Catfish Isn’t Just What You Ate For Dinner – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 83)

fishWhen people hear the term “online dating,” they don’t always know what it means.  Here’s what it doesn’t mean:

  • Having a virtual girlfriend or boyfriend
  • Dating in your pajamas for the rest of eternity while eating a pint of Chunky Monkey
  • Sitting behind your computer and assuming that you just had a “hot date”

In many ways, “online dating” is a misnomer.  It could instead be called “online introductions” because the actual “dating” part should still be in person.  Period.

It’s easy to fall in love with someone’s online dating profile, isn’t it?  In fact, a client who lives in MD just told me this morning that she “really likes everything about” this guy in NY based on his JDate profile.  I reminded her that this person is not real until she’s had a face-to-face interaction with him.  It’s just words on a page and a picture until then.

People join online dating sites for many reasons: To find an activity partner, a friend, a date, a one-night stand, a long-term relationship, or marriage. All it takes is the click of a button to list what we’d like to find in our online dating adventure.  Curiously enough, “pen pal” is not an option.  Why?  Because people do not join online dating sites to simply email back and forth with no end in sight.  People are looking to form a real relationship, not an “e-lationship.”

It’s not too forward to ask someone out for a drink or coffee after one or two emails back and forth.  (And I generally recommend that the guy does the asking.)  If a woman responds to your email or reaches out to you on her own (which I strongly encourage women to do), she’s probably interested enough to meet in person.

Of course, some people don’t know when it’s appropriate to move from the email to the date and err on the side of caution (aka waiting too long), so in this case, I recommend saying something like, “I’m really enjoying these emails.  Should we meet for a drink next week?  I’m free Monday or Wednesday if either works for you.”  If they take the bait or suggest a different day, then that’s great!  If the answer is simply no (or there’s no answer), then it’s time to move on.  If someone is perpetually busy, either he or she is secretly the President of the Universe or is trying to get out of meeting in person for some reason.  Don’t dwell on it.  It wasn’t meant to be.

If meeting in person is not feasible for some reason (perhaps you don’t live close enough to meet in a timely fashion), then the best thing to do is to suggest that you Skype or FaceTime.  It takes just as long to dial someone’s number and chat for a few minutes as it does to sit down and email each other, so if someone declines this offer, that is a major red flag.

My advice?  Meet offline as soon as you can.  If you like each other, you’ll be glad you didn’t waste all that time emailing.  And if you don’t, you can move on and also be glad you didn’t waste all that time emailing.  Win-win!  Don’t be the next story on Catfish: The TV Show.

erika ettin-49381 Cropped (1)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.



Jewish Girl of the Week – Danit

243Want to recommend an outstanding leader to be featured on GTJ? Nominate him/her at

Rachel: What brought you to DC?
Danit: I came to DC almost 10 months ago to start a new job as the Staff Attorney as the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law.  The Brandeis Center ( was founded to protect the civil rights of the Jewish people and promote justice for all.  I specifically deal with campus anti-Semitism by investigating incidents and potentially taking legal action against universities that harbor hostile environments for Jewish students.  I also am launching law student chapters around the country to engage them and provide them with programming to host speaker events, lead discussions, and host advocacy-oriented training sessions.

Rachel: You’re involved in HaLev Israel.  Can you explain what that is?
Danit: I am involved in HaLev Israel because I think it so important to get our generation hooked on Israel.  HaLev Israel’s goal is to send young professionals to AIPAC Policy Conference that would otherwise not choose to go.   Maybe they have been to Israel, but it’s still not on their radar.  We need more active pro-Israel young professionals!  A great way to start would be to coming to our huge party on March 1st at Capitale!

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100Rachel: Any hidden talents/cool hobbies?
Danit: I am into comedy and love watching comedians perform live.  I don’t mind a night out dancing either – preferably to old school hip hop and 90s tunes 🙂

Rachel: What’s your favorite way to spend Shabbat?
Danit: My favorite way to spend Shabbat is going to a dinner hosted by an organization or having a nice small dinner with friends.  When I go home to New York, my favorite way to spend Shabbat is with my amazing niece and nephews.

Rachel: Who is the coolest Jew?
Danit: The coolest Jew – that is a tough one.  ME?!  Just kidding. Honestly, I’m not sure I can pick just one individual, but the coolest Jews to me are the ones that are loud and proud.  Especially with what I see at work, the coolest Jews are the ones that stand up for themselves and their people.

Rachel: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…
Danit: …change happens!

Masa Israel Featured Internship: Researcher and Sales Intern, Roomixer

Responsibilities include: promoting and selling Roomixer’s marketplace in the Tel Aviv office located onthe Google Campus; researching Israeli users based on lean methods; developing a complete understanding and capability to explain the Roomixer concept and its services; building a sales network and handling the entire sales process including generating leads, negotiating and finalizing contracts and identifying potential new partners/clients; organizing Roomixer events; handling public relations for the Tel Aviv Roomixer platform; and determining and reaching sales goals.

Candidates should have relevant research abilities, some sales experience, the desire to work at an innovative startup company, ability to network, and the motivation to sell. They should be flexible, decisive, motivated, reliable and creative, taking initiative and demonstrating self-confidence and enthusiasm. They should be able to work under pressure and unconventional hours. Candidates should be able to create and maintain mutually beneficial relationships with customers/key figures in Tel Aviv vacation rental properties.

Roomixer is an online marketplace for guest referrals, generating revenue and extending additional courtesy to guests. Roomixer provides hotels and vacation rentals a place to refer additional guests to, as well as fill rooms when necessary. By allowing them to buy and sell their turned away guests, accommodations can now generate an entirely new income stream.

Jewish Guy of the Week – Alan

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

Rachel: What brought you to DC?
Alan: I’m originally from here… Grew up in Bethesda, MD; went to college in the Midwest.  Decided the Midwest had ran its course after four years so I moved back.

Rachel: You coached the GTJ kickball team.  How did the season go?
Alan: Although our record may not reflect it, the season was a ton of fun.  We had a great group of people, made new friends, played a ton flip cup, and we killed it on the dance floor (that’s all that really matters in these kickball leagues right?).

Rachel: You started your own business.  Can you tell us more about that?
Alan: Yes, I started my part-time business in March of 2013.  I see two huge problems in our country today; wealth and health.  You don’t need to open a newspaper to know that our economy is still struggling, money is an issue in almost everyone’s life, and 7 out of 10 people HATE their job- yet they don’t leave because they are afraid they might not find a better job or better pay.  On top of that, people are still very self conscious about their weight and obesity is still on the rise.  Take a step back and listen in closely to your conversations with your friends, family, co-workers, etc.  I’d say money and/or health come up approximately 90% of the time in conversation in one way or another.

The fact of the matter is, no one walks around saying “man I wish I was sick today” or “yo, I wish I was broke.”  No of course not…  Everyone wants to look good, feel good, make money, and be happy.

Blue ShirtFor the people looking to get healthy or maybe shed a few pounds: I sample out various health and wellness products (healthy energy drinks, weight loss shakes, juices, liquid antioxidants) which are healthy alternatives to what’s out there on the market to my family, friends, colleagues, co-workers, dude at the grocery store, UPS driver, whoever.  For the folks who want to generate an additional cashflow, I show them how they can market these products using word of mouth advertising, social media, and leveraging internet marketing.

Rachel: Any cool hobbies/hidden talents?
Alan: I love playing basketball, soccer, going on spontaneous weekend trips, snowboarding, and dancing (a white Jewish kid who can dance… crazy huh?).  As for hidden talents… I can do a handstand and I used to be pretty sick at juggling.

Rachel: What’s your favorite way to spend Shabbat?
Alan: Spending time with friends, relaxing, and occasionally I’ll check out Sixth and I too.

Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish food?
Alan: A tie between challah and Beef Shawarma.

Rachel: Who is the coolest Jew?
Alan: Drake

Rachel: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…
Alan: Hilarity ensues.

DC’s Adam Segal, founder of cove, tells GTJ about its newest location and launch party

Adam imageAdam Segal is the founder of cove.  cove is an alternative to working from home, coffee shops, or even the office.  Locations offer all the tools you need to be productive: unlimited printing, scanning, fast WiFi and free coffee.  The launch party for cove’s new 14th street location is Wednesday, January29th.

Rachel: Hi Adam, how are you today?
Adam: Excited for the cove community and beyond to check out cove 14th at the launch of the second space, @coveDC #meetcove!  Our first location is in Dupont Circle.

Rachel: So tell me, what is cove?
Adam: cove is a network of neighborhood productive spaces, with a community when you want it.  As a cove member, you are not tied to a single space in the network.  Think productive coffee shop where we give you the coffee and the productive.

Rachel: Why should I pay for space at cove when I could just sit at a coffee shop?
Adam: Great question; it all depends on the person – a coffee shop can be a great place to work as well as the couch at home.  cove, however, is intended to be part of your schedule – to help you step outside the living room and noisy coffee shop and be really productive.  cove has all the productive tools you could need that come with your membership – color printer, scanner, multiple wifis, coffee, drinks (San Pellegrino is a member favorite) – all for less than the price of a latte for the afternoon.

cove focusedRachel: How exactly does it work?  Do I have to reserve a desk?
Adam: We always suggest you become a trial member for a day to see if cove is right for you.  Just sign up on the website,, with your email.  We will send you a free trial membership QR code – then just come on in!  If you decide you like the experience, select a monthly productive plan with no commitment.  For the planner in you, you can always reserve a spot in advance – including one of many conference rooms – from the phone or desktop.

Rachel: What gave you the idea to open cove?
Adam: Well I worked from home and from a big corporate office with cubicles, and to be honest I was not particularly good at either.  cove really came out of a personal need for a place to be productive, with a community and company when you want it.

Rachel: Does Judaism impact your business practices at all?  Has it guided you in any way?
Adam: cove has a strong community component; I think Judaism, like other non-secular and secular groups, emphasize community.  With community, you feel a part of something bigger than just the day’s tasks.

cove windowRachel: Does cove have a focus on sustainability?
Adam: We do!  Daniel from a local startup, Green Impact Campaign, was nice enough to provide a sustainability analysis of our locations.  He provided in depth sustainability feedback (we’re doing pretty good actually!) as well as suggestions – for example our goal is to have all LED and high-efficiency lighting from his analysis.  As cove expands, we would like to make this a big component – and having the support of local startups like Daniel’s has made it really easy for us.

Rachel: You’re opening a new location on 14th street and there’s a launch party.  Can you give us more info?
Adam: Sure – starts tonight at 6:30pm; we have a jazz band, neighborhood giveaways, food from our friends at Barcelona and Glen’s Market, among a bunch of other fun stuff.  It will be a good time for our community to meet the neighborhood and introduce cove to 14th St!

Rachel: That sounds awesome!  One last question (it’s a GTJ classic)- finish the sentence, “When the Jews gather…”
Adam: …at cove, they are clearly super productive.

Aaron and Brian share about their experience on the DC Community Birthright Trip…and how you can go too!

Shorashim Bus 153 January 2014 091The second to last night of our Birthright trip, 40 of our new best friends were packed into a tiny hotel room in Jerusalem, reminiscing about everything we had done in the past 24 hours: all sleeping under the same Bedouin tent, riding camels through the Negev desert, floating in the Dead Sea, and fine-tuning our impersonations of our Israeli tour guide. We never expected to feel so close with people with whom only 10 days ago we were playing the name game.

Immediately upon landing in Ben Gurion airport when our trip began, we were greeted by our seven new Israeli friends who would accompany us for all 10 days of our trip. Though we were all exhausted from traveling, we immediately boarded the bus we would call home for the next 10 days and headed north for the Golan Heights. The next 10 days took us to places we’d dreamed of visiting: the Western Wall, Independence Hall, Yav Veshem, Tel Aviv,  and Masada. The days brought us experiences we never could have anticipated: being welcomed into Israeli homes and temples,  volunteering in Washington DC’s partnership city – Beit Shemesh, hiking through a desert canyon,  experiencing Israeli live comedy theater, and even meeting the Prime Minister of the country.

Shorashim Bus 153 January 2014 055We experienced the wonders of Israel as a group, and we also took time to reflect and discuss our feelings on what those experiences meant to us personally. Facilitated by our skilled and knowledgeable tour guide, Tzach, our group engaged in meaningful and personal discussions on what we were seeing, and how these experiences affected our spiritual and cultural identities. One of our favorite discussions asked us to select the most personally important aspects of what it means to be a Jew. Coming up with our answers, and hearing the perspectives of our American and Israeli friends made us more confident in our own Jewish identity, and reignited our intellectual curiosity around the Jewish faith and culture.

Going on a Taglit Birthright trip revitalized our passion for living a Jewish life. After being challenged physically, mentally, and emotionally during the trip, we feel a deeper bond with our culture and with each other. As we  look back on our Birthright experience, we realize that choosing Shorashim and the DC Community Trip has given us a continuing community in which we can grow and flourish. We feel a renewed pride in Jewish culture, and we strongly encourage our peers in the DC area to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to discover a deep, meaningful connection to Israel and the Jewish community.

Want to have an experience like Aaron and Brian’s? Birthright has expanded eligibility! Learn more about the DC trip by visiting Returning applicants are able to apply on February 18th  and new applicants on February 19th here.  Please contact Sara Weiner at or (301) 230-7266 with questions.

Jews United for Justice’s Community Meeting is this Sunday

jufj new color_logoMy deepest connection to the Jewish tradition is through its rich history of involvement in social justice causes. I have found a community of like minded people in Jews United for Justice (JUFJ), a group that organizes progressive Jews in the D.C. area to work on local issues of social and economic justice.

This Sunday, January 26th, I’m attending Jews United for Justice’s Community Meeting—a sort of family reunion, introduction to the organization, and activist training all rolled into one. Community meetings provide a great introduction to JUFJ. There will be plenty of time to meet people, get a sense of what JUFJ is all about and plug into campaigns. Also, if you are interested in learning more about the upcoming elections in D.C., this will be a great opportunity to do so.

JUFJ gives me a chance to learn more about a city I only recently moved to, engage with it on a deeper level, and take action to make the conditions here accord more with my values. If this sounds meaningful to you, then you should definitely come to the community meeting on Sunday.

Masa Israel Featured Internship: SEO Start-up internship, TinyTap

Interns for TinyTap will gain experience with SEO, while completing admin type work. Examples include uploading screenshots, doing QA for their apps, etc.

TinyTap is an application which allows users to create, share, and play educational games for kids. It is a simple platform for game creation where anyone, regardless of age, can create interactive activities and share them with their community of thousands of users.

The Only Person Judging You is You – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 82)

geek-heartI was really hungry for dinner the other night, so when I met up with some friends at 8:00, I decided to order a flatbread pizza.  I didn’t realize they had all eaten dinner already, so I was the only one ordering food.

Choice 1: Forget about ordering.  No one wants to be the only one eating.  There must be some frozen bagels in the fridge at home.
Choice 2: Order the pizza but feel self-conscious the whole time for eating all alone.
Choice 3: Order the pizza and eat it in all its deliciousness.

I really love my apartment building, so I decided to buy the five people who work in the leasing office holiday gifts.  I bought them all a pretty coffee mug (each got a different color) with some candy in it.  But when it was time to give them their gifts, the fancy green cellophane wrapping paper I had ordered online hadn’t arrived yet.

Choice 1: Give them the gifts late, only after the wrapping paper came.
Choice 2: Give them the gifts on time, but apologize for not having wrapped them.
Choice 3: Give them the gifts sans wrapping paper but with a big smile because you know they’ll appreciate the gesture.

We all feel self-conscious about things sometimes – our bodies, our intelligence, our relationship history, our job, anything.  When talking about these topics that surely cause some inner angst, remember that no one knows how you feel about anything until you tell them.  Oftentimes, the person judging you isn’t your friend and isn’t your colleague… it’s you.  Let’s look at how this relates to dating.

A client of mine had been married for 16 years.  He’s only 42 and is now getting back into the dating world again for the first time since he met his ex-wife.  He feels self-conscious because he thinks women will wonder why he was married for so long.  Whenever someone asks him how long he was married, he gets anxious, and shyly says in an embarrassed tone, “I was married for 16 years.  We tried to work it out, but unfortunately, we couldn’t.”   This leads his dates to then question what kind of relationship he had and whether he’s still pining for her.  As this client said to me on the phone today, by working together, we’ve shined him up a bit.  We practiced his response when future dates ask this inevitable question.  I told him that by framing it in such a melancholy way, no one has any choice but to feel badly for him.  He could instead say, with a smile on his face, “You know, I was married for 16 years.  I obviously never thought I’d be dating again!”  Then, when he’s ready, and only then, does he need to share with anyone the details.  If he doesn’t make a big deal out of it, then neither will his dates.  He had to learn that the only person judging him was himself.

Let’s say someone asks you on a date what your hobbies are, and you want to tell this person that you enjoy painting, making pottery, playing cards, and doing the daily Sudoku in the Express.

Choice 1: “I have some kind of dorky hobbies like painting, making pottery, playing cards, and doing the daily Sudoku in the Express.  I know they’re not that exciting.”
Choice 2: “I have a few hobbies that I like.”  And then change the topic.
Choice 3: “I love painting and making pottery, but I also love playing cards and doing the daily Sudoku in the Express.  I find them all so relaxing in their own way!”

The choice is simple in all scenarios: #3.  So get out there, be yourself, and remember that the only person judging you is you.

erika ettin-49334smallErika 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.




Masa Israel Featured Internship: Public Health Intern

Bishvilayich is looking for an intern with experience and background in health research in order to assist in the development of mental and physical health.

Bishvilayich is a non-profit organization for women’s health in Israel. Their programs focus on providing underprivileged women and girls with the confidence and skills to become active participants in their health, rather than accepting the traditional paternalistic approach to health care.