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This is Big: The Reform Movement and Trans* Rights

Last week, the Reform Jewish movement passed the widest resolution on transgender rights of any major religious organization crafted by the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism of the Union for Reform Judaism. This is Judaism’s first official anti-discrimination policy on transgender issues.  In 1977, both the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis passed resolutions affirming “the rights of homosexuals,” and took an official stance to oppose laws that fail to uphold principles of equality for all people of all sexual orientations. The “Resolution on the Rights of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People” which was voted upon last Thursday at the Union for Reform Judaism’s biennial conference held in Orlando, Florida, state that, “North American culture and society have, in general, become increasingly accepting of people who are gay, lesbian and bisexual, yet too often transgender and gender non-conforming individuals are forced to live as second-class citizens.”

The Reform movement has demonstrated full inclusion of transgender people in accordance with Jewish tradition. In 1990 Reform responsum (CCAR 5750.8) affirmed that simply being transgender is not enough to to deny someone conversion to Judaism. A responsum in 1978 indicated that a rabbi may officiate at the wedding of two Jews if one partner has transitioned to a gender with which they identify, as opposed to one they were assigned at birth (“Marriage After a Sex-change Operation” in American Reform ResponsaVol. LXXXVIII, 1978, pp. 52-54).

 The Resolution goes on to further list that the Union for Reform Judaism explicitly resolves that:

  1. Affirms its commitment to the full equality, inclusion and acceptance of people of all gender identities and gender expressions;
  2. Affirms the right of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals to be referred to by their name, gender, and pronoun of preference in our congregations, camps, schools, and other Reform affiliated organizations;
  3. Encourages Reform congregations, congregants, clergy, camps, institutions and affiliates, including NFTY, to continue to advocate for the rights of people of all gender identities and gender expressions;
  4. Urges the adoption and implementation of legislation and policies that prevent discrimination based on gender identity and expression, and that require individuals to be treated equally under the law as the gender by which they identify. This includes establishing the right to change without undue burden their identification documents to reflect their gender and name and ensuring equal access to medical and social services;
  5. Calls on the U.S. and Canadian governments at all levels to review and revise all laws and policies to ensure full equality and protections for people of all gender identities and expressions;
  6. Urges Reform Movement institutions to begin or continue to work with local and national Jewish transgender, lesbian, gay and bisexual organizations to create inclusive and welcoming communities for people of all gender identities and expressions and to spread awareness and increase knowledge of issues related to gender identity and expression. These activities may include cultural competency trainings for religious school staff, the new congregational resource guide on transgender inclusion being created by the Religious Action Center, education programs on gender identity and expression, and sermons on the topic of gender identity and gender expression;
  7. Recommends URJ congregations and Reform Movement institutions, facilities and events ensure, to the extent feasible, the availability of gender-neutral restrooms and other physical site needs that ensure dignity and safety for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals;
  8. Urges Reform Movement institutions to review their use of language in prayers, forms and policies in an effort to ensure people of all gender identities and gender expressions are welcomed, included, accepted and respected. This includes developing statements of inclusion and/or non-discrimination policies pertaining to gender identity and gender expression, the use when feasible of gender-neutral language, and offering more than two gender options or eliminating the need to select a gender on forms; and
  9. Will work in collaboration with other Reform Movement institutions to create ritual, programmatic and educational materials that will empower such institutions to be more inclusive and welcoming of people of all gender identities and expressions.

Three cheers for the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism! We all could use some good news on the LGBT* front after the disaster in Texas last Tuesday.

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Jewish Artist of the Week – Emily!

IMG_5281 copyJackie: I hear that you run an awesome Etsy store. Could you tell us about what you sell and why you decided to start an Etsy store?

Emily: I actually have two Etsy stores. Both of them started as fun hobbies. My larger store is small animal focused, thanks to my geriatric pet rabbit! I make healthy snacks for pet rabbits, which are my top selling items, and also some little toys for animals. I also have rabbit and small animal themed accessories for humans, including bow ties and baby bibs. I’ve even started to design and print my own fabrics! In my second shop I sell Polaroid transfer images, a fun technique I learned almost 20 years ago while studying traditional photography. Until recently I would show my work at art shows and craft fairs as a member of the DC Craft Mafia. Now I sell my original prints, magnets, and greeting cards on Etsy. (I have Chanukah themed cards too! Hint hint!)

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Out and about in my neighborhood at the Iwo Jima memorial

Jackie: What first brought you to DC?

Emily: I came down here for college and never left! I wound up getting both my undergraduate degree and my Master of Public Administration from The George Washington University. Now I live in Arlington. I worked with county governments for almost a decade before starting my own consulting business. Now I am a freelance writer and consultant.

Jackie: It seems you do a little bit of everything – cook, craft, and photography. In your opinion, what is the best spot in DC to photograph?

Emily: It’s really hard to narrow down one spot in DC! Because of the nature of my Polaroid art, finished photographs come out looking a little different that regular photos, kind of etherial and delicate. I like to photograph subjects from odd angles or really close up to show texture. I have some neat photos of the Iwo Jima Memorial through the filter of an American flag.

Emily Jewish Food Experience
Jewish Food Experience event at Common Good City Farm.

Jackie: You also write for the Jewish Food Experience. Can you tell us a little about what JFE is? 

Emily: Yes! I write about mostly about cocktails and sprits for the Jewish Food Experience. I found myself working for a local distillery for a few years and I got into the growing cocktail scene here in DC. JFE asked me to contribute when they started in 2013, and since then I’ve written lots of articles and have come up with lots of holiday themed drinks.

JFE is a really cool program started by the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. It is centered around DC people, so it’s really local. They publish articles, recipes, host events and food demos about every aspect of Jewish food. That’s defined as food that Jews cook, food that Jews eat for holidays, food traditions Jews share, anything that’s related to Jews and food! It has been so successful here that it will be spreading to three other cities in the US within the next few months.

Jackie: What is your favorite Jewish food?

Right now I’m going to say really good challah is my favorite Jewish food. I love baking bread, and I’ve been making my own challah for the last year or so. It’s such a simple food that has had a place on every Jew’s table for nearly every holiday for our entire history. My friends and I get together for fun potluck Shabbat dinners pretty often, and I have been bringing my homemade challahs.

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My rainbow challah from a few weeks ago. (On the Shabbat we read parashat Noah, we are supposed to eat rainbow themed foods!)

Jackie: You also have a bit of a green thumb, can you tell me about your garden?

Emily: I have a great little container garden on my roof deck at home. I use my blog, www.roofgardengal.com, as something of a journal to remember what has and hasn’t worked in years past. I was in the food world for a few years, and it reminded me how much I used to enjoy vegetable gardening growing up. My “experiment five floors up,” as I like to call it, consists of two giant tanks, several smaller pots for herbs and tomatoes, and two compost buckets. Right now I am experimenting with cool weather veggies, including kale, radishes, and carrots, but I’ve also had squash, beans, cucumbers, onions, and even ginger. My neighbors love to show off the garden to their friends, too!

Jackie: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather, there will be…

Emily: Food!

 

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Memories from Rabin Square

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As we mark 20 years since the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, leading members of the Jewish community reflect upon their memories of the fateful day which changed the course of history. Rabin’s assassination shook the core of the Israeli public and Jews around the world; the following testimonies portray the emotional perspectives of a former member of Rabin’s staff, an Israeli diplomat, an Israeli news reporter, and a young Israeli teen.

 


Member of Knesset Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin worked as an assistant to Rabin prior to and during his time as prime minister. She is the Director of ‘Shalom Haver,’ an NGO established in Rabin’s memory, and works to carry out Rabin’s legacy by teaching about Israeli democracy and Rabin’s vision for peace. Nahmias-Verbin is currently serving in the Knesset as a member of the Zionist Union party, and will be in Washington, D.C. from November 5-9th as a part of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington’s third annual Scholar in Residence Program. Come hear her speak.

“It was 4 months after I left the Prime Minister’s office and went on to do my internship in a private law firm. I was in the square, and I was contemplating whether or not I was going to go up and say hi [to Rabin]; I saw him just a couple weeks before that, and unfortunately I decided not to go up. I was on such a high, we felt like everybody in the world wanted peace and was voting with their legs against violence and for the Israeli democracy.

There were so many parties going on around the square after the peace rally, and I went to one of those. Then I got a phone call that said there were shots in the square. I called [friends who worked for Rabin] and got all sorts of mixed answers, and decided to leave the party. I went to my parents’ house, and I remember the phone call that I got just before the news came out. I remember I fell on the ground and I just couldn’t believe it; I knew at that point he was very badly hurt. Then they called up and said ‘it’s over.’ Those were the exact words, ‘it’s over.’

A lot more was over, not just his life, not just his doings for Israel and society here. He was the Prime Minister to sign for the hope for the people of Israel. We miss that hope so much, and we know that situation is growing more complex. Still to this day I keep thinking what would he [Rabin] be doing had he been here. I ask myself that unfortunately on a daily basis.” (Taken from an interview with Noa Meir, Director of the Israel Action Center)


Picture 2Ambassador Gideon Meir served 45 years as a diplomat at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, beginning here in the Greater Washington area at his first posting in the Israeli Embassy, onto his subsequent positions as Deputy Director General for Media and Public Affairs, Ambassador to Italy and Director General for Public Diplomacy.

On the night of November 4th my wife, Amira, and I attended the wedding of a friend in Tel Aviv. As we got into our little Ford Fiesta we heard the breaking news that Prime Minister Rabin was shot. In the first few minutes the news was very confusing, but as time elapsed it became clearer that something terrible had happened. There was still little hope in our hearts but then, suddenly, we heard our friend, Eitan Haber, announcing the very bad and tragic news that Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was shot to death tonight in Tel Aviv. During the entire drive back to our home in the French Hill in Jerusalem, along route 443, we saw the signs calling Rabin “a traitor”, “death to Rabin”, depicting him as a Nazi. Suddenly we realized the implications and effect of the appalling incitement that preceded his assassination. Needless to say that on that night and the following days we hardly slept, and along with our fellow Israelis we were crying and mourning the unbelievable death of our great leader.


Picture 3Ori Nir is the spokesman for Americans for Peace Now. Prior to his work at APN, Ori worked for Haaretz Daily, Israel’s leading newspaper, where he covered Palestinian affairs and Israel’s Arab minority. He also served as Haaretz’s Washington Bureau Chief and later as its U.S. West Coast correspondent. Mr. Nir was also the Washington Bureau Chief for the Forward, America’s largest and most influential independent national Jewish weekly newspaper.

On the night of November 4, 1995, I received a call from the news desk editor at Israel’s Haaretz newspaper. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had been shot, he told me, we need reactions from Palestinian officials. I was Haaretz’s Palestinian affairs correspondent at the time. I was on the phone with Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat when I heard on Israel Radio that Rabin’s spokesman was about to make a statement. As Eitan Haber hushed the crowed, I started translating for Erekat: “The government of Israel announces in dismay, in great sadness, and in deep sorrow, the death of Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Yitzhak Rabin, who was murdered by an assassin, tonight in Tel Aviv.”

I was crying, and I heard Saeb’s voice cracking as well. I had known him for many years, since he was the editorial writer of al-Quds, the popular Palestinian daily, and used to brief Israeli reporters on Palestinian politics while smoking on the steps of al-Quds’ East Jerusalem office. Over the years, we laughed a lot together. I never imagined us crying together.

We cried because of the shock, but also because we realized that this was a seminal moment, that the bullets that killed Rabin were aimed at peace, and that they may very well kill prospects for peace. Crying together was an expression of the bond, the partnership, between pro-peace Israelis and Palestinians.

At that moment and during the days that followed, there was a strong sense of alliance, a sense of a common cause, between moderate Israelis and moderate Palestinians, a conviction that together we must fight the enemies of peace, the zealots on both sides. That conviction has obviously eroded in the past two decades, but I still strongly believe that together, Israelis and Palestinians can overcome the extremists in their midst and work jointly for a future that will allow them to live side by side in their own sovereign states, in security, prosperity and peace.


Picture 4Tali Herskowitz is currently the Washington Region Development and Program Officer at the New Israel Fund, and was only 16 years old at the time of Rabin’s assassination.

November 4th, 1995 was a day of elation, solidarity and hope. The night of November 4th, 1995 was that of grief, loss, confusion and despair. It began as one of the biggest rallies in the history of Israel – 250,000 people crowded what was then called ‘Kings of Israel’ square. I was there too. At 16 years old I spent almost every Saturday night on a bus from Beer Sheva to Tel Aviv to take part in some rally for peace. None of them, however, were quite like that one – both in magnitude and in spirit. The joy in the air, the exhilaration; the feeling that we are not only rallying for peace but that we are winning – it was right around the corner. We will be the generation to enjoy peace and not suffer from war – just as our parents envisioned and hoped for us.

All of that changed in a split second. I was on the bus going back home when we heard about the shooting. At that point, no one knew exactly what was going on (and there were no smartphones and social media to keep us informed). I rushed home and spent the entire night in my room, glued to a 10” black and white TV that at that point kept running loops of the announcement made by Eitan Haber – the one that makes my heart drop to this day.

I woke up to a day of mourning. It was very clear that our country, our reality, was no longer the same. It was as if Rabin carried the majority of the weight of the hope for peace on his shoulders, and without him there was no real sense of how we move our vision forward. And we – we were transformed from the ‘youth of peace’ to the ‘youth of candles’.

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30 in the City – November Events

At the beginning of each month, 30 in the City will highlight local “mix and mingle” events that offer opportunities to learn new skills, expand one’s knowledge, or just meet some new people!

Gather the Jews does not promote any events over the other. These events are highlighted at the contributors discretion. 

Friend Request – Sixth & I’s Not Your Bubbe’s Sisterhood Series

When: Thursday, November 12 at 7:00 PM

Where: Sixth & I Historic Synagogue

What the organizers have to say about the event:

We all get by with a little help from our girlfriends, so expand your social circle at Sixth & I’s 7th annual “speed-friending” event. Meet others who sway to the tune of sisterhood during a night of socializing, real-life FaceTime, and she-connecting that actually works, we promise.

What makes this event cool?

Come solo or bring a friend for the opportunity to connect with other local women in their 20s and 30s, and leave with new friendship prospects.

Who should go?

Women in their 20s and 30s.

Cost: $10 in advance, $12 at the door.

Register: here

 

Laugh at the Bible with OMGWTFBIBLE and EntryPointDC

When: Monday, November 16 at 7:30 PM

Where: Science Club (1136 19th St NW 20036)

What the organizers have to say about the event:

For thousands of years, we’ve been under the impression the Bible was meant to be taken seriously. Finally, OMGWTFBIBLE is here to change all that with a brand-new English translation of the Hebrew Bible from the story of creation all the way to end.

What makes this event cool? 

Each month David Tuchman records a live reading and discussion of his translation with a special guest. This time the recording is taking place in DC!!! In this DC premiere, and first episode of Leviticus!, Tuchman will be joined by local culinary writer and historian, independent scholar, and historical interpreter Michael Twitty. It’s going to be a blast- lots of laughs, deep discussion, and happy hour specials. This will be the first time OMGWTFBIBLE records in DC, you’re making history.

Who should go?

Anyone who struggles with Torah, wants to think a bit about how we approach being Jewish, or just loves a good laugh. Deep knowledge of the Bible not necessary, but a sense of humor is!

Cost: $10 in advance, $15 day of and at the door.

Register: here

Catch up on previous episodes: http://omgwtfbible.com/episodes/

 

European-Israeli Relations in a Volatile Time Panel Discussion with ACCESS DC and German Marshall Fund

When: Tuesday, November 17 at 6:00 PM

Where: The German Marshall Fund (1744 R Street NW 20006)

What the organizers have to say about the event:

The ACCESS & GMF Program will focus on European-Israeli relations today. Europe and Israel have been in relations since the inception of the state in 1948. The relations between Europe and Israel are of upmost importance on a financial, technological, democratic, defense, etc. level. Understanding the shifts in both countries and their ever evolving relations is necessary in understanding the climate of both Europe and Israel.

What makes this event cool?

The event will be comprised of members from GMF young professional division and AJC ACCESS DC; there will also be additional invited guests. Great opportunity to network and learn at the same time.

Who should go?

Anyone who is interested in hearing from some of the greatest experts on the topics of Israel, Europe, or both. This is a great opportunity to view the tribulations, triumphs, and interdependence from a number of angles.

Cost: This is a sponsored event, there is no cost.

Register: here

 

Men’s Spa Day – Sixth and I’s Men’s Room Series

When: Sunday, November 22 at 2:00 PM

Where: Sixth & I Historic Synagogue

What the organizers have to say about the event:

Spend your Sunday getting fit with fellow Sixth & I men at Men’s Spa Day. We’ll start the day at Off Road DC working with expert trainers, and then we’ll move onto the sauna and steam room at U Street VIDA.

What makes this event cool?

Enjoy tailored personal training and a shvitz (sauna)

Who should go?

Men in their 20s and 30s.

Cost: $22

Register: here

 

JWI Young Women’s Leadership Conference

When: Sunday, December 6, 12:00-5:00 PM

Where: Marriott Wardman Park, Washington, DC

What the organizers have to say about the event:

This half-day conference will bring together some of the most dynamic Jewish women leaders in the country to discuss major issues important to women today and teach professional and leadership development skills. Meet dynamic women through multiple skills-building workshops, a speed mentoring activity, and a reception.

What makes this event cool?

Participants get to spend time with women like Ellen Stone, (Executive Vice President of Marketing, Bravo Media & Oxygen Media at NBCUniversal), Caryl Stern, (President & CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF), and Linda Lipsen (CEO of American Association for Justice).

Who should go?

Women who are looking for what is next in their career, who want to connect with likeminded and engaged women, and can’t say no to a strong female speaker!

Cost: $36

Register: here

  

Have a cool event coming up next month? Want us 30-year-old professionals to make an appearance? Send us an e-mail and you may just make the cut!

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Monthly Mussar: Summoning Self-Compassion in an Unrelenting World

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I cringed a little bit when the rabbi asked us to talk with our study partner about what teshuvah (repentance) meant to us. I was at the Alternative Second Day Rosh Hashanah Experience at Sixth & I, and having completed the yoga part of our morning, which was lovely, it was time to move on to our text study, and also, to dig deep and share our thoughts with our study partners whom we’d just met.

Now I should mention that I chose to participate in this event for such an opportunity. But as I found myself face-to-face with my study partner, I was lacking. Usually, I take the time before and during the High Holidays very seriously to take stock of my actions over the past year and my relationships that might be struggling, to think about showing compassion for others that may have wronged me, and also to ask others to show compassion to me.

And indeed, this past month, I did focus on compassion, as part of my Mussar journey. Over time, I’ve come to find that compassion is key to our relationships with others. And as I’ve considered patience and gratitude so far on this endeavor, I’ve also seen that compassion is an important input into working towards cultivating those traits as well. For example, while channeling patience during my bike commutes when encountering wayward drivers, I found it helpful to think of the person driving the car and how they might not know how to be a better or more considerate driver, or how they might be having a bad day. While showing more compassion may not solve the aggressive or unaware driving problem, it does help me to keep my blood pressure lower, stay safer, and see the world as a better place.

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Yet, despite my focus on compassion this past month, I did not find myself prepared for the High Holidays in the way I like to be. For me, this year, the months leading up to the High Holidays were a time of being overwhelmed in many ways: of being so focused on work, and career progress, and exercise, and maintaining certain relationships. By the time I got to the High Holidays, I felt deficient in my preparation and also that I had no energy left to make the situation any better. And so, as I sat and talked about teshuvah, and thought about the relationships I had that could use some repairing, the thought of one more area of my life that needed attention became too much for me.

I made it through the exercise alright, but by the next day, I could only think about everything I was already juggling, and then my guilt for my lack of teshuvah added to the mix. Between all of these pressures, both self-imposed and otherwise, I found my body rebelling: the next day, as I bent over to prepare my bike for my morning commute, I was brought down by a shooting pain in my back. It lasted for the next several days, and I figured out by then that my body was telling me I was taking on too much.

It was then that I recognized that while I might not be able to channel compassion in my relationships in the ways I thought I should, I needed to show some compassion to myself. I had thought I had mastered self-compassion in terms of feelings – not getting upset at myself for feeling sad or anxious – as well as actions – not feeling overwhelming regret about something I did or didn’t do. But I realized then that self-compassion could also mean not being so disciplined that I wear myself ragged.

Despite this newfound awareness, I didn’t actually change my actions. And by Yom Kippur, I found myself so completely overwhelmed that I knew that going to services to think about the ways I failed this year and make commitments to do better was taking on more than I could really handle. And so I made an executive decision: I needed to show myself some compassion. And so, instead of making my way to services, like I usually do, and like I had planned, I spent the day in my own introspection in the park. I thought about the last year, the things I was struggling with at the moment, and how things could be different in the year ahead. And by the end of the day, I actually felt a bit better.

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There is a time and place for compassion, and without it, we risk pushing ourselves and others too hard. On the other hand, if we cannot show discipline, also to ourselves and others, we may not be able to reach our full potential, either personally or in our relationships. It can be hard to know which is appropriate. The best we can do is let our intuition guide us. For me, this month, after too much discipline, self-compassion was what I needed.

This next month, I am focusing on equanimity – mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper. It’s something that I find myself continually having to work on, so I am glad to get a month to think about it. Were you ever in a difficult where you showed equanimity? Or wished you showed equanimity? Share below in the comments.

 

 

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Introducing the YBJ Mini-Fellowship

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Are you a seeker? Are you interested in understanding your relationship with Judaism? Are you looking for a space to explore big questions about Jewish identity with thoughtful peers?

Introducing a brand new initiative – the YBJ Mini-Fellowship – that will bring together about 20 diverse Jews for just three IMG_8746sessions in December to discuss what, if anything, is meaningful about being Jewish today. It will be a very open and inviting space – all backgrounds and viewpoints are welcome!

Details: The three sessions will be led by Rabbi Aaron and held from 6:30 – 8:00 pm on Thursdays, December 3, 10 and 17, at the WeWork office – Dupont location. Must commit to attending all three sessions.

Cost: Free

Application: Applications have closed! But check back for future Gatherings.

fellowsFAQs:

What does YBJ stand for?

“Why Be Jewish?” Kind of.

Is this fellowship going to be awesome?

That depends on you. Are you awesome?

Why are you answering my question with another question?

That’s what Jews do.

How do you already have FAQs if this is a new initiative?

Touche.

 

Want more information? Email Reb Aaron

 

 

 

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Mini Gatherings

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Want to meet other interesting Jews in a smaller, more personal setting? Looking to get involved in the Jewish community? Like drinking? Afraid of commitment?

Introducing a brand new initiative – Mini Gatherings – that will bring together about 20 diverse Jews over the course of 3 weeks in December to meet one another and have some DMCs (deep meaningful conversations) over beers. By the end, you’ll have made new friends, had some great discussions, and laughed at least twice. Guaranteed or your money back!

Cost: FREE

What: The three gatherings will be held from 6:30 – 8:00 pm on Tuesdays, December 1, 8 and 15, at the WeWork office – Dupont location. Each session will involve some schmoozing, drinking, and an open conversation facilitated by Rabbi Aaron about topics like making decisions with our heads vs. our hearts and responsibility to self vs. other. No background or knowledge necessary – everyone is welcome. In addition, Rabbi Aaron will host a Shabbat meal on Friday, December 4 at his apartment in Dupont. Must commit to attending all three sessions and the dinner.

Who: Anyone who does not feel connected to a Jewish community in the DC area and is looking to meet other Jews in a smaller, more personal way.

Application:Applications have closed! But check back for future Gatherings.

Want more information? Email Reb Aaron

 

 

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Interview with Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin Knesset Member

scholarThe 3rd Annual Scholar in Residence program features Member of Knesset Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin, former assistant to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. MK Nahmias-Verbin will join the greater-DC community to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Rabin’s assassination with events in DC, Maryland, and Virginia from November 5-9. A few weeks ahead of her visit, MK Nahmias-Verbin sat down with Noa Meir, Director of the JCRC’s Israel Action Center, to discuss her experiences working for former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, her memories of Rabin’s assassination, and her motivations in carrying out Rabin’s legacy.

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Meir: Thank you for joining us for this interview. Please tell us about the connection you had with late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Nahmias- Verbin: At 20 years old, I was very active with the student body at Hebrew University. One Friday afternoon, Shimon Sheves, who later became the Director of the Prime Minister’s office, called and offered me to join Rabin’s campaign just before the primaries with Shimon Peres. I was a part of the campaign when Rabin was elected prime minister in 1992. I joined the Prime Minister’s office and held several positions there.

Unfortunately, after he [Rabin] was assassinated, I took on the task, after the family asked me, to head Shalom Haver, the association for Rabin’s commemoration. This later on became part of the Rabin Center for Israel Studies. Since the assassination, I have gone to schools to speak about democracy and Israeli democracy and how it was shocked on November 4, 1995.

Meir: What about Rabin inspired you to carry out his legacy still 20 years after his assassination?

Nahmias-Verbin: I think he had a unique kind of leadership. On the one hand he was an individualist, but he also had the very unique ability to bring people close to him. He was very sincere, but he really knew how to get things done.

He [Rabin] understood that for the future of Israel, he needed to take very difficult resolutions, including signing the Oslo Accords. I think that what is very unique to him is that he had the ability to change his mind and act differently… he had very strong political leadership.

Meir: Where were you on the evening of November 4, 1995?

Nahmias-Verbin: I was in the square [where the peace rally was held], and I was contemplating whether or not I was going to go up and say hi [to Rabin]; I saw him just a couple weeks before that, and unfortunately I decided not to go up. I was on such a high, we felt like everybody in the world wanted peace and was voting against violence and for Israeli democracy. There were so many parties going on around the square after the peace rally, and I went to one of those. Then I got a phone call that said there were shots in the square. I just couldn’t believe it; I knew at that point he was very badly hurt. Later, a friend who worked for Rabin called up and said “it’s over.” Those were the exact words, “it’s over.”

A lot more was over, not just his life, not just his doings for Israel and society here. He was the Prime Minister to sign for the hope for the people of Israel.

Meir: What is your advice to young Jews who will hear you speak in America, why should they be interested in your work as an Israeli?

Nahmias-Verbin: I feel morally obligated to the Jewish people as a whole. My forefathers came to this land… I feel we have to continue their work. They were pioneers that had to build everything here. We are different pioneers. We have to build a society.

I feel obligated to do my best and take the baby steps that I can to create a better society here for the people of Israel and the Jewish people as a whole. Israel is a very complex place… Israel is so much more than just the conflict and the terrible things that have been taking place here. It’s a miracle what has been going on here considering where we live, in the times we are living; it’s quite mesmerizing to think of everything that has been building.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jewish Activist of the Week – Jill!

-3Jackie: What first brought you to DC?

Jill: I went to UVA for undergrad, and DC is the closest big city, so I took a bus here after graduation just because it seemed like the thing to do.  I didn’t really have a plan beyond applying to jobs with feminist organizations.  It’s turned out to be exactly the right place for me, where I’ve found my chosen family, meaningful work, and a surprising enthusiasm for our sweaty summers.  I’ve lived here for 9 years now and I don’t plan to ever leave.

 

Jackie: What work were you doing with the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network?

Jill: This was my first grown-up job after college.  I was hired as a fundraising assistant, but when the Grassroots Organizer left a few weeks later I applied for her job, and this national organization fighting to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” trusted 22-year-old me with running the organizing program by myself.  It was a huge job that demanded a lot of me, and I absolutely loved it.  I got to build SLDN’s digital program from the ground up, train hundreds of people to lobby Congress, and emcee a rally on the National Mall.  One of my favorite projects was Pride in a Box, where we recruited activists from our email list to represent SLDN at their local Pride festivals, enabling our small organization to be present at hundreds of Pride festivals all over the country, give activists a big job to sink their teeth into, and get the word out about our legal services and lobbying work to hundreds of thousands of people who may not otherwise have gotten that chance.  This was back in 2007 when this kind of distributed online-based campaigning was still pretty new, and I’m proud of how quickly my non-techy colleagues agreed to give it a try and how many people were excited to be a part of it.

Jackie: You started the organization Practice Makes Progress. What is your mission with this organization?

Jill: Practice Makes Progress teaches digital strategy infused with radical inclusion to organizers and political operatives across the progressive movement.  Digital strategy means organizing on the Internet.  We teach it all — developing campaign strategies, aspirational messaging, finding and building activist audiences, and the technical skills that make it all happen.  Radical inclusion is the idea that every human being deserves a voice in the political process, including in professional advocacy careers, and that we have to work systematically to end institutional racism, sexism, ableism, cissexism, and other structures that block so many of us from meaningful careers advancing the justice we need.  I’m proud of my work training thousands of organizers in the strategic instincts and technical know-how that’s required to run great online campaigns.  And I’m especially proud of Practice Makes Progress’s newest program, training progressive organizers in cultural competency around gender identity.

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Jackie: What made you want to start your own business?

Jill: I saw a need arise for a new approach to professional development for progressive organizers, and I had the skills, so I took the leap.  Entrepreneurship is hard work on a level I couldn’t have imagined before I started doing it, but I believe so strongly in my idea that we can and must provide excellent training in strategic and technical skills at the same time as we help organizers develop more inclusive ways of treating each other in progressive workplaces.

Jackie: How do Jewish values inform your work?

Jill: I’m a pretty observant Reform Jew, and that’s really important to me and also a really private part of my life.  Tikkun olam sums up so beautifully why I’ve devoted my professional life to activism.  At the same time, I believe very strongly that our religious reasons for political advocacy have no place in the public square.  If I want to convince others to share my beliefs about public policy, Jews and non-Jews alike, I need secular arguments and secular evidence — what my God or my tradition says about abortion, or climate change, or Israel for that matter, is simply not relevant in a pluralistic society.  The United States was the first modern nation to grant equal rights to Jews, way back in 1776, and our separation of religion and government is fundamental to the promise of this country that I love so much and protest so often.

Jackie: I hear you throw a pretty epic Passover seder, how do you feed that many people!?!

Jill: Hosting seder is one of my favorite things to do all year!  It’s also a ton of work.  The planning starts about 3 months in advance, setting the date and explaining what my seder is all about to friends who are new to it.  I wrote my own Haggadah, which I update every year.  The cooking itself is a time crunch in the few days leading up to seder, and I have several vegetarian and vegan friends, and a few who need to avoid gluten or nuts, so I’ve settled on an all-vegetarian menu that meets everyone’s needs and I just serve the same thing every year.  Last year I cooked for 20 people!  I ask that my guests bring lots of wine and a willingness to be earnest for one night.  Organized religion has done a lot of harm to many queer people, and I’ve had more than one friend over the 6 years I’ve been doing this say that my seder was the first religious observance they’ve ever been to that made them feel safe.  I’m still blown away by that.

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Jackie: Who is your favorite Jew?

Jill: I had to think about this question for a while!  There are so many people who I think are awesome, who are Jewish, like Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is one of my favorite humans.  Specifically in terms of people who are my favorite for Jewish things that they do, after some reflection, I’ve come to a tie between Rachel Adler and Michelle Citrin.  Rachel Adler wrote a phenomenal book of Jewish feminist theology called Engendering Judaism that contains a lot of important ideas, including a new approach to Jewish wedding ritual based on an ancient ritual Jews used to solemnize contracts — a deeply Jewish ritual to solemnize a marriage without any of the gender bias that’s inherent in kinyan.  And Michelle Citrin is a very talented musician who got Internet famous for her 20 Things to Do With Matzah song — she’s been serving as cantor for Temple Micah’s Next Dor High Holidays services for the past several years, making me cry every Yom Kippur.

Jackie: Finish the sentence: When the Jews Gather…

Jill: We bang on the table when we sing, and that feels like home to me.

1

Eerie, Sexy, or Funny… Your Costume Says A Lot About You

People often ask me what to wear on a first date. I give a few pieces of advice on this topic:

– Wear clothes to match the venue.

– Make sure everything is neatly ironed and tucked in, as appropriate.

– Shoe choice matters.

While the first date outfit is obviously important, there are other times when you also have to ask yourself the question, “What do I wear??”

We all know what holiday is coming up this Saturday (where does the time go?), and the costume you wear can tell a lot about you, believe it or not.

I used to wear this ridiculous (lame?) homemade “costume” made from a box of Honey Bunches of Oats (my fave) and an aluminum foil “knife” pierced through it. Can you guess what I was supposed to be? A cereal killer. In other years, I gave into the peer pressure to become the sexy version of a costume, so I was a “sexy bee.” (I actually wore this costume three years in a row since I was spending Halloween with different people. I knew it was time to retire it when a guy walked into the party wearing the exact same one!) Through both of those costumes, you’d get a very different impression of who I am, so I want to talk about what your Halloween costume might say about you?
bacon1. The pun 

Like my ridiculous cereal costume, a punny costume shows that you probably enjoy wordplay. I personally like these types of costumes because, just like in an online dating username that takes a clever take on a word, a clever costume is a fairly decent proxy for intelligence. Some ideas: Sand-witch (that’s mine this year!), a deviled egg, Kevin Bacon.

pun2. The “In” joke

Like the pun costume, this person is in the know with the news. If the whole “dress” fiasco had occurred on Halloween, you better believe we would have seen a lot of white/gold and blue/black action going on. Now, on the other hand, if someone shows up in an outdated news story costume (bird flu, anyone?), he or she is likely to get a few eye rolls for being so far removed from the present day. I personally can’t wait to see all of the bad toupees this year that are supposed to look like Donald Trump. Just go around saying, “You’re fired,” and you’re golden.the sexy

  1. The “sexy” _______

Just about any costume anything can be turned into the sexy version of itself. Sexy doctor, sexy librarian, sexy basketball player… it really doesn’t matter. By dressing as the sexy version of something, it says that you either want to show off when it’s deemed socially acceptable or, more likely, that you’re looking for attention. If you leave nothing to the imagination, people are going to look at you, for better or for worse.

4. The last-minute makeshift costume

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You throw on a pair of sunglasses and say you’re Bono. You decide to wear a red hat and say you’re a fire fighter. You put a “Hello my name is Posh” nametag on and say you’re one of the Spice Girls. We can all see through these costumes (not literally like in #3, thank goodness), and the only thing most people think is, “Lazy!”
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5. The mask or gory number

I hate these costumes. Most come with a mask so you can’t even see the person’s face. This screams (no pun intended) that this person doesn’t really want to engage with people. The mask creates a barrier so that it’s really easy to be anti-social.

the box6. The box

We’ve all seen those costumes where someone is wearing a big cardboard box—a Martian, a dinosaur, a phone booth. I don’t care what it is—you’re in my way. Wearing a huge box is the kiss of death. You can’t get close to people, and you get in everyone’s way, especially at a crowded party. . 

So there you have it. What are you going as for Halloween this year? Feel free to leave a comment or Tweet your costume to @ALittleNudge.

 

 

0

Thirty in the City – Flying Solo

bridesmaidsI have assembled a few notes on how to go solo to a wedding and have a blast. If there are tips I left out, leave a comment below!

Over the last few years, I have noticed an increase in friends getting married. What has spurred this on, I will not guess. One thing is for sure, however – since I have entered my thirties, it has becomes an avalanche of weddings. Just this year I received seven invitations. So, JDate, JSwipe, OKCupid, and all those other apps and matchmaking friends, you are doing something right. The knots are being tied.

With the rise of weddings comes the rise of wedding trends. What was once a wild bachelorette party night out on the town has become a bachelorette weekend in a big city, small rural town, or sometimes a full-on vacation. The wedding in the downtown hotel has become a destination wedding.

With the expansion of the destination wedding trend comes the expansion of my traditional vacation budget and a stretching of my permitted work vacation days. Further, wedding season has expanded into late fall. Last year, a colleague of mine had a wedding every weekend over the summer and fall, totaling at 11. She was a bridesmaid for half of these, seven of the weddings took place outside of DC, and three were destination weddings. Don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against out-of-town weddings. We all want to be there to watch our friends tie the knot and wish them all the best on their journey. However, things begin to get even more complicated when you’re flying solo to these things.

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Single or not-single, if you’re flying solo to the wedding, keep these in mind:

  • Be happy with who you are and how far you have come. You did it, you made it to the wedding!
  • Guests are attending the wedding for the couple-to-be, and will not be focused on you. Shift your focus to the couple and don’t worry about the one or two people in attendance you don’t get along with.
  • Buy a gift from the registry. It will be shipped directly to the couple, you don’t have to schlep it around, and you are getting them exactly what they want.
  • Remember ladies, if men can re-wear their suits, you can re-wear your formal dresses. You don’t need to buy a new dress for each wedding! I have winter holiday dresses that I wear to corporate events that can also be used at weddings, bat or bar mitzvahs.

For all you truly single ladies and gents:

  • Plus-ones are not necessarily boyfriends/girlfriends of the invitees. Therefore, don’t be concerned that you are the only single person showing up – you probably aren’t!
  • Does showing up solo bring you down? It shouldn’t! Not bringing a plus-one makes you more available to meet other people and not have to worry about whether or not your date is having a good time.
  • Worried about which table you will be seated at? Ask to be seated with the veterans or the teenagers. They have plenty of stories to share and will keep you entertained all night.
  • Lastly, don’t drunkenly toast the happy couple. When you make them look good, they make you look good.

For a destination wedding or a wedding away from your hometown:

  • Make it a vacation – arrive two days early, settle in, relax.
  • Don’t have enough vacation days? Check if you can work from the road. Working on the road is better than dashing out the office to catch a plane and showing up at the wedding frazzled, just to turn around and fly back.
  • You don’t have to stay at the hotel recommended by the bride and groom. If it doesn’t work for your budget, it doesn’t work for your budget! Find a cheaper hotel. One friend of mine likes staying at Holiday Inns whenever he travels, another friend is all about bed and breakfasts, and personally, I take it as an opportunity to stay with friends and family and catch up with them.
  • If you don’t plan on renting a car, be sure to stay near pedestrian friendly areas of town.
  • If you are nice to the front desk, they are nice back to you. Ask about free hotel breakfast vouchers.
  • Get yourself a mani-pedi – its ok to spoil yourself!

Lastly, you won’t be judged if you can’t attend a wedding. Sometimes we just can’t swing it. It is better to say it upfront and politely to the couple-to-be instead of waiting until the last minute (when you are exhausted from panicking about hotel, plane, wedding gift, etc.). It may be their special day, but the bride and groom want you to be happy too!

 

 

 

0

Ethnic vs. Religious Judaism

Jews have an identity crisis. Are we a religion, or are we an ethnicity? There is textual support for both answers, and the easiest solution to this crisis is to say that we’re both. I think this solution ignores the real challenge. While in theory one could identify as equally ethnic and religious, I have never seen this in practice. That’s because these two understandings of the Jewish identity are conflicting, and everyone is drawn toward one side:

-Ethnic Jews don’t have to do anything. Religious Jews must act religiously (the precise standards are defined by the denomination).

-Ethnic Judaism is determined by the past (do you have Jewish family). Religious Judaism is determined by the present (what do you do, believe, etc.).

-Ethnic Jews unite over shared history and blood-lines. Religious Jews unite over shared beliefs and practices.

-Ethnic Judaism cares about Jewish bodies. Religious Judaism cares about Jewish souls.

-You can be “half-Jewish” according to an ethnic understanding (though this terminology often conveys a misunderstanding of the Jewish identity as distinct from other ethnicities – ex. you can be half-Jewish, half-Black and half-Italian). There is no such “half” identity according to a religious understanding of Judaism, which is all-or-nothing.

There are pros and cons of both approaches:

Ethnic Judaism provides a sense of belonging. It’s welcoming and not judgmental (as long as you have Jewish family, you’re in). It creates a sense of rootedness and family. It’s unconditional.

The downside, though, is that it can become very exclusive and even xenophobic. It can lead to an obsession with blood-lines which often feel arbitrary, especially when there is not much else that is shared between the people who share that blood. It is stagnant and not aspirational.

Religious Judaism provides a sense meaning and purpose. It’s welcoming (to anyone who wants to take on the defined criteria). It too creates a sense of family through shared practice and/or belief. It is a framework to explore and challenge beliefs, values and ideas about the one’s self and the world.

The downside, though, is that it can be very judgmental and hierarchical. It can be exclusive in a different way – excluding everyone who doesn’t meet the defined criteria. It is demanding and can lead to insularity. And of course, those religious beliefs and values can lead to hurtful and even immoral behavior.

My hope in raising this tension is not to create a rift in the Jewish community but to highlight one that is already there. Instead of pretending that everyone agrees on what being Jewish means, let’s acknowledge our different understandings and deepen our individual Jewish identities by addressing the hard questions that inevitably stem from confronting these differing views:

Ethnic Jews – What, beyond blood-line, are defining features of this identity? What is meaningful about this identity? Why does this identity matter (I don’t care about other people who have brown hair or blue eyes)? How do you guard against insularity?

Religious Jews – What value are you adding to the world? Why do you need Judaism to get there? What are your standards, and how do you relate to people who don’t meet those standards? How do you guard against fanaticism?

These are provocative, scary questions that have the potential to unravel our identity. But they also have the potential to open a door toward a richer relationship with Judaism. Before we can ask these questions, we need to know where we stand on this spectrum between ethnic and religious Jew. That is where the journey of self-exploration begins.

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Jewish Entrepreneur of the Week: Roger Horowitz!

Pleasant Pops3 Jackie: What first brought you to DC?

Roger: I came to DC after working on the Obama campaign to get a job working for the administration. That didn’t end up working out because about 10,000 other recent college grads came to DC to do the same thing so I ended up starting my own business with my college roommate right after Obama’s first inauguration in 2009.

Jackie: You are a co-owner of Pleasant Pops. Can you tell us about your work and how you got into the popsicle business?

Roger: I’m from New York and my college roommate Brian is from North Carolina. We were living together in DC right near the Mt. Pleasant Farmers’ Market and decided that it would be great to incorporate fresh and local fruit into the Mexican style ice pops-called Paletas – that we both grew up with in NC and NY.

It was a totally random decision to start a business and especially a pop business. Neither of us studied business or had ever thought seriously about starting a food business before.

We started in 2010 selling at the Mt. Pleasant Farmers’ Market and soon after bought an ice cream truck  which we then used in addition to our carts at Farmers’ markets for the next couple years. In the fall of 2012 we opened our shop in Adams Morgan which is also a cafe and coffee shop and really expanded the business from 2 of us to about 15 folks and expanded our offerings with sandwiches, soups, salads, and of course coffee. Pleasant Pops opened our second location this past June right near the White House at 15th and H St. NW.

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Jackie: We just moved past the High Holidays, did you make any fun resolutions for the new year?

Roger: My top resolution which actually is fun but doesn’t sound fun is to say “no” more. Working a lot means not a lot of time for hanging out with friends or being at home. David Plotz (former editor of Slate) wrote a great article a while ago that basically said if you wouldn’t want to do this tomorrow, you shouldn’t agree to do it six months from now. I’m trying to cut down on all the things that I don’t enjoy in life.

Jackie: What do you like to do on the weekends in DC?

Roger: I often find myself working on the weekends. I try and keep Friday night as my abbreviated version of Shabbat and go to Sixth and I for services or host friends for Shabbat dinner. We also host lots of out of town visitors and I love to show them that DC exists beyond the National Mall.

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Jackie: Who is your favorite Jew?

Roger: My wife AnneMarie Horowitz.

Jackie: Do you have a favorite Jewish Food?

Roger: Latkes are my all time favorite but Knishes, Lox and bagels are all up there. I think Latkes are the best because we’ll freeze leftovers and use them as hashbrowns for breakfast and serve with ketchup.

Jackie: Finish the sentence: when the Jews Gather…

Roger: There is always way too much food and the goodbyes take all night.

0

An Interview With Women Who Rock – Bulletproof Stockings

Bulletproof Stockings is an all-female alt-rock band led by Dalia Shusterman and Perl Wolfe, who both identify as Hasidic. They are based in Brooklyn, and choose to perform for women-only audiences.

In the frum (a Yiddish word meaning devout) world, an all-girl, alt-rock band is particularly exciting. Women can be confined in many ways, whether they are restrained by the idea of kol isha, which is the rule that men should not hear a woman sing, or by other concepts of modesty to not dance, to sing quietly, or just feel pressured to hold back – in the Lubavitch world music rings loudly, but women fade to the background. With Bulletproof Stockings on the scene, women crowd into rooms together to sway at concerts featuring the female-only band. Bulletproof Stockings hopes to not only motivate women to claim their own space, but to get out there and share their music as well. Perl and Dalia are bastions of creative energy and wherever Bulletproof Stockings goes next, they will go as an inspiration.

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DC writer Michele Grossman recently spoke with Perl and Dalia of alt-rock band Bulletproof Stockings to discuss their music, inspiration, and what success looks like to them.

Give me a brief history of your band.

Perl: Dalia has an extensive background in music, and as a former drummer of Hopewell.

I started writing music in 2011 after my second divorce. A channel opened up during the divorce and music started coming. This was really the first time that I had tried any of that. After the divorce, when I was home at my parents’ in Chicago — it sort of came to me: there was an answer coming from Hashem, and the music was going to speak to women.

I moved back to New York City, and I kept telling people I was a musician, and I didn’t know why. I was working at my old makeup job, then after booking my first gig, I got connected with Dalia.

Dalia: I played in bands, but when I embraced Chabad, I left everything behind. The name for our band comes from this time when I was fabrangening [a term used by term used by Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidim to mean singing joyously or exploring / studying Torah or philosophy] with my husband and the name ‘Bulletproof Stockings’ came to me. “Wouldn’t that be a wonderful name for an all-girls band!” we said, and I set that idea aside. I think the same way about music as Perl. It’s a big gift to be able to speak the same language as someone.

Can you explain why you perform only for women, for those who don’t know about kol isha?

Perl: There doesn’t really exist a place for a full room for women to rock out. I had a special world of music growing up in Chabad, and want to transfer that space onto the secular world.

Dalia: Kol isha is all on the men. There is no halachic [Torah] law that says we can’t perform for men, but we are creating a special space for women where they can be a little more free. Rock and roll is sort of a boys’ club anyway.

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In Vagabond’s Wagon, a very popular song of yours, there are a couple of lines: Somewhere down the line, he meets a child of four or five and she inquires of him, “Tell me what it’s all about.” He just looks at her and smiles, “Though it’s taken me quite a while, it’s better to be outside looking in, than to be inside looking out.” Can you tell me a bit about that song in general and that line?

Perl: All of the lyrics are based in Torah. At the beginning of the song it is describing leaving Egypt and wandering through the desert, and then moves on to talk about this guy who is trying to figure himself out, which is where we come upon that line. A lot of Jews were left behind in Egypt because they were afraid of change, and the comfort of slavery was appealing even though it was the comfort of an uncomfortable thing. The song, and that line is about having to do something but being held back by the fear of the unknown.

Even though we love Torah, and even though we are Hasidic, we really don’t like preachy music. We like open poetic lyrics. The music is really up to interpretation by the listener. When I listen to music, I want to interpret the music myself.

As women who work in a creative industry have you experienced push-back or tension from your community(ies)?

Dalia: A woman who’s playing drums experiences a bit of reaction. It’s a boys’ club.

Perl: They rebbe was so clear that whatever gift you have you must uplift the world with it. We have fans all over, including in more restrictive communities in New York, too. For girls who are reading: if you are worried about trying something like this because of negative feedback, know that it is overwhelmingly supportive on both ends, the number one reason the people have an issue with it is not because of halacha [religious law] is because it’s new. There’s no religious context for there to be a problem with it!

BPSatCreativeSoul

What does the word, “success” look like to you?

Perl: if women are inspired and excited by what we are doing and share their own gifts with their world and if we give women a space that’s just for them, that’s success right there.

Dalia: To unite women all over the place of all kinds and backgrounds.

 

People are talking about Bulletproof Stockings because they are inspiring, and new, and different. They string together musical influences from the indie sphere as well as from traditional Jewish sources such as nigunim. Both women grew up listening to rock music, their parents’ Beatles albums, and are influenced by such classic rock groups as Jane’s Addiction and Nirvana. They have a soulful, bluesy feel that harkens to the old-world Soviet (s)punk of Regina Spektor and to the street jazz that Dalia took in during her time in New Orleans.

Their lyrics are poetic and sometimes veiled, in contrast to their powerful and clear style that is reminiscent of the alt-rock of Hüsker Dü and the quirky indie stylings of Sleater-Kinney. Bulletproof Stockings’ music is emotional, bold, and complex.

In short, it’s impossible not to be entranced.

Bulletproof Stockings is releasing their debut LP, Homeland-Call-Stomp in December.

They will be at Sixth & I on December 8. 

Check out their Facebook and Twitter.

Listen to their music here.

BPS-VICE

 

3

Jewish Filmmaker of the Week – Lindsey!

Sitz1Jackie: What first brought you to DC?

Lindsey: I grew up in Silver Spring, so I was homegrown in the DMV.  I love this city.

 Jackie: What first made you want to go into film?

Lindsey: When I was 12, my parents got me a cheap camcorder perfect for filming Destiny’s Child inspired music videos in the neighborhood storm drain. I went nuts with that camera—doc-style recounts of my baby sister’s basketball season, parody rap music videos for my Mom on Mother’s Day (“Mama with the Womb with lots of leg room!” dropped in 1999), and short fiction films.

Beyond filmmaking itself, I am obsessed with storytelling. Stories can inspire and connect—they can make you laugh and help you escape. My 8th grade English teacher, Ms. Barlev, was a huge force in my life. She gave my creative juices a place to percolate and encouraged me to believe in myself.

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Jackie: Where did the idea for Cowlick first come from?

Lindsey: One day this past winter, my best friend asked me my thoughts on Mercury Retrograde. I did some research and a character popped into my head: an extremely anxious kiddo that obsessively followed the superstitious rules of Mercury Retrograde. Since then, Cole (Cowlick’s lead) has changed A LOT.

The themes of Cowlick—anxiety and how it holds us back—are ones that are very central to who I am.

Jackie: Are there other projects of yours we can check out while we wait for Cowlick to come out?

Lindsey: Absolutely. Most of what I have on my vimeo page is short doc pieces:

A short about a Special Olympics athlete, Brenda, and another about a vivacious 89-year-old woman, Fondly Maggie.

But this 2015-07-09 11.42.04past spring, I wrote and directed a more serious short fiction about a Passover Seder inspired by a story my Mom wrote, entitled Four Questions.

Jackie: Where is your favorite place to hang out in DC?

Lindsey: I work in Adam’s Morgan and I LOVE Adam’s Morgan. Especially during daylight hours. Tryst and The Diner are two of my favorite spots to chill and get work done while enjoying some delicious grub.

Jackie: What is your favorite Jewish Food?

Lindsey: MATZAH BALLS (SPECIFICALLY MANISCHEWITZ BRAND).  I apologize for the all caps.  I am incredibly passionate about this time of year—mainly because I know that I will be spreading the Matzah Ball gospel very very soon.

Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather

Lindsey: they laugh.

 

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