Stylish Suggestions For Your Sukkah

SukkahLooking for some interesting ways to spice up your sukkah this year?  Check out these creative ideas on Pinterest.


Online Dating Emails – Your Questions Answered

When you’re in my line of work, you get all kinds of dating questions, ranging from how to contact someone before the date to when it’s appropriate to call yourselves exclusive… and everything in between (and I do mean everything).  Many of these questions revolve around the emailing process on the various online dating sites.  Let’s take a peek at some of them:

Question: Some of the emails are obvious that I will not be answering, but I’m wondering what I should do about winks and the emails that are not so obvious what to do with. For example, several guys wrote something to the effect of this: “You seem interesting. Write me.” How do you recommend that I handle those? ~ Cheryl, 37, Arlington, VA

Answer: For the ones who either wink or write short messages, it’s up to you whether to write/respond after reading their profiles. If they sound appealing, it can’t hurt to respond. On the one hand, maybe they are just lazy by doing that, and on the other, maybe they’re clueless as to how this thing works, too. The good ones will send (or respond with) an email showing that they at least read some part of your profile. Or, you could always prompt them with something like, “Thanks so much for writing! I’m curious to know what piqued your interest in my profile.” Then, they’ll either answer that question or they won’t.

Question: A problem I’m currently having with guys is the “date follow-through.” Guys will ask me out on a date online, usually saying something like “Let’s get drinks next week.” I say something like, “That sounds great. I’m free on Tuesday and Thursday after work around 6:30.” Then sometimes, they don’t get back to me. Or (in the case of the one guy I had a great date with) he said, “Let’s hang out this week.” I gave him my schedule in the same way as above. Then he tells me that he’s busy this week. I say, “Maybe the weekend.” Two days later and no response.

I think that I might be too forward with guys. I’m a very forward and direct person in general and have to make sure that I limit this trait because guys want to be in control. When guys casually ask me out on a date online, is there a better way to make it happen without scaring them off by being too forward? ~ Chelsea, 23, Washington, D.C.

Answer: You actually remind me of myself in terms of being a planner, and there is nothing wrong with that—it’s just your personality. Doesn’t it annoy you when a guy doesn’t follow through or drops the ball? Well, if it annoys you now after one date or even before the date, it’ll annoy you throughout life. So, rather than changing your tactic (giving two choices, like Tuesday or Thursday, as you said, is what I would recommend as well because it tells him when you’re free but ultimately lets him pick the final date), it’s more about finding a mature guy who actually takes the lead and doesn’t just casually ask you out with no intention of putting something on the calendar.

If you do want to soften it a little, you could say, “That sounds great. Tuesday or Thursday might work for me if that works for you.” It’s a little less forward and more “cool” with the word “might” in there and removing the time (after 6:30). But, to be honest, the way you responded was more than appropriate.

Question: It’s been my experience that women sometimes read into things that men simply don’t. For example, if a guy sends an intro email at 2:30 AM, it may be perceived in a negative context… something along the lines of “what is this idiot doing up at 2:30AM on a Tuesday?” Is there a good, or should I say politically correct, time to be sending these things? ~ Matt, 37, Washington, D.C.

Answer: It’s true—people (although, it’s both men and women) read into things that we shouldn’t sometimes. I’d try to email back at night (maybe before midnight) to make things look a little more “normal.” But if that stops a woman from responding, that’s just silly.

Any other burning questions?  Feel free to leave them in the comments!

Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people navigate the world of online dating, and author of Love at First Site. Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.


Help Jewish International End Domestic Violence

1 in 4 women are affected by Domestic Violence. You have until midnight of Thursday, October 3rd, to donate to JWI’s Purple Purple Challenge and make a difference. Help women receive the tools they need to rebuild their lives.


Come gather at the GTJ October happy hour!


The GTJ October Happy Hour @ Buffalo Billiards


Rosh Hashanah Greetings from the White House

This message was previously published on the White House Website: 

Read the transcript:

Hello. As Jews across America, Israel, and the world gather together for the High Holidays, Michelle and I extend our warmest wishes to you and your families for a sweet and happy new year.

My good friend Elie Wiesel once said that “God gave human beings a secret, and that secret was not how to begin, but how to begin again.” These Days of Awe are a chance to celebrate that gift, to give thanks for the secret — the miracle — of renewal.

In synagogues and homes over the coming days, Jews will reflect on a year that carried its share of challenges. We have been reminded, many times, that our world still needs repair. So here at home, we continue the hard work of rebuilding our economy and restoring our American dream of opportunity for all. Around the world, we continue to stand for the dignity of every human being, and against the scourge of anti-Semitism. And we reaffirm the friendships and bonds that keep us strong, including our unshakeable alliance with the state of Israel.

So let’s approach this New Year with new confidence, and new hope. Let’s recommit ourselves to living out the values we share, as individuals and as a country. Above all, let’s embrace this God-given miracle of renewal, this extraordinary opportunity to begin again in pursuit of justice, prosperity, and peace. From my family to yours, Shanah Tovah.


Gathering Voices: Free Coffee for a Sweet New Year

rosh hashanahDear Friends,

From Gather the Jews (GTJ), I wish you a happy, healthy and sweet new year ahead.  May it be filled with good friends, personal growth, and new DC adventures!

And I hope GTJ can be a part of it.

To start the Jewish new year with some extra sweetness, let me treat you to a new years coffee on me in your neighborhood!  Just e-mail me at or sign up HERE.  Feel free to sign up with friends as a group, too.

As part of GTJ’s listening tour (Gathering Voices), I am excited to meet you, hear your story, and learn from your DC experiences.  I hope you’ll add your voice to these conversations!

Rachel Gildiner at Gather the Jews


Rosh Hashanah from NEXT

NEXT RHThe Jewish New Year is this week! Find a local event where you and your friends can celebrate on NEXT’s interactive map: Want to create your own celebration? Birthright Israel alumni can host a holiday meal for friends, with resources and some funds from NEXT:









Online Dating: Past and Present-GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 95)

online-datingOnline dating has been around for quite a while now.  In fact, JDate first opened its proverbial doors back in 1997, when I was in high school!  As you may know, I was actually a very early adopter of online dating, using JDate back in 2000 or 2001, before people really had any idea what it was all about.  My parents, naturally, flipped out, thinking I was going to meet some psycho-killer, or worse, someone who wasn’t worthy of their daughter!  The worst that happened, of course, was a few bad dates with some socially awkward men… er… boys who were clueless as to what dating actually involved.  But why not try it out?  I was technologically savvy.  I mean, I did have a cell phone in college before anyone else did, even if it was this ridiculously large blue thing that I didn’t want anyone to know I had.  (It was very uncool to have a cell phone back then.)

I thought we’d take a stroll down memory lane and compare online dating in the early 2000s to online dating today.


Person 1: Um… I’m going on a date with this guy Sean.

Person 2: That’s great!  Where did you meet him?

Person 1: Well, we haven’t actually “met” yet.  I found him on JDate.

Person 2: What?!?!  You’re not that desperate, are you?  Geez—protect yourself!  Tell me all the details.  Let me know where you’ll be.  I just hope you’ll be safe.  You never know what psychos are hiding on those sites.  Wow—I didn’t know anyone I knew would actually try online dating!


Person 1: Um… I’m going on a date with this guy Sean.

Person 2: That’s great!  Where did you meet him?

Person 1: On OkCupid.

Person 2: Cool!  My sister met her husband on  Have fun!



OMG—I think that guy across the room at the dessert table looked at my profile on (whisper) JDate.  I can’t even look at him.  How embarrassing!


I think that guy and I matched on Hinge the other day.  I think I’ll go say hi!  Maybe it’ll speed up the process of him asking me out. 😉



Which four pictures should I use for my JDate profile?  I guess I’ll have to upload the pictures from my new digital camera to my computer to post them on the site.  Or, I guess I can scan some of the other ones I have.  I hope it works.


Which 12 pictures should I use for my JDate profile and six for my Tinder?  Let me check out some pics on Facebook and my phone to see which ones I want to use.  Actually, I think there’s a really good one on Instagram that someone tagged me in!

Side note: I still only recommend posting three to five photos



Person: How did you two meet?

Couple: Um… well… haha… it’s a long story.  (Look at each other embarrassingly.)


Person: How did you two meet?

Couple (in unison): On JDate!  I hear that if you have a JBaby and you let them know, they actually send you a onesie!

The stigma is gone, and online dating is here to stay.  Daily Mail UK predicts that in 20 years, half of all couples will meet online, and this number may rise to 70% by 2040.  If you’re not already playing the online dating game, now’s the time to give it a whirl.  Why not?


erika e-1405-4Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people navigate the world of online dating, and author of Love at First SiteWant to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.







AJWS DC Action Team Launch Party

ajws_logo_large15 years ago, I took a chance by using my summer break to travel with American Jewish World Service (AJWS) to the developing world. I only knew about AJWS because the then-new President, Ruth Messinger, was a prominent New York City politician that I greatly respected and I was curious about this organization with which she was involved, but had no idea that it would inspire such passion in global social justice in me.

I ended up spending 7 weeks working side-by-side with community-based organizations on projects that helped build infrastructure and economic sustainability. For 5 weeks in Zimbabwe, I helped the local rural community we lived with construct a dam and reservoir to preserve their water supply during the frequent droughts. While performing this physically laborious work, we also managed to conduct a cultural exchange program, sharing sports, song and dance, and to document the stories of the community members in an area where AIDS was diminishing the population rapidly. Then, for 2 weeks in Israel, we had day projects with various different communities, ranging from Ethiopian children to Druze teenagers and even Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

When I returned, I was determined to stay involved with the organization, as I credited the experience with sparking my own interest in social justice. Over time, I have followed the development of a partnership with AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps, engaged the DC community through involvement in its DC City Team, spoke out for food justice as part of its Reverse Hunger campaign at Global Hunger Shabbats, and joined the organization for a White House Community Leaders Briefing Day with the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable. Additionally, I have listed to Ruth Messinger herself and recipients of AJWS grants when they have spoken at local synagogues and community centers about the work of the organization.

While AJWS no longer offers volunteer service programs like the one in which I participated, there are now amazing opportunities to get involved in social justice changemaking with AJWS in DC through its strong advocacy and campaigns and organizing departments. The We Believe campaign has action opportunities to promote passage the International Violence Against Women Act and the International Human Rights Defense Act, and to urge the appointment a special envoy on Global LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) rights. This campaign calls on the U.S. government to stop violence against women and girls, to stop hate crimes against LGBT people, and to empower girls to end child marriage, in order to help improve the lives of people in the developing world. And you too can be part of this changemaking by joining me and other members of the DC Action Team at our launch party on October 1st!

Timed to fall between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, this party is an open invitation to our local community to attend a party to celebrate both the Jewish New Year of 5775 and our new team. Ruth Messinger will discuss our work and ways for you to take action here in D.C. to advance justice around the world. Nikki Mawanda, an AJWS grantee from Uganda who advocates for transgender rights, will talk about the grassroots activism AJWS supports that is creating lasting change for the most marginalized people. And members of our team will address opportunities for direct involvement in international human rights advocacy!

So, if you are at all interested in enjoying some food and drinks and meeting others in the area who share this passion for international human rights and believe in taking action on its behalf, please join us at the 5th & K Busboys and Poets between 6pm and 8pm on Wednesday, October 1st!

If you would like to RSVP or have any questions, please contact Mike Salamon at either 202-379-4265 or



The Jewish Case for Changing the Redskins’ Name

Washington_Redskins_1000_reverseThe opinions expressed here are the author’s and do not represent the views of Gather the Jews.

Like many of in DC I have struggled with the issues with the name of the Washington Redskins.  I am a local to the DC area.  I grew up in Mclean, Virginia, fifteen minutes from the DC line and I have lived in the DC area all of my life except for my time at Syracuse University.  I have seen Joe Gibbs hoist the Lombardi Trophy after winning the Super Bowl.  I know that the only person more second-guessed than the person sitting in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is the one walking up and down the sidelines at Fed-Ex.   I understand what the Skins mean to DC, and the special moments this team has helped create.

I also know that in the realm of things, the problem of a team name or mascot is towards the bottom of the list of the issues confronting Native Americans, such as struggles with poverty, addiction, suicide, and education.  If the people who are extremely offended by the name actually put a quarter of the effort into resolving the underlying problems in the Native American community as they did working to change the name, some of these problems could begin to be addressed.

For the reasons above, I used be in the camp of, the name isn’t that big a deal.  However, the recent rise in anti-Semitism and a friend’s ride in an UberX changed all that.  The uptick in documented anti-Semitic incidents worldwide is alarming.  While there are some outside the Jewish community who are highlighting it, it is also widely accepted in Europe.  While extremely incorrect, the idea that being anti-Semitic is not the same as other forms of racism still exists in numerous examples from the UN to some pro-Palestinian protests to anti-war groups.

During the recent conflict in Gaza, I finally understood what it meant to feel offended by something others brushed off as no big deal.  A friend recently got in an UberX and immediately saw in the window of his driver’s car an ancient Indian symbol that the Nazis bastardized and turned into the Swastika.  Even though it was originally used as an Indian symbol and the person likely did not display it as support for the Nazi’s or racist groups, it was still extremely offensive to the rider who got out of the car and cancelled the ride.  I would have likely acted in a similar fashion.  Then I started thinking about how I would feel if I was a Native American living in this city.  The logo of the Redskins is everywhere, and the same is true for the team name.  Regardless of its initial intention, the name clearly has a current association with a racist slur.  If any community should be sensitive to the idea of people claiming a specific racial incident is not that big a deal, it is the Jewish community and what we are experiencing across the globe.

I can no longer in good faith pretend the name is acceptable for a NFL franchise.  We can all support the team, but the name should change.  Then the team can return to being one of DC’s biggest unifying forces, instead of one of its biggest dividers.

Hail to the Washington Football Team- #HTTWFT


FREE 10-day Taglit-Birthright Israel: DC Community Trip this WINTER!

Free Trip to IsraelAre you a Jewish young professional or graduate student, ages 22 to 26, living in the Greater Washington area?  Go to Israel for FREE this Winter on the Taglit-Birthright Israel: DC Community Trip with Shorashim. On this trip, you will travel with Israelis and young adults from the DC area for all 10 days. Registration for this amazing opportunity opens September 8thfor past applicants, and general registration opens on September 9th at 10 AM at The trip fills up fast, so get on the bus and join us for an amazing 10-day adventure! Contact Rachel Barton at or (301) 230-7266. Learn more at



Learning from History

AJC-logo3_H-tag newThis article originally appeared in The Times of Israel.

At the end of June, I was fortunate enough to take part in the American Jewish Committee ACCESS Third Generation Initiative trip to Germany, which brought together ten young American Jewish professionals and ten young German professionals to explore modern Germany and its history.  The trip was co-sponsored by American Jewish Committee

ACCESS; the Munich-based financial services company, Allianz; and Germany Close Up, a German nonprofit that promotes American-Jewish-German relations.

I first traveled to Germany in 1994 with my high school orchestra on a cultural and educational exchange program with the Detmold Jugendorchester from the small town of Detmold, Germany.  At the time, I was a bit hesitant about traveling to Germany because some members of my family regarded anything German or related to Germanys with some suspicion and distrust.  During my high school trip, I stayed with a German host family and was struck by how sensitive they were to my being Jewish and how attentive they were to my Kosher dietary restrictions, making special efforts to prepare vegetarian meals for me.  During this trip, I spoke to some Germans about the Holocaust and could see they were eager to learn about it and discuss it.

On my recent trip to Germany with the Third Generation Initiative, I saw that this interest in learning about the Holocaust runs far deeper than I initially thought.  During this trip, I saw Germans in all aspects of society going to great lengths to educate themselves about their Nazi era past and learn from it.

We visited the offices of Allianz, a large German financial services company that co-sponsored the trip.  Allianz has spent years uncovering its corporate history during the Nazi era, including its involvement with the Nazi regime during that period of history, and has taken a leading role in handling Holocaust-era insurance claims.

During the trip, we visited the former concentration camp, Sachsenhausen.  As I walked through the camp, I was surprised to see a number of groups of elementary school-aged German children visiting the camp.  After the visit, many of the German participants on our trip shared what grandparents and aunts and uncles were doing during the Holocaust.  I was moved to see how visibly conflicted and upset some of them were about relatives that may have been complicit in the atrocities.

On a visit with leaders from the German armed forces, I learned that the country’s history during the Nazi era influences current military policy.  The German Nazi and Stasi history has led to a general policy of military restraint, although this may be changing as Germany becomes a larger force on the world stage.  The military leaders told us that the army’s current oath is to defend the rights of the German people as opposed to the military’s oath during the Nazi era, which was to pledge unconditional obedience to one individual—Hitler.

Over the past couple of months I have seen numerous newspaper articles about the recent rise of anti-Semitism in Europe.  I was especially shocked to read that protesters were shouting anti-Semitic slurs and attacking Jewish individuals on the streets of Berlin, which is so much at odds with my experiences in Germany.  However, I am encouraged by the strong statements denouncing these anti-Semitic actions made by Chancellor Merkel, other prominent Germans, and members of the German press. I have confidence that Germany will continue to take a strong moral stance and put a stop to the spread of anti-Semitism in Europe, and that Germany will be a model for the world in learning from its past.  As young leaders in the Jewish community, we have a critical role and responsibility to continue to support these efforts and to strengthen the German-Jewish relationship in the years to come.

Natalie Rosenfelt lives in Washington, DC and is an antitrust lawyer for the U.S. Department of Justice. She received her law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law and her undergraduate degree from Cornell University. 


Meet Gather’s New Director: Rachel Gildiner!

Rachel Gildiner joins Gather on September 8th as the new Director! Email her at

GTJ photo2Gather the Jews: What are you most excited for with Gather?

Rachel: I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I can’t wait to meet the thousands of Jewish young adults in DC and hear from them who they are, where they are from, what they love to do in DC – Jewish or not – and better understand what they feel is missing. I envision a Jewish DC where inclusive and dynamic communities are created by better knowing people’s stories and what they’re looking for.  I think Gather can do that and I can’t wait to be a part of it.


Gather the Jews: Wow! Another Rachel G.! Are you worried that people will confuse you with the outgoing Rachel G.?

Rachel: Well, that would be cool because I think the out-going Rachel G. is awesome!  Plus I’ve always wanted my own doppelganger.  But really, I’m sure in time people will get to know the new Rachel G. on the block.  My camp name growing up was just “Gildiner” or “Big G” so maybe I’ll starting signing my e-mails that way to avoid any confusion.  And if there is any confusion, I hope I’ll have the chance to clear it up with any one over coffee and some good conversation, or at one of our Happy Hours.

GTJ photo5Gather the Jews: What is going to change about Gather?

Gather has built incredible Jewish life in DC.  It is the clear, one-stop shop for all things Jewish in DC so you don’t need to go to 20 different places to find out what’s happening.  It is known for it’s welcoming and well-attended happy hours as well as the Jewish Guy and Girl of the Week.  ALL OF THESE GREAT THINGS WILL CONTINUE!

The changes to come will focus Gather the Jews as an engagement platform – one where relationships are at the forefront of our work.  In this spirit, Gather will focus on the networks of people and circles of friends that happen in between the great programs and events.  Gather will play the role of individual concierge for young adults looking to connect to Jewish life, Jewish friends, or meaningful Jewish opportunities.  We will focus on innovative approaches to Jewish learning and living by playing convener and collaborator with the incredible Jewish organizations in DC and NOVA already providing and constantly thinking about new Jewish experiences to offer.  And one of the most exciting things for me, is that we will be piloting a Young Adult Fellowship where selected individuals will be part of engaging their own circles of friends in Jewish life in personally exciting ways.  More to come on all of this soon!

GTJ photo9Gather the Jews: How did you first get involved with the Jewish community?

Rachel: Well, what I love most about the DC Jewish community in particular, is that it is actually a community of communities.  People have different friends and social circles, different ways of connecting Jewishly, and different geographic preferences for where we hang out.  Yet there is a greater connection that we all share by the fact that we all find Jewish life meaningful to help us live lives of value.  This idea of multiple communities is how I think about my own Jewish connection as well.

After working for Hillel International for 7 years, I have a Jewish community of colleagues across the country.  Having a desire to study Judaism academically after high school, I have an incredible Jewish community from the Jewish Theological Seminary and more broadly, the Upper West Side of New York.  But probably my most pivotal connection to Jewish community was when I started attending Camp Ramah in the Poconos as a child.  It made Judaism fun, social, and experiential.  It made Jewish life come, well, to life.  Some of my Ramah friends are still my closest and dearest friends.  I actually met my husband there although we didn’t start dating until we reconnected in college.

GTJ photo4Gather the Jews: What’s your favorite part about being Jewish?

Rachel: This is such a hard question because there’s not one easy answer for me.  I really love being Jewish for so many reasons.  And as a total cop-out, I could say that’s part of what I love about it – that there are so many ways for someone to connect – through tzedek / justice or tikkun olam, through prayer and spirituality, through holiday and ritual observance, through Jewish song and music, through Israel.

For me though, I suppose my favorite part is that I find the holiday and life cycle rituals, traditions, prayers, liturgy, and practices so meaningful – and so human.  Now, I don’t pray regularly, and I certainly don’t observe every law and ritual in Judaism.  But those I do observe, the times I do pray, and even the ones I don’t observe but understand the reasons for, I am so grateful for their existence. For example, I love that there is a time to atone for our sins and seek forgiveness on Yom Kippur through Rosh Hashanah, and directly following that for Sukkot, there is a designated time where we are actually obligated to be happy and celebrate and show gratitude for the abundance in our lives.  These experiences are so human and natural, yet when Judaism provides the structure and even the right words to help offer both forgiveness and joy, it connects the Jewish people with each other and with our broader human experiences.

GTJ photo8Gather the Jews: Do you have a favorite Jew?

Rachel: Oy, I have many.  One is my Mom who went back to have her Bat Mitzvah when she was 30.  A second is my dad who became a Mohel when he was 55.  And one Jew that I wish I had had the chance to meet is Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.  While probably one of the most quoted Jewish philosophers and theologians of all time, he was a man who put his Jewish values of equality and justice into action.  Not only did he march with Reverend Martin Luther King during the civil rights era, but he wrote prolifically and gave a strong voice to the necessary role of Jews in the battle for civil rights for all people.  He worked with conviction and with faith in God and left a mark on the world, as a Jew.

Gather the Jews: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday and/or food?

Rachel: I love Sukkot.  It’s not a holiday I celebrated growing up, but in college we would have sukkot up on the main lawn, and leaves from the skach (the roof covering) would always fall into our soup.  It always smelled like fall and it was such a joyous and festive time.  Since then it’s been my favorite Jewish holiday.  Plus, you get to eat delicious fall foods like butternut squash soup!

GTJ photo1Gather the Jews: When you aren’t gathering, what do you like to do?

Rachel: I love to dance, any type but mostly ballet. It makes me feel alive and centered.  I also love hiking and spending time in the mountains of Colorado.   But most often you can find me playing with my two children, Samuel and Vera.  They can always make me laugh and they remind me to cherish that childhood sense of awe and excitement in life.

Gather the Jews: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…

Rachel: …all will feel welcomed and honored.  They will connect with new faces and old friends and find a holiness in being together.  Community will be created and celebrated.


Gather the Jews Announces Rachel Gildiner as New Director

GTJ Logo Slogan square white-bgNew Model to Usher in Innovative New Phase for Jewish Life in DC.

Washington, September 5, 2014: Gather the Jews (GTJ) announces today the hiring of Rachel Gildiner as its new Director.  Under Rachel’s leadership and funding from a transformative grant from a funding collaborative that includes The Morningstar Foundation, Emanuel J. Friedman Philanthropies, and the The Jewish Federation’sUnited Jewish Endowment Fund, GTJ will revolutionize the future of Jewish young adult life in the Washington, D.C. area.

This new phase for GTJ will be centered in an engagement model, recognizing the individual and communal story of our young adult population.  GTJ will pivot to a focus on  1:1 relationship building, the cultivation of an engagement fellowship program, and a renewed emphasis on innovative Jewish learning, revolutionizing the way in which the Jewish community embraces and empowers its young adult population.  Through meaningful dialogue and a strengthened communal model, every Jewish young adult in the DC region will feel that she or he has a key personalized resource to activate the next chapter of his or her Jewish journey.

Steven A. Rakitt of The Jewish Federation said “The UJEF is thrilled to welcome Rachel into this role.  This is a cutting edge model in the Jewish community, and we believe that Rachel is well-positioned to work with the many aspects of our local community.”

Rachel Gildiner comes to GTJ with over seven years of experience in relationship-building and facilitating engagement trainings for young adults and Jewish communities across the country.   Through her years at Hillel International as the Director of Learning and Assistant Director of Student Engagement, and her own Jewish experiences, Gildiner says “I understand first-hand the need for authentic relationship building as a key platform to engage the complex and multifaceted young adult community.  I look forward to advancing DCs efforts toward creating inclusive and vibrant Jewish opportunities for each and every Jewish young adult in the city and surrounding areas.”

The grant, given over the course of the next three years, will enable the additional hiring of the GTJ Educator.  Together with Rachel, the new team will work in tandem to launch this new model and serve as a key resource to the wider DC Jewish community.

Susie and Michael Gelman, directors of The Morningstar Foundation, said, “We are excited at the prospect of giving young adults in our community the ability to make Jewish life more meaningful and accessible.  We believe that this is a great opportunity for Jewish  organizations in our area to enhance the range of offerings for young adults.”

GTJ remains committed to supporting the wider fabric of young adult life in DC. and our weekly newsletter will continue to remain a hub of information online, GTJ Happy Hours will remain a real-time meeting place for the community, and GTJ professionals will work closely with the talented array of Jewish professionals already committed to communal programming in the DC community.

Simone Friedman Rones of Emanuel J Friedman Philanthropies said, “We are thrilled to continue our relationship with Gather the Jews in partnership with GW Hillel, The Morningstar Foundation, and UJEF.  We believe that collaboration is the key to effective grant making, and we think that this GTJ initiative has the potential to be a model for collaboration in Jewish communities across the United States.”

About GW Hillel & GTJ:
GTJ found a new home under the auspices of GW Hillel in April 2013.  This transition has enabled GW Hillel to expand its demographic reach while maintaining its mission of supporting emerging Jewish adults write the next chapter of their Jewish journeys.  GW Hillel continues to recognize that one’s Jewish growth does not end after four years in college; GTJ is a natural extension of GW Hillel’s desire to provide identity building and growth to the next generation of Jews.


Rachel Gildiner,
Director – Gather the Jews

Rabbi Yoni Kaiser-Blueth
Executive Director – GW Hillel

Adina Dubin Barkinskiy
The Morningstar Foundation

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