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First Ever DC-Based Jewish Kickstarter Campaign

_aa94293_2Running a successful Kickstarter is hard, all-engrossing work. There’s the avalanche of customer requests, constant media inquiries, and endless hours stressing over fulfilling thousands of orders. Or at least I assume that’s what it’s like; I wouldn’t know. My Kickstarter is 44% funded with a little over two weeks left to fund it.

But still, what an honor to have created the highest funded Jewish Kickstarter campaign in DC history. It’s true! Also true that this is the first ever Jewish Kickstarter campaign in DC history, but who’s counting?

Now, some of you may already be thinking “How much does it cost and where can I buy one?” And to you, I say, “Hi Mom.” But for the rest of you, let me introduce you to the Jewish Wisdom Ball.

How many times has this happened to you: You have a burning question or you’re in urgent need of advice. You have no one to ask and wish desperately that something – anything! – could listen and tell you that you’re not crazy. If this sounds familiar, then boy do I not have the solution for you.

Instead, consider the Jewish Wisdom Ball, a Jewish version of the Magic 8 Ball that’s just as likely to answer your question with a question and may make you feel bad for asking in the first place. Instead of boring old answers like “you may rely on it” or “reply hazy, try again” you get classic Jewish responses like “if that’s what you want” and “so now you need my help?”

This project has been a dream of mine for a long time. After getting rejections from every toy company I pitched over the course of a decade, I finally decided to do it myself, letting Kickstarter backers decide whether the idea is good or bad. And right now, I’m 44% confident that this is an awesome idea.

I’m not saying all of this to make you feel guilty. That’s the Jewish Wisdom Ball’s job. I’m just letting you know about a great opportunity to support the cause of spreading Jewish wisdom in ball form.

So if you’re looking for the greatest Hanukkah gift ever invented, look no further. Check out the campaign, share on social media, maybe even buy a couple for your friends and relatives.

As the Jewish Wisdom Ball says, “you could do worse.”

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Save the date.. for something great… we’re calling it Party of 8 (Ate)!

partyof8_finalDC: Get ready for something new. Party of 8 (Ate) is a night of dinner and drinks with other young Jewish professionals like yourself. This is an opportunity to make new friends, network, and connect with others in the community – all over a meal in an intimate group!

How does this all work? Register for free* via Eventbrite and provide a few pieces of information about yourself. Our team goes to work and sets you up with others whom we think you will connect with. You don’t know in advance who will be at your table, only that it’s 7 others (or 3 other couples for those registering as a pair) picked just for you!

Can couples join too? Absolutely! If you register as a couple, you will be assigned to a couples party of 8, where you will only know your partner and have the chance to meet 6 new friends.

The week of the event, you will receive an email with your assigned restaurant. After dinner, all Party of 8 participants will meet up at a nearby bar – where you can connect with old friends and new ones you made tonight. We’ve even got some drink specials to sweeten the deal and encourage you to stay for a while.

Party of 8 is open to anyone: those who are already involved in Jewish life in DC and those who are not. This is for anyone who wants to step outside of their comfort zone and the typical happy hour scene and make some meaningful connections with other individuals. Jenny Diamond, Party of 8 co-chair, can offer the best testimonial to the success of Party of 8 – she met her best friend during Party of 8 in Austin!

Registration closes September 17th and space is limited. Register today!

Questions? Contact Jenny or Audrey @ partyofAteDC@gmail.com.

*This event is completely free to attend, but you are responsible for the cost of your meal and drinks at the after party.

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Thinking about Elul: Prompts to Prepare for the High Holidays

This past Sunday we welcomed the Jewish month of Elul, which means Rosh Hashana is less than a month away. Traditional Jews have the practice of blowing the shofar each morning during this month as a wakeup call, reminding us daily to reflect and return to our truest self. (And yes, reminding us that we still need to buy those high holiday tickets.) Instead of trying to make the sudden transition into the holiday as if we’re joining the 300 club, many people use these next few weeks to ease into a more contemplative state.

Elul is a time of reflecting back on the previous year, a time for checking in with ourselves at this moment in our lives, and a time to think about where we are going. Past, present and future collide during this period, as we seek to learn more about who we are, where we are, and what we can give to the world. Like most things in life, the more we prepare for the Jewish new year, the more meaningful it will be.

Below are 18 prompts that you can use for writing, praying, meditating, or whatever method you use to turn inward.

Past

  1. What did you do really well last year? What are you proud of? Imagine you were being honored for the work you did last year – what would the presenter of that award say about you.
  2. Who helped you get through this past year? Who gave you something you really needed? What would you say to them if they were right in front of you?
  3. What were some formidable moments that occurred to you this year? What news stories affected you most?
  4. How were you hurt this year? When were times when you were angry? Sad?
  5. What lessons did you learn this year? How have you grown? In what aspects of your life did you improve?
  6. What were the major themes of your life this past year?

Present

  1. Are you where you thought you would be at this stage in life? What did you not expect?
  2. What are you grateful for?
  3. What are three major emotions that you’re carrying with you right now?
  4. What relationships are adding to your life? What relationships are draining you?
  5. How do you currently relate to religion/spirituality/God?
  6. What are you missing?

Future

  1. What big choices will you have to make in the coming year? What will influence your decision-making process?
  2. Who are your role models? What is one thing they do that you could try to emulate this year?
  3. What relationship could you do something to repair? Who do you need to forgive?
  4. What is something you’d like to do this year?
  5. In what ways can you bring goodness to the world? What strengths can you utilize to help others?
  6. Where would you like to be one year from now? What can you do to get there?
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Jewish Adventurer of the Week – Molly

Molly_5

Molly has been there for many of Gather’s firsts. She attended our first New(ish) & Jewish Happy Hour last year (check our this year’s event!) and joined us on our inaugural Beyond the Tent Retreat in July. I was excited to hear more about her international travels in my interview with the Jewish Adventurer of the Week!

Jackie: What made you decide to go to university in Scotland?

Molly: I decided to study in Scotland because it was more affordable than going to university out-of-state or a private university. With all my options on the table, I could afford Oregon or abroad, and Scotland seemed like a good option. I also had never traveled abroad before, (except for a disability rights exchange for 3 weeks in Bahrain, random, I know) and the idea of being based in the UK, with Europe a stone’s throw away, was pretty enticing. I figured if I didn’t like it, it could be my study abroad freshmen year and I could always come back to Oregon.

Molly_4Jackie: What were your favorite parts of spending four years abroad?

Molly: By far, my favorite part of studying at St. Andrews was the location. I had a moment in third year of university where I studied the wars in Bosnia and Croatia in the 90s and then decided to go to Bosnia and Croatia for the 20th anniversary. It was incredible to finish an exam writing about the bombing of Dubrovnik and a week later speak with a man my age about what it was like for his family narrowly escaping bombings every night.

My least favorite part was making incredible friends that now live in a different country. That blows.

MollyJackie: You were a part of Gather’s first Beyond the Tent retreat. How was that experience for you?

Molly: The retreat was a great experience, and I’d highly recommend it. What I loved about the retreat is that we didn’t bother with the small talk. I walked out knowing how people felt about their Jewish identity, their beliefs in G-d, and their relationships with their moms…but not the usual where did you go to school, what do you do, where are you from. I’m trying to skip the small talk now that I’m back to real life, but it turns out asking people if they believe in G-d before asking their profession has mixed results at happy hours.

When the Jews Gather… they do so at the Gather the Jews happy hours (seriously, have you been? There are, like, 200 people crammed in bar, it’s crazy!)

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September in the City

30 in the City (1)

September is here and summer is almost over! Hillah is here to help you pick out some Jewish events for those who are 30 in the City!

Mastering Change: A 3 Part Workshop for Entering the Jewish New Year

When: Wednesdays: September 7, October 5, and November 2, 7 – 9:00 PM
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Where: WeWork Dupont (1875 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC)

What the organizers have to say about the event:

Let me be clear, this is a three-part class. I have added below the in-depth details that have been published on this class. To read up on why I am suggesting this course, scroll to the What makes this event cool section.

September 7: Session one will focus on closing out the year powerfully. We’ll meet at the beginning of the Hebrew month of Elul, the month of reflection and spiritual preparation for the Jewish Holidays. Learn how to use the month of Elul as a container of time to complete your spiritual year in review. We’ll look back at the year through the lens of 13 important questions. Through this exercise, we’ll answer such questions as: What did I accomplish? What feels finished or unfinished? What do I need to let go of? We’ll be clearing out and clearing the way to mindfully enter into the days of Awe, the Jewish high holiday days.

October 5:  Session two will fall in the intermediary days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, called the 10 Days of Teshuva or Returning. Having made space to enter into the new year, participants will learn the tools to create a “yearly theme” and choose a set of values to focus on in the year to come. Before Yom Kippur, participants will set intentions for the changes they wish to make in the new year.

November 2: Session three will take place after Sukkot, the harvest holiday. We’ll gather at the beginning of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan. This is the month that follows the Jewish New Year, in which the real work of living our lives with intentionality happens. In this session participants will think about what they have gathered or harvested in this process. We’ll take the themes and values identified in session two and identify concrete actions for achieving these goals.  Learn practical steps toward reaping spiritual benefits for the year.

What makes this event cool?

So a Rabbi and a Life Coach walk into a room…can it get any better than that? This course is being led by Rabbi Sarah Tasman, the Director of InterfaithFamily/DC, who some of you may have met at young professional events such as Three Rabbis Walk into a Bar, and Life Coach Gideon Culman. AND YOU, as Gideon would say, “You are eager to make the changes necessary to discover just how good your life can be.”

Who should go?

You are in pursuit of upgrading your high holiday experience. You seek to make this New Year more than just a quick metro ride to shul and a snooze in the aisle behind your tallit as the Amidah is being read again. You know there is more to be gained during this time and you are ready for it.

Cost: $150

Registerhere 

 

Unity Walk 2016: Know Your Neighbor

Unity WalkWhen: Sunday, September 11, 1:30 PM

Where: Washington Hebrew Congregation (3935 Macomb Street NW, Washington, DC 20016)

What the organizers have to say about the event:

People of all faiths and cultures from around the Washington region will walk down Massachusetts Avenue and visit houses of worship and other religious centers in a public celebration of unity and support for everyone within our diverse community.

What makes this event cool?

On this walk, you will have the chance to visit a number of religious and cultural centers along Massachusetts Ave. and meet people from different faith backgrounds.

Who should go?

You enjoy learning about other groups and believe this is a time to stand together.

Cost: FREE

Register: here

 

Fall-ing for Foodies: A High Holiday Cooking Mixer for Singles & Couples

foodiesWhen: Wednesday, September 14, 7:00 – 9:30 PM

Where: DCJCC (1529 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036)

What the organizers have to say about the event:

Prepare for the high holidays and a romance-filled winter with a Rosh Hashanah-themed interactive cooking class; singles mingle with singles and couples mingle with couples as you come together to make a delicious meal.

Limited space available as we will have an even ratio of single men, single women, and couples looking to meet other couple friends!
What makes this event cool?

There is no better way to meet new people than schmoozing over some homemade food that you are preparing, especially when you are hands deep in kneading dow. Don’t take my word for it, I don’t know what is on the menu yet, but what I do know is that it is being led by Shabbat in a Box. Shabbat in a Box is an organization that seeks to teach, support, and even provide Shabbat meals that fits the lifestyles of all types of Jews.

Who should go?

You like food – Check. You like to cook – Check. You love being around people and food at the same time – CHECK!

Cost: $25 per person

Register: here

 

Making Politics Fun Again: 2239’s Debate-Watching Party

debateWhen: Monday, September 26, 7:00 PM

Where: Washington Hebrew Congregation (3935 Macomb Street NW, Washington, DC 20016)

What the organizers have to say about the event:

Join 2239 and the Congressional Jewish Staffer Association (a bipartisan group of Jewish House and Senate staffers) on September 26 for the first Clinton/Trump debate everyone will be talking about!

2239 has hosted a bipartisan Presidential Debate watching party for every election since Bush and Gore duked it out on national television, and 16 years later, this ever-popular tradition gets better and better.
What makes this event cool?

After mass amounts of mudslinging on television at their individual raleys, Clinton and Trump will finally have the opportunity to go at each other in person. Why not enjoy this round of political fisticuffs with good company.

Who should go?

Must like politics and be friendly!

Cost: $10

Register: here

 

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Jewish Director of the Week – Adam

Adam-Immerwahr

Adam came to the DC after spending almost 10 years in Princeton, NJ. He left his role as the Associate Artistic Director at McCarter Theatre Center to join Theater J as their new Director. Adam and I were able to sit down and chat about what is in store for Theater J, how he is adjusting to DC and why someone in their 20s and 30s should come see the next Theater J show!

Know someone you think should be Jew of the Week? Nominate them!

Jackie: How did you first get into theater? 

Adam: I pretty much grew up in the theater.  When I was young, my mother was a modern dance teacher at Swarthmore College, and she was just starting her own theater company.  And my father (who taught at Villanova) was close friends with the head of the theater program there.  So I was in shows at Villanova as a child actor, and hanging out around theaters and dance studios in Swarthmore. It always seemed like the most obvious way for me to express myself.

Jackie: What is the stage production you are most proud of?

Adam: As a producer, I’m immensely proud of Fiasco’s INTO THE WOODS, which I produced at Princeton’s McCarter Theatre when I was the Associate Artistic Director there. It’s an inventive, 10-actor and one-piano version of Sondheim’s classic musical, and our production went on to The Old Globe (in San Diego), the Roundabout (in NYC), and now it’s playing on the West End in London and preparing for a national tour–including a stop at the Kennedy Center!  As a director, I’m most proud of a production of THE CONVERT that I directed at Almasi Collaborative Arts in Harare, Zimbabwe. It was extraordinary to work with a group of Zimbabwean actors, designers, and producers to tell a story together–and the production was incredibly well-received and nominated for the national arts medal award in Zimbabwe.

Jackie: Did you always dream of being the artistic director of a Jewish theater?

Adam: Ha!  Wait was that a joke?  I never in a million years would have imagined that I would end up leading a Jewish theater.  But when Theater J was looking for their next leader, they hired one of the top search consultants in the field, so of course I took his call.  I basically said I wasn’t very interested during the first few conversations, but as I got to know the theater better, and got to think about what kind of programming I could do here, I realized what an extraordinary opportunity it was. Theater J has a unique role in the Jewish life and culture of this city, but we also are a critical part of the nation’s theatrical ecology. As the country’s largest and most prominent Jewish theater, we have an opportunity to preserve and champion a rich theatrical heritage, whether it is revivals of little-known Jewish-American classics like Arthur Miller’s BROKEN GLASS (which we’re doing this year), or newer plays like THE LAST SCHWARTZ (our season-opener). I realized that in programming through this lens, I could have an incredibly rich conversation with D.C.’s audience, do a broad range of really vital work, and I didn’t want to pass up the chance!

Understudy Rehearsal 2Jackie: As the new director of Theater J what was the first thing you wanted to tackle?

Adam: So much!  One of the advantages of a theatrical season is that I get to pick multiple plays that are programmed throughout the year (September-July).  I was eager to expand the notion of what kind of work could happen in a Jewish theater, so I was thrilled to get my hands on the rights to THE CHRISTIANS, a searing new play about how religion can tear us apart or bring us together–set inside a church.  We’re recruiting a different church choir to perform live onstage with us at each show!  But I also wanted Theater J to be a place of joy and laughter, so I was eager to start the season with Deborah Zoe Laufer’s stupidly funny THE LAST SCHWARTZ, all about the things we pass on from one generation to another.  Theater J has always been a place of rich intellectual dialogue, so THE HOW AND THE WHY (about elevation, feminism, and generational divides), and COPENHAGEN (about the creation of the atomic bomb) seemed like perfect fits.  And of course because we’re in the heart of the gay community of D.C., I had to bring back D.C.’s favorite all-male, dragapella beauty-shop quartet, the Kinsey Sicks.  These “chicks with schticks” will be performing their delightfully salacious OY VEY IN A MANGER during Chanukah season, in perfect four-part harmony.

Jackie: What perspective are you bringing to Theater J as a millennial/next generation Jew? 

Adam: I think that my generation has different ideas about what theater can be. Our culture is becoming more participatory, more on-demand, and more customized–but theater has lagged behind. I’m working on some ways to make Theater J a more communal place to be, and to open up opportunities for arts participation beyond just attending a play and staying for a talkback. For instance, we’re engaging an entire interfaith community by inviting live choirs to perform with us in THE CHRISTIANS–and sharing the stage between professionals and community members.  It should be really exciting, and I look forward to figuring out how we continue to expand our notions of how a professional theater works with its audience.  But I also think that as we look toward making Theater J a cooler place for millennial/next generation Jews to congregate–it helps to have someone whose taste is shaped by similar influences. I curate art differently than many in the generation above me.  I can’t help but have the programming that I’m attracted to be the product of my generation.

Jackie: One of Theater J’s production is THE CHRISTIANS. How do you decide what plays fit into the scope of Theater J?

Adam: It’s a very smart question. At one time, the rule at Theater J was that either the playwright or one of the characters must be Jewish. That felt to me both limiting and small, and I wanted to expand the notion of what Jewish theater can be.  The rubric I’ve been using is that the plays we do should fit into at least one of three categories: legibly Jewish plays (which directly struggle with and celebrate Jewish life and culture); thematically Jewish plays (that tell stories that parallel our own); and Jewish values plays (big plays that engage with the major issues of our time).  So that means that not all of our work is by Jewish artists, or even has any Jewish characters on the stage–but all of it connects with Judaism and resonates with the Jewish experience in a meaningful way.

Jackie: THE LAST SCHWARTZ is about to start its run, what would you say to a young professional who hasn’t come to Theater J before to encourage them to see the show?

Adam: It’ll be a really really fun night out.  THE LAST SCHWARTZ is a stupidly funny play with a whole lot of heart.  It’s about a family who gather together for a yahrzeit that goes perfectly wrong when one of them (a Hollywood director) brings a sexy wannabe starlet to the family home–and everything goes awry. It’s surprising, it’s got some side-splitting laughs, and it’s less than two hours long. We’re right between Dupont Circle and 14th Street, so you can go grab a bite and then have a good time.  Plus–our ushers will let you buy a drink and take it into the theater with you, and tickets for those under 35 are only $17 on weekdays or $30 on weekends.  So it’s a great deal!

20160329_AdamImmerwahr_0591459530318

Greg Kendall-Ball/For The Washington Post

Jackie: How have you been acclimating yourself to a new city?

Adam: I really have been enjoying D.C.  I ditched my car and get everywhere with my bike. The theater community has been incredibly welcoming, and so has the community around the group “Nice Jewish Boys.”  I am eager to get to explore the city more, especially the food scene–I just discovered Union Market which is terrific!

Jackie: Who is your favorite Jew?

Adam: Right now, I’ve been thinking a lot about Fyvush Finkel, the great actor who just passed away.  By all accounts, a terrific man–but if you’ve never seen him perform you’ve missed one of the most ebullient and charismatic artists of our time.

Finish the sentence: When the Jews Gather…we have fun!

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Mini Gatherings: Late 20s/Early 30s

Mini GatheringsWant to meet other interesting Jews in a smaller, more personal setting? Feel like events are catered to a younger crowd? Looking to explore questions that matter to Jewish 20s and 30s? Like drinking? Afraid of commitment?

Gather the Jews is excited to open applications for the next round of Mini Gatherings, taking place this September. Building off of the success from previous sessions, Gather is looking to create a space for those who are in their late 20s and early 30s.

What is Mini Gatherings, you ask? It is a 3-week-long mini-fellowship that brings together about 15 diverse Jews in their late 20s early 30s to meet one another and have some DMCs (deep meaningful conversations) over beers. By the end, you’ll have made new friends, had some great discussions, and laughed at least twice. Guaranteed or your money back!

Cost: FREE

What: The three gatherings will be held from 6:30 – 8:00 pm on Tuesday, September 13, 20 and 27. Each session will involve some schmoozing, drinking, and an open conversation facilitated by Senior Associate Jackie about questions relevant to Jewish 20s and 30s, such as “Are Jews different?” “What are the unique challenges to being Jewish today?” and “Does Judaism have any deal-breakers?”

No background or knowledge necessary – everyone is welcome. In addition, Jackie will host a Shabbat meal on Friday, September 23rd at her apartment in Cleveland Park. Must commit to attending all three sessions and the dinner.

Who: People who does not feel connected to a Jewish community in the DC area and is looking to meet other Jews in a smaller, more personal way in their late 20s/early 30s.

Application: Applications are closed! Keep an eye out for the next round of Mini Gatherings

Want more information? Email Jackie

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Apply Today for Gather’s Newest Initiative: High Holiday Hosts

Are you interested in engaging people who just moved to DC this High Holiday season? Whether or not you’re not going to services, this could be a great opportunity for you!

Apply today to be a High Holiday Host and connect with those who are New(ish) & Jewish in the DC community! Gather the Jews is excited to announce a new opportunity for those who want to get more involved. We will be running this new initiative to make sure those who just moved to DC spend the High Holidays with a friendly face.

We are looking for a motivated group of young professionals who are interested in hosting a group of their peers (about 10-15 per group) and making them feel welcome during the High Holidays. We will train and support this group to be greeters and hosts throughout the community. The Hosts will build relationships, cultivate community, and help those who are new to the city to feel welcome.

What: As a part of this group of Hosts, you must commit to the following times:

  • Training Session: September 7: 6-9pm (with FREE dinner)
  • Newish and Jewish Happy Hour: September 21, 6-9pm (this is a Gather the Jews Happy Hour)
  • Bring together a small group group for an Erev Rosh Hashanah meet-up before heading to services together: October 2
  • Host a break fast on Yom Kippur (with funds reimbursed by Gather): October 11

 Who: Anyone can apply! We are looking for outgoing, welcoming, and kind people to help with this initiative. We are looking for people who live close to the High Holiday service they will be attending. We are also looking for people who aren’t going to services. No religious experience is necessary.

Application: The application is open now through September 1st at midnight. Apply today!

 Want more information? Email Shaina to find out more!\

 

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Saying Goodbye to Gather’s First Staff Person!

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Rachel Giattino moved from Delaware to DC in 2012 to become the first employee of Gather the Jews. Her work helped create and shape the organization that Gather is today. Those of you who have had the opportunity to meet Rachel at a Happy Hour, Shabbat, or community meeting will know the passion and dedication that she brought to her work in the DC Jewish community.  We are sad to see her go but are excited to see what her new journey in Chicago will bring. We wish her all the luck in the world!

From Rachel (Gildiner), Aaron, Jackie and Shaina

Jackie: It was recently the 4th anniversary of you coming to DC to work for Gather the Jews. What is one of your favorite memories from your time at Gather?

Rachel: My favorite memory is a collection of memories- basically the way the Jewish community welcomed me to DC. New contacts would set me on friend dates, make sure I had a place to go for holiday meals, and even cook chicken soup for me when I was sick (shout out to Rachel Briks)! I hope I have repaid the favor in welcoming newcomers to DC, both as Gather the Jews and in my personal life.

IMG_2937Jackie: What is finally pulling you away from DC? 

Rachel: Adventure and a new job opportunity are calling me away. A few months, ago I realized how easy life is in DC. I know my favorite coffee spots, my favorite happy hours, and my favorite gym- and everything is so routine. I wanted a new challenge, so when a job opportunity presented itself in Chicago I decided to go for it.

Jackie: What are you going to miss the most?

Rachel: Duccini’s Pizza. And Wiseguys Pizza. And &pizza (did I mention I love pizza?). But really, I’m going to miss all the amazing people I’ve connected with in DC.

Jackie: What advice do you have for the DC Jewish community?

Rachel: Keep on Gathering!

Finish the sentence: When the Jews Gather… My work is done.

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Searching for My Voice: A Jew Trying to Figure Out Racial Justice

Justice or Else! Million Man March. Saturday, October 10, 2015. The march was over. I walked over to a T-shirt stand. “Only XL left”. “Fine,” I said. “I want that one.” It was black and in white letters it said “I Can’t Breathe.” I put it on and started walking toward the Capitol. Slowly walking, eyes squinting in the sun. It felt like forever walking. Silently walking. Swallowing hard. Many people were still around on the lawn, talking, cleaning, walking. A few people passed me and said aloud, “I can’t breathe.” I nodded in acknowledgement.

Finally I approached the water in front of the Capitol. Fumbling for my phone, I found the words of the Kaddish online. Slowly, I whispered it. For Sandra Bland. Tears ran down my face but I kept going, gasping the rest. Then the tears took over my body as I collapsed down on the step. I put my head in my lap and cried. For a fellow young woman. For a woman who said no one sworn to protect her should forcibly remove her from her car. Or force her to the ground. For every feeling in my body that I couldn’t express: sadness, powerlessness, anger, frustration, ambivalence, confusion, alienation, isolation, and aloneness.

I have tried to push myself out of that state of despair. I have tried to read every article I can about each racially-charged incident and stay on top of the evidence released to the public. But in that journey I still felt completely alone. I was your regular Law and Order detective, except I didn’t have a partner to help me find evidence or process the information I had collected. I kept hearing extreme voices in the media, which made it even harder to figure out what I thought. And the repeated images of both dead Black citizens and dead police officers, cut me so deep emotionally that I had trouble gaining enough emotional distance to even see the facts in front of me.

Despite feeling very alone in all of this, I have come to realize through some amazing conversations that others are feeling a lot of pain too. Maybe different pain, in different ways, from different perspectives. I want us to come together and start processing in an intellectually open and safe space that gives us a chance to find our voice. Having run the Minyan of Thinkers dialogue group for the past four years in DC, which brings together ten thoughtful young people to discuss challenging Jewish topics, I now have a model for how to bring young people together. I’m adapting it to form an interracial, interfaith race dialogue group.

Here’s the basic concept: we create a list of topics related to race that we think may be valuable to discuss, and then as a group decide which one we want to focus on. Maybe this year it will be racial profiling. Maybe we will want to focus on the history of residential segregation with a focus on redlining and restrictive covenants. Or maybe we will want to dive into the Supreme Court’s backing away from school integration despite the long road to the Brown v. Bd of Education decision. Once we pick a topic, we find a few scholarly texts that illuminate different perspectives on the issue. We meet once a month for two hours, for six months, and discuss the articles and also write some reflection pieces that flesh out our thinking on the topic.

If this resonates with you, I’d love to chat. Mostly listen to you. Because I want to hear your story, and what race-related issues you care about and why. And if you are seeking a community of thoughtful, reflective young people who are grappling with all of this too, and you’re really excited to jump in, then learn more details and apply by Friday, September 16th to be part of this dialogue group.

Cheryl Pruce is a socially conscious, continuously improving, bridge-builder who has been immersed in educational equity-related policy research in DC for over 6 years.

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High Holiday Guide 2016

Gather the Jews (1)

 

Erev Rosh Hashanah – Sunday, October 2

Rosh Hashanah (1st Day) – Monday, October 3

Rosh Hashanah (2nd Day) – Tuesday, October 4

Kol Nidre – Tuesday, October 11

Yom Kippur – Wednesday, October 12

Events/Other Resources:

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Be a Part of DC’s Biggest Block Party to Fight Cancer!

Relay photo 2Are you ready to be a part of DC’s biggest block party to fight cancer? Join the American Cancer Society in uniting for the first time ever in the District of Columbia to celebrate people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and take action to finish the fight once and for all.  

The American Cancer Society’s inaugural Relay For Life of Washington, D.C. event, held at the Half Street Fairgrounds, is part of the world’s largest and most impactful fundraising movement to end cancer, and on September 25, 2016 from 3:00-8:00 PM, the District has the chance to prove how powerful one of the most influential cities in the country can truly be. 

Relay photo 1More than just walking the track, Relay for Life is about fundraising! Because of the donations collected, more people in more communities:

  • Have the information and tools they need to help reduce their risk of getting cancer or find the disease early, when it’s easiest to treat
  • Have a place to turn for help 24/7
  • Benefit from the progress being made toward finding cancer’s causes and cures
  • Get access to lifesaving screenings and treatment 

Sign up and donate at www.relayforlife.org/washingtondc. The dollars raised will bring us one step closer to a world with less cancer and more birthdays, a world where not another life is lost to the disease. 

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Celebrate Jews in Baseball

baseball 1Baseball is called the American Pastime, congregating masses of fans through games, and stadia as open and important public places of culture. It is from the American cultural aspect of the game that Jews have cultivated such an extraordinary love for the sport and all that goes along with it. Jews have long taken great pleasure in participating in the sport in many ways—on the field, in the dugout, the owners’ boxes, the press box and the bleachers. For Jewish immigrants in the twentieth century, baseball has been a uniting force, a positive way of assimilation into American society, a reinforcement of Jewish values and ideals and a way to nurture community.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington celebrates the unique effect baseball has had on building Jewish community, and the great contributions Jews have made to the game. In the twentieth century, when baseball in America was the ultimate societal standard, Jews integrated into American culture and the larger sense of community through the game. The values of America’s favorite game encompass the ideals of the nation, which align with key Jewish principles. Jews identify with core American ethics, including the spirit of democracy, family, giving back, building community and doing the right thing—ideals that align with the mission of The Jewish Federation.

Through the second annual Grand Slam Sunday: Jewish community day at Nationals Park, Federation commemorates the legendary Jewish playmakers, journalists and most notably, fans. There are some renowned names that every Jew and baseball fan alike is familiar with.

Most well-known are the legendary players who excelled on field, utilizing their stardom as a conduit to connect their communities and America. In 1934, Hank Greenberg garnered national attention when he refused to play on Yom Kippur despite the Tigers being involved in a pennant race. He ranks as a great 20th Century American Jew because his baseball feats and powerful persona rallied all American Jews in an era of rabid anti-Semitism in America and abroad. Sandy Koufax is idolized in Jewish baseball history for his refusal to pitch Game One of the 1965 World Series on Yom Kippur. He rejoined the team after the High Holiday for Games Two, Five, and Seven, throwing complete-game shutouts in Games Five and Seven to win the series for the Dodgers. Greenberg, Koufax and many other notable players piqued a sense of wonder and incomparable inspiration in future generations of baseball lovers.

While outstanding, Jewish players would not have the widespread influence and notoriety if not for the authors, commentators, broadcasters and journalists who brought the sport and culture to the masses. One of the most celebrated sports journalists was Shirley Povich, a Jewish writer and columnist for the Washington Post for 75 years. His insight into the modern game, knowledge of baseball history and powerful writing set the standard in the field of sports journalism. Another significant Jewish author, Roger Kahn, penned Boys of Summer, the best-selling baseball book of all time. Many Jewish baseball journalists chose their careers for the genuine love of the game, evident in their writing and reporting.

Major league baseball would not be what it is today if not for Jewish owners, managers and executive staff who implemented team strategy, leadership and overall order of the game. Bud Selig, former Commissioner of Baseball for more than twenty-five years, is rated by some as the best commissioner of all time, credited for moving the game into its current economic good fortune and relative state of peace, along with the Jewish value of tzedek (justice) that he brought to the owner-player relationship after years of acrimony. Pittsburgh Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss envisioned the first World Series between the newly merged American and National Leagues in 1903. And Marvin Miller, who served as Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) from 1966 to 1982, brought free agency to baseball, and by osmosis to all other major professional sports. It was in 1992 when Red Barber noted, “Marvin Miller, along with Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson, is one of the two or three most important men in baseball history.” And of course, I would be remiss if I left out the Lerner family from our influential lineup. Owners of the Washington Nationals, the Lerners have brought baseball back to DC and encouraged kosher food options at the stadium. Without their contributions, The Jewish Federation’s Grand Slam Sunday would surely not be the same.

baseball 2As we gather on August 28, 2016 at Nationals Park, The Jewish Federation and the Lerner family will celebrate the largest, most significant segment of those in baseball: the fans. From generation to generation, fans pass down their love of the game. From Rabbis whose sermons regularly analogize baseball, to devout fans who bring matzah to the ballgame on Passover, to Jewish parents who teach their children team spirit as they do their religion, on Grand Slam Sunday, Federation invites our entire Greater Washington Jewish community to the ballpark. Join us for a celebration of our community and of the game that continues to unite Jews around the world. We hope to see you there!

Hilary Adleberg is the marketing Account executive at The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. For ticket sales and more information on Grand Slam Sunday: Jewish Community Day at Nationals Park, visit shalomdc.org/grandslam.

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You can eat this raw cookie dough DC!

cookie doughIf you like to sneak raw cookie dough from the mixing bowl, keep reading. No, I’m not about to tell you that it’s bad for you. You’re not in trouble.

Well, technically raw cookie dough is bad for you. If you eat eggs that haven’t been cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees, you run the risk of getting poisoned by the little germ called Salmonella that sometimes makes the inside of the eggs its home. And if that isn’t annoying enough, the FDA just issued a warning in July saying that raw flour could make you sick because it could carry E. Coli. Flour? Seriously?!

Most people I’ve talked to don’t care. They don’t think they’ll get sick. Or they say they like to live dangerously. I’m not judging. I used to sneak countless balls of cookie dough in college from the freezer in the sorority house in the middle of the night. And I can tell you, I was more scared of the chef finding out than I was about the raw ingredients.

IMG_5839Whichever side you come down on, you should know that some cookie dough is completely edible and 100% safe to eat. The Cookie Jar DC is a prime example. Six months ago, I launched The Cookie Jar DC, a small-batch and preservative-free edible cookie dough company. Our cookie dough doesn’t contain any eggs, and we use heat treated flour (it’s gone through the necessary “kill step” to make sure there’s no bacteria). It’s also already packaged for you in glass reusable jars, so you don’t have to pretend to make cookies just to eat the dough.

So if you’re interested, feel free to take a look at the website, www.thecookiejardc.com. We deliver on UberEATS 5-7 nights a week, we’re sold in stores around DC, and we do all sorts of custom catering and events.

While you may not feel like you’re living dangerously, the nostalgia of baking with mom or sneaking the dough is definitely still there. Plus, it’s really freaking delicious, in my humble opinion.

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Jewish Adventurer of the Week – Rose!

rose1

When Rose was nominated for Gather’s Person of the Week, I was told that she was the “sweetest person in the world.” As I began our interview, I realized that she not only lived up to her nomination but also had taken some amazing adventures. I am excited to share some of her stories with you in this week’s interview!

Jackie: How did you find yourself playing the fiddle for ‘The Dirty River String Band’?

Rose: I fell into folk music my first year of college, and it changed my life. I had been playing classical violin forever, but had waning motivation. Playing with The Dirty River String Band and teaching myself fiddle along the way opened up a world of communal music-making which brought freedom, satisfaction, and an insane amount of fun to my music expression.

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

Rose: A bank of the Potomac, a rooftop, H St NE, bars with live music, any and all bike lanes.

Jarose3ckie: What was your favorite part of your WWOOFing in Hawaii?

Rose: I fell in love with untamed ocean in Hawaii – the coasts of the Big Island are powerful, with a teeming underwater world of coral and fish without the foggiest clue of the problems us humans worry about just above the surface. I loved snorkeling and peeking at their wonderland! Also, the mangos. I dream about the mangos from my farm every day.

Jackie: Speaking of travel adventures, I heard you were “kidnapped” in India! What is the story behind that?! 

Rose: It was my last week in India, and after my months spent there, I was used to going with the flow and accepting whatever came my way – India has way of pushing you there. So that’s what I did with my 2 rockstar travel buds when backpacking around Rajasthan. When an invitation came from someone we met (who happened to be a millionaire) to enjoy the best dinner Jodhpur can offer, we went with the flow. The best part? 5 star meals and a night to remember…the worst? We missed our bus to Jaisalmer. Good thing there was a private car to drive us there…it worked out and we have an incredible story. (P.S.A. accept invitations from Indian strangers at your own risk!)

rose5Jackie: Was this on your JDC Entwine Fellowship?

Rose: Yes! I completed the JDC Entwine multi-week fellowship, where I lived in Mumbai and taught with an education NGO called Gabriel Project Mumbai in a nearby slum.

Jackie: What is your favorite way to spend Shabbat?

Rose: I look forward to Kabbalat Shabbat all week, so Shabbos for me includes services with lots of singing followed by meals with friends. Throw in some Dvar Torahs and a nice long walk!

Finish the sentence: When the Jews Gather…food and friendships are made.

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