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10 Things You Should Know about Natasha Lyonne

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On Wednesday, May 20 at 7:00 pm, celebrate Shavuot at The TEN, Sixth & I’s innovative take on the holiday traditionally observed by studying Torah and enjoying the first fruits of the harvest. The TEN refers to the ten commandments since Shavuot commemorates the anniversary of the day God gave the Torah/ten commandments to the Jewish people.

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This high-energy, entertainment-rich, thought-provoking evening features actress Natasha Lyonne in conversation with Rabbi Scott Perlo. They’ll discuss storytelling from an artistic and human perspective; Jewish culture and identity; and the intersection between culture/spirituality and the creative life.

Since it is The TEN, we thought it’d be perfect to share 10 things to know about Natasha Lyonne:

  1. When she was just six years old, Natasha got her first “big break” when she was cast as “Opal” on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.
  2. She attended The Ramaz School, a Yeshiva in Manhattan, where she performed in the school production of The Magic Garden.
  3. Along with Goldie Hawn, Drew Barrymore, Natalie Portman, Edward Norton, Alan Alda, and Julia Roberts, Natasha starred in Woody Allen’s only musical movie, Everybody Says I Love You.
  4. Between 1996 and 2006, Natasha appeared in over 30 films—including Slums of Beverly HillsAmerican Pie, and the cult-classic But I’m a Cheerleader.
  5. She has guest-starred on both New Girl and Girls.
  6. The Rufus Wainwright song, “Natasha,” is written about her.

  1. Her maternal grandparents, both originally from Hungary, were Holocaust survivors.
  2. She has a dog named Root Beer.
  3. She received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her portrayal of Nicky Nichols on Orange Is the New Black. 
  4. You can see Natasha back in action as Nicky Nichols when Season 3 of Orange Is the New Black premieres on June 12.

Want to learn more? Register today for the The TEN: An Alternative Shavuot Experience.

Hang out after the conversation for cheesecake cupcakes from Grassroots Gourmet, Vietnamese iced coffee spiked with Kahlúa, DIY crafts, and to continue the discussion with Rabbi Scott.

Made possible by the generosity of The Reva and David Logan Foundation

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Finalist for Jewish Guy and Girl of the Year Videos

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We asked our five amazing finalists to make videos explaining why they should be crowned the Jewish Guy or Girl of the Year. Throughout the week we will be rolling out one video a day. Watch and see who deserves your vote and join us Wednesday May 20th at Lost Society for the in person voting to crown your Jewish Guy and Girl of the Year!

Gabe:

Hillah:

 

Marc:

 

Nathaniel:

Sasha:

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TONIGHT May 20th – Crown the Jewish Guy and Girl of the Year!

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Gameshow Dynamos

2daddb79efd6a0ac6f813c088da5ebaa (1)My mom has a habit. She can’t stop making documentary films.

For most of my life, she’s relied on her day job as a family physician in Seattle to bankroll her endeavors shooting, editing and producing heartfelt films that she makes in the basement of my childhood home. Patricia (that’s her name) has squeezed in time in front of the camera in between seeing patients and, of course, raising me and my brother. Her latest film, which took around 15 years to complete, is super fun. And, it’s actually my favorite film that she’s done.

It’s called Gameshow Dynamos and is about a couple who gets their family out of poverty by being on TV gameshows. The couple is my grandparents.

My grandpa Bernard and grandma Claire won enough money on TV game shows to escape debt and follow their dreams. From Tic-Tac-Dough in 1956, to Jeopardy in 1967, to Trivial Pursuit in 1993, they competed on national television 28 times — probably the longest-running record of individual TV game show appearances by husband and wife in the world.

You’d like the film because:

1) How the heck does anyone win on game shows, anyways? Not to mention so many times, winning close to $100,000.

2) Bernard is a old-school New York Jew whose parents migrated from Poland and Austria to achieve the American dream (which Bernard does achieve… through game shows).

3) Not only are they smart, but Bernard and Claire are very funny (I mean, who walks around dressed like they’re on the Starship Enterprise when they’re at home?)

4) It will encourage you to live your dreams.

Now my mom is doing a Kickstarter-like campaign to screen the film across the country.

In D.C. 98 people have bought tickets, but we need 9 more people to buy tickets in the next two days or the screening won’t happen. The company she’s using to screen the films, Tugg, is like Kickstarter in that you have to sell every ticket before they’ll do a screening.

The screening is May 21 at the Landmark E Street Theater  at 7:30 p.m. and only costs $12.

Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings endorses the film this way:

“An endlessly charming look at one of the only purely American art forms–the humble game show–and a uniquely American family that spent the better part of forty years winning on them. Even if you’re not a game show junkie like I am, this documentary has lovely gifts for you.”

I’m very proud of my mom and can’t wait to see it succeed.

See you all at the screening!

Note from Gather: For all of our Jeopardy buffs out there you should check out previous Jewish Guy of the Week David who was a winner Thanksgiving 2014!

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10 Cliché Phrases to Avoid in Online Dating Profiles

casual_looking_businessmanIf you’re on any of the online dating sites (and if you’re reading this, I assume you are), then you know that in reading profile after profile, sometimes you wonder if every person is simply a clone of the last. Somehow, everyone seems to be hiking in Peru, running marathons, or simply “curling up on the couch with a movie and a glass of wine.” Considering that I don’t think any of us are made up of the exact same DNA (except for you identical twins out there), why is it that every profile seems to be a replica of the last one? Let’s take a look at 10 Cliché Phrases to Avoid in Online Dating Profiles:

  1. I like to laugh and have fun.

I hope you like to laugh and have fun! Enough said.

  1. I’m just as comfortable in a little black dress (tux) as I am in jeans and a t-shirt.

This line is an attempt to show that you’re versatile. We get it. Most of us can pull off different types of outfits. Instead, talk about the things you like to do. Saying you love to go to the Kennedy Center versus a Nats game tells us a lot more about you.

  1. I’m just as happy going out on the town as I am staying in with a glass of wine and a movie.

Same comment for this one as #2, with this added advice: Stop trying to appeal to everyone. While it may seem counterintuitive, I’m going to give you permission to turn people off in your profile.  Let that sink in for a second. It’s more important to be the real you, not the version you think people want to see, and certainly not the version that attempts to appeal to every single person on the site.  Just be yourself.  This way, you know that when someone shows interest, it’s because he or she likes the actual things you said, not just the fact that you were being inclusive.

  1. I love to travel.

bad-dating-adviceAgain, I don’t know many people who don’t. Do you like to go to the beach every weekend, or do prefer to climb glaciers in Iceland? These details say a lot more about you than a generic statement about travel.

  1. Family and friends are important to me.

I sure hope so! No need to say it because the assumption is that these people are important to you.

  1. I’m looking for a partner in crime.

Unless your name is Bonnie or Clyde, there’s no reason to write this overused cliché.

  1. My friends say I’m… (insert a list of adjectives).

Of course your friends say all of these fantastic things about you—they’re your friends! Also, this is a way of trying to appear humble, which can backfire in two ways: 1) it can make you appear less confident (do you not think these things about yourself?) or 2) it still sounds “braggy braggy,” as I like to say.

This also leads me to the “empty adjective” conversation, which you may remember from a couple years ago. An empty adjective is a word that you use (or your friends allegedly use, as the case may be) to describe yourself that can’t be proven until someone gets to know you. For example, I might say that I’m funny, but how would you know if that’s the truth? Maybe I’m funny to some people (the ones who love puns) but not to others.

  1. I’m down-to-earth.

I almost want to see a profile that instead says, “I’m kind of an airhead… but a sweet one.” Being “down-to-earth” is very subjective, again making it an empty adjective.

  1. I can’t believe I’m doing this.

This is a negative commentary on online dating. It reads to others, “I can’t believe I’ve stooped this low and am looking for a date online. Only losers are on here, so I guess I’m a loser now, too.” Online dating is a wonderful thing. Either embrace it, or hold off on joining an online dating site until you can embrace it.

  1. I love life

Just like #1, I hope you love life! Omitting the line “I love life” does not imply the opposite. It simply gives you more space to share those things that make your life so darn grand.

Now it’s time: Take a moment to review your profile (yes—even your Tinder and JSwipe ones!), and if you’ve used of these overused, cliché lines, it’s time to hit the backspace button and set yourself apart from the crowd.

Lastly, if you’re curious to know the most used word in online dating profiles in DC, it’s “international,” which isn’t surprising. Virginia’s is “military” (remember, the whole state isn’t made up of young people in Arlington), and Maryland’s is “gospel.” Feel free to check out the rest of the country here.

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New Music Monday: Win tickets to see Zusha!

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Are they brand new? Not exactly. Zusha‘s self-titled album came out October of 2014, but they have been on repeat in the Gather the Jews office recently so we decided to feature this up-and-coming trio as a band to watch.

What is especially cool about these “neo-hassidic hipsters” is that Gather has two tickets to see them at the Washington Jewish Music Festival May 10th and we are raffling them off at our April Happy Hour on Wednesday the 29th!

The three man band includes percussionist Elisha Mendl Mlotek, guitarist Zachariah “Juke” Goldshmiedt  and Shlomo Ari Gaisin as the vocalist. Together they create the wordless melodies that make Zusha so intriguing. Though they don’t love the term “neo-hasidic” they have come to embrace it. The band shies away from being labeled a Jewish band but also seeks to get back to the roots of Hassidism with their music that strives for simplicity, authenticity and joy.

Often called Folk/World music their songs draw on folk, ska,reggae, gypsy swing, jazz and traditional Jewish Soul. But don’t take our word for it, listen yourself!

Zusha recently auditioned to be a part of NPR’s Tiny Desk concert series and although they were not the chosen finalists, we got a great video to jam to!

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Celebrating Culinary Diplomacy: The Art of Breaking Bread and Building Bridges

ACCESS_CulinaryDiplomacy_Invite_TwitterThe spotlight of the American Jewish Committee’s ACCESS DC 15th Annual Young Diplomat’s Reception “Celebrating Culinary Diplomacy: The Art of Breaking Bread and Building Bridges,” on Thursday, May 7th is on how we as Jews can increase understanding and create meaningful relationships through food: by literally breaking bread together.

Specifically, this year’s 15th annual Young Diplomat’s Reception will focus on culinary diplomacy and how food builds bridges between young leaders in the Jewish Community and young diplomats. On May 7th we will have representatives from more than 50 countries on assignment to Washington, one of the most high profile postings in their foreign service. These diplomats and the Jewish leaders they will meet are going places and are worth knowing.  More importantly, this event will be an opportunity to create meaningful relationships that help safeguard the Jewish people within their countries, and enhance the relationship between the countries they represent and our own.

Are you interested in care building ties between the Jewish people and diplomatic representatives from around the world? Do you like great food? We will have both at a historic location: the Arts Club of Washington, the residence of our fifth president, James Monroe.

You may be wondering, “What is culinary diplomacy?” In Sam Chapple-Sokol’s interview with The Splendid Table, he defines culinary diplomacy as “the use of food in cuisine as an instrument to create cross-cultural understanding in the hopes of improving interactions in cooperation. That’s an academic way of saying using food to get along with people, to talk with people and to get to know them better.”

The highlight of the event is the diplomacy that will take place and a focus on learning about what the United States is doing to promote our food culture globally, and how we’re using culinary diplomacy to build international relationships. The Diplomatic Culinary Partnership of the U.S. State Department is a great example of this diplomacy. Through this program, American chefs travel abroad and plan programs with the local population. For instance, Pastry Chef, Duff Goldman of Charm City Cakes in Baltimore, traveled to Algeria where he hosted a pastry chef challenge.

The AJC ACCESS Young Diplomat’s reception will feature top flight preparations of cuisine paired with appropriate wines and beers from four different regions of the world: Latin America, the Eastern Mediterranean, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia. The event is vegetarian, with kosher options available.

Speakers will include Lauren Bernstein, the Director of the Department of State’s Diplomatic Culinary Partnership and other special guests, including one or more top chefs who are part of the Partnership and are involved in high-level international diplomacy.

If all this sounds interesting, join us on May 7th for ACCESS DC’s 15th Annual Young Diplomats Reception!  For more information, contact Cassie Chesley at Chesleyc.Fellow@ajc.org, or call 202-776-5441 or go to www.ajcwashington.org/youngdips2015 to sign up today! 

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No matter what you geek out about we’ll test your knowledge of all things nerdy!

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Are you a Birthright Alum trying to get back to Israel?!

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New Music Monday: A-WA, Yes please!

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The three Haim sisters (different Haim) who make up A-WA (pronounced Ay-wa, Arabic for “yes”) grew up in the south of Israel near the Egyptian boarder. All three sisters (and their three other siblings) studied music, sang, danced and performed from a young age. These talented ladies sing in English, Hebrew and Yemenite. “Habib Galbi” is a Yemenite song the sisters had first heard in childhood and their updated recording of this song has become their break out song. Inspired by Yemenite women’s chanting, A-WA’s debut album consists of 12 original recordings of Yemenite songs layered over dance and hip-hop beats.

The sisters have been working with Tomer Yosef (singer and lead vocalist for the Israeli-American band Balkan Beat Box) to help produce their music but he also directed and shot their first music video for Habibi Galbi; which was filmed over one intense weekend in the desert.

Their new album is slated to come out later this year, Insh’allah we can get it in America!

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The Golden Rule of Dating

imageIt’s funny how many people reference The Golden Rule in their online dating profiles: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Okay, perhaps not too many people reference it on JDate or JSwipe considering it’s often claimed by Christianity (though similar phrases do appear in the Torah—The Book of Leviticus, to be exact). But the sentiment is still there. Treat people with the respect with which you want to be treated. Period.

erika e-1368 (1)So why is it that, especially in the world of technology, people often don’t practice what they preach? At least once a month, a client tells me that he or she was stood up. Not cancelled on at the last minute (this is more like an everyday occurrence), but actually stood up. I even got this email recently from Emily, the associate writer who works for me, who is in her mid- to late-20s:

“A couple issues that my single/dating friends have been talking to me about are related to being stood up. They’ve been connecting with these guys on Tinder who agree to meet up and seem totally into them, and then bail at the very last minute with the WORST excuses (literally one of them was told that the guy couldn’t make it because his parents were coming over to go over their taxes). And others have shown up on dates that have been planned and confirmed… and the date just isn’t there.”

Let’s talk for a minute about how most of us like to be treated:

  1. Our time is valuable, so if someone is going to cancel, we would prefer a day’s notice.
  2. If there is a last-minute cancellation, we would like there to at least be an apology.
  3. If someone changes his or her mind at the last minute about meeting at all, a short and simple explanation would be appropriate.
  4. If someone doesn’t like us, we’d like to know rather than being left in the dust wondering if we’ll ever hear from him or her again.

If you’re the one who needs to cancel or otherwise change plans, here are some simple solutions to make sure you’re treating the other person with the respect with which you’d want to be treated:

The day before the date – a nice text or email

“Hey! I am so sorry to do this, but I was just informed of a business dinner I need to attend tomorrow. I wanted to reach out as soon as I heard so I didn’t leave you hanging without plans. Can we reschedule for Monday or Tuesday next week? Again, I really appreciate your understanding.”

The day of, before about 1 PM – a nice text or email early in the day

“Was really looking forward to seeing you tonight! Unfortunately, there’s been a change of plans on my end that I can’t get out of, and I wanted to let you know as soon as I heard. I’m really sorry about that. Can we reschedule for Monday or Tuesday next week? Again, I really appreciate your understanding.”

“Was really looking forward to seeing you tonight! I hate to do this at the 11th hour, but I recently started seeing someone else, and the more I thought about it, I realized it wouldn’t be fair to him/her to still meet up with you. So sorry to have waited until now. I hope you understand, and I wish you the best!”

The day of, after about 1 PM – a nice call

Yes—a call! Even though it took me a while to adapt to the fact that people “date” over text now (and it is admittedly much more convenient), if you’re cancelling within a few hours of the date, the courteous thing to do is to call. Texting is the easy way out because you don’t have to deal with the repercussions of seeing or hearing someone’s reaction, often disappointment. While I know not everyone will heed this advice, I’d be remiss if I didn’t put it out there.

“Hey Jess. This is Joey from OKC. I know it’s probably weird that I’m calling, but I wanted to sincerely apologize for having to cancel at the last minute. Something came up that I can’t get out of, and I just wanted to say that I’m sorry.”

I once had to do this to someone. It was 5 PM, and I had a first date at 6:30 PM. I had just received an email from a long-term ex-boyfriend informing me that he was in a new relationship. (Jerk move? I think so.) At any rate, I was in no place to put my best foot forward on a first date, so I called the guy I was meeting from OKC or Tinder (who could remember?), told him I was really sorry (and was actually honest about what happened), and rescheduled for a couple days later. He actually thanked me on the date for handling things so maturely and for calling him. Even though it was the only date we went on, it’s nice to know that I handled it in a way that I can be proud of. And that’s what I want for all of you. Obviously the reasons will differ, but the sentiment is the same.

The day after – a nice text or email

Let’s say you went on a date on Tuesday night. By Wednesday, you already have a text expressing interest in seeing you again.

“Hey Joey. Thanks for a fun time last night! Unfortunately, I just didn’t feel a romantic connection (or insert your preferred synonym: click, connection, spark, etc.) that I was hoping for, but I wish you only the best!”

Just because it feels like you’re incognito on these dating sites doesn’t give you license to deny others the same respect that you’d want to be shown. People are not things. You can’t just throw them away like garbage or treat them as if your time is more valuable than theirs. Just keep this in mind when making, planning, and cancelling dates. Let The Golden Rule live… one date at a time.

 

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Vote for the Jewish Guy and Girl of the Year!

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Vote for the Jewish Guy and Girl of the Year!

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Gather the Jews is proud to announce its Fifth Annual Jewish Guy and Girl of the Year Competition!

Every week, we feature a new Jewish Girl or Jewish Guy of the Week, highlighting the outstanding Jewish Leaders in our community. Once a year, we hold a contest, in the spirit of fun, to elect a Jewish Guy and Jewish Girl of the year.

The competition will then proceed as follows:

  • Voting will open Wednesday, April 8th at 4:30 pm. Voting will close Thursday, April 16th at 5:00 pm.
  • Visitors will be allowed to vote for one guy and one girl per day for each day of the week.
  • The three top girl vote-earners and three top guy vote-earners will advance to the second round.
  • Finalists will  submit videos for why they should be crowned to be voted on by the GTJ community.
  • Final voting will happen at our May Happy Hour! Look out for more details!

Click here to cast your votes for the girls.

Click here to cast your votes for the guys.

Last year’s winners:

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Know of an Organization that should be featured on GathertheJews.com?

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Is Tinder (or JSwipe) a Hookup Site?

erika e-1368 (1)People ask me this all the time: Is [fill in the blank with a dating app of your choosing] a hookup site?

My answer is always the same: Yes… if you both hook up.*

The point I’m trying to make here is that any site can be used for anything you want it to be used for. Do more people “hook up” on Tinder than on eHarmony? Probably. Do some people troll the “serious” dating sites looking for a one-night stand? Of course. And do some people find meaningful, lasting relationships from an app like Tinder or JSwipe? You bet. It’s all in how you decide to use the site for you.

One writer on AskMen.com wrote, “Most guys I know are content looking at the cleavage shots, and in the case of a match, asking the girl if she wants to meet up and grab a beer. Let’s be honest, they’re looking for a casual encounter. After a casual date or two, they expect to get laid.” Even Rolling Stone wrote an article called Inside Tinder’s Hookup Factory.

Is this view of Tinder, though, a self-fulfilling prophesy? If someone tells you it’s a hookup app, then you perpetuate the rumor by doing just that—hooking up with someone—thereby confirming it’s just the type of app you thought it was? Seems plausible. If that same person instead tells you he met his amazing long-term girlfriend on the app, would you go in with different expectations? I’d venture to say yes.

In my own various stints on Tinder (partly for professional reasons and partly for personal), I can tell you that the people I’ve texted with and/or met have run the gamut, from the ones who straight-up asked “DTF?” (no thank you, sir) to the ones who seem genuinely interested in at least getting to know me… outside of my pants. There was the one who was so rude to me that I had to walk out after 15 minutes (there’s a first time for everything) and the one who’s now very serious with a friend of mine because one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. There was the one who was apparently my bartender once and recognized me yet somehow had nothing (like, really nothing) to say on our date and the one who was looking to get married and have kids ASAP… if I relocated to Denver (again, no thank you, sir). There are the ones who compliment my body (no need to get specific) and the ones who actually read the six bullets I wrote talking about my love of my dog, puns, and Scotch.

Through it all, though, the only person who has the final say as to whether any of these apps are “hookup” apps is you. Then the question becomes whether you need to say up front what you’re looking for or just see how things pan out. I am of the belief, as I tell my clients, that before you decide how to proceed with someone, hooking up or otherwise, you have to see if there’s even a connection to begin with. (My exact words are actually, “Before you decide if (s)he’s going to be the mother/father of your child, first make sure you even like each other!”) Err on the side of going on the date and then deciding what to do. None of this is black and white—hookup or not, relationship or not, swipe left or right (okay, that one’s pretty clear-cut)—so it’s okay to live in the gray until you know what you want, and that may be different with different people.

So, are all of these apps hookup apps? Sure. Are they relationship apps? Yep. Are they apps that you can use to while away the time while you’re bored in line at the DMV? Um-hum. And are they apps that you can use to simply get out there and decide on a case-by-case basis what’s best for you? Yes, siree.

*Just for the record, I hate the term “hookup.” I’m using it here only because it’s become pretty much universal for a casual encounter.

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