Top Picks at the 27th Washington Jewish Film Festival

The Washington Jewish Film Festival is back from May 17th to May 28th with a brand new lineup of films, special events, and filmmaker guests including industry titans Amy Heckerling (Clueless, Fast Times at Ridgemont High), Barry Levinson (Rain Man, Good Morning, Vietnam), and Agnieszka Holland (Europa Europa, In Darkness). Check out the top five event picks from this year’s Festival!

As If, A Clueless Night!

Dress to the nine(ties), and join the WJFF and EntryPoint DC for trivia, photo booths, specialty cocktails, and a rockin’ 90s soundtrack followed by a screening of cult classic Clueless! Stay after the film for a special Q&A with legendary filmmaker Amy Heckerling. For more, click here.

2 Jews Walk into a Bar (and a Deli)

The WJFF’s cinematic bar crawl comes to Chinatown! This year’s stops include On Rye and Bar Deco, paired with their Walk a Mile in My Shoes short films program. Drinks + Food +Movies + Friends = Win.

People That Are Not Me

Heralded as the Israeli answer to Girls and Frances Ha, Hadas Ben Aroya’s debut feature is a tour-de-force that tackles modern romance in all of its technological confusion, forced aloofness, and loveless sexuality.

Doing Jewish: A Story from Ghana

When Gabrielle Zilkha gets a call from her mother telling her that she’s found Jewish people to celebrate Rosh Hashanah with, Zilkha sets off to find the tiny but vibrant Sefwi Jewish community. Filmed over five years, Zilkha observes this small African Jewish community, offering a fascinating investigation of identity and connection.

Doing Jewish: A Story From Ghana (Official Trailer) from Gabrielle Zilkha on Vimeo.

Family Commitments

After two years of dating, David pops the question, and Khaled’s answer is unequivocally, “Yes!” Tying the knot proves challenging however, courtesy of a homophobic Arab father and a pseudo-orthodox, overbearing Jewish mother. Catch this German comedy as part of the Festival’s Rated LGBTQ series.

Honorable mentions include the quirky, upbeat Dutch comedy Moos; Israeli Scifi comedy OMG, I’m a Robot; and French thriller Thank You for Calling, inspired by the true story of con-man Gilbert Chikli. To see the full lineup of over 130 events taking place during the 27th Festival, visit WJFF.ORG.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Rabbi Rant: The Real Lesson in “S-Town”

If you haven’t listened to the S-Town podcast yet, you should.

Not only because everybody else is doing it (though that does seem to be the case – it’s the fastest podcast to ever reach 15 million downloads or streams on Apple Podcasts).

And not necessarily because it’s the greatest podcast of all time. (I think it’s a great piece of storytelling through journalism, but it’s neither revolutionary nor profound.)

Its beauty stems from the simplicity of its aim – to get to know someone else as best as possible, without judgment.

This endeavor is perhaps best encapsulated in a short dialogue between Brian Reed, the host and journalist, and a man named Tyler.

Tyler: Do you see me being a bad person?
Brian: Do I?
Tyler: Yeah.
Brian: No man, I see you as a complicated, normal person, you know?
Tyler: Yeah.
Brian: I mean, I, I disagree with some of your decisions, but you also, you’ve had a very different life experience than I’ve had.

This attitude, of openness to others’ unique stories, is the key to good journalism.

It’s also one that Jewish sages encourage and that more of us should embrace.

By prioritizing curiosity over judgment, we can let go of both the illusion that we understand each other and also the need to force each other into our ideological boxes.

Perhaps this is why the rabbis of the Talmud offer a surprising blessing for one who sees a large congregation of Jews:

Blessed are you God Who knows all secrets. [Why this blessing? Because] their minds are unlike each other and their faces are unlike each other (BT Brachot 58a).

When confronted with differences, our tendency is to try to focus on similarities. This blessing reminds us to lean into our differences. We may all be in the same place, but we’ve all taken a different path to get there. Remembering this, paradoxically, may be the only way to keep us together.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Jewish Newbie of the Week – Sammy

As a part of GatherDC’s Jewish Person of the Week feature, we will be highlighting one Jewish “newbie” each month. (Are you new? Do you know someone who is? Nominate them––or yourself––today by emailing Shaina!)

Meet this month’s Jewish Newbie of the Week, Sammy!

Sammy and I met in 2010 at – you guessed it – Jewish summer camp (yes the photo is us during that summer). Between then and now we had barely kept in touch, except to play quick games of Jewish geography for people we went to college with. I hadn’t realized she was in DC until I spotted her walking up Connecticut Avenue while I was on the bus, so I sent her a text. She didn’t have my number anymore, so my “I see you” didn’t land as well as I had hoped (she was slightly confused). However, once I told her it was me, she was really excited to hang out again! Part of the beauty of GatherDC is our love of reconnecting with old friends and making new ones! Learn more about Sammy in this week’s interview.

Shaina: I heard you’re basically fluent in French. Have you been to France before?

Sammy: Yes! The first time I went to France was in 8th grade, with a school trip. I also lived in Paris for five months during my junior year of college. I loved it and can’t wait until I go back next.

Shaina: Where else have you traveled? Which place was your favorite?

Sammy: I was really lucky that my undergrad experience took me around the world. While I lived in Paris, I traveled to Spain, Italy, and Greece. I have also been to Madagascar and Peru through college-sponsored trips. My favorite place is hard to choose because every single place was so distinct, but I LOVED Florence, Italy. (That might have to do with all the delicious pasta and gelato.)

Shaina: You moved to DC the day after you graduated from college with no job. What was that like?

Sammy: Honestly, that is one of the craziest things I have ever done. My parents and friends all thought I had lost my mind. Somewhere along the way–during second semester of senior year–I decided that I wanted to live here, so I committed to moving. I convinced two friends to come with me, we found a place in Van Ness, and I packed my car and drove down. I was really lucky that I was able to start temping really quickly and then found my current job! I don’t regret it at all!

Shaina: What’s your advice to someone who is new to DC?

Sammy: Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! There is so much happening 100% of the time in this city. It is always worth it to go see the monuments at night and meander. If something sounds interesting to you, go! Don’t be afraid to arrive at an event without a big group, I’ve found that people are incredibly welcoming.

Shaina: What does a typical Saturday in DC look like for you?

Sammy: I actually like to do brunch on Saturday because it is WAY less crowded than a typical Sunday brunch. My favorite places are Open City, District Kitchen, and Scion. I also love to just relax and find something fun to do around the District.

Shaina: Complete the sentence: When the Jews of DC Gather… 

Sammy: it’s always a good time!

As a part of GatherDC’s Jewish Person of the Week feature, we are highlighting one Jewish “newbie” each month. Are you new and want to talk about getting more involved in Jewish life in DC? Sign up to grab coffee.

Spotted in Jewish DC – Israeli Iced Coffee

Unicorn Frappuccino

Unicorn Frappuccino

Our newest feature – #SpottedinJewishDC – will highlight something we or our readers find in DC that is particularly Jewish. It can be a product, store, bumper sticker, whatever! If you spot something Jewish and want us to mention it, just snap a photo and tag it with #SpottedinJewishDC or email it to us!

While the Unicorn Frappuccino may be winning the Instagram game, our newest feature, #SpottedinJewishDC thinks that Pleasant Pops‘ newest summer drink wins the flavor game. If you’ve been to Israel during the summer, you know how refreshing an Israeli Iced Coffee can be. Their version of an iced coffee turns this morning essential into the best adult slushie the world has ever tasted. Made of coveted cold-brew coffee, local whole milk and organic raw cane sugar, you’ll be wide awake and dreaming of the next time you can have one.

Past Jewish Entrepreneur of the Week, Roger Horowitz, brings this Israeli treat to his shop in Adams Morgan, with an option for the milk-averse made with almond milk. We suggest you try one ASAP (ask for a coffee slushie), and take a photo with it using #SpottedinJewishDC. We can keep the unicorn on her toes (er…hooves).

Israeli Cafe

Israeli Iced Coffee at Pleasant Pops

Spotted in Jewish DC - Aroma

Aroma Espresso at Montgomery Mall

If you’re looking to do a taste-test of this treat, head to Montgomery Mall in search of Aroma Espresso Bar, an actual Israeli brand specializing in coffee and beyond.

If you’re looking for other Israeli flavors, check out this recent post on The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s Jewish Food Experience, “In DC, Israeli Food is On the Rise,” or their recipe for an Israeli cappuccino (cafe hafuch) you can make at home!


The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Do Your Money Habits Align with Your Values?


In January, I started an intense coaching training program with the CoachDiversity Institute. (It’s so awesome!) One of the most impactful sessions was when we mapped out our top five values. Once we identified our most important values, we had to admit whether or not we are currently living true to those values.

To be honest, I had never really thought about this before. I always knew I felt better when I was making a difference, but I never sat down to identify the values that are most important to me.

It turns out, one of the key ways to find fulfillment is to make choices that follow our values. Values are beliefs and principles that make what we do in life worthwhile and meaningful to us. Your goals will be a lot easier to attain if they line up with what you believe in most.

So, how can you align your money habits with your values?

1. Choose your top five values

Think about what brings you the most happiness and excitement. What makes you feel like what you’re doing isn’t work? What values might those things be connected to?

My top five (at the moment) are connection, community, impact, understanding, and independence. If I hone into my value of independence, my goal of running my own business full-time feels much more attainable. It even feels inevitable. Once I realized how important connection and community are to me, it also became much easier to make new friends and join organizations that I care about.

Here are some more examples for you to choose from: abundance, acceptance, balance, compassion, courage, expression, fulfillment, humor, learning, power, respect, spirituality… the list almost is endless.

So, what are your top choices?

2. Analyze your current financial habits

Take a look at your last three months of spending. You can do this by skimming through your old bank statements, or through a program like Mint. (It might be faster and easier to use a program that can categorize your expenses.) Identify where you’re putting most of your money. Are you happy with where your money is going? Are your patterns setting you up for success and helping you live your values?

If one of your values is abundance, but you constantly feel stressed and lacking around money, you are likely not living in line with that value. How can you make improvements in this area? Perhaps you need to get a higher paying job, or perhaps you need to reassess how you think about money.

3. Identify how your values translate into financial goals

Now that you’ve figured out what your values are and where your money is going, you can develop new habits and goals! If your current habits don’t line up with what you want to do with your life, you can change that. And, I think you’ll find yourself more motivated to make those changes.

Perhaps you want to spend less on cab rides and more on experiences like concerts or travel. Funnel your money to the things that make you happier. Maybe you’re working in a job that underpays you and doesn’t fulfill your emotional needs. Start networking and job searching.

How can you make your money work for you? What goals can you set that will help you to live a life that is happier and more fulfilled?

4. Work towards those goals!

Now that you know how you want to live your life, and the steps to get there, get started! Need support and encouragement? Join Money Circle!

This post originally appeared on Maggie Germano Financial Coaching. Want to read more? Check out or subscribe to Maggie’s weekly newsletter!

Have wisdom to share? Want to be a volunteer writer to share with your GatherDC community?  Email Jackie for more info!

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Top 10 Things You Thought You Couldn’t Do as an Adult But Totally Still Can

Camp Nai Nai Nai is Jewish Summer Camp for Adults! It’s taking place this Memorial Day Weekend only 80 miles from DC, and it’s offering all the fun you ever had, or watched your friends have, at Jewish summer camp (but without any of the rules)! Here’s our list of the top ten things you thought you could never do again, but totally still can. [Sponsored by Camp Nai Nai Nai]

Save your Seat at a Sephardic Seder!

Passover is a very special time for Sephardic Jews and many communities have different practices, customs, and rituals on the holiday.

Most of you already know that most Sephardic communities (but not all) eat kitniyot; such as rice, corn, millet, dried beans and lentils, peas, green beans, soybeans, peanuts, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and mustard. But did you also know that many Sephardic communities have developed various customs and practices for the Seder itself?



Some of these customs include:

  • Beginning the Seder by passing the Seder plate over the heads of all the guests, to demonstrate that we were once slaves in Egypt and carried heavy burdens on our heads.
  • Lightly whipping fellow dinner guests with a scallion during the singing of Dayenu to remind us that it was a miracle that we were freed from the lash of oppression.
  • Eating a soft matzoh that more closely resembles the matzoh eaten by the Israelites leaving Egypt.
  • Making a date-based charoset paste or chutney.

You can experience some of these unique customs in DC this year. For the first time, Sephardic Jews in DC will be hosting our first Sephardic Seder. At this Seder you will learn more about these customs, as well as sample the many traditional Passover dishes from various Sephardic and Mizrahi communities across the world.

To reserve your place at our seder please purchase them on our EventBrite page. Please note that the Seder is primarily geared towards Young Professionals in the DC Metro area (20’s and 30’s).

Sephardic Jews in DC will also be co-sponsoring a fun Mimouna happy hour and dance party along with the Israeli House, Moishe House, EntryPointDC, and JScreen. A Mimouna is a traditional festival event celebrating the end of Pesach. The custom was brought over to Israel by Sephardic refugees from Northern Africa and has been adopted as a National Holiday in Israel. Join us to celebrate the end of Passover with traditional Moroccan and Israeli sweets, great Happy Hour specials, henna artists, dancing, and awesome music! Buy your tickets here.

To learn more about Sephardic Passover customs please consult ethe following links:

Jewish Journalist of the Week – Michael

I met Michael early on in my job at GatherDC (at the time it was Gather the Jews). He’s a constant presence in the DC Jewish community. In our interview, I found out about his life living in Hong Kong, his past helping out during the early days of GatherDC, and why he loves journalism. Find out more about the Jewish Journalist of the Week in this week’s interview.