Super-Jewish Girl of the Week: Rachel Goldberg

What do you do?

I work for a Jewish non-profit that helps ensure Jews marry Jews so we can make Jewish babies and then they can marry Jews and keep this whole thing going!

Where are you from?

Long Island. The Jewish part.

What are some of your hobbies?

Going on Jswipe, going to synagogue, going on Jswipe at synagogue, and brunching with my friends from Brandeis.

What’s your favorite part about being Jewish?

The Torah. I’m in a book club where we read the Torah each week. You really only need one book. So many life lessons!

What’s your favorite food?

OK, so it’s like a sushi roll, except it’s called a Gefilte Roll. It’s gefilte fish wrapped in lox. And no rice, which is great because I’m actually carb-free right now. Yum!

Are all of your friends Jewish?

Define Jewish. No really, I’m so interested in hearing how you understand Judaism – it’s one of my favorite conversations.

Where’s your favorite place to travel?

Thailand.

Wait, really? I would have thought Israel.

When I’m in Israel I don’t feel like I’m traveling because it’s my homeland.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are not even those of the original author. They are totally made up – Happy Purim!

Rabbi Rave: Happy Hours

I love happy hours.

I know there are so many of them here in DC, but not enough, if you ask me.

Honestly, I wish every hour of the day was a happy hour. Think about how many people I could talk to about my job and where I’m from. And so many opportunities to lie about getting another drink or needing to go to the bathroom in order to get out of a conversation! If every hour was a happy hour, I’d probably be able to think up a third excuse.

One time I “went to the bathroom” to avoid someone at a happy hour, and another guy was in there… and he was doing the same thing! We really bonded about that. I didn’t catch his name but I’m sure I’ll see him again soon – probably at another happy hour.

Sometimes happy hours end super-early and I’m like “Um, it may be 7 pm, but I’m still happy, and no one can take that away from me.” Random bars shouldn’t be able to dictate when I’m happy – what a social construct, am I right?! But if I’m being honest, I’m actually not as happy when it’s not officially happy hour.

There really is no escaping it, happy hours are just the best part of my day. All day I’m at my desk thinking: “I can’t wait to order a Coors Light for only $4.” Sure, I could just go buy an 18-pack of Coors for $15 bucks, but can you enjoy that 18-pack with strangers? Definitely not – you’d have to invite friends over. And who has time for those, am I right?!

Now, l know sometimes girls can feel like happy hours are full of creepy guys asking them for their number. And it’s true, some guys are creepy. But I’m not. So please give me your number. Your real number.

I’ve heard people complain that the music at happy hours is too loud, or that the floors are sticky. Well let me tell you, as someone who spends a lot of time looking at the floor during happy hours – those floors are not that bad. And the music is so good, it’s like why wouldn’t you blast it! I know it’s not possible, but I always feel like they’re playing my favorite album. Which is Now That’s What I Call Music 23, by the way.

In summary, I love happy hours so much that I even typed up this piece while at a happy hour. It’s cool cuz it looks like I’m so important that I have to constantly be checking my phone – woah, if I get into a conversation tonight, there’s my third excuse to leave it!

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are not even those of the original author. They are totally made up – Happy Purim!

Jewish Generic DC Guy of the Week: Avi Shapiro-Weinstein

What do you do?

I love that question, and I ask it all the time. It’s such a great conversation starter – even with people I’ve known for a while. You can never hear too much about what someone does – it’s always interesting! Personally, I’m a lawyer, but I’m currently studying for my MBA.

Where are you from?

Wow, another one of my favorite questions! I’m from New Jersey, Exit 4.

What are some of your hobbies?

I work out pretty regularly and love watching sports. Also, Game of Thrones is so great. I could talk about that for hours, which I do, basically every day.

What’s your favorite part about being Jewish?

I went to summer camp and loved it, so I love getting together with Jews and talking about summer camp, even though that was when I was 12 years old and I’m currently 34.

How’s your dating life?

I’m not really looking for anything serious right now. I’m more into just hooking up with people and then ghosting them. I’ve been doing this for like 16 years now. But I’m definitely not scared of intimacy.

Do you have any values or care about anything meaningful?

I’ve been socialized to think that not caring about anything is cool, so… nah brah.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are not even those of the original author. They are totally made up – Happy Purim!

Become a Moishe House With Out Walls Host!

Do you love to host events with your friends and want money to do so? Moishe House Without Walls gives you the opportunity to create a Jewish community that is unique to who you are. Moishe House Without Walls expands on the mission of MoisheHouse by empowering non-residents with the financial and programmatic support they need to build the communities they envision. MHWOW provides the opportunity to create peer-led community programs that are unique to each and every host in our community. Whether that means hosting a Shabbat dinner for your friends twice a month, or building a sukkah and hosting a barbecue to celebrate the holiday, or even hosting a social event to bring your crowd together, MHWOW is an opportunity to build and explore what the idea of Jewish community means to you. Check out mhwow.org to learn more about Moishe HouseWithout Walls and apply to start hosting!
Check out a couple of our DC Hosts:
Former GatherDC Jewish Guy of the Year Kevin Lieberman recently moved to Ann Arbor, MI, to start graduate school. Prior, as an active MHWOW host in D.C., Kevin had helped create community for his peers in a city with four Moishe Houses in the greater metro area. Upon moving to a city without a Moishe House, Kevin was immediately able to transfer his skills to build community in Ann Arbor, leading ongoing activities and programs for other Jewish young adults, including a special weekend-long retreat for 21 Jewish graduate students.
Moishe House Columbia Heights resident Alyssa, 22, was living in Tucson, AZ, a community without a Moishe House, when she first attended a Passover Learning Retreat outside of Phoenix in February 2015.The Passover Learning Retreat inspired Alyssa to begin leading programming for her peers in Tucson, culminating in a weekend-long retreat in early 2016. Recently, Alyssa relocated to Washington, D.C., where she has taken her involvement to the next level, becoming a resident of one of the local Moishe Houses, and starting a job at Hillel as a Program/ Operations Associate.
This Wednesday, March 15th come sip and schmooze at the Moishe House Columbia Heights and learn more about becoming a Moishe House Without Walls Host! Both current and prospective hosts will be in attendance, as well as current MoisheHouse residents and alumni.
Feel free to RSVP on Facebook or join us at the Moishe House Columbia Heights on March 15th from 7:30PM-9:00PM

Moishe House Columbia Heights

1453 Harvard St. NW, Washington, District of Columbia 20009

 

Is This Weed Kosher?

Last evening, about thirty alumni of select GatherDC experiences convened at the Takoma Wellness Center – a medical marijuana dispensary owned and run by a rabbi, Jeff Kahn. It is one of only 5 dispensaries in the District, and the only dispensary in the country run by a rabbi.

Why You Should Party Like It’s 1997 This Weekend

Realizing that 1997 was twenty years ago might make you feel old, but you can get in touch with your inner child this weekend! Here are 5 Reasons you should party like it’s 1997!

  1. You are curious how long it takes to run across a room and propel yourself onto someone’s lap during a game of Coke & Pepsi now that you are beyond Bar/Bat Mitzvah age and can barely climb 5 flights of stairs without getting winded
  1. You want a reason to wear your newly purchased flannel shirt or Delia’s style choker necklace while bopping your head to the Spice Girls

 

  1. You miss the taste of Fruit by the Foot and other childhood snacks and no longer want to eat them in secret

 

  1. You want to practice your Macarena skills while bouncing in the air

  1. You are living a Semi-Charmed kind of Life and Wannabe rocking out with 90s cover band Make More Animals

 

Ready to party all night? Come out to EntryPointDC’s Schmooze & Snooze Fest this Saturday, February 25th at the Edlavitch DCJCC. Tickets include 3 drinks, snacks, swag, and entertainment including 90’s cover band Make More Animals, Bar Mitzvah DJ Dance party, moon bounce, Ted Talks, “nap” lounge and more. Doors open at 9:00 pm, Havdalah is at 9:30 pm and the band starts at 10:00 pm.

Listen to these tunes to get ready!

How to Do Your Taxes on the Cheap

Tax season is upon us! You have until Tuesday, April 18th to file your taxes. If you’re living or working outside of the US, you have until Thursday, June 15th to file. I recommend getting an early start so you can avoid the stress of rushing against a deadline. However, if you think you’ll need to file for an extension, you need to postmark the extension request by April 18th.

Now that you’re ready to file your taxes (early!), you shouldn’t spend a bunch of money doing so. Here are some ways to do your taxes for free (or cheaply).

1. Turbo Tax

Turbo Tax is the program that I usually use. The user experience is good (except for them trying to upsell you the whole time), and the process isn’t confusing. You can file your federal and state taxes for free (using Turbo Tax Absolute Zero). There are several other paid options, where you can get more support and advice while filing. I found out this year that it costs $89.99 to file business taxes using Turbo Tax, which makes me sad.

2. H&R Block

H&R Block is very similar to Turbo Tax. In fact, sometimes I fill in my information in both programs to see if one will get me a better refund. (That happened once, but usually the numbers are the same.) There is a free federal and state filing option (H&R Block More Zero), but they can also charge you for more premium features. According to their website, you can also meet with a tax pro in person and file your federal taxes, for free.

3. Credit Karma Tax

Credit Karma is known for providing your credit score for free. And if you’re not already using it for that, you should! (Credit Sesame is another option.) This year, Credit Karma unveiled its brand new tax filing program. Credit Karma Tax has free federal and state e-filing. According to them, there is no paid option – it is all free, and there’s no annoying upselling! I’m excited to try it out.

4. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program

This program is offered through the IRS. You qualify if you earn under $54,000, are disabled, or aren’t a fluent English speaker. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals. So not only can you file for free, but you also get free support and guidance while completing your taxes.

5. Free File Alliance

This software is available to taxpayers who earn under $64,000 (which is 70% of us). The IRS has partnered with more than a dozen tax software companies to offer this program. You can search through the participating companies and choose which will work the best for you.

6. My Free Taxes

United Way has partnered with H&R Block to offer My Free Taxes. This program is also available to those who earn under $64,000 a year. According to their website, 80% of taxpayers who used this program finished filing their taxes in under an hour.

For even more options, visit here. Happy filing!

This post originally appeared on Maggie Germano Financial Coaching. Want to read more? Check out maggiegermano.com/blog

 

Embracing Loneliness

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day – a time to appreciate a partner if you have one, or a time to feel lonely if you don’t.

Feeling lonely is, ironically, something we’ve all experienced, if not this Valentine’s Day then at some point in our lives. It’s a hard feeling to sit with – in fact, the first statement God makes about humans in the Torah is that it is not good to be alone (Genesis 2:18). At our very core, we crave connection.

But while God was able to solve this problem by creating another person, we don’t have that ability. To avoid our loneliness, we’re left to our own devices.

Literally.

Our phones, our TVs, and our computers have become an easy way feel connected to others. Yet that can actually make us feel more alone, according to a few studies highlighted in a New Yorker article on this subject. One such study: “In 1998, Robert Kraut, a researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, found that the more people used the Web, the lonelier and more depressed they felt. After people went online for the first time, their sense of happiness and social connectedness dropped, over one to two years, as a function of how often they used the Internet.”

In addition to technology, we also turn to sex, which should, in theory, make us feel less alone. Yet, as psychologist Eric Fromm points out in his book The Art of Loving, this too can make us feel more alone.The search for the sexual orgasm assumes a function which makes it not very different from alcoholism and drug addiction. It becomes a desperate attempt to escape the anxiety engendered by separateness, and it results in an ever increasing sense of separateness since the sexual act without love never bridges the gap between two human beings, except momentarily.”

This desire to escape through sex is captured perfectly in the surprisingly self-aware chorus of the new, aptly titled track Scared to be Lonely: “Do we need somebody just to feel like we’re alright? Is the only reason you’re holding me tonight cuz we’re scared to be lonely?”

In lieu of deep relationships, for which there are no real substitutes, perhaps it’s better to embrace this void than to run away from it or to try to fill it with a quick-fix. Our tradition, in a prayer typically recited after eating, reminds us that to lack is to be human: “Blessed are You God… Creator of many living beings and their lackings…”.

It’s scary to not have what you want. But within that empty space, we can connect to what remains – ourselves. And learning to embrace that empty space is, paradoxically, how we ultimately allow others in.

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 Gather the Jews, the Gather the Jews staff, the Gather the Jews board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Jewish Newbie of the Week – Blair

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 today by emailing Shaina!)

This week’s first-ever Jewish Newbie of the Week is Blair!

Blair was one of my first friends in DC. She signed up for coffee, and we immediately hit it off. She’s affable, funny, and definitely one of those friends you want to introduce to your parents (proven by the fact that she has met mine…). Read more about Blair, her pupusa adventures, and her favorite lesser-known DC coffee shop, below…

Shaina: What brought you to DC?

Blair: Akin to many other 23 year old Jews in DC, I moved here for a job after graduating college. I work in healthcare consulting (with a larger passion for the public health and health policy space), so this city definitely lured me in. I have known since I was younger that Washington, DC. was a city I could not only live but thrive in. I have distant family living in Arlington, VA, and on frequent trips to visit them throughout my childhood and adolescence I constantly marveled at Washington, DC, as a blend of both my childhood in the South mixed with the Northeast. Washington, DC struck me as a city where people come and go for work, but the constant intellectual stimulation is ever present.

Shaina: How long have you been in DC?

Blair: I’ve lived in DC since May of last year, so by most people’s standards I’m still new. Nine months in and I am still on the hunt for the best food in each neighborhood.

Shaina: What is your favorite thing about this city?

Blair: Washington, DC may not have the best food, art, community building, or bars, but I absolutely love the people I meet here. Most individuals I meet are doing such interesting work and have an incredible passion for what they do. That passion has become contagious and has pushed me to be more present in my own involvement in and outside of work, as well as in and outside my social circles. Despite the masses of people that come in and out for work, they city still feels small. After growing up in Durham, North Carolina, I feel like this city is a logical jump for me that allows me to explore the constant flurry of activity that metropolitan areas have to offer, without being too overwhelming.

Shaina: What piece of advice would you give to someone who just moved here?

Blair: I am an incredibly extroverted person, so this advice may not resonate with everyone, but: instead of getting bogged down in the happy hour culture and networking, find a weird niche event that you want to go to, go alone, and just talk to people. There is honestly something always going on in DC, and there really is something for everyone. I am obsessed with Latin American food, so when I first moved here, I knew I had to go to the Columbia Heights pupusa festival. I made one of my first great friends there after standing in line for three hours waiting for pupusas. We bonded over recently moving to the area and knowing no one. It’s simple, but it worked.

Shaina: Best place to grab coffee in DC is…

Blair: ThreeFifty Bakery & Coffee Bar is tiny and they make a great cappuccino. They have limited inside seating, but a great outside patio to just relax, chat with friends, admire the surrounding row houses, and people watch.

 Shaina: When the Jews of DC Gather…

Blair: The company and conversation is good, but the food is better.