Jewish Community Organizer of the Week – Jordan

I met Jordan and heard all about his work as a participant of the Jeremiah Fellowship. I thought he would be a great addition to our blog so I asked him a few questions. Learn more about Jordan Bleck, this week’s Jewish Community Organizer of the Week! (Or as he may call himself, a “Justice Jew.”) Read on to find out more:

Know someone you think should be featured as Jew of the Week? Email Jackie to nominate them!

Jackie: What first brought you to DC?

10626565_1528220964077112_6596191237203903372_nJordan: Back in 2010, all that I wanted to do was international development work. My impression of DC before moving here was that it was all business and had no spirit of its own, and I have never been happier to be wrong. I spent several years working with an NGO that sent me to Uganda to teach people how to build bicycles out of bamboo. That project has now ended and I’m focusing my energy on building up our local communities, and celebrating the breadth and diversity that DC has to offer.

Jackie: You just bought a new house. What excites you most about the community you’re living in?

Jordan:  The community in Brookland is a really wonderful place and is unlike anywhere else I’ve lived in DC. Even though we’ve only just moved here, my housemates and I feel like we’re getting to know our neighbors quickly and easily. Before we moved in, the whole block put together a party to say goodbye to the previous owner (who moved down to Arizona with his partner after they met across the backyard fence), and to get to meet all of us. My housemates and I were totally blown away; this feels so far beyond the idyllic motif of being able to knock on a door to borrow some sugar, and I feel so lucky to have found it.

10174980_10201437591660412_7016019028852993923_nJackie: You just finished the Jeremiah Fellowship. Can you explain what this Fellowship is and
share what your experience was like doing this work?

Jordan: The Jeremiah Fellowship is a social justice organizing training program. It’s run by Jews United for Justice, which is an organization that strives to attain justice and equality for all DC residents through a lens of Jewish values. They are some of the most driven and impactful people I’ve ever met. The Fellowship is all about learning how justice work is such an integral part of Jewish culture and how to do it in a sustainable way. I started Jeremiah with no organizing background at all, and through the Fellowship, have participated in both of JUFJ’s current campaigns: DC Affordable Housing and Paid Family and Medical Leave. I feel like I learned an incredible amount through the Fellowship and am excited to put it to good use to make DC a better place for everybody to live.

Jackie: What is the biggest thing you will walk away from the Fellowship with?

Jordan: The best thing that I got out of the Jeremiah Fellowship is an incredibly powerful support network. Organizing can be really scary, and sometimes social justice campaigns feel like they’re an uphill battle. However, through the Fellowship I really feel like I can wield the strength of a vast network of justice-minded folks, especially the other people from my fellowship. Sharing that experience with a dozen people–all with different backgrounds, but all fighting for the same thing–was incredibly powerful.

Jackie: Where is your favorite place to spend time in DC?12794609_10104486187301538_5222489486969859375_n

Jordan: I am always happiest when I’m outside, so any favorite place is going to reflect that. I think if I had to pick just one it would be the C&O Canal trail (where I absolutely love to take my bike and go camping). Trail running in Rock Creek Park or a picnic in the Arboretum are also close to the top of that list so it’s really hard to say.

Jackie: You are a huge biker, anywhere you like to bike with Jews?

Jordan: The havdallah bike ride, run every other month by DC Jews on Bikes, is a fantastic event and a great way to connect with the Jewish community. It is actually the brainchild of Lisa Kaneff, who started the ride while doing Gather’s Open Doors Fellowship, and it’s brought together a really stellar group of people. We leave from Sixth & I, ride for a bit, have a havdallah service, and end up at a bar to welcome in the new week. It’s also a really gentle ride, so anyone who has any interest in riding bikes should do it. To anybody reading this: bring your bike or check out a Bikeshare and join us!

Jackie: Who are your favorite Jews?

10174858_10100747494262377_6462863739471430286_nJordan: I’d have to say that Justice Jews are my favorite Jews. I’m living with three of them (who had all done Jeremiah before I did) and they make up a huge portion of my network here in DC. If I had a nickel for each Justice Jew I know who is working on an incredible project here in DC, elsewhere in the country, or abroad, I’d have…a heck of a lot of nickels. Instead, I have a wealth of people inspiring hope everywhere I look. Therefore, I can continue to believe that, despite all of its chaos, the world is still moving in the right direction.

Jackie: Finish the sentence: When the Jews Gather…

…the world will be repaired (as soon as we’ve all had bagels and coffee).


Jewish Artisan of the Week – Greg

I met Greg at Adas Israel’s Late Night Lounge: Shavuot Experience. We were talking around 1 am and he was telling me about how he started his work as an artisan butcher.I knew this was a great story to share with our community and asked him to be this week’s Jewish Artisan of the Week.

Know of anyone you think should be featured as Jew of the Week? Email Jackie to nominate them!

Jacgreg3kie: Your past as a chef is quite interesting. You were trained in a kosher cooking school in Jerusalem. Are you still cooking?

Greg: I’ve left professional cooking for the time being. Although I’m a good cook and have the skills to be a good chef, I didn’t do great as a line cook, and the stress and hours were too much for me. I reached my goal of a Michelin starred restaurant in NYC and it still wasn’t the right fit. I work as a whole animal butcher now and I love it, it enables me to work normal hours, still be hands on with food, and be much more strident about my idealism in food sourcing. For instance I only work on pastured animals – no factory farmed meat crosses my butcher block. Happy animals produce better meat, no question, not to mention much safer meat, and properly managed pasturing of grazing animals is actually carbon positive. So where as commodity beef is one of the worst industries in America as far as carbon footprint, the beef I work on is actually helping to reverse that effect, trapping that CO2 into healthier pastures and nutrient dense, super meaty beef.

Jackie: Where can we try the food that you make?

Greg: Since I don’t cook professionally anymore, finding my food involves being my friend, haha. We host shabbat brunches from time to time and since it stopped being work, my home cooking has come to life again, my fiancee and I really love hosting together.

greg6Jackie: What is your favorite thing about living in DC?

Greg: I grew up in NoVa so it’s nice to be close to home, but still far enough that we have our own life here in DC and can visit NoVa to see friends and family. Also, the food scene here is booming. It’s a really exciting time to be working in food in DC, this fall DC gets put on the global radar for restaurants with the release of the first DC Michelin guide. I can’t wait to see what the french food power elite think of our budding fooding culture.

Jackie: Can you tell us about your time as a hype dancer? Also what exactly is a hype dancer?

Greg: Many of the readers may remember the people dressed in all black that came out with the DJ’s at bar mitzvahs and helped get the dance floor going, as well as lead line dances and facilitate the games like coke & pepsi… thats a hype dancer. They also get hired by night clubs from time to time. I did it on weekends my senior year of high school, and it was a lot of fun. I loved dancing anyways, so why not get paid to do it? Who knows, I may have even danced at the bar or bat mitzvah of someone reading this!

greg4Jackie: You are getting married in September. Will you be using some of the dance skills at your wedding?

Greg: I sure hope the old hype dancing days will come in handy at the wedding, since my fiancee and I have catering and event planning experience and are pretty particular about how we host, we’re doing everything for our wedding ourselves. So no DJ, and no hype dancers. We’re thinking we can do a pretty good job getting the dance floor going ourselves.

Jackie: I hear you are quite the handyman! What kind of furniture have you built for your home?

Greg: In high school I built sets for the theater department and worked as a contractors apprentice, plus my dad and I finished our basement, built a porch under the deck and a play house for my little sister, so I’ve always felt confident building a few things as needed. This year I built our radiator covers, a freestanding closet/wardrobe, plus our raised bed garden and compost bins; our bed frame, pantry unit, and my butcher block work table moved with us from NYC. I’ve got a few more projects coming up this fall, but someday I’d like to build a sustainable off grid house… we’ll see if I get there.

greg5Jackie: What does your personal Jewish community look like?

Greg: Right now our personal Jewish community is still building. In NYC we’d built a great group through our shabbat dinner circles, and before that we lived in Blacksburg and both worked for the Hillel at Virginia Tech. Here we have a few friends already, but we still need to build that kind of thriving Jewish foodie crew we had in NYC. I’ve been really happy to find so many Jewish food idealists to latch onto. A friend of ours from Hillel at VT runs the CSA that we’re members of at Whitehall Farm in Clifton, VA. I love talking to her about some of the really radical farms she’s worked on and how it ties into Jewish values around intentionality and conscientiousness with regards to food.

Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather… we grab hold of that thread of heritage that ties us back to thousands of years of tradition and get to weave it into the tapestry of our modern lives.


Shabbat Clusters- My Introduction to Jewish DC

9ace538a-578f-41c7-812d-f51b122e6223February 1, 2016 marked my third anniversary of living in DC.
Looking back on the friendships I’ve created and home I’ve built here, I’ve realized that I have the Jewish DC scene, specifically DCJCC Shabbat Clusters to thank for most of it.
Like a lot of people here in DC, I am not from here originally. I grew up in the NW suburbs of Chicago and there was never a shortage of Jewish peers around. In DC, after moving here on a gut feeling and a need for change, I was no longer surrounded by people I knew. In fact, I could count on one hand how many people I knew in this city. For some, starting over can be a paralyzing feeling. For me, I found a new start was just what I needed. I took solace in knowing that there was a Jewish population here, and being the outgoing person that I am, I would be ok. It’s that instant connection and bond that I feel when I meet a fellow jew, that comforted me.
After having been set up on a lady-date from a mutual friend (not a Member of the Tribe) who said, “You’re both Jewish with similar relationship stories, be friends,” we hit it off and together, decided to check out Shabbat Clusters through the DCJCC.
We walked into the April 2013 Kickoff Dinner in the basement gym of the JCC and randomly chose a table towards the side. As the table slowly began to fill, we chatted it up with our table-mates. As luck would have it, a girl who sat at that table was also assigned to our cluster.
I realize I got extremely lucky with my group, because we all got along and continued to meet once a month for Shabbat dinners over the course of the year. We bonded over food, you know, as Jews do. Our dinners included Mexican tacos, Thai, Chinese food, healthy wraps and more. As the year progressed, we gathered for more than just Shabbat. We hosted Hanukkah parties, Passover seders, and Yom Kippur break fasts. Even when the Clusters program was over, we continued to meet and our social circles all began to merge.
Soon our cluster expanded beyond just our group and began to include friends of friends and significant others until it was just a group of friends gathering together – as it is today.
Shabbat Clusters introduced me to some of my closest friends, Jewish life in DC, and helped this new kid in town feel at home in a new city. For as small as DC is and how much smaller our Jewish population is, it is rare that I go out and don’t see someone I know on the streets.
DC is a transient city and many people come and go. Three years later, it’s because of the Jewish community that I felt welcome here and was able to make a life here. I have found a stronger Jewish identity here in DC than I did back in Chicago.
Shabbat Clusters creates community by gathering people by their interests and neighborhoods to eat and celebrate Jewish life together. Come out to the Shabbat Clusters & Friends Mid-Season Happy Hour on July 13 or email Stacy Miller, Manager of EntryPointDC, at to learn more! Shabbat Clusters is hosted by EntryPointDC, a social network for Jews in their 20’s and 30’s at the DCJCC.

Meet the New Community Coordinator – Shaina!

This week, the Gather team got13406786_10154165669345120_4241892941627554331_n a little bigger! Shaina Dorow joined us as the new Community Coordinator. She just graduated from Brandeis University, and she is excited to learn more about DC and the Jewish community. Learn more about her in our interview with her and email her for coffee to get to know her more!

Jackie: Tell us about yourself and what you’ve been up to until now…

Shaina: First of all, I just graduated Brandeis University (let’s play Jewish Geography?) and studied Sociology. Throughout college, I did a bunch of volunteering. I just recently moved to DC and so I’ve been just getting to know the city (and used to this awful humidity). I enjoy art, theater, cooking, exploring new places, and meeting new people.

Jackie: You are brand new to the city, how do you plan to get a lay of the land?

13238922_10153649524203170_4354411583136149059_nShaina: This is such a good question because I’m still figuring it out! I would love to go out and get coffee or drinks all over the city and just get to know the city geographically. I want to start walking around and seeing different things. If anyone wants to explore the city with me or has some great recommendation on where to start, feel free to reach out!

Jackie: What motivated you to work in the Jewish community?

Shaina: It’s always been something I’ve been interested in doing. Ever since I was 10 years old,  I’ve been going to Jewish summer camp (this is my first summer not at camp in 12 years). I did NFTY in high school then went to Brandeis; I always have surrounded myself with Jews. Through these experiences, I’ve learned a lot about the nuances within the Jewish community and learned how I fit in to this framework. Now I believe it’s my turn to help others and to continue the learning myself. Due to my many experiences, I’ve seen first-hand what a Jewish community can do for people and for myself.

Jackie: What are you most excited about as you start with Gather the Jews?

12219539_10153669314885196_8268728210448149591_nShaina: I love talking to new people and figuring out what they’re interested in. I’ve always been passionate about people’s personal stories and therefore always strive to make people feel comfortable. I am excited to transfer these skills and passions to this job. I’m also really excited to get to know the Jewish community in this city.

Jackie: What is your new role with Gather?

Shaina: I’m the Community Coordinator. This is a brand new position at Gather, and I have been brought on to engage people who recently arrived in DC. It is tough to transition to a new city, especially when you don’t know anyone. I will be here to help them navigate that transition, especially since I’m going through it as well. I am also excited that it is now my job to grab coffee with people and get to know them! 

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 12.16.37 PMJackie: Who is your favorite Jew?

Shaina: Does Josh Lyman count even though he’s fictional?

Jackie: What is your favorite Jewish holiday?

Shaina: Passover. It’s such an event in my family, and I can’t imagine life without it.

Finish the sentence: When the Jews Gather…

…there will be loads of good food. Probably bagels.




Ways to Connect to Torah

3Despite being one of the “big three” pilgrimage holidays, Shavuot is one of the least celebrated Jewish holidays among American Jews. This is probably because the unique “ritual” associated with it – staying up all night studying Torah – is often both inaccessible and impractical. But it also might reflect a deep ambivalence that American Jews feel toward the Torah. Much like Rabbi Isaac – who asked over 1000 years ago: “Why didn’t the Torah start in the middle of Exodus with the first commandment?” – many Jews today see the Torah as a book of laws, laws that unlike Rabbi Isaac they don’t follow. No wonder they don’t stay up all night studying it.

Here are 3 alternative ways of relating to the Torah that might inspire us to crack open a Jewish book this Saturday night as the holiday begins, even if we fall asleep before sunrise on Sunday morning.
1) The Story
Unfortunately for Rabbi Isaac, but fortunately for us, the Torah doesn’t start in the middle of Exodus. It starts with Genesis, a book of stories about a family. That family is our family, and in many ways we are continuing that story today. There’s a famous rabbinic adage – maaseh avot siman l’banim – that roughly translates to: “the actions of our ancestors are a sign for the children.” The Torah preceded the industrial revolution, the internet, and snapchat. But in many ways, the human truths behind these ancient stories continue to manifest today and can help guide us as we write our chapter.
2) The Paint
Just as an artist needs paint in order to create a drawing, the Jewish people need images, ideas, and myths to create a rich and vibrant culture. The Torah is the most riffed on story in history, yet many Jews today completely miss the references, despite identifying as cultural Jews. Jewish art is not art made by someone who happens to have a Jewish parent. It’s art that is influenced by Jewish culture, which finds its roots in the Torah. The Torah is our primary colors, and the future of our culture is dependent on our ability to play with it.
3) The Glue
When I ask Jews for their definition of Judaism, the answer I hear most often is: Judaism is whatever any individual Jew wants it to be. This sounds like a riff on a 30 Rock joke by the farcical Dr. Spaceman, but in this case the joke is on us. Without a single unifying element to us, there is nothing that actually binds us. Perhaps the Torah can be the glue that binds us. Not because we all follow its laws or believe it is from God, but because we need to share something if we’re going to share an identity. Perhaps the Torah is our shared language that allows us to connect without agreeing.

Shavuot Events 2016/5776

Shavuot is almost here. Some of you may celebrate this holiday, some of you may eat cheesecake though you’re not totally sure why or you might have no idea what we are even talking about. So what exactly is Shavout? It is the Festival of Weeks, the holiday’s date is determined by counting seven weeks after the end of Passover. Shavuot commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. It is customary to stay up all night and study Torah and to eat dairy foods (that’s where we get the cheesecake)!

So now that you are ready to get your Shavuot on how do you celebrate? It is one of the lesser celebrated holidays but there are still several organizations holding events. Did we miss anything? Submit Events Here.

June 4th 2016

June 7th 2016

June 11th 2016

Recipes for Shavuot:ChocolateCheesecake-230x150Try this Chocolate Cheesecake & Challah Recipe from



Cooking these Cheese Blintzes, recipe from, will make your roommates love you!



These Spinach Tidbits from make a great appetizer, or whole meal if you have no portion control!

Other Shavuot Resources:


Jewish Climate Scientist of the Week: Michael


This week I had the opportunity to interview Michael. Reb Aaron nominated him as a Jew of the week after grabbing coffee with him a couple weeks ago. I was able to ask him about his PhD studies and his work with Al Franken. Read more about him (and his dog!) in our interview below.

Jackie: What motivated you to get a PhD in climate change?

Michael: I originally became interested in the topic of climate change from a lecture in my Freshman year of my undergraduate studies. As I took more courses, I was drawn to the complexity of the problem, from both a science and policy perspective. After spending a few years learning about the science behind climate change, I found it frustrating to remain stuck in dialog regarding the validity of the science instead of the policy itself. This motivated me to get a PhD in climate science, as I wanted to be thought of as a scientist first when working outside academia.

Jackie: What brought you to DC?

Michael: I came for a fellowship program that brings PhD scientists to Washington to work in Congress. As part of my fellowship year, I am working in the office of Senator Al Franken on his energy, climate, environmental, and agriculture portfolio.

IMG_1681Jackie: What kind of dog do you have? When did you first get him?

Michael: We have a black lab mix named Franklin. We rescued him 2 years ago from a shelter in Chicago, and while he’s a lot of work, we wouldn’t trade him for the world!

Jackie: What is your favorite place to spend time in DC?

Michael: I am a huge fan of H-street. You get a really interested mix of people in the neighborhood, and the restaurants and bars offer a more authentic feel than others around the city.

Jackie: Who is your favorite Jew?

Michael: I am still mourning the end of the Daily Show, so for now I will say Jon Stewart.

DSC_0158Jackie: You are currently in a long distance marriage, any advice for people who might be in a similar circumstance?

Michael: If it is meant to be, you will make it work. It isn’t cheap, easy, or typical, but it can still be just as meaningful and rewarding if you make the effort.
Finish the sentence: When the Jews Gather… I feel better about my talent level in most sports.


How Kosher is Your Comedy?

A long, long time ago in the DC Jewish world, back when Gather the Jews gave out slap bracelets, there was a comedy night hosted by NOVA Tribe Series in Arlington. This event was called the Unkosher Comedy Tour: Making Mitzvahs Happen and was the brainchild of former Gather satirist Brian Fishbach (who has gone on to become oh-so-famous in LA comedy land – we miss you Mr. 50 Shades of Grey.)

He gathered some young Jewish comedians to perform, including Matty Litwack who was featured on Fox’s Laughs and Jessica Brodkin who has performed at Caroline’s on Broadway and has a principal role on TruTv’s Road Spill.

EntryPointDC is bringing the Unkosher Comedy Tour next Wednesday, June 8th at RFD and changing things up a bit. There will still be some great young comedians doing stand-up but this time the line-up will feature comedians of all backgrounds who will share their comedic revelations in honor of Shavuot. The host for the evening will be former Moishe House resident, Benjy Himmelfarb who performed at the EntryPointDC Kiss & Kvell comedy show is this past February.

Grab a ticket and be prepared to laugh your tuches off.

To get ready for the Unkosher Comedy Tour: Revelations, we present a look at comedy on a scale from kosher to unkosher. 

100% kosher:

Mayim Bialik makes both Yiddish and a date at a Kosher sushi restaurant seem cool in this YidLife Crisis video.


Mostly kosher/ eat meat out at restaurants:

Crazy Jewish Mom is always trying to get her daughter to date a Nice Jewish guy but will sometimes go off the deep end and fight over a box of matzah.

crazy jewish mom

Moderately unkosher/no shellfish kosher:

The Fat Jew – Jewish in name, but sometimes accused of stealing jokes.

fat jewish

Mostly unkosher/ mixing milk and meat kosher:

Whole Foods food offering samples of challah the first Night of Passover

challah passover

Walmart displaying a special for ham to be served at Chanukah

ham for chanukkah

Very unkosher:

Dressing as bacon for Halloween (and wearing a tallit, yarmulke and posing with Orange Juice (Orange Jews…so punny)

kosher bacon 4



30 in the City – June Events

30 in the City (1)

Hillah is back this month with her recommendations for events going on in the District for those who are 30 in the City! Which ones will we see you at this month?


When: Sunday, June 5th, 2016, 12:00 PM – 10 PM

Where: Washington Hilton Hotel (1919 Connecticut Ave, Washington, DC 20004)

What the organizers have to say about the event:

The ACCESS Summit, held at the same time as the AJC Global Forum, is an innovative, interactive conference for young Jewish leaders. The Summit is an unparalleled networking opportunity, offering a platform for participants from all over the globe to share best practices and engage in practical skill-building.

ACCESS Summit brings together global Jewish leaders from across the political spectrum to tackle today’s most pressing issues. Only at ACCESS Summit can you learn from leading scholars and activists from the Muslim world standing on the forefront of change, explore powerful coalition building opportunities with leaders from Latin America and Latino communities here at home, talk about the big questions facing Israel and its place in the world, and brainstorm how to combat global anti-Semitism. Attendees have the opportunity to take part in hands-on skill-building workshops designed to prepare activists and volunteers for effective advocacy and community engagement.
What makes this event cool?

There are only few places you can go that give you the opportunity to network with other likeminded young professionals from around the world, who believe as much as you do in building a safe and thriving Jewish community.

Who should go?

Young professionals that are active within the Jewish community, seeking a way to get active, or enjoy lively discussions.

Cost: Ranges based on DC resident, student, ACCESS membership. For pricing e-mail

Register: here


6th in the City Chorus Concert

When: Wednesday, June 8th, 2016, 7:30 PM

Where: Sixth & I Historical Synagogue (600 I Street NW, Washington, DC)

What the organizers have to say about the event:

The 6th in the City Chorus performs a mix of old and new songs with choirs from Turner Memorial AME Church (which worshiped in Sixth & I’s building for nearly five decades) and the Metropolitan AME Church.

The 6th in the City Chorus has been singing together since 2013. Led by Marty Lamar, Director of Music and Creative Arts at Metropolitan, the group of young Jewish professionals in their 20s and 30s reinvigorates traditional Jewish songs and prayers with elements of Gospel and contemporary worship music.

What makes this event cool?

The 6th in the City Chorus is becoming a staple of the Jewish community. They are a troop of young professionals with impressive tunes and vocal cords that make you wonder why the tickets are such a bargain. Not to be missed, since it is always a good time. Unfortunately, when I tried to bribe one of the singers for their list of concerts songs, she wouldn’t leak a note.

Who should go?

Music lovers. You know you have a friend in the chorus and it wouldn’t look so good if you didn’t show up. So, I made it easy for you to register by clicking the register link below.

Cost: $12



Cuba: in Focus | Captured Moments of a Society on the Edge of Change

When: Thursday, June 9, 2016, 7:00 PM

Where: Fathom Creative, Inc. (1333 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005)

What the organizers have to say about the event:

Step into the vibrant and changing society of Cuba today through a dynamic photo exhibit created exclusively by Entwine Cuba alumni.

Learn about contemporary Jewish life & JDC’s work in Cuba while sampling authentic Cuban-style food & drink!

What makes this event cool?

Let’s face it. Cuba has always been a hot topic and there is something sexy about it, whether it is the complicated U.S. political relationship with the island nation or the handiwork of our literary writers fantasizing over a land they can’t touch. After decades of difficulty for Americans to travel to Cuba, this became much easier last year with the travel ban being lifted. With the ban significantly reduced, waves of business interest and tourists will be flooding the island state and bringing change with them. We are not always sure of what change means – it can be good and it can be bad. Looking at it through a lens shows us the diversity of life that we don’t always witness when reading the paper or visiting as a tourist.

Who should go?

You enjoy food, art, photography, and you love giving back to other communities.

Cost: $15 regular priced ticket | $25 for two tickets

Register: here


Behind the Booth with Jewish Food Experience

When: Sunday, June 26th, 2016, 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM

Where: Mosaic District’s Fairfax Farmers Market (2910 District Ave, Fairfax, VA 22031)

What the organizers have to say about the event:

Savor the sights, the smells and stories of our region’s largest farmer’s market. Go “Behind the Booth” at Mosaic District’s Fairfax Farmers Market during a private walking tour with its co-founder, Debra Moser:

• Sample fresh fruits and veggies
• Discover the market’s history
• Enjoy an exclusive conversation with Israeli-American chef Josh Rosenstein

What makes this event cool?

Understanding what it takes to go from farm to table is slowly falling out of communal knowledge. Behind the Booth gives the average person the opportunity to learn what it takes to get produce from the farm to the market and from the market to our table. What better way to learn about the importance of local farming than by checking out a farmers’ market, tasting the fresh produce, and listening to stories based on real life experiences.

Who should go?

Foodies, urban gardeners, food security activists or hobbyists.

Cost: $10

Register: here


Want more?

17th Annual Jewish Music Festival will be taking place from June 3rd to 15th.

Join GLOE @ Pride from June 6th to 12th.



All Aboard: Why I Joined JWI’s Young Women’s Leadership Network

board 1Washington, D.C. and I are about to celebrate our 5 year anniversary. A lot has changed for me in those five years: I have had 2 great jobs, started graduate school, seen friends move here and then move away, met a great guy (and endured some less-than-quality time on OK Cupid…), and seen the streetcar finally carry passengers up and down H Street. Some of these five years have felt all over the place, but one of the most important constants for me has been my involvement in Jewish Women International’s Young Women’s Leadership Network (YWLN).

JWI’s mission is powerful: to end violence against women domestically and abroad, and to ensure that women and girls are empowered to control their financial futures. JWI staff are just as likely to be found in the halls of Congress educating Senators about the intersection of domestic violence and gun violence prevention as they are to be training young women on college campuses about how to manage their finances or negotiate their first salaries. The Young Women’s Leadership Network is just one way in which JWI has shown its commitment to supporting women at every phase of their lives. As a founding board member of YWLN, it has been immensely satisfying to create a space for young women to learn professional skills while meeting their personal needs, targeting themes that range from how to quit your job and start a business to how to merge divergent Jewish traditions with a significant other or roommate.

To me, DC has always felt hyper-focused on self-serving professional opportunities. But YWLN is different. Memorably, in our first year we hosted a breakfast with a corporate leader at Scholastic. I watched as a conversation between our speaker and a young engineer began with how technology can encourage education reform, but quickly morphed into advice on how to negotiate a promotion, and ended with a broader question about how to create a more personally fulfilling career. This is just one example of how, in intimate settings, YWLN provides the space for women at the top of their fields to “pay it forward” by melding personal and professional advice in the same way that it is melded in the real world. Our members are empowered to serve as mentors to each other within our network as well, helping each other through the seemingly minor but often difficult decisions of building a career and a life.

In the United States, almost 85% of those who serve on boards of non-profits are over the age of 40. Many wait to join a board until they consider themselves professionally successful or wealthy enough to donate monetarily. Conversely, being on a board at the beginning of my career has provided me with a way to continue to educate myself, build my professional network, design programming that speaks to me and my peers, and begin to instill the habit of giving time when money is not as available. Without the daily pressures or bureaucracy that come with working on the staff of an organization, YWLN has given me the opportunity to take the “30,000 foot view,” engage in strategic conversations about innovative programming, and establish the mission and vision of our young organization.

I hope you will consider joining me on the YWLN DC board and help us as we continue to expand. In just the past year we have opened a new chapter in NYC, baked babka with a well-known chef, learned about public service from Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and celebrated Mother’s Day with a fundraiser that benefitted survivors of domestic violence. Be a part of what happens next! Applications will be accepted from now through June 1 and can be found here!


Jewish Professional of the Week – Lindsay!

lindsay 2This week I had the opportunity to interview Lindsay. I first met Lindsay over a year ago at a Midnight Mitzvah event and was able to get to know her better during her time in Cohort II of the Open Doors Fellowship. Learn more about her new role and next trip in our interview this week!

Know someone who should be a person of the week? Nominate them!

Jackie: What first brought you to DC?

Lindsay: I first moved to DC summer 2014, coming up on my two year move-a-versary! I moved down from NYC after graduating NYU to work at Maryland Hillel.

Jackie: What is your favorite part about working at Maryland Hillel?

Lindsay: My favorite part about working at Maryland Hillel is probably staffing the Birthright trips and being able to see Israel through the eyes of the students. I am leaving next weekend for my fourth and last trip.

Maryland has set my up extremely well for my next steps where I will be teaching Rabbinics at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School.

Lindsay 1Jackie: You travel quite a bit, where is the most memorable place you have been?

Lindsay: I just started traveling last year and it has completely changed my outlook. However, I would have to say that the most memorable I have been has to be the Hawaiian Island, Oahu. My boyfriend, Mark and I went parasailing, jet skiing, and even took a surfing lesson!

Jackie: I also hear you have another big trip coming up can you tell me about it?

Lindsay: I can’t stop talking about it. We are going to Ireland where we’ll rent a car and travel around the country hitting all the hot spots. Then we’ll fly to Scotland and we even hope to spend a night in a castle.

Jackie: Where is your favorite place to spend time in DC?

Lindsay: Such a good question I am still exploring all the time with trips to wineries and nearby hiking but I have been hitting up all the good happy hour places now that the sun is almost out. I recommend Lost Society and Kapnos.

Jackie: You just completed the Open Doors Fellowship, what has been your biggest take away from your experience?

Lindsay 3Lindsay: My biggest takeaway was definitely a chance to build relationships with new Jews in the community. Through the fellowship I have met some of my closest friends and couldn’t be more grateful for that opportunity.

Jackie: Where is your Jewish community in DC? What makes this place special for you?

Lindsay: My Jewish community is DC Minyan, a traditional egalitarian independent minyan at the DCJCC where I spend most Shabbats I am not working, meeting new friends and old for vibrant davening and delicious meals.

Jackie: What is your favorite way to spend Shabbat?

Lindsay: Definitely picnic style in Meridian Hill Park!

Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather, it will be a time to remember!


Challah Back to Summer Camp presents: Favorite Summer Camp Memories

For many of us, summer camp was the best time of our lives.  This summer is an opportunity to relive those glorious days. Escape the city and head to the Chesapeake Bay for a weekend-long summer camp with young Jewish professionals from the DMV.  Meet and connect with new friends as you choose your own adventure- take a canoe out, relax on the beach, go rock climbing, participate in a three-legged race, and much more!  Tickets are just $149!!!! until June 1st.  Use discount code: “gatherthejews” for $50 off.  More details can be found here!

In the mean time we asked the Challah Back to Summer Camp staff to share their favorite memories from their summer camp days:


 “Making smores was always my favorite.  Especially when my friend/genius innovator came up with the idea of substituting nutella for chocolate.”


Capture the Flag glory:

“While the flag guards were briefly looking elsewhere, I stuffed the flag down my pants and took off at full speed back towards my side.  Due to sanitary concerns, the move was deemed illegal for future games, but it was still a tremendous and much hailed victory.”



“My favorite memory was really seeing the stars for the first time.  I know it sounds cliche, but I really couldn’t believe how many were out there.”


Outsmarting the counselors:

“This one is from my dad.  He and his cousin were sent to a weight-loss camp (or “fat camp,” as he calls it).  Every afternoon they would canoe down the lake to where their grandmother lived, have a banquet of chocolate chip cookies and pecan pie, and then row back to camp.  Somehow, they didn’t lose much weight that summer.”



“Getting out into nature is what I miss most from summer camp.  Hiking through forests, over streams, and up to viewpoints was always my favorite.”


Learning how to woo the ladies:

“I tried to get my crush’s attention by shooting her with a spitball and then pretending it wasn’t me.  It wasn’t as successful as you may imagine.”


Sharing bunkbeds:

“You sure get to know people when you share bunkbeds with them- late night storytelling, playing music, creating pranks, and many unmentionable things.”


Making friends:

“I was assigned dish duty one night, which I was really dreading.  However, my fellow dishwasher ended up being my best friend at camp.  I learned that good company makes even the most mundane tasks fun.”




3 Must See Shows at this Year’s Washington Jewish Music Festival

Now in its 17th year, the Washington Jewish Music Festival returns from June 3 through June 15 and will feature a lineup of international artists, family-friendly events, and educational programs throughout Washington, DC. With so much already on your calendar, here’s your list of must-see shows during the 2016 Washington Jewish Music Festival. Learn more about their lineup and score cheap tickets when you attend their free Festival Listening Party at Tropicalia on May 19th. Your first drink is free!

    Kicking off this year’s Festival, Yemen Blues returns for the Opening Night performance on June 4th. Fronted by acclaimed vocalist Ravid Kahalani, Yemen Blues mixes the music of Yemen and West Africa with funk, mambo, soul, and ancient chanting techniques. Calling on a rich and diverse instrumentation that employs percussion, oud, horns, and strings, their diverse influences explode on stage. Check out their song Mountains Will Dance below.


    Prefacing Zion80’s centerpiece performance the next day, The Geulah Trio – Jon Madof of Zion 80’s most recent project – will perform at Tropicalia as part of this year’s lineup. The group takes inspiration from Jewish music, rock, jazz and beyond. In their first-ever public performance they will be playing original music from Madofs’ Rashamim repertoire and John Zorn’s Masada Songbook. Get a first listen at this new group on June 8th during their electrifying performance!


  1. ZION80 The WJMF’s Centerpiece Evening will feature Jewish-Afrobeat sensation, Zion80. Zion80 explores Jewish music – from Carlebach to Zorn and everything in between – through the lens of the Afrobeat funk master Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Led by Jon Madof (Rashanim, Matisyahu), the 9-piece band arranges Jewish melodies using the polyrhythmic intensity of Afrobeat, blended with the madness of the Downtown scene. It’s essential Jewish music for the 21st century! Check them out below.

Visit for the full Festival lineup.


JScreen Pop-Up: Take Action. Take Control. Get Screened.

Instagram_1in4The number eighteen, Chai, signifies “life” in Judaism, so it’s fitting that on Wednesday, May 18 you have the opportunity to greatly impact your life. We are really going to get down to the invisible aspects of your being. No, we’re not going to psychoanalyze your thoughts or study your dreams, but we will be testing your DNA. While we won’t be diagnosing you with any crazy syndromes, we will be conducting genetic screening to see if you are a healthy carrier for a range of devastating diseases that have the potential to be passed on to your future children. Think back to Biology 101 – if two carriers get together, there is a 25% risk of passing on that recessive genetic disease, but just one person being a carrier of a particular disease isn’t alarming. Fret not, as most of us are carriers of something and the there are many ways to still have a healthy child – even if both partners carry the same disease mutation. It’s amazing that in 2016, we have the technology to be able to take a drop of saliva and check to see if someone is a carrier for diseases such as Tay-Sachs, Cystic Fibrosis, and Familial Dysautonomia.

Carrier1Whether you are single, dating, or married, genetic screening is important for every member of our community who plans to have children in the future. JScreen, a non-profit dedicated to preventing Jewish genetic diseases, will be “setting up shop” at the DCJCC in an effort to provide as many people as possible with the chance to get tested. There is a huge gap in the accessibility of genetic screening, as many people won’t ever be offered testing for a full range of disease or be able to afford it. JScreen’s panel is extremely comprehensive with more than 100 diseases, and is easy, confidential, and affordable at only $99 with insurance (this same test can usually cost up to $1000!). It takes only 10 minutes and is done via saliva sample. Follow-up genetic counseling is provided by phone when your results are ready.

Drop by the DCJCC anytime between 4:00 and 6:15PM on Wednesday, May 18 to get tested. Register by visiting and selecting “DC JCC” from the ‘how did you hear about JScreen’ dropdown.



Why Yom Hashoah Should Matter

Tonight is Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Day).

Unlike International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is on January 27 (the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau) and was created by the United Nations in 2005, Yom Hashoah is on the 27th day of the Jewish month of Nissan (the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising) and was created by the Israeli parliament in 1951. Whereas International Holocaust Remembrance Day is not a particularly Jewish day, Yom Hashoah is.

This brings up the question – now that we have an internationally recognized day, doesn’t Yom Hashoah lose its meaning? Do we really need both?

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is a day for the global community to remember and honor all of the victims of the Holocaust – one of the worst atrocities in human history – and to recommit to preventing future genocide. Our role as Jews in this day is critical.

Yom Hashoah, on the other hand, is a day for the Jewish community to internally remember the distinctly Jewish focus of Hitler’s Final Solution and to internalize the profound impact this period in history has had and should have on our identity as Jews.

Like all pain, this is hard to sit with and easier to ignore. Additionally, an overemphasis on anti-Semitism can blind us from helping other communities in need. But as Rabbi Kalonymus Kalmish Shapira, who lived in the Warsaw Ghetto and was murdered by the Nazis, wrote in notes that were discovered after the war: “According to my knowledge of our sages and the history of the Jews, there has never been anything like this.”

We must let the Holocaust shape our Jewish identity.

Here are four suggestions, based on different ways you might personally connect to Judaism, to commemorate Yom Hashoah this year:

  • For those who connect to Judaism culturally, spend some time reading poems or other art pieces that were created during or inspired by the Holocaust.
  • For those who connect religiously, take the day to challenge your theology. A couple of books about post-holocaust theology that I’d recommend are “For the Sake of Heaven and Earth” by Irving Greenberg or “Faith After the Holocaust” by Eliezer Berkovitz, both available on Amazon.
  • For those who connect through family, talk to your own family about personal connections to the Holocaust. Take some time to remember the lives that were taken. For those who don’t have any immediate family connections, try to internalize a specific story from the Holocaust and realize that it could just as easily have been someone you know. Movies are easy ways to do this – HBO Go just released the Pianist on Monday.
  • And finally, for those who connect to Judaism ritually, I’d suggest fasting. With the exception of Yom Kippur, all other Jewish fasts relate to tragedies over 2000 years ago. As a result, they are not observed by most Jews. Yet we Jews have a much more recent tragedy worthy of a day of fasting and somber reflection.

For the first time, I’m going to try to fast tomorrow. I’ve dropped most of the traditional minor fasts, and this feels like a meaningful replacement. My hope for myself and anyone else joining me is that this fast connects us more intimately to the pain of the Holocaust and provides us with the renewed perspective to discern what is worthy of our sadness and our joy.

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