Make an Impact with the Second Annual Impact DC!

The second annual Impact DC is on Thursday, November 15, 2012, 8:00 p.m. at The Howard Theatre, 620 T Street NW, Washington, DC.  A $50 couvert and a $100 minimum gift to The Federation’s 2012 Annual Campaign and can be bought at  Cocktail attire.

Young Leadership of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington is hosting a night that celebrates the next generation’s dedication to leadership, charitable giving and, volunteerism.  This is a generation of leaders who are shaping the future of our Jewish community.  Individually they make an impact; together they will change the world.

At this second annual event, Impact DC’s hundreds of attendees will have the opportunity to show how they make an impact in the community and will network and engage with other young adults who are making a difference in the Greater Washington area’s Jewish community.

Impact DC Co-Chair Andrew Friedson said, “An effective Jewish Federation is integral to a thriving Jewish community, and engaging young leadership is key to sustaining that strength. I’m honored to co-chair this event to celebrate our generation’s impact on the community today and to inspire continued and increased involvement tomorrow.”

“Impact DC serves as a platform to showcase our generation’s young leaders who are passionate about leaving a strong Jewish legacy. As co-chair, my hope is that through this year’s event, which will be held at the historic and newly renovated Howard Theatre, Federation will be able to embrace and inspire Jewish professionals with fresh ideas looking to strengthen their connection to our community,”  stated Impact DC Co-Chair Ariana Heideman.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington cares for those in need, deepens engagement in Jewish life and strengthens the bonds among Jews in the Greater Washington area, in Israel and around the world. With more than 42 local partner agencies, The Federation offers opportunities to make an impact in our community – whatever inspires you, the Federation has a program to help you make the world a better place.

Impact DC Co-Chair Jessica Sher concludes, “November 15th will be a night to celebrate what we, as a community of Jewish young professionals, have accomplished so far and challenge one another to continue to make an even greater impact. IMPACT DC recognizes those in our community committed to building a vibrant Jewish community through philanthropy.”


The Green Line is the New Red Line

Last month, I discussed the dramatic effect that the influx of young professionals into the District has had on our local real estate market.  This month, let’s shift our focus to the equally remarkable effects of the migration of young professionals and development dollars within the district on the property values and the lifestyle amenities available in many reemerging Washington neighborhoods.

It doesn’t require forty years of wandering (or wondering!) to understand the exodus of young professionals from upper NW DC to neighborhoods farther east.  When I was shopping for a condo in 2003, I looked at a unit in Logan Circle but decided that the area was “not ready for prime time” and was therefore too risky of an investment.  Since 2003, home values in Logan Circle have soared 60% and Logan has become one of the city’s most desirable locales.  A few more investment decisions like that and I might be joining Big Bird in the unemployment line!  What I failed to realize at that time was that the waves of young professionals that were continuing to stream into DC had to live somewhere and housing in Upper NW was simply becoming too expensive.  Just like air flowing from an area of high pressure to one of low pressure, over the past ten years young professionals and development dollars have increasingly flowed east within the city seeking to find and profit from more affordable housing options.  This infusion of youth and capital has brought with it a renewed focus on modern urban design – emphasizing transit-oriented development, sustainable building, and increased access to retail , nightlife, and community resources – to some of DC’s most historic and beautiful neighborhoods*.


With 32% of all new 18-to-34-year-old households in the District since 2000** concentrated within ¼ mile of its stations, the tremendous growth around the Green Line is representative of the eastward migration of young professionals and development dollars as well as the District’s efforts to foster the growth of “Live, Play, Work” communities throughout the city.  Here are three Green Line neighborhoods that have seen and will continue to see dramatic changes to their look, feel, and property values:


Petworth (20011)
• Between 2009 and 2011, four major residential and commercial developments delivered near the Georgia Avenue/Petworth Metrorail station.  Park Place (161 apartments and 17,000 sq. ft. of retail space), Residences at Georgia Avenue (72 apartments and a 11,500 square foot Yes! Organic Market), The Griffin (49 apartments), and 3Tree Flats (130 apartments) have created a new neighborhood center.  Furthermore, Safeway is planning to replace its current 21,000 square foot store with 220 residential units above a modern 62,000 square foot grocery store.***

Shaw (20001)
• Home to the 2.3 million sq. ft. Washington Convention Center that hosted 204 events and more than one million people in 2011.  The historic Howard Theater recently reopened after a $24 million renovation.  Cultural investment has also been made with the opening of the new, award-winning, Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library and new public art throughout the neighborhood.  CityMarket at O Street, a $260 million development, promises to be the neighborhood’s new epicenter in 2013 and will be anchored by a 72,000 square foot flagship Giant Food supermarket, a 182-room Cambria Suites Hotel, 626 residential units and 560 parking spaces.  The 1,167-room Marriott Marquis convention center hotel is under construction and scheduled to open in 2014.***

Southwest Waterfront (20024)
• The openings of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, the newly expanded Arena Stage and the new 55,000 square foot Safeway are just part of the cultural, hospitality, and retail offerings that enhance the urban vitality of this rapidly developing neighborhood.  The master plan for The Wharf ( includes 1,200 residential units, 400,000 square feet of office space, 200,000 square feet of retail space, 625 hotel rooms, 100,000 square feet of cultural space, a 400?–?500 slip marina, 12 acres of open space and 1,900?–?3,050 parking spaces.  The project will be a part of the USGBC’s LEED Neighborhood Development program and the first LEED-Gold certified mixed-use project in DC.  Phase I is expected to start in late 2012.***

*While this has resulted in tremendous property value increases and investment returns for early movers, it is important to note that the changes that have already occurred and those that are planned in the near future have had and will continue to have very real and not always positive repercussions for long-time residents of these areas. A recent study examining housing trends found that the ZIP codes covering Shaw, Ledroit Park, Bloomingdale, Columbia Heights, Mt. Pleasant, and Logan Circle are three of the top twenty fastest gentrifying ZIP codes in the entire country.
**GreenPrint of Growth, January 12, 2012 by RCLCO.
*** Source: Washington DC Economic Partnership (


David Abrams, a new GTJ contributing columnist, is a native of the Washington DC Metropolitan Area.  He received his M.B.A. from Emory University in 2009 and currently works as a realtor specializing in DC’s emerging neighborhoods with the BergerSandler+ team ( at Evers & Company Real Estate.  David is licensed in DC, MD, & VA.


How Lung Cancer Led Me to GTJ


My mom and I when I was 9, and in my tom-boy phase.

Support GTJ’s Sara and Rachel as they walk in memory of their mothers at Breathe Deep DC, an event to promote lung cancer research.

The doctors diagnosed my mom with lung cancer when I was sixteen years old.  It was May of my junior year of high school- by August she was gone.  At the time, I did not know that every 2.5 minutes someone in the US is diagnosed with lung cancer, and that every 3 minutes someone in the US dies from lung cancer.  At that time, I did not know that the 5-year survival rate for lung cancer is only 16.3%, and that number goes down to 3.5% when the cancer is found after it has already spread to other organs as my mom’s had.

My mom was the type of mom who knew all my friends.  She knew who was dating who, who was upset with who, and who had done something embarrassing that weekend.  My senior year of high school, between my friends, their families, my youth group, and my teachers, I had an amazing support group.  That changed when I went to college and all my friends went off to different schools;  I struggled through my first year of college.  On the outside, I still had stellar grades and was a social butterfly, but I could not come to terms with my loss.  I tried grief counseling and talking to a therapist, but none of it really helped.

It was not until I found the Chabad house at the University of Delaware did I finally start feeling more like myself.  Although I went to Hebrew school until my bat mitzvah and joined a Jewish youth group, my family celebrated both Chanukah and Christmas and led a mostly secular life.  Despite my secular lifestyle, I was craving a Jewish connection, thinking it would connect me more to my mom and comfort me in her loss.  At first I was wary of Chabad: they were much more religious than I was used to.  However, the summer after my sophomore year I went on a birthright trip led by the Chabad rabbi.  I had an amazing time learning about Israel and being around my Jewish peers, but it was my visit to the Kotel that changed the course of my life.

I was filled with apprehension as I slowly approached the Wall, but as soon as I touched the stone a feeling of calm swept over me.  In that moment I knew, that although things in my life were not going as I had imagined and although I still struggled with the loss of my mother, that everything was going to be okay.  While I still think about my mom every day, after my trip to the Kotel, I decided it was time to be the strong, resilient, and independent young woman my mother raised me to be and to take charge of my life.  I still craved a Jewish connection, and over the next two years I spent my Friday afternoons at the Chabad house helping prepare for Shabbat and serving on the Chabad board.  The rabbi’s family became close friends, and my rebbetzin at Delaware has been one of the most influential people in my life the past few years.

So how did lung cancer lead me to Gather the Jews?  The loss of my mom and my subsequent journey for a Jewish connection led me to the Chabad house at the University of Delaware.  As fate would have it, one Shabbat my senior year, Aaron Wolff came back to his alma mater for a visit and we sat across from each other at the Chabad house.  I told Aaron that I was looking for jobs in the international relations field, and he assured me as we exchanged emails that he knew people to put me in touch with.  When I emailed him the next week, he responded with quite a different idea: Gather the Jews was hiring.  Finding a Jewish connection was a turning point in my life, and I loved the idea of helping others find their connection whether it be through services, sports, or social events.  I applied for the job, and a few weeks later I found out I had been chosen as Gather the Jews’ Director of Operations.

Losing my mom has been the most influential experience of my life.  At first I let myself play the victim, thinking of all the moments and events in my future the cancer had ruined when it took my mom.  After my trip to the Kotel, I realized that life is what you make it.  I have decided to live my life to the fullest and take advantage of every opportunity.  This mindset has led me to some of the best experiences in my life, as well as to my first job at Gather the Jews.



George Bluth, Sr., MOT? – Gather the News – 10/24

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s off to gather we go…

  • Rockets and mortars from Gaza have been raining down on southern Israel since Tuesday night.  The IDF has already responded with a counter-strike.  This comes after Netanyahu told Tony Blair on Monday that Israel will continue to attack groups that fire on her citizens, referring to an attack on a routine IDF patrol.
  • Activist Anat Hoffman was arrested at the Kotel while leading a women’s prayer service.  It is illegal for women to pray at the Wall while wearing a tallit or tefillin, and for women to read from the Torah at the Wall.  Hoffman’s organization, Women of the Wall, organizes a women’s service once a month for Rosh Chodesh at the Kotel.
  • A new study reports that 97% of US and Canadian college campuses report no anti-Israel or anti-Semitic events…Yay!

Why Jews Should Care About Questions 4 and 6

This is a personal opinion piece by a member of the community and does not reflect the institutional positions of Gather the Jews.  Sarah Brammer-Shlay is a  Community Organizer and Avodah Corps Member at Jews United for Justice.  


On Election Day, in addition to the Presidential seat, Marylanders will be voting on several different ballot questions.  Jews United for Justice is organizing the Jewish community, heading up the Dream for Equality campaign, and working to uphold Questions 4 (Maryland DREAM Act) and 6 (Civil Marriage Protection Act) which focus on tuition equity for undocumented students and marriage equality for the GLBT community.  So why should we as Jews care about either of these issues and why should you sign up for a volunteer shift to ensure that Marylanders vote for justice?

As Jews, we were all immigrants.

We understand what it is like to be a stranger in a foreign land.  Our families often traveled difficult journeys to make it to this country and, for many Jews, our immigration stories are unclear because of our long and complex immigrations.  Check out David Cohen’s article previously published in the Jerusalem Post on why current immigration issues are Jewish issues.

Most of our parents saw college as the necessary next step.

Education plays such a huge role in the rhetoric of so many Jewish communities and homes.  In my home, college was not a question; from a young age, I was raised with the expectation that, after high school, I would attend college without question.  Undocumented students who have graduated from Maryland high schools and worked hard are missing the opportunity to attend college because the difference in cost between in-state and out-of-state tuition is simply too steep.  Check out the stories of many DREAMers and why voting FOR Question 4 is so important.

Marriage has too often been used in discriminatory ways.

Interracial marriages were not allowed in the United States until 1967.  Banning marriage between Jews and non-Jews was one of the first Nuremberg Laws passed in Nazi Germany.  In our society, marriage is a way to show your friends, family, and community the commitment you wish to share with an individual.  Marriage has a special meaning in our society, and marrying the person one loves means something in a way that civil unions and domestic partnerships do not.  Baltimore Ravens’ Brendon Ayanbadejo takes this stance when he speaks out in support of marriage equality.

Sarah Silverman likes marriage equality.

Our lovely, politically active Jewish friend Sarah Silverman is a major advocate of marriage equality.  In fact, Sarah Silverman has said that she will not marry until Gay and Lesbian couples also have the right to marriage.

Sign up to phone bank and canvass with Jews United for Justice and reach out to Maryland voters to ensure tuition equity for undocumented students who have invested in the state of Maryland and to end marriage discrimination towards same-sex couples!


Helpful Tips for a Great First Date – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 52)

There are some surefire ways to turn off a first date – having your cell phone out on the table, drinking excessively, or being rude to the wait staff – to name a few.  But just as important as knowing what not to do is knowing what to do on a first date to increase your chances of making it to the all-important second date.

1. Ask questions

Before I met Jeremy, I went on so many dates where the guy talked the entire time.  Even if I tried to get a word in edgewise, the conversation somehow had its own way of settling on him again.  I know the art of asking questions, but sadly, some people don’t.  I remember one date in particular with a guy we’ll call Paul.  It wasn’t until the check came for our drinks that he said, “Oh, so tell me about you.”  At that point, I was already turned off.  Conversations are a give and take, especially on a first date, so remember to ask some thoughtful questions.

2. Be optimistic and happy

It’s important to have a good attitude on a date, even if your happy face is only covering up the fact that this is your third date this week, and the rest have been, well, sub-par.  People smell negativity, and it creates an unpleasant aura on a date.  In other words, try not to be “J-Jaded,” and if you are, fake it ‘til you make it.  (Or, take a Guyatus, or Girlatus, from dating until you’re really ready to get back out there.)  A simple smile goes a long way.

3. Discuss issues that are important to you

I’m not talking about politics or anything, but if there’s something that you’re passionate about, it’s going to come out sooner rather than later, so it might as well be sooner.  A lot of my female clients worry that a guy will judge her for her interests.  One in particular takes a pottery-making class.  She was concerned that a guy might find that lame and grandma-like.  My response: Who cares?  It’s what you like to do, so own it.  If a guy couldn’t handle that I like doing my daily crossword puzzle, religiously watching Glee, and reading the occasional US Weekly (ok, ok – I read it every week), then he wouldn’t be getting the whole package.  (Lucky for me, Jeremy doesn’t mind… and he even helps me with the last few clues of the puzzle when I can’t get them.  As for Glee, I’m on my own with that one.)

4. Walk her where she’s going

Generally, it’ll be dark out by the time you end your date, especially as we enter fall and winter.  Men, it’s important to walk your date to where she’s going – her car, the entrance to the train station, or home.  Even if it’s not a love connection, let chivalry be alive and well.

Much of a first date is less about the actual words you say and more about your attitude.  Are you listening, being nice, and making the effort?  These things go a long way.  Even if you’re perfect for each other on paper, the attitude makes all 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.  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


More GTJ Stars in Mainstream Media

In the past, we’ve featured GTJ staff member Michael Lipin‘s hit columns for Voice of America (see, for example, his pieces on the Christian community in Nazareth, Ground Zero, and Hurricane Irene). His latest piece hits a little closer to home, as he interviews none other than former Jewish Guy of the Year finalist/aerospace engineer/Mr. Yogato owner/advice columnist, Steve Davis. Check out the video below!

Reminder: Steve Davis will also be speaking this week, along with GTJ’s fabulous dating columnist, Erika Ettin, at a Sixth & I panel on turning their passions into successful small businesses.



Snoop Dog a Member of the Tribe? – Gather the News – 10/17

Oh a gathering we will go…

  • David Meir Grossman of Jewcy discusses Rick Ross’ decision to title his latest album The Black Bar Mitzvah.
  • Is Snoop interested in becoming one of the chosen people?  We’re not sure, but in a new commercial for Hot Pockets he rocks a blinged out Star of David.



Vegetarian Gumbo

One of the highlights of my road trip over the summer was New Orleans.  It’s a foodie’s paradise, but not so much if you keep kosher.  If you ask for something without shellfish or pork, you just get a look of pity.  I did manage to find a vegetarian gumbo…and I understood the look of pity.  It was basically a thin, Cajun-flavored vegetable soup, without any of the heartiness that gumbo usually has.  The place that made the gumbo made the mistake that many do when attempting vegetarian food—they just took the meat out.  Any good vegetarian cook knows that if you take protein out, you have to put some back in.  So, for my attempt at gumbo, I used a Paula Deen recipe as a base and took out all of the meat and seafood (the chicken, the sausage, and the shrimp).  And then I started putting things back in: smoked tofu, chick peas, and mushrooms.  The result was a dish that will inspire anything but pity.

Total time: 2 ½ hours

Yield: 8-10 servings

Level: Moderate


  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 pound smoked tofu, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 8-10 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 3 stalks celery chopped
  • 2 cups shitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 bunch flat leaf parsley, stems and leaves, coarsely chopped, plus chopped leaves for garnish
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cans chick peas, rinsed
  • 1 (14-ounce can) stewed tomatoes with juice
  • 2 cups frozen sliced okra
  • 4 green onions, sliced, white and green parts (optional)


  1. Heat the oil and 2 tbsp of butter in a heavy bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the flour and cook over, stirring constantly, until brown, about 10 minutes. Let the roux cool.
  2. Return the Dutch oven to low heat and melt the remaining 3 tbsp of butter. Add the onion, garlic, green pepper, celery, and mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Add Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, to taste and the 1/4 bunch parsley. Cook, while stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.
  4. Add vegetable stock, whisking constantly. Add the tofu and the chick peas. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes.  Stir 2-3 times while simmering.
  5. Add tomatoes and okra. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Stir 2-3 times while simmering.
  6. If desired, just before serving add the green onions and chopped parsley.

© Courtney Weiner.  All Rights Reserved.



Adas Israel Breaks Ground for Renewal & MakomDC

David and Elie of Adas Israel ready with their shovels for the Ground Breaking Ceremony.

This past Sunday October 14, Adas Israel, home of the legendary Young Professional’s Shir Delight Shabbat Service (averaging roughly 300 YP’s per Shabbat), officially broke ground for its monumental renovation project. Get ready for a new Adas and an entirely new experience of ‘synagogue.’

So here’s the deal… Judaism is not a museum relic to be ‘observed’ casually twice a year on the High Holidays.

Judaism is, it can be, a living, breathing tool for enhancing our experience of our lives in the 21st century.  Judaism was ahead of its time 3,000 years ago and, despite the common misconception, it still is.  It is a unique, powerhouse mechanism for coming together as a community, for exploring HUGE ideas, and for making a connection to something greater than us, however you define it.

With that, the spiritual powerhouse team at Adas is enormously excited to reveal the creation of MakomDC (Place DC), an innovative Jewish learning and engagement center and coffeehouse-style gathering place for the 21st Century.  The center will be housed within a progressive, state-of-the-art, Beit Midrash (House of Study), currently being built as part of the historic renovation project for the 2850 Quebec Structure, one block east of the Cleveland Park Metro.

MakomDC is an utterly immersive experience and modern social magnet for contemporary Jewish life.  Take Jewish learning and throw it in the pot with the bustling energy of a modern coffee-house as well as a participatory speaker jam at a downtown open-mic night – and you get MakomDC.  Regularly scheduled programs, speakers, and events will be announced in the coming year.  Upon completion, it will be one of the only progressive, non-Orthodox, and technologically equipped Jewish Houses of Study in the world.

The future Beit Midrash of Adas Israel.

This new space will feature comfortable seating and tables for lively discussion, books and technology, coffee and snacks, speaker jams, art, engaging sessions, and interactive prayer services.

Witness Jewish texts accessible everywhere in multi-media formats, from traditional books to modern computer and internet technology, all surrounded by breathtaking Jewish art and imagery.  Picture groups of people in animated conversations, as well as young people busy surfing the web on laptops.  Adas is now both a place to hang out and connect, as well as a place to learn and to pray, which is what a synagogue should be.  The new center will regularly feature world renowned speakers presenting a variety of shiurim (lessons) from all over the world, followed by individual Havruta (one to one) sessions exploring a wide variety of topics and ideas, using an array of intellectual sources ranging from ancient Jewish texts to modern scientific periodicals.

The Adas lobby and worship areas will be opened up, modernized, and filled with natural light, so the vibe will be all about the experience of deep connection to prayer and wonder and timelessness.

There is something for everyone and everyone is welcome.  That’s Judaism.  In a world filled with divisiveness, that’s ahead of its time.

The Grand Opening Festival, tentatively scheduled for October 2013, will feature musical performances, weekend-long engagement sessions, food, booze, and schmooze.  Stay Tuned via Facebook/adasisraeldc and



Minyan of Thinkers and the ConnectGens Fellowship

The deadline to apply for the 2013 ConnectGens Fellowship, powered by PresenTense, is Sunday, November 4th.  To learn more about getting involved as a Fellow, mentor or coach, attend the ConnectGens Fellowship Open House on October 24th at 7pm.  For more details about the Open House or to apply online visit

A piece of paper with some ideas jotted down: that’s a scrap of paper.  Too many scraps of paper you’re bound to lose some.  To keep your ideas organized you need a notepad.  And when you want to feel like your ideas matter, you put that notepad in a portfolio.  That’s the symbolism of the new portfolio The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington gave me as part of the ConnectGens fellowship.  It’s symbolizes what the ConnectGens fellowship did for my ideas. And for me.

And I definitely have some ideas.  Crazy ideas.  That being a part of a faith community does not mean leaving your brain at the door.  That we can be logically consistent in everything we do.  That we can say prayers we mean, and practice rituals in a way that makes sense in our contemporary lives.  That challenging our religious traditions and practices through genuine intellectual inquiry only makes our community stronger.

I have been thinking these ideas for a long time now, and a lot of scraps of paper accumulated over the years.  I want to create a community of Jewish thinkers who could have critical, thoughtful discussions about major contemporary Jewish issues such as rationality and faith, intermarriage and assimilation, Jewish rituals and modernity, spirituality and Jewish prayer, Zionism and liberalism.  The community could confer on inter-denominational harmony, halachah and feminism, Israel as a Jewish state, the inclusivity vs. exclusivity of kashrut, etc.  I am calling it the Minyan of Thinkers.  A traditional minyan harnesses the power of ten individuals for Jewish public prayer.  I want to harness the brainpower of ten bright, young Jews in the DC area to dialogue on a monthly basis about our community’s challenging issues.  We will write reflection pieces that synthesize our arguments for others to use as a way to approach a topic they might otherwise find too overwhelming, complex, or contentious.

One year ago these were just ideas on scraps of paper.  Being a part of the ConnectGens fellowship gave me a system of resources and support to turn those ideas into a reality.  The resources and support came in many forms.  First, the fellowship gave me a group of peers who were also committed to using their entrepreneurial spirit to give back to the Jewish community.  They are all very special to me, and I enjoyed being on this journey with them.  Second, I was matched with a caring, creative mentor, Esther Safron Foer, who took time to guide me along the way and help me refine my vision for the group.  PresenTense also matched me with a sharp, business-savvy coach, Jeff Chod, who helped me come up with an executable plan of attack for every task related to the minyan.  I am incredibly grateful for their encouragement and guidance as the Minyan of Thinkers came into existence.  Third, the leadership team from PresenTense and The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington taught me an unbelievable amount about starting a business and making it grow.  The fellowship was really a jump start to my venture; I went from having an idea to having a name, website, logo, business cards, business plan, etc.  This was my first experience with both PresenTense as an organization and The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and I made meaningful connections with the leadership team from both organizations.  They are good people as well as being competent professionals.

Being a part of the fellowship affirmed that my voice matters and my ideas can make a positive difference in our community.  At launch night this year, each of the fellows received a portfolio but I did not think about the symbolism until today.  It is not a perfect analogy, but I think it makes my point.  I really appreciate the new portfolio, and everything that came along with it.




Netanyahu Inspired Memes – Gather the News – 10/10

Gather, gather, gather…

  • Anne Hathaway joins a growing list of Hollywood stars walking down the aisle in a traditional Jewish wedding.  Is this a sign that being Jewish has become aspirational as Rachel Shukert suggests in her recent article?  Or does the fact that both a priest and rabbi were present negate the chuppah?
  • parodies The New Girl with The Jew Girl.  The video is heavy on the Jewish stereotypes.  Is it funny or overdone?  Tell us in the comments!

Forget Not the Poor

AJC’s Forget Not the Poor: A Catholic-Jewish Symposium on Poverty will be held this Sunday, October 14 at 2:00 pm.  RSVP here.

After its establishment in 1906, as a nascent organization, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) made inter-religious relations a priority, believing that the only way to secure the civil and religious rights of Jews is to safeguard them for all Americans.  In its fourth Annual Report, AJC recognized “the importance of positive interreligious relations by praising the work of Christian organizations speaking out against prejudice and anti-Semitism.” AJC’s first amicus briefing, submitted in 1923 in support of the defendant in the Supreme Court case Pierce v Society of Sisters of the Holy Name, called for the Court to strike down the Compulsory Education Act, which stated that all children ages 8-16 must attend public schools.  The law effectively banned all religious schools, and if a parent enrolled their child into the school, they could risk criminal conviction.  The Court struck down the law by a vote of 9-0.

Since then, many events, including the Second Vatican Council, have helped continue the growth of Catholic-Jewish relations.  A common bond between Catholicism and Judaism, as well as all world religions, is helping those in need.  Devarim, the fifth book of the Torah, is full of commandments imploring us to do so:

“If, however, there is a needy person among you, one of your brothers in any of your settlements in the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not harden your heart and shut your hand against your needy brother.  Rather, you must open your hand and lend him sufficient for whatever he needs.” (15: 7-8)

“If you see your brother’s ox or sheep gone astray, do not ignore it; you must take it back to your brother.  If your brother does not live near you or you do not know who he is, you shall bring it home and it shall remain with you until your brother claims it; then you shall give it back to him.  You shall do the same with his donkey; you shall do the same with his garment; and so too shall you do it with anything that your fellow loses and you find: you must not remain indifferent.  If you see your brother’s donkey or ox fallen on the road, do not ignore it; you must help him raise it.” (22:1-4)

There are many other examples throughout the books of the Tanach that are shared by Catholics and Jews, and AJC Washington is proud to partner with our local Catholic partners for Forget Not the Poor: A Catholic-Jewish Symposium on Poverty.  The conference will explore issues of poverty from both theological and practical perspectives, culminating in a call to action for our local community.

Keynote speakers are Professor Peter Edelman, Georgetown University Law School, and Bishop Denis Madden, Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore.  Additional featured speakers include Rabbi Sid SchwarzDirector of Faith and the Common Good at Auburn Theological SeminaryKathy Saile, Director of Domestic Social Development for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; Brian BanksDirector Capital Area Food Banks; and Audrey LyonExecutive Director of Yachad.

Click here to RSVP. If you have any questions, please contact Jason Harris at

Forget Not the Poor: A Catholic-Jewish Symposium on Poverty
Sunday, October 14
2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Catholic University of America, Caldwell Hall
620 Michigan Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 



ADL In Concert Against Hate — Buy Tickets Now!

This is the last week to purchase tickets to the 18th Annual ADL In Concert Against Hate, taking place on Monday, October 15 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Ticket sales end at 5 PM on Friday.

The Anti-Defamation League‘s most visible and meaningful event is ADL In Concert Against Hate, held annually at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. Now in its 18th year, the ADL Concert, which is performed by the National Symphony Orchestra and attended by up to 2,400 civic, community, corporate and philanthropic leaders from across the region and the nation, is unlike any other event in the DC area.

The ADL Concert honors “ordinary” men and women who have performed singular acts of courage and compassion in the face of intolerance, extremism and terrorism.  Their stories, narrated by renowned actors and performers, are interwoven with musical selections to create a powerful and unforgettable evening of inspiration and hope – one that affirms our nation’s core values of understanding, pluralism and compassion.

Ticket holders will also be invited to join the ADL’s Young Professionals Division for drinks and complimentary hor d’oeuvres at a pre-concert happy hour (from 5-7 PM) at the A Bar, at 2500 Pennsylvania Ave NW.  [Editor’s Note: This is a fantastic opportunity to meet and mingle with some of DC’s leading Jewish young professionals.]

Jeff Daniels and Madeleine Stowe will host and narrate the 2012 ADL In Concert Against Hate.

Jeff Daniels currently stars as Will McAvoy in the HBO series The Newsroom.  He is considered one of Hollywood’s most reliable and versatile actors, with roles in films such as Terms of EndearmentThe Purple Rose of CairoDumb & DumberPleasantvilleThe Hours, and Good Night, and Good Luck.

Madeleine Stowe currently stars as Victoria Grayson in the television drama, Revenge, and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award in its first season. She has starred in a variety of films including The Last of the MohicansThe General’s Daughter, China Moon, Playing by Heart, and We Were Soldiers 

2012 ADL in Concert Against Hate Honorees:

Irene Fogel Weiss. Irene Fogel Weiss was thirteen years-old when she and her family were deported to Auschwitz by the Nazis. Over a three-month period, more than 400,000 Hungarian Jews would be murdered at Auschwitz. Irene survived both the extermination camp and winter death march across Poland and into Germany. After liberation, she began to piece together what happened to her family, but it was not for almost four decades that she would discover the photographs taken by the Nazis at Auschwitz, which documented the destruction of the Jews of Hungary and the fate of her family. Irene Fogel Weiss will accept the Award.

Joan Trumpauer Mulholland. The sit-in at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Jackson, Mississippi in May, 1961, was the most violent in the history of the Civil Rights Movement. The photograph of Joan Trumpauer and her fellow demonstrators being attacked by a mob as they sat peacefully at the lunch counter has become one of the defining images of the struggle to achieve racial equality. For Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, that photograph was the most visible example of the courage she displayed and the dangers she faced in the struggle to end segregation. Joan Trumpauer Mulholland will accept the Award.

Police Officer Moira Ann Smith. On September 11, 2001, Police Officer Moira Ann Smith saw the first plane hit the World Trade Center and immediately rushed downtown. Shortly afterwards, Officer Smith was photographed rescuing a badly-injured man from the burning South Tower—one of several hundred people she is credited with saving—and then she disappeared. Six months later, her badge was found in the wreckage of the collapsed tower. Her damaged badge and the photographs of her daughter, Patricia, holding the hand of her father, Officer James Smith, at her mother’s memorial services are among the most poignant reminders of the sacrifices made on September 11 by first responders. Police Officer Moira Ann Smith’s husband, James Smith, and their daughter, Patricia Mary, will accept the Award.

Amardeep Kaleka. On August 5, 2012, a white supremacist attacked the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, killing six people, including the temple’s founder, Satwant Singh Kaleka. As the tragedy unfolded, and in the days and weeks that followed, Satwant Singh Kaleka’s son, Amardeep, emerged as the voice of the Sikh community of Oak Creek. His courage and eloquence in the wake of the shooting and his powerful call for understanding and respect resonated throughout the nation. Amardeep Kaleka, will accept the Award, accompanied by his wife, mother, and father’s sister.


Federation’s ConnectGens Fellowship!

Last year’s ConnectGens Fellows (including GTJ’s Aaron W).

Do you have an idea to contribute to our Jewish community?  Are you looking for a community of visionaries, dreamers, and entrepreneurs?  Are you seeking inspiration?

The ConnectGens Fellowship, powered by PresenTense, provides a focal point for visionary, entrepreneurial members of our local Jewish community to gather, to “dream out loud,” and to bring their ideas to life.  The ConnectGens Fellowship equips a select group of Jewish social innovators with the training, tools, and connections to transform big ideas into ventures and projects that will engage, inspire, and support our Jewish community, in DC and beyond.

I am privileged to serve on the Steering Committee of the ConnectGens Fellowship.  Together, we envision for the impact we want the Fellowship to have in our community, recruit the next generations of Fellows, and lay the foundation for the projects throughout our extensive networks in the community.

Last year, as part of the Admissions team, I recruited applicants, supported the application review process, and welcomed Fellows to the program; as a coach, I supported the EcoEtti project.  I am inspired every day by my work on this project –meeting the applicants is exciting and motivating, because their ideas for new ventures are the future of our Jewish community.

This year, as co-captain of the Admissions Team on the Steering Committee, I am thrilled to meet our new Fellows.  I will be reaching throughout my networks and beyond, spreading the word far and wide to identify the next cohort of ConnectGens Fellows.  I am especially looking forward to seeing new ventures come out of the woodwork – from the places you least expect come the ideas that could transform our community.

It has been a great pleasure to work with professionals from PresenTense, whose passion for empowering leaders around the United States is unmatched, and JFGW staff, whose hard work powers this program on the ground.

Leadership means putting your vision into action, and it is so exciting to encounter Fellows who are willing to take that responsibility and devote their time to powering their ideas beyond the vision stage and into the community. If you have an idea, or even a spark, and are ready to bring it to the next stage, please be in touch to learn more about how you can apply to be a part of this game-changing project. Yasher koach!

The deadline to apply for the ConnectGens Fellowship, powered by PresenTense, is Sunday, November 4th.   Apply online at  To learn more about getting involved as a Fellow, mentor or coach, attend the ConnectGens Fellowship Open House on October 24th at 7pm.

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