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Jewish Buckeye of the Week – Ryan!

RL - 3This week I had the oppurtunity to interview Ryan. Origionally from Ohio, Ryan has now made DC his home. Learn more about him in our interview below.  Know anyone who should be a featured person for Gather the Jews? Nominate them!

 

Jackie: You went to school at the University of Maryland, what made you want to stay in the area?

Ryan: I love the DC area.  I became fascinated with the culture here and I am motivated by the speed at which the city moves.

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

Ryan: Nationals Park, after work, beautiful night, with a cold beer.

Jackie: You are originally from Ohio. Do you want to move back there someday?

Ryan: I’m in DC for the long term.  I’m fortunate to have a wonderful career and great friends and to be a part of the strong Jewish community here.  Family is important to me however, so I make time to go back to Ohio to visit.

Jackie: In 2012 you participated in the Federations Nexus program, what was the biggest take away you have from that program? RL - 1

Ryan: The Federation’s Nexus program helped me learn about the programming for young Jewish professionals here.  I found this to be particularly valuable being from out of state.

Jackie: What is your favorite Jewish Food? 

Ryan: My mother makes a really good noodle pudding.  I’m open to trying any of the local versions if anyone has any recommendations?

Jackie: Who is your favorite Jew?

Ryan: Larry David.

When the Jews Gather… things get done.

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Top 5 Films to Watch at the 2016 Washington Jewish Film Festival

Now in its 26th year, the Washington Jewish Film Festival explores gender, migration, the supernatural, artists’ lives, and LGBTQ themes. In addition to the groundbreaking lineup of films, the Festival will host talkbacks and panel discussions with over 50 domestic and international filmmaker guests, as well as numerous Beyond the Films events including a storytelling showcase by Story District (complementing the Festival’s Rated LGBTQ series), a Jdate singles event, and a set of clip talks at the Library of Congress.

With over 69 films and over 150 screenings, it’s easy to get lost in this year’s Festival lineup. Here’s your list of must-see films during the 2016 Washington Jewish Film Festival.

Yona



Focusing on the early ‘60s, we witness a turbulent slice of famed Hebrew poet Yona Wallach’s life. She is just taking her first steps in the world of published poetry, battling for recognition in a chauvinistic, male-dominated and downright cynical environment.  

 

Summer Solstice



Poland, 1943 – Love, friendship and fate connect a simple Polish country boy, the daughter of a local farmer, a young German soldier and a Jewish girl from Warsaw. The four of them come across something that both threatens and provides an escape from their harsh reality: love.

 

The Hebrew Superhero


Israelis long shunned comics as something on the cultural fringe: they were deemed childish, trivial, and perhaps most cuttingly, un-Israeli. Shaul Betser and Asaf Galay outline the medium’s origins, tracing its evolution from quirky upstart to an indelible reflection on the various forms of Israeli heroes.
The film features gorgeous animation and interviews with Daniella London Dekel, Etgar Keret and Dudu Geva.

 

Demon



In this chilling, modern interpretation of the Dybbuk legend, Piotr’s joy at visiting his bride-to-be at her Polish home is quickly upended by his discovery of human bones on the property.
Marcin Wrona’s wickedly sharp and creepy story of possession is set against a bacchanal celebration of blissful union.

 

Wedding Doll




Hagit, a young woman with a mild mental disability, works in a toilet-paper factory and lives with her nurturing and protective single mother. Hagit prides herself on her independence but also dreams vividly—and daily—about marriage.
The February 25 screening will feature a Dinner and a Movie event in partnership with EntryPointDC, the DCJCC’s young professionals network. 

 

Don’t forget to join this year’s Festival kickoff event at Sudhouse DC on Thursday, February 18!

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The Oldest New Way to Do Friday Night in DC

OneTablephotox1My partner and I applied to be OneTable hosts in New York when they were first arriving on the scene; we love hosting our friends for dinners and both find that hosting in our home is the most fulfilling way to celebrate Shabbat. Going to a synagogue where we don’t know anyone and leaving immediately after services can feel cold, uninviting, and distant. A home-cooked meal feels like the Shabbats we both knew growing up, however cost and time are both factors that keep us from hosting more often.

After applying to be hosts, we were contacted by Rabbi Jess Minnen to set up an appointment.  We grabbed coffee in midtown and talked about the kind of atmosphere we hoped to create at our first dinner.  We talked about our commitment to ethically-sourced ingredients and intentional conversation.  We don’t serve kosher food or follow observant laws on Shabbat, but we try to bring the intention of mindful food choices and a present attitude to our Fridays.  Jess was very supportive of any way we wanted to observe Shabbat, and told us she was our personal on-call Rabbi if we had any questions! I must admit, the online platform where hosts posted their meals was intimidating at first; I was afraid random New Yorkers would show up at our apartment!  So we decided to attend a few programs and meals before posting out first Shabbat.

We attended a mixology workshop just for hosts where we learned how to make three fun cocktails and discussed the Jewish value of welcoming guests into our home. We also delved into the meaning behind L’Chayim, and spent the night making many toasts. There were great people there who had hosted OneTable Shabbats all over the city.  We talked about how to select attendees, whether to post an event as open, open but password protected, or invite only, and all our fears were alleviated.  We ended up going to a Shabbat at the home of an amazing couple that we met at the mixology event.  Kate and Jason’s Shabbat confirmed that OneTable was right for us.  It felt unlike any awkward Jewish singles mixer I’d been dragged to in the past.  People were there to enjoy the company, appreciate the food and have an engaging Shabbat experience.

We hosted several Shabbats after that, inviting other guests and hosts we had met through the OneTable network along with our friends and family.  I even incorporated values-driven discussions from our OneTable workshops into our events. The “nourishment options” are unlike any of the Shabbat reimbursement programs I’ve used before.  Instead of creating more work for the host by requiring receipts and follow-up reports, OneTable offers a variety of accessible delivery options for busy millennials.  Having groceries or alcohol delivered on my schedule helped alleviate the cost of hosting a large group and at the same time checked one task off my list for the event.  The options OneTable has include apps like Drizzly, Etsy, and Seamless.  It honestly couldn’t be easier to be a Shabbat host.

As newcomers to DC, we’re so happy to introduce OneTable to this community! OneTable has stepped into the home-hosted DIY Shabbat scene in thoughtful ways, effectively creating small communities within big cities. For young Jews who want an in-home Shabbat experience that is DIY and tailored to your taste, OneTable is it.  I especially love that OneTable collaborated with the JCC and Repair the World in New York.  It’s incredible that these organizations are working together to make points of access for everyone’s preference.  I can’t wait until the OneTable community in DC is up and thriving the way it is in New York. I loved scrolling through my list of options for Friday night, and feeling connected to the other hosts in my community every week.  Sign up to host a OneTable Shabbat today, or come to our next meal–we’d love to have you.

 

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Shabbat Guide

Something really incredible happened in DC. At some point in the history of Jewish DC, three major organizations in the city who are the primary providers of Shabbat experiences got together. They came up with  a Shabbat schedule that does not overlap, allowing young adults to attend the different options in a month without having to choose one over the other. Not only is this an amazing model of Jewish organizational partnership and collaboration (one that doesn’t exist in many other cities), but it also encourages us to experience a different kind of Shabbat each week.

These are four distinct Shabbat experiences, across denominations, in different parts of the city, with different styles of prayers, but all with some social component to help you meet new people. Maybe this month you want to hit up all four, or you are deciding where to spend your first Shabbat in DC. Below we have compiled a run down of these four Shabbat options. They are based on subjective experiences that community members have had at these places and we hope they paint a bit of a picture of what to expect there. (Full disclosure, we know some people enjoy Shabbat services and for others it’s just not your thing. That is so totally ok and there are lots of other ways to do Shabbat or to do Jewish. We hope the Gather the Jews website and newsletter can connect you to the full range of Jewish options in the city.) But if you are looking for a Shabbat service and meal option, here is a little guide that can get you started…


shir-delight-newFirst Friday of the Month: Adas YP’s Shir Delight

Where: Adas Israel Congregation in Cleveland Park

On the First Friday of each month, hundreds of Jews gather in Cleveland Park for drinks and services – and it’s not at the Quebec House, an apartment building near Adas Israel that somehow manages to maintain a 50% Jewish population of residents! It is for Shir Delight, Adas Israel’s young professional Shabbat. This predominantly lay-led (no Rabbi’s in the house till the sermon, although recently they’re experimenting with using their awesome rabbis to lead) Conservative service is kicked off with just the thing to loosen you up to a night of praying and eating: a happy hour. With a great selection of beer, wine, hard cider and hors d’oeuvres, you can mingle and make friends or just try to get as much of the crudité on your plate as you can. The service, usually led by one or two of your peers as you journey through Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv, flows from one prayer to the other with the only interruption being someone calling out the page numbers to keep everyone on track. After services everyone (all 200+ people) shuffles into dinner where you take your seat and meet your new 8-10 best friends to share a yummy kosher meal. The room is usually still packed with people when they start ushering people out at the end of the night. And for many people, the night doesn’t end once Adas locks the doors; many continue the festivities informally at a local bar in Cleveland Park.

6thintheCityShabbatWEB59-300x215Second Friday of the Month: 6th in the City Shabbat

Location: Sixth & I in Gallery Place

Rabbi Shira Stutman’s 6th in the City Shabbat begins Sixth & I’s consecutive weekend YP Shabbat circuit. Like all of the Shabbat options we warm up with a drink downstairs where you can leave your jacket and bag because this is also the place you will be having dinner. Also for the yogis out there you can start your night with Shabbasana™: Pre-Shabbat Yoga that often links the weeks torah portion to your movements. Your dreams may come true if you happen to be there when Rick Recht is performing Cantor duties. If you haven’t been to this Shabbat yet make sure that you bring a friend who went to a Jewish summer camp that Recht played at and you can see your friend literally loose their mind with excitement during the service. (This is not an actual prerequisite to attend.) Make sure to get up and dance during the Lecha Dodi and always try to go for a spot on the bimah (stage), because some of us haven’t been there since our Bar or Bat Mitzvah. This is an accessible Shabbat experience where Rabbi Shira guides everyone through the evening. After the meal you can join your fellow congregants down stairs for a meal and some more prayers.

GoodSoulLogoSLIDERThird Friday of the Month: Good Soul Shabbat

Location: Sixth & I in Gallery Place

We have now hit the third Friday of the month and that means jamming in a spiritual sojourn lead by the brave and fearless Rabbi Scott Perlo and the great guy killing it on the drums. This journey also includes a “choose-your-own-adventure” element. You can start your night with either 45 minutes of meditation or a happy hour, whichever will get you in the right spiritual headspace for Shabbat. In this service, they really aren’t kidding with the name. Throughout the service Rabbi Scott continually calls attention to the meaning of the prayers that you might have just been going through the motions of without his guidance. He is usually accompanied by several musicians, which makes this one of the most musically focused of the Shabbat options. And once you are done singing your heart out, you of course eat dinner and you can join the jam session if you are so inclined.

2239s-Metro-Minyan---goldFourth Friday of the Month: Metro Minyan hosted by 2239

Location: Calvary Baptist Church in Gallery Place

If you live in Gallery Place, you are in a solid spot for the final Shabbat of the month. Rabbi Aaron Miller leads Metro Minyan (named so because this service takes place off-site of Washington Hebrew Congregation and brings it to a much more metro accessible location). Make sure to get there early for Shot of Torah (named such since there are drinks available) – an interactive round-table discussion in English about the Torah portion of the week, led by the fabulous and enthusiastic Rabbi Miller. You then transition to the service that makes those of you who grew up in Reform temples, summer camps, or youth groups feel right at home – with a guitar, Debbie Friedman tunes, and a Reform prayerbook. In addition to the Shot of Torah before services, two things really make this service special, especially for newbies. Rabbi Aaron asks people to stand up and introduce themselves if you’re attending Metro Minyan for the first time. If you are really shy, there’s no pressure, but it is an opportunity for you to be welcomed by the community. Speaking of first timers, if you showed up with no one, no problem! At the end of the service you can find someone on the welcoming committee to sit with and introduce you around. Another great part of the service is the chance to share your simchas (literally means celebrations, your good news from the last month) and accomplishments with the community. Whether it be big or small this is your chance to share what you have been excited about.


So there you have it – here are four great options for spending your Friday night with the Tribe. It is, afterall, the holiest day of the week for our people. I haven’t lived in other major cities but DC seems to have a pretty special and amazing Shabbat culture. And remember, there are many wonderful ways to spend your Shabbat praying or not praying if that’s not how you roll. The four Shabbats mentioned tend to be large (between 100 – 300 people) but there are many smaller scale Shabbat options, independent Shabbat options, pluralistic, vegetarian… the list goes on!

Saturdays:

  • Rosh Pina meets on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of every month
  • Mesorah DC meets on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of every month
  • DC Minyan meets on the  1st and 3rd Saturdays of every month
  • Segulah usually meets on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of every month

Other:

What are other ways you connect on Friday nights? Share in the comments below!

 

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If Traditional Shabbat Just Isn’t Your Thing…

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If a more formal Shabbat experience or service just isn’t your thing but you still want to do something to mark the day, here are some ideas to get you started…

5 alternative approaches to doing Shabbat:

1) Mark the day. The name for each day of the week in Judaism is in relation to Shabbat. Sunday is day one, Monday day two, etc., all the way until day 7 which is just called Shabbat. Shabbat is how Jews mark linear time. Days, weeks and months can all blend together without a regular break. By stopping to acknowledge the passing of a week, we are able to consistently assess our growth. I’ve found that a ritual is the easiest way to do this – whether it’s lighting the candles on Friday night, starting one’s Friday night meal with a blessing over wine, or wearing a different style of clothing. Do something unique at some point during the day to make it distinct.

2) Loosen the reigns. “Life goes wrong when the control of space becomes our sole concern”, writes Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. Shabbat is a time to let go and put our illusion of control into perspective. There is a lot of brokenness in ourselves and in the world that needs repair, but stepping back from the role of “fixer” allows us to appreciate the world as it is and to acknowledge the aspects of our lives that are out of our control.

3) Reflect. We’re always busy, especially here in DC – too busy to think and reflect. Shabbat can and should be a time to pull ourselves out of the day-to-day and ask ourselves the bigger questions. It’s a time to focus on what’s important, not what’s urgent. Whether you prefer meditating, journaling, or going on a walk, find 30-45 minutes at some point during the day to set aside the checklist and turn inward.

4) Rest from work. Rabbinic Judaism defines work as any creative act, but feel free to define work in a way that is meaningful to you. It could be the thing you are paid to do, it could be the things that make you stressed out, it could be the things that distract you, etc. Once you have your definition, though, try to commit to refraining from those activities for the full day, or even for a few hours. See what enters your mind when you free it from those concerns.

5) Connect to others. Shabbat is also about being present with others. Many of the laws of Shabbat restrict mobility to keep you close to the people in your community (back then, and for some today, community was mostly determined by geography). Have a real, face-to-face conversation with someone. This could be over a meal, over tea, or just on a couch. It could be a group or just one-on-one. But allow yourself the pleasure of seeing and being seen.

Do you have other ideas or suggestions for how to do Shabbat outside of formal options? Please share them in the comments below!

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Shabbat Clusters Revamped: Bonding Over A Friday Night Meal

4385237204_8961b01dca_zA few weeks ago my friend (and neighbor) texted me on Friday and said she wanted to host Shabbat dinner. We decided I would bring the veggies and she would make the main dish and then I got to messaging people to join us. I had to think carefully about who to invite because at the time, Snowzilla was gearing up to take over Arlington and I was not quite sure how people would be able to get to us. I messaged two friends who lived in Clarendon and Ballston, my Jewish and non-Jewish roommate, and an acquaintance who wanted to get involved in the community. After everyone had dusted off their snow boots and sat down at the table, my acquaintance became oh-so-curious as to how everyone knew me, the only common denominator in the room.

We laughed as everyone shared their stories of how we met. One guy friend explained how he thought he was going on a “date” with our mutual friend but wound up crashing my huge Shabbat dinner party. My roommate talked about how she came out to Lox Meets Bagel, a dating event I hosted, looking for a guy and I wound up “picking her up” as she needed to find a place to live and I had a spot open in my apartment. Another guy friend teased me about how we met six years ago at a speed dating event and have kept the friendship going ever since (Anyone else noticing a theme here?)

Was it a little uncomfortable mixing my friend groups and bringing together a room full of strangers? Yes. There were moments of awkward silence, but we quickly bonded over our love of the same TV shows and that most of us did not know the blessing for hand-washing that our host graciously printed out and placed near her bathroom sink. (Wait, there is a hand-washing blessing?) Overall the night was a success- people became friends on Facebook and one person even wanted do a set-up between one of my guests and one of their friends. Snowzilla Shabbat brought this motley crew together for a meal and it got me thinking about the concept of Shabbat Clusters, the program I am currently revamping for work and participated in off and on for the past eight years.

Shabbat Clusters is a program the DCJCC runs twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. Each session 150-200 young professionals sign up to be placed in a “Shabbat Cluster,” a group of 10-14 people that come together for monthly potluck style Shabbat dinners. Groups are for singles and couples and are formed based on location, age, and sometimes observance level and interests.

Sometimes the groups became BFFs and other times the groups fizzled after meeting twice. I wondered, did everyone in the room get along at Snowzilla Shabbat because I held the group together? Was it because we had similar interests or knowledge of Shabbat rituals? Maybe because we all lived in the same general neighborhood? Would anyone from the dinner organize a second Shabbat meal without me taking the lead?

One addition to the program this season is a Shabbat Cluster Committee. Each committee member will lead a cluster and help members decide when and where monthly dinners take place. They will make sure the group gels, and help guide dinner conversations when needed. I asked some of our new committee members to tell me more about their experiences with Shabbat Clusters and their thoughts regarding how the Shabbat Clusters program will be different this season.

Stacy: How long have you been involved with Shabbat clusters and why have you continued joining a cluster?

Geno: I’ve honestly lost track of how many clusters I’ve attended.  I think it’s in the 6-7 range.  I mostly keep going because they are fun, a good way to meet new people and make friends.  I’m not very plugged into the Jewish community, so this is a great way to get a foot in that door without a huge commitment.  I’m also single, and Clusters are great ways to meet other Jewish singles without the pressure of being at a dating/singles event.  They are best when you go with a friend, having a wingman never hurts. I am looking forward to being on the committee. In college I was very involved in Hillel, student government, a business fraternity, etc, but since I’ve moved to DC, I haven’t really given much of my time back.  I want to help the program succeed and grow since it’s been a big part of my Jewish identity here in DC.

Stacy: Josh, at the Mid-Season Shabbat Cluster Mixer we talked about your love of biking and you were excited when I told you we were going to be adding interest specific  Shabbat Clusters to our program this year. What aspect of the updated Shabbat Cluster program appeals to you the most?

Josh: I’ve always loved the idea of the Shabbat Clusters program, but none of my clusters have ever really worked out. It seems everyone has their own motivations for joining a Shabbat Cluster. If the cluster itself ceases to align with those expectations or motivations, participants abandon the group rather than attempt to find common ground. In some ways, I believe this is a reflection on the local culture here in Washington, DC. Stereotypically, we are ambitious, outspoken, highly motivated, moderately conceited, and extremely busy, which is a terrible recipe for encouraging any degree of flexibility in a social setting. Introducing very specific “Interest Clusters” is a pragmatic step toward resolving this problem because it establishes a meaningful common ground between the members of each cluster before they even meet for the first time. For example, a Shabbat Cluster catered toward outdoor enthusiasts could include hikers, climbers, cyclists, urban explorers, skiers/snowboarders, laser tag enthusiasts, etc., which means the members have activities they can always fall back on. Perhaps more importantly, hobbies like these are usually indicative of significant lifestyle choices and personality types, which are also likely to improve the chances of creating a meaningful and lasting rapport between participants. Interest Clusters are also then enabled to vary their gatherings and include activities other than or in addition to the actual Shabbat meal.

Stacy: Rachel, we recently met for the first time. I was so impressed with your friendly demeanor and willingness to get involved with the community that I invited you to be a part of not one, but two EntryPointDC programs (Rachel and other comedians with perform stand-up and improv at our Kiss and Kvell comedy show)  Why did you want to sign up for Shabbat Clusters program and join the Shabbat Cluster committee?

Rachel: I believe there is no better way to get to know people than over food! I grew up with weekly Shabbat dinners, and can’t wait to share this tradition with new friends.  I’m looking forward to meeting people I otherwise wouldn’t and I can’t wait to learn more about the DC Jewish Community since I recently graduated from school.

Stacy: Sarah, an option for Shabbat Clusters is to be part of a singles or couples cluster.  This year you signed up for clusters with your boyfriend. Tell me about why you wanted him to be involved in the program with you.

Sarah: My boyfriend and I signed up together so we can participate in an activity we can share. It’s always awesome when we find something we both want to do. Who doesn’t like potlucks and schmoozing?  Also, we will both be meeting new couples through the cluster, which is great. I’m looking forward to being on the committee and hoping I can help to keep our cluster motivated and active for the whole session.

You can learn more about Shabbat Clusters on the EntryPointDC website and register. Registration closes March 4th. The cluster season begins with a Kick-off Shabbat Dinner for all participants on Friday, March 11th at the DCJCC.

Featured image and article image taken from flikr.

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30 in the City- February Event Guide

30 in the City (1)

Hillah is your guide to being 30 in the City. It is a new month and that means she is here to talk you through some of the amazing events coming up this month. Read below for her recommendations and look out for her at some of these events!

kiss and kvllKiss & Kvell: Interactive Comedy About Love

When: Wednesday, February 10, 7:30 PM

Where: The Bier Baron Tavers (1523 22nd Street NW, Washington, 20037)

What the organizers have to say about the event:

Jswipe date night? Jewesses night out? Nice Jewish Bromance hang? Kiss & Kvell is a comedy show for people searching for love, already under love’s spell, or who want to LOL at love. 100% Jewish mother approved, the night will feature interactive improv games and stand-up comedy and the audience will have the opportunity to share their dating and relationship stories and see them acted out in real time on stage.

What makes this event cool?

It’s definitely not as easy to find your b’shert. We have all been there, told our friends about it, even listened to our coworkers talk about their conquests and date night fails. Let’s take B’shert 2.0 to the next level and enjoy the conversations and have caused us to shed a tear in laught or in Argggg “why did that happen?”

Who should go?

You like using dating, listening to dating stories, want to give your partner a good laugh. JSwipe and Tinder is wearing out your eyes and you want to focus on actually three dimentional people.

Cost: $10

Want to volunteer and attend for free? Email Stacy!

Registerhere 

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 2.56.29 PMTrue Stories

When: Sunday, February 21, 4:30 PM

Where: Tikvat Israel Congregation (2200 Baltimore Road, Rockville, MD 20851)

What the organizers have to say about the event:

Don’t miss the third annual “True Stories.” February’s program will again showcase some of the best storytellers in the Washington area and beyond. “True Stories,” Tikvat Israel’s program featuring true and humorous stories told by comedians, speaking champions, authors, local TV personalities and an Emmy-winning actress: Adam Ruben, Melissa Leebaert, Mike Bareuther, Kylie Jia, and John Melmed.

What makes this event cool?

You just survived Valentines day and now need a good laugh. This is a great opportunity to cut loose, laugh a little (or a lot), and have an up-close and personal seat with some of DC’s premier Jewish comedic storytellers.

Who should go?

Because laughing soooooooooooooo hard that you sometime just pee your pants just a little bit, but not so people see it, is how you roll.

Cost: $18 advance/$20 at the door

Register: here

 

57-atmdMoving On Up: How to Benefit from Mentorship

When: Monday, February 22nd, at 7:00 PM

Where: 6th & I Historical Synagogue (600 I Street NW, Washington, DC)

What the organizers have to say about the event:

You have big ideas and big dreams and you’re fired up to lean in. But how do you make the most of the potential you have and the contributions you’d like to make in your field? Sometimes you need a little help to put those big dreams into action.

A strong mentor can offer a wealth of knowledge and experience to guide you on your career path. Lisa Eisen, Vice President of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and director of its DC office, will discuss how to find a mentor, the types of realistic expectations bring to the relationship, and how best to maintain it – specifically as it relates to women.

Eisen is a nationally recognized leader and presenter in the fields of philanthropy, Jewish service, Israel education and advocacy, and professional development.

What makes this event cool?

Our parents, peers, professors, friends, and even employers encourage us to find mentors. Mentors are especially key in navigating life and helping us choose the right paths, but we don’t always choose the right mentor for us or we just take which ever mentor is assigned to us by our civic group or job. This is an opportunity to figure out what type of a mentorship is right (like finding the right size shoe) and pursuing that person.

Who should go?

You are female! This event is actually geared towards women. Believe in mentorship or want to try it on. You are looking for that next step in your career and needs some fresh eyes.

Cost: $12

Register: here

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 2.59.12 PMBabka Bake by the JWI Young Women’s Leadership Network

When: Monday, February 29th, 6:00 PM

Where: 3010 Ordway Street NW, Washington, 20008

What the organizers have to say about the event:

Come out and learn to bake Babka with chef Paula Shoyer, author of The Kosher Baker and other best-selling cookbooks.

What makes this event cool?

Think you ate to much baked goods over Valentines day, no one cares. Eat more and prep your baking skills for Purim.

Let’s think about it:

  • Learn to bake a tradition dish? Check!
  • Put a smile on your parents face, because you finally put your oven to good use? Check!
  • Mix and mingle with some powerful young professional women? Check! Check! Check!

You can never go wrong with an event that brings baked goods and power-house women together into one room.

Who should go?

Ladies who enjoy baking, learning to bake, discussing food and being around like minded people.

 Cost: $10 for members/$12 for non-members (can we say bargain!)

Register: here

 

Want more? Check Out:

Get your house in order with Building a Jewish Home at Sixth & I Historical Synagogue.

You like comedy and giving to a cause, so join Jewish Foundation for Group Homes at their MC Live! A Special Evening of Comedy.

How much do you remember from your Birthright trip to Israel with Think & Drink: Israel Trivia brought to you by the J and NOVA Tribe.

Catch up with old and new friends at Adas Israel Second Annual Tu B’Shevat Community Sedar.

 

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Jewish Legislative Assistant of the Week – Joe!

1This week I got the chance to interview one of our community members working on the Hill Joe! We talked about his work, what lead him here and why his summer camp experience still matters to him. If you know someone who should be featured as the Jew of the week email me to nominate them!

Jackie: You are from Louisiana originally and went to Tulane. What do you miss most about New Orleans?

Joe: Definitely the food. The crawfish, the gumbo, the pork jambalaya, it’s all so delicious.

Joking.

New Orleans is one of those rare cities that really has a personality. It’s a city that loves to fun, but above all it’s a city where there is a pervasive sense that we’re all in this together; that we have our neighbors’ backs. It’s that sense of community that I miss most.

Jackie: What brought you to DC?

Joe: I’ve known for a long time that I wanted to work public service and government, and DC is the place to be. Immediately after college, I spent the summer as a Rosh Eidah at Ramah Darom, and after that I moved to DC and started searching for jobs.


2Jackie:
What is the most exciting part of your job, working for Congressman Cedric Richmond?

Joe: The narrative about Congress is that we don’t get anything done, and it’s certainly true that Congress has been unwilling or unable to tackle head on many of the most important problems we face. And as members of the minority party, we’re even more limited in our ability to affect the agenda. Once in a while though, we’re able to make small changes that really make our constituents better off. Whether it’s tacking on an amendment to a larger bill or passing a bill of our own, those are the most satisfying moments.

Jackie: You lived through Hurricane Katrina, did that experience influence the career path you chose?

Joe: Absolutely. Government at every level – local, state, and federal – failed before, during,  and after the storm. One of the greatest myths about what happened to New Orleans is that it was a completely natural disaster; that it was not preventable. Hurricane Katrina was a natural disaster, but the flooding of the city and the devastation that followed a government-made disaster. As I kid, I was always interested in politics, but Katrina was the first time I witnessed firsthand what happens that the government fails. It motivated me to want to help make sure that government works for the people.

3Jackie: Where is your favorite place to spend time in DC?

Joe: Wherever my friends are. I’m lucky to have some great friends in the city, and wherever they’re hanging out is where I’ll be.

Jackie: You are a Ramah Darom alumni, why is that experience still important to you?

Joe: My time as a counselor and a Rosh Eidah at Ramah was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. To watch the kids have the best time of their lives, and to know you helped make that happen, is really special.

Jackie: Who is your favorite Jew?

Joe: I’ve always been enamored with Mordechai Anielewicz. His courage in the face of unspeakable evil is inspiring.

Finish the Sentence: When the Jews gather… Nobody can dance… So everybody can dance!

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Check Yourself, Don’t Wreck Yourself: Thoughts on Self-Care for the New Year

If you’ve been following my ongoing series on Mussar, you might have noticed that I’ve spent a fair amount of time thinking about self-compassion and self-care. We can only be our best selves if we are kind to ourselves. It sounds obvious and easy, but I think many of us know that it can be difficult to set our own well-being above all the other commitments in our lives. To that end, I’ve compiled some thoughts and resources that I’ve found valuable.

  1. Saying no

It might be nice to live in a world where we are able to do all things we would like to and all the things everyone else asks of us. But alas, we live a world of limited time, and so we owe it to ourselves to prioritize our different engagements and activities and be able to nicely and/or considerately decline those we can’t accommodate. It could require some soul searching about taking on fewer commitments or changing how you handle those commits, but may be as simple as holding yourself to leaving the office on time.

  1. Simplifying

We often make our lives more complicated than they need to be, and the extra hassle isn’t always worth the extra benefit. An example: I’ve spent years struggling with what to eat for breakfast, looking up different recipes, spending valuable weekend time preparing different concoctions for the week. But then I recently was craving bananas and began a personal bananas (with Nutella) for breakfast campaign, and I’ve found myself happy at breakfast and with a lot more weekend time on my hands. Some people have taken the concept further, abiding by meal schedules or uniforms.

  1. Taking time out during the day, before getting exhausted

This is one that I struggle with on a daily basis – I get so involved on a project I’m working on that I don’t want to stop, but by then end of the day, I am completely wrecked. I’m trying to be better about putting breaks on my calendar and calling on friends and coworkers for reinforcement. To that end, try eating lunch away from your desk, and even better, with a buddy.

  1. Getting enough sleep

Not getting enough sleep means I wake up feeling resentful and am more likely to burn out and be less than my best. So I’m working on enforcing mandatory bed times, as Gretchen Rubin suggests in The Happiness Project. I’ve also heard that snoozing is a no-no, but I haven’t yet rallied to give up my daily 3+ snoozes habit.

  1. Dance more

Whether it’s around my room or with someone else, I bet you’ll feel better when you’re dancing.

For a longer list of self-care dimensions and to assess your own level of self care, check out this great checklist.

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From Bob Dylan to Amy Winehouse: an interview with Asaf Galay

Asaf Galay is a renowned art curator and a successful film Director from Israel. He will be in Bethesda for Think and Drink on January 28th to discuss pop culture and Jews from Bob Dylan to Amy Winehouse and the impact of Judaism on those two iconic musicians. He spoke with Danielle Flicker of the JCC of Greater Washington before the event to discuss his life and his most recent exhibit on Amy Winehouse.

Danielle Flicker: What brought you to the profession of curation and film making?

Asaf Galay: I was born in Tel Aviv and was educated at a secular public school. As a teenager I loved art and cinema but majored in science during high school because I thought it is more serious than abstract art.  When I went to college my opinion changed and I majored in literature. Looking back I can tell it had a great contribution to my career and my professional development because documentary film making and also curating requires good story telling skills and not just an artistic eye.

Danielle: You were the curator in Israel for the exhibit Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait at the Beit Hatfutsot. Tell us who is behind the idea of the exhibition on Amy Winehouse?

Galay: The person behind the idea is Amy Winehouse’s brother. After her death in 2011, her house in London became almost a sanctuary. Some people even broke into the house and started stealing objects from it. That was when her brother decided to donate Amy’s personal items to the Jewish Museum in London and these created the first exhibition that tells her life story. When the idea of adapting the exhibition to the Israeli Audience was suggested to him, he was very happy about showing the exhibition at the Beit Ha’Tfuzut.

Amy1140x527

Danielle: What was the main massage in this exhibition? What were you trying to emphasize?

Galay: Amy Winehouse is a singer and a Jewish one. Her contribution to Pop of the new Millennium is very large. During her career she released only 2 albums but these were revolutionary. It is hard to find a “Jewish meaning” in her songs but the story of a Jewish girl from a poor family in London who dreamt of success since an early age, is fascinating and inspires us even with the tragedy of her death in an early age.

Can you think of imagination between Bod Dylan and Amy Winehouse?

I think they are both pioneers in this industry and made great revolutions in their filed. They were both raised In a Jewish home and had some connection to their Jewish identity. Sometimes the connection was out front and sometimes on a more private matter.

Danielle: What were the comments to this exhibition in Israel?

Galay: The exhibition was a great success. The Israeli Audience was thrilled and many people came to see the exhibits.  The final part of the exhibition was a wall filled with Post it notes that the visitors could write their personal reflection of the exhibition and a message to the Winehouse Family.

As an Israeli. I thought I knew the Israeli audience and ordered 100 Post it notes since I didn’t think of the Israelis as very sentimental and a bit more cynical but only three days after we opened the exhibition, we ran out of all the notes and after six months we had thousands of notes we had to ship to London.

 

More details about the event: Dflicker@jccgw.org

Link to the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/151653501873759/

 

 

 

 

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Adrianne Jewish Advocate of the Week

depas-207Jackie: You are originally from Boston, what do you miss most about Bean Town?

Adrianne: That the locals don’t call it Bean Town! But seriously, the local vibe of loyalty to the city, the sports teams, the history and the people is really second to none. And way better Jewish deli food than anything you can find in DC! Zaftigs in Brookline tops DGS any day!

Jackie: You founded the Black-Jewish Unity Seder, what inspired you to create this event?

Adrianne: I went on an AJC ACCESS Advocacy Day trip, which is a 24 hour trip over a Sunday and Monday to meet with local government, diplomatic and community leaders in cities where AJC has a presence, to Atlanta, where ACCESS was founded. The trip centered around the relationship between the local Jewish and African-American communities. We visited Martin Luther King Jr.’s childhood home and neighborhood, and had dinner at The Temple in Atlanta with members of the African-American community there to discuss the history of the relationship between our communities. I have been very involved in cultivating ACCESS DC’s relationship with the Thursday Network, the young professional leadership group of the Urban League, for the last few years, and when I learned that AJC Atlanta hosts a Black-Jewish Seder every year, I thought that we absolutely needed to replicate that in DC given our strengthening relationship with the Thursday Network. It took almost a year of planning, but we brought six amazing groups together and sold out! I can’t wait for the Second Annual Black-Jewish Unity Seder this year on April 11!

Austrian Embassy Hanukkah Party 2015 2-2Jackie: How did you get involved with AJC ACESS?

Adrianne: I like to say that I am second generation AJC. I grew up with my dad being very involved in AJC in Boston. We hosted events in our house. I went to AJC Boston’s Diplomatic Seders every year, as well as other events. So, when I was done with grad school and had extra time on my hands, I knew I needed to fill that time with something meaningful. I sought out ACCESS in DC, having heard about ACCESS in Boston, and attended some events, including the Winter Party and Young Diplomats Reception. I joined the board just a few months after my initial introduction, and I am so glad that I did.

Winter Party 2014Jackie: What can we look forward to with the Winter Party?

Adrianne: Winter Party is not your typical, average happy hour, and that is one of the reasons why I am involved in and love ACCESS. I co-chaired the last two ACCESS DC Annual Winter Parties, and this year’s 7th Annual Winter Party will include part of the proceeds going directly towards AJC’s priority to combat global anti-Semitism. We party with a purpose! If you haven’t registered, now is your chance to buy your tickets here! I’ll be there and so should you on Thursday, January 28th at U Street Music Hall.

Jackie: You recently got married, what is the biggest lesson from married life you can share with us?

Adrianne: Don’t change who you are just because you are married. My husband, Mitch, and I have always had so much fun together, and we wouldn’t change that just because we’re married now. We take joy in the small things and celebrate the big things, but we always find a way to have fun. Even if it’s just cooking dinner together on a weeknight or throwing a huge dinner party (we also both love to cook!), we try to make it as fun as we can. Laughing and joyfulness are so good for your soul.

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

Adrianne: Mitch and I live in Navy Yard and I really love the neighborhood. There are new restaurants opening, and great neighborhood places. We also love walking up to Eastern Market whenever we can. Just spending time walking around this cool, new neighborhood is so much fun.

cookingJackie: I hear you are quite the cook, what is your favorite Jewish holiday recipe?

Adrianne: I’ve been working on my challah over the last few years, and while it can be really frustrating to make, it is rewarding in the end. I’ve made different types of challah with different fillings inside, everything from a traditional plain challah, to fig and orange filled challah. It takes a long time to make, and the weather can totally screw it up, but when it’s right, it is so tasty!

Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather… we make a difference.

 

 

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Monthly Mussar: Honor and the Impostor Syndrome

This month, I focused on the concept of honor. From the Mussar perspective, the goal is to see the light of the divine in everyone, and accordingly, each person is due honor just for this fact.

We can think about honor along two dimensions of honor: showing honor for others and showing honor for ourselves. In Everyday Holiness, Alan Morinis focuses on showing honor for other people in our lives. He talks about how it is our natural inclination to see ourselves and our own issues as the most important and emphasizes turning our attention to others. While I agree that this is a worthwhile pursuit, I will focus here on the issue of honor from a different angle, of showing honor for ourselves.

Have you ever felt that you are just not good enough? That, even if things are going well, eventually people will see the real you, who has no idea what they’re doing?

I have.

On my part, I’d felt highly competent throughout grade school, college, and my early working years. But throughout my time in graduate school, my confidence was shattered. Suddenly, I felt like I had no idea what I was doing and whether I really belonged there. It was an excruciating feeling. I later learned that I was not the only one, and that the feeling had a name: the impostor syndrome.

I’m not alone. In recent years, more outlets have been starting to talk about the impostor syndrome. It can affect anyone, but perhaps affects women disproportionately.

And it’s a problem. It’s a problem because it not only holds you back from being your best self, but it also denies the world all that you have to offer.

On my part, I thought I had conquered it. With lots of hard work, I started to see some successes, and started to believe that I did have what it takes.

But yet, the impostor syndrome reared its head in my life this month. I had written a journal article that I was fairly optimistic about, and it got rejected. Now I should mention that rejection is a part of the publishing process – this was not the first, nor will it be the last, paper I write that has gotten rejected. Nonetheless, with that rejection letter, I felt embarrassed and humiliated – I thought I was beyond the specific issues they mentioned in their letter – I thought I knew what I was doing.

And so, I found myself feeling inadequate, not because the paper got rejected, but because of all the ways it clearly indicated that I was failure. And all the more so because I had thought I had mastered my subject area and my impostor syndrome. But I was clearly wrong, on both counts. And while I wouldn’t actually go down this route, there was a part of me that just wanted to give it all up. Why bother if I clearly wasn’t cut out for this.

I was pretty down for the next few days. Giving up easy isn’t really my style, so yes, I would work on the article and make it better than it had been before, even if I hated the way all of this had made me feel.

As it happened, though, later that week, I received an acceptance for another paper. At the moment I got that email, I was on top of the world – my feelings of inadequacy were gone, and I felt like I could conquer any challenge that came my way. So OK, my excitement may have been a bit over the top. But in that joy, it helped to put my rejection in perspective. It made me remember that I do know what I’m doing, and that the rejection was an isolated incident, not a reflection on my overall competence.

Final BodyMy encounter with the impostor syndrome during this month of honor helped me to be mindful that we all warrant a basic level of honor, in our relationships with others and our relationships with ourselves. I know that this won’t be the last time I get a paper rejected, nor will it be the last time I ever feel inadequate, but I hope this experience will help me to be more ready for the next time.

Have you ever struggled with the impostor syndrome? Were you able to overcome it? How? Have there been situations when you’ve acted dishonorably to yourself? How would you have handled those situations differently? Share below in the comments.

 

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Revisiting Snowpocalypse of 2010

Capitol-1Have you heard that its snowing in DC? If you have been to a grocery store in the last few days you might have noticed everyone stocking up for a big one. Accept the guy in front of me at Trader Joes who waited in that line for one clove of garlic. Hope it’s the best you’ve ever had.

Something you might not have known is that Gather the Jews was first conceived in the DC’s last great snow storm Snowpocalypse of 2010. As a group of friends were snowed in they came up with the idea of creating a platform where young Jews in the area can go to get all the information they need to participate in Jewish life. And so we have Gather the Jews.

 

It has been 6 years since the initial conceptions and Gather has grown. From a group of friends Gather Teamvolunteering their time to a full time staff of three. What started as a email blast to small group has grown to an email list of 5,000, a website with comprehensive information on the DC community. The monthly Happy Hours are going strong and we have launched new fellowships. Everyday we grow.

Now with 2016 comes a new snow storm. We are excited to see what the next 6 years for Gather brings.

We hope that someone out there is dreaming up the next great idea for our community.

Stay warm and safe.

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Jewish Mensch of the Week – Josh

1913734_1524321174533721_5696876135623580384_nJackie: What made you initially wary of being featured for Gather the Jews?
Josh: I think every person in our community should be featured by Gather the Jews. There are so many people doing amazing and impressive work our there that should be featured before me. I tend to like to be a behind the scenes guy and do what I do without any public recognition. However, since I got a Jewish Guy of the Week t-shirt before I was every featured on Gather the Jews, I felt compelled to earn the shirt. It would not have been right for me to wear it in public without being featured.

Jackie: What first brought you to DC?
Josh: I came to DC back in August of 2009 to start my year of service with AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps. I then left for a year to work at The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies and then came back to DC once again to work for AVODAH starting in October of 2011.

Jackie: Do you have a favorite story from your work with Housing Unlimited, Inc?
Josh: Anytime I sign a lease with someone who has been on our wait list is a favorite story for me. We have a wait list of over 200 individuals in mental health recovery in need of affordable housing up in Montgomery County. So when I get to hand over the keys to someone who has been homeless or living in substandard housing and see that smile on their face, it reminds me how important and needed the work is that we do.

11704888_781452161855_3791433005746740942_nJackie: Anyone who runs into you knows you are a Bernie Sanders fan. Have you always been politically interested/active?
Josh: I have ever since my failed run for class president my senior year of high school and my political career came to a sudden and tragic end. But in all seriousness I have been politically active since high school. I was a delegate for Howard Dean at my state Democratic caucus where I was the youngest representative from my town. I have participated in environmental protests in front of the Israeli Supreme Court to being interviewed outside of an NRA press conference for holding a ‘Down With The NRA’ sign while trying to get Congress to act on sensible gun reform legislation. These days I focus my political energy on the Bernie Sanders campaign as he resonates with where I stand politically.

Jackie: I hear you have some interesting things in your backpack, what are they?
Josh: I always like to keep myself grounded and remind myself of where I came from. One thing I have is a little pocket blessing on a little fabric scroll that reads, “Seek Peace And Pursue It.” I got that after my year of services with AVODAH. I also have a Morgan Silver Dollar from 1884 that was a graduation gift from my high school shop teacher (yes, we had shop class up in Vermont). And lastly I have a tiny hand stone that is of the world made by Danforth Pewter which I got from the Environmental Studies Department at The University of Vermont. It always reminds me that I have the world in the palm of my hand.

Jackie: You’re involved with a lot of organizations around DC, do you have some recommendations for events that we should be attending this month (January)?
Josh: On January 28th at 7pm I’ll be going to the Masa Israel Journey will be hosting its Winter Shalom U’Lehitraot Party at Moishe House Columbia Heights where Masa Israel Alumni are invited to welcome back recent returnees and send off the next class of Masa Israel participants. Just RSVP to Jenn at Jrheuban@shalomdc.org. And who can forget the Gather the Jews’ January Happy Hour on Tuesday, January 26th at Redline.

Jackie: What is your favorite part of the Open Doors Fellowship so far?
Josh: Meeting all of the people who make up this amazing and dynamic young professional community in Washington, DC. And also Rabbi Aaron Potek’s improv skills and getting to know other amazing people in my cohort. If they have reached out to you for coffee you should definitely take them up on the offer!

IMG_2515Jackie: Who is your favorite Jew?
Josh: I’m changing the questions to Jews because I can, right? I would go with my Bubbie who I talk with almost daily. She reminds me of where my family came from and the importance of connecting to Judaism in whatever way is most important to you. I would also be amiss if I did not mention my parents who always taught me that the best things in life aren’t things and to always stand up for what is right.

Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather, there will be…
at least one of seven reasons that Jews might be there: National Identity, Spirituality, Jewish Values, Community, Shared Memory, Religious Practice, and Ancestry.

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Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr Day with the DC Jewish Community

The Maccabeats and Naturally 7, sing James Taylor’s “Shed a Little Light” in memory of MLK Jr. Day in our own backyard.

Looking for ways to gather and give back this weekend? Here is a list of some of the things happening.

  1. MLK Shabbat with Washington Hebrew Congregation – Friday January 15th
  2. DCJCC MLK Day of Service – Monday January 18th
  3. MLK Day of Service with Washington Hebrew Congregation – Monday January 18th
  4. MLK National Day of Service Volunteer Project with Adas Israel – Monday January 18th
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