Three years ago a group of friends came together to address an issue in the young adult Jewish world; there were many Jewish organizations that served the young adult Jews, but no organization that connected the young adult Jewish community with the other members of their community or the organizations.
One fateful night at Swann House, Joshua Kaller, Stephen Richer, and I decided that it was time to Gather the Jews. With no money, no business experience, and no idea what we were doing, GTJ was born!
GTJ was built for the Jewish community and by the Jewish community. At first there were 50 friends on an email list, which grew to a few hundred friends, and now there are over 4,000. When we initially created the website, we had a dozen website hits a day (most of them because Stephen and I were constantly looking at the website), and now 2,000-3,000 people visit the GTJ website each week. The website started by posting a few organizations’ events, and now features the most comprehensive young adult calendar in the DC metro area, a housing board, a job board, interviews of Jewish leaders, information about Jewish organizations, and blogs by our local members.
When I look back on the last three years, I am overwhelmed by memories:
- GTJ’s first newsletter (we have sent over 160 weekly emails since we started)
- GTJ’s first guy and first girl of the week (we have featured over 200 guys and girls since we started)
- GTJ View 1 Year Anniversary video
- Aaron and Joshua explore GTJ video
- Adventures of Kosherman video
- Trying to explain what GTJ is/is not…
- Meetings at Swann House, convincing GTJers to build the Swann Street Sukkah
- Cropping Stephen from my Washington Jewish Week photo
- Stephen’s Birthday site
- Speaking at the Federation meeting through the Presentense program
- Meeting with Manny and Simone from Friedman-French Foundation
- Looking for an Executive Director
- Steve Davis’ Advice Column
- Stephen’s Goodbye DC note
- Stephen’s Call me Maybe video
- Hiring Rachel G and our first meeting with Stephen, Rachel, and myself
- GTJ video 2013
- Over 1,500 articles and feature posts
- GTJ’s comprehensive calendar tracking all of young adult Jewish life
- Being part of an amazing team and outstanding community
GTJ started as a grass roots organization because of you, and it will only continue with you involved. So whether you are looking for or want to share a community Shabbat dinner, learning class, job, or Jewish event please continue to reach out to GTJ. When GTJ looked to its long-term future of bridging the gap between young adults and the Jewish community, we saw GW Hillel as a great fit. We are still the same organization, but now GTJ is a project of GW Hillel. This acquisition is an outstanding opportunity for GTJ, GW Hillel, and the DC Jewish community!
I wish that I could thank each and every one of you personally for the support and involvement over the last three years. Your mentorship, insight, and encouragement have enriched my life. Manny, Simone, Jodi, Jon, Joshua, Maya, Mike, Noa, Rachel, Sara, Stephen, Steve, and everyone else in DC, Thank You! Thank you to the families, who hosted me on Shabbat; the friends, who learned with me; the Sneidermans, who Gathered Mike, Rachel, and me at University of Delaware; and most importantly Mom, Dad, and my brother Jeremy, who continue to show me what it means to embrace Judaism and share it with others.
As GTJ continues onward, I look forward to a stronger, more involved Jewish community.