Jewish Guy of the Week – Josh aka The Orthobox

377243_277466095690571_246878394_nWant to recommend an outstanding leader to be featured on GTJ? Nominate him/her at info@gatherdc.org.

Rachel: What brought you to DC?
Josh: As a engineering student at the University of Maryland and with a sister who recently graduated from GW, there are more than enough reasons to frequent our nation’s capital.

Rachel: You’re nicknamed the Orthobox.  When did you discover your beat boxing talent?
Josh: In middle school I started getting into Matisyahu and once I heard him beatbox, I decided that I wanted a piece of the awesomeness.  Add that to the fact that I wasn’t allowed to play drums growing up (something about a noise complaint…) and beatboxing was a perfect option.  I actually sucked when I first started out (I still blush when I watch my early Youtube videos).  When I say that I sucked, thats not humility.  It means close family members were passionately opposed to the new “musician” in the house.  But I worked at it through high school and into college and continue developing my live shows, Youtube tutorials, and loopstation music.  So to make a long story short, I wasn’t born beatboxing but I started working at it in high school.

Rachel: When can we catch your next show?386883_277466202357227_2033786564_n
Josh: Besides for Open Mics around the DC area, I hope to do some serious street performing in Du Pont Circle in the early fall.  Or just give me a mic and a speaker and I’m your man.

Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish holiday?
Josh: Rosh Hashanah.  It carries all of the introspection and thinking that Jews are known for but still allows for the social festivities of meals etc.  And a orchard’s worth of apples and honey doesn’t hurt.

Rachel: Who is the coolest Jew?
Josh: Albert Einstein fo’ sho.  After taking 2 years of engineering work, it’s humbling to know that I still have absolutely no idea what’s flying mathematically in any of his Theories of Relativity.  He was a brilliant mind, activist, thinker, and human being.  And a Jew to boot.

Rachel: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…
Josh: It’s probably time to daven Shacharis.

Masa Israel Featured Internship: Communications Fellowship, Hila: For Equality in Education

The fellowship at Hila is flexible and can be shaped by your strengths and interests, as well as the organization’s needs. Possible tasks include helping maintain and update the English website, working on the quarterly newsletter, translating documents from Hebrew to English, and assisting in the organization of staff events.

Hila is an Israeli NGO working in grassroots education reform. They advocate for student and parents’ rights in education. Their work involves fighting privatization of the school system and tracking; illegal parent fees; unfair placement in special education classes; and unsuitable resources, staff and/or facilities. http://www.interninisrael.org/tikkun-olam-fellowship-hila/

Jewish Cartoon Spotlight: Kyle Broflovski from “South Park”

Kyle Broflovski photo courtesy: Comedy CentralOur first Jewish cartoon spotlight, Kyle Broflovski, is one of the four main characters from Comedy Central’s all-time most successful show, South Park.

Kyle has appeared in every episode since South Park first aired in August 1997.   He is distinguished from the other main characters by his green hat and orange winter coat.  Kyle is also modeled after the show’s co-creator Matt Stone who was raised Jew(ish) in Littleton, Colorado.  He sports a Jewfro similar to that of Stone before the stress of 237 episodes left him with a scaled-back do.

That Jewfro gets temporarily coiffed into a Pauly-D style in the show’s fourteenth season, when we learn that Kyle’s Jewish mother is originally from New Jersey.

Gerald Broflovski, Kyle’s father, is an attorney and is always seen wearing a kippah–at home, in the courtroom, and even in the hot tub.

Kyle also has a younger brother Ike, who was born in Canada and adopted into the family.

We get to meet Kyle’s cousin from New York that he can’t stand:  Kyle Schwartz.  Schwartz’ neuroses and raspy voice are likely modeled after Jewish filmmaker Woody Allen.

At all times during the year, a menorah can be seen displayed in the living room of the Broflovski home.

Kyle’s Jewish identity has been featured prominently in several episodes:

“Mr. Hankey” (S1E9)  In the winter of South Park’s first season, Kyle laments feeling ostracized by his town as he sings “It’s Hard to Be a Jew on Christmas”.

“Jewbilee” (S3E9):  Kyle takes his non-Jewish pal Kenny to a Jewish scouting camp.

“The Passion of the Jew” (S8E3):   Kyle confronts Mel Gibson about false depictions of Jewish people in his film, The Passion of the Christ.

“Jewpacabra” (S16E4):  Kyle experiences Passover as his malicious cohort, Eric Cartman claims that the eight-day festival is a threat to Easter egg hunts.

Cartman is Kyle’s primary nemesis on the show.  Often the voice of ignorance, Cartman taunts Kyle and is quick to use Kyle’s religion as a pejorative.  While Cartman’s outlandish and intentionally offensive characterizations of Kyle have become more gratuitous over the years, by the denouement of each episode, Cartman is duly punished for his anti-semetic school-yard slanders.

Kyle and his fellow South Park characters do not age on the show, although they did graduate from third grade to fourth grade in the fourth season.  It might be nice to see what happens when Kyle finally gets Bar Mitzvah-ed.

While there has been no indication of this, we will have to wait and see what adventures Kyle is up to with his buddies when South Park’s 17th season premiers on September 25.

Reruns of South Park are aired every day on Comedy Central.  Also, while it is not on Netflix, you can watch every episode of the show on their official website, www.southparkstudios.com.

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

High Holidays 2013

Charlton-Heston-Moses-10-commandmentsThis is the guide from 2013! Be sure to check out the one from 2017 here.

It’s that time of year again- do you know where you’re attending services?  To make it easier, we’re compiling High Holiday service options in one place.  Anything sold out has a strikethrough. If you know of a service we haven’t included, or see one on the list that is sold out, please email rachelg@gatherdc.org. We’ll be continuing to update this page, so check back often.

Monday, August 26th:

Erev Rosh Hashana – Wednesday, September 4th:

Rosh Hashana (1st day) – Thursday September 5th:

Rosh Hashana (2nd day) – Friday, September 6th:

Kol Nidre – Friday, September 13th

Yom Kippur, Saturday, September 14th

Evening/Neilah, Saturday, September 14th

Looking for discounted tickets? The JCC can help!

Jewish Guy of the Week – Keith

KeithWant to recommend an outstanding leader to be featured on GTJ? Nominate him/her at info@gatherdc.org.

Rachel: What brought you to DC?
Keith: I was an intern here for a semester in college (like how everyone else in this town starts).  I worked for the National Park Service (Yes, I did wear a ‘flat hat’), and moved back here for the summer after college.  Once again, I found myself back in the district for my current job (3rd time back – if you were counting).  I’ve been back for over a year now in my current role.
Rachel: You went on Birthright recently.  What was your favorite memory?
Keith: Israel was unreal.  I’ve always wanted to go, and with the help of birthright, I finally got to see the Jewish State.  My favorite memory was a mix of the Israeli culture and history, and sharing that experience with the people in my group.  Also, the soldiers were inspiring.Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish food?
Keith: My mothers Matzo ball soup. (No, I can’t share the recipe!)Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish holiday?Keith and Brian
Keith: Shabbat, for sure. I love celebrating on Friday nights with friends and/or family.

Rachel: Who is the coolest Jew?
Keith: Would it be out of line to say Ryan Bruan before the suspention?

Rachel: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…
Keith: …they dance the hora. Some better than others.

 

 

 

 

Bring Smiles and Supplies to the Homeless with Midnight Mitzvahs

Screen Shot 2013-07-24 at 1.37.56 PMHave you ever walked past a homeless person and thought, “I’m too busy right now” or “I wish I knew how to help.”  Well look no further! Join Gather the Jews to kick off Midnight Mitzvahs on August 13th and we hit the streets to give out smiles and supplies to some of the 6,500 homeless people of DC.  We will start with a brief training and sandwich making session at GWU Hillel at 7:30 and will hit the streets by 8:15. Register here!

There is a $5 cost to participate. Your $5 will go towards purchasing the supplies we will hand out during the night.

Things we will be handing out (feel free to bring some to donate):

  • Cold Water
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Sunscreen
  • Socks (in the winter)
  • Feminine Hygiene Products
  • Homeless Resource Cards

Register Here!

Alternatives to Celebrating the Royal Baby’s Birth This Week

WillKateBaby_1527748gThe yet-to-be-named Royal Baby is not even a week old, but is already featured in more photographs and news articles than most of Kings and Queens before him combined.  Even a Google search of “royal baby prince william kate middleton” turned up 561 Million results.

Still, roughly 124,657,534 people on this planet had a birthday this week that in some way or another, was overshadowed by news of the birth of the offspring of a British Monarch.

While many people rightfully appreciate the nachas beaming from the faces of new parents Prince William and Kate the Dutchess of Cambridge, many people are irked by the over-hyped spectacle—often citing that the three-day-old Prince will be living a life of nepotistic privilege.

Alas, if you are looking to celebrate the birthday of someone this week, here is a list of people, past and present, who deserve to have a piece of the celebratory cake.

And since this article is being composed for a a Jewish publication, every birthday guy and gal featured is Jewish.  Dayenu.

July 21st Birthday
1903:  Roy Neuberger – Some people bankroll elections, some people bankroll drug cartels.  This guy bankrolled modern art awareness from the 1930s until his death in 2010–yeah, he lived to be 107 years old.  http://www.royrneuberger.com/

July 22nd Birthday
1947:  Albert Brooks – This Academy Award-nominated voice-over actor has been featured in such prolific works as Finding Nemo  and The Simpsons.  Most recently, Brooks received over 20 nominations and awards from various film festivals for his performance in the film Drive.  http://www.albertbrooks.com/

July 23rd Birthdays
1971:  Joel Stein –  When he’s not writing a cover story for Time Magazine, you can find his weekly features in the back pages of the famed publication.  The curiously humorous writer also released his first book last year about his adventurous quest to become a more “manly” father:  http://www.thejoelstein.com/

1973:  Monica Lewinsky – You know the story.

1989:  Daniel Radcliffe – He IS Harry Potter.

July 24th Birthday

1965:  Doug Liman –  This film director has brought us an eclectic variety of features such as the comedy Swingers and the suspenseful thriller, The Bourne Identityhttp://nymag.com/news/features/42823/

July 25 Birthday
1923:  Estelle Getty – Before she became Sophia on The Golden Girls, the late Estelle Getty performed in Yiddish theater and comedy in the Borscht Belt.  http://www.estellegetty.com/main.html

July 26 Birthday
1965:  Jeremy Piven – In addition to playing the hot-headed super agent Ari Gold on the HBO hit series Entourage, Piven self-identifies as a “Jewish Buddhist”. https://twitter.com/jeremypiven

July 27 Birthday
1972:  Maya Rudolph – This Saturday Night Live was not only the the love interest in a popular Lonely Island digital short, she also got down and dirty in the streets in the 2011 comedy hit, Bridesmaids.

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

GTJ Interviewed Jared Waks from the JewDate Web Series!

NOAHJEWDATE1

Noah. played by Jared Waks

How did you come up with the idea for JewDate? 

Aaron had the original idea: a guy hits rock bottom as a result of unrequited love but then finds a way to slowly drag himself back to the surface via the tumultuous world of online dating. It came from the realization, from past discussions, that so many of us had an experience where we became so obsessed with a “first love,” or, more accurately, the idea of that person, that we shut ourselves off to new people and, thus, were stunted. A lot of people have that experience and realize 5-10 years later that they wasted all that time; but what if someone intervened? Hence, we introduced Aaron’s character, Adam. If Kara is yin then Adam is yang.

Noah’s character is supposed to be relatable – we think a lot of people relate to Noah in many ways, though in many ways they wish they didn’t. Kara is obviously using him, pulling him back and making him inactive. Adam comes in at the other end of the spectrum and pushes Noah forward. In the end, we want Noah to reclaim his agency and become an active character. Adam is exactly the kind of over-the-top, stubborn and persuasive influence Noah needs in order to do this; however, we also don’t want Noah to become like Adam, whose ability to avoid leaches like Kara is a side effect of his inability to form any sort of real attachments.

The push and pull of Adam vs. Kara will, hopefully, propel Noah through his own journey towards self-awareness and, as a result, make him able to form a genuine, mutual romantic bond with the right girl. That’s the idea of the show: to explore how a person (male or female) who has become inert due to an unhealthy romantic obsession, can be propelled back into the journey which, though it has its unrelenting ups and downs, is the point of life.

So is the series based at all on personal experience?

Personally, I was never stuck on anybody for years and years, but I know (we know) lots of people that met someone in high school or college and got completely, utterly stuck on them. Then later they feel like they wasted their “golden years” waiting for a phone call from someone who didn’t reciprocate their feelings – it’s really depressing. While I can’t relate in a long term situation, I have experienced it on a smaller scale. I would be interested in a girl who would get out of a relationship with a guy who treated her poorly, and she would talk about how she was finally ready to be with a “good guy,” then I’d watch her go for the same kind of a*hole she broke up with and repeat the cycle. It sucked.

In terms of the dates: yes and no. When I graduated college and moved to a new town I tried some of the dating sites and did not have great success; however, I’m glad I did it. I was in a new place, wasn’t thrilled with my job or living situation, and was having a hard time meeting friends.  The dates were mostly disappointing, but the idea of having them kept me going: I was on a journey, like Noah. But, for better or for worse, none of my dates were as eventful as Noah’s. The dates are fiction but we do draw inspiration from a number of sources.

The ADHD date.

The ADHD date.

Years ago I launched a dating site with friends called DuoDater.com. We got a lot of press and were subsequently hired by the former CEO of Match.com to work on a mobile app … all of which led to me spending a lot of time on different dating websites for structural research. And some of the questions and categories on these sites are ripe material for comedy.

The generic-ness of these profile components makes me laugh out loud.  For example, JDate asks you how active you are but restricts you to a drop down menu of options, the top two being “active” and “very active.”  I’m a pretty active person. I play soccer and go to the gym, and snowboard, waterski, hike, etc. But there are some people who are in the gym 3 times a day and are doing extreme sports like skydiving and five-day mountain climbing camping trips.  So I’m like, “If I put ‘very active’ in my profile, will people think I want to spend a week camping out? Because I don’t. I really don’t.

When I used to see “very active” on a girl’s profile, I would wonder, “Does she do yoga every day or does she jump out of helicopters and practice krav maga?” So when we write we play with these ambiguities and always go for the extremes. The idea is that if Noah is going to go out with a “very active” girl, she’s going to be the one jumping out of the helicopter and scaling Everest. Same with the girl who is very ADHD.

And yet, we think it’s all still somewhat relatable. And the “somewhat” is what makes it funny. All of us who date have been on a date with someone who couldn’t get off their phone, who couldn’t disconnect, who is scattered; and it sucks. No one would want to watch a show that simply played back to them that horrible date. But, to portray a very extreme version of that, where the date is so disconnected they could accidentally sit down at the wrong table, I think that’s hilarious. Take something relatable and then take it to the extreme, so that somebody watching can say, “I was on a date like that … sort of.”

The girl who invites all her dates to fill-out her concert, that’s not based on anything. That was just one of those strokes of genius where we thought, “Hey, somebody COULD use online dating to do this, but probably never has.” Maybe we will inspire someone.

JewDate does not rely on tired Jewish stereotypes for its humor. When writing the series, were there things you tried to avoid?

Absolutely. I try to avoid all stereotypes, not just Jewish serotypes. For example, I don’t think Rob engenders black stereotypes, nor Kara female stereotypes. The ADHD girl could easily be an ADHD guy. Rob is narcissistic and egocentric but in a juvenile, oblivious manner, like he never grew up to realize that the world doesn’t actually revolve around him. That’s the character and we cast Willie because he’s hilarious.

He comes back in a big way in the next four episodes. There are jokes that will rely upon his ethnicity, but not as stereotypes. Just like we use Noah’s Jewishness to make jokes, but we don’t use Jewish stereotypes to make them. We write characters and we want those characters to be funny and interesting.

The jokes come from funny characters. Jews being cheap is a cheap laugh and too easy to do. Anyone can do that; it’s not impressive. Stereotypes are cliché. Everyone knows them so anyone can make those jokes. It takes talent to create a unique character that says unique things.

ROBJEWDATE-1

Willie as Rob

I think what is lacking from the first 4 episodes is a strong female protagonist. A female Noah, if you will, that most people watching can relate to. If we get to do a second season there will be a plot-centric, relatable female protagonist.

When will we see the next episodes?

Well, we’re filming them now. Part of it depends on funding; we’re running out of money. We’re going to start a Kickstarter soon to raise money for production, editing, and music. The short answer is that we’re aiming to release the episodes in October. With any luck it will be sooner.

What made you interested in film/web series/television?

Our entire fantastic team all grew up in LA around the industry. Stevee is the only non-Jewish Executive Producer (hence Some Jews and Stevee). Her family industry connections are huge for us as is her incredible talent with designing and making costumes. She also designs her own lingerie line called Drop Your Panties which is so awesome!All of us had been very exposed to the entertainment industry and I’ve personally been working in the film marketing industry since college.

I’ve worked for 20th Century Fox and I currently work for IMAX. While at Fox I was almost an extra on How I Met Your Mother because my office was actually part of the set. They are supposed to put caution tape on the back door of the office when they are filming, and one day they forgot to. I went outside and saw cars (which was unusual), people with briefcases walking with purpose, and then I saw Josh Radnor and Neil Patrick Harris coming right at me. Security starts miming at me that I need to act casual, like a normal person on the street, so I sorta stared up into the sky as they walked by me. They must have used a different take though, because I didn’t see myself in the episode. So that was the closest I had come to production; I had lots of entertainment marketing knowledge but no production experience. I simply try to stay open to new opportunities, so when Aaron and Jason came to me and said, “Do you wanna write this show with us?” I said, “Heck yeah,” and the rest became JewDate.

The opportunity was too good to pass up, even if I was in way over my head. I mean the idea for JewDate just seemed so brilliant because it fills a real void in thematic content. According to Reuters out of the 54 million single people in the US 40 million have tried online dating. That’s huge and there was no show about it! Everyone is having these new experiences and it’s so relatable. Lots of people are finding their spouses through online dating and many of them have told me, “I was about to give up on online dating when I messaged this one last person … and the rest is history.” That’s the idea of JewDate.

Noah has to go through the trials and tribulations of online dating, similar to but different from any other kind of dating, to get over Kara and finally find the right person. And it’s all a growing experience. Even the worst dates have something very important to teach Noah, something he needs to know or work on before he can be a ready to meet his “beshert” (which means soul-mate in Hebrew). So yeah, I really strayed from the question again…

Jason Mittleman works on various productions in different capacities and is currently a Writer’s Assistant on the MTV show “Ridiculousness.” Like I said, we all had experience in the industry, so we put all our experience together and said, “Screw it, let’s do it.” I thought it’d be like some other YouTube series I’d seen, but I think it’s much more quality. I had no idea how much time and effort it would require; but it’s a ton of fun and so rewarding.

Who is your Jewish celebrity crush?

Allison Brie. She was on “Mad Men” and played Trudy Campbell, Pete’s wife. Then she got big on “Community.” She’s also in tons of Funny or Die videos and is hilarious in every way. She can play everything and she’s adorable in everything she does.  She does this one Funny or Die video where there’s a government committee to patent sex positions. She comes in and she’s pitching various new positions to be patented. It’s one of the vilest 8 minutes you can watch, and you hear her say these things, and she is still adorable.

Is your Jewish mother proud?

Very. She’ll be an extra in the next 4 episodes – we needed a lot more extras for these. You’ll see members from all our families. Stevee’s family has been on the set helping us the entire time. Noah and Adam’s apartment is actually Stevee’s Mom’s house. She moved out for three days so we could use it. One of our Producers, Jason Ellefson, hooks us up with restaurants for filming the dates and also some amazing talent – including Willie James Warren Jr. who plays Rob – so we owe Jason huge thanks as well. The host from the ADHD episode wasn’t really in the script originally; we had a waiter written in for a very small part, pretty much just to seat them. Jason introduced us to Danny Gomez and, when we saw how funny he was, we made him keep popping in and it makes that date exponentially funnier.

Mrs. Webman (Aaron and Ethan’s mother) is proud, but she isn’t too happy about the dominatrix scene. She’s the most conflicted, due to the moral ambiguities of the Adam character; but, in all seriousness, she is super proud and we owe her a gigantic thanks for all of her help with all of the episodes and especially for letting us film a large part of the next four at their home. And, to be clear, we are NOT our characters. Aaron is not Adam. I actually had a friend tell me, “My friend watched the show and she wants to date Noah; are you single?” I said, “Yes, but I’m not Noah, so I hope she’s not disappointed.”

Jason’s Jewish mother is proud. Stevee’s gentile mother is very proud too. Our entire families are proud and incrediblely supportive, and we owe them all a huge deal of gratitude.