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Mini Gatherings: Late 20s/Early 30s

Mini GatheringsWant to meet other interesting Jews in a smaller, more personal setting? Feel like events are catered to a younger crowd? Looking to explore questions that matter to Jewish 20s and 30s? Like drinking? Afraid of commitment?

Gather the Jews is excited to open applications for the next round of Mini Gatherings, taking place this September. Building off of the success from previous sessions, Gather is looking to create a space for those who are in their late 20s and early 30s.

What is Mini Gatherings, you ask? It is a 3-week-long mini-fellowship that brings together about 15 diverse Jews in their late 20s early 30s to meet one another and have some DMCs (deep meaningful conversations) over beers. By the end, you’ll have made new friends, had some great discussions, and laughed at least twice. Guaranteed or your money back!

Cost: FREE

What: The three gatherings will be held from 6:30 – 8:00 pm on Tuesday, September 13, 20 and 27. Each session will involve some schmoozing, drinking, and an open conversation facilitated by Senior Associate Jackie about questions relevant to Jewish 20s and 30s, such as “Are Jews different?” “What are the unique challenges to being Jewish today?” and “Does Judaism have any deal-breakers?”

No background or knowledge necessary – everyone is welcome. In addition, Jackie will host a Shabbat meal on Friday, September 23rd at her apartment in Cleveland Park. Must commit to attending all three sessions and the dinner.

Who: People who does not feel connected to a Jewish community in the DC area and is looking to meet other Jews in a smaller, more personal way in their late 20s/early 30s.

Application: Apply here. Applications close September 7th at midnight.

Want more information? Email Reb Aaron

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Apply Today for Gather’s Newest Initiative: High Holiday Hosts

Are you interested in engaging people who just moved to DC this High Holiday season? Whether or not you’re not going to services, this could be a great opportunity for you!

Apply today to be a High Holiday Host and connect with those who are New(ish) & Jewish in the DC community! Gather the Jews is excited to announce a new opportunity for those who want to get more involved. We will be running this new initiative to make sure those who just moved to DC spend the High Holidays with a friendly face.

We are looking for a motivated group of young professionals who are interested in hosting a group of their peers (about 10-15 per group) and making them feel welcome during the High Holidays. We will train and support this group to be greeters and hosts throughout the community. The Hosts will build relationships, cultivate community, and help those who are new to the city to feel welcome.

What: As a part of this group of Hosts, you must commit to the following times:

  • Training Session: September 7: 6-9pm (with FREE dinner)
  • Newish and Jewish Happy Hour: September 21, 6-9pm (this is a Gather the Jews Happy Hour)
  • Bring together a small group group for an Erev Rosh Hashanah meet-up before heading to services together: October 2
  • Host a break fast on Yom Kippur (with funds reimbursed by Gather): October 11

 Who: Anyone can apply! We are looking for outgoing, welcoming, and kind people to help with this initiative. We are looking for people who live close to the High Holiday service they will be attending. We are also looking for people who aren’t going to services. No religious experience is necessary.

Application: The application is open now through September 1st at midnight. Apply today!

 Want more information? Email Shaina to find out more!\

 

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Saying Goodbye to Gather’s First Staff Person!

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Rachel Giattino moved from Delaware to DC in 2012 to become the first employee of Gather the Jews. Her work helped create and shape the organization that Gather is today. Those of you who have had the opportunity to meet Rachel at a Happy Hour, Shabbat, or community meeting will know the passion and dedication that she brought to her work in the DC Jewish community.  We are sad to see her go but are excited to see what her new journey in Chicago will bring. We wish her all the luck in the world!

From Rachel (Gildiner), Aaron, Jackie and Shaina

Jackie: It was recently the 4th anniversary of you coming to DC to work for Gather the Jews. What is one of your favorite memories from your time at Gather?

Rachel: My favorite memory is a collection of memories- basically the way the Jewish community welcomed me to DC. New contacts would set me on friend dates, make sure I had a place to go for holiday meals, and even cook chicken soup for me when I was sick (shout out to Rachel Briks)! I hope I have repaid the favor in welcoming newcomers to DC, both as Gather the Jews and in my personal life.

IMG_2937Jackie: What is finally pulling you away from DC? 

Rachel: Adventure and a new job opportunity are calling me away. A few months, ago I realized how easy life is in DC. I know my favorite coffee spots, my favorite happy hours, and my favorite gym- and everything is so routine. I wanted a new challenge, so when a job opportunity presented itself in Chicago I decided to go for it.

Jackie: What are you going to miss the most?

Rachel: Duccini’s Pizza. And Wiseguys Pizza. And &pizza (did I mention I love pizza?). But really, I’m going to miss all the amazing people I’ve connected with in DC.

Jackie: What advice do you have for the DC Jewish community?

Rachel: Keep on Gathering!

Finish the sentence: When the Jews Gather… My work is done.

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Searching for My Voice: A Jew Trying to Figure Out Racial Justice

Justice or Else! Million Man March. Saturday, October 10, 2015. The march was over. I walked over to a T-shirt stand. “Only XL left”. “Fine,” I said. “I want that one.” It was black and in white letters it said “I Can’t Breathe.” I put it on and started walking toward the Capitol. Slowly walking, eyes squinting in the sun. It felt like forever walking. Silently walking. Swallowing hard. Many people were still around on the lawn, talking, cleaning, walking. A few people passed me and said aloud, “I can’t breathe.” I nodded in acknowledgement.

Finally I approached the water in front of the Capitol. Fumbling for my phone, I found the words of the Kaddish online. Slowly, I whispered it. For Sandra Bland. Tears ran down my face but I kept going, gasping the rest. Then the tears took over my body as I collapsed down on the step. I put my head in my lap and cried. For a fellow young woman. For a woman who said no one sworn to protect her should forcibly remove her from her car. Or force her to the ground. For every feeling in my body that I couldn’t express: sadness, powerlessness, anger, frustration, ambivalence, confusion, alienation, isolation, and aloneness.

I have tried to push myself out of that state of despair. I have tried to read every article I can about each racially-charged incident and stay on top of the evidence released to the public. But in that journey I still felt completely alone. I was your regular Law and Order detective, except I didn’t have a partner to help me find evidence or process the information I had collected. I kept hearing extreme voices in the media, which made it even harder to figure out what I thought. And the repeated images of both dead Black citizens and dead police officers, cut me so deep emotionally that I had trouble gaining enough emotional distance to even see the facts in front of me.

Despite feeling very alone in all of this, I have come to realize through some amazing conversations that others are feeling a lot of pain too. Maybe different pain, in different ways, from different perspectives. I want us to come together and start processing in an intellectually open and safe space that gives us a chance to find our voice. Having run the Minyan of Thinkers dialogue group for the past four years in DC, which brings together ten thoughtful young people to discuss challenging Jewish topics, I now have a model for how to bring young people together. I’m adapting it to form an interracial, interfaith race dialogue group.

Here’s the basic concept: we create a list of topics related to race that we think may be valuable to discuss, and then as a group decide which one we want to focus on. Maybe this year it will be racial profiling. Maybe we will want to focus on the history of residential segregation with a focus on redlining and restrictive covenants. Or maybe we will want to dive into the Supreme Court’s backing away from school integration despite the long road to the Brown v. Bd of Education decision. Once we pick a topic, we find a few scholarly texts that illuminate different perspectives on the issue. We meet once a month for two hours, for six months, and discuss the articles and also write some reflection pieces that flesh out our thinking on the topic.

If this resonates with you, I’d love to chat. Mostly listen to you. Because I want to hear your story, and what race-related issues you care about and why. And if you are seeking a community of thoughtful, reflective young people who are grappling with all of this too, and you’re really excited to jump in, then learn more details and apply by Friday, September 16th to be part of this dialogue group.

Cheryl Pruce is a socially conscious, continuously improving, bridge-builder who has been immersed in educational equity-related policy research in DC for over 6 years.

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High Holiday Guide 2016

Gather the Jews (1)

 

Erev Rosh Hashanah – Sunday, October 2

Rosh Hashanah (1st Day) – Monday, October 3

Rosh Hashanah (2nd Day) – Tuesday, October 4

Kol Nidre – Tuesday, October 11

Yom Kippur – Wednesday, October 12

Other Resources:

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Celebrate Jews in Baseball

baseball 1Baseball is called the American Pastime, congregating masses of fans through games, and stadia as open and important public places of culture. It is from the American cultural aspect of the game that Jews have cultivated such an extraordinary love for the sport and all that goes along with it. Jews have long taken great pleasure in participating in the sport in many ways—on the field, in the dugout, the owners’ boxes, the press box and the bleachers. For Jewish immigrants in the twentieth century, baseball has been a uniting force, a positive way of assimilation into American society, a reinforcement of Jewish values and ideals and a way to nurture community.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington celebrates the unique effect baseball has had on building Jewish community, and the great contributions Jews have made to the game. In the twentieth century, when baseball in America was the ultimate societal standard, Jews integrated into American culture and the larger sense of community through the game. The values of America’s favorite game encompass the ideals of the nation, which align with key Jewish principles. Jews identify with core American ethics, including the spirit of democracy, family, giving back, building community and doing the right thing—ideals that align with the mission of The Jewish Federation.

Through the second annual Grand Slam Sunday: Jewish community day at Nationals Park, Federation commemorates the legendary Jewish playmakers, journalists and most notably, fans. There are some renowned names that every Jew and baseball fan alike is familiar with.

Most well-known are the legendary players who excelled on field, utilizing their stardom as a conduit to connect their communities and America. In 1934, Hank Greenberg garnered national attention when he refused to play on Yom Kippur despite the Tigers being involved in a pennant race. He ranks as a great 20th Century American Jew because his baseball feats and powerful persona rallied all American Jews in an era of rabid anti-Semitism in America and abroad. Sandy Koufax is idolized in Jewish baseball history for his refusal to pitch Game One of the 1965 World Series on Yom Kippur. He rejoined the team after the High Holiday for Games Two, Five, and Seven, throwing complete-game shutouts in Games Five and Seven to win the series for the Dodgers. Greenberg, Koufax and many other notable players piqued a sense of wonder and incomparable inspiration in future generations of baseball lovers.

While outstanding, Jewish players would not have the widespread influence and notoriety if not for the authors, commentators, broadcasters and journalists who brought the sport and culture to the masses. One of the most celebrated sports journalists was Shirley Povich, a Jewish writer and columnist for the Washington Post for 75 years. His insight into the modern game, knowledge of baseball history and powerful writing set the standard in the field of sports journalism. Another significant Jewish author, Roger Kahn, penned Boys of Summer, the best-selling baseball book of all time. Many Jewish baseball journalists chose their careers for the genuine love of the game, evident in their writing and reporting.

Major league baseball would not be what it is today if not for Jewish owners, managers and executive staff who implemented team strategy, leadership and overall order of the game. Bud Selig, former Commissioner of Baseball for more than twenty-five years, is rated by some as the best commissioner of all time, credited for moving the game into its current economic good fortune and relative state of peace, along with the Jewish value of tzedek (justice) that he brought to the owner-player relationship after years of acrimony. Pittsburgh Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss envisioned the first World Series between the newly merged American and National Leagues in 1903. And Marvin Miller, who served as Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) from 1966 to 1982, brought free agency to baseball, and by osmosis to all other major professional sports. It was in 1992 when Red Barber noted, “Marvin Miller, along with Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson, is one of the two or three most important men in baseball history.” And of course, I would be remiss if I left out the Lerner family from our influential lineup. Owners of the Washington Nationals, the Lerners have brought baseball back to DC and encouraged kosher food options at the stadium. Without their contributions, The Jewish Federation’s Grand Slam Sunday would surely not be the same.

baseball 2As we gather on August 28, 2016 at Nationals Park, The Jewish Federation and the Lerner family will celebrate the largest, most significant segment of those in baseball: the fans. From generation to generation, fans pass down their love of the game. From Rabbis whose sermons regularly analogize baseball, to devout fans who bring matzah to the ballgame on Passover, to Jewish parents who teach their children team spirit as they do their religion, on Grand Slam Sunday, Federation invites our entire Greater Washington Jewish community to the ballpark. Join us for a celebration of our community and of the game that continues to unite Jews around the world. We hope to see you there!

Hilary Adleberg is the marketing Account executive at The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. For ticket sales and more information on Grand Slam Sunday: Jewish Community Day at Nationals Park, visit shalomdc.org/grandslam.

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You can eat this raw cookie dough DC!

cookie doughIf you like to sneak raw cookie dough from the mixing bowl, keep reading. No, I’m not about to tell you that it’s bad for you. You’re not in trouble.

Well, technically raw cookie dough is bad for you. If you eat eggs that haven’t been cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees, you run the risk of getting poisoned by the little germ called Salmonella that sometimes makes the inside of the eggs its home. And if that isn’t annoying enough, the FDA just issued a warning in July saying that raw flour could make you sick because it could carry E. Coli. Flour? Seriously?!

Most people I’ve talked to don’t care. They don’t think they’ll get sick. Or they say they like to live dangerously. I’m not judging. I used to sneak countless balls of cookie dough in college from the freezer in the sorority house in the middle of the night. And I can tell you, I was more scared of the chef finding out than I was about the raw ingredients.

IMG_5839Whichever side you come down on, you should know that some cookie dough is completely edible and 100% safe to eat. The Cookie Jar DC is a prime example. Six months ago, I launched The Cookie Jar DC, a small-batch and preservative-free edible cookie dough company. Our cookie dough doesn’t contain any eggs, and we use heat treated flour (it’s gone through the necessary “kill step” to make sure there’s no bacteria). It’s also already packaged for you in glass reusable jars, so you don’t have to pretend to make cookies just to eat the dough.

So if you’re interested, feel free to take a look at the website, www.thecookiejardc.com. We deliver on UberEATS 5-7 nights a week, we’re sold in stores around DC, and we do all sorts of custom catering and events.

While you may not feel like you’re living dangerously, the nostalgia of baking with mom or sneaking the dough is definitely still there. Plus, it’s really freaking delicious, in my humble opinion.

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Jewish Adventurer of the Week – Rose!

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When Rose was nominated for Gather’s Person of the Week, I was told that she was the “sweetest person in the world.” As I began our interview, I realized that she not only lived up to her nomination but also had taken some amazing adventures. I am excited to share some of her stories with you in this week’s interview!

Jackie: How did you find yourself playing the fiddle for ‘The Dirty River String Band’?

Rose: I fell into folk music my first year of college, and it changed my life. I had been playing classical violin forever, but had waning motivation. Playing with The Dirty River String Band and teaching myself fiddle along the way opened up a world of communal music-making which brought freedom, satisfaction, and an insane amount of fun to my music expression.

Jackie: Where is your favorite place to spend time in DC? 

Rose: A bank of the Potomac, a rooftop, H St NE, bars with live music, any and all bike lanes.

Jarose3ckie: What was your favorite part of your WWOOFing in Hawaii?

Rose: I fell in love with untamed ocean in Hawaii – the coasts of the Big Island are powerful, with a teeming underwater world of coral and fish without the foggiest clue of the problems us humans worry about just above the surface. I loved snorkeling and peeking at their wonderland! Also, the mangos. I dream about the mangos from my farm every day.

Jackie: Speaking of travel adventures, I heard you were “kidnapped” in India! What is the story behind that?! 

Rose: It was my last week in India, and after my months spent there, I was used to going with the flow and accepting whatever came my way – India has way of pushing you there. So that’s what I did with my 2 rockstar travel buds when backpacking around Rajasthan. When an invitation came from someone we met (who happened to be a millionaire) to enjoy the best dinner Jodhpur can offer, we went with the flow. The best part? 5 star meals and a night to remember…the worst? We missed our bus to Jaisalmer. Good thing there was a private car to drive us there…it worked out and we have an incredible story. (P.S.A. accept invitations from Indian strangers at your own risk!)

rose5Jackie: Was this on your JDC Entwine Fellowship?

Rose: Yes! I completed the JDC Entwine multi-week fellowship, where I lived in Mumbai and taught with an education NGO called Gabriel Project Mumbai in a nearby slum.

Jackie: What is your favorite way to spend Shabbat?

Rose: I look forward to Kabbalat Shabbat all week, so Shabbos for me includes services with lots of singing followed by meals with friends. Throw in some Dvar Torahs and a nice long walk!

Finish the sentence: When the Jews Gather…food and friendships are made.

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Get A Free Taste of the EDJCC

Never attended a film or music event at the Edlavitch DCJCC? Now’s your chance to get in for free!

With one of the largest film festivals in the Greater DC area, year-round screenings of international and award-winning films, and music concerts ranging from jazz and world music to hip-hop, the center has something for any age and any taste.

This fall’s lineup features regular weekly screenings from September through December, the 18th Washington Jewish Music Festival (WJMF), and Seret DC – their first-ever contemporary Israeli film series. The series will survey the best Israeli cinema of the past year and runs October 5-9. Top picks include JFF award-winning comedy One Week and a Day, Sundance award-winner Sand Storm, and the absurd and hilarious Atomic Falafel (check out a trailer below).

Hot off a spring Festival, the 18th Washington Jewish Music Festival – running October 26 through November 5 – will feature an exciting new lineup (to be announced soon) including international R&B, Jazz, and World music artists. Check out a recap of the last Festival below.

First-time attendees can sign up online by September 30 to attend a film or music event free-of-charge this fall. Visit wjff.org/first for details and to claim your free ticket!

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Jewish Violinist of the Week – Eli

IMG_8094This week I had the pleasure to interview Eli for the weekly feature. I knew that he was an incredible violin player and worked in the medical profession, but through this interview I got to learn more about both of his passions. Learn more about Eli in my interview with the Jewish Violinist of the Week!

Jackie: What first brought you to DC?

Eli: I first came to DC five years ago to spend winter break with my cousin and her husband. I absolutely fell in love with DC right away. It’s got pretty much everything that all the big cities have, yet it’s not as overwhelming.

Jackie: You are an incredible violin player. When did you start playing and what inspired you to continue?

Eli: I started violin at a later age in my childhood. I was nearly 12. But I initially started voice and piano lessons at the age of 6 or so. I switched to violin because I felt I could express myself better than being on the piano. Once I hit puberty, I was disappointed that I couldn’t sing those high notes I could sing easily before. Music has always been an important part of my life. It’s like an extension of myself. Letting go of the violin would be like amputating an arm.

IMG_0522Jackie: Do you have a favorite piece of music you play?

Eli: That’s a really hard question to answer. I think for most classical musicians, whatever piece we’re working on becomes our favorite music at that particular time. I do have a huge admiration for anything Bach related- the mathematics and emotional depth intertwined and layered into his works is extremely mesmerizing and breathtaking.

Jackie: Another passion of yours is your career as a respiratory therapist. What made you want to study this?

Eli: I never knew I’d end up being a respiratory therapist. I initially double majored in violin performance and psychology. Quickly I realized that wasn’t the right track for me. My cousin who’s a nurse, encouraged me to try the health care field. I chose respiratory therapy and absolutely fell in love with it. Whether it’s a 12-hour night shift in the ER or the ICU, I feel a tremendous amount of satisfaction after each shift. I don’t really consider it a job. It’s what I really love to do.

IMG_0502Jackie: You just spent last week at camp, can you tell us more about that?

Eli: Yes! The camp is called Camp Breathe Happy and is mainly targeted towards inner city DC asthmatic children. We take them out to a beautiful camp site in Maryland and teach them about asthma and how to manage their asthma by exposing them to the woods and nature. Many of them have never experienced the beauty of nature, so it is heartwarming to see their reaction.

Jackie: Who’s your favorite Jew?

Eli: Haylie Ecker, the former first violinist in the electric string quartet BOND. The way she rocked her ferrari  red Starfish violin always thrilled me.

Jackie: Being Jewish seems like an integral part of your identity. What are your favorite ways to stay connected to the community?

Eli: Saturday morning services, for me, is such a long, yet elaborate and intricate reminder of our thousands of year old traditions. Even after being dispersed into the four corners of the earth, there are so many similarities in customs and rituals in each Jewish community around the world. I find that very intriguing. You’ll mostly find me at Adas Israel on Saturday mornings. It rekindles and revives the 14% Middle Eastern blood in me (according to AncestryDNA). Sixth and I and Gather the Jews have such wonderful programs that has made it so easy for young Jews like me to stay connectedIMG_7402 with the Jewish community. I also am a member of the artist selection committee at the JCC in Rockville for their excellent Polinger Arts Series program. Working with its music director, Janet Getz , is so easy and boy, I must say, we Jews have an incredible roster of talented world class classical musicicans!!

Jackie: What is your favorite way to spend Shabbat?

Eli: There’s nothing like celebrating Friday night Shabbat by dining at home with friends and family. Home cooked meals, endless supply of wine, challah, signing off electronically (most times), and enjoying great conversations with your own people is heavenly and nourishing.

Finish the sentence: When the Jews Gather… it takes about seven goodbyes or so until we actually leave (no wonder it took us 40 years to get out the desert) !!

 

 

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I’m on a Boat with the Jewish National Fund

On August 4, nearly 100 members of our community came together for a unique kind of social gathering on the rooftop of Bar Deco in Chinatown.

Young professional happy hours are hosted on a daily basis by all kinds of different organizations and rooftop bars are often filled this time year, but JNFuture’s DC Happy Hour was more than a standard happy hour that “gathered the Jews.” It was a pep rally of sorts leading up to our Homecoming Game – the 2016 Anchor DC boat cruise.

The rooftop event provided drinks to attendees and gave them a chance to get to know more about the Jewish National Fund’s impactful work in Israel. The Host Committee for Anchor DC greeted guests and helped to educate attendees about why they choose to volunteer with JNFuture.

anchor_rooftop_hh080416The August 21 boat cruise will be more than just another social event. In its second year, the cruise will help raise dollars and visibility to our generation about who is JNF, what they have accomplished since 1901, and how we can help continue the work done by our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents to help support the development of Israel.

Tessa Freedberg, JNFuture coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic Region, describes the event as “a 3 hour boat cruise along the Potomac River with an open bar (think endless amounts of Bloody Marys, mimosas, or whatever your heart desires), amazing delicious brunch (think bagels, shmear, lox, fruit, dessert, etc….all the fixings), DJ and dance floor, and interactive photo booth.” But the event also, according to Freedberg will, “raise awareness about JNF’s amazing water conservation efforts in Israel!”

Since JNF’s first day and into today, the organization has become a “global environmental leader by planting more than 250 million trees, building over 240 reservoirs and dams, developing over 250,000 acres of land, creating more than 2,000 parks, providing the infrastructure for over 1,000 communities, and connecting thousands of children and young adults to Israel and their heritage.”[i]

Throughout my 34 years, I’ve made donations to help plant many trees in Israel. It is easy to do online and I always find it to be a meaningful gift – especially for engagement parties because what else can be cuter than planting a tree in Israel for a couple who have committed to spend their life together? But a couple months ago, I had the opportunity to visit the President’s Forest in Tzora, which is located outside of Jerusalem and forms part of a larger donated forest dedicated to the memory of Chaim Weizmann (the first President of the State of Israel). I got to swing a baby pick ax, dirty my hands, and plant a tree myself in Israeli soil. I like to say, or joke, that I planted a “Jewish tree” since Israel is the Jewish State and the park is supported by the Jewish National Fund.

jnf_langsnerAaron Bregman and Rachel Oziel, co-chairs for Anchor DC, said “the boat cruise will be a true community event that will bring young professionals from DC, Maryland, and Virginia together.” They said, “it would be the party of the summer.”

Free chartered bus trips are being provided by JNF from Baltimore and DC to/from the Alexandria Marina for attendees.

Tickets are available online at a discounted rate for JNFuture members. Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are also available for non-members.

RSVP online or learn more at the Anchor DC Facebook event, including seeing the 200+ people who have said that they plan to go or are interested in going according to FB.

[i] About JNF. <http://www.jnf.org/about-jnf/>. 7 August 2016.

 

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A Behind the Scenes Look at DC’s New Kosher Food Truck

FullSizeRender (1)Hey, DC! I’m Carly Meisel, one of the GW students lucky enough to work alongside Rabbi Yudi Steiner, Director of Jewish Colonials Chabad, in establishing DC’s brand new kosher food truck. We love Gather the Jews, so we wanted to give this beautiful community a behind-the-scenes look at the process of starting Brooklyn Sandwich Co. and tell you a bit about ourselves. And, of course, I wholeheartedly invite you to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter so you can track our daily locations and updates.

The process of starting Brooklyn Sandwich Co. has been incredible. This idea was born in a sukkah on H Street, right in the heart of GW’s campus. Rabbi Yudi, his amazing wife Rivky, his brother Sruli, students Sophia Brener and Yoni Kintzer, and I were happily noshing in a sukkah during Sukkot. It was over a plate of Rivky’s award-winning cookies that we began to hash out this plan: Operation Kosher Food Truck. Let’s break it down:

Who’s involved here? Check out the “Our Team page for short bios on each of these characters. We’ve got Rabbi Yudi Steiner (COO), Yossel Backman (Head Chef), Sam Akselrod (Culinary Director), Dylan Kough (Food Truck Consultant), and myself (Co-Founder & Director of Marketing)!

Why a food truck? We briefly looked into the idea of a brick-and-mortar restaurant, but the start-up costs are staggering. And, we love the idea of being on-the-go. It massively enlarges our capacity to serve people all over the Greater Washington area.

FullSizeRender (3)How did we decide on a Jewish, upscale delicatessen theme? I can’t think of a type of food we didn’t discuss when deciding on our menu. We debated everything: chicken wings, Asian stir-fry, falafel, a salad bar. Our Food Truck Consultant, Dylan Kough, took one look at Rabbi Yudi upon meeting him and said, “Hold on a second. Why aren’t you doing Jewish food?” So we decided to stick with what we know. Our market research showed that DC agreed with Dylan; people wanted an authentic, delicious deli experience infused the taste of Brooklyn. And that’s exactly what we’ve created.

IMG_7863What’s the best thing on the menu? I guess that’s up to you to go and order it all! In my opinion, the most delicious item on this menu is the Pulled Brisket Sandwich on a Pretzel Bun. It’s cooked sues-vide (don’t worry, I googled that word when I first heard it too), which basically means that it’s cooked for 16 hours in a slow-cooker. Talk about tender.

Let’s do lunch? We post our location each day on Twitter and Facebook. Feel free to tweet at us with location requests — we really try to make them happen. There’s nothing we love more than pictures of your meal and selfies of you with your food, so post away! We also deeply appreciate reviews on Facebook and Yelp. We can’t wait to see you, serve you, get to know you! L’chaim to a bright future of kosher food in the District.

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Jewish Advocate of the Week – Leah

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This week I interviewed Leah to be the Jewish Advocate of the Week. She was nominated for her incredible work for the Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse but I also got to learn about her love of dogs, what she learned from her first year of marriage, and how learning Russian is going! Do you know someone who should be nominated as one of Gather’s Jewish Feature? Nominate them!

Jackie: You are originally from Maryland, why did you want to come back to this area?

Leah: When I was growing up in the Maryland suburbs, I knew DC as the place where my father worked and my school went on field trips. As I was finishing up graduate school in Philadelphia, I thought it would be fun to come back to the area and get to know DC as an adult.

Jackie: Where is your favorite place to spend time in DC?

Leah: How do I pick just one? I love living in Columbia Heights and being able to walk to Meridian Hill Park. Some of the best people watching (and dog watching) in town! A couple months ago, I finally went to the drum circle I’ve heard so much about. My mom was with me and we both started dancing. Now she wants to move into the city too!

Jackie: Can you tell us about your work for the Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse?

Leah: Sure! I oversee JCADA’s prevention, education and outreach IMG_2415programs. Our goal is to raise awareness about the issue of domestic and dating abuse in the Jewish community in order to create a path for those experiencing abuse to get the help they need. We also have an amazing team of therapists who provide individual counseling and other support services to our clients.

Jackie: What first inspired you to work for the Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse?

Leah: My background is in social work and my focus has always been positive youth development. When I was first introduced to JCADA, I was impressed by the organization’s prevention initiative, AWARE®, which was designed to empower teens and young adults with the skills and knowledge they needed to cultivate healthy relationships. It was exciting to see an organization being proactive in breaking the cycle of abuse by focusing on teaching healthy relationship skills and identifying unhealthy relationship warning signs.

IMG_3844Jackie: You are learning Russian, how is that going!? How do your in-laws think it is going?

Leah: Harasho! (Good!) At this point, I’m most comfortable talking about food and giving driving directions.  Doesn’t make me the best conversationalist but my husband’s family is always encouraging me and telling me that I ‘m doing great. His babushka (grandma) learned English at 80 so I figured I could learn Russian in my 30s.

Jackie: As a beach lover, can you recommend some beaches that are worth leaving the District for? 

Leah: I love Lewes, Delaware. There are two beaches – Lewes Beach, which is on the bay and is very calm and Cape Henlopen State Park. Most people go to Rehobeth and Bethany but I love Lewes.

horizontal 1Jackie: You just had your one year wedding anniversary – what is the biggest lesson you feel like you learned in that year?

Leah: It’s important to build time into each day for us as a couple even if it is only a few minutes.  At some point this year, my husband proposed the idea that we end each day by sharing a couple of things from our day we were grateful for. Life is moving so fast and it’s a really nice way to connect with the other person. I look forward to these moments and when one of us is traveling for work, we both miss this time.

Jackie: I know you are a dog lover, but do you have one of your own? 

Leah: No, but hopefully soon. In the meantime, I am a proud doggie aunt to my best friend’s dog, Maggie, and try to pet sit as much as possible!

Finish the sentence: When the Jews Gather… to raise our voices on important issues, our community is better for it. During my time at JCADA, I continue to be amazed by the power of our voices when we come together. From the congregations, JCCs and other community organizations who display our purple bathroom signs to the schools who bring in our prevention programs, the commitment to ensuring every person feels safe in their homes and relationships is clear.

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August 30 in the City

30 in the City (1)

 

Hillah is back this month with her recommendations for events going on in the District for those who are 30 in the City! Which ones will we see you at this month?

Volunteer at Common Good City Farm!

When: Sunday, August 7, 3:00 – 5:00 PM

Where: Common Good City Farm (V Street, NW between 2nd and 4th Street NW)

What the organizers have to say about the event:

Join Federation’s Jewish Food Experience® as we make a meaningful difference at Common Good City Farm, a non-profit whose mission is to grow food, educate, and help low-income DC community members meet their food needs. We will be volunteering outdoors to harvest, weed and plant, while learning more about sustainable agriculture.

Leib Kaminsky will be joining us to help facilitate conversations about how sustainability is a Jewish value. Leib is a DC native and has been engaging community groups in environmental education for 25 years and has extensive experience working with Jewish organizations and environmental programs.
What makes this event cool?

Common Good City Farm’s programs provide hands-on training in food production, healthy eating and environmental sustainability. The Farm itself serves as a demonstration site to individuals, organizations, and government agencies in the DC metro area. The site and its programs integrate people of all ages, classes and races to create vibrant and safe communities.

Who should go?

You are interested in urban farming, combating food deserts, and learning more about where food comes from while brushing up on your agriculture skills.

Cost: $10

Register: here

 

Four Rabbis Walk Into a Bar: Tradition!

When: Tuesday, August 9, 7:00 – 9:00 PM

Where: 18th Street Lounge (1212 18th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036)

What the organizers have to say about the event:

Tradition. It seems like it’s a really, really, really important thing to Jews. But what is the role of tradition in our lives today? How much of an influence do traditional interpretations of Jewish texts, performance of rituals, and observance of law have (or should have) on us? The ancient rabbis’ interpretations of Judaism from over 2,000 years ago have shaped Jewish life for centuries, but is it okay for us to reinterpret tradition too? Are there boundaries around how far we can evolve and change the tradition in our own lives? How far is too far? Join our distinguished panel of knowledgeable local rabbis for a drink and a discussion on how to tackle this many-layered question. Participating rabbis: Rabbi Aaron Alexander, Rabbi Hannah Goldstein, Rabbi Aaron Potek, and Rabbi Sarah Tasman.

What makes this event cool?

The Rabbis participating on the panel are all YOUNG! Young Professionals like us!!!! Not only that, but with High Holidays around the corner, this is the perfect time to brush up on tradition and interview the rabbis with whom you want to spend four days in a synagogue.

Who should go?

You are prepping for the high holidays. You enjoy a good discussion over a glass of [drink name here].

Cost: $15 General Admission; $10 EntryPointDC Young Professional

Registerhere 

 

This is what a Jew Looks Like

When: Thursday, August 18, 7:00 – 9:00 PM

Where: Sixth & I Historical Synagogue (600 I Street NW, Washington, DC)

What the organizers have to say about the event:

This collective is a safe space for Jews of color to come together to study, explore new ideas, and build community and is hosted by Moishe House resident Tiffany Harris. Celebrate Jewish racial and ethnic diversity with topics including learning about Jewish communities in Africa, Asia, and Central/South America. Conversations also work to strategize ways to help the American Jewish community be more inclusive of all Jews. Whether you were born Jewish or converted to Judaism at any point along your life’s journey, if you are a racially or ethnically diverse Jew, you are welcome here.

What makes this event cool?

Jews are not just Ashkanazi or Serphardic, but come in all types of shapes and colors. Come learn and make new friends.

Who should go?

You enjoy learning about other groups within the Jewish community and believe in inclusion.

Cost: FREE

Register:  Email moishehousedc@gmail.com

 

Faygelehs & Bagelehs ‘ 16 Summer Campy Fun & Games Edition

When: Sunday, August 28 11:00 AM – 1:30 PM

Where: DCJCC (1529 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036)

What the organizers have to say about the event:

Come get brunchy at GLOE’s Annual End-of-Summer Social Event! Celebrate the last bit of summer with GLOE (Kurlander Program for GLBTQ Outreach and Engagement) at this friendly social, filled with music, summer games, cold drinks (including mimosas!), delightful conversation, and of course, the good bagels.

Connect with all the new faces, old friends, and all the fab LGBTQ Jews in DC. Whether you’re new to town or you’ve been here for years, GLOE wants you to get schmoozey, kick back, and find out about some great events coming up. Take the time to reconnect with the fabulous faygelehs and the whole Jewish LGBTQ community.
What makes this event cool?

One last hurrah before the summer is over! Tickets include: Your brunch drinks (unlimited non-alcoholic drinks and 2 bar tickets for mimosas), plenty of bagels (yes, the good ones), shmears, lox and other delicious goodies, your summer campy t-shirt, and all the fun and games you can handle.

Who should go?

Everyone, Jews and bagel-chasers, LGBTQ folks and our friends, alike! Must like camp and be friendly!

Cost: $19 in advance; $28 at the door (if not sold out)

Register: here

 

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Mastering Change for the High Holidays

Jewish tradition calls the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur the Days of Awe. What are they typically like for you? When you leaf through your own high holiday memories of the past few years, what stands out?

Maybe you took time off work and paid big money to attend services. Perhaps you found yourself transported as the cantor sang the Kol Nidre prayer. And if you were caught off guard by the gravity of the Yom Kippur liturgy, awed by the weight of the words looking up at you from the prayer book, then you weren’t alone.

There’s often dissonance between the dignity we attach to the Days of Awe and the lack of spiritual preparation we undertake to meet them. Through Sarah Tasman’s work as a rabbi and my own work as a coach, we’ve seen that people who fail to lay their own basic spiritual groundwork often put an unnecessary damper on their high holiday experience.

But what does ‘spiritual preparation’ even mean? And how do we do it?

Small Group conversationsThe spiritual preparation that Rabbi Sarah and I propose is not about probing arcane mysteries. It’s more practical than that: Essentially, what we recommend is taking stock and making choices.

It’s easy to drift from one Jewish year into the next, never quite letting our accomplishments sink in, always holding onto hurt and humiliation, and neglecting to file squarely in the past those aspects of our life that have no business accompanying us into the future.

However, imagine spending a few focused hours this Elul reflecting on the year that’s about to end. What if we looked 5776 straight in the eye, seeking perspective on what worked and what didn’t? We’d clearly see what we take pride in and what we’re ashamed of, and level with ourselves about our role in all of it.

This investment of time and contemplation is pivotal. It’s an act of spiritual preparation that has the power to dissolve the imaginary wedge we drive between ourselves and the deeply satisfying experience of atonement we desire.

It also easy, as one Jewish year fades into the next, to ignore the responsibility we hold for choosing how we will approach the coming year. Every year Rabbi Sarah and I see people making this same unforced blunder: recognizing that we can’t do everything and responding by barely doing anything.

Here, too, imagine instead envisioning at the dawn of the new year what should lie ahead. How might 5777 unfold if we chose and held in mind a theme for the year? This theme could filter the opportunities we seize from the ones we decline, influencing our response to the curveballs life will inevitably throw our way.

This mental exercise sets us up to use more of our time devoting attention to things that actually matter to us.

These steps are simple. Taking them isn’t always easy. They require the vulnerability to reflect and the boldness to plan. These aren’t luxuries we’re accustomed to giving ourselves. But the real-world dividends that this regimen of spiritual preparation can pay are generous. Recognizing this, Rabbi Sarah and I are offering a three-part class this autumn designed to support you in approaching your transition through the high holidays with confidence. Registration is open now!

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