Jewish Girl of the Week – Leslie

IMG_2140Jackie: What brought you to DC?

Leslie: After I graduated college, I moved here without a job! I worked for a few years in management consulting before going back for my graduate degree in teaching at UNC Chapel Hill. I moved back to DC because I have the best friends and an awesome brother here.

Jackie: What is your favorite part about teaching?

Leslie: I love my students! Currently, I teach high school seniors in Southeast DC. I work with the most generous, caring, and sweet teenagers. I love building trusting and meaningful relationships with them. Helping them work through personal problems or accomplish an academic objective is an incredible feeling.

Jackie: You used to work at Colonial Williamsburg, what did you do there? Do you have any cool stories?

Leslie: I gave tours, conducted games and children’s activities to engage younger visitors, and supervised the younger volunteers. I actually loved wearing the costume! It was so great to not have to do my hair or pick out cute outfits every day. It was a wonderful experience. I learned how to make pewter spoons, bricks, and watercolor paints. I got to hang out in the secret break rooms just for staff and witness history behind-the-scenes.

IMG_4529 (1)Jackie: I hear you are pretty good at needle point, what is your favorite/best thing you have made?

Leslie: Oh my gosh, this is embarrassing. I am a huge nerd. I’ve been doing cross stitch since I was little. The coolest thing I’ve sewed is a picture of Hans Solo and Princess Leia that says “I know.” (referring to the famous scene) for my friend to give her husband for Christmas.

Jackie: What is your favorite Jewish food?

Leslie: Do bagels still count as Jewish food? I love a good everything bagel with cream cheese. I could eat that for every meal.

Jackie: Who is the coolest Jew?

Leslie: My grandmother Iris is the coolest Jew. She’s 94 years old, but so funny, resilient, and energetic. She has a more active social life than me, honestly. Every time I call, she’s playing bridge, at an exercise class, at the movies, or working on the retirement community newsletter. She has seen so much, but is so strong.

me8Jackie: What Jewish Organizations are you involved with in DC?

Leslie: I’m really excited to talk about an organization I help run — Jews and Muslims DC (JAM DC). I firmly believe that deep interfaith understanding can help all of us view the world in a different and more positive light. We organize interfaith events, including happy hours, seders, and cultural events. Through JAM DC, I have met so many cool people and learned so much from our Muslim friends. Check us out on Facebook:

Jackie: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…

Leslie: they laugh a lot!


ISRAEL WITH THE ONE YOU LOVE! Registration begins March 31st


Labor Seder 2015 with JUFJ


Jewish Girl of the Week – Mindy

Punting in CambridgeJackie: What brought you to DC? 

Mindy: I knew if I didn’t leave my hometown to pursue my desire to work in public policy after finishing law school (go Canes!), I never would. I moved up in November 2008 and worked on the Hill for 3 years.

In December 2011, I left the Hill to become the Assistant Director of Government & National Affairs at the Anti-Defamation League. I spend most of my time focusing on international affairs issues, like fighting against global anti-Semitism and preventing a nuclear Iran, and on comprehensive immigration reform. Because of ADL’s dynamic multi-issue agenda and over a century of trusted work, I have no qualms about calling myself a “lobbyist.” I am humbly one of the lucky ones – I get to work for an organization who’s mission is my own personal mission in life.

After 6+ years in DC, I continue to be as passionate as ever about the power of advocacy to create the change you want to see.

Jackie: I hear that you get to travel a lot for your job! Where are some places you have visited recently/ what has been some of your favorite places to visit?

Mindy: I do travel a lot for work, luckily! I get to interact with so many interesting people and I love meeting our grassroots activists across the country who support our mission. So far, for work in 2015, I’ve been to Houston, Austin, Boston, NYC, Detroit this week, and then off to Philly next week! My favorite places to visit for work include our Israel office in Jerusalem, Warsaw to participate in Europe’s largest human rights conference, and Hungary, Greece, and Austria for a program we’re piloting.

JNFuture Jay Footlik Event Feb 26 2015Jackie: What is your involvement with JNFuture?

Mindy: I’m currently serving my second term as DC Co-Chair with the great Evan Hoffman. For me, my connection to Jewish National Fund (JNF) started with my earliest memories of having the “little blue box” in my kitchen for Tzedakah, along with planting trees in Israel for gifts. With JNFuture, I love that we get to put aside Middle East politics (i.e. my day job) and focus on the “neshamah” part of loving Israel.

On Thursday, March 26th, at 6pm (or whenever you can actually leave your office), we have our next event — our 2nd annual Schmooze and Booze happy hour at The Gryphon.The door price for non-members is $18 and admission for JNFutures is always free for our events. Everyone who attends will get a drink ticket and JNFuture DC will donate 100% of the proceeds. If you join JNFuture and mention this article at the happy hour, I’ll totally buy you a drink. RSVP here and I hope to see you there!

Min with boysJackie: So you’re a yogi, where is your favorite studio in DC?

Mindy: Flow on 14th and P is my favorite studio but, really, anywhere I have enough room for downward dog is a perfect spot for me.

Jackie: What’s your favorite way to spend Shabbat?

Mindy: Every month, I look forward to Sixth and I’s Shabbasana with my yoga teacher, Greg Marzullo, and then I head downstairs for Sixth in the City. I always love to have Shabbat dinner with my friends. There’s nothing better than a table full of good wine and food surrounded by your crew. For the past year, my brother and I have also started a tradition of facetiming before Shabbat so I can light the candles with my 2 (of 13!) nephews in South Florida.

Jackie: What is your favorite Jewish food?

Mindy: Bring on the noodle kugel — the sweet kind, obviously.

Mom-mom visits DCJackie: Who is the coolest Jew?

Mindy: My grandmother, Dr. Joy Rubin, AKA “Mom-mom.” She is 92, still a practicing psychologist, works out every day, and raised 3 kids as a single mom while running her own art school in Hollywood, FL. She’s legally blind, but has successfully hidden it most of her life and has traveled to over 30 countries around the world, usually on her own — she and I both love a solo vacay! During World War II, she drafted blueprints for US submarines. When one of the subs she worked on was ready to go out, FDR himself came in and she was next to him when he christened it. She continues to live a very full life and helps to keep me grounded, always reminding me: “We plan. G-d laughs.” She’s definitely the coolest Jew I know.

Jackie: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…

Mindy: we get down with our bad-ass social justice, tikkun olam selves…and anyone else who likes to party!



Get your Gather the Jews Promotion for Greener Travel Company – Sustainable Adventures


Trivia and the 8th Annual Pickle Eating Competition March 12th!


Jewish Guy of the Week: Nathaniel

Jackie: What brought you to DC?

Nathaniel in ChileNathaniel: A job with the federal government. I had been working in New York for the state part-time during law school and then gratefully had this opportunity to take a federal job right after graduating! A lot of my extended family was already here, making the transition nice and smooth!

Jackie: What do you do at the Department of Labor?

Nate: I am an attorney there and enjoy the work that I do on behalf of the American people (which I’d rather not elaborate on here), but am also glad for a flexible schedule and leave so that I can also maintain an active volunteer life while off duty.

Jackie: I heard that you are very involved with the social justice organizations around town can you tell me more about that?

Nathaniel at Greater Washington Urban LeagueNathaniel: I am very happy to do so! I am currently on the AJC ACCESS DC Board, where I am focusing on the interfaith, intergroup, and international relations work of the organization. I am also the co-chair of the American Jewish World Service DC Action Team, which is focused on trying to get the International Violence Against Women Act passed and in general focused on improving the condition of women, girls, and the LGBT community internationally. I have also been involved with Jews United for Justice (JUFJ) in several of their campaigns over the years, including the current focus on paid family leave. And I coordinate a tutoring program at the Central American Resource Center for aspiring U.S. citizens, inspired by my work with HIAS (formerly known as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society). Additionally, I remain involved with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Entwine DC Planning Group and the Anti-Defamation League’s DC Young Professionals Division.

Nathaniel at Shabbat in GermanyJackie: What’s your favorite way to spend Shabbat?

Nathaniel: I am grateful to have a lot of family and friends in the area and do enjoy mixing it up every so often, but, by far, the Shabbat options at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue are my favorites. It’s truly a place where, the more you go, the more part of the community there you can feel.

Jackie: What is your favorite Jewish food and/or holiday?

Nathaniel: Passover is by far my favorite holiday, Jewish or otherwise. The structure of the Seder to teach us empathy, viewing ourselves as if we personally had been enslaved and then freed from bondage in Egypt, is a powerful tool in our heritage to remember in every generation. And I am glad to note that will be used this year in two social justice programs with which I am assisting leading up to Passover: The 14th annual Jews United for Justice Labor Seder at Adas Israel on March 22nd and the 1st annual AJC ACCESS DC Black-Jewish Seder at 6th & I on March 30.


Jackie: Who is your favorite Jew?

Nathaniel: That’s an easy one: Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. He approached his Judaic studies as a guidepost for social justice work and was extremely active in the American Civil Rights Movement of the 50s and 60s. He is an inspiration to me and many others with his letter to Dr. Martin Luther King that, when he marched in Selma, he felt that his legs were praying.

Jackie: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…

Nathaniel: tremendous social change can happen!

If there is someone you would like to nominate for Jewish Girl/Guy of the Week email Jackie!



What does it mean to “Gather the Jews”?

wooden-groggerGrowing up, my family did not pay much attention to Purim. While my brothers and I were in Hebrew school, we listened to the reading of the Megillah, booed at the name of Haman, and attended the Purim Carnival each year. Following my Bat Mitzvah, Purim receded to the back of my memory, regarded as a second-class Jewish holiday in my mind. It was not until I began working as the Director of Gather the Jews in August 2012 that I began to consider Purim again.

People have very strong feelings about the name ‘Gather the Jews’ and they are not afraid to express their opinion. Whether I was being told, “The Jews were gathered once before and it didn’t end so well for us,” or being asked at events, “Did you GATHER the Jews?” the name struck a chord in our community. However, being founded around Purim, the name actually comes directly from Megillat Esther.

gather_the_jews_rectangleIn the Megillah, Haman refers to the Jews as a “scattered and dispersed” people (3:8). It was true of the Jews of  the time- the bonds that had held us together as a people had long been frayed. Ironically, it was Haman’s quest to destroy the Jewish people that ultimately reunited them. Upon agreeing to approach the king, Esther tells Mordechai to “Go, gather together all the Jews who are present in Shushan…” (4:16). Together the Jews fasted, Esther saved the day, and the Jewish people were saved. Or as we might say around my Seudat Purim table, ‘They tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat.”

However, just as in the Purim story, the name ‘Gather the Jews’ suggests a disparate people. There is no denying that DC has some dynamic, inspirational Jewish programming, but many times someone new will come to an event, make some small talk, then leave without being engaged or having a meaningful interaction. We are missing a wealth of unaffiliated Jews who are on the outside of this community. The goal of Gather the Jews has always been to make it easier to connect to the DC Jewish community, and new initiatives like the Open Doors Fellowship are aiming to give Jewish young professionals greater resources do so.

As you celebrate Purim this year, I challenge you to consider, how are we creating an inclusive yet intimate community? How are we making newcomers feel welcomed and engaged in our community? How can we do better?

Rachel Giattino



Chag Purim Sameach.

Rachel Giattino is the Senior Associate for Programming and Engagement at GW Hillel and the former Director of Gather the Jews.





Should We Take Relationship Advice from #TheDress?

erika e-1368 (1)Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or in an equally sad and lonely place with no internet), then you know what I’m talking about when I mention “the dress.” I first saw it when I was in bed, reading the news on my phone like I always do first thing in the morning and at the end of the day. (I know—not good for my sleeping habits.) At any rate, I thought it was a joke at first. That dress is obviously white. While I didn’t see the stripes as gold, per se, but more of a camel brown, there was no way in my mind that the dress was blue. Then I started reading the comments, the analysis, the arguments, the scientific rationale… I fell down the rabbit hole of #thedress.

What does all of this have to do with dating and relationships, you ask? As it turns out, a lot. In any relationship, you and your partner are bound to have some differences. Oftentimes, both of you think you’re right, and that the other is disagreeing with the obvious truth. Can both of you really be right? And, if you’re in the party who is a little less right, then how do you react when you find out that your partner is a little more right? Communication is the key.

Let’s say I’m looking at the dress with my partner, and I insist on the dress being white and gold and he instead insists on it being blue and black. After I’d properly had a good laugh because I thought he was yanking my chain, how would—or should—I react? And how should he?

In too many relationships, one person is made to feel small, wrong, and invalidated. Maybe it’s over something small like this dress or how you load the dishwasher, or maybe it’s something big like how you choose to spend your money or how you want to raise your children. No matter the size of the issue, it’s important to hear out the other person’s thoughts before jumping to any conclusions.

The conversation above could go an infinite number of ways, but let’s look at two:

Scenario 1

Me: It’s obviously white and gold.

Partner: Are you out of your f**king mind? It’s blue and black! There are no two ways around it. You’re wrong.

Scenario 2

Me: It’s obviously white and gold.

Partner: That’s odd. I see it as blue and black. Think there could be two ways to see this? I’m trying to see it from your angle, too, but I don’t for some reason.

I don’t know about you, but I’d venture to say that most of us would rather be with the partner in the second scenario. This partner listens, takes into account the other’s feelings, and doesn’t jump to conclusions before knowing all of the details. No one feels belittled here.

In the end, it’s just a dress, but it can also teach us many things about how our loved ones deal with disagreements, conflict, and the possibility of two rights and no wrongs. If you do find yourself in a relationship where you feel that the other person is not listening to your argument, it’s something to make note of and work on for when the more important issues—the shoes?—come down the pike.


Have you tried Cove?


DC Purim Events 2015/5775

purim dudeDid you know that here at Gather the Jews we got our name from the Purim story? Having been founded days before the holiday (and this Purim will mark our fifth birthday!), our founders chose to name their organization based on the Purim story.

In the book of Esther, Chapter 4, Verse 16, Esther tells Mordechai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Shushan, and fast for me.”

This passage – issued in opposition to the genocidal plots of Haman – represents the fighting spirit and strength of the unified Jewish people. Gather the Jews tries to bring together the members of the DC Jewish 20s and 30s because we believe in the strength of unification and the positive power of connection.

In that vein, Purim begins Wednesday, March 4th at sun down. Do you know where you’ll be celebrating? There are many opportunities in the coming weeks to celebrate with the DC Jewish Community.

Did we miss anything? Submit events here and/or leave a comment on this post.

Wednesday, February 25th

Saturday, February 28th

Monday, March 2nd

Wednesday, March 4th

Thursday, March 5th

Friday, March 6th

Saturday, March 7th


Need some more help for Purim? Here are a couple of costume ideas!























If you find your self really in a bind check out these Last Minute Costume Ideas!


What about all the great food during Purim?

There of course is Hamantaschen, which we all know and love so lets start there:

You could go for savory with a recipe from the Kosherologist.



Or the Cookie Overload Hamantaschen from With Love and Cupcakes:



Or spice it up with Mexican Chocolate Hamantaschen from the Jewish Food Experience:


But Purim is not just know for Hamentaschen, there are other great recipes you should try out this time of year!

If you are feeling a bit adventurous maybe try the Cooking Channel’s Kreplach recipe!


The Jewish Daily Forward has a alternative recipe for Poppy Seed Rolls:


And just because we have not talked about desert enough, here is a recipe for Haman’s Fingers from the LA Times:


Did we miss any of your favorite recipes? Let us know in the comments!


DC Purim Bash (2.0)

DCPurimBashPoster_2015 graphicThis year’s DC Purim Bash on Saturday, March 7th (affectionately known as Purim Bash 2.0) is going to be outstanding. Last year, the DC Purim Bash was a total experiment. We had no idea how much the young professionals community wanted a huge community Purim celebration, and the 530 of you who joined us probably saw that, while the party was awesome, we had no idea so many people would show.

This year, we’re ready. Last year, we had one bar. This year, we’ll have four. Last year, we were in a yoga studio in Adams Morgan. This year, we’re in the heart of Chinatown in the Shakespeare Theatre’s Sidney Harman Hall- one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. Plus, we added a photo booth, great drinks, and a bunch of other things that will make this year’s DC Purim Bash even better, so join us. You’ll have a great time.

The DC Purim Bash is able to happen because the organizations who really like Jewish young professionals also really like each other. Before the DC Purim Bash, we all used to have our own Purim celebrations, often on the same night as each other. Last year, we asked ourselves “Why?” There is one big DC community of Jewish 20’s and 30’s, so what about celebrating together instead? The DC Purim Bash launched an unprecedented level of collaboration between our organizations, and after a lot of planning, DC saw the biggest Purim celebration in our city’s history. And we’re just getting started.

So who’s the “we” behind this shindig? Adas Israel’s YP@AI, DCJCC’s EntryPointDC, Gather the Jews, NOVA Tribe Series, Sixth & I, Washington Hebrew Congregation’s 2239, and Young Leadership of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington (joined, of course, with other community partners) are coming together to make this year’s DC Purim Bash happen. Our organizations are all a little different- some of us have buildings, some have rabbis, one of us is in Virginia, we are Reform, Conservative, or nondenominational, but we are all passionate about DC’s Jewish 20’s and 30’s community, and that’s why the DC Purim Bash works.

We can’t wait to get everyone together again this year, and see you March 7th. Register today!



The DC Purim Bash Team



Mix and Mingle at the Gather the Jews Happy Hour!


The National Collegiate Jewish A Cappella Championship Competition!


Missing Opportunities in the DC Jewish Community

KevinGather’s former Jewish Guy of the Year, Kevin Lieberman discusses the missing opportunities for lay leadership in DC’s young adult community – with a great shout out to Gather the Jews and the Open Doors Fellowship. He sites a lack of opportunities for individuals to bring their ideas to the table and get more active in what their community looks like. 

Community building is the primary mission of Gather the Jews. How do we use our communal resources to create the Jewish experiences we are seeking as individuals? Sometimes we don’t have the answers, mostly because that answer needs to come from you. Gather searches to empower individuals and small groups to find what they are looking for amongst the diverse offerings in Jewish DC. Kevin explores the idea of how to empower individuals to help fill the gaps they see in their community and identifies a disconnect that may occur in a top down programming model. 

What do you think our community needs to help young professionals more actively shape our Jewish experiences? And what do you see as your role in that work? 

You can read his full article on eJewish Philanthropy here.

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