Shabbat: Pure and Simple: An Interview with Rabbi Scott About Upcoming Events at Sixth&I

Shabbat: Pure and Simple will debut on December 15th. Click here for more information.
Rachel: How long have you been in DC now?
Rabbi Scott: I’ve been in DC four months now. I love it. In L.A., walking 15 minutes gets you to your mailbox.  Here, you can enjoy the entire city.
Rachel: What is your favorite part of DC/the DC Jewish community?
Rabbi Scott: Right now it’s a tossup between my amazing job at Sixth & I (not to mention having concerts and authors in house) and the Dupont Farmers Market. Dolcezza is a close third.
Rachel: What programs/events/services do you provide?
Rabbi Scott: You can expect more from me in the coming months, but we’re starting a series called What It Takes- short term, high intensity classes with friends, designed to get practical, useful Jewish knowledge so that you can connect to services, holidays, life cycles,  and learning -and feel comfortable in them all.  With Sarah Lawson and Josh Cogan’s help, Sixth & I is starting Havdallah with the Three Star Collective- a chance to hear great music and poetry inside Havdallah (the service separating Shabbat and the rest of the week).  It’ll be the perfect way to start a Saturday night.  Jamming is encouraged. We’ll be relaunching the Sixth Street Minyan in February.  The details aren’t out yet, but expect an extraordinary new Friday night opportunity.
Rachel: Your service is called, “Shabbat: Pure and Simple.”  What do you mean by “pure and simple”?
Rabbi Scott: It’s hard to step in Judaism cold.  Our kind of prayer is thick and rich, moves quickly, and assumes a lot of knowledge.  I know people who’ve been coming to Shabbat every week for 30 years, and still don’t know the service.  It’s not easy to learn by osmosis.  Shabbat Pure and Simple does two things: it slows the service down so that participants can focus more deeply on what they’re doing and saying, learn to understand why things are, and, even for the pro’s, simply have enough time to concentrate; it also provides an important opportunity for those who’ve never experienced Shabbat morning to come in, know what’s going on, even help lead the service if they want to.

Rachel: This is Sixth and I’s first Saturday service.  Why did you choose to lead a Saturday service?
Rabbi Scott: We created a Shabbat morning service because of demand.  After reaching out, our people told us that they were looking for a morning experience.


GTJ’s Satirist Brian F. – ‘JDate Going Really Well’, Thinks Guy Who Doesn’t Realize How Rude He Just Was

BOSTON, MA – (@TheComedyNews) –  While on his first JDate in a month, Max Rubinstein smiled across the cocktail table to his date, Rebecca Schumer.  It was at this juncture that Max thought that things were going beyond smoothly.  He knew was in—she was digging his flattery—-so  Max kept buttering her up for what was certain to take this JDate to an intimate end.

“This JDate is going really well—-just keep on smooth-talking and I am in!” Max thought to himself.

Little did Max realize that his comment comparing Rebecca to his ex was the rudest thing he could have done in that moment.

“You’re not as cute as my last girlfriend, but you do look smarter,” Max said while chewing on some of Rebecca’s red velvet cake with his mouth open.  “But no offense.  I’m starting to like smart-looking girls, anyways,” he continued.

Shocked and floored, Rebecca could only sit with her mouth partially open, eyebrows lowering.

“Oh man, she can’t stop looking into my eyes, you did it Maxy!”  Max thought to himself.

Max wanted to keep his perceived momentum going, so he followed up his “flattery” with back-to-back 20-minute stories about himself.  First, a smug tale about when he turned 13, his parents voted him their favorite child (out of four total).  This was followed by an iPhone slideshow of Max’s beloved cat, Matzah, and then a profane diatribe about how Nixon should have defeated JFK in the 1960 election.

The waiter for the pair told reporters that throughout the evening, Max used five of the ‘seven words you can’t say on television‘.

After about 90 excruciating minutes, the check arrived. At that point Max thought, “Alright, fourth quarter, you’re Tom Brady, better pull out the A-Material, son!”   Out loud, this translated into Max saying, “so Rebecca, tell me about yourself.”

Not wanting to indulge, Rebecca replied, “I’m getting a text message from a friend.  She’s, umm, having a bit of a crisis.  I really should go now.  She’s my best friend from college.”

Wanting to turn up some more cute flirting, Max snapped, “you went to college?”

As the JDate parted ways, Rebecca conceded an awkward side-hug with Max.  Max then looked into Rebecca’s eyes one last time, flashed a sideways peace-sign and said, “I’ll be in touch.  Peace sugar!”

Upon arriving home, Rebecca deactivated her JDate account and changed Max’s name in her iPhone to “Don’t Answer #7″.

Don’t want your Jdate to end this way?  Check out GTJ’s dating columnist Erika E’s Helpful Tips for a Great First Date.

Brian Fishbach is a comedian, writer, political satirist, former GTJ JGOTW, and musician specializing in social and political commentary.  You can read Brian’s weekly satire news articles at, and enjoy his late-night jokes at  Join The Comedy News’ Facebook page for updates.


The Future of DC Real Estate is Single & Small- Featuring Design Tips for Living Large in Smaller Spaces

You may have noticed from my recent blog posts that I love to examine societal trends- both nationwide and those specific to the District- to see how they have affected and will continue to affect DC real estate.  My hope is that by understanding the “Why,” GTJ’ers will look at DC real estate differently and make more informed choices about the “What,” “Where,” “When,” and “How Much” when making  their real estate choices.  Today’s post tackles another trend that is reshaping the real estate market in DC and is largely driven by young professionals*: the rise of the single person household.

In 1950, 10% of all American households were one-person households.  Today that figure is 28% nationally, around 45% in DC, and continuing to rise*!  While there are a multitude of factors that contribute to this long term trend- people marrying later in life, divorce rates increasing, the rise of the economic power and independence of women, urbanization, etc.- what I find most interesting is how this trend affects what we buy and where and how we live.  DC is looking more and more like Europe every day (Stockholm is over 50% single person households) with little Fiats, Mini Coopers, and Smart Cars zipping around the streets (don’t even get me started on the Vespas and bicyclists!).  While a lot of these changes can be ascribed to our society going “greener,” I believe that sheer pragmatism is just as significant of a factor in more people “going small.”  More single-person households means less need for 4 doors (if you’re single, how often do you really use the rear doors of your car?) and a huge trunk to make Costco runs (if you live alone do you really need to buy toilet paper by the pallet?).  Put simply, the trade-off of space for cost and efficiency is simply easier to make in smaller households.

Outside of auto manufacturers, we are also seeing real estate developers and urban planners responding to these trends with denser developments and ever smaller condo units.  With 1,100 new residents entering the District each month (70% of them under the age of 35!)**, DC city planners have entertained a host of ideas to increase density, including a recent proposal to increase the maximum allowable building height above its current 160 ft threshold (By comparison Tulsa, OK has 17 buildings over 200 ft…even Fargo, N.D. has two!) and introducing the Fiat of real estate development, the micro studio, to our housing mix.


At sizes ranging from 220 – 375 square feet, the “micro studio” is now being introduced to the DC market by some intrepid developers who feel that DC’s changing demographics will create an increasing demand for smaller living.  To make these smaller spaces more attractive, developers are not only using architecture and design to make spaces feel bigger and function better, but they are also creating community amenities and bringing in businesses that provide residents “living” space outside of their micro-units in an effort to foster connective living.  From a design standpoint, this translates to higher ceilings, larger windows that are angled to pick up viewing area and capture more light, smaller appliances, and incorporating multi-functional furniture (think Murphy bed units that transform into couches, entertainment centers, desk space, and storage….check out this video!)

From a community standpoint, having business centers or coffee shops that are accessible to residents reduces the need for a home office or secondary living space in the unit.  Having local grocery stores or encouraging farmers’ markets where residents can get easy access to fresh food reduces the need to have large kitchens to store food.  By building self-sustaining environments that foster connectivity while creating interior spaces that maximize functionality, developers and city planners hope to attract DC’s growing single person households into denser and denser communities at price points they can afford (think below $250,000).


Will micro-studios catch on?  We may get our first glimpse at the answer to this question when PN Hoffman-Madison Waterfront delivers its $1.5 billion, 35 acre redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront, which will feature units ranging from 330-380 square feet (see rendering above).  Even if micro-studios are not the ultimate answer to the need for denser living, the demographic trends are hard to ignore.  With a growing population of single person households streaming into the District, smaller and smaller condos will become a greater percentage of our housing mix.


If the future of DC real estate really is small, how can we deal with it?  For that answer, I reached out to Wendy Danziger (, a prominent interior designer in the DC Metropolitan area whose work was recently featured in Home and Design Magazine and in the DC Design House, for some simple tips for living large in small spaces.

1. Use Color to Make Spaces Look Larger.
If the ceilings are over 9ft, paint them a fabulous color and leave the walls light and the wood floors pale.

2. Conserve Visual Space with Minimalist Interior Design Choices.
Keep window treatments minimal.  Check out these Matchstick Blinds:

Consider furniture that “disappears” like the Victoria Ghost Chair, which takes up less visual space than wood or upholstered chairs:

3. Maximize Storage and Space with Multi-Functional Furniture.
Invest in a bed that has a high profile mattress and boxspring to create greater storage space underneath your bed or consider beds with drawers underneath.  Check out the Stratton Bed from Pottery Barn:

If you don’t have room for a bed, consider Murphy Beds or Sleep Sofas:

Use banquette seating with storage in a kitchen nook:

If your kitchen cabinets do not extend to the ceiling  use this area to store rarely used items:

Surfaces should double as storage pieces.  Need a coffee table? Check out the Hunter II Trunk from Crate & Barrel:

Consider storage ottomans for seating and storage.  Check out the Vanguard Storage Ottoman from Vanguard Furniture:

4. Shelves Everywhere!
Some space that is often underutilized is over the bed, over the toilet, and even in the corners of rooms:

Danziger Design is a full service Interior Design Firm serving Maryland, Virginia and DC.  Wendy listens to her clients and works with them to design beautiful and livable spaces.  Visit Danziger Design on the web at or contact them at 301-365-3300.

* Eric Klinenberg on Going Solo: The surprising benefits, to oneself and to society, of living alone Smithsonian Magazine, February 2012.
**Statistics from the DC Office of Planning

David Abrams, a new GTJ contributing columnist, is a native of the Washington DC Metropolitan Area.  He received his M.B.A. from Emory University in 2009 and currently works as a realtor specializing in DC’s emerging neighborhoods with the BergerSandler+ team ( at Evers & Company Real Estate.  David is licensed in DC, MD, & VA. For more on DC Real Estate, check out David’s real estate blog at












MesorahDC’s Dreidel Championship!


Impact DC Raises More Than $20,000!

The Impact DC event committee.

Find more Impact DC pictures on the Young Leadership of the The Federation of Greater Washington Facebook page.

Oh, what a night, when more than 350 of DC’s most savvy young adults hit the Howard Theatre for The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s Second Annual Impact DC.  This not-to-be missed event was a lively celebration of young adults’ commitment to strengthening the community locally, in Israel, and around the world.  Event organizers proudly reported that the evening raised more than $20,000 for The Federation’s Annual Campaign and they shared that attendees collectively donated $80,000 to this cause over the course of the year.  “This evening personifies the unwavering commitment of young adults to serve their community and each other, as well as recognizes their unbreakable faith in our people and our values.  And the fact that we had an amazing time doing it is a great bonus,” said Andrew Friedson, Impact DC Co-Chair.

Young Leadership of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington was proud to celebrate the next generation’s leadership, as they take steps to shape the future of the Jewish community and beyond.  Co-chairs Andrew Friedson, Ariana Heideman, and Jess Sher, along with their committee of 18, did a phenomenal job assuring the night was an unbelievable success.  From a live-updated slideshow of event Instagram photos to endless food and drinks, the crowd left raving about Impact DC and looking forward to the next event.  “I’ve really enjoyed being a part of The Federation’s Young Leadership; I’ve attended social events like Impact DC, volunteer events, and held leadership positions.  I have built a great network of friends through YL and am looking forward to staying actively involved,” said Ariella Brodecki, an attendee at the event.

Be sure to check out upcoming Federation Young Leadership events including a night of giving back to the community , Chanukah Dial-A-Thon, on December 11, a hands-on volunteer event, Mitzvah Hoppin’, on December 16, and a social gathering, Hannukah Happy Hour on the Hill, on December 10. All details can be found at



Join the GTJ Volunteers and make a difference…



NEW GTJ Health Series: 7 Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating

With Thanksgiving upon us, and Hanukkah and New Years quickly approaching, even the healthiest eater can be tempted by holiday treats.  Lucky for you, GTJ is here with a helping of tips to limit the damage on your waistline while still allowing you to enjoy this festive season.   Below I serve up a 7 course meal of suggestions to help get you through the holidays.

Tip #1: The Best Defense is a Strong Offense.  Eat Breakfast!

While it can be tempting to skip meals or limit your calories substantially in anticipation of large holiday meals, this may be harming you more than you think.  Research from the Journal of American Dietetic Association among others, suggests that those  eat breakfast have lower BMIs (body mass index), are less depressed, and have better cognitive performance.  Conversely, those avoiding breakfast have an increase in appetite later in the day that often causes overeating and weight gain.

Take home point: Eat a well-balanced breakfast with lean protein (like nonfat yogurt or milk) and fiber rich foods (like oatmeal or fiber rich cereal) to limit overeating at your latka feast.

Tip #2: Limit the Alcoholwho

For many, alcohol can be vital part of getting through extended holiday time with family.  In reality, alcohol will hijack your healthy eating plans.  First of all, alcohol is empty calories-it has no nutritional value and our body often fails to register that you consumed these calories which leads you to eat more to compensate.  Second, alcohol is a diuretic, which means it causes fluid loss and thus dehydration.  As we get more dehydrated, we get thirsty and drink more of these empty calories.  Lastly, alcohol lessens inhibitions and induces overeating, making even the most diligent partygoer a latke hog.

Tip #3: Hold Off on the Appetizers:

My Aunt Jan is famous for her spinach dip at Thanksgiving.  At many holiday parties there are large tables of these dips, treats, and other foods that are high in salt and fat.  Just like that nosey relative, there is just one strategy: Stay away!  Position yourself away from the appetizer tables; this will help you avoid the tendency to eat what’s in front of you.  If seeing and hearing your family snack around you causes you to want to snack, you’re not alone.  One strategy to get around this is to keep yourself occupied with a cup of water or low calorie beverage in  hand or chewing sugarless gum while others are snacking.

Tip #4: Limit the Gravy and Sour Cream

The eternal debate between apple sauce and sour cream for official topping of the latke will last forever (see The Leevees song “Applesauce vs. Sour Cream” for a synopsis of the arguments), but the debate over which is healthier has long been settled.  One tablespoon (and who only uses a tbsp. of sour cream?) of sour cream has 31 calories, of which 86% are fat.  So if you’re enjoying a couple of latkas and add a reasonable 5 tablespoons of sour cream, you are adding on 15g of fat.  Stick to the applesauce!

Gravy is similarly fatty.  One simple tip to limit homemade gravy’s fat- refrigerate the gravy to harden the fat overnight and then skim it off, this will eliminate over half of the gravy’s fat content.

Tip #5: Savor the Food You Eat

When deciding what foods to eat at a holiday feast, select and savor your favorites even if a couple are less healthy.  By enjoying the foods you do eat, you will feel less guilty and more full of holiday cheer.

Tip #6: Eat Your Veggies

Your mom was right- you should eat your vegetables.  They are jam packed with vitamins and antioxidants that help detoxify our bodies and protect us from cancer.  Vegetables are also full of fiber that helps make us feel full.  So pile on the grilled and steamed vegetables (avoid higher fat options like fried or those with heavy sauces).  Healthy examples include lemon grilled kale and butternut squash, or mashed sweet potato and toasted almond green beans.

Tip #7: Choose one Desert to Savor

If you’re anything like me one of my favorite parts of a Thanksgiving or Hanukkah meal are the desserts.  All of them.  But rather than sampling every single pumpkin pie or jelly doughnut, pick your favorite and savor it.  Feel the texture of every bite and enjoy it.  And grab a slice for your grandma, she’ll love you for it.

Alex Berger, a new GTJ contributing columnist, is a native of the Washington DC Metropolitan Area.  He graduated in 2008 from the University of North Carolina and is currently in his last year of a combined MD/MPH program. He is excited to be back in the DC area and to share tips on nutrition, health, and fitness. He can be reached at



GTJ’s Satirist Brian F. – Bagel Snob New Yorker Ruins The Mood At Breakfast Again

CHICAGO, IL – (@The Comedy News) – A wholesome breakfast between college friends Jacob Engelstein and Mara Brown came to a bitter conclusion after Engelstein began to proselytize about how bagels in his home town of New York City are better than all of the bagels made elsewhere.

Engelstein was in Chicago for the weekend, visiting from his home town of New York.

“You call dis a bagel? In New Yawk, we got real bagels,” Engelstein said when Mara’s sesame seed bagel with lox and cream cheese arrived at the table. “I only get bagels from Bagel Express on Third. Everyt’ing else is gahhhbage.”

Mara Brown, the Chicago-native who had to endure Engelstein’s rants, said that throughout their time at Northwestern University, Engelstein would always find a way to remind everyone within shouting distance that New York City has the best bagels.

“During sophomore year of college, Jacob was sweet enough to come to a shiva service for my grandfather who passed away,” Brown explained. “But as soon as the bagel and veggie spreads were served to mourners, Jacob just went off. Ended up getting into a fist fight with my uncle Morty after mouthing off about the bagels being frozen, not fresh.”

Engelstein and Brown had plans of visiting Brown’s favorite Jewish deli in Skokie later that afternoon, but Brown canceled.

“After Jacob started explaining for the billionth time why the water in New York makes all the bagels and pizza better, I knew I could no longer take his smug parsing of non-New York food,” explained Brown. “He’s already knocked Chicago bagels, Chicago-style pizza, and even called my Rabbi ‘reverend’ to his face. I’m not gonna let him trash my favorite matzo balls in town.”

Shortly after parting ways with Brown, Engelstein ended up being detained at O’Hare airport for trying to sneak concealed canteens of New York tap water onto a plane.

Brian Fishbach is a comedian, writer, political satirist, former GTJ JGOTW, and musician specializing in social and political commentary.  You can read Brian’s weekly satire news articles at, and enjoy his late-night jokes at  Join The Comedy News’ Facebook page for updates.


I’m Thankful for Technology – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 54)

Every Thanksgiving, my family has a tradition (as I’m sure many others do) of going around the table and listing what we’re thankful for this year.  It’s a wonderful ritual and allows us to reiterate how amazing family is and how life would not be the same without each other.  I couldn’t ask for a more poignant way to show my thanks.

This year, of course I am thankful for my parents, sister, and Jeremy, who have supported me through thick and thin, even when I told them that I was quitting my job in economics to start my own business.  (Though, I have to say, my parents were a lot more supportive after they learned that I had bought myself good health insurance… that’s what parents are for, right?)  But this year, I am thankful for something else as well – technology.  In this day and age, we can do anything with technology: read a book without flipping a single page, text a friend to let him know we’re running late, look at all of our ex’s Facebook pictures (wait a minute… that’s not advised!), and even find a date.

In our parents’ and grandparents’ generations, it wasn’t quite as simple as:

  1. Sign up for JDate.
  2. E-mail some people.
  3. Meet for a drink.

My parents were next-door neighbors.  My mom was a teacher, and my dad was home from law school for the summer.  (She was five and a half years older than he was!)  She always saw this guy next door looking out the upstairs window while he appeared to be studying and wondered who he was… and whether or not he was Jewish.  One day, my dad’s brother said hello as she came out of her apartment.  She asked who he was, and he told her that he lived next door.  She said, “No – that other guy lives next door,” and my uncle informed her that he was the “other guy’s” brother.  My mom, chutzpah and all, then said, “I don’t normally do things like this, but would you and your brother like to come with my friend and me to a concert tonight?”  The whole night, my mom didn’t know who she was supposed to be with – my uncle or my dad.  At the end of the night, my uncle said to my mom, “I’ll call you.”  Scandal of all scandals, my dad beat him to the punch and called my mom first.  (It was all good.  My uncle was only in town visiting.)  And the rest is history.  In March, they will have been married for 33 years.

As a side note, when my mom was trying to determine whether the brothers were Jewish, she asked my uncle what his last name was.  When she heard “Ettin,” she asked what kind of name it was, and heard my uncle’s response as “Sicilian.”  Surprised, she asked, “Sicilian?”  He responded, “No, it’s silly.”  :)

Let’s compare that to my experience.  I signed up for JDate.  I went on lots of dates.  I e-mailed Jeremy.  (Yep – I e-mailed him first.)  He responded two weeks later.  (I still make fun of him about that.)  Some witty banter and calendar-matching later, we had a date.  And the rest is history.

So this Thanksgiving, in addition to being thankful for my wonderful friends and family, my health, the success of my business and my clients’ relationships, I am also thankful for the technology we have that allows us to meet the person of our dreams, one click at a time.

Feel free to comment on this post with your parents’ meeting story!

Erika Ettin is, as the Washington Post has noted, a “modern day Cyrano.” She is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people with all aspects of online dating.  Check out her interview on NPR here. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.



Marriage Equality and the Maryland DREAM Act: A Campaign Won by Volunteers

Jews United for Justice volunteers Julie Blum and Daniel Zinn covering polls on Election Day!

Sarah Brammer-Shlay is a Community Organizer and Avodah Corps Member at Jews United for Justice.  The views in this piece are her own and do not represent a GTJ institutional stance.

History was made in our backyard last week. Maryland became the first state to ever win at the ballot box on the issue of tuition equity for undocumented students and, along with Maine and Washington, legalized same-sex marriage by popular vote for the first time ever in the United States.

Gay marriage and immigration are often thought of as two issues where people have strong, firm, and unmovable opinions. Although for some this might be true, education and conversation proved to be key in winning these two civil rights victories.

Jews United for Justice’s “Dream for Equality” campaign worked through the summer and fall to uphold Questions 4 and 6. We worked in order to ensure that Maryland became a more just and inclusive state for immigrants and the GLBT community. Hard work proved that education, conversation, and persistence are vital in creating social change. Volunteers from the Maryland/DC Jewish community reached out to thousands of Maryland voters, specifically Jewish voters, to talk to them about why as Jews they care about these issues.

This election was unique for Maryland. There were seven ballot questions on the ballot in a state accustomed to having few or none. Many voters became overwhelmed by the amount of issues they would be voting on in November and therefore were not always well versed in the issues of marriage equality and tuition equity. Even on Election Day, JUFJ volunteers stood outside of election polls talking to and educating voters on the language of the ballot questions and the importance of voting for Questions 4 and 6.

Marylanders voted to uphold the Maryland DREAM Act and marriage equality in last week’s election, siding with fairness and equality. By passing Question 4, Maryland now provides the opportunity  to pay in-state tuition to undocumented students whose parents have paid taxes for the past three years and have graduated from a Maryland high school.  Question 6 ended marriage discrimination towards same-sex couples, allowing gay and lesbian couples to obtain civil marriages. Maryland should be proud and our country should be proud.

As a community organizer from Jews United for Justice, I want to thank all of the volunteers who worked so hard on this campaign and helped make history! JUFJ collectively called roughly 7,260 voters, knocked on 800 doors and raised over $6,000 for organizations involved in both questions. Numbers like this do not happen without countless volunteers and long hours put in. Thank you so much.


Pumpkin Blintzes

Blintzes are a traditional favorite—most often seen in cheese or berry flavors.  But there’s no reason you couldn’t play with the filling a bit to update it or make it seasonal.  I decided to try it with pumpkin.  I will admit that making the crepe part takes a bit of practice, and you shouldn’t expect the end result to look like the ones from the box, but they’re still a pretty and delicious brunch treat for fall.  Top with maple syrup.  (Adapted from a NY Times recipe.)

Total time: 1 hour

Yield: about 15 blintzes

Level: Difficult



  • ½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg


  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cup milk
  • 4 eggs, well beaten
  • Butter for frying


  1. Stir all filling ingredients together in a small bowl until well blended.  Set aside.
  2. Sift together flour and salt.  (You can do this by stirring with a whisk.)  Stir the milk into the eggs and gradually add to the flour mixture.  Beat until smooth.
  3. Heat a 7” skillet over medium heat and lightly butter it.  When it is very hot, pour some batter into skillet, tilting the pan very quickly to just cover the bottom surface as thin as possible, and rapidly pour back any excess into bowl.  When the batter starts curling away from the side of the pan, it’s done.  Quickly shake or lift it out onto a clean paper towel.  Repeat until all crepes are done.  Cover with plastic wrap or damp dish towel until you are ready to use them to keep them from drying out.  You may have to adjust the temperature of the skillet as you go and wipe out the old butter if it starts to brown.
  4. Place a spoonful of the filling on the lower third of the cooked side of a crepe.  Fold the bottom of the crepe up, then fold the sides in, and roll to the top.  Repeat with the remaining crepes.
  5. Place blintzes on a hot, buttered frying pan and fry until golden brown, turning once.

© Courtney Weiner.  All Rights Reserved.


Veterans Day: An Interview with Rabbi Resnicoff, Honored Military Chaplain

Rabbi Arnold Resnicoff’s service in the U.S. military spanned from being a line officer in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam to Special Assistant to the Secretary and Chief-of-Staff of the U.S. Air Force during the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Along the way, Rabbi Resnicoff has been a leading voice for interfaith values, interreligious affairs, and veterans affairs- the retired U.S. Navy Chaplain was among the small group of Vietnam veterans who helped establish the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and offered the closing prayer at its dedication 30 years ago.  He sat down with historian Jason Steinhauer to discuss his military career, current interfaith work, and what Veterans Day means to him.

Hear Rabbi Resnicoff’s story of military service online in the Library of Congress Veterans History Project collection.

Jason: What does it mean to you to be a veteran of the U.S. military?

Rabbi Resnicoff:There are many ways to serve our country.  I think veterans can take special pride in the fact that they have literally put their lives on the line for our nation.  It’s like the story of the pig and the chicken who see a restaurant sign advertising “ham and eggs” as the daily special.  The chicken is afraid, but the pig says to her, “All they want from you is a contribution.  From me, they want total commitment.”  I take pride in the fact that I was among a group of men and women who responded to the call for total commitment.

No action gives me more pride than the fact that I was part of the small group of Vietnam veterans who fought to create the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  That Memorial was created as a place for all Americans, regardless of their feelings about the war, to come together to mourn our dead- and in so doing, to salute those veterans who had come home, but who brought with them the physical and emotional scars of that war.

The wall has become for me the closest thing we have in America to the Kotel.  It is a place for prayer, for memories, and for dreams.

Jason: How has your military service as a Chaplain and life’s work as a Rabbi informed each other?

Rabbi Resnicoff: I sometimes considered leaving the military to look for a position in a synagogue.  My belief that Judaism could really be a “light unto the nations” kept me in the chaplaincy.  I took pride in the fact that I was not only helping others, I was helping them as a Jew, and as a rabbi, drawing from the wisdom and humanity of my faith.  I took pride in the fact that my rabbinic training helped me bring a “Jewish voice” to the table.

Jason: Tell us about the projects you’re currently working on.

Rabbi Resnicoff: I’m involved in a number of projects linked to remembering, and drawing lessons learned from past events with upcoming anniversaries.

I am working to make February 2, 2013 “Four Chaplains Day” because it falls one day before the day when four Army chaplains- one Jewish, two Protestant, and one Catholic- each gave up his life jacket to save someone else when the ship they were on was torpedoed during WWII.

I am also working in various ways to ensure we remember the October 23, 2013, the 30th anniversary of the Beirut barracks bombing- the first modern suicide attack against Americans.  I was present in Beirut that day and worked side-by-side with U.S. Chaplains to help our wounded, regardless of religion.

Jason: What do you think is important for young Jewish professionals to know about Jewish military service?

Rabbi Resnicoff: Most Jews know about the Biblical verse from Isaiah that teaches we should beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks.  There is another prophetic verse, from Joel, that teaches that we must sometimes beat our plowshares into swords, and our pruning hooks into spears.  We must keep the dream alive, but must understand there still may be times we are called upon to fight to help make those dreams possible.

I salute my fellow veterans who stood up in a special way, and I thank every man and woman who refuses to give up hope.  Jews must believe that there is hope in the future, and that each of us can help bring a time of peace closer through the way we live our lives.



Negative Nellies Need Not Apply – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 53)

Have you ever read those profiles where the person sounds intelligent and generally interesting… until that fateful last line?  I’ve seen them all:

  • Cowboys fans need not apply.
  • If you’re looking for a fling, look the other way.
  • No drama, please!
  • If you’re into country music, forget about it.
  • If you’re a cat-lover, move right along.
  • Don’t write to me if you’re not looking for a serious relationship.
  • Douche bags need not apply!  (Taken from someone’s actual profile… I can’t make this stuff up.)

In doing a quick search of for men ages 25-40 within 20 miles of 20001 (my zip code), I found that 36 men used the expression “need not apply” somewhere in their profiles.  And women?  Over 100!

You might be thinking, “Is it really so bad to tell someone what I don’t want?”  The short answer is: Yes.  Let’s take the cat statement above, for example.  While I may not love cats, I’m definitely not into negativity, so I’ll be turned off by a line eliminating a whole group of people for one trait.  Instead, it’s better to show people what you do want rather than what you don’t.  So in this case, rather than calling your cat hatred to everyone’s attention, just write about how you’re looking for a dog-lover because perhaps Fido is the main man in your life right now, and you’d like to change that.

By including one of these lines in your profile, you come off as negative, or even bitter.  “No drama, please” screams, “My last relationship was full of drama, and I am SO over that.”  “Douche bags need not apply” is not only a pretty disgusting expression, but also says to someone, “This girl’s been burned one too many times and she is jaded about this whole dating thing.”

Take a moment to reread your profile, and if something comes off as negative, try to turn it into a positive.  To take two examples:

Negative: Cowboys fans need not apply.
Positive: I love football, but be careful because I may have to tease you about your team sometimes.  (This line also serves as “e-mail bait,” enticing the reader to ask what team you like.)

Negative: Don’t write to me if you’re not looking for a serious relationship.
Positive: I’m looking for someone who is ready for a meaningful relationship.

When people read about you, they are likely to remember the last thing you said, so make sure the end of your profile comes across as confident, intelligent, and, most importantly, positive.  Negative Nellies need not apply!

Erika Ettin is, as the Washington Post has noted, a “modern day Cyrano.” She is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people with all aspects of online dating.  Check out her interview on NPR here. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.

This article was also posted in JMag, the online magazine for




The Magenta Yenta! – Gather the News – 11/7

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s off to gather we go!

  • Recreational use of marijuana has been legalized in Colorado and Washington state.  How will this affect the War on Drugs?  In other news, the University of Washington’s application rate skyrocketed today.

DC Hurricane Relief Efforts – The Jewish Federation

We spoke with Sarah Arenstein from The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington about their response to Hurricane Sandy.

Rachel: How did the Federation react to the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy?
Sarah: As Jews, we hold dear the value of tikkun olam.  So shortly after the hurricane hit, The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington immediately opened a mailbox to support the relief efforts that would be most needed during the recovery and rebuilding.  At times like this, we know it is more important than ever for community members to have a trustworthy organization who can help move their generous contributions to relief efforts on the ground.  100% of the funds raised from our mailbox will be swiftly allocated to recovery needs as they are identified.

Rachel: What organizations has Federation teamed up with to aid the relief efforts?
Sarah: The beauty of the Federation system is that the expertise and infrastructure is already set up on the ground.  We have partnered with the NY Federation and the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) in partnership with Jewish Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (JVOAD).  In addition to the money we will be putting into recovery efforts from our local community, we were proud to learn that JFNA’s Emergency Committee authorized $500,000 for immediate humanitarian needs of Hurricane Sandy victims in the New York metropolitan area and New Jersey.  The funds will be used for cash disbursements, food, shelter, clean-up kits and other basic necessities.  It is important for us to partner with organizations who have up-to date information and who are quickly assessing needs and moving cash to where it is needed most.

Rachel: What are the Federation’s plans for the coming weeks/months in regards to the relief effort?
Sarah: Our mailbox will remain open until further notice.  We will continue to work with our partners to assess needs on the ground and swiftly move cash to agencies and organizations aiding in the relief efforts.

Rachel: How can members of the DC Jewish community get involved in the relief effort?
Sarah: The outpouring of support from local community members to those most hard hit in NY and NJ has been inspiring.  Below are a few of the things we’ve heard have taken place.  Just a few examples of what makes the Jewish community of Greater Washington such a wonderful place.

  • Members of the Kemp Mill community raised money to bus families from New York to the area and host them for Shabbat and a benefit concert before sending them back home with much needed supplies.
  • Agudas Achim is partnering with United Synagogue of Hoboken and is collecting gift cards for Target and Home Depot.  They hope to go to the scene and help out this weekend.
  • Beth Sholom Congregation collected and delivered a truck full of supplies including batteries, blankets, clothes, and water to assist in the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts in New York and New Jersey.

To support the recovery effort, click here to make an on-line donation or checks can be sent (made payable to) The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, 6101 Montrose Road, Rockville, Maryland  20852.  Please indicate “Hurricane Relief Fund” on all checks.

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