Israel Comes to DC!

From May 15th to May 25th, The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington (JFGW) will welcome 11 Israeli young adults for a 10-day immersive “Reverse Birthright” experience called Reverse Mifgash. Over the course of their stay, JFGW will host multiple events that are open to the community so that we here in DC can meet and greet the Israelis while also participating in lots of different of events, ranging from pure fun to spiritual. Below, we have highlighted some of our favorite events (including our own GatherDC Happy Hour). We hope to see you there! For a full list of events, you can visit JFGW’s Website by clicking here.

Tuesday, May 16

Federation’s Imagine Israel Changemakers Series
7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Whittmore House, Washington, DC
Oren Helman, disability advocate and true Israel changemaker, has transformed the way the Israeli workforce employs, integrates and includes workers with disabilities in the work place. Learn how his advocacy efforts with Israel’s Knesset (legislative body) created new employment regulations that champion the rights of individuals with disabilities and set a standard practice which other countries can emulate.
Register Now

Wednesday, May 17

GatherDC May Happy Hour
6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
H Street Country Club, Washington, DC
Share a drink with and get to know our special Israeli guests from Reverse Mifgash.  Meet new people in the DC Jewish community and connect with old friends!
Join us!

Thursday, May 18

Film Screening of “Moos”
6:30 p.m.
E Street Cinema, Washington DC
Enjoy this charming whimsical Dutch tale of love, laughter and the true value of friendship. Moos is one of several films being featured at the Edlavitch DCJCC’s 27th Annual Washington Jewish Film Festival, (one of the largest and most respected Jewish film festivals in North America).
Register Now

Friday, May 19

Good Soul Shabbat
6:15 p.m.-10:00 p.m.
Sixth & I Historic Synagague
Join us as Rabbi Scott, Aaron Shneyer and Michal Bilick offer soulful acoustic music, deep spirituality and a thoughtful Shabbat service that will fill the sanctuary with the spirited sound of new tunes and old favorites. Stay for Shabbat dinner with other community members.
Register Now

Viral Shabbat
10:00 p.m.
Moishe House, Washington DC
Keep the Shabbat ruach (spirit) going late into the night with a welcoming and festive multi-generational Shabbat experience. Enjoy food, drinks and the sounds of singer-song leader, Ben Lovenheim.
Sign up

Saturday, May 20

Havdalah on the National Mall
9:30 p.m.
Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC
Experience a special Havdalah service overlooking DC’s beautiful monuments from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
RSVP today

Blue & White Party
10:30 p.m.
Mission, Washington DC
Celebrate Israel’s 69th birthday with Federation’s Young Leadership, BBYO Friends and Alumni Network, Israel House at the Embassy of Israel and the Israeli-American Council (IAC) Get ready to schmooze, mingle and listen to great music with visiting Israeli guests and other members of the community. Ticket includes one premium cocktail or mocktail.
Buy tickets

Sunday May 21

Israel Ride: Spin Class at Vida Fitness
Class 1: 9:00 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.
Class 2: 10:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
Vida at The Yards, Washington DC
Get your shvtiz on with Federation’s Reverse Mifgash Israeli guests and Vida spin instructor (and former Birthright trip leader from bus #43), Blair Mann.
Register Now

Doing Good with Mitzvah Hoppin’
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Sixth & I Historic Synagague
Feel good by doing good with a hands-on-volunteer project that will benefit homeless LGBTQ youth in DC. Federation will join with members of the Edlavitch DCJCC’s EntryPoint and GLOE to make hygiene kits that will greatly benefit this at-risk population.
Register to Do Good

Monday, May 22

Craft Cocktail Class
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Duke’s Grocery, Washington DC
Ever wanted to mix some tasty cocktails? Join Federation’s Young Leadership, 11 Israeli guests from Reverse Mifgash and members of the Greater Washington community for a craft cocktail experience at Duke’s Grocery. Learn to make a few classics, and then enjoy them with friends from Israel and D.C.  Ticket includes craft cocktails (or mocktails) and light vegetarian appetizers.
Register here

Tuesday, May 23

Pre-Game at the Bullpen
5:30 p.m.-7:00 p.m.
The Bullpen
Share a drink and schmooze with others before the Nationals take on the Mariners at Nats Park.
No reservation required

Reverse Mifgash at the Ballpark!
7:05 p.m.-10:00 p.m.
Nationals Park
This night is sure to be a homerun…come cheer for the Washington Nationals as they take on the Seattle Mariners.
Buy tickets

For more questions about any Reverse Mifgash events, contact Kira Borman at or call 301-348-7343.

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 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.

Take The Jews Out To The Ball Game

Stephen Richer
Take The Jews Out To The Ball Game

In an atypical fashion, the Jewish crowd showed up early to the Nationals baseball game this past Sunday.  And it’s a good thing they did; otherwise they would have missed the ten runs that Milwaukee posted in the top of the first inning.

But despite the fact that the announcer called the President’s Race “the main event of the day,” the Nats did manage to climb back, making the last innings interesting as they lost 7 to 11.

More than 20 people showed up with the DC Minyan contingent led by Judy, allowing for a very spirited Hava Nagila from their section behind the center-right wall.  Some bloke named Stephen Richer was the only person to have a go at getting on the “Dance Cam” in the 4th inning, but nobody in the group made it on the big screen; nobody caught a ball, and nobody caught a t-shirt.  Better luck next time?

Side notes:

Wanting to fully digest the experience, your GTJ investigative reporter bought a pretzel, a chicken panini, and a peanut butter flavored gelato, none of which were adversely affected by the lop-sided score or the wind. Additionally, one member of the DC Minyan crowd managed to time the Kosher hot dog stand just right so that he received a “closing sale” of four hot dogs for the price of one.

The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) also rallied together a number of J-Squaders to attend the event.

Review of 6th Street Minyan Friday Night Service

Stephen Richer
Review of 6th Street Minyan Friday Night Service (4/2/2010  6:30 – 8:30 pm)

Event Summary

The newly founded 6th Street Minyan met for the second time this past Friday.  Despite a Passover week that was undoubtedly wearying for many, approximately 75 people showed up for the organization’s services and social hour.  Located at the second floor of the Sixth and I annex (the non temple part), the room proved a tight fit for some of the late comers.

A casual atmosphere was encouraged by the group’s mixed (male/female) circular seating.  The vast majority of attendants were in their 20s and 30s, although the event did see a wider age range than is often found at services at Sixth and I.

The leaders of the organization—Ben Bernstein, Annie Lumerman, and Allison Adges—guided everyone through the Hebrew service, occasionally adding personal touches, such as one part where participants were invited to take turns leading the song to different tunes.

Half way through the service, 6th Street Minyan member Adam Weissman offered his insight on Passover.  “Change,” he said, “can be very difficult.”  The people of Israel were reluctant to abandon their situation as slaves in Egypt—despite its horrors—because it is difficult to give up that which is familiar.  Even when the Israelites escaped and were granted freedom, some of them complained, unused to their new circumstances.  In many ways, Adam argued, this situation parallels today’s American society.

Following the services, attendants mingled while eating matzah, potato salad, tuna salad, and a superb chocolate mousse.

Review of Macaroon Manischewitz Madness

Stephen Richer
Review of Macaroon Manischewitz Madness (4/3/2010 – 9:00 to midnight)

Event Summary

On Saturday night, Adas Israel opened its doors to more than 190 young professional D.C. Jews.  For only $5 ($10 at the door), participants of Macaroon Manischewitz Madness were treated to an open bar, kosher-for-Passover desserts, and the chance to relive college (through “Manschischewitz Pong”) or bar/bat mitzvahs (through a spirited game of Coke/Pepsi).  But for those who didn’t feel like taking a trip back in time, there were was enough pop music, dance space, and conversation to make the event worthwhile.

Organizing the Manischewitz Pong Competition proved to be somewhat difficult owing to the number of people and loud music.  But by the end of the night, more than 25 pairings signed up for the action.  No final winner was ever proclaimed, but the author of this review does know that a certain team named “GTJ Unit” did post a convincing first round victory.

As for dancing, with the exception of Vicki and a few others, Saturday’s crowd didn’t belong on Dancing With The Stars.  Nonetheless, a small number of attendants compensated for talent with a large amount of enthusiasm.

Most attendants started filing out by 11:45 pm (event started at 9:00), but many of those who stayed to the bitter end headed to Adams Morgan to bar hop and stare longingly at the leavened bread of Jumbo Slice.

Event Grade = 8  (Seven attendants were asked to rate this event on a scale of 1 – 10).

– Nice Turnout
– Decent Bar
– Some fine dancers! ; )
– Music was too loud
– Felt like a Bar/Bat Mitzvah

AIPAC’s Eliot Brandt at Mesorah D.C.

Stephen Richer
AIPAC’s Eliot Brandt at Mesorah D.C.

“Name an issue–just one issue–that receives the same type of bipartisanship Congressional support that Israel receives.”
Despite working for a political institute and reading the newspaper with some regularity, I struggled to name more than two issues: steroid use in baseball and farm subsidies–and I’m not even so sure about the second of these.
But that, of course, was exactly the point.
Speaking before a large crowd at Mesorah D.C., AIPAC’s Eliot Brandt argued that despite the recent tension between Israel and the United States, few things are as unwavering as America’s support for Israel.  Since 1948, the two countries have worked closely together to advance similar aims and values.
And these values extend far beyond the global war on terrorism.  Israel not only represents a country that is America’s frontline of defense, but a country that has more scientific patents and Nobel prizes per square mile than any other country; a country that values women’s rights, civil rights, and economic rights; a country that, unlike many of its Middle Eastern neighbors, does not persecute homosexuals or people of minority religions, and a country that has the second most listings on the NASDAQ, trailing only the United States.
Mr. Brandt enumerated these facts and others during a 25 minute speech that informed and amused the Mesorah D.C. Friday night crowd.  The popularity of his speech was evidenced by the fact that following dessert, nearly the entire Mesorah crowd of more than 140 people stayed for Mr. Brandt’s question and answer session.
Questions were broad in scope–ranging from the recent Israel fiasco at University of California Irvine to whether Congressional lobbying is the most effective method for promoting Israel.  Mr. Brandt offered direct answers for each question, but he also developed several general themes, the first of which was that Congressional support of Israel cannot be taken for granted.  At least fifty new members will join Congress in January 2011–these members need to be convinced of Israel’s importance and friendship.  Moreover, Congress operates on a “what have you done for me lately?” mentality.
For this reason, pro-Israel forces in America cannot rest.  If America ceases being pro-Israel, Israel will stand alone in the world.  The chorus of world voices stands almost unanimously against Israel–the recently renamed UN Commission on Human Rights has issued more condemnations of Israel than the rest of the world put together (this includes places like China, Darfur, and Iran).
Mr. Brandt encouraged the audience to speak up on behalf of Israel, to learn more about Israel, and to get more involved.  Yes, there are those who will never listen and never like Israel, but if the world could be divided between sinners, saints, and salvageables, then the majority of the world would be salvageables–those who don’t yet have a confirmed position on Israel and are seeking more information.  It is these people that pro-Israel activists must target.
After this call-to-arms, Mr. Brandt concluded his question and answer session.  The audience continued to schmooze and eat dessert well into the night, taking full advantage of yet another bi-weekly Mesorah D.C. Shabbat Service and Dinner.
**Any minor inaccuracies in the above statistics should not be attributed to Mr. Brandt.  Owing to the restrictions of Shabbat, I did not take notes–I am simply relying on my memory.

Josh Kornbluth as Andy Warhol

Aaron Wolff

Last week Aaron was invited to see the play Andy Warhol, Good for the Jews? Witty, humorous and informational I decided to come back for more and interview Josh Kornbluth.  Don’t worry, he wasn’t looking away the whole time, just when I asked him the important questions.

What would you order if you took Andy Warhol out to dinner?
I think he’d expect me to order Campbell’s soup – so I might try to surprise him by ordering Progresso instead (or homemade, if we were eating at one of those fancy places he loved).

What is better than Campbell’s Soup?
In the hopes that Campbell’s might sponsor me, I am going to say: Nothing!  Campbell’s soup is the very best!  (But if they don’t sponsor me, I’m open to the highest bidder.)

Why should we come to see your play?
If you like to see theater that is both thought-provoking and entertaining (if I don’t say so myself!).

If you could have an all star audience, who would you want in it?
Wow – what a potentially overwhelming question!  Here are a few I’d love to see in the audience: Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, the entire cast of The Wire, Barack and Michelle Obama, and (of course) J.Lo.

What painting do you treasure most?
Of the 10 Warhol portraits of “Jewish Geniuses,” my favorite is probably the one of Franz Kafka; it feels like Warhol really captured a sense of the author’s tortured genius.

Where can we learn more about you?
The best place is probably my website,

Interview done by Aaron Wolff.
Photo by William Mercer McLeod

Event Review: Plays And Frozen Foods — Good for Jews?

Aaron Wolff
Plays And Frozen Foods — Good for Jews?


Good for the Jews?

Before we ask that question, we must ask:

What is good?
What is Jewish?

And can something be good for the Jews?

As a Young Professional Jew in will  DC, I am exploring my own religion, tradition, passions, interests and all that goes along with them.  For some reason, I thought I was the only one.

Wait you do it too?!

Josh Kornbluth has done an amazing job integrating humor, history and religion into a 1 hour 20 minute play about Andy Warhol.  Don’t know who Andy Warhol is?  Stop by the JCC and find out. They have his paintings on display.  Or just pick up a Cambell’s Soup can

A great date for those wanting to laugh and learn.

And afterwards, you can stop by Mr. Yogato.