Check out Alex Care at 9:30 Club (12/18)

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GTJ named by Slingshot as one of Most Innovative DC Jewish Non-Profits!


Press Release: GTJ named by Slingshot as one of Most Innovative DC Jewish Non-Profits!


Slingshot Guide Highlights the Best of the Thriving Jewish Nonprofit World

Washington, DC – Gather the Jews (GTJ) has been named one of 18 leading Jewish organizations in the Greater Washington, DC area in the first-ever DC Edition of Slingshot: A Resource Guide for Jewish Innovation. The DC Edition was released today, alongside the tenth annual Slingshot Guide (Slingshot 2014-15), a Midwest Edition, and a supplement highlighting Jewish organizations that impact the lives of women and girls. The Slingshot DC Edition will help the selected organizations carry out their missions, as well as expand the resources available to volunteers, activists and donors looking for new opportunities and projects. 

More than 100 professionals with expertise in grant-making and Jewish communal life reviewed a competitive pool of proposals in order for to select the Slingshot to select the recipients. The DC Guide praises Gather the Jews: “With no denominational or political agenda, GTJ has emerged as the agreed-upon atlas for the DC Jewish community.” Organizations included in this year’s Washington, DC Edition were evaluated on their innovative approach, the impact they have in their work, the leadership they have in their sector, and their effectiveness at achieving results. 

“Gather the Jews is honored to be among the 18 organizations included in this brand new edition,” said Rachel Gildiner, Gather the Jews’ new director. “The organizations highlighted in Slingshot’s Washington, DC Edition represent the many ways that Jewish life in DC is thriving. Gather the Jews, which began as a local grassroots effort and maintains its grassroots mission, is thrilled that Slingshot has chosen to highlight the amazing work of organizations in the Washington, DC area. We are proud to now be part of the community of innovative organizations that have benefited from the Slingshot Guide over the last ten years.” 

The DC Edition was supported through a generous partnership with the Emanuel J. Friedman Philanthropies.  Simone Friedman Rones, Executive Director of the Emanuel J. Friedman Philanthropies, said, “One of our goals was to highlight the exciting Jewish projects happening here in the Washington, DC region. Without a doubt, DC is one of the centers of gravity for Jewish innovation. The Emanuel J. Friedman Philanthropies is providing a grant for every program in the guide this year, and our hope is that our friends in the community will join us in supporting those programs that speak to them.” 

To increase the impact of the Guide, the Emanuel J. Friedman Philanthropies is sponsoring several launch events in Washington, DC. These events, happening October 19th to October 22nd, engage DC area Jewish professionals, college students, and young adults in workshops about innovation and philanthropy. Event participants will have the opportunity to allocate grants of approximately $500-$1,000 to organizations featured in the Washington, DC edition of Slingshot.

Julie Finkelstein, Associate Director of Slingshot, said, “While innovative organizations based in DC have been listed in the national Slingshot guide before, we are excited to publish a resource that better demonstrates the depth and breadth of DC’s Jewish innovation. Our upcoming events are a way to engage the many stakeholders in DC Jewish life that may not yet know about the amazing things happening in the community.”   

Being listed in the Guide is often a critical step for organizations to attain funding and expand their work. Selected organizations are eligible for grants from various DC-based networks of young donors. These donors, who represent the next generation of philanthropists, are focused on identifying and advancing causes that resonate with their peers. The Guide is a frequently used resource for donors seeking to support organizations transforming the world in novel and interesting ways.

About the Slingshot Guide

The Slingshot Guide, now in its tenth year, was created by a team of young funders as a guidebook to help funders of all ages diversify their giving portfolios to include the most innovative and effective organizations, programs and projects in North America. The Guide contains information about each organization’s origin, mission, strategy, impact and budget, as well as details about its unique character. The Slingshot Guide has proven to be a catalyst for next generation funding and offers a telling snapshot of shifting trends in North America’s Jewish community – and how nonprofits are meeting new needs and reaching new audiences. The book, published annually, is available in hard copy and as a free download at

About Gather the Jews

Gather the Jews (GTJ) facilitates Jewish life in Washington, DC for singles and couples (in their 20s and 30s) by serving as a portal for up-to-date and accurate information about the city’s robust offerings of Jewish social, religious, and learning opportunities. GTJ connects Jews to organizations, organizations to Jews, and Jews to one another. GTJ has been the preeminent resource for young adults seeking a connection to DC Jewish life through information provided on its website, a 4,500+ person listserv, and monthly happy hours. GTJ emphasizes its role as a resource and partner to communal organizations and individuals.  

This year, GTJ will usher in a bold new phase for DC Jewish young adults by creating a relationship-based model to enable individuals to further explore their Jewish connections and create community within the robust offerings of DC. Using relationship-based engagement, GTJ will expand its platform through which individuals can connect to each other, connect with Jewish institutions, and create their own Jewish lives based on personal interests and desires. GTJ will provide high-quality training and professional development for young Jewish adults, with the intention of enhancing the social fabric of Jewish life in DC and helping DC become an exceptionally dynamic and inclusive city for Jewish life.   


A Fall Guide To Produce At Local Farmers’ Markets – From

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASukkot is a time for harvest and hosting! Check out this great guide to local farmers’ markets and the best seasonal produce.

Photo by Jordan Anthony-Brown.


Stylish Suggestions For Your Sukkah

SukkahLooking for some interesting ways to spice up your sukkah this year?  Check out these creative ideas on Pinterest.


Online Dating Emails – Your Questions Answered

When you’re in my line of work, you get all kinds of dating questions, ranging from how to contact someone before the date to when it’s appropriate to call yourselves exclusive… and everything in between (and I do mean everything).  Many of these questions revolve around the emailing process on the various online dating sites.  Let’s take a peek at some of them:

Question: Some of the emails are obvious that I will not be answering, but I’m wondering what I should do about winks and the emails that are not so obvious what to do with. For example, several guys wrote something to the effect of this: “You seem interesting. Write me.” How do you recommend that I handle those? ~ Cheryl, 37, Arlington, VA

Answer: For the ones who either wink or write short messages, it’s up to you whether to write/respond after reading their profiles. If they sound appealing, it can’t hurt to respond. On the one hand, maybe they are just lazy by doing that, and on the other, maybe they’re clueless as to how this thing works, too. The good ones will send (or respond with) an email showing that they at least read some part of your profile. Or, you could always prompt them with something like, “Thanks so much for writing! I’m curious to know what piqued your interest in my profile.” Then, they’ll either answer that question or they won’t.

Question: A problem I’m currently having with guys is the “date follow-through.” Guys will ask me out on a date online, usually saying something like “Let’s get drinks next week.” I say something like, “That sounds great. I’m free on Tuesday and Thursday after work around 6:30.” Then sometimes, they don’t get back to me. Or (in the case of the one guy I had a great date with) he said, “Let’s hang out this week.” I gave him my schedule in the same way as above. Then he tells me that he’s busy this week. I say, “Maybe the weekend.” Two days later and no response.

I think that I might be too forward with guys. I’m a very forward and direct person in general and have to make sure that I limit this trait because guys want to be in control. When guys casually ask me out on a date online, is there a better way to make it happen without scaring them off by being too forward? ~ Chelsea, 23, Washington, D.C.

Answer: You actually remind me of myself in terms of being a planner, and there is nothing wrong with that—it’s just your personality. Doesn’t it annoy you when a guy doesn’t follow through or drops the ball? Well, if it annoys you now after one date or even before the date, it’ll annoy you throughout life. So, rather than changing your tactic (giving two choices, like Tuesday or Thursday, as you said, is what I would recommend as well because it tells him when you’re free but ultimately lets him pick the final date), it’s more about finding a mature guy who actually takes the lead and doesn’t just casually ask you out with no intention of putting something on the calendar.

If you do want to soften it a little, you could say, “That sounds great. Tuesday or Thursday might work for me if that works for you.” It’s a little less forward and more “cool” with the word “might” in there and removing the time (after 6:30). But, to be honest, the way you responded was more than appropriate.

Question: It’s been my experience that women sometimes read into things that men simply don’t. For example, if a guy sends an intro email at 2:30 AM, it may be perceived in a negative context… something along the lines of “what is this idiot doing up at 2:30AM on a Tuesday?” Is there a good, or should I say politically correct, time to be sending these things? ~ Matt, 37, Washington, D.C.

Answer: It’s true—people (although, it’s both men and women) read into things that we shouldn’t sometimes. I’d try to email back at night (maybe before midnight) to make things look a little more “normal.” But if that stops a woman from responding, that’s just silly.

Any other burning questions?  Feel free to leave them in the comments!

Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people navigate the world of online dating, and author of Love at First Site. Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.


Help Jewish International End Domestic Violence

1 in 4 women are affected by Domestic Violence. You have until midnight of Thursday, October 3rd, to donate to JWI’s Purple Purple Challenge and make a difference. Help women receive the tools they need to rebuild their lives.


Come gather at the GTJ October happy hour!


The GTJ October Happy Hour @ Buffalo Billiards


Rosh Hashanah Greetings from the White House

This message was previously published on the White House Website: 

Read the transcript:

Hello. As Jews across America, Israel, and the world gather together for the High Holidays, Michelle and I extend our warmest wishes to you and your families for a sweet and happy new year.

My good friend Elie Wiesel once said that “God gave human beings a secret, and that secret was not how to begin, but how to begin again.” These Days of Awe are a chance to celebrate that gift, to give thanks for the secret — the miracle — of renewal.

In synagogues and homes over the coming days, Jews will reflect on a year that carried its share of challenges. We have been reminded, many times, that our world still needs repair. So here at home, we continue the hard work of rebuilding our economy and restoring our American dream of opportunity for all. Around the world, we continue to stand for the dignity of every human being, and against the scourge of anti-Semitism. And we reaffirm the friendships and bonds that keep us strong, including our unshakeable alliance with the state of Israel.

So let’s approach this New Year with new confidence, and new hope. Let’s recommit ourselves to living out the values we share, as individuals and as a country. Above all, let’s embrace this God-given miracle of renewal, this extraordinary opportunity to begin again in pursuit of justice, prosperity, and peace. From my family to yours, Shanah Tovah.


Gathering Voices: Free Coffee for a Sweet New Year

rosh hashanahDear Friends,

From Gather the Jews (GTJ), I wish you a happy, healthy and sweet new year ahead.  May it be filled with good friends, personal growth, and new DC adventures!

And I hope GTJ can be a part of it.

To start the Jewish new year with some extra sweetness, let me treat you to a new years coffee on me in your neighborhood!  Just e-mail me at or sign up HERE.  Feel free to sign up with friends as a group, too.

As part of GTJ’s listening tour (Gathering Voices), I am excited to meet you, hear your story, and learn from your DC experiences.  I hope you’ll add your voice to these conversations!

Rachel Gildiner at Gather the Jews


Rosh Hashanah from NEXT

NEXT RHThe Jewish New Year is this week! Find a local event where you and your friends can celebrate on NEXT’s interactive map: Want to create your own celebration? Birthright Israel alumni can host a holiday meal for friends, with resources and some funds from NEXT:









Online Dating: Past and Present-GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 95)

online-datingOnline dating has been around for quite a while now.  In fact, JDate first opened its proverbial doors back in 1997, when I was in high school!  As you may know, I was actually a very early adopter of online dating, using JDate back in 2000 or 2001, before people really had any idea what it was all about.  My parents, naturally, flipped out, thinking I was going to meet some psycho-killer, or worse, someone who wasn’t worthy of their daughter!  The worst that happened, of course, was a few bad dates with some socially awkward men… er… boys who were clueless as to what dating actually involved.  But why not try it out?  I was technologically savvy.  I mean, I did have a cell phone in college before anyone else did, even if it was this ridiculously large blue thing that I didn’t want anyone to know I had.  (It was very uncool to have a cell phone back then.)

I thought we’d take a stroll down memory lane and compare online dating in the early 2000s to online dating today.


Person 1: Um… I’m going on a date with this guy Sean.

Person 2: That’s great!  Where did you meet him?

Person 1: Well, we haven’t actually “met” yet.  I found him on JDate.

Person 2: What?!?!  You’re not that desperate, are you?  Geez—protect yourself!  Tell me all the details.  Let me know where you’ll be.  I just hope you’ll be safe.  You never know what psychos are hiding on those sites.  Wow—I didn’t know anyone I knew would actually try online dating!


Person 1: Um… I’m going on a date with this guy Sean.

Person 2: That’s great!  Where did you meet him?

Person 1: On OkCupid.

Person 2: Cool!  My sister met her husband on  Have fun!



OMG—I think that guy across the room at the dessert table looked at my profile on (whisper) JDate.  I can’t even look at him.  How embarrassing!


I think that guy and I matched on Hinge the other day.  I think I’ll go say hi!  Maybe it’ll speed up the process of him asking me out. ;)



Which four pictures should I use for my JDate profile?  I guess I’ll have to upload the pictures from my new digital camera to my computer to post them on the site.  Or, I guess I can scan some of the other ones I have.  I hope it works.


Which 12 pictures should I use for my JDate profile and six for my Tinder?  Let me check out some pics on Facebook and my phone to see which ones I want to use.  Actually, I think there’s a really good one on Instagram that someone tagged me in!

Side note: I still only recommend posting three to five photos



Person: How did you two meet?

Couple: Um… well… haha… it’s a long story.  (Look at each other embarrassingly.)


Person: How did you two meet?

Couple (in unison): On JDate!  I hear that if you have a JBaby and you let them know, they actually send you a onesie!

The stigma is gone, and online dating is here to stay.  Daily Mail UK predicts that in 20 years, half of all couples will meet online, and this number may rise to 70% by 2040.  If you’re not already playing the online dating game, now’s the time to give it a whirl.  Why not?


erika e-1405-4Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people navigate the world of online dating, and author of Love at First SiteWant to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.







AJWS DC Action Team Launch Party

ajws_logo_large15 years ago, I took a chance by using my summer break to travel with American Jewish World Service (AJWS) to the developing world. I only knew about AJWS because the then-new President, Ruth Messinger, was a prominent New York City politician that I greatly respected and I was curious about this organization with which she was involved, but had no idea that it would inspire such passion in global social justice in me.

I ended up spending 7 weeks working side-by-side with community-based organizations on projects that helped build infrastructure and economic sustainability. For 5 weeks in Zimbabwe, I helped the local rural community we lived with construct a dam and reservoir to preserve their water supply during the frequent droughts. While performing this physically laborious work, we also managed to conduct a cultural exchange program, sharing sports, song and dance, and to document the stories of the community members in an area where AIDS was diminishing the population rapidly. Then, for 2 weeks in Israel, we had day projects with various different communities, ranging from Ethiopian children to Druze teenagers and even Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

When I returned, I was determined to stay involved with the organization, as I credited the experience with sparking my own interest in social justice. Over time, I have followed the development of a partnership with AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps, engaged the DC community through involvement in its DC City Team, spoke out for food justice as part of its Reverse Hunger campaign at Global Hunger Shabbats, and joined the organization for a White House Community Leaders Briefing Day with the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable. Additionally, I have listed to Ruth Messinger herself and recipients of AJWS grants when they have spoken at local synagogues and community centers about the work of the organization.

While AJWS no longer offers volunteer service programs like the one in which I participated, there are now amazing opportunities to get involved in social justice changemaking with AJWS in DC through its strong advocacy and campaigns and organizing departments. The We Believe campaign has action opportunities to promote passage the International Violence Against Women Act and the International Human Rights Defense Act, and to urge the appointment a special envoy on Global LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) rights. This campaign calls on the U.S. government to stop violence against women and girls, to stop hate crimes against LGBT people, and to empower girls to end child marriage, in order to help improve the lives of people in the developing world. And you too can be part of this changemaking by joining me and other members of the DC Action Team at our launch party on October 1st!

Timed to fall between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, this party is an open invitation to our local community to attend a party to celebrate both the Jewish New Year of 5775 and our new team. Ruth Messinger will discuss our work and ways for you to take action here in D.C. to advance justice around the world. Nikki Mawanda, an AJWS grantee from Uganda who advocates for transgender rights, will talk about the grassroots activism AJWS supports that is creating lasting change for the most marginalized people. And members of our team will address opportunities for direct involvement in international human rights advocacy!

So, if you are at all interested in enjoying some food and drinks and meeting others in the area who share this passion for international human rights and believe in taking action on its behalf, please join us at the 5th & K Busboys and Poets between 6pm and 8pm on Wednesday, October 1st!

If you would like to RSVP or have any questions, please contact Mike Salamon at either 202-379-4265 or



The Jewish Case for Changing the Redskins’ Name

Washington_Redskins_1000_reverseThe opinions expressed here are the author’s and do not represent the views of Gather the Jews.

Like many of in DC I have struggled with the issues with the name of the Washington Redskins.  I am a local to the DC area.  I grew up in Mclean, Virginia, fifteen minutes from the DC line and I have lived in the DC area all of my life except for my time at Syracuse University.  I have seen Joe Gibbs hoist the Lombardi Trophy after winning the Super Bowl.  I know that the only person more second-guessed than the person sitting in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is the one walking up and down the sidelines at Fed-Ex.   I understand what the Skins mean to DC, and the special moments this team has helped create.

I also know that in the realm of things, the problem of a team name or mascot is towards the bottom of the list of the issues confronting Native Americans, such as struggles with poverty, addiction, suicide, and education.  If the people who are extremely offended by the name actually put a quarter of the effort into resolving the underlying problems in the Native American community as they did working to change the name, some of these problems could begin to be addressed.

For the reasons above, I used be in the camp of, the name isn’t that big a deal.  However, the recent rise in anti-Semitism and a friend’s ride in an UberX changed all that.  The uptick in documented anti-Semitic incidents worldwide is alarming.  While there are some outside the Jewish community who are highlighting it, it is also widely accepted in Europe.  While extremely incorrect, the idea that being anti-Semitic is not the same as other forms of racism still exists in numerous examples from the UN to some pro-Palestinian protests to anti-war groups.

During the recent conflict in Gaza, I finally understood what it meant to feel offended by something others brushed off as no big deal.  A friend recently got in an UberX and immediately saw in the window of his driver’s car an ancient Indian symbol that the Nazis bastardized and turned into the Swastika.  Even though it was originally used as an Indian symbol and the person likely did not display it as support for the Nazi’s or racist groups, it was still extremely offensive to the rider who got out of the car and cancelled the ride.  I would have likely acted in a similar fashion.  Then I started thinking about how I would feel if I was a Native American living in this city.  The logo of the Redskins is everywhere, and the same is true for the team name.  Regardless of its initial intention, the name clearly has a current association with a racist slur.  If any community should be sensitive to the idea of people claiming a specific racial incident is not that big a deal, it is the Jewish community and what we are experiencing across the globe.

I can no longer in good faith pretend the name is acceptable for a NFL franchise.  We can all support the team, but the name should change.  Then the team can return to being one of DC’s biggest unifying forces, instead of one of its biggest dividers.

Hail to the Washington Football Team- #HTTWFT

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