Top 5 Reasons To Volunteer this Good Deeds Day

GDD2016_buttonRnd3How wonderful it is that no one need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank

As Jews, we have the extraordinary and critical commandment to leave the world just a little bit better than the way we found it. We are told to live our lives not solely focused on our own pursuits of success, but on the success, justice and welfare of society at large.

The world depends on individuals realizing that we are not independent of anyone or anything on earth – but that we are interconnected. The hostile anger and bigotry of one person can spread hate across a nation, just as the loving kindness of another can create lasting peace. Each of us has the ability and the responsibility to share our goodness with the world. We are here for only a limited time, so, as Anne Frank once noted, why wait a single moment before starting to make our difference?

It was in this spirit that in 2007, renowned businesswoman and philanthropist Shari Arison launched Good Deeds Day, the international day for those of all ages and backgrounds to join together in the pursuit of the idea that, “if people will think good, speak good and do good, the circles of goodness will grow in the world.” Since Arison and the organization Ruach Tova first launched Good Deeds Day in Israel, it has grown exponentially. Today, more than half a million volunteers in 90+ countries across the globe participate in this phenomenal day of service. Among them are more than 10,000 Do Gooders right here in Greater Washington.

On April 10th, for the fifth year in a row, The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington will host The Sara and Samuel J. Lessans Good Deeds Day. Together, community members from across the DC area will gather for more than 200 projects and put our own spin on Arison’s idea into practice: that every single person can do something good, be it big or small.

In honor of Federation’s five remarkable years of planning and hosting Good Deeds Day in Greater Washington, here are the Top 5 reasons why you should sign up to join us on April 10:

  1. Get the “Helper’s High”: Positive Psychology has conducted extensive research studies proving that those who take the time to give back to others are happier than those who do not. According to the Americans’ Changing Lives long-term research project, “volunteer work is good for both mental and physical health. People of all ages who volunteer are happier and experience better physical health and less depression.” – Peggy Thoits, a lead researcher on the study.
  2. Meet Some Really Nice People: It turns out that when you volunteer with other people who are choosing to spend their Sunday make the community a better place – you meet awesome people.
  3. Make Bubbe Proud: All your life, your family has been spending every waking moment (subconsciously or not) trying to turn you into a mensch. Now’s your chance to show them – and thousands across the Greater Washington community – that you are a “Do Gooder.” You are someone who lives with the Jewish values you learned in Hebrew school to be kind, loving, respectful, hardworking and passionate about giving back.
  4. Make a (Real) Difference: This is not just a day of feel-good fluff. On April 10th you’ll put your best self to work and get your hands dirty to make a real difference for those in need. From gardening and planting, to packing and delivering food to local seniors, to making care bags for homeless children and blankets to keep hospice patients warm – check out more than 200 projects available to choose from!
  5. Forget Your Problems: At the end of the day, making time to step out of your own head, consider the plight of others and make a difference, however big or small, to improve their lives, is a powerful feeling. Every single day, we encounter people who are facing some sort of struggle. Yet, often times we are far too caught up in our own plans, logistics, relationships, career planning (ad infinitum) that we become unable to notice or be there for others.

On Good Deeds Day, you’ll have the incredible opportunity to pause, get outside of yourself and lend your time, your kindness and your resources to help those in need throughout our community. I can’t wait to meet you – and Do Good with you – on April 10th!

Allison Cossman is an Account Executive at The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.


Seeking Refuge: Young Voices, Stories of Resilience

An individual’s story is their most powerful possession. It can be used to connect us with others and inspire change, and it can’t be taken away. The Jewish people have lost many to persecution, and we remember these people their stories. After the Holocaust, we were not just moved to say “Never Again” because of the headlines or the facts; it was the first-hand accounts of the survivors, it was hearing about people’s fears and how they decided they needed to persevere that connects us as a Jewish community.

On Monday, March 28th, young professionals from around DC will come together to hear the stories of young adults who have shown strength while fleeing persecution at JDC Entwine’s, “Seeking Refuge: Young Voices, Stories of Resilience”.

This powerful storytelling program will highlight young adults who have sought refuge in the face of global conflict and recognize the work of global organizations, like JDC and HIAS, which directly shaped their stories.

At the program, you’ll hear the story of Juliya Sheynman’s family, who fled Soviet Belarus for the promise of a better life, free of anti-Semitism. You’ll hear from Mohammed Al-Samawi, a Yemen-born asylum seeker who risked his life advocating collaboration between Jews and Muslims. And finally, you’ll hear from Lana Alman, a Jewish refugee whose family fled Moldova with active conflict at their heels, and the Soviet Union collapsing before their very eyes.

As headlines flood our newsfeeds of people suffering around the world, we feel, as chairs of this event, an obligation to broach this issue in a way that unites us in the most basic human way: through storytelling. Join us as a community as we become eye-level with human experiences that connect us to universal themes of hardship and hope.

For more information and to RSVP for the event, click here.


Event Chairs, JDC Entwine’s “Seeking Refuge: Young Voices, Stories of Resilience”





Jewish Sports Fan of the Week – Ryan!


This week I had the oppurtunity to interview with Ryan. Originally from Raleigh, NC he came to DC to pursue journalism and business before finally turning to Sports Management. We talked about his love of sports and his favorite Jew in this Weeks interview.

Know someone who should be featured on Gather? Nominate them!


Jackie: You have been in DC for a couple years now, you originally came to study at AU, what made you want to stay in the city?

Ryan: The reason I wanted to stay in the city after my studies were done at AU was because I wanted to live on my own and not in the shadow of my parents in North Carolina. I didn’t want to live in a busy city like New York but a historical and less hectic city like Washington, DC.

IMG_2622Jackie: Where is your favorite place to spend time in the city?

Ryan: My favorite place to spend time is on the Mall. I play softball and kickball during the weekend near the Washington Monument and the Smithsonian museums. I also am a runner, and running around the Mall seeing the monuments and the Capitol makes me feel like a made a great decision staying in DC.

Jackie: Who are you rooting for to win it all in March Madness?

Ryan: I picked UNC to win the whole thing in my bracket this year. I am a NC State fan because I am from Raleigh, North Carolina and they did not make the field this year.

Jackie: What made you interested in the Sports Industry?

Ryan: Honestly, it’s because I’m a huge sports fan (hockey in particular) and I feel like you should find a job that you are passionate about!  So, the sports industry was the answer… although it took me a while to realize it.  I’m glad I finally did!

Jackie: Who is your favorite Jew?

Ryan: My favorite Jew off the top of my head would be Andy Samburg because I am a huge SNL fan and loved him in the sketches he was in before he left the show.

Finish the sentence: When the Jews Gather…

…good things always happen!




Gather the Jews is hiring a Community Coordinator!


Community Coordinator

Gather the Jews is looking for an energetic, impressive, Community Coordinator to join its team.  We are seeking a recent college graduate to help advance our ongoing community engagement efforts of the thousands of young Jews in DC. This full-time position will be responsible for initiatives to engage key populations, focusing specifically on recent college graduates and those new to the DC area. The Community Coordinator will join a staff team of three other highly motivated, passionate professionals and report directly to the Gather the Jews Director.

Gather the Jews is an innovative non-profit start-up, grass-roots network and online platform that helps connect young Jewish adults in DC to meaningful Jewish opportunities around the city.  We believe there is no one-way to be Jewish, and we strive to help every Jew between the ages of 22 – 39 find or create their personal Jewish fit. We believe in the power of social Jewish interactions and experiences. We serve as a community convener and resource for local Jewish organizations looking to reach young adults, and for young Jewish professionals looking for professional networks and resources.

Gather was recently named by Slingshot as one of the 18 most innovative Jewish non-profits in D.C. and we are looking for an enthusiastic Community Coordinator to join our efforts. Our offices are currently located at the WeWork collaborative workspace in Dupont Circle.  Gather the Jews is a project of GW Hillel.

Summary of Position/Job Responsibilities

The Gather the Jews Coordinator will:

  • Manage New(ish) & Jewish initiatives and follow-through, engaging hundreds of young adults when they arrive in the area
  • Maintain an expansive 1:1 engagement portfolio with young adults in D.C. and utilize our relationship management system
  • Represent Gather the Jews at community functions and events around the city
  • Organize monthly Happy Hours that regularly attract between 150 – 300 young adults across the city
  • Create and compile weekly newsletter for over 5,000 recipients, with opportunity for creative and editorial input
  • Assist in comprehensive social media strategy for over 3,000 Facebook and over 1,000 Twitter followers
  • Update website content including local calendar of events, blog, and highlighting local partner organizations
  • Assist with marketing of all Gather the Jews events and promotions including print materials, give-aways, etc.
  • Execute other tasks as needed as part of an innovative and small staff team


Passionate, dedicated self-starter and team player, with strong written, verbal and online communication skills.  Looking for a natural relationship-builder who is excited to learn about the DC social scene and the diverse Jewish communities within.  Looking for candidates with 0 – 2 years previous work experience.  Social media savvy and ability to utilize online technology a must.

Desired Start Date: Spring 2016.

Competitive salary commensurate with experience.

To Apply: Please click HERE to apply.

GW Hillel is an equal opportunity employer. Equal employment has been and continues to be both GW Hillel’s policy and practice. Its policy of equal employment opportunity is to recruit, hire, train, promote, and base all other employment decisions without regard to gender, race, color, sex, gender identity and expression, national origin, age, sexual orientation, disability, or any other protected status.

About Gather the Jews & GW Hillel:

Gather the Jews began as a project between three Jewish friends in their 20’s who wanted to see a more cohesive and connected DC Jewish community.  In April 2013, Gather the Jews officially became a project of GW Hillel.  For the past five years, Gather has been the preeminent resource for young adults seeking a connection to the DC Jewish community through information provided on its website, it’s 6,500+ person listserv and its monthly Gather the Jews Happy Hours.  Gather the Jews emphasizes its role as a resource to the community, rather than being a competitor to the diverse Jewish organizations programming for young adults in D.C.  Additionally, the Gather the Jews website includes:

  • Comprehensive calendar that features events with a young adult target audience
  • Blog
  • Housing and bulletin boards
  • Organizational and rabbinic directories
  • Jewish People of the Week which highlights active members of the community

Over the past year, Gather the Jews has ushered in a bold new phase for DC Jewish young adults by creating a relationship-based model to enable individuals to further explore their Jewish connections and create community within the robust offerings of DC. Utilizing relationship-based engagement, Gather the Jews has expanded its platform through which individuals can connect to each other, connect with Jewish institutions, and create their own Jewish lives based on personal interests and desires. Gather the Jews provides high-quality training and professional development for young Jewish adults, with the intention of enhancing the social fabric of Jewish life in DC and helping DC become an exceptionally dynamic and inclusive city for Jewish life.

Join our team



Jewish Entrepreneur of the Week – Lindsay!

922977_10100759162898267_231440761_n (1)This week I had the oppurtunity to sit down with Lindsay! I first met her through her job marketing for Cove but then learned she has a fascinating side business she has been working on. Read on to learn all about it…

Jackie: You grew up in St. Louis, what do you miss most about the city?

Lindsay: My parents and sister still live in St. Louis, and I miss them a lot. The St. Louis Cards is a close second. I love living in DC though, so I visit home when I can and I cheer for the Cards from afar.

Jackie: You studied abroad in Australia in college and that began you love of travel, where are some other places you have had the chance to visit? 

Lindsay: Since traveling all around Australia when I studied abroad, I’ve been to New Zealand, Poland, Prague, and Spain. My favorites were Prague and Barcelona. I hope to take a trip somewhere in Europe this summer, but not sure where yet.

Jackie: You have a small business can you tell us about it? 

IMG_4279Lindsay: I founded The Cookie Jar DC just six weeks ago to make edible cookie dough. The cookie dough doesn’t have eggs in it and you don’t bake it—you just eat it! I make several different flavors, from classic chocolate chip to sugar cookie with sprinkles, and they come in different size jars as well as small bites dipped in chocolate. While it’s only been six weeks, I’m already selling in Glen’s Garden Market (Dupont and Shaw) and Union Kitchen Grocery, shipping nationwide, doing delivery three nights a week, and accepting pickup orders. I also do catering and favors with custom branding for events, from office lunches to baby showers to bachelorette parties and more. You can find everything on my website:

Jackie: So you aren’t really that into cooking, what made you want to start an edible cookie dough company?

Lindsay: It’s funny that my business is edible cookie dough because I find cooking to be boring. However, there’s actually no cooking or baking involved in making the dough since nothing goes in the oven. The business started because I wanted to do something creative, and I wanted to run my own project. I began playing around in the kitchen and thinking up creative recipes that people wanted but couldn’t find in the stores. At one point I thought, “I should sell this.” So I looked for a commercial kitchen to produce out of, and the next thing I knew, it was official.

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

Lindsay: Recently, I’ve reallyLindsay_The Cookie Jar DC (1) enjoyed spending time in Union Kitchen, where I produce all of my edible cookie dough. The vibe is great, the other chefs and bakers are friendly, and there’s always different music playing. It’s easy relax and focus on making the cookie dough. It’s a very different environment than I had ever been in before I launched The Cookie Jar DC.

Jackie: You work full time and have your own business on the side, when do you sleep? 

Lindsay: It’s been a whirlwind so far, and I honestly haven’t had much time to sleep. I try to compartmentalize everything so that I’m focused on my job during the day and edible cookie dough at night. As I build up efficiencies with The Cookie Jar DC, I’ll hopefully have more time to relax. Regardless of how busy it keeps me, it’s a ton of fun and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Jackie: What is your favorite Jewish Food?

Lindsay: Charoset!

Jackie: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…

Lindsay: They eat edible cookie dough!


Purim Guide 2016 // 5776

snowflakePurim is many people’s favorite holiday, but Purim is very near and dear to our hearts here at Gather. Some of you might wonder where we get the name Gather the Jews… well it is actually from the Purim Story.

In the book of Esther, she tells Mordechai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Shushan, and fast for me.” And so we do! We work to bring together the members of our community, connect them to each other and find their fit.

In that vein, Purim begins Wednesday, March 23rd at sun down. Do you know where you’ll be celebrating? There are many opportunities in the coming weeks to celebrate with the DC Jewish Community.

Did we miss anything? Submit events here and/or leave a comment on this post.

Thursday, March 10th

 Friday, March 11th

Thursday, March 17th

Saturday, March 19th

Sunday, March 20th

Monday, March 21st

Tuesday, March 22nd

Wednesday, March 23rd

Thursday, March 24th

Friday, March 25th

Saturday, March 26th


Hasn’t a Jew Eyes?: Howard Jacobson Reads at the Folger

Shylock-Is-My-Name-jacket-imageHoward Jacobson, author and humorist, is often called the English Philip Roth. His response: No, he’s the Jewish Jane Austen. He explained to the New York Times, “I’m an English writer who happens to know about Jews and would like to write like Jane Austen, with a little bit of Yiddish.” He is best known for his novel The Finkler Question, a satire about anti-Semitism, which won him a Man Booker Prize in 2010.

So when Hogarth Shakespeare Press needed a biting humorist to take on one of Shakespeare’s most challenging plays and turn it into a contemporary novel, they called his agent.

Jacobson said, “They want Merchant of Venice, don’t they?”

Hasn’t a Jew Eyes?

Jacobson was reluctant at first. When he read Merchant of Venice at school, Shylock (the Jewish moneylender in the play) became something of a running joke among his classmates. “Whenever we felt that someone was saying something against the Jews, we would fall into caricature mode, hunch our shoulders, wring our hands, and go, “Hasn’t a Jew eyes?”

It was only after reading Merchant of Venice again as an adult that Jacobson saw past the caricature to the troubled man who’s lost his wife and been betrayed by his only child. And Simon Strulovitch, the protagonist of Jacobson’s Shylock is My Name, certainly is troubled: his daughter Beatrice has run off with a footballer famous for giving Nazi salutes on the field.

Shylock is My Name takes on Shylock, one of Shakespeare’s most infuriating, misunderstood characters, and pulls him into the present, and brings him to life in a way only Howard Jacobson can.

Howard Jacobson will be reading from Shylock is My Name on Monday, March 14, at Folger Shakespeare Library, and discussing it with Aaron Posner, whose play District Merchants premieres at the Folger on May 31st, 2016. This event is co-sponsored by the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Wonder of Will, the Hogarth Shakespeare Series, and the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. Tickets are $15 at more information here.

Cover photo Jenny de Yong.



New People, Mini Groups

Mini Gatherings

Want to meet other interesting Jews in a smaller, more personal setting? 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 newest cohort (#3!) of Mini–Gatherings, taking place this April.

What is Mini–Gatherings, you ask? It is a 3-week-long mini-fellowship that brings together about 15 diverse Jews 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 Tuesdays, April 5, 12 and 19 in Dupont. Each session will involve some schmoozing, drinking, and an open conversation facilitated by Rabbi Aaron about questions relevant to Jewish 20s and 30s. No background knowledge necessary – everyone is welcome.

In addition, Rabbi Aaron will host a Shabbat meal on Friday, April 15 (tax day!) at his apartment in Dupont.

Must commit to attending all three sessions and the dinner.

Who: Anyone 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.

Application: Here Applications due by Thursday, March 24 at 5 pm.

Want more information? Email Reb Aaron


Jewish Artist of the Week: Josef

This past week, Jackie had the opportunity to interview artist and activist, Josef. Josef  specializes in intermedia work that challenges social constructs and redefines Tikkun Olam. Read on to find out where in DC you can spot Josef’s work, and learn about his upcoming projects.

Jackie: You work locally as an artist and arts organizer here in DC, what kind of art do you create?88041628-30e3-4940-a7d9-4286ffe0c8f8

Josef: I create immersive art experiences for my audiences – that is, intermedia work that expresses the themes and concepts I’m addressing across various artistic forms all at once, such as audio/video, live performance, installation/sculpture, as well as more traditional forms of visual art folks are used to seeing.  I want people to engage with my projects on a fully interactive level, allowing their own experiences and biases to inform their subjective takeaways from the work I’ve created, oftentimes in collaboration with other artists, and exhibited in what I always aim to be really creative, contrarian ways that shift paradigms  and expectations of what art can be and do.

Jackie: Where can we see some of your art?

Josef: The majority of my projects these days are rooted in the ephemeral and experiential, so unfortunately, that means you have to catch my art live and in person!  However, in 2010, I was contacted by the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities to contribute to a neighborhood public art initiative, and a piece I designed titled Clean Slate was purchased by the District of Columbia and put on permanent installation inside the fountain plaza on 14th Street NW in Columbia Heights.  Clean Slate is meant to represent a chalkboard – as a “clean slate”, if you will, which is exactly how I perceive the rebirth and revitalization of Columbia Heights following the riots that shook the area in the 1960s.  The messaging of Clean Slate encourages residents to leave their mark on the mosaic’s black tiles using sidewalk chalk, while simultaneously reminding viewers to also leave their mark by helping to create a sense of community in the neighborhood.  It’s always fun to walk by the piece when I’m in Columbia Heights to see things like yard sale announcements, poems, and doodles from kids written on it.

Jackie: What first inspired you to get involved in activism?c546183d-4ad9-4a6b-a0f4-b2f5bd7bf862

Josef: Without a doubt, my Judaism inspired me to get involved in activism. In college, I was really engaged in activism on the crisis in the Darfur region of what is now the Republic of South Sudan, where a genocide was taking place for many years.  As Jews, we are told to heed the call of “never again” when it comes to crimes against humanity, so I coordinated tzedek campaigns with my campus Hillel group to help raise awareness and inspire action on these issues. I think pursuit of tikkun olam is an imperative for the Jewish community and the world in which we live.  It’s definitely something that inspires my work as an artist, too. I want my work to transcend societal constructs and bring the humanity back to the humanities.

Jackie: How did you first get involved with a Wider Bridge?

Josef: They commissioned me for my first internationally-focused community arts project last summer to creatively interpret the lived experiences of LGBTQ people in Israel and Palestine for audiences back home.  As an artist, I was curious to find cultural connections to our queer communities here in the United States with those I encountered in the Middle East, and I wanted to create some kind of project for A Wider Bridge to highlight the things that relate to all of us who exist beyond the global heteronormative hegemony.  Upon my return to DC, I presented the distillation of my experiences abroad as a one-night-only salon-style “happening” titled TAKE OFF THE MASC, curated around my own interests in the concept of a global LGBTQ community and the masculinity paradox gay men struggle with in our collective culture worldwide.

Jackie: You are now involved with planning the Beyond the Bridge cocktail reception, what is this event about and who should think about attending?

Josef: Yes!  I’m on the host committee for the Beyond the Bridge reception, and our event takes place on Saturday, March 19, from 8:30 to 10:30pm at Acadiana in Mount Vernon Square.  This will be an informal kick-off to AIPAC’s annual conference, opening the following day, and we’ve assembled a great group of speakers to talk about the latest in LGBTQ advocacy in Israel and around the world.  We’ll also have an open bar, selections from Acadiana’s amazing Cajun-Creole menu, and live entertainment that I’m keeping under wraps for now.  Come see what it will be!

Jackie: Who is your favorite Jew?

Josef: My favorite Jew is my great friend Daniel.  Neither of us are all that religious per se, but he inspires me to stay connected to the culture and find meaningful intersections with my life and Judaism.  I like to say he’s my spiritual big brother!


Jackie: What is your favorite Jewish food?

Josef: Mofletta!  It’s kind of crepe generally topped with honey, butter, or in my case, Nutella, it’s typically the first leavened food Moroccan Jews eat after Passover.  It’s also a lot of fun to make.

Jackie: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…

Josef: You’ll feel an instant sense of community.  There’s a shared fundamental connection that unites us all, and I think it’s truly remarkable.


30 in the City- March Event Guide

30 in the City (1)

We’ve hit another month in the district and that means a calendar packed full with Jewish Events. Not sure what to choose from? Never fear Hillah went through the calendar and pick some great events for those of us who are 30 in the City! (Think there are some great events people should know about this month? List them in the comments!)

brave miss world“Brave Miss World” Screening

When: Tuesday, March 8, at 6:00 PM

Where: TBD

What the organizers have to say about the event:

Join JWI and the Israeli Embassy for International Women’s Day for a celebration of brave Jewish women with a screening of the acclaimed documentary Brave Miss World.

What makes this event cool?

Not only is this an award-winning movie, it will also be a great opportunity to speak to representatives of both the Israeli Embassy and Jewish Women International about their outreach when it comes to humanitarian rights for Jewish women internationally.

(Extra perk: Lt. Colonel Nataly Tavor, Defense Attaché for the Embassy of Israel, will be guest speaking!)

Who should go?

Women’s rights are a key passion of yours and you enjoy celebrating and discussing related topics with other women.

Cost: Free

Register: Here


civil-discourse-weeble-620x300Civic & Interfaith Partnership Celebration

When: Wednesday, March 9, 7:00 – 9:00 PM

Where: Adas Israel Congregation (2850 Quebec Street NW, Washington, 20008)

What the organizers have to say about the event:

A celebration of civic and interfaith partnership! Restoring civility to the public discourse is a panel discussion featuring Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center, Greater Washington Urban League, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and AJC Washington.

What makes this event cool?

With the current political climate, some nasty things are being said about what has historically made America great. The US is a melting pot and this is a great event on how to restore civic and interfaith partnerships, how groups can learn from each other through collaboration, and about working together to create a more diverse and open community.

Who should go?

You like speaker series, are engage with your community, and looking for new ideas on how to get involved or give back.

Cost: Free




Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 10.09.24 AMADL NextGen Launch Reception

When: Thursday, March 17, 6:30 – 8:30 PM

Where: Center for American Progress (1333 H Street NW, 6th Floor, Washington, DC 20005)

What the organizers have to say about the event:

ADL NextGen is the young professional branch of the Anti-Defamation League’s Washington, DC Region. ADL NextGen seeks to unite the next generation of leaders committed to the mission of ADL – to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Come hear stories from ADL partners about the impact their leadership with ADL is having on the community, experience interactive information stations, test yourself at trivia, network with other local young professionals, and more!

What makes this event cool?

This is an opportunity to learn about the ADL and how young professionals can be involved. Always wanted to take your lawyer skills to the next level? Enjoy advocating for human rights? This an opportunity to relax after work, ask questions, and mix and mingle in a relax atmosphere.

Who should go?

All you do-gooders out there in the world. People who enjoy in-depth conversation while swirling their wine glasses.

Cost: Free

Register: Here


refugeeSeeking Refuge: Young Voices, Stories of Resilience

When: Monday, March 28, 7:00 PM

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

What the organizers have to say about the event: 

Join JDC Entwine for an evening of inspiring story-telling. Hear first-hand from young adults who’ve sought refuge in the face of global conflict in the Middle East & Soviet Union.

PLUS: Learn how Jewish humanitarian aid organizations like JDC & HIAS have worked to help refugees and displaced persons throughout history and today.

What makes this event cool?

Understanding how migration has changed in today’s world with today’s conflicts is a necessity of life. Further, as we learn more about the refugees in Europe, let us not forget that these people are leaving other countries behind.

Who should go?

Your coworker is boring you to death with her watercooler stories. You enjoy narration and storytelling and it just so happens that migration, immigration, and resettlement are close to your heart.

 Cost: $10 for one/$18 for two

Register: Here


Want more? Check Out:

Get your Purim on with the Jewish Food Experience Pre-Purim Palooza, Sixth and I Historical Synagogue’s Purim 2016: Make Shushan Great Again, and brought to you by more organizations than I can list The DC Purim Bash.



Who’s Ready for the DC Purim Bash 3.0?

Purim Bash team (2)
What are you up to on Saturday night, March 19?

A bunch of DC’s most exciting Jewish 20’s and 30’s organizations have been collaborating for months to book one of the hottest venues in the city, an open bar, great music, lighting, and hamentashen (of course), to make this DC Purim Bash the best one yet. We here at Gather reached out to the planners of this shindig for a little DC Purim Bash Q&A.

Jackie: Who am I going to see there, and what will they be wearing?

Marcy: I think the more important question is “Who won’t you see there?” The DC Purim Bash is THE place to be if you are a young Jewish professional in the DC metro area. Young professionals in our world means ages 21 – 39. There will be singles, there will be couples, there will be exes, and for some lucky people, there might even be future partners. As far as attire, we want you to look your best. Most people in years past have been in cocktail attire, but we’re not picky. Maybe you’ve been waiting for the perfect opportunity to come in costume as one of the Presidential candidates. Perhaps you just bought an amazing pair of jeans, cowboy boots, and bolo tie. Whatever you choose, make sure to dress it up with a smile. Oh and maybe most importantly when figuring out your outfit… there will be a coat check; free of charge!

– Marcy Spiro is the Director of Membership Engagement at Adas Israel Congregation

Jackie: How would you describe this year’s Purim Bash… in haiku form?

Stacy: Celebrate Purim

              Mingle, drink, nosh, and sway, until

             Haman goes away

– Stacy Miller is the Manager of EntryPointDC

Jackie: Why did you decide to join the DC Purim Bash team?

Emily: Being a part of the DC Purim Bash team combines all of the things that I love about my job—creating open, fun, welcoming spaces for DC Jewish young professionals to gather together—but with the other amazing Jewish organizations in the area. The Federation, 2239, Adas Israel, and EntryPoint all put on such fabulous programming on their own; being able to collaborate with everyone on this team to pull from the strengths of each organization is a dream come true.

– Emily Zeller is the Young Professional Event Associate at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue

Jackie: Why do tickets cost $45?

Aaron: The Purim Bash is a totally break-even celebration. The ticket price only covers the hard costs of putting on the event. We took the total cost and divided it by 400 tickets (this is our fire-code capacity, so seriously, get your ticket ASAP before they sell out). That’s how we got the ticket price. Our warm and fuzzy goal is to celebrate all of the things that make DC the most welcoming and collaborative young professionals Jewish community in the country. Our financial goal is to make $0 at the end. We really want to keep the tickets as inexpensive as possible.

– Rabbi Aaron Miller runs 2239 as the Associate Rabbi at Washington Hebrew Congregation

Jackie: When can I get tickets, and what happens when tickets sell out?

Rachel: You should get your ticket NOW by clicking here! The price goes up March 15th, and we are only able to sell 400 tickets (fewer than in past years), so I wouldn’t wait. The DC Purim Bash sells out every year, but even if you can’t get a ticket, you can still join us for the after-party at Station 4 on the Southwest Waterfront!

– Rachel Barton is the NEXT DC Coordinator for the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington

Jackie: Thanks Marcy, Stacy, Emily, Aaron, and Rachel for everything you’re doing to plan the best DC Purim Bash ever. I can’t wait to see everyone there!



Jewish Connector of the Week – Tammy!

Jackie: What first brought you to DC? FullSizeRender

Tammy: I first came to DC for undergrad to immerse myself in the politics, cultural events and diversity of the city. I apparently like this city a lot because I’ve been here for almost 9 years?! Being an Arizona girl at heart, I’m not sure I will ever get used to winter, but I love being surrounded by so many opportunities to engage in the community.

Jackie: You currently work as a School Counselor at a DC Public School. Can you tell us a little bit about your work? 

Tammy: Sure, I work at a preschool-8th grade education campus. When I say I’m a school counselor, many people assume I work with high schoolers. They are so intrigued to learn that my main focus is advocating for the youngest students. Yes, many of us didn’t have school counselors in elementary school, but my position was created to serve some of the neediest students in the district. Besides meeting with students individually and in groups to improve self regulation, social skills and academic achievement, I’ve helped create programs such as the school’s inaugural career day and an elite scholar’s program. I also took some students who were too young to actually attend a scheduled college tour to college for a visit!

Jackie: I hear you like cooking with CSA ingredients in your free time. What’s your favorite dish to cook? 

Tammy: Yes, I had a CSA during the summer months. I loved being creative with whatever fruits and vegetables came in the share and adding fresh garlic or spicy peppers to almost anything. (My least favorite dish I made was a bitter melon stir fry).

Jackie: Do you have a favorite Jewish food? 

Tammy: My favorite food would have to be matzo ball soup on a cold day. Also, anything with tehini! I just bought tehini and made hummus and (gluten free) tehini cookies. I also love being creative with food. Last Rosh Hashanah, I made a charoset ice cream!

Jackie: You’re an Open Doors Fellow for Gather the Jews. What is your favorite part of the Fellowship so far?

Tammy: My favorite part of the fellowship has been meeting various people around the city. I have loved rediscovering different events, neighborhoods and groups through of lense of making these spaces more welcoming for all. I have also enjoyed getting to know the other fellows, spending our Tuesday evenings discussing how to make the DC Jewish community a smaller, more connected, more inclusive space for the unaffiliated to the most observant.

Jackie: What else do you like to do in your free time?

Tammy: I have joined an intramural basketball team and I like  to flamenco dance. After a long day I enjoy a good workout and  de-stressing in the steam room.

Jackie: What is your favorite way to spend Shabbat? 

Tammy: My favorite Shabbat would be spent in Israel, walking around the shuk and buying fresh ingredients and the best rugelach in the world. I love how it seems like the whole world stops for 24 hours in Jerusalem and you are “forced” to relax and be mindful for a day. Since that hasn’t happened in a few years, a close 2nd would be spending Shabbat with friends in DC in a smaller setting. Anything that involves good friends, good food and some relaxation.

Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather, there will be…a Jewish geography game and twice as much as necessary :)


He Fudged His Height. Was it Okay?

I had a date about a year ago with a guy I met on OkCupid. He seemed handsome, witty, and intelligent—certainly enough to get my attention—so we decided to meet for brunch the following Sunday. (I prefer drinks on a first date, and that’s what I advise my clients, but I couldn’t resist the bacon… blush.)

When I walked in, I spotted him immediately. He had a great smile, just like in his pictures. So far, so good. He was already sitting at a table, but he got up when I walked in. (Points for chivalry.) When he stood up, though, I noticed that he was only about two inches taller than I am. I’m 5’1, so height is actually not something that I care about in a partner. Regardless, it wasn’t his height that irked me… it was the fact that he lied about it.

Given that I’m the honest (blunt?) person that I am, I blurted out, “You’re not 5’7!” He says, “Well, I’m 5’5.” I go, “Okay, you’re not, but why did you lie about it?” Nothing. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I stayed to have a great conversation, and at one point, I innocently asked if he had children since I knew he was 39 and had been previously married. Before he responded, he awkwardly looked at me and said, “I have something I have to tell you.” Oy. He then proceeded to tell me that he’s not, in fact, 39, but he’s really… wait for it… 45. He told me this because he has a 19-year-old son, and he figured I might do the math.

Now, as a 33-year-old woman at the time, I had placed my age parameters at 27 to 39, or six years on either side of my own age. He had lied by six years, seemingly to get dates with women in their early 30s. I felt deceived, and I told him so. Perhaps he hasn’t been caught before, or perhaps no one was as up front as I was, but he sat there with his tail between his legs while I kindly but firmly told him that he was wasting my time, not because we didn’t have a lovely time but because he got the date through deceit.

He followed up with a very apologetic text, telling me he was sorry. I told him that rather than apologize to me, he should make sure not to do it to anyone else. And that was the last we spoke.

Why am I telling you all of this? To “height-shame” people? Of course not. More like to “lie-shame” people. This past weekend, the New York Times featured a lovely-looking Jewish couple in the wedding section titled “Stretching the Truth to Find Love Online.” The article commented on how the groom, 5’5”, had fudged his height to 5’8” to get more profile views. I, of course, see his rationale. Women often make an arbitrary cut-off of anything below 5’8”. For men’s sake, I wish that being tall (whatever that means to someone) wasn’t equated with attraction.

In 2010 (so admittedly somewhat dated), OkCupid did a study of its users to find that men (and oddly, also women) exaggerated their height by an average of two inches.


They also showed that taller men and women, up to a certain point, are having more sex. Interesting stuff.

picture 2

As for the happy couple in the NYT, here’s what I had to say:

Thrilled for this very happy-looking couple! But, I do–and will continue to–tell my clients not to lie when online dating. Not about age, not about height, and not about accomplishments. I’m thrilled that it worked for this couple. As a general practice, though, starting on a lie is not the way to enter a new relationship, or even a date.

We remember the one story like this and not the hundreds who were called out on it, however small or large the lie was. (Just as we remember the one couple meeting on the airplane and falling in love, not all of the stories of the time you sat next to the drooling guy or the failed dates from bars.) And it’s this one story that makes others do the same. (I found this article because a client just emailed me saying this: “I’m not the only person who lies about their height… go figure. ;-)”

Do I think women specifying a certain height over which it’s “appropriate” for them to potentially start a relationship is ridiculous? You bet. In the same way I believe men should be searching for women of their own age, not some arbitrary number of years younger.

Regardless, I’m thrilled for the couple here. But don’t lie. Period.

People lie for all different reasons: they want to date younger or older, they have an aspirational weight that they like to believe they are, they want to appear more financially successful. When it comes down to it, the main reason people lie is a lack of confidence. If you’re 100% confident in who you are, then there’s no need to lie to get the date. You may go on fewer dates being the real you, but at least you’ll know that you haven’t hidden anything. Everyone has that “thing” that holds them back or is perceived as a red flag to others: height, weight, age, religion, race, level of education, etc. I would have encouraged our new friend in the article to write to anyone he wanted, even if she listed a height above her minimum, but to be up front about it. He was trying to come up in people’s searches, when a lot of the success in online dating actually comes from who you pursue.

In the end, lying generally only bites you in the tuchus because, while you and your date may get along, you got the date under false pretenses, and he or she may be wondering what else you lied about. And we know most people are us online stalking us anyway, so stick to the truth.

Or just join Tinder, where you don’t have to share your height. 😉

I actually thought this about summed it up:

pic w


You think you have a demanding Jewish mother?

LAUNMPosterVsmllb (1)For those of you who come from homes with highly critical parents, there is hope.

Since I was a teenager, my mother has been pressuring me to have a nose job. I wish that was the worst of it, but it’s not. It has taken me decades to come to terms with the constant criticisms and belittling I endured from my mother, but I have found peace, love and healing – with the help of my mother.

This is my story.

As I said, my nose wasn’t the only thing my mother was critical about. Way before my nose started to grow to her displeasure, my curly hair was an issue. My mother was having my hair professionally straightened since I was in third grade, and I often dreamt of waking up with straight hair. That is, until I found a like-minded group, a creative crowd, which at that time in the 70s were called hippies – and I had perfect hippie hair!

However, as I grew into a young woman, my mother’s withering, caustic observations turned not only to my hair and nose, but to my body as well.

There was not an aspect of my life that wasn’t affected by this – relationships with my parents, obviously, but also with my brothers, boyfriends, peers, even my religious identity – it is impossible not to notice that the characteristics my mother most criticized in me are considered stereotypical Jewish traits.

I knew I had to forgive my mother in order move on and have a happy life.  The question was how to do so. I decided, finally, to take action. I confronted my mother, lovingly, and asked her to participate in therapy sessions with me. She agreed.

Through the therapy sessions she opened up about her own painful childhood. I started looking at her differently.  I was able to see her as a wounded child, not as my mother who should have loved and adored me.  With the added wisdom of the therapist, I was able to understand her challenges in life and with having a daughter.  There are some women who have narcissistic natures and are greatly threatened and challenged by other females, even (perhaps particularly) their own daughter.
I worked first to train myself to practice acceptance — she is who she is, and at her age, she isn’t changing. Just because she is your mother, she doesn’t automatically know how to love you unconditionally and treat you fairly.

Then came practicing understanding. I got to know through talking with her, and through therapy sessions with her, a great deal about what informed her childhood and her relationship with her parents. She has her own baggage and wasn’t born with nurturing skills.

And, I decided to forgive my mother, completely.  And it is quite liberating. It is like  ridding yourself of an addiction.  For example, when you are addicted to eating, you think about food often.  When you are hanging on to anger and resentment towards someone, it affects every aspect of your life.   The smallest thing can trigger your anger. And hanging on to those emotions affects your health, too.

When you practice forgiveness, you render your critical parent or abuser powerless, and you are free from all the criticism they express. By understanding her pain and looking at her as a wounded child when she says something insulting, her words lose the power to hurt you.

I now not only accept my mother but love her. We have a blast together. She is one of the most dynamic, funny, smart, versatile women I know. And she is in her early 90s. Don’t tell anyone — she keeps that a secret from many of her friends who are much younger than her. She is a pistol and a force. And she still sends out those zingers, but they fly right by me instead into me, and we both laugh about it.

LOOK AT US NOW, MOTHER! Trailer from Gayle Kirschenbaum on Vimeo.

— Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Gayle Kirschenbaum is the writer, director and producer (and co-star, along with her mother Mildred) of the documentary LOOK AT US NOW, MOTHER!, playing Feb. 25 & 28 at the Washington Jewish Film Festival.


Jewish Buckeye of the Week – Ryan!

RL - 3This week I had the oppurtunity to interview Ryan. Origionally from Ohio, Ryan has now made DC his home. Learn more about him in our interview below.  Know anyone who should be a featured person for Gather the Jews? Nominate them!


Jackie: You went to school at the University of Maryland, what made you want to stay in the area?

Ryan: I love the DC area.  I became fascinated with the culture here and I am motivated by the speed at which the city moves.

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

Ryan: Nationals Park, after work, beautiful night, with a cold beer.

Jackie: You are originally from Ohio. Do you want to move back there someday?

Ryan: I’m in DC for the long term.  I’m fortunate to have a wonderful career and great friends and to be a part of the strong Jewish community here.  Family is important to me however, so I make time to go back to Ohio to visit.

Jackie: In 2012 you participated in the Federations Nexus program, what was the biggest take away you have from that program? RL - 1

Ryan: The Federation’s Nexus program helped me learn about the programming for young Jewish professionals here.  I found this to be particularly valuable being from out of state.

Jackie: What is your favorite Jewish Food? 

Ryan: My mother makes a really good noodle pudding.  I’m open to trying any of the local versions if anyone has any recommendations?

Jackie: Who is your favorite Jew?

Ryan: Larry David.

When the Jews Gather… things get done.

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