Soldier Pick-Up Station


This event was co-sponsored by The Israel Forever Foundation.

As many Jewish girls, I have spent my life dreaming about the Israeli Soldier. Not just because of the way their uniforms hang so perfectly, but because they wake up every single day risking their lives for each one of us.

When I was 6 years old, my dad picked up a *hitchhiking IDF soldier on the side of the road as we exited the mountains of Jerusalem. He explained how nowhere else in the world should I ever pick up a stranger. But here in Eretz Yisrael, it is a mitzvah because every soldier, whether we know him personally or not, is playing a role in our safety as a Jewish people.

I now look back and remember sitting in the middle seat with my sister to the left, and a man with his M-16 digging into the side of my leg on the right; and that man who to me seemed so incredibly mature and brave at the time, was really just a young kid not much older than myself.

aliayhAs we all know, Israel inspires young souls, and it was 8 years ago this summer that I made aliyah in pursuit of strengthening my connection to Israel. During my two years I had many friends just like me who had finished college or unversity and moved to Israel with a tenacity for Zionism. Some of us spent our days soaking up the Tel Aviv sun, while others were on army bases, training and preparing. And while I had childhood dreams of being compared to Hannah Senesh for my heroism as a paratrooper, the army track would certainly not be my calling.

After a lifetime of flying back-and-forth, longing to feel like an Israeli, along came the Disengagement in 2005, followed by the Lebanon War in 2006. Suddenly my friends, my age, who had become my family away from home, were literally standing on the front lines.

One of Israel’s greatest beauties is that we are all one nation. No matter who you meet, what city you go to, you always know you can find a friend.Therefore, Lone Soldiers are not defined as individuals who are alone. Rather, Lone Soldiers are identified and unified by their common contributions of personal sacrifice.

For all these reasons and more, I was thrilled to be presented with the chance to pay tribute to these young men and women. On June 20, 2013 in Washington, DC, I again had the honor of coordinating our Annual Israeli Wine Tasting event for The Lone Soldier Project of The Israel Forever Foundation Wine Tasting with The Embassy of Israel.

Military_advisor_Permanent_Mission_of_Israel_United_NationsYet again, the room was filled with people from around the DC community who were welcomed into the Jerusalem Hall by Captain Ronen Nimni, the Israel Naval Attaché to the United States, as well as the Military advisor to the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations, who articulated the importance of Lone Soldiers and their courage to leave home and defend our land.

When we launched The Lone Soldier Project in the spring of 2012, our first event focused more on the concept of “What is a Lone Soldier?

For the 2013 event, the theme delved deeper into the reality of “What does it feel like to be a Lone Soldier?” depicted through an intergenerational conversation with former IDF Lone Soldiers, Jack Porat and Aaron Kaplowitz, who while serving almost 30 years apart had such similar stories and a magical chemistry between them that was instantly visible to the crowd.

Jack Porat is the son of Israeli parents who immigrated to the United States in the 1960’s. After high school, Jack decided to make aliyah and enlist in the Israeli Army where he served as a tank driver in the armored core from February 1983 to June 1985, during which he was served in Lebanon for 1 ½ years.

Aaron, Ariana, and Jack

Aaron, Ariana, and Jack

Aaron Kaplowitz works as the Communications Director at the Embassy of Israel in Washington DC. Aaron enlisted in the IDF in 2006, after graduating from Boston University with a degree in journalism.

After this inspirational evening, I think of my friends who have served, are serving, and will serve. I rally for all IDF soldiers because I Stand with Israel.

I rally for Lone Soldiers because I have always strived to do my part, and I truly thank you for doing what I myself,
could never do.

*Please note:
While it used to be a common practice – culturally accepted and socially encouraged – to pick up soldiers, hitchhiking in Israel is now forbidden for all soldiers in the IDF as a result of kidnapping attempts.

Don’t miss the photos from theIsraeli Wine Tasting event for The Lone Soldier Project™!

GTJ Satirist Brian F. – Kim Jong-Un Refuses to Comment about Acting Career

upPYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA – (@The Comedy News) – Kim Jong-Un, heir to the North Korean Supreme Leadership throne, has kept quiet about his previous career as a Hollywood actor.

“Kim Jong-Un can neither confirm nor deny his role in the 2009 Oscar-nominated film, Up,” announced Kim’s publicist, William Morris.

Entertainment writers have long-speculated that Kim did indeed play a supporting role in the film Up as Russell, a portly, jovial young kid with father issues that latches onto a senile old man named Carl Fredrickson–played by former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.

The late Coach Paterno had also refused to comment on his role in the critically-acclaimed film, Up.   (SEE STORY)

According to, there is no listing for Kim Jong-Un’s brief acting career—most likely due to threats stemming from North Korean officials.

The rumor going around Hollywood has been that even though Kim’s late father, Kim Jong-Il threatened producers to cast his son in the film Up, he also required producers to expunge all records of his son acting in the film—promising a nuclear holocaust upon the Western Hemisphere for noncompliance—excluding Canada, though, because hockey and curling are now the fastest growing sports in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Still, the 28-year-old Kim’s publicist is ambiguous with his statements about his life before politics.
“Let’s just say, hypothetically, that Kim was an actor, arrrrright?” The publicist continued, as several large guns appeared pointed at his head.  “Let’s say the young Kim was indeed a 245-pound jolly jelly-belly cream-puff fluff-muffin son-of-a-little-bitch actor with a smile as big as China—would you honestly think that at a time like right now, when his father just passed away, that he would start hogging the all the media attention?  C’mon!  You media-types are simply cruel, and you must be eliminated.”
Brian Fishbach is a writer and comedian.  You can read Brian’s weekly satire news articles at, and enjoy his late-night jokes at  Join The Comedy News’ Facebook page for updates.

True Love vs. True Lovin’ – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 68)

computer-loveWhen it comes to online dating (or dating in general, for that matter), people’s intents run the gamut from finding a pen pal to looking for true love (I prefer to work with these people!) to meeting someone for less than a long-term encounter, if you catch my drift.  And there are dating sites out there that satisfy each of these very different objectives.  But how do you know which one(s) to use?

On one end of the spectrum, when searching the market of love, there is actually a site that exists called Horny Matches.  (Maybe it’s more of a meat market of love in this case.)  And on the other end of the spectrum is eHarmony, which claims to be the top site for the number of marriages created by an online dating site, based on a survey conducted online by Harris Interactive in June of last year using data from 19,131 marriages from 2005 to 2012.

And then somewhere in the middle lie the sites we know and likely have friends (or ourselves) on:, OKCupid, Plenty of Fish, Hinge, and, of course, Jdate for our crowd.

In an interview with Markus Frind, the founder Plenty of Fish, the largest free online dating site (over six million unique visitors last month!), he said that he recently decided that men using online dating purely for sex are ruining it for everyone else looking for a meaningful relationship… so he’s getting rid of them.  (I guess when you’re the founder, you can do that, huh?)  How, you might ask:

– Get rid of the “intimate encounters” option on the site.
– Limit the e-mail functionality so that you can only send e-mails to people who are within 14 years of your own age.

As he said in an e-mail to all members on May 20th, 2013, “There is no reason for a 50 year old man to contact a 18 year old woman [sic].  The majority of messages sent outside those age ranges are all about hookups.  Anyone who tries to get around this rule will get deleted.”  You know what happened next?  There was a 15% increase in sign-ups after this announcement.  I guess he was on the right track!

That brings us to the question: Should sites advertise their intent, or should they be all-inclusive of people looking for any type of relationship?  Should there be a versus a  Or should it be up to individual users to decide what they are looking for?  Thoughts, comments, and questions are welcome.

Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people stand out from the online dating crowd and have a rewarding experience. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.

Pedal Forward and Bicycle Distribution in Tanzania

CGIUMatt Wilkins founded Pedal Forward and is currently a grad student at GW.

After winning the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative University Commitment Challenge, I made a commitment to donate 24 bicycles to impoverished areas of the world. When my friend Marisa Ranieri (B.A. ESIA ‘12) told me she was moving to Muyenzi, Tanzania to teach English in a secondary school for a year, I had my target location. With the help of SEAS, I was able to exceed my goal and donate 35 bicycles through The Tumaini Fund, a charity that sponsors AIDS-affected orphans in the region. The bicycles address the basic transportation needs of isolated communities around the world by allowing easier access to water, education, and health care. After months of fundraising and working out logistics, I hopped on a plane ready to distribute the bicycles I had donated.

P1010808I flew into Kigali, Rwanda, a city filled with African culture with and Western comforts. After 7 hours of riding in a crowded bus, sharing a 5 seat car with 9 passengers and their bags, and sitting on the back of a motorcycle through the dirt roads of Tanzania, I had arrived in Muyenzi, a village of 200 people situated in the Northwest region of Tanzania. Transportation around the village consists of either walking (most students at the Muyenzi Secondary School do 16 km of this every day), riding a bicycle if you are lucky enough to own one, or if you have some money to spare, catching a ride from the one person in Muyenzi who owns a motorcycle. It is unfathomable but true that the closest wall outlet to charge your phone from Muyenzi is 50 km away, and that the trek will take an hour and a half on the back of a motorcycle.

IMG_1437I traveled via motorcycle to Kibogora and Ndomba Secondary Schools, where I distributed the 35 bicycles I had donated. The students were selected based on the following criteria: distance walked to and from school daily, academic merit, and classroom behavior (based on feedback from headmaster), and entrepreneurial drive (e.g. using bicycle to transport crops for sale at local market). It is hard to comprehend the importance of a bicycle to a student in these villages, but to put it in perspective the annual income for a person in Muyenzi is $95. I had given these students something that would cost over a full years year’s work.

While in Muyenzi, I also had the opportunity to teach mathematics and science at Muyenzi Secondary School. When I told the students I had studied engineering, one student raised his hand and asked me if I knew about physics. After I responded yes, the student pulled out a physics workbook he must have had donated to him (physics is not taught at Muyenzi Secondary) and asked if I could explain a simple Ohm’s Law question to him. Since the students understood chemistry, I explained to him what voltage and current were in terms of electrons and explained how to draw and solve the simple circuit. The student now fully understood Ohm’s Law and could solve a simple circuit, yet had never seen electricity before.

I am inspired to continue to improve the lives of those in need. I had such a rewarding experience distributing bicycles to Kibogora and Ndomba, and am humbled by the level of poverty I saw, yet encouraged by the attitudes and efforts of these young students.

Jewish Girl of the Week – Alexi

GTJ1Want to recommend an outstanding leader to be featured on GTJ? Nominate him/her at

Rachel: What brought you to DC?
Alexi: I am originally a California girl, but came out to DC study International Affairs at GW.  With the exception of a one-year stint in Tel Aviv, I have been in DC ever since. After graduation I moved out of Foggy Bottom over to Mount Vernon Square and can often be found bbq’ing on the Meridian roof, sampling fruit at Eastern Market, or planning my next trip to Israel.

Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish holiday?
Alexi: Yom Ha’atzmaut, when celebrated in Israel.  There is just something about that moment when the sun sets and Yom HaZikaron ends and Yom Ha’atzmaut begins and everyone comes out to celebrate the independent State of Israel that is just so unique and magical.  Street parties that last throughout the night definitely don’t hurt, either.

Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish food?GTJ2
Alexi: I know frozen yogurt isn’t technically “Jewish food,” but Tamara on Ben Yehuda street in Tel Aviv is located in Israel so I think that counts, and I dream about it often.

Rachel: Who is the coolest Jew?
Alexi: This is an easy one – my great grandparents!  They left Poland in the 1930’s, founded a kibbutz, and helped to build the state of Israel.  It doesn’t get much cooler than that in my book.

Rachel: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…
Alexi: Don’t forget to bring the snacks!





Masa Israel Featured Internship: Marketing Coordinator, Tzunami

Marketing Coordinator, Tzunami – Provided by Career Israel

Tzunami Inc. is seeking a marketing coordinator with experience in online and social media marketing.


As an intern, you will be responsible for performing market research and providing insight on new market entry. You’ll execute and analyze the success of marketing campaigns and advertisements. The Marketing Coordinator will also be responsible for online and social media marketing – updating our blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. You’ll have the chance to work with the marketing manager to develop case studies, direct marketing templates, customer appreciation letters and interpret customer purchasing statistics.

Tzunami Inc. is a leading provider of Microsoft SharePoint Migration solutions. Tzunami Deployer, the company’s flagship migration tool, saves up to 90% of traditional migration time, lowering labor costs and providing quick access to more accurate content. Offering a user-friendly solution to real-world business challenges, Tzunami Deployer effortlessly transfers data from older Enterprise Content Management Systems (ECM).

Jewish Guy of the Week – Matt

523789_10151267524496420_2120855940_nWant to recommend an outstanding leader to be featured on GTJ? Nominate him/her at

Rachel: What brought you to DC?
Matt: I came to DC in 2008 for college and fell in love with the city.  After graduating from GW in 2012, I loved the city and school so much that I decided to stay and get my masters degree.

Rachel: You founded Pedal Forward.  What is Pedal Forward?
MattPedal Forward is an organization that is expanding bicycling opportunities to provide sustainable transportation alternatives in the US and to address the basic transportation needs of isolated communities around the world.  We do this by building bamboo bicycles, and for each bicycle that we sell, we will provide a bicycle for someone in impoverished areas of the world.222436_10150330963246420_4073857_n

Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish holiday?
Matt: Rosh Hashanah

Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish food?
Matt: My Mom’s Challah.

Rachel: Who is the coolest Jew?
Matt: A lot of people like Abraham and Jesus, but I’d take Natalie Portman over them any day.

Rachel: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…
Matt: …there will probably be food.

A New Minyan in Columbia Heights!

chJune 22, 10am in Columbia Heights

Perhaps you have a sense that something is missing from your shabbat mornings.  Perhaps you want to try something new.  Perhaps you would love to davven somewhere if only it started later or was closer to home.

Dining room davenning is participant-led, fully egalitarian, with lots of singing, bringing our full selves, good flow with gentle build up to exciting energetic moments and then wind down to grounded quiet places, not saying every word in the siddur (unless you want to), mostly Hebrew, some intentional English (or other languages), creative interaction with torah, flexible musaf.

Email for exact location

GTJ Satirist Brian F. – 9-Year-Old Gets Downgraded for Spelling June, “JEWNE”


MILWAUKEE, WI – (@The Comedy News) – Nine-year-old Brian F. (name redacted due to age restrictions) received quite a surprise when he got his graded U.S. History test back in Mrs. Teller’s third grade class.

“I was the only one in the class to get 100% of the questions right, but I spelled June wrong, so I got a 90%,” explained Brian.  “I spelled June with a ‘W’.  It should have a W anyways.”

Brian’s initial defense was that he recently started Hebrew school so he has ‘Judaism on the mind’ more than usual.  Still, his teacher did not budge on Brian’s egregious spelling error and insisted that the grade remain the same.

Later that week, after asking his babysitter Matt for advice, Brian wrote a note to his teacher contesting the grade once again:

Dear Mrs. Teller,

Mark Twain once said, “I don’t give a damn for a man who can only spell a word one way.”

Please change my grade.

Sincerereelrely,  (sic)


Mrs. Teller’s response to this note was forcing Brian to do one month of indoor recess for using the word “damn”.

Brian responded with a written statement in Crayon:

“but by then, school will be over, we don’t have school in the month of JEW-LIE.”

Jewne month of jew june


Brian Fishbach is a writer and comedian.  You can read Brian’s weekly satire news articles at, and enjoy his late-night jokes at  Join The Comedy News’ Facebook page for updates.

Jewish Guy of the Week – Kenny

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

Rachel: What brought you to DC?
Kenny: I’m originally from Rockville, MD (the rock for intowners; “You mean Bethesda?” For out-of-towners) but I’m working at the US Attorney’s Office in DC this summer.

Rachel: We heard you’ve made some cool videos. Tell us more about that.
Kenny: I made some promotional videos for Emory Hillel (i.e. Hillels and Shabbatons go together like Passover and constipation). As you could probably tell, they were a huge success.

Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish holiday?
Kenny: I love Passover. I like the challenge of holding 7 different conversations at once and being expected to know exactly what’s going on in each.

Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish food?image (1)
Kenny: I have yet to take a stand in the latkah-hamentaschen debate. So either one will do just fine.

Rachel: Who is the coolest Jew?
Kenny: Bibi Netanyahu. I mean, they named a gun after him.

Rachel: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…
Kenny: Boy is it loud.