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GTJ’s Satirist Brian F. – Christmas Writes Cease-and-Desist Letter to Hanukkah

The following letter was leaked from a law firm in Brooklyn: 

Hanukkah
18 One-Candle Drive
Jerusalem, Israel

Dear Hanukkah,

It has come to my attention that my client [CHRISTMAS] contends that you [HANUKKAH] have infringed upon Christmas’ position as the preeminent gift-giving holiday during the cold weather months of November and/or December.  My client demands that you cease and desist your existence as a gift-giving holiday immediately.

I understand that you [HANUKKAH] are a “festival” and not a holiday.  However, you and my client [CHRISTMAS] are constantly grouped by the politically-correct masses into the same category.

In the scenarios listed below, the unauthorized likenesses of Hanukkah (H) to Christmas (C) are highlighted:

· Menorahs (H) vs. Christmas Trees (C). A free-standing symbol of holiday cheer consisting of lights and flames.

· Potato Pancakes(H) vs. Buttermilk Pancakes (C)  Honestly, did you really have to re-invent the pancake?

· Blue Tinsel (H) vs. Green/Red Tinsel (C).  Decorative tinsel is for Christmas.  You may not make it blue and call it ‘Hanukkah Tinsel’

· Dreidels (H) vs. Assorted Gambling (C).  Dreidels are a cheaper knock-off of dice- which are supposed to have six sides.  The only gambling allowed during the holiday season is reserved for College Bowl Games.

· Eight Nights (H) vs. Christmas Eve (C).  The nights of Hanukkah are artificially inflated, my client alleges, to overlap with Christmas every few years.  Unacceptable.

· Adam Sandler (H) vs. Bing Crosby (C).  Mr. Sandler’s “humorous” incarnations of the Hanukkah song are a rip on Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.”  And all he does is name celebrities that are Jewish.  That’s not a song, that’s a Wikipedia page.

You must cease and desist all attempts to emulate Christmas immediately.Should you not comply, Christmas will write another Cease and Desist letter each year until you come into compliance.You will be responsible for an eternity of attorney fees, plagiarism, royalties, individual and/or class-action law suits on behalf of Christmas.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Sincerely,
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Click here to learn more about the National Menorah Lighting.

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Check Out the DC Hanukkah Events!

Celebrate the Festival of Lights with the DC Jewish Young Professionals!  This page will be updated regularly so check back.

First to get you in the mood:

Wednesday, December 5th

Saturday, December 8th

Sunday, December 9th

Monday, December 10th

Tuesday, December 11th

Wednesday, December 12th

Thursday, December 13th

Friday, December 14th

Saturday, December 15th

Sunday, December 16th

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Anti-Semitism & Hate Defy Logic in the Premier League

Benayoun playing for West Ham United.

After this article was published on GTJ, DC Sports Beat approached Jon for an interview.  You can listen to his interview here.

In the past few weeks, the illogical nature of anti-Semitism was put on full display in two separate incidents in which fans of the Tottenham Hotspurs were the recipients of mindless hatred.  Why was Tottenham targeted?  It’s not just because they have a long history of Jewish ownership, but that they are also extremely close to the orthodox community in London. The history of anti-Semitism against the Hotspurs is a long one; it begins with other teams calling them the “Yids” as a derogatory term to insult their supporters.  In response, Tottenham fans banded together to turn an insult into a positive by calling themselves the “Yid Army.”  Other groups, with either no association with the club or who are Jewish but fans of rival clubs, feel adopting this word just eggs on other racist fans.

 To summarize the two incidents:

  • In Italy, fans of the Lazio team recently stabbed two Tottenham fans.  The team has been fined in the past for its fans’ anti-Semitic actions according to NBC sports, and has a long history of racist behavior.
  • At a recent game between West Ham United and the Tottenham Hotspurs, West Ham fans were cheering for Hitler, complimenting the Lazio club on the recent stabbing, and making other anti-Semitic remarks.

The Lazio club is known for these types of incidents, but it’s not surprising that an Italian club- where many supporters idolize Mussolini- would hate Jews. The events at the recent English Premier League game are both troubling and devoid of any logic.  Initially, these news stories would lead someone to believe that anti-Semitism is making a reoccurrence to a dark age in soccer when Jews were constantly in the bull’s eye of the hatred of some clubs.  However, at least one author would say it never left.  On top of the obvious reason that anti-Semitism, along with all types of racism in this world, is never acceptable, the other reasons below show the ridiculousness of these events:

  • One of the starters of West Ham is a well respected Israeli (and Jew) named  Yossi Benayoun. The West Ham fans are basically insulting one of their own in their mindless hatred.  Benayoun was obviously dismayed by the recent chants.  Also, one of their owners, David Gold, is Jewish. To the club’s credit, they are promising to ban for life any individual they can find who was involved with the chant.
  • Two of the other biggest clubs in the league, Manchester United (Malcolm Glazer) and Chelsea (Roman Abramovich), have major owners who are Jewish.
  • Why on earth would the fans of any London team ever cheer for Hitler?  This would be like the NY Giants cheering Al-Qaeda against the Redskins.

While the major sports in the US have their own moments of absurdity ranging from Eagles fans booing Santa Claus to rare tragic violence at baseball games, these are generally instances of just bad apples. The hive-mind where racism is accepted and on full display in the US sporting world doesn’t exist.  Even when Joel Ward, a forward for the Washington Capitals, was sent a sizable number of racist tweets from Boston Bruin fans, it was immediately condemned across the NHL and in no way was it an organized event.  The closest thing we have in the US has been the controversy over Ole Miss, much of it brilliantly documented in an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary about football, racism, and integration in the 1960s.  In the past, the mascot (now retired) was a confederate soldier and they played Dixie at official school functions (a medley that included Dixie was discounted in 2009).

Sports can provide the opportunity for sheer unexpected excitement and gut punches.  It can also bring out the best in humanity.  Hopefully, shining a bright light on this awful chapter in European soccer allows it to solve its problems of the past and return the focus to a sport that so much of the world loves.

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Krav Maga

Krav Maga is offered at Rockville’s Krav Maga Center in the Hebrew Academy.  Learn more about classes here.

Krav Maga means “contact combat.”  It is the official self-defense and fighting style of the Israeli Defense Forces, and it is used by U.S. law enforcement and federal agencies.  Similar to kickboxing, Krav Maga is also a great workout.

In addition, Krav Maga teaches people practical skills to protect themselves in a variety of street situations.  You may learn a simple movement that could save your life, like an arm raise to stop a knife or a kick to stop an attempted rape.

Twice a week, at the Hebrew Academy in Rockville, about 10 people- Jew and gentile, black and white, male and female- meet to… Beat each other up.  Fortunately, they are all well-upholstered: The students aren’t here to learn any flashy moves (Krav Maga is anything but stylish) or to practice for a contest.  They are learning how to survive an assault on the street using no-frills methods that include punching, gouging, kicking- anything that works.

This is serious business, and if you don’t believe it, talk to Tomer, 38, a former Israeli secret service agent.  “It’s become a way of life; almost every thing you are doing during the day is analyzing the possible threat to you or the dignitaries you protect.”  Tomer, who now teaches at the center in Rockville, hopes to give his students what he got from the martial art: self-confidence and security- not to mention a kick that could knock the — out of anybody.

Classes are sweaty, noisy affairs, with students pairing off to exchange blows with grunts right out of a Springsteen song.

Krav Maga is for everyone,” says Tomer, who especially enjoys teaching women and teens.  “I love showing them that they can do it, can give punches and kicks.  They walk out feeling so good, they become more aggressive.”

The key to using Krav Maga as exercise, says Tomer, is continuous motion.  “In class, after we get the moves down properly, we’ll do 30 to 50 punches in one set.  And since we focus on leg work as well as upper body, all major muscle groups are used.”  Another advantage to the program, he adds, is that “you can scale it to whatever level you feel fits.  Not everyone can kick somebody in the head.”

Perhaps Krav Maga’s greatest advantage over other martial arts is that instead of requiring many months of training, often years, it can be effectively learned quickly.

While popular films have immortalized the beauty of a taekwondo flying sidekick and the intense concentration required by martial artists who break bricks, these skills are not especially practical if a rapist, carjacker, or gang member jumps you from behind.  Forget about a proper karate sparring stance- you simply won’t have time.

“Traditional martial arts are much more complex and diversified then simple fighting techniques,” says Tomer.

“Our offering is very unique and far from the ordinary Krav Maga classes.  Kicks, punches, blocks, and grabs are the basics.  We focus on street fighting against multiple attackers, knives, baseball bats, hand guns, and more.  You don’t need any special talent or experience to participate.  Some of my students didn’t have any and some have a few years in all kinds of martial arts such as Karate, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, boxing, and etc. My students find the class very challenging and feel confident in facing real life situations in a better and more effective way.  We focus on the students’ progress, we don’t just charge you for a monthly payment to come and punch a bag or accidental ran-dory.  Working with a small group, up to 10 students in a class, gives you the personal attention you need to advance and improve yourself.”

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GTJ’s Satirist Brian F. – MatzoBrawl To Feature Simon vs. Garfunkel, Streisand vs. Gene Simmons in Xmas Eve Boxing Matches

NEW YORK, NY – (@TheComedyNews) – Jewish Americans will have a new reason to get down with some holiday cheer this winter:  the first-annual MatzoBrawl is set to take place live from Madison Square Garden on Christmas Eve.

MatzoBrawl will feature one-on-one boxing matches between prominent Jewish celebrities.

HAPPY GILMORE vs. BILLY MADISON

Fresh off his recent suspension from the PGA Tour, golfer Happy Gilmore will be certain to have some  aggression to blow off in the boxing ring.  The hockey player-turned-golfer is known for his short temper, which will serve him well in the later rounds.

Knibb High School physical education teacher Billy Madison’s best hope for a knockout hinges on two factors:  keeping the trash talk to a minimum, and showing up to the fight with a blood-alcohol level below .08. Special guest referee:  Rob Schneider 

Favorite Gilmore

BARBARA STREISAND vs. GENE SIMMONS 
Gene Simmons, the Israel-born frontman to K.I.S.S. will clash with Barbara Streisand—an equally as overrated popstar who’s relevance was also left in the 1970s.  Since both competitors refused to “condescend to wearing frumpy boxing gloves”, officials have allowed both Streisand and Simmons one foreign object.Streisand is expected to use one of her eight Grammy awards as a weapon, while Simmons will likely do something that involves either fake blood or his grotesquely deformed tongue.  Still, both celebrity-boxers are expected to quit the fight when their excessive makeup starts to smear. 

Favorite: Streisand.  

PAUL SIMON vs. ART GARFUNKEL
Having been buddies since their elementary school days in Queens, folk rockstars Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel have gone in and out of personal clashes.  While they have been reportedly getting along for the last decade, both Simon and Garfunkel will reunite in the center of Madison Square Garden to box their way into another hiatus.  Favorite:  Garfunkel

SARAH SILVERMAN vs. SARAH JESSICA PARKER
In what is being billed as “The Battle of the Sarahs”, comedian Sarah Silverman will fight Sarah Jessica Parker in the opening boxing match of MatzoBrawl 2012.Stipulations:  If Parker wins, Silverman has to go a week without using profanity.  If Parker loses to Silverman, Silverman gets to have a night-on-the-town in Chicago with Parker’s husband of fifteen years, Matthew Broderick.   

Favorite:  Parker

Brian Fishbach is a comedian, writer, political satirist, former GTJ JGOTW, and musician specializing in social and political commentary.  You can read Brian’s weekly satire news articles at www.TheComedyNews.com, and enjoy his late-night jokes at www.BrianFishbach.com.  Join The Comedy News’ Facebook page for updates.
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On the 8 Nights of Chanukah, My Dating Coach Said to Me… – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 55)

With Chanukah fast-approaching (how does it creep up like that?), I want to provide a summary of the top eight tips from 2012.  Feel free to sing along!  (And check out last year’s top 8 tips here for a refresher.)

On the 1st night of Chanukah, my dating coach said to me:

Having a laundry list of a dozen “must haves” will inevitably doom your search for Mr. or Ms. Perfect.  In reality, no one is perfect, so it’s important to know what you can bend on.  In the end, the most important thing is how someone treats you.

On the 2nd night of Chanukah, my dating coach said to me:

Proofreading your online dating profile goes a long way.  When you’re putting yourself out there in the vast online dating pool, it’s important to take the time to read and re-read your profile to make sure that “your” not messing up easy words and hurting your chance to find the perfect match.

On the 3rd night of Chanukah, my dating coach said to me:

When writing an online dating e-mail, remember not to make it too long or too generic.  It’s best to mention what appealed to you about his or her profile and how that relates to you.  Then, end with a question so that they have something to answer in the response.  It never hurts to throw something funny in there either!

On the 4th night of Chanukah, my dating coach said to me:

On a first date, try to maintain an optimistic and happy attitude.  People can easily detect negativity when you’re “J-Jaded.”  A simple smile goes a long way.

On the 5th night of Chanukah, my dating coach said to me:

When signing up for online dating for the first time or going on a first date, remember to try to be a PSP instead of a DO.  Not every person will be “the one,” but just hope for a nice time and some good conversation, and you may be pleasantly surprised.

On the 6th night of Chanukah, my dating coach said to me:

Do not use the words “Need not apply” in your online dating profile.  Rather than talking about what you’re not looking for in a partner, give people a sense of what you are looking for and it will come off in a much more positive manner.

On the 7th night of Chanukah, my dating coach said to me:

Having your phone out or texting on a first date is a huge turn-off.  Nothing screams “I’m waiting for something better to come up” than a cell phone on the table waiting to be answered.  Try (as hard as it may be since we’re all surgically attached to our phones… myself included) to put your phone in your bag or your pocket for the entirety of the date.

On the 8th night of Chanukah, my dating coach said to me:

It’s ok to Google someone before your date, but please don’t friend them on Facebook!  It’s way too soon to see all the pictures with the ex!  ;)

And a partridge in a pear tree. 

Have a wonderful holiday from Erika at A Little Nudge, your spunky GTJ dating columnist.

Erika Ettin is, as the Washington Post has noted, a “modern day Cyrano.” She is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people with all aspects of online dating.  Check out her interview on NPR here. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.

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GTJ Health Series: Six Tips for Stress Relief

The contents of this article are for informational purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

For many of us, the holidays can be a stressful time filled with deadlines at work, travel (and delays), and extended time with family.  To help manage your stress this holiday season, GTJ offers six tips for stress relief.

1- Eat, Sleep, and Exercise: A Dose of Prevention

Dr. Adam Goldstein of yourhealthradio.org, and an expert on and advocate for quality of life, gave me three pieces of advice when I started medical school (arguably the most stressful 4 years of my life).  His advice was to:

  1. Eat
  2. Sleep, and
  3. Exercise

These three activities are things that all of us, as busy professionals and students, struggle to prioritize. Let me convince you why you should.

  1. Eat well: A poor diet, such as those high in sugar, caffeine, and fat, has been shown to decrease mood and increase stress and anxiety symptoms.  Lessen your risk by eating three well balanced meals a day with plenty of vegetables, lean protein, and fiber and by limiting your sugar, caffeine, and alcohol consumption.
  2. Sleep: Sleep deprivation causes an increase in Corticotropin Releasing Hormone (CRH) which leads to the production of stress hormones like adrenaline.   A 2010 study in the Journal of Sleep in which 30,000 adults participated found that those that get at least 7 hour a day of sleep are half as likely to have stress related illnesses like heart attack, stroke, and chest pain compared to those who slept less than five hours a day.  Other studies support this research and have also shown that those who were sleep deprived were more likely to be rated as less attractive, have poorer skin tone, be overweight, and die prematurely.  So do your body and attractiveness a favor: get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.
  3. Exercise: Exercise prevents stress by increasing production of mood boosting endorphins, lowering the production of stress hormones such as cortisol, increasing self-confidence, and even improving mild symptoms of anxiety and depression.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends getting 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week.  So whether you enjoy jogging, Pilates, or basketball, make sure to get your 150 minutes a week.
2 – Breathe

We all take breathing for granted, but it is a valuable tool for relieving stress.  When you are in a stressful situation, your body releases hormones that create a “flight or flight response.”  Your breathing rate increases and your heart beats faster and faster.  While beneficial in the short term to help us catch the metro or fight off overzealous shoppers on Black Friday, if this response continues it can create physical and emotional damage.  The opposite response, known as the “rest and digest” response, serves to lessen stress and the potential damage of the “fight or flight” response.  To promote this “rest and digest” phase over the “fight or flight” phase, practice this simple deep breathing relaxation technique when you’re stressed:

Close your eyes and picture a relaxing scene (my current favorite is the beaches of Costa Rica) and, while counting to five, take a deep slow breath in through your nose.  Then, while counting down from 5, breathe slowly out through your mouth.  Repeat as necessary to encourage relaxation and relieve stress.

3 – Avoid Making a Mole Hill into a Mountain

We’ve all done it- treated a small inconvenience as if it was the end of the world.  Catastrophizing is, when a challenging event occurs, foreseeing the worst possible outcome, however unlikely.  Most likely just because you missed your bus, your significant other is in a bad mood, or your mother isn’t talking to you, the world isn’t ending.  When you feel yourself drawing broader conclusions from a relatively minor hiccup, take a moment to put the issue in context and consider asking a trusted friend for their opinion.

4 - Be Grateful

“The ship of my life may or may not be sailing on calm and amiable seas.  The challenging days of my existence may or may not be bright and promising.  Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights, I maintain an attitude of gratitude.  If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow.  Today I am blessed.”  – Maya Angelou

Much of what we face on a daily basis are minor challenges compared to the much greater totality of things we are grateful for.  During this holiday season, take a moment each day to reflect on the things you are grateful for and approach each day with an attitude of gratitude.

5 - Help/Treat Yourself

As Donna and Tom Haverford from Parks and Rec always say you don’t need an excuse to treat yourself.

To relieve stress, do (at least) one nice thing for yourself every day.  Start each day with a relaxing ritual such as yoga, take a walk at lunch to clear your mind, or watch a hilarious video on YouTube after a long day.  By taking time out of your day for yourself, you combat the buildup of stress.

6 - Let Someone Else Treat/Help You

If you find you are stressed, seek support from relatives, significant others, friends, and, at any point, physicians or therapists.  Mental illnesses- whether panic attacks, depression, or anxiety- are serious and often treatable issues that need to be brought to the attention of a professional.  We can all benefit from a little help from our friends (or our doctors).

Liked this article? Stay tuned for Alex’s next article on New Year’s Resolutions!

Alex Berger, a new GTJ contributing columnist, is a native of the Washington DC Metropolitan Area.  He graduated in 2008 from the University of North Carolina and is currently in his last year of a combined MD/MPH program. He is excited to be back in the DC area and to share tips on nutrition, health, and fitness. He can be reached at Alexander_Berger@med.unc.edu.

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Shabbat: Pure and Simple: An Interview with Rabbi Scott About Upcoming Events at Sixth&I

Shabbat: Pure and Simple will debut on December 15th. Click here for more information.
Rachel: How long have you been in DC now?
Rabbi Scott: I’ve been in DC four months now. I love it. In L.A., walking 15 minutes gets you to your mailbox.  Here, you can enjoy the entire city.
Rachel: What is your favorite part of DC/the DC Jewish community?
Rabbi Scott: Right now it’s a tossup between my amazing job at Sixth & I (not to mention having concerts and authors in house) and the Dupont Farmers Market. Dolcezza is a close third.
Rachel: What programs/events/services do you provide?
Rabbi Scott: You can expect more from me in the coming months, but we’re starting a series called What It Takes- short term, high intensity classes with friends, designed to get practical, useful Jewish knowledge so that you can connect to services, holidays, life cycles,  and learning -and feel comfortable in them all.  With Sarah Lawson and Josh Cogan’s help, Sixth & I is starting Havdallah with the Three Star Collective- a chance to hear great music and poetry inside Havdallah (the service separating Shabbat and the rest of the week).  It’ll be the perfect way to start a Saturday night.  Jamming is encouraged. We’ll be relaunching the Sixth Street Minyan in February.  The details aren’t out yet, but expect an extraordinary new Friday night opportunity.
Rachel: Your service is called, “Shabbat: Pure and Simple.”  What do you mean by “pure and simple”?
Rabbi Scott: It’s hard to step in Judaism cold.  Our kind of prayer is thick and rich, moves quickly, and assumes a lot of knowledge.  I know people who’ve been coming to Shabbat every week for 30 years, and still don’t know the service.  It’s not easy to learn by osmosis.  Shabbat Pure and Simple does two things: it slows the service down so that participants can focus more deeply on what they’re doing and saying, learn to understand why things are, and, even for the pro’s, simply have enough time to concentrate; it also provides an important opportunity for those who’ve never experienced Shabbat morning to come in, know what’s going on, even help lead the service if they want to.

Rachel: This is Sixth and I’s first Saturday service.  Why did you choose to lead a Saturday service?
Rabbi Scott: We created a Shabbat morning service because of demand.  After reaching out, our people told us that they were looking for a morning experience.

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GTJ’s Satirist Brian F. – ‘JDate Going Really Well’, Thinks Guy Who Doesn’t Realize How Rude He Just Was

BOSTON, MA – (@TheComedyNews) -  While on his first JDate in a month, Max Rubinstein smiled across the cocktail table to his date, Rebecca Schumer.  It was at this juncture that Max thought that things were going beyond smoothly.  He knew was in—she was digging his flattery—-so  Max kept buttering her up for what was certain to take this JDate to an intimate end.

“This JDate is going really well—-just keep on smooth-talking and I am in!” Max thought to himself.

Little did Max realize that his comment comparing Rebecca to his ex was the rudest thing he could have done in that moment.

“You’re not as cute as my last girlfriend, but you do look smarter,” Max said while chewing on some of Rebecca’s red velvet cake with his mouth open.  “But no offense.  I’m starting to like smart-looking girls, anyways,” he continued.

Shocked and floored, Rebecca could only sit with her mouth partially open, eyebrows lowering.

“Oh man, she can’t stop looking into my eyes, you did it Maxy!”  Max thought to himself.

Max wanted to keep his perceived momentum going, so he followed up his “flattery” with back-to-back 20-minute stories about himself.  First, a smug tale about when he turned 13, his parents voted him their favorite child (out of four total).  This was followed by an iPhone slideshow of Max’s beloved cat, Matzah, and then a profane diatribe about how Nixon should have defeated JFK in the 1960 election.

The waiter for the pair told reporters that throughout the evening, Max used five of the ‘seven words you can’t say on television‘.

After about 90 excruciating minutes, the check arrived. At that point Max thought, “Alright, fourth quarter, you’re Tom Brady, better pull out the A-Material, son!”   Out loud, this translated into Max saying, “so Rebecca, tell me about yourself.”

Not wanting to indulge, Rebecca replied, “I’m getting a text message from a friend.  She’s, umm, having a bit of a crisis.  I really should go now.  She’s my best friend from college.”

Wanting to turn up some more cute flirting, Max snapped, “you went to college?”

As the JDate parted ways, Rebecca conceded an awkward side-hug with Max.  Max then looked into Rebecca’s eyes one last time, flashed a sideways peace-sign and said, “I’ll be in touch.  Peace sugar!”

Upon arriving home, Rebecca deactivated her JDate account and changed Max’s name in her iPhone to “Don’t Answer #7″.

Don’t want your Jdate to end this way?  Check out GTJ’s dating columnist Erika E’s Helpful Tips for a Great First Date.

Brian Fishbach is a comedian, writer, political satirist, former GTJ JGOTW, and musician specializing in social and political commentary.  You can read Brian’s weekly satire news articles at www.TheComedyNews.com, and enjoy his late-night jokes at www.BrianFishbach.com.  Join The Comedy News’ Facebook page for updates.

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The Future of DC Real Estate is Single & Small- Featuring Design Tips for Living Large in Smaller Spaces

You may have noticed from my recent blog posts that I love to examine societal trends- both nationwide and those specific to the District- to see how they have affected and will continue to affect DC real estate.  My hope is that by understanding the “Why,” GTJ’ers will look at DC real estate differently and make more informed choices about the “What,” “Where,” “When,” and “How Much” when making  their real estate choices.  Today’s post tackles another trend that is reshaping the real estate market in DC and is largely driven by young professionals*: the rise of the single person household.

In 1950, 10% of all American households were one-person households.  Today that figure is 28% nationally, around 45% in DC, and continuing to rise*!  While there are a multitude of factors that contribute to this long term trend- people marrying later in life, divorce rates increasing, the rise of the economic power and independence of women, urbanization, etc.- what I find most interesting is how this trend affects what we buy and where and how we live.  DC is looking more and more like Europe every day (Stockholm is over 50% single person households) with little Fiats, Mini Coopers, and Smart Cars zipping around the streets (don’t even get me started on the Vespas and bicyclists!).  While a lot of these changes can be ascribed to our society going “greener,” I believe that sheer pragmatism is just as significant of a factor in more people “going small.”  More single-person households means less need for 4 doors (if you’re single, how often do you really use the rear doors of your car?) and a huge trunk to make Costco runs (if you live alone do you really need to buy toilet paper by the pallet?).  Put simply, the trade-off of space for cost and efficiency is simply easier to make in smaller households.

Outside of auto manufacturers, we are also seeing real estate developers and urban planners responding to these trends with denser developments and ever smaller condo units.  With 1,100 new residents entering the District each month (70% of them under the age of 35!)**, DC city planners have entertained a host of ideas to increase density, including a recent proposal to increase the maximum allowable building height above its current 160 ft threshold (By comparison Tulsa, OK has 17 buildings over 200 ft…even Fargo, N.D. has two!) and introducing the Fiat of real estate development, the micro studio, to our housing mix.

RISE OF THE MICRO STUDIO

At sizes ranging from 220 – 375 square feet, the “micro studio” is now being introduced to the DC market by some intrepid developers who feel that DC’s changing demographics will create an increasing demand for smaller living.  To make these smaller spaces more attractive, developers are not only using architecture and design to make spaces feel bigger and function better, but they are also creating community amenities and bringing in businesses that provide residents “living” space outside of their micro-units in an effort to foster connective living.  From a design standpoint, this translates to higher ceilings, larger windows that are angled to pick up viewing area and capture more light, smaller appliances, and incorporating multi-functional furniture (think Murphy bed units that transform into couches, entertainment centers, desk space, and storage….check out this video!)

From a community standpoint, having business centers or coffee shops that are accessible to residents reduces the need for a home office or secondary living space in the unit.  Having local grocery stores or encouraging farmers’ markets where residents can get easy access to fresh food reduces the need to have large kitchens to store food.  By building self-sustaining environments that foster connectivity while creating interior spaces that maximize functionality, developers and city planners hope to attract DC’s growing single person households into denser and denser communities at price points they can afford (think below $250,000).

THE FUTURE OF DC REAL ESTATE IS SMALL

Will micro-studios catch on?  We may get our first glimpse at the answer to this question when PN Hoffman-Madison Waterfront delivers its $1.5 billion, 35 acre redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront, which will feature units ranging from 330-380 square feet (see rendering above).  Even if micro-studios are not the ultimate answer to the need for denser living, the demographic trends are hard to ignore.  With a growing population of single person households streaming into the District, smaller and smaller condos will become a greater percentage of our housing mix.

DESIGN TIPS FOR LIVING LARGE IN SMALL SPACES

If the future of DC real estate really is small, how can we deal with it?  For that answer, I reached out to Wendy Danziger (www.DanzigerDesign.com), a prominent interior designer in the DC Metropolitan area whose work was recently featured in Home and Design Magazine and in the DC Design House, for some simple tips for living large in small spaces.

1. Use Color to Make Spaces Look Larger.
If the ceilings are over 9ft, paint them a fabulous color and leave the walls light and the wood floors pale.

2. Conserve Visual Space with Minimalist Interior Design Choices.
Keep window treatments minimal.  Check out these Matchstick Blinds:

Consider furniture that “disappears” like the Victoria Ghost Chair, which takes up less visual space than wood or upholstered chairs:

3. Maximize Storage and Space with Multi-Functional Furniture.
Invest in a bed that has a high profile mattress and boxspring to create greater storage space underneath your bed or consider beds with drawers underneath.  Check out the Stratton Bed from Pottery Barn:



If you don’t have room for a bed, consider Murphy Beds or Sleep Sofas:

Use banquette seating with storage in a kitchen nook:

If your kitchen cabinets do not extend to the ceiling  use this area to store rarely used items:

Surfaces should double as storage pieces.  Need a coffee table? Check out the Hunter II Trunk from Crate & Barrel:

Consider storage ottomans for seating and storage.  Check out the Vanguard Storage Ottoman from Vanguard Furniture:

4. Shelves Everywhere!
Some space that is often underutilized is over the bed, over the toilet, and even in the corners of rooms:

Danziger Design is a full service Interior Design Firm serving Maryland, Virginia and DC.  Wendy listens to her clients and works with them to design beautiful and livable spaces.  Visit Danziger Design on the web at www.DanzigerDesign.com or contact them at 301-365-3300.

* Eric Klinenberg on Going Solo: The surprising benefits, to oneself and to society, of living alone Smithsonian Magazine, February 2012.
**Statistics from the DC Office of Planning

David Abrams, a new GTJ contributing columnist, is a native of the Washington DC Metropolitan Area.  He received his M.B.A. from Emory University in 2009 and currently works as a realtor specializing in DC’s emerging neighborhoods with the BergerSandler+ team (www.bergersandlerplus.com) at Evers & Company Real Estate.  David is licensed in DC, MD, & VA. For more on DC Real Estate, check out David’s real estate blog at www.TheCapitalLine.blogspot.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MesorahDC’s Dreidel Championship!

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Impact DC Raises More Than $20,000!

The Impact DC event committee.

Find more Impact DC pictures on the Young Leadership of the The Federation of Greater Washington Facebook page.

Oh, what a night, when more than 350 of DC’s most savvy young adults hit the Howard Theatre for The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s Second Annual Impact DC.  This not-to-be missed event was a lively celebration of young adults’ commitment to strengthening the community locally, in Israel, and around the world.  Event organizers proudly reported that the evening raised more than $20,000 for The Federation’s Annual Campaign and they shared that attendees collectively donated $80,000 to this cause over the course of the year.  “This evening personifies the unwavering commitment of young adults to serve their community and each other, as well as recognizes their unbreakable faith in our people and our values.  And the fact that we had an amazing time doing it is a great bonus,” said Andrew Friedson, Impact DC Co-Chair.

Young Leadership of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington was proud to celebrate the next generation’s leadership, as they take steps to shape the future of the Jewish community and beyond.  Co-chairs Andrew Friedson, Ariana Heideman, and Jess Sher, along with their committee of 18, did a phenomenal job assuring the night was an unbelievable success.  From a live-updated slideshow of event Instagram photos to endless food and drinks, the crowd left raving about Impact DC and looking forward to the next event.  “I’ve really enjoyed being a part of The Federation’s Young Leadership; I’ve attended social events like Impact DC, volunteer events, and held leadership positions.  I have built a great network of friends through YL and am looking forward to staying actively involved,” said Ariella Brodecki, an attendee at the event.

Be sure to check out upcoming Federation Young Leadership events including a night of giving back to the community , Chanukah Dial-A-Thon, on December 11, a hands-on volunteer event, Mitzvah Hoppin’, on December 16, and a social gathering, Hannukah Happy Hour on the Hill, on December 10. All details can be found at shalomdc.org/youngleadership.

 

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Join the GTJ Volunteers and make a difference…

 

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NEW GTJ Health Series: 7 Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating

With Thanksgiving upon us, and Hanukkah and New Years quickly approaching, even the healthiest eater can be tempted by holiday treats.  Lucky for you, GTJ is here with a helping of tips to limit the damage on your waistline while still allowing you to enjoy this festive season.   Below I serve up a 7 course meal of suggestions to help get you through the holidays.

Tip #1: The Best Defense is a Strong Offense.  Eat Breakfast!

While it can be tempting to skip meals or limit your calories substantially in anticipation of large holiday meals, this may be harming you more than you think.  Research from the Journal of American Dietetic Association among others, suggests that those  eat breakfast have lower BMIs (body mass index), are less depressed, and have better cognitive performance.  Conversely, those avoiding breakfast have an increase in appetite later in the day that often causes overeating and weight gain.

Take home point: Eat a well-balanced breakfast with lean protein (like nonfat yogurt or milk) and fiber rich foods (like oatmeal or fiber rich cereal) to limit overeating at your latka feast.

Tip #2: Limit the Alcoholwho

For many, alcohol can be vital part of getting through extended holiday time with family.  In reality, alcohol will hijack your healthy eating plans.  First of all, alcohol is empty calories-it has no nutritional value and our body often fails to register that you consumed these calories which leads you to eat more to compensate.  Second, alcohol is a diuretic, which means it causes fluid loss and thus dehydration.  As we get more dehydrated, we get thirsty and drink more of these empty calories.  Lastly, alcohol lessens inhibitions and induces overeating, making even the most diligent partygoer a latke hog.

Tip #3: Hold Off on the Appetizers:

My Aunt Jan is famous for her spinach dip at Thanksgiving.  At many holiday parties there are large tables of these dips, treats, and other foods that are high in salt and fat.  Just like that nosey relative, there is just one strategy: Stay away!  Position yourself away from the appetizer tables; this will help you avoid the tendency to eat what’s in front of you.  If seeing and hearing your family snack around you causes you to want to snack, you’re not alone.  One strategy to get around this is to keep yourself occupied with a cup of water or low calorie beverage in  hand or chewing sugarless gum while others are snacking.

Tip #4: Limit the Gravy and Sour Cream

The eternal debate between apple sauce and sour cream for official topping of the latke will last forever (see The Leevees song “Applesauce vs. Sour Cream” for a synopsis of the arguments), but the debate over which is healthier has long been settled.  One tablespoon (and who only uses a tbsp. of sour cream?) of sour cream has 31 calories, of which 86% are fat.  So if you’re enjoying a couple of latkas and add a reasonable 5 tablespoons of sour cream, you are adding on 15g of fat.  Stick to the applesauce!

Gravy is similarly fatty.  One simple tip to limit homemade gravy’s fat- refrigerate the gravy to harden the fat overnight and then skim it off, this will eliminate over half of the gravy’s fat content.

Tip #5: Savor the Food You Eat

When deciding what foods to eat at a holiday feast, select and savor your favorites even if a couple are less healthy.  By enjoying the foods you do eat, you will feel less guilty and more full of holiday cheer.

Tip #6: Eat Your Veggies

Your mom was right- you should eat your vegetables.  They are jam packed with vitamins and antioxidants that help detoxify our bodies and protect us from cancer.  Vegetables are also full of fiber that helps make us feel full.  So pile on the grilled and steamed vegetables (avoid higher fat options like fried or those with heavy sauces).  Healthy examples include lemon grilled kale and butternut squash, or mashed sweet potato and toasted almond green beans.

Tip #7: Choose one Desert to Savor

If you’re anything like me one of my favorite parts of a Thanksgiving or Hanukkah meal are the desserts.  All of them.  But rather than sampling every single pumpkin pie or jelly doughnut, pick your favorite and savor it.  Feel the texture of every bite and enjoy it.  And grab a slice for your grandma, she’ll love you for it.

Alex Berger, a new GTJ contributing columnist, is a native of the Washington DC Metropolitan Area.  He graduated in 2008 from the University of North Carolina and is currently in his last year of a combined MD/MPH program. He is excited to be back in the DC area and to share tips on nutrition, health, and fitness. He can be reached at Alexander_Berger@med.unc.edu.

 

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