Jewish Business Leader of the Week: Naomi

Last week Jackie caught up with Naomi about her reasons behind pursuing an MBA, her favorite things about Beijing and Toronto, and of course, Jewish life in DC. Know someone who should be nominated? Email Jackie!

Jackie: You’re currently an MBA candidate at The George Washington University. What inspired you to pursue your MBA?

Naomi: I have always been very interested in business and management. I co-founded an import and export startup in Toronto when I was a senior at York University. I decided to pursue an MBA because I was interested in joining Corporate America. I have always wished to see more women in leadership roles in Fortune 500 companies in the U.S. and worldwide, and I thought I can definitely help change that by studying an MBA and aspiring to become a leader myself.  I’m glad I made the decision 2 years ago, because in a month I will graduate from my MBA program and start my career at Ford Motor Company.

Jackie: You are originally from Beijing and lived in Toronto for a while. What is your favorite thing about each place?

Naomi: My favorite thing about Beijing is its history and its persunnamed-3everance. Beijing survived many brutal wars, yet it has been able to preserve many of its historical sites such as the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. I also love how modern Beijing has become over the years and is now one of the largest economic centers in the world. My favorite thing about Toronto is its multiculturalism. Back in 2010, Toronto was ranked the most multicultural city in the world when it comes to ethnic diversities. I wouldn’t be surprised if the city still holds such a title. Many of my friends in Toronto are first generation immigrants, and I always enjoyed learning about the amazing and exotic cultures and civilizations of their countries of origin. I love Toronto for being a place where you can be equally proud of your non-Canadian-heritage as well as your Canadian identity.

Jackie: What is your favorite place to spend a Sunday in DC?

Naomi: There is not a particular place I would spend my Sundays in DC. I enjoy taking a long walk in DC on Sundays no matter where the destination is going to be. unnamed-5

Jackie: You’re an Open Doors Fellow with Gather the Jews, what is your favorite part of the Fellowship so far?

Naomi: My favorite part of being an Open Doors Fellow so far is meeting new people, learning about them as well as from them. As part of my capstone project I’ve launched a DC Jewish Professional Network Linked In group to help connect people professionally so they can easily find mentors, connections, and professional resources.

Jackie: What is your favorite Jewish food?

Naomi: Without a doubt, it has to be matzo ball soup.

Jackie: What is your favorite way to spend Shabbat?

Naomi: My favorite way to spend Shabbat in DC is attending the Shabbat service at Temple Micah. The rabbis at Micah always have inspiring sermons and have always challenged me to think outside of the box.

unnamed-4 Jackie: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather,  there will be…

 Naomi: When the Jews gather, there will be stimulating  discussions. That’s one of the many elements I love about  Judaism—it’s intellectually enriching, it constantly requires us  to think as well as to reason our thoughts.

April Events – 30 in the City

30 in the City (1)

We’ve hit another month in the district and that means a calendar packed full with Jewish Events. Not sure what to choose from? Never fear Hillah went through the calendar and pick some great events for those of us who are 30 in the City! (Think there are some great events people should know about this month? List them in the comments!)

for we wereFor We Were Strangers: Stories of Refugee Children with Sonia Nazario

When: Tuesday, April 19, 2016 6:00 PM – 8:30 PM

Where: Adas Israel Congregation (2850 Quebec Street NW, Washington, DC 20008)

What the organizers have to say about the event:

On April 19th, BILLA (AJC’s Belfer Institute for Latino and Latin American Affairs), along with ACCESS, AJC’s young professional division, will host an evening with Pulitzer Prize winner Sonia Nazario to discuss the humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied children who risk their lives travelling to the U.S. border. Nazario is the author of “Enrique’s Journey,” the harrowing story of one boy’s solo journey from Central America to the U.S. in search of his mother. Additional discussion will be facilitated by volunteers from KIND (Kids In Need of Defense) an organization that provides lawyers and advocates for unaccompanied children.

What makes this event cool?

When the media runs short on stories to report, they often turn to the borders and the unaccompanied children coming across them. We hear everything from the children as invaders to being victims of circumstance, but we never have the opportunity to actually ask our questions on this issue and get answers. Attendees will gain more insight into the border situation and get their questions answered.

Who should go?

You enjoy national security, international affairs, and human rights topics. You believe children have a right to a safe home.

Cost: Free

Register: here

GDD2016_buttonRnd3Mitzvah Hoppin’ at Good Deeds Day with the Jewish Food Experience

When: Sunday, April 10, 8:45 AM – 12 PM

Where: Depends on your Mitzvah!

What the organizers have to say about the event:

Good Deeds Day is an annual celebration of Doing Good around the world. Half a million volunteers come together to help others, putting into practice the simple idea that every single person can do something good (be it large or small) to improve the lives of others and change the world.

What makes this event cool?

Many Jewish organizations around DC/MD/VA will be providing opportunities for the Jewish community to give back. There are many great organizations and causes out there, and it is hard to choose which to showcase here. The Jewish Food Experience has shown time and again how to give back through food. They provide a road map so that after volunteering you can decided to continue volunteering with the organizations they partner with.

Who should go?

You are a Mensch and believe in giving back. Can’t go? Send a proxy!

Cost: Free


Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 4.55.46 PMEscaping Egypt: Escape the Room

When: Monday, April 25, 7:30 – 9:30 PM

Where: Escape the Room DC (2300 Wisconsin Avenue NW, #102, Washington, DC)

What the organizers have to say about the event:

You are trapped in a room and only have 45 minutes to get out! Can you do it? Join 2239 and EntryPoint DC this Passover for Escaping Egypt: Escape the Room! We’ll work together to escape the locked room by solving a mystery and playing Passover trivia!

What makes this event cool?

Every friend, family, and organization brings its own unique flair to celebrating Passover. Whether you are celebrating Passover by setting the story to show tunes or reading the Facebook Hagada, there is something out there for everyone. So why not spend the fourth night of Passover celebrating in a whole new style? Try to escape like our ancestors did, but only for one hour (in a safe environment)!

Who should go?

There is no better way to spend a Jewish holiday than by being social. The corn maze during Halloween growing up was just too easy to navigate.

Cost: $29

Register: here


torahsexTorah Text, Torah Sex: Torah for Women in their 20s and 30s

When: Wednesday, April 20, 7 PM

Where: Sixth & I Historical Synagogue (600 I Street NW, Washington, DC)

What the organizers have to say about the event:

When talking about how and where we’ve learned about sex, more often than not, synagogue isn’t the first thought that comes to mind. So much of what we know and think about sex has been informed by the media, the internet, television, and movies.

Consider modern sexual experiences through the lens of ancient Jewish perspectives on sex and gender in a salon-style conversation and text study with writer and educator Merissa Nathan Gerson. We’ll look at what the Torah and Talmud have to say about sex and sexuality, intersex, homosexuality, and pleasure in general. By invoking different and historical lenses to approach the text, you’ll learn to reframe the ancient codes into a modern, sex-positive context.
What makes this event cool?

Nathan Gerson is a DC-raised, LA-based writer and educator who teaches about sex and religion across the country. Her writing has been featured in Playboy Magazine, The Atlantic,, Tablet Magazine, and Lilith Magazine, among others. She is also a consultant to the Amazon TV show Transparent. This event could get hot.

Who should go?

Young professional women who enjoy exploring the Torah, dating, and having conversations about sex.

Cost: $10 in advance/$12 day of event

Register: here

Want more?

There is a lot going on around town for Passover. Some seders to check out: Jews United for Justice Labor Seder and AJC ACCESS & Sixth & I’s Black Jewish Unity Seder: Celebrating Connected Histories

Need a place to go for a Seder dinner or do it yourself: Seders Across DC, Sixth & I’s Community Seder or Participatory SederEntryPointDC Satellite Seders, DCJCC 9th Annual National Rainbow Seder or Second Night Community SederWashington Hebrew’s 2239 Passover Seder

Getting in touch with Passover: Sixth & I’s Let My People Know: Seder StorytellingDCJCC’s It’s All About the Food: Passover Recipes and Deconstructing the HaggadahTemple Rodef Shalom’s The Great Passover Bake-Off with Lauren KatzDuke’s Grocery Matzah Monday.

Passover Guide 2016

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Passover is the Jewish Holiday that American Jews are most likely to celebrate! There are many different way Jews all over the District will be celebrating in the upcoming weeks. Whether it is getting together in small groups or finding a larger community to celebrate with, there is an event for you.

Passover begins Friday evening April 22nd, but there are events throughout the week worth checking out. Here is a list of what is going on in DC for the holiday to make sure you do not miss out. Sign up early to secure a spot at one of these great events!

Did we miss anything? Submit events here and/or leave a comment on this post.

Saturday, April 9th

Sunday, April 10th

Monday, April 11th

Tuesday, April 12th

Saturday, April 16th

Monday, April 18th

 Friday, April 22nd

Saturday, April 23th

Sunday, April 24th

Tuesday, April 26th

Wednesday, April 27th

  • 6:00 pm – Freedom Seder with Washington Hebrew Congregation

Friday, April 29th

Sunday, May 1st

Other Resources:

Top 5 Reasons To Volunteer this Good Deeds Day

GDD2016_buttonRnd3How wonderful it is that no one need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank

As Jews, we have the extraordinary and critical commandment to leave the world just a little bit better than the way we found it. We are told to live our lives not solely focused on our own pursuits of success, but on the success, justice and welfare of society at large.

The world depends on individuals realizing that we are not independent of anyone or anything on earth – but that we are interconnected. The hostile anger and bigotry of one person can spread hate across a nation, just as the loving kindness of another can create lasting peace. Each of us has the ability and the responsibility to share our goodness with the world. We are here for only a limited time, so, as Anne Frank once noted, why wait a single moment before starting to make our difference?

It was in this spirit that in 2007, renowned businesswoman and philanthropist Shari Arison launched Good Deeds Day, the international day for those of all ages and backgrounds to join together in the pursuit of the idea that, “if people will think good, speak good and do good, the circles of goodness will grow in the world.” Since Arison and the organization Ruach Tova first launched Good Deeds Day in Israel, it has grown exponentially. Today, more than half a million volunteers in 90+ countries across the globe participate in this phenomenal day of service. Among them are more than 10,000 Do Gooders right here in Greater Washington.

On April 10th, for the fifth year in a row, The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington will host The Sara and Samuel J. Lessans Good Deeds Day. Together, community members from across the DC area will gather for more than 200 projects and put our own spin on Arison’s idea into practice: that every single person can do something good, be it big or small.

In honor of Federation’s five remarkable years of planning and hosting Good Deeds Day in Greater Washington, here are the Top 5 reasons why you should sign up to join us on April 10:

  1. Get the “Helper’s High”: Positive Psychology has conducted extensive research studies proving that those who take the time to give back to others are happier than those who do not. According to the Americans’ Changing Lives long-term research project, “volunteer work is good for both mental and physical health. People of all ages who volunteer are happier and experience better physical health and less depression.” – Peggy Thoits, a lead researcher on the study.
  2. Meet Some Really Nice People: It turns out that when you volunteer with other people who are choosing to spend their Sunday make the community a better place – you meet awesome people.
  3. Make Bubbe Proud: All your life, your family has been spending every waking moment (subconsciously or not) trying to turn you into a mensch. Now’s your chance to show them – and thousands across the Greater Washington community – that you are a “Do Gooder.” You are someone who lives with the Jewish values you learned in Hebrew school to be kind, loving, respectful, hardworking and passionate about giving back.
  4. Make a (Real) Difference: This is not just a day of feel-good fluff. On April 10th you’ll put your best self to work and get your hands dirty to make a real difference for those in need. From gardening and planting, to packing and delivering food to local seniors, to making care bags for homeless children and blankets to keep hospice patients warm – check out more than 200 projects available to choose from!
  5. Forget Your Problems: At the end of the day, making time to step out of your own head, consider the plight of others and make a difference, however big or small, to improve their lives, is a powerful feeling. Every single day, we encounter people who are facing some sort of struggle. Yet, often times we are far too caught up in our own plans, logistics, relationships, career planning (ad infinitum) that we become unable to notice or be there for others.

On Good Deeds Day, you’ll have the incredible opportunity to pause, get outside of yourself and lend your time, your kindness and your resources to help those in need throughout our community. I can’t wait to meet you – and Do Good with you – on April 10th!

Allison Cossman is an Account Executive at The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

Seeking Refuge: Young Voices, Stories of Resilience

An individual’s story is their most powerful possession. It can be used to connect us with others and inspire change, and it can’t be taken away. The Jewish people have lost many to persecution, and we remember these people their stories. After the Holocaust, we were not just moved to say “Never Again” because of the headlines or the facts; it was the first-hand accounts of the survivors, it was hearing about people’s fears and how they decided they needed to persevere that connects us as a Jewish community.

On Monday, March 28th, young professionals from around DC will come together to hear the stories of young adults who have shown strength while fleeing persecution at JDC Entwine’s, “Seeking Refuge: Young Voices, Stories of Resilience”.

This powerful storytelling program will highlight young adults who have sought refuge in the face of global conflict and recognize the work of global organizations, like JDC and HIAS, which directly shaped their stories.

At the program, you’ll hear the story of Juliya Sheynman’s family, who fled Soviet Belarus for the promise of a better life, free of anti-Semitism. You’ll hear from Mohammed Al-Samawi, a Yemen-born asylum seeker who risked his life advocating collaboration between Jews and Muslims. And finally, you’ll hear from Lana Alman, a Jewish refugee whose family fled Moldova with active conflict at their heels, and the Soviet Union collapsing before their very eyes.

As headlines flood our newsfeeds of people suffering around the world, we feel, as chairs of this event, an obligation to broach this issue in a way that unites us in the most basic human way: through storytelling. Join us as a community as we become eye-level with human experiences that connect us to universal themes of hardship and hope.

For more information and to RSVP for the event, click here.

Event Chairs, JDC Entwine’s “Seeking Refuge: Young Voices, Stories of Resilience” 

Jewish Sports Fan of the Week – Ryan!


This week I had the oppurtunity to interview with Ryan. Originally from Raleigh, NC he came to DC to pursue journalism and business before finally turning to Sports Management. We talked about his love of sports and his favorite Jew in this Weeks interview.

Know someone who should be featured on Gather? Nominate them!


Jackie: You have been in DC for a couple years now, you originally came to study at AU, what made you want to stay in the city?

Ryan: The reason I wanted to stay in the city after my studies were done at AU was because I wanted to live on my own and not in the shadow of my parents in North Carolina. I didn’t want to live in a busy city like New York but a historical and less hectic city like Washington, DC.

IMG_2622Jackie: Where is your favorite place to spend time in the city?

Ryan: My favorite place to spend time is on the Mall. I play softball and kickball during the weekend near the Washington Monument and the Smithsonian museums. I also am a runner, and running around the Mall seeing the monuments and the Capitol makes me feel like a made a great decision staying in DC.

Jackie: Who are you rooting for to win it all in March Madness?

Ryan: I picked UNC to win the whole thing in my bracket this year. I am a NC State fan because I am from Raleigh, North Carolina and they did not make the field this year.

Jackie: What made you interested in the Sports Industry?

Ryan: Honestly, it’s because I’m a huge sports fan (hockey in particular) and I feel like you should find a job that you are passionate about!  So, the sports industry was the answer… although it took me a while to realize it.  I’m glad I finally did!

Jackie: Who is your favorite Jew?

Ryan: My favorite Jew off the top of my head would be Andy Samburg because I am a huge SNL fan and loved him in the sketches he was in before he left the show.

Finish the sentence: When the Jews Gather…

…good things always happen!

Jewish Entrepreneur of the Week – Lindsay!

922977_10100759162898267_231440761_n (1)This week I had the oppurtunity to sit down with Lindsay! I first met her through her job marketing for Cove but then learned she has a fascinating side business she has been working on. Read on to learn all about it…

Jackie: You grew up in St. Louis, what do you miss most about the city?

Lindsay: My parents and sister still live in St. Louis, and I miss them a lot. The St. Louis Cards is a close second. I love living in DC though, so I visit home when I can and I cheer for the Cards from afar.

Jackie: You studied abroad in Australia in college and that began you love of travel, where are some other places you have had the chance to visit? 

Lindsay: Since traveling all around Australia when I studied abroad, I’ve been to New Zealand, Poland, Prague, and Spain. My favorites were Prague and Barcelona. I hope to take a trip somewhere in Europe this summer, but not sure where yet.

Jackie: You have a small business can you tell us about it? 

IMG_4279Lindsay: I founded The Cookie Jar DC just six weeks ago to make edible cookie dough. The cookie dough doesn’t have eggs in it and you don’t bake it—you just eat it! I make several different flavors, from classic chocolate chip to sugar cookie with sprinkles, and they come in different size jars as well as small bites dipped in chocolate. While it’s only been six weeks, I’m already selling in Glen’s Garden Market (Dupont and Shaw) and Union Kitchen Grocery, shipping nationwide, doing delivery three nights a week, and accepting pickup orders. I also do catering and favors with custom branding for events, from office lunches to baby showers to bachelorette parties and more. You can find everything on my website:

Jackie: So you aren’t really that into cooking, what made you want to start an edible cookie dough company?

Lindsay: It’s funny that my business is edible cookie dough because I find cooking to be boring. However, there’s actually no cooking or baking involved in making the dough since nothing goes in the oven. The business started because I wanted to do something creative, and I wanted to run my own project. I began playing around in the kitchen and thinking up creative recipes that people wanted but couldn’t find in the stores. At one point I thought, “I should sell this.” So I looked for a commercial kitchen to produce out of, and the next thing I knew, it was official.

Jackie: What is your favorite place to spend time in DC?

Lindsay: Recently, I’ve reallyLindsay_The Cookie Jar DC (1) enjoyed spending time in Union Kitchen, where I produce all of my edible cookie dough. The vibe is great, the other chefs and bakers are friendly, and there’s always different music playing. It’s easy relax and focus on making the cookie dough. It’s a very different environment than I had ever been in before I launched The Cookie Jar DC.

Jackie: You work full time and have your own business on the side, when do you sleep? 

Lindsay: It’s been a whirlwind so far, and I honestly haven’t had much time to sleep. I try to compartmentalize everything so that I’m focused on my job during the day and edible cookie dough at night. As I build up efficiencies with The Cookie Jar DC, I’ll hopefully have more time to relax. Regardless of how busy it keeps me, it’s a ton of fun and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Jackie: What is your favorite Jewish Food?

Lindsay: Charoset!

Jackie: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…

Lindsay: They eat edible cookie dough!

Purim Guide 2016 // 5776

snowflakePurim is many people’s favorite holiday, but Purim is very near and dear to our hearts here at Gather. Some of you might wonder where we get the name Gather the Jews… well it is actually from the Purim Story.

In the book of Esther, she tells Mordechai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Shushan, and fast for me.” And so we do! We work to bring together the members of our community, connect them to each other and find their fit.

In that vein, Purim begins Wednesday, March 23rd at sun down. Do you know where you’ll be celebrating? There are many opportunities in the coming weeks to celebrate with the DC Jewish Community.

Did we miss anything? Submit events here and/or leave a comment on this post.

Thursday, March 10th

 Friday, March 11th

Thursday, March 17th

Saturday, March 19th

Sunday, March 20th

Monday, March 21st

Tuesday, March 22nd

Wednesday, March 23rd

Thursday, March 24th

Friday, March 25th

Saturday, March 26th

Hasn’t a Jew Eyes?: Howard Jacobson Reads at the Folger

Shylock-Is-My-Name-jacket-imageHoward Jacobson, author and humorist, is often called the English Philip Roth. His response: No, he’s the Jewish Jane Austen. He explained to the New York Times, “I’m an English writer who happens to know about Jews and would like to write like Jane Austen, with a little bit of Yiddish.” He is best known for his novel The Finkler Question, a satire about anti-Semitism, which won him a Man Booker Prize in 2010.

So when Hogarth Shakespeare Press needed a biting humorist to take on one of Shakespeare’s most challenging plays and turn it into a contemporary novel, they called his agent.

Jacobson said, “They want Merchant of Venice, don’t they?”

Hasn’t a Jew Eyes?

Jacobson was reluctant at first. When he read Merchant of Venice at school, Shylock (the Jewish moneylender in the play) became something of a running joke among his classmates. “Whenever we felt that someone was saying something against the Jews, we would fall into caricature mode, hunch our shoulders, wring our hands, and go, “Hasn’t a Jew eyes?”

It was only after reading Merchant of Venice again as an adult that Jacobson saw past the caricature to the troubled man who’s lost his wife and been betrayed by his only child. And Simon Strulovitch, the protagonist of Jacobson’s Shylock is My Name, certainly is troubled: his daughter Beatrice has run off with a footballer famous for giving Nazi salutes on the field.

Shylock is My Name takes on Shylock, one of Shakespeare’s most infuriating, misunderstood characters, and pulls him into the present, and brings him to life in a way only Howard Jacobson can.

Howard Jacobson will be reading from Shylock is My Name on Monday, March 14, at Folger Shakespeare Library, and discussing it with Aaron Posner, whose play District Merchants premieres at the Folger on May 31st, 2016. This event is co-sponsored by the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Wonder of Will, the Hogarth Shakespeare Series, and the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. Tickets are $15 at more information here.

Cover photo Jenny de Yong.