How Texting Ruins Dates

textingHow many times have you said the following to your friends, or have they said something like this to you?

We were talking online, and then he asked for my number to make it easier to schedule the date. Well, it’s been a week, and all he does is text with no date in sight!


I don’t know… I guess I pictured him differently in my head from all his texts.

Or, how about this one?

OMG—I love this girl! We’ve been texting every day, and I’m really falling for her.

It happens all the time… someone puts his or her phone number down on a dating site or app and says, “Text me” or “Reach out to me.” Does it really make communicating easier? Isn’t it just as easy to check your email or your Tinder/JSwipe/Hinge as it is a text? (Okay, maybe it’s not quite as easy, but still…) And really, is there a need to text before the date, except to confirm the day before? (Very important: do this) My recommendation is simply to exchange numbers a day or two prior to the date so you can 1) confirm and 2) contact each other the day of in case something goes awry (you need to cancel, you’re running late, etc.). As a side note—and I know I’ve said this before—if you’re cancelling the day of the date, especially if it’s within a few hours of when you’re supposed to meet each other, please do have the decency to call.

Besides the never-ending text relationship that might form with no date in sight, by texting (or emailing) too much before the date, you run the risk of building a false impression of this person that may not equate to what he or she is like in real life. We often have a tendency to share things behind the screen that we may not reveal to someone in the flesh until much later. The New York Post even has a name for this—premature escalation.

The article says this: “It’s a trend we’ve coined ‘premature escalation’… since our whole world is so instant now, people can craft entire personas through their slew of texts… by the time you meet your partner for an actual date, you’ve built up this whole image and fantasy in your head of who you think they are, and then they turn out to be totally different.” Sound familiar?

What’s the solution then? If you’re intent on texting before a date, then try to keep these texts to a minimum, with the purpose of determining the logistics of the date. Whitney Casey, a love expert for agrees: “If your date starts sending you ‘How was your day?’ texts, it’s on you to cut him or her off — nicely.” Saying something as simple as this should do the trick: “Hey—I’m not really a huge texter, but I’m really looking forward to seeing you on Wednesday!”

Now, I’m not saying all texting is bad. In fact, I love texting! It’s great when you’re in a relationship to check in with someone during the day or to send a sweet inside joke. But just as I would never advise anyone to “friend” a potential date on Facebook before the first date, I would strongly advise you to just set up the date and go from there. The sooner you meet, the sooner you’ll know if there’s chemistry. And then text away!



Personal Connections Reconcile the Past

IMG_1776“Willkommen in Berlin”, said the captain, as the plane began its final descent into Berlin’s Tegel Airport.  Welcome, indeed!  I was ready for the journey of a lifetime.  This past November I participated on a ten-day trip to Berlin through ACCESS Global, the young professional division of the American Jewish Committee, in conjunction with the German non-profit organization, Germany Close Up.   Germany Close Up introduces American Jews to modern Germany and provides the opportunity for participants to meet young Germans, interact with government officials, and learn about Berlin’s Jewish community, past and present.

Prior to November, I had only spent about a day and a half in Berlin while on a European holiday.  Needless to say, I did not know what to expect, or how I would react to being in Germany again.  I returned from Berlin over a month ago and because the experience was so intense and inspiring, I am still distilling my emotions.   One thing I know for certain: this encounter with modern Germany was a transformative experience that I will never forget.  The trip exhibited Germany’s unique ability to address its dark history.  Openness to speak about the past has enabled Germany to build meaningful relationships with Jewish groups, as well as with the State of Israel.

One of the most significant moments of the trip was the day we visited Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, which is about a forty-five minute drive from Berlin.  A large percentage of prisoners at Sachsenhausen were political dissidents, but Jews and other so-called “enemies” of the Third Reich were also sent there.  As our tour bus drove up to the camp, our guide mentioned that the rows of houses lining the streets were quite old, and existed during the time the camp was operational. That really made an impression on me: how villagers must have known what was going on just a short distance from their doorsteps, yet they remained silent.  The camp’s existence however, serves as proof that the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe today is not innocuous.  The longer those tensions continue, the harder it will become for countries to combat groups and individuals who are threatening the stability of European democracies.  Another poignant aspect of the visit was touring the Jewish barracks, which were nearly destroyed by arsonists in the 1990’s, as well as seeing the remnants of the execution area and ovens from the crematorium.  I felt numb and was beyond relieved when we left and drove back to Berlin.

That night we had dinner with young Germans who volunteer with Germany Close Up.  One volunteer, Laura, and I sat together on the bus to the camp and we had a pleasant, lighthearted conversation. At dinner, Laura pulled me aside and thanked me for making her feel so comfortable that morning, as she was nervous accompanying the group to the camp.  This touched me because I was dreading the trip as well!  Speaking with her made me feel at ease and helped me collect my anxiety about the day.  Laura’s comment made me realize that one conversation can change one’s entire perspective.  Prejudice can be combatted person to person.  Words and human connections are more powerful than stereotypes.  My discussion with Laura exemplified what ACCESS Global seeks to do, build relationships between Jewish young professionals and those of other cultures and faiths.

Germany has also set a commendable example for how other European countries can address past wrongs through education and dedication to prohibiting extremism. Since this experience was about fostering an open dialogue, conversations were not whitewashed.  In this vein, I asked our Germany Close Up guides whether they felt a burden from history for the sins committed by their great-grandfathers.  Rather than a burden, most stated that they feel a sense of responsibility to educate humanity about the past.   This is a partnership between Jews and Germans and I was greatly moved by the commitment of the young Germans I met to fully face the past and work to author a new chapter on German-Jewish relations.  Both groups share this responsibility to remember the lessons of history and more importantly, to write new chapters on tolerance and embracing forgiveness.   As we watch an alarming trend of anti-Semitism rise throughout Europe, it is imperative to continue dialogue and relationship building with emerging leaders in Germany and throughout Europe. At this defining moment for the global Jewish community, this work is a powerful way that we as young Jewish leaders can play our part in shaping the future.



Introducing our New Open Doors Fellows!

The Open Doors Fellowship is a new and innovative initiative of Gather the Jews, designed to help deepen social connections and further engage Jewish 20s & 30s in DC Jewish life.  Our inaugural cohort of Fellows is excited to get to know you and help you connect to the Jewish community you are looking for!

Email to set up a coffee date with one of our Fellows.

Applications for the next cohort will open this summer. Look for more info in our weekly newsletter. 

Sasha AltSashaschuler 

Sasha works at Jewish Women International, the leading Jewish organization empowering women and girls through economic literacy; community training; healthy relationship education; and the proliferation of womens leadership.  She currently coordinates JWI’s Book by Book Capital Campaign, trying to build 100 libraries in battered women’s shelters around the country. Sasha was recently a Development Intern at the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, an influential network of 400 businesses and NGOs who support international development and smart power. Previously, she was a Government Relations Intern at the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that engages more than 5 million Americans in service through its core programs such as AmeriCorps.

A native of San Diego, California, Sasha moved to DC less than a year ago after graduating from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. During her time at the University of Michigan, she founded a performing group called The Smile Bringer Singers, a club that performs upbeat and happy musical numbers at nursing homes, homeless shelters, family centers, and various on-campus events. Sasha has been involved in several Jewish events thus far in DC including Gather the Jews Happy Hours, IMPACT DC, Young Womens Leadership Network events with JWI, holiday services at 6th & I and GW Hillel, celebrated Shabbat dinners with Jewish peers, attended Mitzvah Mavens events, and more. Sasha cant wait to help young Jewish professionals as they move to DC  



Daniel Bronstein

A native to the DC metro area, Daniel hopes to use his knowledge of the local market to make a positive impact on DC’s young Jewish professionals. An experienced marketing and events professional, Daniel has been successful in the sports, media, political, education, corporate, and nonprofit industries. His strengths lie in promoting marketing campaigns and managing marketing plans from start to finish. Daniel has a strong entrepreneurial spirit and is hoping to create innovative solutions with the end result of a community that is more connected and engaged.

Outside of his professional experience, Daniel graduated from James Madison University with degrees in Sports Management, Business, and Music Industry. He is an avid soccer, basketball, and tennis player and enjoys travelling, skiing, and music. Daniel has volunteered in the community as a youth basketball and soccer coach as well. He believes strongly that bringing people together through events and other platforms sparks ideas and creates a world that works better.



Samuel Getz-Sheftel

Samuel Getz-Sheftel is a Senior Software Engineer at a DC based nonprofit which specializes in the development of college admission software. Prior to his career as a Software Engineer, Sam completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Chemistry at American University. As part of his graduate research, Sam developed a suite of software tools notable for their application to graph theoretical techniques to the study of receptor protein structure and dynamics.

Prior to moving to DC for college, Sam spent the first 18 years of his life in Chicago – which accounts for his preference for deep-dish pizza, and his occasional tendency to call soda “pop.” Growing up, Sam spent his summers at Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI), the URJ (Union of Reform Judaism) summer camp in Oconomowoc Wisconsin. In high school, Sam was active in NFTY (National Federation of Temple Youth), and participated in their L’Dor V’Dor program, a 5-week long Israel trip. In his junior year of high school, Sam spent a semester studying in Israel as part of the Eisendrath International Exchange. In college, Sam continued his involvement in Jewish activities by serving as treasurer for the campus chapter of Kesher and by working as a camp counselor at OSRUI for two summers. Since graduating, Sam has become an active member of the DC chapter of JNFuture and has taken part in a number of Entrypoint DC programs including their Shabbat cluster program.

When not writing code or participating in local Jewish activities, Sam can often be found at his favorite Dupont Circle bar enjoying happy hour with friends or exploring the many art galleries and museums and other activities that DC has to offer. As part of his Open Doors Fellowship project, Sam plans to help expand the GTJs software platform in order to make it more user friendly.



Tiffany Harris 

Tiffany is from Seattle and has lived in France, Switzerland, Israel, Morocco, and now Washington DC. She attended Seattle University for her undergraduate studies. After completing 27 months as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco, she attended Tel Aviv University for her graduate studies, where she earned an MA in International Security and Diplomacy. Tiffany worked as a program coordinator for the Fulbright Scholar Program, and is currently working as the Placement Specialist for Peace Corps’ Senegal Program. She is the Co-Chair of Shalom Corps, a resident of Moishe House DC (Adam’s Morgan), and  the Director of YaLa Young Leaders USA, a MENA region-based Peace Advocacy group which has over 653,296 likes on Facebook (


IMG_0386Lisa Kaneff

Lisa was born and raised in the DC metro area and is so happy to call DC home again. You can most often find Lisa at one of the amazing independent coffee shops around town, the 9:30 Club for a show, or Sixth & I for a class or Shabbat. But because she’s a local, Lisa knows a lot of great places to cozy up, chill out, get energized, or just experience something new. From 9 to 5… well, she doesn’t really have a 9 to 5 per se. Lisa started her own marketing consultancy and now helps non-profits and other socially responsible organizations raise money and achieve their business goals. And her flexible schedule means she can meet for coffee any time!





Kelley Kidd

Kelley Kidd currently works at Temple Micah as their Communications & Engagement Fellow. She strives to create programming for Temple Micah’s 20s-30s community that lets people feel welcome, inspired, and engaged. Prior to joining Temple Micah’s team, she spent a year as a corps member of AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps. During her time in AVODAH, she worked as a Case Manager at Miriam’s Kitchen, a local social service organization dedicated to ending chronic homelessness. She also became deeply invested in social justice, Judaism, and DC as a place to call home and to create change. 

Originally from Knoxville, Tennessee, Kelley attended Georgetown University, where she studied International Relations and participated in theatre as a designer. Outside of the workplace, Kelley loves to dabble in theatre, writing, and design. She also tries to constantly explore the free-in-DC scene, searching in particular for opportunities to learn, find great music, explore the arts, and eat good food.


Rachel K

Rachel Kliger

Rachel is a Miami native and University of Miami alumna whose love for everything media and politics brought her to the nation’s capital. She is currently a graduate student at George Washington University studying media and public affairs, focusing on online journalism and digital media. Rachel also works for the GW School of Media and Public Affairs communications department. She likes to call herself a health nut and running enthusiast at heart, but she’ll never turn down a good rugula. 






David Miller 

David is originally from southeast Pennsylvania and moved to DC in late 2011. When he is not working, David likes to read, kayak, and hike. He is goal oriented and has set multiple goals for the coming year. For example, David plans to complete a half marathon in less than 2 hours and finish a certification in data science. He also looks to be more active in the Jewish community which is why David is thrilled to be a part of the fellowship. The idea of creating a positive welcoming environment for Jews new to the city is exactly what the community needs.  





Georgia Mu

Georgia is a lifelong learner and native Oregonian. After receiving a graduate degree in International Relations from UC San Diego, Georgia moved to DC to embark on a career in public service. Since coming to the DMV, Georgia has become more involved in DC Jewish life through volunteerism. When not attending services at Sixth & I or volunteering at the DCJCCC, you will find her biking around the city to her next gastronomic adventure.





Rachel Towne

Rachel Towne

A recent DC-transplant from New York City, Rachel Towne is excited to become an Open Doors fellow and welcome more Jews to the DC community.  Upon moving here, Rachel found the Jewish community of DC to be warm and welcoming, and she wants to make sure that others have a similar experience, whether they too are recent transplants to the DC area or just new to experiencing Jewish life here.

Rachel currently works in sales for a software company, primarily consulting with hotels to help them better market themselves.  She enjoys consulting and helping solve her customers’problems. As an Open Doors fellow, she hopes to use this interest to help others find the kind of Jewish experience they want in the DC community. 

When not working, Rachel enjoys running and indoor cycling, as well as trying new restaurants, bars, and coffee shops in DC. She just returned from a DC-based Birthright trip and had an amazing time. She currently resides in Arlington, VA.




 Ari Weiss

Ari Weiss is thrilled to participate in the inaugural class of Gather the Jews’Open Doors Fellowship. Ari is the East Coast Consultant at the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC), where he provides consultation services to support and advance the pro-Israel movement on American college campuses. 

Ari earned his B.A. in International Studies from John Hopkins University where he was a leader in the campus pro-Israel and Jewish communities. Ari served as President of the Hopkins American Partnership for Israel (HAPI), President of the Jewish Students Association (JSA), and Jewish Identity Chairman for his chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity. Ari has a passion for Middle East policy and pro-Israel activism and has interned for Foundations for Defense of Democracies (FDD), the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace and, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).  


Want to get to know one of our fellows? Email to set up a coffee date!



Jewish Girl Of the Week – Rachel

10931402_10203602684762973_8146198511068096987_nJackie: What brought you to DC?

Rachel: Gather the Jews brought me to DC! I was hired to be the first ever GTJ employee in August 2012. Running GTJ was one of the coolest things I have ever done- I helped connect young professionals to a vibrant Jewish community, and also had the opportunity to learn firsthand about getting a start up nonprofit off the ground.

Jackie: What do you miss most about Gather the Jews?

Rachel: After I moved on to my current role, I stopped attending as many DC Jewish events. I’d like to get back into going to events and reconnecting with the larger community. Then again, working for Hillel, sometimes I feel like my life is one giant Jewish event.

Jackie: What is your favorite part of working for GW Hillel?

Rachel: There are so many things I love about working at GW Hillel, but my favorite is the relationships I build with students.

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

Rachel: My favorite way to spend Shabbat is hosting friends in my apartment. I don’t do it often enough, but I love bringing people together over food.

Jackie: What is your favorite Jewish food?

Rachel: I love a solid latka. The perfect latka is crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside. I ate latkas six out of the eight nights of Hanukkah this past year- it probably would have been all of the nights, but eventually the oil caught up to my stomach.

1011195_10201364089839499_230281580_nJackie: Who is the coolest Jew?

Rachel: Golda Meir is one of my heroes. When I was in Israel last month, I bought a T-shirt with her face on it.

Jackie: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…

Rachel: My work is done.


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


Support GW Hillel Students running the Jerusalem Marathon!


HaLev 2nd Annual Welcome Event – Feb. 28th ****Over 380 tickets sold!***Get yours today! Opening Remarks by Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of UN Watc


5 Can’t-Miss Movies at the 25th Washington Jewish Film Festival

You-Must-Be-Joking-Movie-Header-ImageRumor has it that the new Star Wars movie will not be released until December, but luckily, the Washington DC Jewish Community Center anticipated this cinematic lull. Thanks to the Washington Jewish Film Festival (WJFF), February 19 – March 1, 2015, date nights are no longer restricted to the perfunctory dinner out – WJFF will celebrate its 25th anniversary with you in mind.

The festival features 11 days of dynamic film programming, showcasing the best of international cinema through a distinctly Jewish lens. Throughout the festival, audiences will be treated to more than 100 screenings and related events across the Washington area, including cultural and educational events to complement viewings.

Hosted by the Washington DCJCC, this year’s milestone festival features: world, East Coast, and mid-Atlantic premieres; an exciting roster of filmmaker and cast appearances; and an exquisitely curated line-up of screenings, festivities, and more.

This year’s WJFF will feature over 100 events and draw more than 12,000 attendees, maintaining WJFF’s reputation as one of the largest and most respected Jewish film festivals in North America.

But, with so much to do and so little time, we are here to help ensure you don’t miss the festival’s highlights. Get out your calendars; here are the 5 movies you don’t want to miss this year:

1) You Must Be Joking, an American film also premiering at WJFF, follows an aimless 27-year-old paralegal trying to break into the New York comedy scene. “Broad City” standout Hannibal Buress completes this quirky feel-good comedy that asks the question: What makes you so happy you giggle? You can check this movie out on Thursday, February 26 at 6:30pm at the DCJCC, or on Saturday, February 28 at 6:30pm at the Goethe Institut.

Gather the Jews is going to see the February 26th showing of You Must Be Joking! We have 20 discounted tickets for $10, sign up here!

2) 24 Days, which will host its mid-Atlantic premiere at the festival, narrates the kidnapping of Ilan Halimi, a 23-year-old Parisian Jew of Moroccan descent, based on a book co-written by the victim’s mother. The film captures the reality of anti-Semitic crime through the experience of Ilan’s family. In light of the recent tragedy in France, 24 Days underscores

3) Casting Out features a series of films that examine outcasts of every variety, whether by birth, circumstance, or choice. Breaking both societies’ expectations and yours, this film has earned its praise. This series of short films will be screening at the Goethe Institut near Gallery Place on Saturday, February 21 at 8:30pm.

One of the short films 7 – Day Gig:

4) Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem shares the story of an Israeli woman trapped in a loveless marriage appealing to the rabbinical court for a divorce in spite of her husband’s refusals.  This film brilliantly uncovers the peculiar nature of marriage in Israel, where neither civil marriage nor civil divorce exists. Nominated by Israel for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Aware, Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem will leave you baffled and intrigued. You can see Gett at the Avalon Theatre on Wednesday, February 25 at 8:45pm.

5) Next To Her, another Israeli film hitting this year’s festival, features the story of a woman raising her mentally disabled sister by herself until a romantic interest enters the picture and challenges the sisters’ once-symbiotic relationship. With mesmerizing performances from two female leads, Next To Her will also be hosting its Mid-Atlantic Premiere at this year’s festival, screening at the AFI Silver Theater on Monday, February 23 at 7:15pm, at the Abramsom Family Recital Hall at American University on Thursday, February 26 at 8:10pm and at the JCC of Greater Washington (Rockville) on Saturday, February 28 at 6:45pm.

These 5 movies are must-sees for this festival season, but they are certainly not all that WJFF has to offer. Whether you want to bring a date or come with friends – there is a movie for every occasion. There’s no need to wait for the next big blockbuster when WJFF brings the best in international film right to your backyard! Tickets are on sale now at


Does Online Dating Make Longer Lasting Relationships?

Someone posederika e-1368 (1) this question to me yesterday: Does online dating create more long-lasting relationships than the “real world” does?  I pondered this for a second and decided to do some research.  I found that there are many differing views.  Since it is just about impossible to hold all else equal (the actual people, where they live, age, religion, personality, marriage history, etc.), it is difficult to conclude, ceteris paribus (ah, my economics degree strikes again), whether the longevity of a relationship is based at all on how the two people met, online or otherwise.

One article detailing the results of a 2013 study by researchers at University of Chicago’s Department of Psychology and Harvard University’s Department of Epidemiology found that online dating leads to higher marriage satisfaction and thereby a lower divorce rate.  The researchers addressed the question of marital satisfaction in a nationally representative sample of 19,131 respondents who got married between 2005 and 2012.  Results indicate that more than one-third of marriages in America now begin online.  Not too shabby!  In addition, the study shows that marriages that started online, when compared with those that began through traditional offline venues, were slightly less likely to result in a marital breakup (separation or divorce) and were associated with slightly higher marital satisfaction among those respondents who remained married.  The lead author, John Cacioppo, says about the results, “It is possible that individuals who met their spouse online may be different in personality, motivation to form a long-term marital relationship, or some other factor,” so there may be more here than meets the eye.

One rather large caveat with this study is that it was funded by none other than online dating site eHarmony, so I can’t say whether or not any bias on that site’s part was introduced, but I’m guessing it wasn’t ignored, either.  I think the best outcome of this study was to show that 35% of marriages now begin online.  Boy, have we come a long way!

Aditi Paul, a PhD candidate at Michigan State, did a study this past year claiming quite the opposite, but ultimately differentiating people’s outcomes by their intentions.  Her abstract says that previous studies, including the one I mentioned above, have primarily looked at marital relationships. Her study extends this investigation by including non-marital relationships in the comparison.  It investigates if the breakup rate of relationships (both marital and non-marital) varies as a result of meeting online versus offline, and if other factors outside of the meeting venue predict relationship dissolution.  (Please take note that neither she nor I use the word “failure” since a marriage or relationship ending can, of course, be the best and only choice for the couple.)

Data is used from a nationally representative survey of 4,002 respondents.  (This to me does not sound statistically significant, but perhaps she had her reasons for keeping the sample size smaller.)  Her data found that the breakup rates for both marital and non-marital romantic relationships were higher for couples who met online than couples who met offline.  Obviously the actual quality and duration of the relationship turned out to also be significant factors that predicted if couples would stay together or break up.

Some conclusions in this Huffington Post piece on her study are:

  • It may be easy to meet people online—but it’s just as easy to break up.
  • Online dating also might make you less likely to end up married.
  • If you’re looking for love online, try to remember that more choices aren’t always a good thing.

Paul’s final comments are less scientific and more in line with the advice I would give as a dating coach.  She says not to get bogged down by all of the choices and become too distracted to commit to one person, especially if you’re looking for a committed relationship.  “What I’d encourage is once you find a partner, delete your profile and give it some time,” she said. “Nothing can replace the old-tested principles of time and intimacy and letting things develop.”  Preach!

In the end, online dating is simply another way to meet new people.  Whether the breakup/divorce rate is higher or lower is less relevant than the fact that there are now so many more relationships that form because of online dating, and that in itself is very significant.  What it ultimately comes down to are the two people involved, the quality of their relationship, and—perhaps most importantly—their communication skills, regardless of whether they met online or not.


Erika Ettin is the author of Love at First Site and the founder of A Little Nudge.  Like what you read?  Join the mailing list for monthly articles, news, and dating tips.


Meet the Jewish Girl of the Week Alex

Alex 3Jackie: What brought you to DC?

Alex: My family and I are originally from DC. After I graduated from Old Dominion University (located in Norfolk, VA) I decided DC would be the best place to look for work and cultivate my career considering I am interested in politics and law. One of these days I plan on attending law school in the DC area. I know that you just came back from Birthright, was this your first time in Israel? This was my first time in Israel and I fully intend on going back as much as possible!

Jackie: What made you decide to go now?

Alex: I had always intended on going and I felt like now would be the best time to capitalize on the experience. I felt like I was at an age that I could fully comprehend and appreciate everything that these birthright trips have to offer.

Jackie: What was your favorite moment from the trip?

Alex 4Alex: I would have to say climbing Masada to witness the sunrise. It was certainly a difficult feat climbing on the way up but once we got to the top to witness the sunrise and learn about to history of Masada the climb was completely worth it. Ialso had my bat mitzvah on top of Masada since I never had one when I was younger. It was incredible to have that experience in Israel along side so many amazing people that have now become life long friends.

Jackie: Did you make new connections on your trip?

Alex: I made multiple connections on this trip with those from the DC area as well as the Israelis that were on the trip with us the whole time. I never knew I could grow so close with so many people in such a short amount of time. We have actually all stayed in constant contact through social media and the DC residents have been getting together on the weekends a lot.

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

Alex: I like to go to Friday night service and get together with friends for dinner and wine after. I try to stay as restful as possible on Saturday’s but I generally end up having to run errands due to my busy schedule during the week.

UntitledJackie: What is your favorite Jewish food?

Alex: Sticking to my Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry I am naturally obsessed with matzo ball soup. Anytime it’s really cold out or I’m sick I will make a fresh pot of matzo ball soup from scratch. I took my grandma’s recipe and tweaked it just a little bit.

Jackie: Who is your favorite Jew?

Alex: Golda Meir by a long shot. She is the epitome of a strong willed Jewish woman paving the way not only Jews but women as well. Golda Meir constantly fought for the betterment and fundamental rights of Jews and Israel. For example, she single handedly raised $50 million in 1948 to purchase weapons to protect the young country even though everyone told her it was not possible. Persevering and protecting her people are things she constantly clung to which is truly admirable.


Jackie: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…

Alex: There will most certainly be constant chatting and eating! The feeling of community is emitted at all times.


Registration for Birthright’s next community trip is now open! Click here to apply.


Introducing Identity Lab

IdentityLab_LOGOB-300x157We’re starting something new at Sixth & I. It’s called Identity Lab. It’s a chance to get to know other people by hearing their stories, and to discover something about ourselves through studying Jewish stories. We’ll learn something amazing together—Joseph and his crazy family, the history of how bar and bat mitzvahs got quite so over the top, Moses Maimonides and why he loved the life of the mind—and then take that learning to see how it matches our own lives and our own personal history. Local artist (of incredible talent) Rachel Farbiarz and I will create an open, welcoming, interesting, collaborative learning environment. You’ll get to learn, and then investigate, interrogate, think about, and, ultimately—only if you want to—tell your own stories at a live show.

I have a story of my own to tell you. I was born with a lisp, which stuck with me through elementary school. My parents took me to a speech therapist; I used to get pulled out of classes once a week to repeat sibilant syllables over and over into a tape recorder. My first name starts with “S,” so I creatively mispronounced my own name for a good five years.

The thing about having a lisp is that your tongue doesn’t move quite as fast as your brain, at least quite as fast as it should. When you start to speak, to speed into the fast lane of daily conversation, your tongue jumps, trips, then stumbles. I’d find myself verbally sprawled out on the asphalt. My tongue always landed me a step behind, and I learned to not quite trust my own talking.

Moses had a speech impediment, too. In fact, he’s famous for it. And when I read the verses that Moses says to God, I feel that rare, rock-solid sense of recognition: “For I am heavy of speech and heavy of tongue.” I know what that’s like, not that a person can’t speak, but that he doesn’t trust his ability to keep speaking.

God’s answer to him is a good one, though—a zinger: “Who made people’s mouths?,” the Holy One asks wryly. God did. God created the impediment. “Now go, and I will be with your mouth, and will teach you what to say.”

What I learned is that one doesn’t teach with the mouth; one teaches with the message. The speech, the talking, the rhetoric, the form—they don’t quite matter as much as we think they do. It’s the message that counts; it’s the message that matters.

RabbiScottPerloHeadshotWEBLike for Moses, you do not need to come to Identity Lab and be the most articulate speaker, or tell the wittiest anecdote, or have the funniest tale. Identity Lab is about finding a message, uncovering something important about yourself, and then sharing it with other people. The Torah that we study together will help give you words and a frame of reference to better understand yourself. Tell or listen, share from your life or help other people share from theirs—you will find a message that means something to you.


Our workshops begin Wednesday, February 4th. Join us to enrich your Jewish identity and be part of the story.


The Million Dollar Apple

The four of us young professional men huddled together nervously by the metro stop, thwarting the evening winds with designer top coats.

“How do we do this?” we looked to each other for any semblance of guidance or experience as the ranting and raving emanated from the concrete enclave before us.

Just around the corner was a group of 10 to 15 homeless men, hiding from the January cold under dirty blankets and raggedy old coats.

We have two bowls of chili, two bananas, two sandwiches, and a few apples. Will they fight over it? Will they hurt each other? Will they hurt us? We could feel the hot chili cooling in our hands, so we finally decided to wing it.

“Anyone hungry?” we boldly stepped out.

It was hardly the stampede we had irrationally feared – one hand shyly raised up in front of us. The man under the tattered grey blanket introduced himself as Bob and Bob asked for an apple. The people around Bob began asking for food and quickly we distributed our remaining stock.

“So, Bob, how are you doing tonight?” I asked, not quite sure how to have small talk with someone living under a Metro station. I did know that repeating Bob’s name would make Bob feel proud, as Bob may not have heard his own name in a real conversation with someone in weeks, months, or perhaps years.

Bob was glowing. He bit into his apple and praised the lord. He explained that he and the folks around him lost their families, lost their jobs, and have “just been down and out”. He explained that there are some “crazies” around, but most of the men under the Metro were just like him – hungry and need someone to talk to every once in a while.

“Don’t be scared,” Bob said, “because you just lit up my day. You let me know that people still care about us, still think about us, and that G-d is in you. If more people could do that for us, remembering that we’re people, I can’t tell you how it would make us feel.”
Bob held up his apple and took another bite. “This apple,” Bob said as he chewed, “this apple is a million dollars to me.”

In all honesty, I participated in a weeknight “Midnight Mitzvahs” event just to do something a little nice and different with my evening. I picked up a couple of sandwiches and was ready to simply go through the motions. I wasn’t prepared to meet someone like Bob.

“I’ll see you again, soon, Bob,” I said, before heading home to my warm bed.

And I will.

Midnight Mitzvahs is a volunteer-led initiative launched in Washington, DC. It strives to bring supplies and smiles to the 6,500+ homeless residents of DC. Email if you are interested in getting involved. 


Jewish Guy of the Week: Gabe!

Gabe 2Jackie: What brought you to DC?

Gabe: After college, I took a job and spent a year up in Minnesota. Eventually I was just about done with the extreme snow and cold (the week where it didn’t get above -10 did it for me) and I was ready to move on.  I had a few friends that lived in the area and they couldn’t stop talking about how great it is so I decided to move here. The first time I was in the area in the past 15 years is when I showed up with my car packed with all my possessions.  Almost two years later now, I haven’t looked back!

Jackie: I hear you travel a lot, can you tell about some of your recent adventures?

Gabe: My most recent (and probably my favorite so far) was a trip to Peru this past September. The highlight of the trip was four days spent camping and hiking the Inca trail.  It wasn’t the easiest way to get to Machu Picchu but I know that we appreciated the view from the top way more then anyone who took the train did.

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

Gabe: Anywhere that there is friends and food. It never ceases to amaze me how Jewish people from all over the country (and world) all know the same tunes to the songs and prayers.

Gabe 3Jackie: What is your favorite Jewish food and/or holiday?

Gabe: While I’m not in love with the eating restrictions for the rest of the week, nothing beats a good Passover Seder

Jackie: Who is your favorite Jew?

Jackie: I’m kind of on a 60’s kick right now, so I’ll go with Bob Dylan

Jackie: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…

Gabe: there’s no place I’d rather be.


Jewish Girl of the Week/Newest GTJ Team Member – Jackie

Want to recommend an outstanding leader to be featured on GTJ? Nominate him/her at

IMG_5490 (1)Rachel: What are you most excited for with GTJ?

Jackie: I am beyond excited to join the GTJ team! One of the things I look forward to most is getting more involved in the DC Jewish community. While I have been living here for over a year now, I can’t wait to meet more awesome Jews in DC. Mostly though, I just want to find more people to discuss Serial with at Shabbat dinner- is that so wrong?

Rachel: How did you first get involved with the Jewish community in DC?

Jackie: My very first weekend after moving to DC, I went with some friends to a young professionals Shabbat service at Sixth and I. After graduating from Brandeis University, I realized how I had taken my Jewish community there for granted and was anxious to find a similar place for myself here in DC. After attending the service and other young professional events in DC, I realized how vibrant the DC Jewish community is and I knew I wanted to get involved.

Rachel: What’s your favorite part about being Jewish?383695_2527634710289_1431782458_n

Jackie: I would normally say the community and the people, but to avoid being repetitive… I love furthering my Jewish knowledge and learning. I think Judaism is a fascinating intersection of culture, religion, politics and history. There is so much to learn and I have enjoyed every opportunity I have had to deepen my Jewish knowledge.

Rachel: Do you have a favorite Jew?

Jackie: I’ve got a lot of favorites but someone I’m really loving right now is Leandra Medine aka the Man Repeller. Leandra is a New York fashion blogger with an eccentric style and the chutzpah to accessorize her most daring outfits. I loved her book Seeking Love and Finding Overalls. I felt immediately connected to her strong Jewish identity and funky feminist spirit.

305568_467512219965970_501600054_nRachel: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday and/or food?

Jackie: I go crazy for Borekas, potato or cheese filled pastries found in bus stations all over Israel. I attended the Turkish Festival in DC this year and I insisted that my friend and I sample every flavor of boreka we could find, which I think ended up being 6 different types! It was one of my favorite memories in DC.

My favorite Jewish holiday is Rosh Hashanah. I love the celebratory feeling of having a new start for a new year. Sitting down with friends to a delicious home-cooked dinner (I really do love food!) and having a wonderful fall feast is very special to me. This Rosh Hashanah was the first I celebrated in DC and I was fully invested in reflecting on my past year and setting goals for my future.

Rachel: When you aren’t gathering, what do you like to do?

Jackie: One of my favorite things to do is going to see concerts- I can’t get enough live music. DC has a dynamic music scene and I’m always sending out mass texts to friends to see who wants to get tickets to the next show with me (let me know if you want to get in on the next mass text!)

Rachel: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…

Jackie: I’ll bring the borekas.



Fish ‘n Chips ‘n Trivia Trials

homer2I don’t always go to trivia.
But when I do, I seem to do miserably.

Maybe I just need to step my game up by going to Trivia at Sixth & I every month… or pull a Perfect Score and steal the questions before I get there, don’t tell Robin. (Gather the Jews does not encourage Trivia cheating)

But other than my personal less-than-stellar performance, it was a wonderful time Wednesday night at Sixth & I with Gather the Jews, B’nai B’rith International and MASA Israel. Everyone had a healthy serving of fish n’ chips and mushy peas with wine and beer to get the trivia juices flowing. The night ran smoothly, though, the peace was threatened in the accent-off when it was discovered by the judges that one of the participants was not “putting on an accent” but was actually a dual citizen just speaking normally. Crisis was averted and he was disqualified from that particular round; all was fair again. The rest of the night proceeded without incident.

Every time I have been to trivia there has been a round that incorporates music clips into the competition. Your team has to identify the artist from only 30 seconds of a song. Highlight of my night (after knowing all the answers to the Harry Potter questions) was identifying the Arctic Monkeys’ song moments after it started (you are right Arctic Monkeys, I do look good on the dance floor, how did you know?). But there were also some gaps – I could have gotten credit for knowing all the words to Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man” but dear Dusty’s name escaped me.

geri-union-jack-re_2126979aSo to brush up on my British music I requested from the wonderful ladies over at Sixth&I that they send me their playlist from the night – all British bands. You won’t catch me unable to identify God Save the Queen by the Sex Pistols again! I thought I would also share on Gather’s blog as well to spread the joy that can only come when listening to a play list with the Spice Girls on it. Cheerio!
Wonderwall – Oasis
This Charming Man – The Smiths
I Fought the Law – The Clash
The Party Line – Belle & Sebatian
God Save the Queen – Sex Pistols
Tears Dry On Their Own – Amy Winehouse
Life On Mars? – David Bowie
The Lady Is a Vamp – Spice Girls
Viva La Vida – Coldplay
Son of A Preacher Man – Dusty Springfield
You Really Got Me – The Kinks
I Bet You Look Good On the Dancefloor – Arctic Monkeys


This One’s for the Men: 5 Creative Ways to Get Girls to Message You Back

Hey baby!
Hey beautiful.
What’s up, sexy?
You must be tired because you’ve been running around my mind all day!

If you’ve ever sent someone an email or text like the ones above from one of the online dating sites or apps, then you know the outcome: crickets. No respectable woman (if that’s what you’re going for) wants to receive a note that not only shows that you didn’t read her profile but also turns her into a piece of meat. Below are real, unedited emails that female clients of mine have received on various online dating sites that were certainly not the right way to get someone to respond favorably:

Your profile caught my eye and I am a little embarrassed to tell you why. You look just like.. You look like the mom next door, but I can’t help but think you’re super naughty. It is really hot. You are innocent and sweet looking, but it is like you are thinking something less than pure in your head. I don’t know why I got that feel, but I did. It just makes me think you are very sexy milf! haha Okk, sorry! That was too forward! hah

Wow ok.. So u probably get alot of bull crap messages so I’m just going to be real. I would like to know u and take u out lol. U wanna know more about me, write me :-) hope to hear from soon

Shut up and let me take u out

Too bad for me that I am married!!!!

Hello there, you’re very pretty! I wish you were my girlfriend!

These are bad, and I hope I don’t have to explain why. Now that we’ve gotten what not to do out of the way, let’s look at 5 creative ways to get girls to message you back:

5. Speak like a human.

Ok, this one admittedly isn’t very creative, but it is necessary. Please check for grammar and punctuation. And if you want to say “you,” then write it out rather than using “u” instead. It’ll go further than you think, even on JSwipe and Tinder.

4. Make sure she knows you read her profile.

This is another boring one, I know, but it’s important that you don’t just comment on her “gorgeous smile.” Rather, comment on how she totally killed your time in the marathon or how impressive it is that she drinks peaty Scotch.

3. Use a quirky or creative subject line (if there’s a place for one).

Would you rather answer an email with “Enjoyed your profile” or “Alien invasion – take cover” as the subject line? Unless you’re actually concerned about aliens (or don’t like people with a sense of humor), then I’m guessing you’d choose the latter. So will she.

2. Always ask a fun question, usually at the end.

Not fun: “How are you enjoying the weather these days?” Seriously? The weather?

Fun: “So your friends say you’re loyal, funny, and adventurous… awesome. But what I want to know is this: How would your enemies describe you? ;-)”

Another fun one: “That’s awesome that peanut butter was listed as the first thing on your ‘can’t live without’ list. Are we talking crunchy or creamy? Very important.”

And #1…

1. Tease her in a way that makes her want to tease you back.

“You’re a Red Sox Fan. I’m a Yankees fan. Are we doomed? Good thing you also mentioned that you like an IPA, so I think we stand a chance.”

“No sushi for you? I may have to work with you on that one since it’s my favorite. We won’t start out with eel or anything raw. Deal?”

Obviously, no one can ever guarantee that your email or text will receive a response, but if you follow these tips rather than your usual “Sup, yo?” greeting, then you’re at least off to a good start.

Feel free to list in the comments some emails or intros on the apps that worked… or didn’t.

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