A new dawn for GTJ

It’s a new dawn for Gather the Jews (GTJ).

With the generous support of Manny Friedman, Co-Founder of the Friedman-French Foundation, GTJ will launch “GTJ: A New Hope” (because I’m a Star Wars fan).

At the heart of this initiative is the recruitment of a full-time paid staff member who will join GTJ in August.  The Friedman-French enabled staff member will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of GTJ, ensuring that GTJ remains comprehensive in scope, expanding GTJ’s news component, and generally ensuring that GTJ remains an excellent resource for young adult Jews in the Washington, DC area.

Also as part of the new initiative, in August GTJ will:

Launch a redesign of the GTJ website that allows for more content and easier navigability.
Create a Board of Directors comprised of prominent Jewish community members
Announce its involvement in several community initiatives designed to further enhance the Jewish community

It must be reiterated that none of this could go forward without the timely and generous support of Manny Friedman who, below, has shared a few thoughts on his support for GTJ.

SR:  Why did you choose to get involved with Gather the Jews?
MF:  We wanted Gather the Jews to remain an independent entity after its founders are no longer involved on a day-to-day basis. We are very pleased to be providing the funding to allow GTJ to enter this next phase of its life.

SR:  What do you hope to achieve by helping the Gather the Jews project?
MF:  We hope to help Gather the Jews successfully navigate this upcoming year of transition. We are excited that GTJ is hiring its first paid executive director and we hope that this is just the beginning of many stages of expansion.

SR:  What message do you hope your donation sends to the DC Jewish community?
MF:  We would like our support to become a catalyst for encouraging other philanthropists and foundations to get involved with innovative Jewish projects in the region. 

Again, thanks to the Friedman-French Foundation.  Any questions about GTJ’s future aims, or how to support the future efforts of GTJ can be directed to

Gather the Jews is an event aggregator and news service that exists to facilitate young adult Judaism in the Washington, DC area.  To date, GTJ has accumulated 273,073 visits and 664,741 page views to its website.  GTJ’s weekly newsletter has over 4,000 subscribers.




Hire me maybe? — Résumé advice from Dan P.

This column is part of the advice series that GTJ recently launched with the Ask Ashley column.  Ashley, Dan, and others will take turns offering their thoughts on how to navigate different dimensions of Washington, DC life.


I just met you. This is crazy.  But here’s my resume. Hire me, maybe? (GTJ Call Me Maybe article)

The resume is your key to unlock future opportunities.  You may be looking for your first job after college or grad school, or you may be looking to leap from one job to another.  The resume won’t guarantee entry into every organization, but it’s a necessary step.

Think of the resume as a “first impression”.  If you have a polished resume that tells a clear story, the employer will want to get to the “second date” (read – “interview”).

Here’s a brief list of the key considerations to write an effective resume:

1. Keep it simple, keep it brief.  You can’t explain everything you did for your last job in a few bullet points.  So don’t try.  Your future employer won’t care about all the nuances.  Choose two to three tasks/accomplishments from each job/position.  Can you include more than three?  Sure… Just make sure that they’re important.  Don’t add fluff just to cover white space.

Also, don’t use words that are too fancy.  The resume must focus on brief descriptions of what you did in a particular role.  This closely ties to #2.

2. WWGS?  What Would Grandma Say?  Or your mom?  They would brag about everything you’ve done.  The resume isn’t the time to be modest.  If you did something cool/important/legend…wait for it…dary, include it!

3. So what?? Use the PAR model as much as possible.

  • Problem (what was the challenge?)
  • Action (what did you do?)
  • Result (what was the result of your efforts?).

The resume isn’t a list of everything you’ve done. You need to describe the impact, and you should quantify it as much as possible.

Examples of your efforts (in a list format):

  • “Organized 15 charity fundraising events”
  • “Led 25 little Napoleans through the 4th grade curriculum”
  • “Managed two teams that effectively led clients through annual strategy revision”

What’s missing?  You organized 15 charity fundraising events to raise $300,000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF).  Or, you led fourth graders through a rigorous curriculum that effectively prepared them for their annual exams with a 100% passing rate.  Or, you managed two teams of six personnel each that facilitated working group sessions with senior leadership from two firms to revise their strategies to meet new customer demands.

Those are hypothetical examples.  But, the point is to stick with PAR.  Sometimes it’s a “silent P”, meaning that the problem is implied.  If you didn’t organize the fundraising events, the LAF would still exist, but clearly your contributions moved them in the right direction.

4. It’s all about the verbs.  Each position will have two or more bullets under it.  Each of those bullets should start with a verb (“Led”, “Organized”, “Maintained”, etc).  You can Google “resume verbs by category” to find a list of suggested verbs for your resume.  Click here for an example.  Note – the verbs are all past tense unless you are currently doing that particular role.

Two hints… First, the past tense of “Lead” is “Led”.  Second, instead of using “led” (or other verbs) multiple times throughout the resume, consider synonyms (“Managed”, “Directed”, etc) or simply focusing on a different action for that description (“Planned”, “Facilitated”, “Implemented”, etc).

5.  Lost in translation.  You know at least two languages – English and some cool jargon you picked up at your current job.  You have acronyms for positions and reports, and wardrobe malfunctions.  Unfortunately, your future employer doesn’t speak that language, and they aren’t going to find an interpreter.  That means you
have to work a little harder.  Make sure that you adapt the translations to the job and role that you’re applying for.

6.  Help me help you.  The resume isn’t simply a way to showcase all that you’ve done.  The company posted that job for a reason – They need help solving a problem.  Study the job description and write your resume to show how you can help (This bullet was almost titled, “If there was a problem, yo I’ll solve it”, but the 10% of the readers who get the current reference may have been lost on that one).

If you’re going to a job fair online or in person, you may not know specific positions available, but you can study the companies that will attend and create resumes that generally match a company’s strategy.

7.  When you’re not at work you… Watch the entire season of Game of Thrones in a weekend?  Please tell me you do more with your free time.  You volunteer with GTJ, or the Federation, etc.  You play kickball (leave out the “NAKID” and “Collegiate-level binge drinking” aspects), or softball. Maybe you play piano, or you hiked Mt. Kilimanjaro.  List a few of these activities in the “Additional Information” section.

Things to leave out:

  • “Proficient with Microsoft Office Suite” (thanks to modern technology every
    human on earth, to include those in the womb, are proficient with this).
  • “Avid reader” unless you’re like John Travolta in Phenomenon (obscure
    reference – “You learned the Portuguese language in 20 minutes?”)
  • “Test the search engine capabilities of JDate.”

Here’s a simple test – Would you talk about these activities at a family dinner?

8.  Contact info.  Of course you’re going to survive the zombie apocalypse, but please keep your personal email professional.  If your email is, make a new one. Consider, or something similar.

9. Triple check.  Even then… you’re not done.  You want to ensure that the resume reads correctly.  Check the spelling. Read it out loud.  Ask people outside your family to read it.  You want critical feedback and you should expect some criticism.  Do they understand all of the terms?  Do they think it highlights your greatest skills?

Stay tuned for another post with career advice and a catchy title from a pop song.

Dan Pick is a member of the DC Jewish Communiny.  He was an officer in US Navy after he graduated from Penn State. Now, he’s a consultant saving the world one powerpoint at a time. He’s currently an MBA candidate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and recently created a blog with a veteran classmate to help military veterans transition (Switch). Dan enjoys traveling, running, triathlons, playing guitar, and volunteering in the community. All at the same time.


Survivor Initiative launch raises $14k.

Yael E. is a community member and was a co-host of this event.

Upon learning that nationally, approximately half of all Holocaust survivors are living below the national poverty line—including over 200 in the Washington, DC area—and that many are facing an even more dire situation with funding and assistance shortfalls this year, a small group of Jewish professionals in Washington, DC decided to do something about it. They launched The Survivor Initiative to raise funds and awareness in the community and to help the Jewish Social Service Agency (JSSA) continue its critical 20-year old Holocaust Survivor Program. The Initiative held its inaugural event on July 5th, raising $14,000. The 170 attendees heard a survivor speak of her family’s escape from Germany after the infamous Kristallnacht of 1938 and her journey to a life as a refugee in Kenya. The community was educated about JSSA’s ongoing programs and the different ways to become personally involved beyond financial contributions.

Until now, critical social services for Holocaust survivors in need in the Washington area have been funded by grants from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, matching JSSA funds, and donations.  Recently, a decrease in funding from many of these traditional revenue sources combined with a substantial increase in aging survivors applying for more intensive services has placed JSSA’s Holocaust Survivor Program in jeopardy. Due to unprecedented increases in survivor applications for services as this population nears the last few years of their life, their growing needs for basic safety net services including personal care, homemaker, health, social services, and financial assistance are currently outpacing available funding. Changing demographics, increasing frailty, the downturn in the economy, and changes in eligibility criteria for Claims Conference funding have contributed to this dire situation. This year alone, JSSA is facing a $200,000 shortfall, and this deficit is expected to grow annually for at least another 10 years.

The Survivor Initiative’s inaugural event was one of a number of community outreach efforts  in what will be a continuing campaign to ensure that every Holocaust survivor in need will be afforded the necessary care. While fundraising will remain the Initiative’s top priority, the group also strives to educate and inspire the community to become personally involved through a variety of volunteering opportunities, including:

  • JSSA’s Holocaust Survivor Volunteer Visitor Program: Volunteers bring a warm and engaging presence into the homes of survivors who are unable to leave or travel distances from their residence. Together, survivors and volunteers can discuss photographs, music, art, books, memories from the past, family stories, hobbies, interests – and more. Training will be held on Wednesday, July 25 from 6 – 8 pm at the Embassy Suites in Chevy Chase. Interested participants can contact Marissa Neuman at or 301-610-8345.
  • Pro Bono Legal Assistance: JSSA currently has generous legal assistance to help local survivors with documents for restitution payments made directly by the German Government.
  • Interpreters: JSSA needs help translating German-language legal documents. JSSA is also looking for Russian speakers to translate for Russian-speaking survivors at JSSA events or during additional activities.
  • Corporate Letter Writing Team: The Survivor Initiative will form a team to seek corporate donations of both money and necessary personal items, such as financial assistance for prescription glasses and dental hygiene needs.
  • Rosh Hashana Fundraising “wish” through Through this website, individuals can create a fundraising wish, posted through Facebook, to ask friends and family for donations to help ensure a sweet, dignified new year for survivors in need.

More information about the program and how to donate or volunteer can be found at JSSA’s website,

 The importance of JSSA’s work stretches far beyond any one segment of our community. As voiced by one recent donor: “I am glad to donate to this worthy cause.  I am Armenian, and I know how important it is to help those who survived such horrific experiences. This is in memory of my grandparents who survived the Armenian Genocide. Keep up the good work!”





Slow And Steady Wins The Race — GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 45)

Some might say I’m an impulsive person.  I get an idea and I act on it.  Case in point: Quitting my former job and starting A Little Nudge.  (Perhaps that was more of a well-researched impulsion!)  Basically, when I want something, I go for it.  And yet, I’ve learned that, in dating, slow and steady wins the race.

When it came to dating, I was always someone who preferred to jump two feet in before testing the water.  I figured that if I liked someone, it must be a good idea to see him seven nights a week, right?  And if he learned all my little idiosyncrasies early on, it would be endearing, wouldn’t it?  I was a full-fledged jumper.  And where did it leave me?  Often having what should have been a year-long relationship – meeting, the honeymoon phase, our first fight, and breaking up – all within the span of a month or two.

As I gained experience, I realized that when you like someone who likes you back, the anticipation of seeing each other again is often the best part of a new relationship.  Luckily for me, knowingly or not, Jeremy pushed us into the slow and steady routine.  Over two years later, I can see that this method was the best way to go for us.  (Of course, it also didn’t hurt that only one of us has a car, so it wasn’t always as easy to see each other during the week.)

The beginning of a relationship is exciting, and the temptation to jump in is going to be there.  Remember, though, that if this person is going to be around for a while, it’s not necessary to hit the accelerator when you can simply cruise at a steady speed until you’re ready to take it to the next level.  There is no hard and fast rule, but seeing someone once or twice a week for the first month of a new relationship is probably a healthy choice.  This way, you’ll have the anticipation and excitement of the next date, and you’ll have enough to talk about since you didn’t just see each other the night before!  Use this time to get to know each other – hobbies, things that make you tick, life ambitions, etc.

The same philosophy goes for when to be intimate for the first time… if you catch my drift.  It’s certainly tempting early on, but once you go down that path with someone, getting to know each other often takes a backseat to, well, the things you can do in the backseat.  It takes time to get to know someone before you can properly determine if you even want to open yourself up to that kind of intimacy.  If a friend asks you (after you’ve done the deed) what your date’s hobbies are or what he or she does for a living, you’ll probably want to know the answers.

The early parts of a relationship are often the most exciting, so relish in them and try not to hit the fast forward button too soon.  Get to know each other over ice cream, go to a baseball game, check out a new band, try a new restaurant, and all the while, learn about each other.  That way, when you’re ready to start seeing each other more often, you’ll be comfortable that this person is someone you’d truly like to spend time with beyond the initial infatuation.  And with the right person, that infatuation will linger for a long time, if not forever, so there’s nothing to worry about.

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.

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


“Miss Holocaust Survivor” + “Highless Marijuana” — News of the Week (Jewish Style) 7/11

I had a hard time choosing a title for this post, so I chose two stories.  But I could have chosen others too.  Check out number 2 — it certainly got my attention!

Number 1.  From Yahoo! News.

Thanks, as always, to our partners on this post:  Moment Magazine

  1. Miss Holocaust Survivor contest held in Israel. (Yahoo!) (h/t Jane B.)
  2. Germany court says circumcision is a crime (The American Interest) (h/t Cory A.)
  3. The Biggest Jewish Genetic Myths of All Time, by community member Sala Levin (Moment Magazine)
  4. Jewish U.S. Representative Barney Frank (D – MA) becomes the first sitting member of Congress to marry a same-sex partner.  (New York Times) (h/t Moment Magazine)
  5. Does the West Bank count as a settlement?  An Israeli government-appoint panel considers the question (Reuters)(h/t Moment Magazine)
  6. Former Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir, died, aged 96.  (LA Times)
  7. American Presbyterians mull boycott and divestment of Israel (The Jewish Daily Forward)
  8. Chabad holds “Living Legacy” conference here in Washington, DC  (Washington Jewish Week)
  9. Cliff Goldkind – Potomac native and resident – talks poker (Washington Jewish Week)
  10. Israelis develop “highless” marijuana (News Daily)(h/t Jewlicious)
  11. Romney to visit Israel this summer (New York Jewish Week)

Number 4.  From The New York Times















Man Meats Grill… At Sixth & I

Note:  This event is now on August 12 (it rained on original day).

On Sunday, July 15, at 5:00 PM, Sixth & I will host an interactive grilling seminar for men in their 20s and 30s.  To learn more about the event, I threw a few questions to Aaron Weintraub, Director of Live Entertainment Programming at Sixth & I.  Click here to buy your tickets.


SR:  “Man Meats Grill” …  Sounds tasty, but what’s it all about?

AW:  Our Men’s Room (programming series for men in their 20s and 30s) committee got together and thought “What better for a summer event than an interactive grilling session?”  Wagshal’s Foods quickly came to mind as a great group to partner with on the event — they are considered one of the area’s premier butchers. We reached out to see what our kosher options (the event will be strictly kosher) were with them, and found that logistically we could make it happen. We knew we had to secure Pam Ginsberg, one of DC’s best known butchers, so we found a day that worked for her and Brian Fuchs (SR: check out the landing page on his website — it’s awesome) to come down and lead a tutored event.

SR:  I’m not joking when I say I’ve never grilled or cooked anything in my life.  Is this event out of my league?  Will I make a complete fool of myself (something I do on a regular basis, so it won’t matter too much)?  Will I slice off one of my fingers?  Or is this for complete beginners too?

AW:  Definitely not out of your league! This is open to any and all grill-skill levels. Pam and Brian will work with each and every attendee to challenge them to create a great steak/ burger. We’re only giving Pam and Brian the big metal knife, so unless you’re creative, it’ll be hard to slice off any fingers with plastic utensils.

SR:  Don’t put it past me …

SR:  You’ll be grilling with Kosher meat.  Kosher meat vs. non-kosher meat, can you tell a difference in taste?  If so, which do you think tastes better?

AW:  That’s a great question and one that I’m interested to hear it answered by Pam and Brian. You’ll have to come to find out!

SR:  This event is part of the Men’s Room programming series.  Can you tell me more about that?  I mostly prefer watching movies with Meg Ryan, but I’m all about watching football games at bars.  Does any of that happen with the Men’s Room?

AW:  The Men’s Room began a little less than a year ago after we saw how successful our Not Your Bubbe’s Sisterhood (programming series for women in their 20s and 30s) events were. To be honest, I was skeptical at first with how interested guys would be to come to men-only events, but after playing with the idea for a little while we decided to run with it and so far we’ve been very pleased with the response. Our first event, called “The Art of Whiskey,” was a tutored tasting with a local distillery (Copper Fox), which sold out in advance. Our second event was Bracketology 101, an event featuring two local sports journalists/ bloggers (The Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg, and sports blogger Ben Standig), which analyzed the NCAA men’s basketball tournament bracket, gave helpful tips to win your pool.  We also received great feedback from this event.  The goal of these events is to give young professional men an opportunity to meet, network, and enjoy common interests together.  It’s just another micro-community within the larger Sixth & I one.  We know women would be interested in many of the events we have, but I always tell them that as long as these are successful, we’re willing to try them again on a larger scale open to everyone.  New event ideas are always welcome, so feel free to email me –

We hope to see you this Sunday… tickets are still available but are going fast!


New job opening at The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington

We know that we’ve been babbling on about the Gather the Jews Executive Director position for the last two weeks, but don’t let us trick you into thinking that our ED position is the only Jewish job out there!  Check out this new job opening sent to us by our friends at The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.  Have other job postings, or want to see what else is out there?  Then post to our Job Board!


Resumes and cover letters should be sent to:


Position:              Greater Washington Regional Representative, Masa Israel Journey
Department:      Financial Resource Development (FRD)
Reports To:         Young Leadership Director
Date:                     May 2012

Organizational Vision, Mission and Function: 
The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington is a non-profit philanthropic organization dedicated to creating a vibrant and purposeful Jewish community.  The Jewish Federation inspires, connects, educates and supports. The Federation’s primary functions are community planning and allocations, financial resource development, and leadership development.

Masa Israel Journey connects Jewish young adults to gap year, study abroad, post-college, and volunteer programs. Through these immersive experiences, lasting between five and twelve months, participants develop a deep, personal connection to Israel and Jewish life.

Masa Israel provides simple access to over 200 immersive experiences that are as varied as Israel itself and helps navigate the entire process at every step along the way.  Masa Israel grants and scholarships make it all possible, automatically connecting qualified participants to up to $7,500.  Over 55,000 young adults have participated in Masa Israel programs since 2004, with over 10,000 participants experiencing Israel during the 2010 – 2011 academic year.

This Regional Representative position is a product of the collaboration between the Jewish Agency for Israel and The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington to enhance the Masa presence in the Greater Washington Jewish community and help integrate Masa alumni into the young adult community. The Regional Representative will work with Federation’s Young Leadership team in an effort to collaborate on initiatives and strategies to engage young adults in the Jewish community and The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

Position Overview:

A strategic team-player, the Greater Washington Regional Representative for Masa Israel Journey is responsible for connecting young adults to experiences in Israel that fit their interests and supporting them through the process. This means recruiting for Masa programs, assisting potential participants in choosing the best fit program, helping them access funding to lower the cost of their experience and advising them on what to expect along the way and in Israel. It also means following up with participants once they return to the Greater Washington area and helping integrate them into the Jewish community.

Responsibilities Include:

  • General outreach to young adults in their 20s and 30s
  • Designing and overseeing a wide-range of recruitment initiatives for high school, college, and post-college populations including outreach to potential participants and their parents
  • Developing partnerships with local community organizations and influencers
  • Supporting local Masa Israel Campus Representatives
  • Coordinating events in partnership with local community organizations
  • Consulting and assisting with Masa Israel program staff on their marketing and recruiting campaigns within the community
  • Initiating projects locally to connect with Masa Israel alumni with local Jewish life and maintain their Israel connection
  • Cultivating personal relationships with alumni, mentoring them on Jewish communal life
  • Connecting alumni to relevant local, regional and national activities to help cultivate their interests
  • Working with the Young Leadership professional team to connect alumni and their peers to the work of The Jewish Federation in an effort to develop their philanthropic, volunteer and/or professional niche


  • Experience in community organizing, communications, Jewish education, customer service or related fields
  • Intimate knowledge of and passion for the Jewish community, its customs and practices
  • Prior Israel experience, long-term preferred
  • Highly motivated and entrepreneurial with the ability to be a self-starter
  • Experience in event coordination and planning
  • Exceptional organization and communication skills (both written and oral)
  • Ability to develop relationships and work with a diverse population
  • Ability to manage multiple tasks and short deadlines
  • Ability to work on a variety of projects simultaneously; seeming them from concept through execution
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Word, Outlook and Excel
  • A basic understanding of social media tools and how to use them to further our goals

Education and Experience:

  • Bachelor’s degree required
  • 2-5 years of related experience

GTJ’s Erika E. On TV

It’s Erika’s off-week for her biweekly dating column, but if you still need a dating advice fix, check out her recent TV appearances on “Let’s Talk Live” on News Channel 8.

First date turn-offs

Avoiding ridiculous deal-breakers

Preach on, Erika.





Chilled Beet and Goat Cheese Soup

It has escaped no one’s attention that it is really, really hot outside.  Salads are great for both the weather and the summer produce, but chilled soups get the job done well, too.  I turned to a Jewish standby—borscht—and updated it in a way that no shtetl dweller would ever recognize.  The flavors are inspired by a salad that Noa Levanon taught me a few years ago. [Editor’s note: If you’d also like the salad recipe, email me at]

A couple of technical notes: when working with red beets, either wear rubber gloves or wash your hands very frequently, so you don’t walk around looking like you’ve come from a crime scene.  Also, cold soups require more spice than hot.  That’s why the recipe calls for so much.  You’ll also probably have to adjust a bit once the soup cools completely.

Total time: about 2 hours, plus cooling time

Yield: 4 servings

Level: Moderate


© Courtney Weiner.  All Rights Reserved.


  • 6-7 medium beets
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 10 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups imitation chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 6 oz. goat cheese
  • 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Garlic powder (optional)


Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Wash beets and trim off greens and any long root ends.  Pierce each beet twice with a sharp knife and wrap individually in foil.  Place all beets on a foil-lined baking sheet and cook for about 50 minutes, until all beets can be easily pierced with a fork.  Let beets cool enough to handle, then slide the peel off with your hands under running water.  Cut the beets into 1/2” pieces and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large pot.  Add the garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes over medium-high heat, until the garlic begins to color.  Add the beets and stir to combine.  Add 1 ½ cups of the broth.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and crumble goat cheese into the pot.  Stir until the goat cheese melts.  Allow the mixture to cool to about room temperature.

Using a handheld blender or working in batched with a regular blender, puree the beet mixture, adding the additional ½ cup of broth or more to thin to the desired consistency.  Stir in the cilantro.  Continue cooling in the refrigerator.  Once the soup is completely cool, taste and adjust seasoning with salt and garlic powder, if necessary.


DC Jews: Call Me Maybe?

If you’re part of the DC young Jewish adult community, you’ve probably appeared in Call Me Maybe video lately.  Or you’re close friends with somebody who has.

How did this happen?  How did the Call Me Maybe craze — launched by the original video here (141 million views), then the Justin Beiber video here (44 million), then the Harvard baseball team video here (14 million) — suddenly seize the DC Jewish community?

Well, for better of for worse, I’ve been close to the eye of this storm, so I can tell the story:

The video that launched a thousand Jewish CMM ships belongs to Courtney L.  As a finalist in the 2011 Gather the Jews, Jewish Girl of the Year competition, Courtney was asked to make a video that expressed what Judaism meant to her.  She chose to mimic Justin Beiber by gathering a bunch of her friends to dance around to the song.  The result can be seen here (it also features this week’s Girl of the Week, Dina):

Although Courtney didn’t win the competition (that honor went to Ariana), the video caught the attention of a 2010 Jewish Guy of the Year finalist, Steve D.   Steve watched the video 1,123 times before deciding to film his own CMM video.  His first attempt, touchingly enough, yielded (thanks to the video talents of Casey G.) a going away tribute to me that featured tons of people in our DC Jewish community.

Rishay, Call Me Maybe – ORIGINAL from Casey Girard on Vimeo.

But this wasn’t enough for Steve.  He then decided to plan a flash mob dance with 50 dancers for the celebration of the fourth birthday of his Mr. Yogato yogurt store (along with this eating competition).   Community members Rachel A. and Britt S. came to the rescue on the choreography, and tons of familiar faces joined in the dance (including our third-ever Jewish Guy of the Year, Ilya).  The performance will soon be released in professional video format by NPR, but here are a few videos, taken by attendants, to whet your appetite:

Perhaps inspired by his role in this dance, the same Ilya then wrote lyrics based on Call Me Maybe in response to Justice Roberts’s surprising decision in the Healthcare Supreme Court ruling.  (See here at Cato’s blog)

Is this the end?  …  Maybe?




Max B. wins yogurt eating competition

Champion Max bending over low to cut the distance from cup to mouth.

Let it not be thought that Max B.’s eating powers are uni-dimensional.  He might have made his name as a past winner of the Sixth & I Pickle Eating Competition, but his eating greatness extends well beyond pickles.  And it includes yogurt.

As part of the Fourth Birthday Celebration of Mr. Yogato, ten contestants — including Jewish community members Seth E., Max B., Joseph P., and Aaron Z. — lined up on Saturday to see who could finish four Yogato, frozen yogurt huges (12 ounces each — 48 ounces total) in under 15 minutes in 100 degree heat.

Max made the feat seem like child’s play.  In just over 7 minutes, Max polished off his fourth cup, earning him first place and his pick of prizes from SpaceX, Tesla Motors, and Mr. Yogato.  Only two other contestants completed the four cups in the allotted time period:  Second place went to Peter “The Rock” R.  and third place went to Ryan L. (hailing from Utah, w00t!)

Rumors suggest that Max B.’s next eating competition will be the 4 pound burrito at Pica Taco (El Toro).

Conspicuously absent from the competition was defending pickle-eating champ Ben S. and yours truly (I was referee/event commentator!)

After staking out third place early on, Seth E. (pictured here) fell to fourth place in the final moments when Ryan L. — body shaking from the sugar and freezing yogurt — mounted an impressive comeback.

Stay tuned for an NPR story on this event and the accompanying “Call Me Maybe” dance performance that took place at the same birthday party.


Champion again. Max B.























Give blood, get in for free! … at GTJ’s Happy Hour!

Gather the Jews is teaming up with Julia Crantz and the DC JCC for their upcoming blood drive (Tuesday, July 10, 4:30 – 8:30 PM).

Here’s the simple deal:  If you give blood, ask Julia for a special bracelet that will allow you to then attend GTJ’s Happy Hour later that evening for free (normally $5 at the door).

So give blood at the DC JCC.   Then join GTJ and 150+ other young Jews.








Name a Drink, Win a Drink … For GTJ’s Summer Happy Hour!

Name us!!!!

As you may know, the upcoming Gather the Jews (GTJ) happy hour at Blackfinn is only days away (Tuesday, July 10).   In preparation for the event, Blackfinn has asked us to come up with three names for three drinks (one is rum based, one whiskey, one vodka).

Suggest a Jewish/GTJ/DC-themed name for one of the drinks by posting it to event’s Facebook wall or by commenting on this blog post.

If we pick your name, we’ll get you one drink — your drink — for free!

So go be creative!










Ask Ashley: Getting to the Beach and Finding an Apartment

Ask Ashley is GTJ’s new weekly advice column for questions about living in DC.  Have a question you want answered?  Email with subject line “Ask Ashley.”

Dewey Beach image from:

Question:  Dear Ashley, my friends and I are here in DC for the summer and looking for an easy way to spend the weekend at the beach.  Any suggestions?
Ashley:   For those of you like me, who moved to DC after living off a beach your entire life, the idea of driving three hours to sit on the sand is hard to handle.  But don’t worry, there are actually more options than you realize. For Memorial Day weekend this year, I hopped in the car with some friends and drove two and half hours and ended up on the coast of Delaware.

I know, if you’re not from the area, the thought of going to Delaware might seem a little weird, but I promise it’s not as random as you think.  Welcome to Dewey Beach, everything you could ever want out of a summer beach weekend plus a lot of things you’d prefer to do without.  Our adventure started at the Sand Palace Motel, right off the coastal highway, minutes from the ocean, and directly across from bars and food.  Throughout the weekend, we wandered our way to Seacrets in Ocean City, Maryland and ate calzones in the much nicer areas of Rehoboth. But over all, there was plenty to do, lots of people from all over the East Coast, and, of course, the beach right there, to enjoy!

Now, of course, the hardest part about getting out there is that you may not own a car.   But lucky for you DC2NY conveniently heads to the beach every weekend of the summer, straight from Dupont Circle or Union Station, and drops off passengers in either Dewey Beach or Rehoboth.

Could this be the ultimate apartment for you?  Probably not, considering it’s located in Portland… It’s just what came up when I typed in “apartments” in Google Images.  — Stephen

Question:  Dear Ashley, what’s a good way to find a great apartment in DC?
Ashley:   Finding an apartment in the District is not easy.  It can be extremely stressful, complicated, and often times misleading.  But lucky for you, there are several tips and tricks that can make apartment searching in DC a little more doable.

For starters, tell everyone you know—friends, colleagues, random people you meet, every Jewish person you know—that you are looking.  Tell them multiple times, whenever you see them, and continuously ask them if they know anyone who is subletting, transferring their lease, or looking for a roommate.  The reality is that finding an apartment is like finding a job:  It’s all about networking with people to get the connection.  You never know which random person you tell might have the dream apartment.

The next tip:  Do not be afraid of Craigslist.  Obviously, be smart; if something looks weird, it probably is.  But at the same time, there’s nothing wrong with meeting someone you don’t know in a neutral area.  If you are nervous, you can always bring someone along.  In addition to Craigslist, check:

Also make your search known on Twitter and Facebook. It doesn’t matter how, just get the word out there that you are looking.

The take-away tip is to be extremely proactive.  The fact is, everyone is looking for apartments in DC and even if something feels like it’s “in the bag” you never know until you sign something that you have it for sure, and you never know what else is out there.  Just continuously check for postings and keep emailing and calling.  As frustrating as it can be, do not get discouraged and you will find the best apartment that’s perfect for you.

And in the end, if you really don’t like where you end up, you can always sublet!


Have questions for Ashley?  Ask her anything by emailing (yes, we’ll get her an individualized email soon!)


FIDF packs Public in inaugural event

On Thursday of last week, more than 200 DC Jews packed Public Bar to attend the inaugural event of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) — Young Leadership, Washington DC division.    Lots of people left with FIDF hats and pins, but in case you didn’t leave with all of your questions answered, here’s a brief interview with Andrew Friedson (AF), one of the event’s co-hosts:

SR:  What is FIDF Young Leadership?
AF:  Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) was established in 1981 by a group of Holocaust survivors to support the men and women who serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as well as the families of fallen soldiers.  FIDF is committed to supporting and caring for IDF soldiers as a way to ease the incredible burden they carry on behalf of Israel and the global Jewish community.  The Young Leadership Division (YL) of FIDF engages individuals in their 20s to 40s in the organization’s work while providing social and networking opportunities.  It’s a fun and meaningful way to get involved, support Israel, and look out for IDF soldiers.

A packed Public Bar. My iPhone.

SR:  Why did you just decide to open in DC?
AF:  The DC area has an incredibly active, engaged and diverse Jewish community with so many young professionals who have been to Israel, befriended IDF soldiers and who are passionate about Israel and Jewish causes.  Combined with the fact that Washington, DC plays such a central role in the Israel-US relationship, it was only natural to have a strong presence here in the Nation’s Capital.  We’re fortunate to have the Embassy of Israel here, providing increased opportunities to interact with current and former Israeli soldiers and officials.

SR:  What was your role in Thursday’s event?
AF:  I was one of the hosts for the happy hour.  Along with our committee — Jeremy Alexander, Netaly Masica, Alex Langer, Lee Genish, Karen Reiner, and Eric Langer — we were responsible for planning the event and inviting everyone, with the help of FIDF DC Director, Stephanie Friedman.

SR:  What types of stuff will you be doing in the future?
 This was just the first of many more events we will be having in the future.  In fact, we’re having a dinner coming up on August 6, when we’ll be joined by a female lone combat soldier who is visiting from Israel, who will share her experiences at an intimate dinner, followed by a happy hour.  Stay tuned for details of these and other events by liking our FIDF-YL DC Facebook Page and feel free to email or call 301-960-3531 if you’re interested in joining us on August 6th!

SR:  How on earth did you get over 200 people to RSVP to your event over Facebook? Are we just obsessed with Israeli soldiers?  Or are the co-hosts especially popular?
AF:  We’d love to take credit for just being that cool! In fact, we had more people show up than the 200+ who RSVP’ed on Facebook.  But the huge turnout and success of the event was a testament to the incredible things that FIDF does, the passion in the community to look after those who look after Israel, and the start of a really special organization with a big presence here in DC. FIDF is meant to be in DC, and we are looking forward to building the organization here.

SR:  How did people help the FIDF cause on Thursday night?
AF:  The purpose of the event was to introduce FIDF to young professionals in DC.  It was more like a grand entrance!  The voluntary contributions and the percentage of proceeds from everyone’s “liquid generosity” will go directly towards FIDF’s mission: supporting educational, social, cultural, and recreational programs and facilities.  Beyond that, we received messages from current and former soldiers from around the world who expressed how much it meant to them that young people in the United States recognize their sacrifice.

SR:  Did you have any Israeli soldiers at the event?
AF:  Yes, we sure did!  Capt. Meir Rozalis actually spoke at the event and talked about what FIDF meant to him.  We also had a former IDF soldier, Tomer Chutman, who was very active in the organization in Israel and now lives nearby, along with several other former and active duty soldiers.

SR:  I walked away with a pin and a hat.  What other schwag do you have, and how can we get it?
AF:  There’s more where that came from!  But you’ll have to come to the next event to see for yourself…so hope to see you on August 6th!


For more pictures, go to FIDF’s Facebook page.












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