” thing is. I get it, Founding Farmers is great, but, come on, an hour wait on a Sunday morning?! The collective DC stomach deserves better.

Bottom line: I’d open up shop in any of the neighborhoods above.