Blog

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GTJ T-Shirt Design Contest Open Now!

Can you beat this? Enter the design contest and show us your stuff!

The time has come to design new t-shirts for Gather the Jews and we want to open it up to all of you.  Send your original designs to info@gatherthejews.com up until November 31.  The creator of the design we choose to use will receive a free t-shirt, free entrance to GTJ happy hours, and eternal glory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Adas Israel Renews!

Renovation rendering of the new sanctuary.

Adas Israel Congregation, home of the legendary Shir Delight Young Professional’s Shabbat service (averaging roughly 300 YPs per Shabbat!), announces the imminent launch of an exciting renovation and modernization project for its landmark building in Cleveland Park – all part of a wider “Vision of Renewal” initiative to bring Adas even further into the 21st century.  At the heart of the renewal is the creation of MakomDC (Place DC).

MakomDC is one of the most exciting projects I’ve ever worked on – it’s basically a ‘Jewish Politics and Prose!’” says Adas Israel Senior Rabbi Gil Steinlauf.  “It will feature comfortable seating and tables for lively discussion, books and technology, coffee and snacks, speaker jams, art, engaging sessions, and even interactive prayer services.  It will be the place where people, ideas, and Jewish experiences collide.”

The heroic architectural design for the new structure includes a complete overhaul of four worship and gathering spaces within the current 2850 Quebec Street address.  There will be new light-filled spaces used for worship, meals, celebrations, school programs, classes, meetings and other happenings.  Also, an expanded, super-modern entrance foyer will provide an open area to gather and will lead directly to MakomDC, the new and unique space at the heart of the building to serve as a bustling learning and engagement center for the 21st century.

The Charles E. Smith Sanctuary (also known as the Beit Tefillah, or House of Prayer) is the building’s largest worship space.  It will sport a more intimate seating arrangement, a stunning sculptured eastern wall, and a large circular skylight that will saturate the worship space with natural light, consistent with Jewish tradition.

“The landscape of Jewish life is changing rapidly and Adas sits at the crossroads,” says Rabbi  Steinlauf.  “With this renovation, we are poised to engage Jews from many different backgrounds and ages, and create an exhilarating, immersive opportunity for DC-area Jews to find true, personal spirituality for the modern world.”

Renovation rendering of the “MakomDC.”

Founded in 1869 by a group of European immigrants, Adas has been at its landmark location, one block east of the Cleveland Park Metro, since 1951.  The building has played host to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and, more recently, the Dalai Lama.  So it’s no small fry. However, the Jewish world (in particular, the young Jewish world) is evolving and so the congregation and its historic building must as well.

The Adas clergy and leadership worked closely with renowned architect Hugh Hardy and H3 Collaboration Architecture, who recently completed a reinvention of the Lincoln Center Theater in New York.  Construction at Adas will take place in three phases over the next year to allow continuation of all synagogue activities in the building.

The Opening Ceremony, scheduled for some time before the High Holidays next year, is sure to feature musical presentations, food, booze, and schmoozing!  And the word on the street is that it’s all going to be free for YPs, so follow all the latest developments at www.adasisrael.org or on facebook.com/adasisraeldc.

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Dating Atonements for the High Holidays — GTJ Dating Column with Erika E. (No. 49)

Believe it or not, the high holidays are upon us again.  (How do they always creep up like that??)  It’s important to not only celebrate the sweet new year but also reflect on our bad behaviors and sins from the previous year.  I’m guessing most of the things we’re sorry for are on a large scale – not calling our moms enough or wishing we had treated our friend better when she was going through a rough time.

As I discussed last year, I’m guessing that those of us who are on the market have committed a sin or two (or three or four?) in the field of dating.  So, let’s again think about it this year.  What dating sins have we committed, and can we correct them?  As we internalize the spirit of the High Holidays and try to improve ourselves in the year 5773, let’s remind ourselves of some of these “dins” (dating + sins), including a new one added this year:

Din #1: The last-minute cancel and never reschedule

You have a date planned that you’re just feeling “meh” about.  You’re tired.  You’re sick.  You’re hungry.  You worked late.  The last thing you want is to change out of your too-loose-to-show-other-people sweatpants.  So, you cancel.  Do you propose another date?  No.  Next time, cancel with the truth, or schedule another date at the same time you’re canceling.

Din #2: The no interest make-out

Have you ever been on a date and made out with someone at the end “just to see if there was chemistry” and there was, in fact, none?  And then you never contacted him/her again?  The make-out receiver thinks you’re interested.  In the year 5773, if this happens, at least give some variation of (over phone or e-mail), “I’m sorry.  I just didn’t feel the spark that I would have wanted.  But it was so great meeting you!”  At least no one is left out there wondering.

Din #3: Canceling via text

A text is never an appropriate way to cancel a date, especially a same-day cancellation.  E-mail is almost as bad.  Please have the courtesy to call.  The point is – make sure the person gets the message before he or she shows up and has to sit at the bar drinking one too many gin & tonics alone.

Din #4: Deciding you’re not interested and never telling the other person

It’s ok if you’re not interested in someone anymore after a few dates.  It happens.  That’s what dating is all about.  But if you’ve gone on more than one or two dates with a person and decided that he or she isn’t for you, dropping off the face of the earth is one big din.  It doesn’t require much, just a simple e-mail saying something similar to the response in #2.  It’s not a crime to lose interest in someone.  But the mature thing to do is to end it on a positive note.  Plus, if you run into this person later (which you know will happen), she won’t have to whisper behind your back that you’re the guy who snubbed her.

Din #5 (NEW!): Saying “I’ll call you” and then not calling

If you don’t mean it, don’t say it.  Most people (men and women) take what someone says literally.  If at the end of the date you are 100% sure that you’re not interested, and you don’t want to apply the Rule of Two, then a simple “It was nice meeting you” will do the trick.

No one’s perfect, and I’m sure we’ve all committed one or more of these dins (myself included).  In the year ahead, though, while we are first celebrating and then repenting, let’s think about how we can improve the dating world in 5773, one din at a time… and, of course, call your mother.  😉  L’shanah tovah!

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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Weekly Update with Rachel — 9/12

Giraffe at the Smithsonian!
(I’m a little obsessed with giraffes…)

Hi, everyone! I cannot express how ecstatic I am to be a part of Gather the Jews.  If you ever see me out at an event, or anywhere else in the city, don’t hesitate to introduce yourself.  I’m brand new to DC and can’t wait to meet everyone.

Last week was my first official week as Director of Operations.  I wrote up my first “Gather the News” and sent out my first newsletter (and the world did not implode so I guess I didn’t do too badly!).  I also jumped into Jewish events this week, starting with the Jewish Federation’s Nexus.  Nexus is a course designed to explore what it means to be an influential young Jewish adult, and how to impact the community through involvement.  Nexus was a great opportunity to start meeting members of the Jewish community as we shared with each other our respective Jewish journeys.

I spent my first Friday Shabbat at MesorahDC’s services and dinner.  The food was delicious and everyone, including Rabbi T and Rabbi Berkman, made me feel extremely comfortable.  The next night, with some new friends from Mesorah, I headed out to Clark and Shaina’s engagement party.  Sadly, I missed Clark’s flash mob proposal. Overall, I would say a highly successful first weekend in DC and I’m looking forward to many more. If you are not busy Sunday, September 30, you can come out, meet me, and help make another one of my weekends awesome by joining me in building sukkahs for GTJ’s first ever community service event!

I’m exceedingly thankful for how welcoming everyone has been, but I also want to be here for all of you. If you ever need help finding a place to go to services, want to know about a Jewish event, or want to find someone to go to an event with, let me know and I will do my best to help you out. Also, while I have my own ideas for GTJ, I would also like to hear from all of you. Compliments, constructive criticism, and new ideas are always appreciated.

Have a great week!

Rachel

rachelg@gatherthejews.com

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A Day of Remembrance

Today marks the anniversary of a day that none of us will ever forget.  Eleven years ago today, our country stood in stunned horror as attacks were carried out on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  Today is officially commemorated as Patriot Day in honor of the 2,977 killed on September 11, 2001.  American flags are to be flown at half mast, and a moment of silence is to be observed at 8:46 am, the time at which the first plane struck the North Tower.  In addition, remembrance and memorial services are held throughout the country. Below are some of the events taking place in DC today:

  • The Pentagon – An American flag will be draped over the Pentagon from sunrise to sunset.  This morning a Wreath laying ceremony was attended by the President and the First Lady.
  • Arlington National Cemetery – The cemetery hosted a Naval Intelligence 9-11 Ceremony, and the city of Arlington has hung flags from overpasses and buildings for “Flags Across Arlington.”
  • 9/11 Heroes Run – A 5K hosted by The Travis Manion Foundation which is a  non-profit organization that directly supports veterans, their families, and families of fallen service members.
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GTJ’s First Ever Community Service Event: Sukkah-Building

We’ve done our best to listen to what you, the DC Jewish community, want, and community service opportunities seem to be very high on the wish list. Starting this September, we’ll do our best to provide a bi-monthly opportunity to serve the DC community (Jewish some months, gentile others).

Are you ready to get involved, help others, and meet new friends?  Join GTJ and the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes (JFGH) for a Sukkah-building service event, organized by GTJ Jewish Girl of the Year, Ariana Heideman.  We are looking for volunteers who are willing to build and decorate Sukkahs for adults with disabilities.  You don’t have to be handy, just willing to lend a hand!  The event will be on Sunday, September 30th from 11:30-2:00pm in Silver Spring.  Carpools will be arranged from the closest Metro stop.

Please click here to sign-up. The deadline is September 21st.

Do you have a car? We are looking for volunteers to drive groups from the Metro to houses. For questions, e-mail sara@gatherthejews.com.

 

 

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Gather the News – Jewish News of the Week – 9/10

We’re big fans of gathering around here.

  • Canada includes Iran’s hostility towards Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric as

    Drake’s Bar Mitzvah

    reasons for severing diplomatic relations.

  •  Jews and Muslims demonstrated in Berlin over a new law that restricts male circumcision. The new law requires the procedure be carried out by a doctor. Traditionally it is performed by a Jewish mohel, most of whom lack the medical training required under the new law. Politicians in Denmark, Norway, and Finland have also called for a ban on circumcision, though so far there has been no legislation.
  • Here’s an interview with Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum who supported gay rights at the recent Democratic National Convention.
  • A new facebook app, called “Jewish Geography,” gives you a Jewish connection score based on your Facebook profile and friends. We’ll let you decide on this one…
  • And in sports news, the Israeli lacrosse team has earned eligibility for the 2014 Lacrosse World Championship. Israel competes in lacrosse? Who knew?
  • Whether or not you’re voting for Romney, this pin is pretty cool.
  • Seinfeld is something every Jew can take pride it. Paste Magazine released a list of the 25 best episodes, do you agree with their rankings? Let us know in the comments!
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Former Jewish Girl of the Year Honored as A Top Young Professional in Foreign Policy

We’re not the only folks who think that Rachel Gerrol, 2010 Jewish Girl of the Year, is pretty awesome. The Diplomatic Courier just named her one of the Top 99 Under 33 Young Professionals in Foreign Policy.

Rachel was chosen for her work with Nexus Global Youth Summit on Innovative Philanthropy and Social Entrepreneurship, an organization she co-founded to help build international networks between young leaders. The Diplomatic Courier also noted that, in her work with young leaders, she also served as a delegate in 2012 to the UN Youth 21 Summit in Nairobi, the G8 Young Summit and the Global Diaspora Diplomatic Summit in Israel.

Way to go, Rachel!

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Gather the News – Jewish News of the Week – 9/5

Art Heyman

Didn’t gather the news this week? Don’t worry, we did!

 

 

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Apple Spice Trifle

With Rosh Hashanah just around the corner, I wanted to come up with an apple dessert that was a little bit different.  I tried to think of variations on pies, cakes, and tarts, then decided to go completely outside the box with a layered dessert called a trifle.  A trifle is a traditional English dish that involves fruit, custard, cake, and whipped cream.  There are endless modern varieties, so I thought I’d create my own for the holiday.  I tested the recipe with spice cake (pictured).  It would work well with either spice cake or gingerbread—use the spice cake if you want a milder flavor, the gingerbread if you want more of a contrast between the layers.  You could easily make this dish parve by using margarine instead of butter and non-dairy whipped topping instead of whipped cream.

Total time: 1 hour 45 min. (including cooling time)

Yield: 12 servings

Level: Moderate

Ingredients

  • 1 package spice cake or gingerbread mix
  • Vegetable oil, as directed by cake mix
  • Eggs, as directed by cake mix
  • 12 Granny Smith apples
  • Juice of 1 ½ lemons
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon (or more, to taste, if using spice cake)
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar

 Directions

  1. Prepare spice cake or gingerbread in a 9×13 pan according to package directions.  Once it is done cooking, set aside to cool to room temperature.
  2. Place a bowl and beaters in the refrigerator to use for making the whipped cream.
  3. While the cake is cooking, peel and core the apples and cut into ½ inch pieces.  In a large bowl, toss apples to coat with lemon juice, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  (Note: it takes a while to chop all of the apples.  To prevent browning, pour 1/3 of the lemon juice over the apple pieces after every four apples you add to the bowl.)
  4. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the apples and stir to coat with butter.  Once the apples begin to release some juice, about 4 minutes, stir in the honey and ¾ cup of the cranberries.  Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the apples are just beginning to fall apart, about 12 minutes total.  Increase heat to high and cook for 2-3 minutes more to reduce the liquid in the pan.  Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
  5. Add the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla to the chilled bowl.  Beat on high until the cream forms stiff peaks.
  6. Crumble ½ of the cake into the bottom of a large, clear bowl, a punch bowl, or a trifle dish.  Spread ½ of the apples on top of the cake.  Spread ½ of the whipped cream on top of the apples.  Repeat with the remaining layers.  Top the second layer of whipped cream with the reserved ¼ cup of cranberries.

© Courtney Weiner.  All Rights Reserved.

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Stop, Collaborate, and Listen – A Guide to the Networking Galaxy

Disclaimer – There are two types of networking: chatting with peers at a happy hour or at services, and connecting with others at a business-related function. The first is more relaxed, and the second is one you should prepare for. The tips below will help you in either situation.

Networking is a great way to meet new people and learn more about new jobs and industries. These connections are extremely helpful as you look for a new job. Roughly 80 percent of your job search time should be spent networking, since 65 – 85% of jobs are found this way.

Networking Tricks:

1. Firm handshake. A firm handshake with eye contact is your first chance to show confidence and make an impression. Crushing the person’s hand will leave an impression, but not a favorable one. Also – No fist bumps for strangers.

2. Listen. If networking were a mixed drink, it would be two parts “listening” and one part “speaking.” This is only listed second in the list because you have to shake hands first. But trust me – it’s probably the most important part of networking. If the other person asks you a question, keep your response brief. If they’re interested, they’ll ask more. But, if you’re answering a ton of questions, find a way to turn the conversation. Say something like, “I feel I’ve been chatting for a while. Tell me about your [summer/week/etc],” or refer to something that they do/like.

3. Create a pitch. What is a brief story you can share with others to help them understand who you are? For example, at a formal function – you’re from California, worked as a consultant for six years, and now you’re interested in a marketing job. At a happy hour or services, consider just starting with – “I’m from LA. Have you ever been to Cali?” Be prepared to jump to a new topic if they haven’t… See number 5 below.

4. Relax.  Letting your personality shine through helps you become approachable and connect with others. However, a wise woman once told me that every pot doesn’t have a lid… If you aren’t feeling a connection, move on.

5. Common Interests. Finding interests that you both share will make it easier to be passionate and keep the conversation going. It’s common to start by asking, “Where are you from? What do you do?” Try to be more original. Do you have an interesting story to share? Consider asking the other person a question about the event: “Is it for a cause? If so, what inspired you to attend?”

6. Remember their name. There is nothing more embarrassing than finishing a conversation with a person and then thinking,  “What was his or her name?” It happens. To help you remember, say the name periodically throughout the conversation. This also shows the person that you’re interested.

7. Business cards. To card or not to card? If you’re at services, don’t give someone a business card. So you can’t write or use electronic devices… find a way to exchange numbers. If you’re going to a dedicated networking event, though, bring at least 10 cards with your personal email and phone number. Did you forget the name of the person you’re chatting with? Did you read #6? Oops. Good thing you have their card! When you receive one, make a note on the back to remind you of a few key points from the conversation.

8. Don’t Lie. People will see through a fake conversation.  In the age of Google, don’t stretch the truth to impress someone.

9. Follow up! Within a day or two, send an email to anyone you met. Highlight a couple of key points from the conversation. If they respond, add them to your list of contacts. Periodically keep in touch with your contacts, especially when you don’t need their assistance. Contacting twice a month may be too frequent, but once every six months may be too infrequent. You’ll find a balance that works for you.

10. Be assertive. Most people are approachable – if they’re not, it’s their loss. If you’re interested in chatting with them, go up and introduce yourself. However… don’t interrupt and don’t be pushy.

Finally, don’t be discouraged if you attend a function and don’t get a chance to meet as many people as you wanted. Just have fun!

Dan Pick is a member of the DC Jewish Community.  He was an officer in US Navy after graduating from Penn State. Now, he’s a consultant and a pro bono dog walker. He’s currently an MBA candidate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and he recently created a blog (Switch) and a business with a classmate to help military veterans transition. Dan enjoys traveling, running, triathlons, playing guitar, and volunteering in the community. 
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GTJ’s 2012 Presidential Election Survey

In honor of the upcoming Presidential election, we at GTJ want to learn a little more about the politics of the DC Young Jewish adult community.   Please help us by taking this very short anonymous survey (10 questions).  We’ll publish the results soon.

Link to open in new window

 

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

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Does the Jewish vote even matter?

In celebration of the upcoming Presidential election, GTJ is featuring a weekly column on Jewish voters, and something to do with the local Jewish community.   See below for this week’s column, and click here to take a survey so that we can learn more about the politics of our community.

If you have interest in writing this column in coming weeks, please email noa@gatherthejews.com

See week 1 of this feature.

……….

Stephen Richer is the President of Gather the Jews.

……….

Does the American Jewish vote even matter in United States Presidential Elections?

As with many Jewish questions, the answer is “maybe.”

The most obvious factor working against the importance of the Jewish vote is simply the small size of the American Jewish population.  Jews account for only 2 percent of the total population of the United States and approximately 3 to 4 percent of the electorate (Haaretz).  Comparatively, the victory margins in presidential elections since 1980 have been 10 percent, 19, 8, 5, 8, 0, 3, and 7 percent (The New York Times).  This means that even if the Jews voted as one block – 100% for one candidate – they could have tipped the popular vote in only potentially 2 of the past 8 elections.

But American elections are not determined by popular vote.  Instead, electoral votes are distributed to each of the states, and the states give the entirety (in almost all cases) of their votes to the candidate that wins the most votes in the state.

This bears on the importance of the Jewish vote.  In New York and New Jersey – the states with the two proportionally largest Jewish populations – the Jewish vote likely doesn’t matter because both states are Democratic bastions where a slight change in a small segment of the population has no chance of tipping the vote.  But in swing states – states that could be won by either the Republican or Democratic candidate – where the Jewish population is particularly large, the Jewish vote could be a deciding factor.

Consider the famous case of Florida in the 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore.  In that election, 35 percent of Floridian Jews voted for Bush.  Had the Florida Jewish vote reflected the national Jewish vote – in which only 21 percent of Jews voted for Bush – then Bush would have lost Florida and, accordingly, Al Gore would have been the 43rd President of The United States.

This phenomenon is not specific to Florida in 2000.  Jews make up approximately 3 percent of the voting population of Pennsylvania, a state that John Kerry won in 2004 by fewer than 200,000 votes.  The Jewish population of Philadelphia alone is approximately 254,000.   A third state that makes the Jewish vote interesting is Ohio; celebrated Jewish-politics commentator Nathan Guttman agrees by noting in Moment Magazine that, “Ohio is also a state where Jewish voters could play a role in a close race.”

With only 6.5 million Jews in the United States, the Jewish vote is hardly a dominant factor in U.S. Presidential Elections (perhaps in contrast to Jewish money – see next month’s column!).  But in certain closely contested states, the Jewish vote could be the deciding factor.  I’m certainly not the only one who thinks so – look at this recent campaign launched by the Republican Jewish Coalition centered on Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.  You can be sure President Obama and the Democrats have something similar planned for these critical, and Jewish-heavy, states!

….  Chart below from the Jewish Virtual Library (December, 2011) ….

State

Estimated Jewish Population

Total Population

Jewish Percentage

Alabama

8,850

4,779,736

0.2%

Alaska

6,150

710,231

0.9%

Arizona

106,400

6,392,017

1.7%

Arkansas

1,725

2,915,918

0.1%

California

1,219,740

37,253,956

3.3%

Colorado

91,070

5,029,196

1.8%

Connecticut

116,050

3,574,097

3.2%

Delaware

15,100

897,934

1.7%

District   of Columbia

28,000

601,723

4.7%

Florida

638,635

18,801,310

3.4%

Georgia

127,670

9,687,653

1.3%

Hawaii

7,280

1,360,301

0.5%

Idaho

1,525

1,567,582

0.1%

Illinois

297,935

12,830,632

2.3%

Indiana

17,470

6,483,802

0.3%

Iowa

6,240

3,046,355

0.2%

Kansas

17,775

2,853,118

0.6%

Kentucky

11,300

4,339,367

0.3%

Louisiana

10,675

4,533,372

0.2%

Maine

13,890

1,328,361

1.0%

Maryland

238,000

5,773,552

4.1%

Massachusetts

277,980

6,547,629

4.2%

Michigan

82,270

9,883,640

0.8%

Minnesota

45,635

5,303,925

0.9%

Mississippi

1,575

2,967,297

0.1%

Missouri

59,175

5,988,927

1.0%

Montana

1,350

989,415

0.1%

Nebraska

6,100

1,826,341

0.3%

Nevada

74,400

2,700,551

2.8%

New   Hampshire

10,120

1,316,470

0.8%

New   Jersey

504,450

8,791,894

5.7%

New   Mexico

12,175

2,059,179

0.6%

New York

1,635,020

19,378,102

8.4%

North   Carolina

30,675

9,535,483

0.3%

North   Dakota

400

672,591

0.1%

Ohio

148,380

11,536,504

1.3%

Oklahoma

4,700

3,751,351

0.1%

Oregon

40,650

3,831,074

1.1%

Pennsylvania

294,925

12,702,379

2.3%

Rhode Island

18,750

1,052,567

1.8%

South   Carolina

12,545

4,625,364

0.3%

2

Goodbye DC

GTJ’s President Stephen Richer, Guy of the Year Uri Manor, and Vice President Aaron Wolff

The famous Twelfth Century Spanish Jewish poet, philosopher, and statesman Judah Halevi once wrote, “My heart is in the East, but I am in the West.”

Though I’ve only been west of DC for four days, Halevi’s words have already come to my mind.  No city has been better to me than DC, and the excellence of these past four years is due in no small part to the city’s young adult Jewish community.

…..

Four years ago I was a bit lost.  I had just deferred the continuation of my political science studies, and I chose almost carelessly between two destinations that could provide one year for me to collect my thoughts:  Washington, DC or Bogota, Colombia.  The scale eventually tipped in favor of DC, not because of any visit that proved the city’s merit, but simply because an attractive girl who routinely kicked my butt in Scrabble, and who was my superior in policy debates, had told me she would spend the summer in DC.

The courtship amounted to very little (not surprising for those of you who know my ideas of appropriate dress and what constitutes an ideal date).  So within three weeks of moving to DC, I was friendless.

George Washington University had lots of Jews.  I knew that because my Dad routinely informed me about Jewish populations of different campuses.  So seeing as how I was Jewish and 22, I didn’t think it would be too outlandish to hang out on the campus and attend undergraduate events (including debate club!) Oddly enough, this strategy worked, and it especially worked with the Jewish community.  GWU’s Jew world eventually led me to Mesorah DC, which led me to Sixth & I, which soon opened my eyes to the enormous tapestry of Jewish life in Washington, DC.

And – atheist though I was (and remain) – the Jewish community, more than any other community, made me immediately and routinely feel like I was valued, that my company was wanted, and that I had a place where I could make good friends who would grow in DC with me.

Before I knew it, I was a Jewish Jockey or “Super Jew.”  On a bad week, I hit three Jewish events.  Good weeks had upper limits of seven or eight.

I developed a reputation among my friends as the person who knew the Jewish scene, so I – without too much prompting from my friends (you guys know I love writing emails) – started sending a weekly email to friends that listed the week’s best Jewish events.  So was born my version of Gather the Jews.

Fast forward to two weeks ago:  I’d just sent out the 130th Gather the Jews newsletter, and I’d logged what was probably my 2,000th hour on the Gather the Jews project.  Total dollars earned = $0.

So why’d I do it?  Because the Jewish community of Washington, DC, never lost the feel it had during my first months in DC.  It still was my home; it still was the place where I could be with tons of my friends; it still was the place where I could learn; it still was the place where I could laugh and be goofy; it still was the place I could go for support; it still was the place where I knew that I could out-dance almost every male (maybe not Josh Stevens!).

That’s why I did it, and that’s why, even after the time spent on GTJ, I owe the DC Jewish community so much.

I promise to continue making this payment from afar, and to the greatest extent that I can, while in law school.  But the day-to-day show will no longer be the Stephen Richer show.  This is my last newsletter (hopefully!); I’ll appear on the blog less frequently; and you won’t see me at Jewish events until winter and summer breaks.

But GTJ is in good hands:  co-founder and vice president Aaron Wolff will still be in town; Rachel G. is starting as our first true staff member next week; and volunteer stalwarts such as Mike W., Jodi T., Noa L., and Sara S. are still putting in hours on the website late at night.

As confident as I am in their abilities, if I could make one request of you the Jewish young adult community of DC, it’s this:  Help us keep making GTJ better.  It’s a true labor of love, but the project is supposed to be an awesome resource for the community, so if we ever cease be this, kindly let us know, and we’ll try to fix it.

It’s been a real pleasure.  See you over Winter Break (and Summer Break… and once I’ve graduated…)

Stephen

 

P.S.  Starships were meant to fly.

P.P.S.  If you’re bizarrely saddened by the fact that you’ll be hearing less from me on this blog and you want to subscribe to my non-GTJ writings listserve, let me know (stephen@gatherthejews.com)

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Love and Money… In Sync or At Odds? GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 48)

As a dating coach, I get many questions about love and money.  Today, I’d like to tackle one of the biggest:

What if my partner spends money differently than I do?

Your approach to finances, if it differs from your partner’s, can put tremendous strain on a relationship.  So whatever your views are on spending money, it’s important that you and your partner are comfortable with the other’s approach.

Are you the type of person who would cut coupons all day to save a few dollars?  Does cable TV just seem so unnecessary when you can watch your favorite shows online a few days later?  Or maybe you order one fewer drink than you want when out with friends for dinner?

On the other hand, perhaps you’re the type of person who likes to take extravagant vacations every year and blow your whole December paycheck?  Is it imperative that you’re walking around with the latest iPhone and iPad?  Maybe you buy new clothes whenever you feel a little sad?

Neither of these methods is wrong, or even mutually exclusive.  But they are different, and that can cause tension in a relationship.

About six years ago, I dated someone for a year and a half who viewed money differently than I did.  He wasn’t Jewish, and I thought that might be the biggest obstacle in our relationship, but when it came down to it, it was our difference in spending habits that led to our demise.  I work hard, and I like to reward myself.  I’m not talking about Tiffany bracelets and Louis Vuitton bags, but small conveniences.  For example, we used to argue all the time over valet parking.  If it’s cold out, and there is no street parking available, I think it’s worth the $10 or $15 for the convenience of walking right into the restaurant.  He, on the other hand, would rather drive around for 20 minutes, make us late, and walk a mile to avoid the cost.  Again, neither belief is right or wrong; they are just different.  But making sure that you’re compatible with your partner’s approach to money can save you from an endless tug-of-war over what’s important and what isn’t.

When it comes down to it, how you decide to spend your hard-earned money is a very personal decision.  Just like your values on politics and religion, your values on money will likely play a large role in your relationship, so it’s best to address these issues before they become overwhelming.  Rather than letting a monetary issue fester, bring it up to your partner before you become resentful of the other’s spending habits.  (In fact, this is a healthy way to handle most large issues that arise in a relationship.)  Some things you’ll be able to compromise on and perhaps overlook, and some you won’t.  For your relationship to go the distance, though, it’s important that you and your partner are on board with the other’s approach to money… and you’re both willing invest yourselves completely!

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.

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

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