To Google or Not to Google? That is the Question – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 42)

In this day and age, almost everyone has an online footprint… even grandma.  And whether through Google, LinkedIn, or Facebook, it’s easy enough to track someone’s entire life in 15 minutes or less.  When it comes to dating, the temptation to search before a first date is strong.  To Google or not to Google?  That is the question.

When it comes down to it, it’s hard to resist the urge to Google or Facebook your date once you have his or her full name staring you in the face, yelling, “Search me!  Search me!”  I’m not going to tell you that you can’t look (who wouldn’t?).  But no matter what you find, try your hardest not to create a firm impression of this person in your mind before you meet.  Unless you find out that he or she is a criminal (which actually happened to one of my clients who discovered that her date was wanted for securities fraud!), just go on the date, have fun, and try to put it all in the back of your mind.

When I was on JDate, I honestly didn’t even think about Googling someone.  Facebook was the first thing on my mind.  Why would I Google someone to see the awards he got in college or his marathon time when I could Facebook him instead and see all of his pictures, credentials, and status updates?  Google is, like, so 2005, right?  Before meeting each other in person, Jeremy and I actually joked in our e-mails about whether we were allowed to “Facebook stalk” each other before the date.  I even asked him outright (half-jokingly) whether he was planning to stalk me.  Jeremy’s response?  “What kind of person would I be if I didn’t at least make sure your Facebook picture wasn’t you punching a kid ;-)?  But you’ve got my name, too, so we’re in the same boat, right?  Stalk away.”

No matter whether you do your pre-date “research” or not, please remember that stalking does not equal “friending.”  Friending someone on Facebook before the date is the kiss of death (and the experts agree).  Unless you already know each other, do not friend your date on Facebook either before you meet or after the first date, even if it went really well.  The last thing you want is to see all of his pictures with other women and get jealous before you’re even together!  Plus, there’s something to be said for leaving some mystery.  And if the date (or next date) doesn’t go well, do you really want him/her knowing all of your business?  I think not.

Lastly, if you decide to look up your date, feel free not to mention you did so unless you’re sure he or she won’t put you in the “creep” category because of it.  (And for those under 25, it’s probably assumed that you looked!)  Stalking = okay.  Talking about stalking = creepy.  Know the difference.

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.  An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.


Guns, Gays, Abortion, Oh My!

Guns, Gays, and Abortion
Jewish Perspectives on Hot Button Issues

With election season underway, debates over social issues are likely to take center stage on TV and in your living room. In this three-part series, Rabbi Shira Stutman will lead a guided discussion exploring the nuances of three hot button social issues – guns, gays, and abortions. The group will explore different viewpoints on the second amendment, gun control, conception, reproductive rights, and issues facing the LGBT community using Jewish texts as the basis for debate.

So reads the Sixth & I blurb for this three-part event that begins on Thursday (June 7).

I disagree with the assertion that “debates over social issues are likely to take center stage on TV and in your living room.”  This March 2012 Rasmussen Reports poll shows that 82 percent of Americans think the economy is the number one issue.  Every other poll I’ve seen suggests the same — jobs and the economy reign supreme.

As for Jewish “living rooms” — we’re, not surprisingly, pretty similar to the rest of the country.  An April 30, 2012 AJC poll found that 80 percent of Jews “cite the economy as one of the three most important issues in deciding their vote.”  Health Care placed second at 57%.  Abortion only ranked in the top three with 11% of respondents.  Conventional wisdom does suggest, however, that social issues rank higher with Jewish Americans than with the average American.  Especially female Jewish Americans.

Most Important Issues in Deciding Presidential Vote

Source:  AJC April 30, 2012 poll

But even if we disagree over which issues will take center stage, there’s no debating that this three-part event will make for an entertaining and lively discussion.

Your host for the program... Rabbi Shira Stutman

To prepare you for the discussion, I’ll (self-referentially) point you to my “Gentile’s Guide to The Jewish Voter” as well as this thorough study by the Public Religion Research Institute “Chosen For What?: Jewish Values in 2012“, and I’ll give you a few statistics on the three topics to be discussed by Rabbi Shira:


  • Couldn’t find many statistics on this.  If you know of polls on American Jews and gun control, please send them my way!  (
  • 88 percent of American Jews agree that there should be a nationwide ban on assault weapons (1997 AJC exit poll via National Jewish Democratic Council)
  • Good article by Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz on Jewish perspectives on gun control. (The New York Jewish Week)


  • A Public Religion Research Institute poll showed 81 percent of Jews support gay marriage. (New York Jewish Week)
  • Nathan Guttman came to the same number (81 percent support gay marriage) in his article for the Jewish Daily Forward.
  • Ron Kampeas of the Jewish Telgraphic Agency estimates Jewish support of gay marriage to be around 75 percent. (Jewish Exponent)
  • The Los Angeles Times reported that 78 percent of Jews opposed California’s Proposition 8 to ban gay marriage.
  • Gay marriage is opposed by the Rabbinical Council of American and the Union of Orthodox Congregations of America (see letter)



Hope to see you at the discussion.



GTJ’s Dating Columnist Gets Rave Reviews from Washington Post!

As we at Gather the Jews are always saying, it seems like our staff and featured community members just can’t stop doing amazing things! Whether it’s winning prestigious awards and fellowships, running charitable events, or throwing the best outdoor dance party in DC, we’re constantly blown away by how awesome DC Jewish young professionals are.

The latest example? GTJ’s resident dating columnist (and online dating expert extraordinaire), Erika Ettin, is the subject of a full-length feature article in the Washington Post! The article, which refers to Erika as a “modern day Cyrano,” details her growing business and ongoing efforts to help people find love.

An excerpt from the article (which can be found in full here):

Erika Ettin, the 30-year-old founder of A Little Nudge, makes no guarantee that she will find customers true love, or even a date. But she assures her tailored approach can improve the odds.

“People have a hard time writing about themselves, but for online dating to work, it’s important to tell a story about yourself to give someone a accurate picture of who you are,” said Ettin, who has written 150 profiles since starting the service in April 2011.

What the article doesn’t mention is that Erika shares many tidbits of her highly acclaimed dating advice with GTJ readers, via her regular column for us. Check her out every other Tuesday on our site or on her business website.



Jews gather to support The Lone Soldier Project

Ricki and a guy learning about The Lone Soldier Project

Approximately 115 people showed up to Tabaq Bistro on Wednesday night to support The Lone Soldier Project.  The project supports Israel Defense Force (IDF) soldiers without family members in Israel.  It is the brainchild of Ricki Meyer who recognized the need for the project while on the 2011 DC Birthright Alumni Leadership Mission.  To learn more about the origins of the project and its goals, see this brief Q&A with Ricki.

The Tabaq Bistro event “familiarized attendants with the project and its aims” (Karen S.), but it also allowed direct opportunities to support the lone soldiers:  guests could sign cards being sent to the soldiers (see image), and they could make donations to the project (can also be done on the project’s website)– a project that has no overhead costs in the form of paid staff or office space.

Overall, a good project, and a good time.  I pine when my Mom doesn’t send me regular care packages, and I live in a comfortable apartment with cable TV, a ping pong table, and a commercial drink refrigerator, so it naturally follows that 18-year-olds living in the desert and facing life-threatening dangers should also occasionally want a heartfelt care package.

The event was co-sponsored by Mitzvah Hoppin’, a project of  The Jewish of Greater Washington.

Sarah Arenstein was not there.  (per the last question in the Q&A).  :(






Sara W. at Mitzvah Hoppin' table










Image from Sara W. of JFGW



Picture from Sara W. of JFGW
















Welcome to Jspace!

Jspace is set to launch in DC on Thursday night.  If you want to celebrate with them, join them at Policy Bar at 8:00 PM.   Here’s a transcript of a brief exchange I had with Meara R — of Jspace — about what Jspace is.


SR: What is Jspace?
MR: is the one-stop shop for all your Jewish needs. Members enjoy the best of Jewish news, events, organizations and free dating all on one website. Connect with your local synagogues, kosher restaurants, and Jewish organizations, or just share the latest Bar Refaeli gossip with a friend. Log In To the Jewish World today at and start connecting.

SR: When did it launch?
MR:  We launched in November at the JFNA General Assembly in Denver and already have over 10,000 users and 180 organizations using the site.

SR: Who started it?
MR:  Jspace was started by two Israeli best friends who wanted to be better plugged into the Jewish community, but found there was not a single source for all things Jewish.

SR: What cities have you had “launch parties” in previously?
MR:  NY and Tel Aviv already experienced Jspace events. Soon LA, Miami, Boston, and Denver will all join the Jspace community.

SR:  Why DC?
MR:  Of course DC would be one of our first stops on our launch tour. We’re excited to be involved with the large active Jewish community, strong local organizations and the key DC Jewish ‘machers’ like Ariana Heidemen (Recently crowned Jewish Girl of the Year).





News of Week (Jewish Style) — 5/30 — Jewish women are hot

Last week we announced the return of GTJ’s news of the week.  And it’s a good thing we did because there’s a lot of fun stories that I would have missed otherwise.  Number 1 gave me an excuse to look at lots of pictures of hot girls on my work computer.  Number 5 took me to the impressive new website of the Jewish Policy Center for what was, embarrassingly, my first time.   If you have Jewish news that you’d like to share with the community, email me a link at 
  1. Jews claim spots 1, 3, 14, and 17 on Maxim’s Hot 100. (Jewish
  2. Mein Kampf goes back to German Schools (TC Jewfolk)
  3. Riots in Tel Aviv (h/t Moment Magazine) (New York Times)
  4. New Jersey woman fired by Orthodox Jews for being “too hot”? (h/t Moment Magazine) (Gawker)
  5. U.S. Committee to Increase Iron Dome Funding (Jewish Policy Center)
  6. The glass ceiling for Jewish women in Jewish organizations (Washington Jewish Week)
  7. Female reporter cross dresses to get into the all male anti-Internet gathering of 40,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews. (Jewlicious)
  8. A Comprehensive Guide For Ladies:  How to avoid schmucks in Israel (Jewlicious)
  9. Oh heck, I’ll thrown my most recent Jewish article in here — “Republican Anti-Gay Marriage Stance Alienates Jewish Voters.” (PolicyMic)


Bar Refaeli.  Named Maxim’s hottest woman.  Jewish.

Born in Hod HaSharon, Israel.  1985.


Help a Lone Soldier — Tonight!

Ricki B. M.

One of the perks of Gather the Jews is that I get to force really cool people to have G-chat conversations with me during the day.  One such really cool person is former Jewish Girl of the Week Ricki B. M. (RBM).  Ricki is hosting a party/happy hour TONIGHT to promote her newest Jewish endeavor: The Lone Soldier Project.  Hope to see you there.

SR:  What is the Lone Soldier Project?
RBM:  The Lone Soldier Project serves as the voice of the 5,700 young men and women from around the world who leave their homes and families to serve as Lone Soldiers in the Israeli Defense Forces each year.  The goal of the LSP is to spread awareness of Lone Soldiers – who they are, what they do, and how we can support – to already existing groups, organizations, and communities.  The Lone Soldier Project works in partnership with The Lone Soldier Center, an organization in Jerusalem that provides on-the-ground support for soldiers – in addition to mentors, furniture, Shabbat and holiday meals, and a physical presence of encouragement at milestone ceremonies in each soldier’s course of duty.

SR:  Forgive me.  I’m kinda slow.  To clarify, the ‘Lone Soldiers’ aren’t soldiers necessarily without families, but without families living in Israel?
RBM:  Yep.  Their immediate families are not on the ground with them in Israel.

SR:  How did you get the project started?
RBM:  The preliminary idea to help Lone Soldiers began as an impact project from the 2011 DC Birthright Alumni Leadership Mission.  While in Israel, we had Shabbat lunch with Lone Soldiers and asked them about their experiences serving in the army without having their family on the ground with them in Israel.  Many soldiers said their friends became family.  However, one soldier said that he really noticed the absence of his family during package delivery when his Israeli peers often received packages of items they desperately needed on the front lines and he most often did not.  The conversation presented not only the needs of Lone Soldiers who voluntarily join the army to defend Israel, but also the ability we have to support them from afar.

SR:  What item have you sent that has been a big hit?
RBM:   Helmet flashlights.  We have received tremendously positive feedback and appreciation from Lone Soldiers and want to get more helmet flashlights to them as soon as we can!

SR:  You have a happy hour tonight at 6:30 pm at Tabaq Bistro (1336 U Street).   Sell me on it.  Pretend I’m popular and have lots of other social options.  What will be especially fun about your event?
RBM:   Entry is free and there will be happy hour specials all night. Most importantly, there will be opportunities to write notes of support to and sign posters for Lone Soldiers currently serving in Israel.

SR:  Will one Sarah Arenstein be there?
RBM:  You’ll have to come to find out!





Walnut-Lentil Veggie Burger

Grilling season is upon us!  For those who keep kosher, the easy solution is to go for the burger and skip the cheese, or whatever other dairy happens to be around.  But what if you really want ice cream on a hot day, or you want cheese on your burger?  The varieties of (and recipes for) veggie burgers are endless, but I figured I’d throw mine into the mix.  Homemade is definitely better than the prepackaged kind.  This one has a spicy-smoky barbeque flavor that will work well with a variety of toppings—including cheese!

Total time: 10 min., plus cooking time for the lentils and bulgur

Yield: 4-6 patties

Level: Easy


© Courtney Weiner.  All Rights Reserved.


  • ¾ cup cooked red lentils
  • ¾ cup cooked bulgur
  • ¾ cup toasted chopped walnuts
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste


Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse several times.  Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and pulse a few more times until ingredients are combined.  Shape the mixture into patties and cook in a pan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat, about 2 minutes per side.


ADL YP Division Parties for a Good Cause

Organizers and Host Committee

Last month, the Anti-Defamation League Young Professionals Division threw its First Annual Spring Soiree fundraiser.

In mid-April, nearly 300 guests filled The Rosebar at Current Sushi & Lounge to raise money and show support for the well-known Jewish organization.  The Saturday evening event featured sushi, sake, dancing, and a silent raffle and the energy in the combined indoor and outdoor space was electric.  The crowd enjoyed music by DJ Mike, ample sushi & dessert, and the signature drink of the evening –The ‘No-Haterade’.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of four top ADL leaders serving as event co-chairs, and a 16-member Host Committee, the Spring Soiree raised significant funds for the Anti-Defamation League and attracted a large number of young professionals who were attending an ADL event for the first time.

Stay tuned for an even bigger and better second annual spring event in 2013 and, of course, many local ADL events before that (e.g. the ADL Annual Concert Against Hate)! To find out how you can get involved before that, contact Sophie Dornstreich, the Associate Director, at


News of the Week (Jewish Style)

Y-Love at a GTJ event with GTJ staffer Tila. Y-Love recently publicly declared that he is gay. Mazal tov.

Remember when we used to update you on the week’s most interesting/important Jewish stories?  Scott W. did it first.  Then Candace M. took over.  Then we dropped it for a while.

But now we’re back. From outer space…  (in case you need to hear the song now)

So if you have a link or news that you want to share with the Jewish community, please email it to me (

Also, we’re going to “steal” a bunch of our stuff from the wonderful people at Moment Magazine who send out a thrice-weekly email with Jewish updates.  Check out Moment Magazine’s website to learn more about the country’s largest independent Jewish magazine.




Lazar’s acceptance speech

To the GTJ Community,

I am humbled by this honor, and pleased to share it with someone as accomplished and worthy as Ariana.  Also, I’m somewhat surprised, since I haven’t won anything since the 1989 Cub Scouts Pinewood Derby in Stoughton, MA. (Well, I came in third place out of three contestants, but I got a trophy.)

Gather the Jews provides such a  unique and precious service to the DC Jewish community. In a time where young Jews cluster into communities based upon their religious observance, GTJ offers a fun atmosphere for young Jewish professionals to create a community across the religious spectrum. It’s Jews who enjoy socializing and spending time with other Jews, and it’s a model that I hope will be replicated across the country.

I have tried to shape my own involvement in the Jewish community in a similar fashion. I work with Jewish college students at GW and college students of all faiths at Georgetown; I serve on the board at the warm and inviting Kesher Israel synagogue; and I seek to set the record straight on Israel in the public sphere.

Even with all the wonderful work GTJ and other Jewish groups do, our community will fail to live up to its true calling if we forget some of our core Jewish principles about relations between man and his fellow, all of whom are created in the image of God:

  •  “The world is built on kindness.” (Psalms 89:3)
  • Greet everybody with a warm, cheerful, and pleasant countenance.” (Pirkei Avot 1:15)
  • “You…shall not bear a grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18)

Again, thank you for this honor, and I wish all of you a wonderful Shavuot holiday, as we celebrate receiving the gift of the Torah and its timeless and beautiful message.

Best wishes, and chag sameach,


Lazar’s original Jewish Guy of the Week profile 

Lazar’s finalist video





Ariana’s acceptance speech

Shalom Jewish Community of Greater Washington,

I am very honored to serve as DC Jewish Girl of the Year along with Jewish Guy of the Year Lazar. It will be my privilege to continue to gather Jewish people and spread the vital message that Israel is Forever.

It has been so wonderful making new friends in this great community. I am so touched by my many friends, old and new, near and far, who encourage me to always reach for the stars and be the best that I can be.

I look forward to welcoming you all on 5.31.12 at the DC Jewish professional’s event from 8p-midnight at Policy.


Chag Sameach,

Ariana  Michal

Ariana’s original Jewish Girl of the Week profile

Ariana’s video submission as a finalist



In Case You Missed It: Matisyahu’s Here!

Tickets are still available to see renowned Jewish rapper Matisyahu (still sans beard) here in DC! The artist will be at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue on Thursday, May 24th, as part of THE TEN, an innovative take on the Shavuot celebration.

In anticipation of the holiday, Rabbi Shira Stutman will emcee an acoustic performance by Matisyahu followed by a discussion between the hip-hop/reggae artist and The New Republic’s Frank Foer. Stay after the show for dairy delights and study sessions with Rabbi Shira.

Shavuot begins at sundown on Saturday, May 26th, and ends at sundown on Monday, May 28th.


When Do You Take Your Profile Down? – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 41)

Please note that starting in June, Erika’s dating column will run bi-weekly.  Got ideas/questions/thoughts for a future article? E-mail 

Finally – you’ve met someone online, let’s say on JDate!  You went on a first date, and you kind of liked each other.  Then you went on a second date, and you liked each other a little more.  You went on a third date, and thoughts of exclusivity started permeating your mind.  But when is it time to take down your online dating profile?  Should it be after a certain number of dates?  After you’ve had “the talk”?  After you’ve changed your Facebook status to “in a relationship” (the tell-tale sign for many people these days…)?  Or, is unsubscribing from receiving online dating site e-mails enough?

In this day and age, when virtually everything we do is online, how you portray your relationship status to the world is almost as important as the relationship itself.  No one wants to be on the receiving end of an e-mail from a friend saying, “I don’t know how to say this, but your new guy/girl is still on JDate and appears to have logged in within the last 24 hours.”  It makes your heart sink.

I’m a firm believer in e-mailing and dating many different people initially to see who’s out there.  But at some point, when you think you’ve found the right person, it might be time to scale back on your online dating life and start to enjoy your offline dating life.  When you get to that point, unfortunately, there is no predetermined protocol as to when it’s appropriate to take down your profile, but there are two pieces of common sense that you should follow:

  • Don’t log into JDate immediately after a date.  Even if you didn’t like your date, try to show some respect by not logging in until the next day.  That way, you’re not rubbing it in the other person’s face that you need to immediately check out your other options.
  • When things start to get serious with someone – even before you’ve discussed your relationship status – it’s a good idea to minimize your online dating usage to give the relationship a chance to bloom.

Many people (especially older men) continue responding to e-mails during that initial period in a relationship, perhaps saying something like:

Thanks so much for the nice e-mail.  I’ve actually “met” someone on this site, and I am going to try and concentrate and see if that can develop into a real relationship.  I can’t really handle the multiple communications.  Thanks again for writing, and good luck to you!

My question for those of you who think you’re just being polite is: Why are you still actively answering e-mails?  If you really want to see where the relationship is going, then stop logging in to your online dating account!

And finally, when you’re ready to be exclusive with someone, the only surefire way to make sure you’re both on the same page is to openly discuss taking your profile down.  Heck, you could even have a “profile deletion party” with a glass of wine in hand.  That actually sounds like a pretty fun date!  In the meantime, don’t forget these online dating profile tips.

Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people with all aspects of online dating.  An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.

This article was also posted in JMag, the online magazine for


Free wine, challah, ice cream, and fro-yo at the DC JCC. Friday!

From our friends at the DC JCC:


Shabbat Pre-Game
Pre-Shavuot Sundae Bar

in honor of the upcoming holiday!

Stop by after work or on your way from the gym. We’ll be in the 16th St Lobby for a quick
Glass of WineTaste of Challah,
and Ice Cream & Fro Yo Bar!

ice crea

Tomorrow Friday May 18 in the Washington DCJCC 16th Street Lobby 
5:30 – 6:30 pm
FREE, Just Stop By!

Contact Ilana Weltman at if you are looking for places to go for Shavuot services/dinner or find out at the Pre-Game!




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