Non-Dairy Rugelach

Rugelach is one of the classic Jewish treats—but the cream cheese and butter in the dough makes it incompatible with a kosher meat meal.  I wanted to see if I could make a non-dairy rugelach that would 1) actually work, and 2) taste good.  I used the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe (she’s Jewish!), and substituted tofu cream for regular and margarine for butter.  Her recipe calls for apricot preserves.  I decided to use raspberry jam instead because I thought the stronger flavor would counteract the soy better.  Did it work?  Definitely.  Maybe a little bit less flaky than the original, but no fatal chemistry flaws from the substitution.  And the taste?  Not only did they pass muster for me to serve at my family’s break fast, they  were among the first desserts to go.  So while they’re not identical to the original, but I’d say that’s a sign that they’re pretty close.

Total time: 2 hours

Yield: 4 dozen cookies

Level: Moderate


  • 8 ounces tofu cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup margarine, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar plus 9 tablespoons
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup raspberry jam
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash 


  1. In a large bowl, cream the cheese and butter with an electric mixer.  Mix until light.
  2. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the salt, and vanilla and mix until blended.
  3. Add the flour and mix and mix on low speed until just combined.
  4. Dump the dough out onto a well-floured board  or surface covered with parchment paper and roll it into a ball.  Cut the ball in quarters, wrap each piece in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  5. While the dough is chilling, in a small bowl, combine 6 tablespoons of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, the raisins, and the walnuts.
  6. On a well-floured board, roll each ball of dough into a 9-inch circle.  Spread the dough with 2 tablespoons jam and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the filling, using more filling on the outside of the circle.  Press the filling lightly into the dough.
  7. Cut the circle into 12 equal wedges—cutting the whole circle in quarters, then each quarter into thirds. Starting with the wide edge, tightly roll up each wedge.  Place the cookies, points tucked under, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Chill for 30 minutes.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  9. Brush each cookie with the egg wash. Combine 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle on the cookies. Bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.
© Courtney Weiner.  All Rights Reserved.

Gather the Jews Unveils First Service Event

Decorating the sukkah!

This past Sunday, in celebration of Sukkot, Gather the Jews brought 40 young professionals together to the Yvonne and Peter Wagner Home in Silver Spring, Md. to build a sukkah for adults with developmental disabilities.  The event marked GTJ’s first organized community service event, and it was on behalf of the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes (JFGH).

JFGH provides support and services for individuals with disabilities in the greater Washington metropolitan area.  Linda Yitzchak, the organization’s chaplain and volunteer administrator, noted the nonprofit has a total of 23 group homes throughout the region, and 15 sukkahs were built at different homes on Sunday.  Four residents live at the location GTJ volunteers visited.

On-site, GTJ volunteers were greeted with bagels, pastries, and juice.  After they finished socializing and introducing themselves, they got to work building, and then decorating the sukkah.  One resident joined in the decorating fun and happily visited with volunteers.  Once done, GTJ Vice President Aaron Wolff shook the lulav.

Yitzchak was enthusiastic about the volunteers, noting they were “young people with energy and with excitement …. Hopefully the people who are here with us today will come back and volunteer for some other activity with us too.”  She noted residents will start participating in sukkah parties this coming Sunday.

David and Rachel A. are excited about Sukkot!

The service event was the brainchild of 2011 Jewish Girl of the Year Ariana Michal Heideman, who along with 2011 Jewish Guy of the Week Lazar Berman, encouraged GTJ to expand its offerings beyond happy hours.  “I meet a lot of young professionals in DC who are looking for opportunities to volunteer and get more involved.  As we cultivate our lives as Jewish adults it is important to have our generation connected and engaged, and GTJ service events will increase our connections with the Jewish community at large.”

The service day was capped off with a final networking event, where participants formally introduced themselves and offered fun and unusual facts about their lives.  The event proved to be a nice opportunity for participants to meet new friends while engaging in a meaningful activity.

“It was a great time to get to meet new people while taking part in a really important activity, making sure that the residents have a sukkah to enjoy so they can continue their connection to Judaism while we doing deeds, continued our connection as well,” said volunteer David Manchester.

Sara Sidransky, along with Jewish Guy of the Week David

Based on the success of the first event, Sara Sidransky, GTJ’s director of Marketing and Events who organized the day of service, noted the organization plans to have many future volunteer opportunities.  GTJ welcomes feedback on ideas for the next service activity and should contact Sara at with ideas.

See pictures from the event here!

Those who wish to learn more about volunteer opportunities with JFHG can contact Linda Yitzchak at







Jewish Money in U.S. Elections

Check out 2239’s Presidential Debate Watching Extravaganza tonight!

We recently examined whether the American Jewish vote matters in United States presidential elections.  The answer: maybe.

But uncertain though we may be about the power of the Jewish vote, the tale of Jewish money in elections is more easily told:  Jews give a TON of money to presidential elections.

U.S. elections go hand-in-hand with money.   As of July 31, President Obama had raised $351.6 million for his reelection campaign, and challenger Mitt Romney had raised $194.8 million (The New York Times).  These numbers are multiplied many times when added to the expenditures made by the Democratic National Committee, the Republican National Committee, and Political Action Committees (PACs).  Almost 800,000 Americans have given over $200 to a campaign (Open Secrets).  Many more have given smaller, non-recorded, amounts.  It’s not inaccurate to say that many billions of dollars will be spent on the 2012 presidential elections.

Jews are very well represented among donors, particularly on the Democratic side.  Ron Kampeas, writing at The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, notes that “estimates over the years have reckoned that Jewish donors provide between one-third and two-thirds of the party’s money.”  Similarly, David Freedlander wrote in the New York Observer that “According to some estimates, nearly 60 percent of the money raised by the Democratic National Committee is donated by Jews, and any drop in support for the president’s re-election could endanger the campaign’s ambitious goal of $1 billion.” Steven Windmueller at The New York Jewish Week claims that “Jewish donors have generated as much as 45 cents of every dollar raised by Democrats and provide a growing base of support for Republican candidates.”

A look at the top donors for the current election yields many Jewish names:  Sheldon Adelson ($5 million to Romney), Jeffrey Katzenberg ($2 million to Obama), Irwin Jacobs ($2 million to Obama), Paul Singer ($1 million to Romney), etc.  Some of the donor lists look like synagogue roll calls.

Though the small size of the Jewish vote (4 percent of the general vote) might not captivate every presidential candidate, it’s hard to overlook the enormity of Jewish money.  Certainly the importance of money in elections can be, and continually is, debated (For example, David Brooks of The New York Times, Jamelle Bouie of The American Prospect, and Stephen J. Dubner of the Freakonomics blog all argue that money is not as important as is commonly thought), but every American politician who is in a close race wants a bit more money for another advertisement or another rally.  And these politicians are grateful for any donors who step up.

So to make a short story even shorter, what we American Jews lack in population we make up for through our very large campaign contributions.





Bike for the Fight

The Israel Forever Foundation has partnered with the Embassy of Israel and other organizations to welcome to Washington DC Bike for the Fight, an organization dedicated to raising funds and awareness for the international fight against cancer through the Israel Cancer Research Fund. Israeli founder Tom Peled and his team will arrive in the nation’s capital on Sunday, October 7th, after biking the 3,000 miles cross country from Los Angeles.

A welcome ceremony followed by a meet-and-greet bagel brunch with Tom and his team will take place 11:45 am on Sunday, October 7th at the Washington DCJCC located at 1529 16th Street, NW. The event is free and open to the general public. RSVP here.

Tom Peled, founder of Bike for the Fight, established the organization in memory of his father Ramy who endured an eight-year battle with a rare form of stomach cancer. When asked about his motivation, Tom explained “the only way to get out of this situation was to challenge myself on a mental, physical, and spiritual level.” In an incredible show of strength, Tom turned his heartfelt grief into something in which we can all become involved.

Expected event attendee and occasional GTJ contributor Jason Langsner explained why he is so inspired by Peled’s efforts. Two weeks ago, Jason completed his first century, which is a 100 mile bike ride; it took him about 6.5 hours.  “I was sore for about a week but it was a goal I set and I was proud of my accomplishment, but I can’t imagine the mental and physical toughness of the BFF team for dedicating themselves to ride cross country,” he told GTJ.

Peled, in a live Twitter interview with the event co-sponsors, was asked what excites him the most about arriving in Washington, DC.  He responded saying that “DC is the most meaningful place we can be [with the] potential for growth and that it seemed SO far in the beginning.”

Full event details for Bike for the Fight in DC are available here.

About Bike for the Fight

Bike for the Fight is an international cycling charity committed to creating bike events that will promote the remarkable efforts of Israeli scientists in the field of cancer research and raise money for the Israel Cancer Research Fund to fund more cancer-fighting endeavors.

About Israel Forever Foundation

The Israel Forever Foundation is an innovative programming philanthropy that develops, supports and promotes virtual experiential learning opportunities to celebrate and strengthen the personal connection to Israel for people around the world.


Looking for a Roommate?


Turn Passion Into Profit

Wish you could do what you love for a living? Well, maybe you can! Come to Sixth & I‘s upcoming event, Passion to Profit, to find out how. The event, which is co-sponsored by the Jewish Social Service Agency‘s Employment and Career Services, will feature a panel of young Jewish entrepreneurs discussing how they turned their creative ideas into successful businesses.

Speakers include Erika Ettin, GTJ’s dating columnist and founder of A Little Nudge, and Steve Davis, a former Jewish Guy of the Year finalist, GTJ advice columnist, and Mr. Yogato owner!

WHEN: 7:00 pm, Wednesday, October 17

WHERE:600 I Street NW

Admission is only $8 at the door or $6 if you buy tickets in advance.



Anti-Semitic Elmo Back Behind Bars – Gather the News – 9/25

We really, really like gathering…

  • Anti-Semitic Elmo, Adam Sandler (no relation to the Jewish comedian), was arrested again for an anti-Semitic rant in Central Park.



Latin Fiesta! – Rachel’s Weekly Update – 9/25

Hello all!

This past week had its ups and downs for me.  The week started with an up when I met with David P. from  Adas Israel (and the author of Adas Israel Renews!).  David is Adas Israel’s new Director of Communications so we chatted about how our mutually new jobs were going and how excited we both are to be working in the DC Jewish community.

Unfortunately, after that my week took a turn for the worse when I fell sick and completely lost my voice.  When I say completely, I mean completely: nada, zero, zip voice.  I managed to make it to MesorahDC’s Shabbat dinner at Sixth and I, but all I really wanted to do was sleep.  Luckily, some of my new friends were on hand to make me feel better.  Aaron W. gave me a get-well goody bag filled with cookies, cough drops, and a million different types of tea, and Rachel B. made me delicious homemade chicken soup.  I cannot thank either of them enough!

After resting for most of the weekend, my week picked up when I visited the Latin Festival with Rachel B. and Mike W. on Sunday.  The main feature of the festival was the parade in which participants showed pride in their heritage by performing traditional Latin dances in extravagant costumes.  I spent the rest of the day watching movies with friends and continuing to rest so that my voice could come back, which, I am happy to report, happened yesterday morning.  The only stain on my Sunday was finding out that the red panda cub at the National Zoo had died.  Sadly, half of all red pandas born in captivity die :( .

Today and yesterday my focus has been on hydrating in preparation for Yom Kippur.  Even though I am dreading fasting, I am excited for Yom Kippur.  One of my best friends from Delaware, Adam R., is coming to spend the holiday with me.  If you see us at services, make sure to say hi!

Wishing you all an easy and meaningful fast,



The Three-Day Rule or the Three-Hour Rule? – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 50)

You go on a first date Tuesday night, and you think it went pretty well.  In fact, you’re sure it went pretty well.  I mean, why else would your prospective new lover constantly let his or her knee graze yours all night or share your drink as if you’d known each other for more than, oh, 45 minutes? You go home happy.  Wednesday morning comes and goes, and by Wednesday at around 3 PM, you think the potential new relationship is doomed.  It’s been 17.26 hours, and not even a measly text??

The advent of modern technology – texting, Gchat, and e-mail – has completely changed the “three-day rule” into more like a “three-hour rule.”  So many relationships end before they even start because no one knows the answer to the simple question: How soon do you follow up after a date?

A survey performed by the company LoveGeist was commissioned by last year, and it found that after a first date on a Saturday evening, most daters will get in touch by 11:48 AM on Monday with a call or text.  Thus, 1.52 days is now the average time spent waiting for a follow-up message.  The three-day rule is now cut in half!  (I don’t, however, recommend a first date on a Saturday night, especially a first online date.  A weeknight or Sunday evening date works well, and then if you want to see each other again, you can plan for the coveted Friday or Saturday night slot when you already know you have some chemistry.  Remember, sometimes it’s better to be a PSP than a DO.)

In this day and age, we are all basically surgically attached to our phones.  I know someone who texted from the hospital bed just minutes after she had a baby, and we all know someone (and that person likely stares at us in the mirror) who checks his or her e-mail every morning on the iPhone before even getting out of bed.  When it comes down to it, if you like someone, it’s so easy to get in touch.  If you wait the antiquated three days, it’s already a foregone conclusion that you’re probably just not that into the other person.

In most cases, if he’s interested, the man will contact the woman after the date to ask her out again.  But I do encourage the woman to send a “thank you text” the day after the date.  Why not remind your date of you the next day?  Assuming he also had a great time, it’ll put a smile on his face and give him the “nudge” he needs to know that you want to stay in contact with him.

The rules are simple: If you like someone and want to make plans for date #2, then make the contact in a timely fashion.  A short and sweet text, e-mail, or call will work.  And ladies, if he has the courtesy to ask you out again and you’re not interested, do the kind thing and thank him, using the honest answer that you didn’t feel a spark.  Ignoring it will only make a possible future encounter (remember – it’s a small world) that much more awkward.

And there we have it – the three-day rule debunked.  Somehow the “1.52-day rule” just doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.  Let’s call it the “36-hour rule” and be on our way.

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.


Federation’s Reverse Mifgash – Bringing Israelis to DC

The incoming Reverse Mifgash delegation at an information session in Israel.

Eat better.  Go to the gym.  Call Saba and Savta more.  Donate to charity.

These are typical pledges made for New Year’s resolutions.  But what do people say when they make Jewish New Year resolutions?

It is that time of the year.  Pools are closing.  Leaves are starting to turn.  Sixth & I, Washington Hebrew, Adas Israel, and other shuls are filling up for the high holidays.  But it is also an atypical year.  The Nats have the best record in baseball.  RGIII has given a new hope to Redskins fans.  And Young Leadership of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington is bringing Taglit-Birthright Israel to DC.  If your pledge for 5773 was is to get more involved in the Jewish community, reconnect with Israel, meet new friends, go out and have fun, fight anti-Semitism, or learn something new…then this program is for you.

The community is opening its arms and welcoming 12 Israelis for the Reverse Mifgash, which kicks off October 9 and will run for ten days.  As you could assume by the name of the event, the program complements Birthright Israel by bringing Israelis who have been on a Taglit-Birthright Israel: DC Community Trip* to the U.S. to reconnect with their busmates and meet hundreds more of DC, MD, and VA’s most fun and attractive Jewish young leaders.

And just as the community is opening its arms, twenty-four young professionals from the Greater Washington region are opening up their homes so our Israeli guests have a more authentic experience during their stay than at a hotel.  Hundreds more opened up their wallets to sponsor the program and collectively they raised over $26,000 through “friend-raising” (grassroots fundraising through personal networks).  And your calendar just got filled-up with tons of exciting educational, cultural, and social programs during these ten days — such as a Birthright Bar Mitzvah Bash that celebrates the program’s 13th year with a 90s themed party at the DCJCC featuring one of the DMV’s best cover bands.

“This is my fourth Reverse Mifgash,” said David Manchester, who serves as one of the program co-chairs.  “The host committee and I are extremely proud to make this program the biggest one in DC’s history and we hope to see you and your friends there next month,” he added.

The program is sponsored by The Jewish Federation and NEXT DC (the DC-area Birthright alumni network).  It brings American and Israeli Taglit-Birthright alumni together for a ten-day immersive experience in the Greater Washington area.  Programming, in addition to the DCJCC, will be held at The Kennedy Center, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, JCC of Greater Washington, and other locations.

Acting Gather The Jews Girl of the Year Ariana Heideman is excited.  “I love Israel, Israelis, and bridging that community with American Jewry,” says Ariana.  “This really is a unique opportunity to reconnect with their Israeli peers and show them with the same hospitality as when they were on Taglit,” continues Heideman.

To learn more about the Reverse Mifgash or to register for events visit: or contact

*NOTE – Registration for the winter 2012-2013 Taglit-Birthright Israel: DC Community Trip is currently open.  Click here to learn more.


DC’s Young Professional Dilemma: RENT or BUY?

As a realtor, I get asked all the time about the state of the DC real estate market and my answer is always the same, “It’s strong…to quite strong” (shameless “Meet the Parents” reference).  DC home prices are up almost 11% since the bottom of the market in the summer of 2009 and up 6.5% in the last year alone.*  DC continues to be one of the best housing markets in the nation and a strong argument can be made for the role of young professionals in helping to drive up both the region’s rents and its home values.


Since 2000, young professionals have accounted for the majority of DC’s population growth (the number of 20- to 34-year-olds living in DC has increased 23%!).  Since young professionals are more transient and tend to prefer renting to buying, the influx of young professionals moving to DC has had a dramatic effect on rental rates.  DC’s rental vacancy rate is among the lowest in the nation and rental rates have increased almost 15% since 2010 and 10% in last twelve months alone.**  If any of you have engaged in hand-to-hand combat to rent a subterranean efficiency with six foot ceilings and rats for roommates then you know the drill.  While some experts expect rental rate increases to flatten out in the short term as new apartment units come online, others feel that the trend of rising rents will continue as the pent up demand of the Boomerang Generation (i.e. all those friends of yours that are living in their parent’s basements or in overcrowded group houses) will be unleashed as the economy continues to improve.


The combination of rising rental rates, historically low mortgage rates, and a housing market that is rebounding from recent lows has led many young professionals to leave renting behind in favor of entering the marketplace for a single family home or condo.  With first-time homebuyers traditionally comprising 40% of home sales, increased demand among this key demographic, coupled with tight housing inventory levels (current listings are at their lowest level since 2005), have contributed to the price appreciation that we continue to see in the DC housing market.  So that brings us to:


While most economic indicators point to “buy”, my unsatisfying answer is….it depends (I know, I know…way to go out on a limb, Dave).  According to a recent breakeven study by Zillow, buying in DC becomes a better financial alternative than renting after just 3.5 years. While this analysis is much more robust than most of the rent vs. buy calculators that litter the internet, it still relies on a variety of assumptions with regard to home price and rental appreciation that may or may not come to pass (my crystal ball is in the shop).  These calculators also focus strictly on the financial aspect of the rent vs. buy dilemma.  A calculator cannot capture the qualitative aspects of both renting and buying that, from my experience, drive the majority of purchase decisions.  Is the flexibility of renting more important to you than pride of ownership and setting down roots in a community?  Do you prefer to live somewhere where you can put that 50” flat screen on the wall you just painted the Redskins’ colors (I am officially on the RGIII bandwagon!) or is it more important to you to not have to worry about the costs of maintenance and upkeep?  Do you feel like renting is throwing money down the drain or do you feel that the money you would spend on a deposit would do more for you invested in that hot new tech IPO (not Groupon or Facebook, I hope)?  In the end, while the argument in favor of buying in DC is compelling, the decision to buy vs. rent is a highly personal one that depends on your financial situation, your future plans, and what is important to you about how and where you live.

*Zillow Home Value Index

**Zillow Rental Value Index

David Abramsa 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.










Party Rock in the 5773 – Gather the News – 9/19

Shana tova! It’s a new year and a new Gather the News!
  • Every year, a rabbi, a cantor, and a small contingent of Jews travel from Israel to Egypt to ensure the last remaining synagogue, Eliyahu Hanavi, has a minyan, but this year they have been denied visas.  Hey Morsi, if Mubarak could ensure the safety of the Jews, why can’t you?
  • A super controversial video has been leaked of Romney giving his opinion on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and his doubt that there will ever be a viable two state solution.  What do you think? Tell us in the comments!
  • Is there soon to be a Matisyahu-Drake feud?  In a recent interview, Matisyahu claims that he is still more Jewish than Drake despite shaving his beard.  Sorry Matisyahu, I don’t think one person can be more Jewish than another, I’m gonna have to go Team Drake on this.
  • Our own Aaron Wolff has his article about Rosh Hashanah reflections and resolutions featured on the Washington Jewish Week! Mazel Tov, Aaron!
  • I know this music video is from last Rosh Hashanah, but the Jew fro and dance moves are just too good not to post.  Shana tova!







Rachel’s Weekly Update – 9/17

My favorite part of the Newseum!

Shana tova everyone! I hope you have all enjoyed a sweet start to the new year.

I have now been gathering for over two weeks, and I have been meeting amazing people and been having an amazing time.  Last Wednesday, I participated in the Young Jewish Professionals Network meeting to start planning next year’s Jewnity.  About thirteen Jewish organizations with a young adult component came together and I am looking forward to being a part of the planning this year.  I also met this past week with Andy, Sara, and Sara from the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington at the Original Pancake House in Bethesda. Over the largest omlette I have ever encountered, we discussed Federation and GTJ  working together in the Jewish community.

Friday, for Shabbat, I made my first ever visit to the Moishe House for one of their Shabbat dinners where Noah and Rebecca made me feel extremely welcome.  There was delicious food and great schmoozing, aka Jewish heaven.  If you have yet to make it to one of their dinners, it’s definitely worth a try.

I also made it to the Newseum this week which was awesome.  My favorite part was the hall that displayed newspapers featuring historic events starting around the year 1455.  I could have spent an entire day in that hall alone, looking at and reading each newspaper.  One suggestion if you choose to visit, do not save the room with the Pulitzer Prize winning photos for last.  Most of the photos, though hauntingly beautiful, are sad or violent.  The exhibit put a little bit of a damper on the end of the visit.

This Rosh Hashanah marked my first High Holidays outside of Delaware.  I appreciate everyone who was so welcoming to me and invited me in for meals.  I spent erev Rosh Hashanah at Chabad (The Shul), where there was also a community dinner and I was able to meet some new people.  The next day, after services, Esti — Rabbi Shemtov’s daughter and the new Rebbetzin of AU Chabad — invited me to lunch in her parents’ home.  I cannot thank the Shemtovs enough for including me in their meal.  Then, for lunch on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, Rabbi Teitelbaum of MesorahDC asked me to join his family and staff.  Everyone there made me feel so welcome and at home, and I had a great time.

Thank you to everyone who helped make my week and Rosh Hashanah meaningful.  Shana tova, and have a great week!



Support Israel with Israel Bonds!

To buy an Israel bond, email today!  Be sure to mention GTJ!

Are you looking to give back to Israel, but are not sure how?  One of the best ways to contribute to the growth of Israel is by buying an Israel Bond.  Proceeds realized through the sale of Israel bonds have helped cultivate the desert, build transportation networks, create new industries, resettle immigrants, and increase export capability.  The best part is, even though you are buying the bond, you get your money back  plus some interest.  So you could just leave your money laying around in a debit account… Or you can make a sound financial decision with Israel Bonds and help Israel at the same time.

The eMitzvah bond is perfect for someone testing the waters with Israel Bonds. The minimum investment is as low as $36, and there’s no maximum.  I’m sure once you purchase your first eMitzvah bond you’ll realize what a great, safe, financial investment they are. After all, Israel has never missed a payment on a bond since the first bonds were issued in 1951.

You can read more about Israel Bonds on their website, and if you are interested in purchasing a bond email today! Remember to mention GTJ!


The Esrei Yamim Cleanse

Katieben’s Breakfast, one of the recipes on

Dear GTJ community,

I’d like to invite you to – a blog that Arielle and I created.

For the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, join us as we undertake an intensive reflection of the mind/body/spirit connection via “The Cleanse.” The blog is a forum for recipes, meditations, reflections, and support.

We invite you to join us regardless of your religious affiliations!

Esrei Yamim is Hebrew for 10 days – it’s the term representing the ten days in between Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the day of repentance).

Here’s what I remember from Jewish Day School: Esrei Yamim is the time in which God chooses who will live and who will die in the upcoming year – God opens the book on Rosh Hashanah, and for the next ten days writes the names of who will live. On Yom Kippur, the last of the ten days, God closes the book to seal the deal. That’s why we’re so desperate to pray during those last few hours before the sun goes down on Yom Kippur. We get down on our knees and beg God for forgiveness.

It’s tradition to repent, reflect, and purify during Esrei Yamim. It’s also tradition to ask people for forgiveness.

Esrei Yamim has always been a time for me to think about the previous year – my accomplishments, successes, failures; the big questions I’ve pondered; the relationships I’ve built, maintained and broken; the holidays I’ve celebrated with friends and family; the states and countries I’ve visited; the milestones – and to consider goals for the upcoming year – identify my needs for improvement; think of where I have room to grow; figure out how I can be a better person than I was last year; apologize to people I’ve hurt; write a list of my top ten most offensive sins.

I make resolutions during the secular New Year too, but always draw a line between the types of resolutions I make on Jan 1 and Rosh Hashanah.  My resolutions for the secular New Year are typically material resolutions:  I want to stop using the word “like” in my speech. I try to keep my resolutions for Rosh Hashashah on a more spiritual plane: I want to rely more on my gut than my brain.

I think of Esrei Yamim as a time to recharge and reset, so I can start the new year on a fresh slate.

This year, Arielle and I are posing The Cleanse as an effort to integrate a mind/body/spirit connection with our Jewish traditions. We’ve done The Cleanse several times  (there’s even a category for it under the recipe index here!). I like the cleanse because it forces me to slow down and think about what I put into my body, to appreciate food that isn’t tainted by chemicals and synthetic additives, to taste the goodness of purity. Eating on the cleanse makes me feel clean.

Cleanse Rules:

We will only consume:

Vegan foods – no products derived from animals (no meat, eggs, dairy, honey, etc.)

Gluten-free foods – nothing made with wheat

Unprocessed foods – nothing packaged with more than three ingredients

Unsweetened foods – no added sugar, honey, agave, etc.

Alcohol-free beverages 

*One exception to the above rules above is to include yogurt that is organic, plain, stabilizer- and additive-free. This is a personal choice.

It sounds scary, but I promise that there’s still so so so much to eat. We will start the cleanse on Tuesday morning, Sept 18th. Visit for more ideas and thoughts.

L’Shana Tova,


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