High Holiday Guide 2017 (5778)

We are constantly updating this document. Don’t see yours? Submit them here.

When a service/event is crossed out, it’s sold out.

Erev Rosh Hashanah – Wednesday, September 20th

6:30 pm – Sixth & I, Traditional Service Erev Rosh Hashanah

6:45 pm – Adas Israel, Erev Rosh Hashanah Community Sunset Service

7:00 pm – Sixth & I, MesorahDC Guided Service Erev Rosh Hashanah

7:00 pm – Sixth & I, 6th in the City Good Soul Erev Rosh Hashanah

7:00 pm – Sephardic Jews in DC, Sephardic Rosh Hashanah Dinner

7:30 pm – Temple Rodef Shalom, High Holy Day Alternative Service

7:45 pm – 2239, Erev Rosh Hashanah

8:00 pm – Next Dor, Erev Rosh Hashanah

8:30 pm – Sixth & I, Reform Erev Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah, Day 1 – Thursday, September 21st

8:15 am – Adas Israel, Rosh Hashanah Day 1

9:00 am – Sixth & I, Traditional Rosh Hashanah Day 1

9:00 am – 2239, Rosh Hashanah Day

9:30 am – Sixth & I, 6th in the City Progressive Rosh Hashanah

10:00 am – Sixth & I, Reform Rosh Hashanah

10:00 am – Sixth & I, 6th in the City Good Soul Rosh Hashanah

10:30 am – Sixth & I, MesorahDC Guided Service Rosh Hashanah Day 1

1:00 pm – Sixth & I, Taste of the New Year: Rosh Hashanah Lunch

5:30 pm – Sixth & I, Rosh Hashanah Express

Rosh Hashanah, Day 2 – Friday, September 22nd

8:15 am – Adas Israel, Rosh Hashanah Day 2

9:00 am – Sixth & I, Traditional Rosh Hashanah Day 2

10:00 am – Sixth & I, Rooted in Nature: An Outdoor Rosh Hashanah Experience

10:30 am – Sixth & I, MesorahDC Guided Service Rosh Hashanah Day 2

Kol Nidre – Friday, September 29th

6:00 pm – Sixth & I, 6th in the City Good Soul Kol Nidre

6:00 pm – Sixth & I, 6th in the City Progressive Kol Nidre

6:30 pm – Adas Israel, Kol Nidre

6:30 pm – Sixth & I, MesorahDC Guided Service Kol Nidre

6:30 pm – Sixth & I, Traditional Kol Nidre

7:30 pm – Adas Israel, “Return Again” Kol Nidre

7:30 pm – Temple Rodef Shalom, High Holy Day Alternative Service

7:45 pm – 2239, Kol Nidre

8:00 pm – Next Dor, Kol Nidre

8:30 pm – Sixth & I, Reform Kol Nidre

Yom Kippur – Saturday, September 30th

8:45 am – Adas Israel, Yom Kippur

9:00 am – 2239, Yom Kippur Day

9:00 am – Sixth & I, Traditional Yom Kippur

9:30 am – Sixth & I, 6th in the City Progressive Yom Kippur

10:00 am – Sixth & I, Reform Yom Kippur

10:30 am – Sixth & I, MesorahDC Guided Service Yom Kippur

10:30 am – Sixth & I, 6th in the City Good Soul Yom Kippur

4:00 pm – 2239, Yom Kippur Afternoon & Break Fast

4:30 pm – Sixth & I, Reform Evening Services/Neilah

4:45 pm – Adas Israel, Preparing Body & Soul Through Meditation and Song

6:15 pm – Sixth & I, MesorahDC Guided Evening Services/Neilah

6:30 pm – Sixth & I, Combined Traditional and 6th in the City Evening Services/Neilah

8:00 pm – Adas Israel, YP Break the Fast

Events/Other Resources

We are constantly updating this document. Don’t see yours? Submit them here.

Stay Tuned for…

Sukkot – Wednesday, October 4th-Wednesday, October 11th

Simchat Torah – Thursday, October 12th-Friday, October 13th

Jewish Newbie of the Week – Adam

I met Adam at Moishe House – Columbia Heights! We were hanging out with Reb Aaron when he was teaching some Chasidic text. In classic Jewish fashion, I approached him asking if I had known him from somewhere else. Awkwardly, I didn’t. Still, it led to a beautiful friendship. Learn more about him below.

Shaina: So Adam, one of the first things I noticed about you when we met is your height. How tall are you?

Adam: Yes! Thank you for noticing 🙂 Last I checked I am about 6’5”, but I’ve never gotten a consistent answer when I get my height measured, so I just guesstimate at 6’5”

Shaina: What’s the best part about being so tall?

Adam: I’ve honestly never thought a bunch about why I like being tall. But the top things that come to mind are always being able to reach the top shelf …and that it’s an easy excuse for needing to eat lots of food.

Shaina: So, what’s the family recipe that helped you get so tall? Jews aren’t often known for their height…

Adam: Nope, no secrets. The most peculiar thing about my diet is that I didn’t eat vegetables until I got to college [Editor’s Note: we don’t recommend you try this]. As soon as I found out that something was a vegetable, I immediately decided it wasn’t for me. The no-vegetable habit only really changed in college because it had to – I was keeping kosher and effectively had to be a vegetarian while eating in the dining halls. But, being a vegetarian without vegetables was a little too much… so I finally broke and haven’t looked back since!

Shaina: What are the top 3 things people say to you because of your height?

  1. Wow! You’re tall! (No way. You’re short.)
  2. Have you grown since I last saw you? (I hope not.)
  3. Would you donate any of your height to me? (This is by far the strangest, yet surprisingly very common question I get.)

Shaina: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday and why?

Adam: Passover. When I was growing up, my extended family would get together for a huge Passover meal, and having all my family around was always incredibly fun. But now, even if I’m not home with my family, I love getting together with my friends and having a nice long Seder with a bunch of great food and even better conversation.

Shaina: What’s your favorite museum?

Adam: I still have a ton of them to check out (I’ve only been here for 13 months), but my favorite so far has to be the Renwick Gallery†  . There’s this one exhibit on the second floor that has really colorful waves of netting on the ceiling and it’s a great place to go, lie down on the floor and just stare up and think. [Editor’s Note: I don’t think that this is there anymore. Interested? Check this out. The WONDER exhibit was magnificent – get your own virtual reality tour here.]

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

Adam: I almost always try to teach them about my favorite game, The Resistance.

New-to-DC, Post-College Mini Gathering

New to DC (or the surrounding ‘burbs)? Just graduated college? Need a little Judaism in your life? Want to make new friends? Want to commiserate with others in the post-college feels?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, you’re in luck!

GatherDC is excited to open applications for our next round of Mini Gatherings, taking place in mid-late August. GatherDC is dedicating this offering to those who are in their early 20s and have just graduated college (aka Winter 2016 or Spring 2017).

What is Mini Gatherings anyway? It is a 3-week-long mini-fellowship that brings together 10-15 diverse Jews in similar life stages to meet one another and have some DMCs (deep meaningful conversations) over beers. By the end, you’ll have made new friends, had some great discussions and laughed at least twice. (Guaranteed or your money back!)

Cost: FREE

When: The three gatherings will be held from 6:30 – 8:00 pm on Tuesday, August 15th, August 22nd and August 29th. (Plus, a free Shabbat dinner in there. Who doesn’t love a good Friday night meal?)

What: Each session will involve some schmoozing, drinking, and an open conversation facilitated by GatherDC’s Rabbi Aaron about questions relevant to post-college Jewish life, such as “How can I be Jewish without Hillel?” or “If I didn’t do Jewish life in college, how do I do it in a new city?”, “How do I make friends in a post-college world?” and “What can my adult Judaism look like?”

No background or knowledge necessary – everyone is welcome. In addition, Aaron will host a Shabbat meal on Friday, August 25th at his apartment in Dupont. You must commit to attending all three sessions and the dinner to participate.

Who: People who just graduated college and are new to the DC-metro area.

Application: Open until August 9th at midnight. Apply now.

Want more information? Email Shaina or Aaron.

Rabbi Rant: On Jewish Values

Do you consider “Jewish values” to be a core part of your Jewish identity?

If so, try this fun activity in six easy steps! Warning: may bring about existential crisis.

Step 1: Write down a list of your “Jewish values.”

Yes, actually spell out what they are, instead of letting “Jewish values” be a catchall phrase, like saying “we hooked up.” I want details.

Step 2: Now, cross out any value that is universal (ex. being a good person).

If it’s a universal value, then by definition it can’t be a Jewish one. Judaism can reaffirm these values, but if Judaism were to go away, you’d still have them. In fact, calling them Jewish values might even be dangerous, because it could imply that they are held by only Jews – leading to a false sense of moral superiority.

Step 3: Next, cross out any value that is also American (ex. democracy).

Of course, America has been deeply influenced by Judaism. And, of course, we don’t all agree on which values are American values. But if you can find the source for any of your values in the Constitution faster than you can in the Torah, it’s probably more rooted in your being American than your being Jewish.

Step 4: Next, cross off any value that isn’t actually Jewish (ex. freedom of speech).

I sometimes hear people talk about a value that they have as being a Jewish value, as if the fact that they are Jewish and have that value makes it Jewish. Not only are some of them not in Judaism but often Judaism is actually against these values. Wearing whatever you want, marrying who you like, enjoying the foods of different cultures… these values run directly counter to many traditional Jewish texts. And if you’re thinking, “I suppose some of these values might not be explicitly Jewish, but surely it’s a Jewish value to live out my own values” – sorry, the Torah is against that too: “Perchance there is among you some man or woman… who thinks ‘I am safe, because I follow my own heart’… the Lord’s anger will rage against that person.” (Deut. 29:17-19).

Step 5: Almost there. Now, cross off any value that you don’t act upon in your everyday life (ex. Tikkun Olam/repairing the world).

The Talmud raises the question: what is better, Torah, or action? It concludes: Torah, for it leads to action. Judaism is action-based, and our values must lead to action. If you have values on your list that you don’t act on (like, hypothetically, justice), then that’s not a value of yours. And talking about it a bunch won’t change that.

Step 6: Finally, cross off any value that isn’t actually a value (ex. Jewish food) but rather is a way to feel Jewish. Yes, things like matzah ball soup are yummy, and yes, they make you feel nice and warm and Jewy. But while it may have value to you, it is, alas, not a value.

So, anything left on your list?

If yes – congratulations! I’d love to see them – feel free to post them in the comments below.

If not – don’t worry. This isn’t meant to suggest that Judaism doesn’t matter. But if finding something uniquely Jewish is important to you, values might not be the way to go. We have unique rituals, unique perspectives, unique wisdom – but values? In my opinion – not so much.

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 Hill Staffer of the Week – Ellie

Ellie was my roommate for a year when I first moved to DC. Even though she moved to Arlington, she still works in DC! Although I can’t say who she works for, she definitely works on the Hill! Check out this week’s Jewish Hill Staffer of the Week, Ellie!

Shaina: How long have you been working on the Hill and what’s it like?

Ellie: Since beginning at American University here in DC, I have been able to intern and work on Capitol Hill for a few different members of Congress. I started interning up here during the summer of 2014 and have not stopped since! I was very fortunate to be offered a full-time position in the winter of 2015. In the end, being up here on the Hill for the past three years and in DC for the past five, has been a dream come true.

Shaina:  What’s your favorite part about your job? Plus, I heard you’ve had some celebrity sightings!?

Ellie: I think my favorite part about working on the Hill is just being able to feel like I’m making a difference. I know it all sounds super corny, but those who know me know I’m a corny person! Whether it’s helping constituents with tours, answering their calls about policy issues, or helping shape legislation that will benefit the American people, I love the feeling of knowing my work will have a direct impact on people’s lives.  Walking around the Capitol listening to people talk about the issues that are important to them, and meeting with Congressmen and women, makes you feel like a part of the process more than ever.

Also, it’s never a bad thing to see your favorite celebrity walking around the Hill from time to time! Like running into and talking with Harrison Ford…probably a favorite moment of mine!

Shaina: Assuming people who work on the Hill find time to eat, do you have a favorite Jewish food?

Ellie: I have a few! Interestingly enough, I love matzah, even though I’m pretty sure I’m one of three people who would agree. But most importantly, I love to eat my grandmother’s kugel and especially her chicken noodle soup, as any good Jewish grandchild would! Coming home for the Holidays to a few bowls of that soup always made my time at home even more special and delicious. Now if only she would give me her recipes…

Shaina: How about a favorite Jewish holiday?

Ellie: My absolute favorite Jewish holiday is Passover. (See matzah answer above.) I know it may surprise some people as we can’t eat certain foods for 8 whole days, but Passover to me is much more than that. It’s about coming together with family and friends to remind ourselves of what our ancestors endured to achieve freedom. Sitting around the Seder table with my family every year, we read the Haggadah and retell the story of when our ancestors were slaves in Egypt and that through the help of G-d, we were able to become free once again. Our sense of optimism has not faded and continues to be strong today.

Lastly, this holiday allows me to spend time with my family and close friends as we sit together eating and drinking 4 (or more) glasses of wine together. In the end, Passover to me is all about the freedom and celebrating with the people who mean the most to me.

Shaina:  Can you describe your ideal Sunday in DC?

Ellie: My ideal Sunday would be to wake up mid-morning, head to brunch, as any good DC-er would do, and then walk around the city and find something interesting and fun to do. I love exploring new parts of the District and the surrounding areas, particularly when the weather is just perfect! So if anyone knows of any good spots to visit, please let me know!

During the school year, I wake up early on Sunday mornings to teach Hebrew School at a local synagogue, so that is always a highlight of my Sunday, even if it does mean waking up at 7:30 am on a weekend.

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

Ellie: you are in for a great time!

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.

Loneliness in a Hyper-Curated World

When you graduate college, your commencement speaker talks about all of the great things they’ve accomplished and the incredible future you have ahead. It’s the kind of thing that many movies highlight as the pinnacle of the college experience. It’s when you move your tassel to the other side of your graduation cap. It’s the “defining moment of the next phase of your life.”

Okay. Cool. Now what?

Our generation – millennials (even if you hate the word) – is so hyper-connected, hyper-public, and hyper-aware of the world around us. We see everyone else’s greatest successes online. We see people hanging out with their friends with massive smiles. We see new relationships and amazing trips to London, or wherever.

What we don’t see is loneliness. Sure, sometimes people post about their magnificent failures that allowed them to grow. That whole “failing up” is a trend that has popularized recently.

But we don’t see people sitting on their bed, binge-watching Netflix, trying to fill time because they have nothing else to do That’s not pretty. That’s not “insta-worthy.” The only time you see someone alone is when it’s a perfectly manicured selfie. (Note: watching Netflix doesn’t mean you’re lonely – in fact, it’s actually sometimes a great way to celebrate the little “me time” you may have… I recommend Jane the Virgin, if you haven’t seen it yet.)

The life of #nofilter doesn’t cover loneliness. There seems to be a shame associated with naming you feel alone. It’s not something that is glorious or charming or fun.

But it’s normal. It’s human. It happens. Especially when you just move to a new city. Then it happens a lot. Finding a new social group is hard.

Don’t shame yourself for feeling alone. Acknowledge it, name it, but try not to dwell on it. Push yourself to find places where you feel yourself, people you want to spend time with, or activities you want to try. It’s not easy and probably won’t happen overnight.

If you’re ready to jump-start (or pick back up) the process of finding your people and your place in the city, grab coffee with us. We would love to help you connect and find that place where you can feel your full self, and not so alone.

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 Mayoral Candidate of the Week – Dustin

I met Dustin at our November happy hour at Hill Country BBQ. Our conversation began with Dustin sharing some of his favorite things about DC. And as our conversation progressed, he divulged that he was running for mayor of this great District! I couldn’t have thought of a better person to be GatherDC’s Person of the Week. Read more about him, his leadership journey, and his love for this city below…

Shaina: I hear you’re running for mayor of DC! What made you decide to do this?

That’s the question a lot of people have been asking! I just posted my bio on DustinForDC.com and the whole story is in there, but it all started when I was on a journey in Central America in early 2016. I was teaching yoga and doing a lot of meditation. While I was going through deep self-reflection about my purpose and my future, I began thinking about many of the great leaders in the world who inspired me in my life.

I was thinking about how I could apply the lessons they learned along their journeys in my life, and I started getting a lot of ideas about my community and my city – Washington DC!

My path led me to decide to put myself on the ballot and step-up as a leader. I knew that I had to get out there and tell people about my vision for the city.

Shaina: What has most excited you throughout your campaign?

So many things! The most innovative thing that I am super-excited about right now is Dustin For DC’s commitment to a “clean campaign.” The team has designed an unprecedented fundraising model that goes above and beyond in meeting all explicit, implicit, and just plain common sense standards for campaign finance ethics.

We accomplished this by designing a subscriber-based donation model where we build strong relationships with our “subscribers” who commit to provide a small (so small) monthly donation to the campaign so that we can fund predictable monthly expenses. And in this “all-volunteer campaign,” we have no salaries to pay and this enables us to deploy 100% of donations to campaign infrastructure and projects.

We will publicly release detailed analytics on this innovative campaign, as it happens – and everyone can watch it grow!

Shaina: How long have you been in DC?

I grew up in Rockville, MD but due to family ties to the city, I always had a strong affection for DC and this whole metro area. I was in the Midwest for college but moved back to the area in 2011 and began working and living in DC. I fell in love with the technology community, the arts community, the fitness community, the startup and business community, and – especially – the AMAZING non-profit organizations and PEOPLE who have true spirit and compassion. We have some problems but I am so proud of DC!

Shaina: What’s your favorite part about this city?

This will probably sound sad – but I love our sports! I have been playing sports and doing athletic activities my whole life. I know we can’t ever bring home a championship – but maybe things will change if I’m the Mayor!

Shaina: If you got accidentally got locked in any museum in DC overnight, which one would you hope to get stuck in?

I would pick the National Air and Space Museum. I really enjoy the advance of technology and the story of the human race’s 

drive to gain flight – and space exploration! I am fascinated by the early space program, particularly the imagination and big-thinking involved. Those American heroes had a wonderful “overcome at all cost attitude” and look what they accomplished – wow!

Shaina: What’s your favorite brunch in the District?

My favorite would be teaching an early yoga or meditation class and just enjoying a coffee and healthy recharge meal with friends – and conversation! I don’t have a particular place but sometimes I’ll definitely get a craving for an Affogato from Dolcezza on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in DC.

Complete the sentence: When Jews of DC Gather…  According to the Washington Jewish Week, we volunteer!

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.

I Will Be There For You: A Buddy Program for Young Adults of all Abilities

Beginning this summer, the Edlavitch DCJCC’s Inclusion & Disabilities program is partnering with EntryPointDC, the 20s and 30s program of the EDCJCC, on a new initiative, Buddy Up. We asked Stacey Herman, Director of Inclusion & Disability Programming, Stacy Miller, Director of EntryPointDC, and some of the young adults of our community with and without disabilities to tell us more about this unique initiative.

What is the Buddy Up program and why should young adults in the community get involved?

The Buddy Up program strives to create friendships between young adults with and without disabilities. We are looking for young adults who want to build peer relationships with young adults with disabilities and there are two ways to get involved, drop-in buddy or year-long buddy.

As a drop-in buddy you can sign up to attend our social programs such as cooking, bowling, and game night when your schedule allows. In the fall, consistent Sunday programming will be offered. On the 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month we will offer a Zumba class in partnership with the organization KEEN and will need drop-in buddies to pair off with those with disabilities during the class. Once a month there will be Vocational Clubs that include painting, jewelry making, and taking care of the environment.

A year-long buddy will focus on building one-on-one relationships within a larger peer group and will be required to attend 1-2 social programs a month and correspond with individuals on a regular basis. Buddies will interact with attendees by socializing, making conversations, and generally being a warm and welcoming face at events. Training will be provided for individuals who will be working with the young adults with disabilities and those that would like to participate in the Buddy Up program.

The program is a great opportunity to spend your free time getting to know someone you may not have ever had the chance to meet and help those with disabilities gain important social and vocational skills.

Why is EntryPointDC partnering on this program?

EntryPointDC embraces inclusion and welcomes and encourages young adults of all abilities to attend our programs. Sometimes young adults with disabilities will attend Jewish young professional events in the community and not know how to initiate conversations with event attendees or possess the social skills to keep conversations going. Young adults without disabilities sometimes may be unsure how to approach someone with a disability.  By partnering on this program we hope to build more friendships, offer more lower barrier and consistent volunteering opportunities in the community, and embody the value of tikkun olam by helping our constituents and community gain new skills, empathy, and a better understanding of each other’s perspectives.

Matt Jaffe and Daniel Legum met each other at a Jewish young professional event in the community and are considering being paired together with one of our young adults looking for a buddy.

How did you two meet?  Why do you want to be part of the buddy program?

Daniel:  We met at a 2239 happy hour at Science Club in Dupont in 2013. We want to be a part of the buddy program in order to help other people with disabilities feel like a part of the Jewish community in DC.

What do you think is important for people to know about someone who has disabilities?

Matt: People with disabilities want to fit in with the group and don’t want to be spoken to differently on account of having a disability. They also like to participate in as many activities with everyone else as possible.

Gregory Shaw and Rachel Goldschmidt have been attending some of the social programs offered through the Inclusion and Disabilities program at the EDCJCC.

Why do you want a buddy and how can they help you?

Rachel:  I think having a buddy will make it easier for me to be ingrained into the larger group. I would like my buddy to be someone who can make introductions and help get me into the conversation.  It would be great if we could go out for coffee, tea or a meal, or go for a walk outside the programs!

Gregory:  It can sometimes be difficult for me to be with a peer group. A buddy would help people understand me and what I want to express when I interact with my peers.

Ready to make new friends and empower your peers? The Buddy Up Program currently has a waitlist of 8 young adults of varying capabilities looking for long-term buddies. We welcome individuals of all religious backgrounds. Applications are now open for year-long buddies; we ask a commitment to the program for 6 months to a year wherein you will attend 1-2 social programs a month and correspond regularly with your buddy. Year-long buddy applications are due Friday, July 21. If you would like to drop-in and help at any of our upcoming social programs when your schedule allows, register on our sign-up genius.  If you are looking for a buddy, sign-up here.  Questions? Visit our Inclusion & Disabilities page or email Stacey Herman, Director of Inclusion & Disability Programming.

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.

Free Kabbalah Lecture on July 13th

Kabbalah explains that there is a duality to reality. There is a seen dimension (the physical world) and an unseen dimension (the spiritual world). Our souls are from the spiritual world, living in bodies of the physical world. Kabbalistic wisdom explores both worlds and the role of humanity as the bridge. Curious about learning more? The Kabbalah Centre, Washington, DC is beginning a new introductory course on July 13 at 7:30 pm in DuPont Circle that will expand your perception and help you to connect the spiritual dots that show up at every moment of daily life. The Kabbalah Centre invites you to a free introductory lecture in Dupont Circle on July 13th at 7:30 pm.

The Kabbalah One introductory course is a paradigm-shifting 10-week course that reveals the secrets to all kabbalistic teachings, the golden rules you can master if you seek more fulfillment in your life. It shows you ways around the limitations of rational thought and pushes you beyond your box. The kabbalistic lens offers a rarely seen perspective by which you can dramatically improve the quality of your life – and the world around you.

The word Kabbalah means, “receiving.” It describes a spiritual practice, a set of tools available to everyone. These tools will empower you to receive a life full of joy, clarity and lifelong fulfillment.

The Kabbalah Centre has been translating ancient texts and making this wisdom available since 1922. Everything taught at The Kabbalah Centre comes from ancient and sacred sources such as the Zohar, the Writings of the Ari (Rav Isaac Luria), and the other Master Kabbalists in this lineage.

The Kabbalah Centre teaches Kabbalah is in a progression that allows students to learn and internalize the deepest concepts, once only understood by scholars. It was in 1968, when Rav Berg, together with Karen Berg, formed this progressive study method and created a place where people can learn, apply what they learn, and become part of a like-minded yet diverse community.

The Kabbalah Centre is pleased to offer a free introductory lecture to Kabbalah on Thursday, July 13, 2017 at 7:30 pm in DuPont Circle at The Sky Lounge at the Hepburn Building – 1901 Connecticut Ave NW (Entrance is next to the Washington Hilton Ballroom on T Street NW). For full details and to reserve your seat please see: http://discover.kabbalah.com/dc/.

Rabbi Rant: Jewish Intersectionality

Once again, American Jews are at the center of a conversation about intersectionality.

For those less familiar: intersectionality, as described by Nathan Heller, is “a theory, originating in black feminism, that sees identity-based oppression operating in crosshatching ways. Encountering sexism as a white, Ivy-educated, middle-class woman in a law office, for example, calls for different solutions than encountering sexism as a black woman working a minimum-wage job.”

This theory, in theory, provides a more nuanced way of looking at oppression through the lens of multiple, intersecting identities. It’s a framework that reminds us not to reduce people to any one identity. Yet it has led to very unnuanced ways of thinking – forcing complex identities into an oppressor/oppressed binary and demanding a total consensus on that categorization.

This reductionist form of intersectionality is often applied to the American Jewish identity, which becomes reduced to oppressor (Jew = Zionist = Oppressor) and is thus unwelcome in social justice spaces. We saw this play out most recently just a couple of weeks ago when three people carrying rainbow flags with Jewish stars were asked to leave the Chicago Dyke March.

As in past instances, this led to a litany of counterarguments that Judaism doesn’t necessarily mean Zionism or that Zionist doesn’t necessarily mean oppressor, along with the subsequent debate addressing the degree to which those conflations amount to anti-Semitism.

These responses are important, but they ignore a broader logical flaw that is incorrectly associated with intersectionality. If all oppression is interconnected, the flawed logic goes, then fighting to end one example of oppression requires that we all agree on and speak out about all examples of oppression. And if you are an oppressor in one realm, then you are de facto an oppressor in every realm.

But the interconnectedness of oppression does not mean all oppression should be lumped together, nor does it mean anyone is defined solely by any one oppressive belief. In fact, a proper understanding of intersectionality leads to the exact opposite conclusion. Each instance of oppression, like each person, is a unique and complex combination of different factors and components. The challenge is in being able to simultaneously hold both truths – that different forms of oppression are interrelated and distinct.

Even if Jew = Zionist = Oppressor (it doesn’t), that should not exclude Jews from all spaces that advocate for the rights of others. Belief in one cause does not require a belief in all causes; being considered an oppressor on one issue should not prohibit one from being an ally on another issue.

Yet many social justice movements today seem to be demanding uniformity of thought. They are making the same mistake that was first recorded in the story of Babel.

In chapter 11 of Genesis, we are told that “everyone on Earth had the same language and the same words.” They came together to build a tower, but God disapproved and scattered them across the earth. Why did God disapprove? One interpretation is that their mistake was in coming together with “the same words” – silencing disagreement and forcing a complete consensus. And so God disperses the people, perhaps to teach us: enforcing ideological uniformity and eliminating difference is not how you build coalitions.

The defense of Judaism and Zionism is important. But that shouldn’t distract us from working on other social justice issues, such as queer rights. We do not need to agree on everything to work together on something.

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