Rolling Thunder rides for Gilad Shalit

Over 50 (motor) bikers met at the Israel Embassy this Sunday morning to ride for Gilad Shalit.  They then met up with 400,000 other bikers as part of the Rolling Thunder ride for U.S. veterans.

See YNet’s coverage of the ride here:  “Bikers rally for Shalit’s release.

Arielle Farber of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) — one of the sponsors of the event — said,

“Today’s Ride for Gilad was an astounding success. … We met lots of Americans who wanted to learn more about the face on our flags and all were sympathetic to Gilad’s plight and supportive of our cause to bring attention to him in the hopes of securing his immediate release.  At around 2 it was finally our turn to ride around the National Mall and through downtown DC, which we did with ‘Free Gilad’ flags and American flags flying from our bikes, ‘Gilad is Alive’ t-shirts, and ‘Free Gilad’ armbands.  The crowds of people lining the streets waved and cheered as they saw us ride by and some even screamed out ‘Free Gilad’ as we passed.”








GTJ staff member Anna









From YNet news.














A non-Israel reason for Jews to vote Republican

An abridged version of this post appeared in FrumForum.  Stephen Richer is a co-founder and director of Gather the Jews.  The opinion expressed below belongs solely to Stephen Richer — not to Gather the Jews.


As noted in a FrumForum post by Fred Messner, the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) insists that Israel remain a topic of debate.  After all, given the President’s recent “67 borders speech,” and opinion articles like Charles Krauthammer’s “What Obama Did to Israel,” Israel might put a few American Jews into the Republican camp.  (Also see, e.g. Alan Dershowitz, “Obama Explains – And Makes It Worse,” Brett Stephens, “An Anti-Israel President,” Robert Satloff, “Obama Walking a Fine Line on Borders Issue.”)

But though Israel will undoubtedly be the centerpiece of the Republican strategy for winning American Jews, Israel is by no means the only card in the Republican Jewish hand.  Judged by traditional Jewish values and interests, the Republican Party does quite well across the board, from foreign to domestic.

The kind editors of FrumForum permitting, I will address one issue each Friday (posted before Shabbos of course!) on which the Republican Party has a strong claim to being the better Jewish pick.

Today, consider quotas, taking higher education as the example.

Prior to the 1920s, Ivy League schools admitted students through a simple exam – if you passed, you were admitted.  Jews excelled, and by 1925, Jews accounted for 28 percent of Harvard and 14 percent of Yale, despite being only two to three percent of the general population.  Years, later Harvard imposed a quota limiting the number of Jewish students to 15 percent, and Yale put its limitations at 10 percent.

In today’s educational world, no quotas limit Jewish enrollment per se.  However, by mandating a (unjustifiably large) percentage of other racial and ethnic groups  – a quota – Jews (and Asians) are squeezed out of spots they would get if admissions were based solely on merit – scores and grades.  Regarding the Michigan affirmative action case of the early 2000s, Judge Danny Boggs, “noted that ‘a significant proportion’ of the Michigan law school applicants who lose out because of ‘diversity’ preferences are Jewish.  Though the plan is pro-minority, not anti-Semitic, it reduced the number of Jews much the same way anti-Semitic Ivy League admissions policies did the in 1930s.”

Judge Boggs further claimed that, “the law school and the court will certainly deny this, but that is where the figures unavoidably lead us” because Jews now represent two percent of the population and 23 percent of the Ivy League and other competitive institutions (including University of Michigan).

In short, in a racially blind system that judged solely on merit as measured by test scores and GPAs, Jews would rise above even 23 percent.  But in a society with quotas, high-scoring Jews get squeezed out by lower-scoring students from racially preferred backgrounds.  Though this phenomenon is perhaps most apparent in higher education, it affects Jews in other competitive environments that use quota systems – be it in the corporate board room or in racially redrawn electoral districts.

And who supports such quota systems?  Many people; but Democrats do to a far greater extent than Republicans.  In the 5-4 Michigan affirmative action ruling, all four justices opposing racial preferences were Republican appointees.  Chief Justice Rehnquist’s quote from the case accurately reflects the sentiment of many conservatives:  “Stripped of its ‘critical mass’ veil, the law school’s program is revealed as a naked effort to achieve racial balancing.”

By contrast, liberal democrats such as Nancy Pelosi fight to keep quotas in school and seek to put quotas in new domains such as financial provisions of Dodd Frank.

As noted by Earl Raab, Jews have always latched onto the American ideal that “all ethnic groups have the right to be rewarded on individual merit, regardless of ethnicity.”  The Republican Party embodies this meritocratic model more than Democrats do.


A review of the Sixth and Rye Kosher Food Truck

Opening Day: Scott's in jeans at the top left

Disregarding the kosher kontroversy** (yes, that’s spelled correctly) over Sixth & Rye (S&R) this past week, I decided to treat myself to DC’s newest food truck during its second two hours of existence.

I was pleased to see that the line in Farragut Square was not nearly as long as the one in front of Sixth and I last week (You can spot me in the picture to the right. Notice I’m not in the line). I can attribute the shorter line to the aforementioned kosher kontroversy, the absence of celebrity Jew/chef Spike Mendelsohn (sp?), decreased hype, and people not knowing how to use Twitter to find out where the truck will be next (Seriously, though. Why is Twitter still popular?).

While the line this week certainly looked considerably shorter at the popular lunch time of 12:45, it still took roughly a half hour to order at the front of the truck. S&R is obviously still working out some kinks; the credit card machine broke and the truck ran out of both coleslaw and the veggie option. I would never, ever be a vegetarian, but if I was, I would have been more than irked that I waited in line for a half hour to find out about the veggie non-option. I was a little disappointed that a truck open two hours a week was not be prepared for such a seemingly small window of time.

That being said, S&R did have plenty of corned beef, and I ordered the Meal Deal on Wheels, consisting of a sandwich, side (except coleslaw), and drink for $12. My tastes for a good deli sandwich aren’t too discriminating, as I’ve only lived in Delaware and DC my whole life. However, the hot corned beef sandwich was excellent. The rye bread it came on was nothing to write a blog post about, but what really made the sandwich was the spicy mustard. I’m no Iron Chef judge, but I thought it complimented the greasy (not a complaint!) corned beef perfectly. I devoured the sandwich back at my office and one of my coworkers even inquired as to what “smelled so good.”

At the risk of being ostracized by a segment of the kosher keeping kommunity (again, this spelling is correct), I would definitely go back for lunch any time (provided I know how to use Twitter).

** Sixth and Rye is endorsed as kosher by multiple reputable Orthodox rabbis, including Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld of Ohev Shalom in DC. A mashgiach supervises all food preparation and services. Somehow, there is still controversy.

Sixth and Rye serves up smoked corned beef sandwiches, veggie wraps, and various sides every Friday in downtown DC. For more information, check out the Sixth and Rye about page or the @SixthAndRye Twitter Feed.

National mall to get new grass!

Wish that playing softball/kickball on the National Mall felt more like playing on a field than hardtop pavement?  Then you’re in luck because the National Mall is about to get a makeover, complete with new, lush grass.

The renewal process could cause some interruptions, but I think this is a major win for DC.  And the best part about it is that it’s being funded almost entirely by a private foundation — not by federal taxing and spending.

Click here to see the USA Today article on the subject.



Help Washington, DC win the Taste of America competition

From former Jewish Guy of the Week Kenny Ames:

“[The competition] is a March Madness style tournament (bracket of 64, single elimination).  Each state is represented by a food it is known for.  It goes up against another state and its food.  Chef Spike will prepare the final four dishes at We, The Pizza, and we will announce the winner at that reception.”

Help DC win by voting today!



Still Looking for Memorial Day Plans?

This weekend will be ONE SHABBAT, an opportunity to immerse your mind, body, and soul.

As of TODAY! they are offering scholarships for $100. This will give you an entire weekend of food, sleep, friends, fun, and torah. All you need to do is be there. You can plane, train, or automobile it over.

Read below for a telling of one person’s personal excitement.


By Keith Rosenblum

I am SO excited for this “One Shabbat” Weekend. I have been to events or “shabbatons” before that incorporated some of the things offered this weekend,but nothing has ever been this action packed.

First off the speakers are top notch! I’ve seen both Charlie Harary and RabbiKen Spiro before and they both blew me away! Charlie has some amazing storiesand really leaves you feeling motivated. Rabbi Spiro is both brilliant and comical withhis incredible insights into Jewish history. I’ve heard Malcolm Hoenlein on the radioand I am really excited to hear his commentary on the speeches recently given by President Obama about the Middle East and to AIPAC. I think the coolest part is thatall the speakers are going to be socially available around the program so I canmingle with them too!

Every Jew LOVES good food and this weekend is chock full of it. I happened to geta sneak peek at the menu and was totally blown away by both the quality and thequantity of food. Every meal has an amazing variety of dishes and in between themeals there is a hospitality room filled with all sorts of goodies!

What excites me most though is the atmosphere that will be created at thisweekend. There is something special about people coming together in unison andthere is nothing that can unite the Jews better than Shabbat! I look forward tomeeting all sorts of interesting Jewish people from all walks of life. I can’t wait to eatwith them, sing with them, dance with them and share an experience that I’m surewill impact me for years to come.

Reform Jews are wealthiest American religion


The New York Times reports:

The economic differences among the country’s various religions are strikingly large, much larger than the differences among states and even larger than those among racial groups.

The most affluent of the major religions — including secularism — is Reform Judaism. Sixty-seven percent of Reform Jewish households made more than $75,000 a year at the time the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life collected the data, compared with only 31 percent of the population as a whole. Hindus were second, at 65 percent, and Conservative Jews were third, at 57 percent.

Click here to read the rest of the article.




GTJ (Gather the Jews) FTW (for the win)!

On May 17, Birthright Israel NEXT and Natan officially awarded Birthright alum Stephen Richer and Gather the Jews a $7,500.00 grant.

The grant will be used to redesign the GTJ website, improve GTJ’s services, and start GTJ in other cities.

The GTJ team is incredibly grateful for this recognition and this opportunity to better serve the Jewish community.

Thank you Birthright Israel NEXT and Natan!

If you want to part of the GTJ team that takes GTJ to the next level, email