Spotted in Jewish DC: Hill Country BBQ’s Passover Brisket

When you think Passover food, Texan BBQ is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. But, local DC BBQ joint, Hill Country BBQ, has somehow magically combined these two forces to create a mouthwatering, traditional Texan BBQ brisket ready-to-order for Passover.

Get the lowdown on this seder-worthy dish from Hill Country BBQ’s Chef de Cuisine, Dan Farber, and Director of Operations, Chris Schaller.

Allie: I hear you have some delicious brisket on sale for Passover. What makes this brisket special?

Chris: Our founder, Marc Glosserman, grew up in the BBQ capital of Texas, where central Texas BBQ is a true celebration of the quality of meat. Our brisket reflects this, and is made with a heavy rub of cayenne, salt, and pepper, and then we soak it over Texas post oak wood from 13-15 hours. By the time it comes out, its very tender, melts in your mouth.

Allie: How can I get this brisket at my Passover seder?

Chris: You can order it online here, pick it up at Hill Country BBQ, or we can do drop-off catering whenever possible – depending on the amount.

Allie: What’s your favorite Passover food?

Dan: Hmmm that’s a hard one because isn’t all Passover food really amazing? 🙂 I would probably say a delicious brisket of course, and a good, flavorful matzo ball soup with the perfect consistency matzo balls (somewhere between floater and sinker). I don’t mind gefilte fish and I can tolerate matzo when it’s served with some butter or as matzo pizza. Of course, in the morning you can’t pass up matzo brei!

Allie: Do you have any other foods at Hill Country you suggest for Passover?

Chris: We serve a healthy amount of lamb, and some great sides like cucumber salad. These can all be ordered for delivery to a Passover seder.

Allie: Is there a discount GatherDC readers can get on the brisket?

Dan: We are happy to extend a 10% discount for GatherDC-ers, just mention this article when ordering.

 

Check out our 2018 Passover Guide for more DC restaurants with seder foods, Passover recipes, and much more.

 

 

 

 

 

NOTE: The brisket at Hill Country BBQ is not kosher.

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.

See DC Like Never Before!

Camp Nai Nai Nai and Sixth & I are teaming up for an ‘Uncover DC Scavenger Hunt.’ Clues and ridiculous tasks await all daring individuals as you uncover DC treasures. Using a mobile app, teams will traverse Chinatown and explore Jewish history, art, and culture in our beloved metro scene. Come with your friends and a ready-made team or be adventurous and join a team of new friends when you arrive. P.S. This scavenger hunt uses a super cool app developed in Berlin, no pieces of paper and markers needed!

Expect the Unexpected!

via GIPHY

Random acts of kindness? Yup! Food from a country you’ve never visited? Yup! Jewish Deli in DC? YUM and most definitely yup!

Wrestle with clues, discover historical sites, and compete in absurd team challenges!

Ever invented an odd job and tried to get paid for it? How about cheering on strangers for simply crossing the street? As you venture through Chinatown, we promise to show you a side of DC rarely explored!

What will YOU find?

Do you like puzzles and logic games? Do you like to dance in the streets like nobody’s watching? Synagogues become churches…and back again? Uhhh, yup! Several synagogues in DC have become churches over the decades and some have even come back to the tribe. We promise you will see the same streets you walk every day in a brand new light.

Camp Nai Nai Nai & Sixth & I believe that Jewish ritual and culture should be vibrant, relevant, and exciting. We don’t know how many clues you’ll solve, but we do know that you’ll find  a group of people who enjoy spending time together in this beautiful city of ours. “Uncover DC” is an opportunity to meet fun new people and become a part of a brand new community.

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$$$, SWAG for the Winners

Why do this? First of all, everyone that shows up will get a Sixth & I tote bag, and we ALL need more tote bags for walks home from Trader Joe’s! Second, it will be a guaranteed raucous good time. Third, the winners will get exclusive and fabulous Camp Nai Nai Nai swag and 50% off registration for Camp Nai Nai Nai.

 

Camp Nai Nai Nai is a Jewish Summer camp for adults, taking place over Memorial Day weekend, May 25 – 28, 2018, in Waynesboro, PA (1.5 hours from DC). Camp Nai Nai Nai gives you a chance to relive the curious and courageous days of youth through spirited song sessions, creative play-shops (there’s no work at camp), color wars, festive meals, and more. This inclusive and pluralistic weekend getaway is your canvas to connect with new and old friends and recharge your city-worn spirit. Camp busses will be leaving from DC, and we would love to see you all there!

 

RSVP and Invite Friends on Facebook

Sign up for the Uncover DC Scavenger Hunt

Sign up for Camp Nai Nai Nai

Check out Sixth & I

 

The above is a sponsored blog post. 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.

Finding Your Shabbat Squad

I’ve been working at the Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center (EDCJCC) for the past few years as the Director of EntryPointDC, the 20s and 30s program based out of the center. When I started this role, I decided to change up one of our signature programs, Shabbat Clusters – small groups of young adults who we bring together to meet for monthly potluck dinners at each other’s homes and restaurants.

Originally, the Shabbat Clusters groups were based on age and location, and/or if you were single or part of a couple. In 2016, we added interest-based clusters such as outdoors, arts, 30-somethings, and foodies. Each group was also assigned a Shabbat Cluster Coordinator to help the group decide who would host dinner for the month, and be there as a resource for welcoming others to their home and learning about Shabbat rituals. Groups became larger so members had a chance to connect with different types of people. By the end of 2016, we had 285 young adults registered for the season, with new Shabbat Clusters forming every spring and fall!

As someone who has been a part of this program as both a participant, and a staff member, I have discovered that Shabbat Clusters is an incredible way to make new friends, reflect on your week, create Shabbat traditions, throw an awesome themed dinner, and even find your next bae. Check out some of my favorite Shabbat Cluster memories before signing up for the chance to create your own. 

Top 5 Shabbat Clusters Highlights of the Past 2 Years

1) The chilly winter evening when the 30-somethings Shabbat Cluster group hosted an Oscars-themed Shabbat, complete with a photo-booth and themed ice-breaker of sharing your favorite Jewish TV/movie moment, actor, director, or commenting on the week’s Torah portion (and potentially earning an Oscar for this!).

2) That time when two Shabbat Clusters didn’t have enough space at each other’s homes for dinner, so they wound up hosting the dinner together at the EDCJCC – and found these awesome tablescapes and stuffed mini pumpkins for dinner.

3)  That day when we received this awesome email:

I am writing with exciting news! Our cluster was formed through the DCJCC in April 2015. Though we’ve lost a few members to grad school and new jobs in other cities, we continue to meet regularly.  Over the years, we’ve had a Hanukkah Shabbat gift exchange, and gotten together for birthdays, Passover seders, Rosh Hashanah lunch, Yom Kippur Break-Fast meals, Halloween parties, Hamentaschen baking, EDCJCC’s Everything But the Turkey community service project, a singalong Shabbat, and a show at the Kennedy Center (“Kinky Boots”). In September, two of our members (Jennifer Bronson and Douglas Robins), who met through Shabbat Clusters, got engaged and are getting married this summer!

P.S Doug and Jen got engaged over a Shabbat meal that Doug made from scratch. After the proposal,  they danced around the apartment to Bruno Mars. #Shabbatposal

4)  That spring afternoon when the outdoors Shabbat Clusters and the 20’s-something Shabbat Clusters came together for Shabbat lunch in the most creative space: The National Portrait Gallery Kogod Courtyard.

5)  When Lisa Zingman and Hilary Bernstein combined forces to be co-coordinators of their Shabbat Cluster not once, but THREE times. These two amazing ladies already have 15 people signed up to re-join their group for the next year! #winning #Shabbatsquad

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One of our taglines for Shabbat Clusters is “Find Your Shabbat Squad” – and I think that these 5 highlights reflect the idea that coming together for Shabbat is about meeting new friends, celebrating Shabbat your way, creating new traditions, and making lasting memories.

Want to learn more about Shabbat Clusters? Visit the FAQ Page and register for the Spring 2018 Season. The season kicks-off this Friday, but rolling registration will be open until June (or until spots are full).

 

About the Author: Stacy Miller is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you. enjoys entertaining her large Jew crew at her home and is currently the Director of EntryPointDC, the 20s and 30s program of the Edlavitch DCJCC. She represents all things Northern Virginia as the Founder of NOVA Tribe Series and is a former GatherDCGirl of the Year Runner-Up. Most importantly, she wants you know she LOVES this community a-latke.

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.

Meet Stephanie: Jewish Hip-Hop Dancer of the Week!

Move over Channing Tatum, this extroverted, Israeli chocolate loving hip-hop dancer is ready to take center stage. Get to know Stephanie Aseraph, because she’s one of the most vivacious, sweet, passionate women you’ll meet – and has a not-so-secret party trick of being able to kill it on the dance floor.

Allie: I hear you’re quite the dancer. Tell me about that!

Stephanie: I love hip-hop dancing. Dancing is a huge part of my life. I started dancing after seeing the movie “Honey” in second or third grade, and deciding that I wanted to be just like the star of the movie.

Allie: What do you love most about dancing?

Stephanie: When I dance and am on stage, I just forget about everything and all the troubles in the world go away – nothing else matters. Dancing has also given me so many amazing opportunities. In high school, I was a part of a dance troupe called Future Shock DC, and we went all around the country for showcases… and one year went to Barcelona!

In college, I had a lot of friends from Latin America and they helped me get into salsa and bachata and merengue. Hip-hop is my favorite though. Now, I’m not taking dance classes anymore, but I can go out dancing with friends– to places in the DC area like The Salsa Room, Cuba Libre, and El Centro.

Allie: Who are some dancers you admire?

Stephanie: Matt Steffanina is my favorite choreographer. Also, Channing Tatum is amazing. I love all the movies he’s in when he dances.

Allie: What motivated you to work for Masa Israel Journey?

Stephanie: Coming from an Israeli family, Israel is a really strong part of my identity. I went on a Masa program when I was a Junior in college at Tel Aviv University…and then, when I came back my senior year at Towson University, became a campus ambassador and did recruitment for Masa. After college, I did my Master’s in Leadership in Jewish Education and Communal Service, and knew I wanted to work in the Jewish professional world. When this job opened up at Masa, it was perfect because not only does it allow me to work with others with a passion for Judaism, but with a passion for Israel as well. Being able to support an organization that allows American Jews to connect to Israel and bring them on programs that can change their life, like Masa changed mine, is an amazing opportunity.

Allie: Who is your Jewish role model?

Stephanie: My mom. She’s a wholesome person that I’ve always admired and looked up to. She contributes very significantly to my love for Judaism and Israel, and she has always been my role model and my best friend.

Allie: What do you love most about Jewish DC?

Stephanie: There’s so much going on! I feel like I’m always learning about a new young Jewish professional group. It’s incredible to see so many people connected to the Jewish community, and that it’s such a broad network that there’s an event for everyone.

Allie: What’s your favorite Passover food?

Stephanie: Matzah with chocolate spread. But not just any chocolate spread…it has to be Hashachar spread – which is an Israeli chocolate spread. I love it because I can spread it on matzah and eat chocolate for breakfast…when else do I get to do that?!

Allie: What’s at the top of your travel bucket list?

Stephanie: Greece has been on the top of my travel bucket list since I saw “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”. After that, I really want go to South America and explore Colombia, Argentina, Guatemala, Panama, and Brazil.

Allie: Favorite show to binge watch?

Stephanie: “Friends.” I cannot get enough it. But, of new shows, I’d say “This Is Us.” Randall is hilarious, and Jack is just amazing.

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

Stephanie: They become connected!

 

 

 

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 People of the YEAR Celebration!

GatherDC is throwing down to celebrate the extraordinary humans featured as Jewish Person of the Week from 2017-2018, and everyone who makes our Jewish community so friggin’ awesome (that’s YOU)! 

RSVP NOW

DON’T MISS OUT on this festive opportunity to:

  • Cheers to the Jewish People of the Week over drinks, games, prizes, & fried foods
  • Sip on specialty cocktails like the “Jewish Drink of the Week” and “Gather the Booze”
  • Take photo-booth pics with incredible, diverse young adults from across the DMV
  • Win awesome raffle prizes from Hill Country BBQ, One Eight Distilling, Pleasant Pops, and more!

Date: Thursday, May 10 from 6-9pm

Location: The Loft at 4935 – 4935 Cordell Avenue, Bethesda MD
7 min walk from Bethesda Metro, parking garage next door, 20 min Uber ride from DC, or contact allisonf@gatherdc.org to arrange a carpool.

Cost: $15 in-advance/ $20 at-door
Includes 1 drink ticket, 2 raffle tickets, appetizers, photo-booth, and more

Raffle Prizes: $100 to Hill Country BBQOne Eight Distilling Tour & Tasting, 2 Tickets to Signature Theatre, 1 Year of Adas Israel Shir Delight Shabbat Dinners, 1 Year of 2239 Metro Minyan Shabbat Dinners, 1 Year of GatherDC Happy Hours, Baked by Yael Gift Certificate, Pleasant Pops Gift Certificate, A Case of Sip City‘s Switchel,  Masa Israel Shirt + Tote Gift Set, & more!

Jewish People of the Year Celebration Host Committee: Ally Sherman, Eric Schwartz, Jodie Singer, Melanie Fineman, Monica Arkin

Click HERE to register – or fill out the form below.

 

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Join Us for the Jewish People of the YEAR Celebration!

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Please note this event is intended for those in their 20s and 30s.

       





         
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Please note these tickets are non-refundable.
Your ticket includes 1 drink, 2 raffle tickets, appetizers, photo-booth, and more! 


*Raffle Prizes: Winners will be chosen at the happy hour!


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GatherDC is committed to making Jewish experiences accessible for young adults in a variety of circumstances across the DC area. If cost is a barrier, please email racheln@gatherdc.org. GatherDC welcomes the participation of interfaith individuals, and people of all abilities, backgrounds, gender identities, and sexual orientations. GatherDC fosters inclusive communities and strives to accommodate all needs whenever possible. If your require special accommodations, please contact us in advance of the event at 202-656-0743 and we will make every effort to meet your needs. 

By attending, you understand that photographs and/or video may be taken at this event, and may appear on the GatherDC website, publications, or other media.

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Passover Guide 2018

Attention DC-area Jewish young adults – Passover is around the corner.

Translation: It’s time for matzah pizza, Manishevitz (or grape juice) overload, and the best excuse to re-watch A Rugrats Passover.

This year, Passover takes place from Friday, March 30th – Saturday, April 7th. And no matter how you celebrate, DC’s amazing Jewish community has something for you. We’ve compiled the best in Passover happenings across the DMV so you can dig into the holiday with new friends, delicious food, and beloved traditions. Oh, and if you’re having a Passover event that’s not listed — submit it here!

P.S. Not sure which of these events is the right fit for you? Email the GatherDC team!

P.P.S. Planning to host your own Seder this year? Check out Moishe House Without Walls, OneTable, or EntryPointDC (to be matched with other young adults looking for Seder). OneTable is nourishing Friday and Saturday night seders with help from Whole Foods Market. Whole Foods Market will be providing seder hosts with their own seder plates to use at their tables! OneTable is a great place to post your seder and find seders to attend.

Eh, I strongly dislike meals that start with homemade matzo ball soup and highly encourage consuming four cups of wine.” Said no one ever.

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Passover Related Events

First Night Seders

Second Night Seders

Passover Recipes, Videos, + More!

Restaurants with Passover Menus/Catering

Meet Jason: Jewish Francophile of the Week

Le Diplomate, Croissants, French coffee, party buses to wineries – these are a few of Jason Sarfati’s favorite things. I met this super cool French-Sephardic-Arlingtonian/Jewish Lawyer at our last GatherDC happy hour (PS – next one is March 15th), and decided to find out more about his European roots over cups of caffeine at Dupont Circle’s charming French coffee shop – Un je ne se Quoi. After ordering his coffee in French, Jason opened up about his love of Jewish DC, Virginia wineries, and cyber security.

—–

Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Jason: When I was applying to law schools, I realized I wanted to be back home –  I grew up in DC – so I applied to George Mason. I was really fortunate to live with all of my college friends in Arlington through all of law school, so I didn’t have to feel like I was outside of my comfort zone. And I wound up staying here because DC has so many opportunities in the legal field.

Allie: What do you like most about the DC Jewish community?

Jason: Its a large community, yet at the same time it feels close-knit. There are a lot of different events – any weekend there’s something going on. Also, it feels like DC has a lot of transient people who show up here looking for a place to fit in, and the Jewish community is that perfect landing spot.

Allie: If you had a free day in DC to do anything, how would you spend it?

Jason: I’m a huge fan of the vineyards out in Virginia. Every April, I organize a wine tour with my friends on a party bus. Its crazy, its a lot of fun, and it’s a whole day thing. After that, I’d have dinner in DC at Le Diplomate – obviously. Then, after a day of drinking French wine, I’d pass out.

Allie: I hear you have some French heritage…, tell me about that.

Jason: Most of my family lives in France, in a city called Lyon. The Jewish community there is actually smaller than one you would see in Paris – everyone kind of knows each other. I go to France once a year or so…otherwise I wouldn’t have a connection with my [extended] family.

Allie: How do you carry your French identity with you into your life in DC?

Jason: Well, growing up, we spoke probably 70% French in the home. And my family’s synagogue, Magen David in Rockville,  caters to Sephardic Jews. If you go there, you’d hear kids being yelled at in French. It’s very loud and close-knit, and I try to go as much as I can.

Allie: Would you ever want to live in France?

Jason: No, I’m very happy here. Also, my law degree would be useless there – and there are no Gather events there!

Allie: What are your favorite French foods?

Jason: Croissants and French coffee, like right here [at Un je ne se Quoi]. DC has some great French spots. Le Diplomate is, in my opinion, genuine French food.

Allie: And what about your favorite Jewish food?

Jason: The Jewish food I’m used to is very different than what most Ashkenazi Jews are used to. I had my first kugel when I was a sophomore in college. Where I lived, we would have marinated lamb or shawarma, which is more my speed. The spicy, north African foods that I’m used to is what I’ll go back to. A lot of beans, couscous, falafel.

Allie: What are you looking forward to most for the upcoming year?

Jason: I’ve noticed that DC kind of hibernates from January to February, and then in March it wakes up again. We’ve got the Cherry Blossom Festival, the Nats start playing again. DC is definitely a place that relies on the weather to be fun. And this year the Southwest waterfront is open, so there is a lot to do. Also, I’m excited for the coming year because just last week I started a data privacy and cyber security practice at my law firm, which is always going to be a field that’s relevant.

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

Jason: They make genuine connections and it can translate into business opportunities, marriages, and lots of good things!

 

 

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.

Words & Ideas: 1:1 Interview with EDCJCC CEO Carole Zawatsky

On March 15th the Edlavitch DCJCC will host, as part of the Words & Ideas program, a discussion on “Compassion, Love and the American future” featuring Rabbi Shai Held in conversation with Martha Nussbaum, world renowned author and philosopher. This will be the first event of the series that I will be able to attend, and I am very much looking forward to it! I studied philosophy, so it’s always exciting to listen to  contemporary thinkers expressing opinions on today’s issues.

While checking out the Words & Ideas program, I discovered several amazing events and got curious about the history and goals of this initiative. I also started to wonder: are words more important than ideas? Or vice versa?

To curb my curiosity, I spoke over the phone with EDCJCC’s CEO, Carole Zawatsky.

EDCJCC CEO Carole Zawatsky

Daniela: Can you tell us something about the Words & Ideas program and how it got started?

Carole: Edlavitch DCJCC has a wonderful and rich history of doing intellectual programs at a very high level and I, together with our Board of Directors, wanted a new program this year, that really focuses on vital issues that are relevant throughout the community, featuring writers, artist, scientists, and thinkers.

Daniela: Last October, you had a Words & Ideas 3-day-symposium. How did it go?

Carole: It went very well and addressed the issue of “how we age”. It was called “Getting Older, Getting Bolder” because, like many other people turning toward their 60s…I don’t feel older, I feel bolder! The experiences we encounter in life make us much more comfortable speaking out, and using our experiences in positive ways. I wanted to do something that would address age from a very positive prospective.

Daniela: On March 15th the program will feature Rabbi Shai Held in conversation with Martha Nussbaum. What will they be talking about?

Carole: This upcoming event is with Martha Nussbaum, one of the most prominent philosophers, and an incredible writer for The New Yorker. We will be looking at compassion, which is definitely a relevant issue in everyone’s life.

Daniela: Why is it important to focus on and talk about contemporary issues through a Jewish lens? In other words, do you think that programs such as “Words & Ideas” are particularly significant nowadays?

Carole: As a community we have shared values, shared concerns. We think about the finite resource of our environment, the finite resource of our time, getting older–they are universal concerns. All faiths and religions have something to say about these universal issues. But looking at these topics through a Jewish lens brings the values of Jewish tradition to bear on issues that are important for us, and which we think about together. One of the most wonderful ways to learn about any faith is to see its best values shining forward.

Daniela: Last question – Are words more important than ideas, or vice versa?

Carole: I love that question!! Both — words, and ideas, can bring you up and tear you down. I think that the word is the expression of the idea but I would love to hear what other people think!

My dear readers, since we would also love to hear your opinion on Words & Ideas – please let us know what you think and leave a comment below.

 

 

 

 

About the Author: Daniela Enriquez is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you. Daniela is Italian and comes from the only Jewish family in Palermo (population: slightly higher than DC). Things she likes about America include: the price of clothing, Internet coffee houses and ice rinks. Among the less desirable things are: the obsession with air conditioning, American “espresso,” and root beer. Feel free to contact her for advice on real Italian food in DC!

 

 

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.

PRO-TIPS For Hosting Your Own Shabbat

I was a completely nervous wreck when I threw my first Shabbat dinner this past summer.

Growing up, Shabbat dinners were not a tradition my family took part in, so I was unaware of all of the customs and traditions that are a part of this holiday. I started attending Shabbat services and dinner regularly with Hillel in college, and soon began to see the beauty in this weekly holiday. Ever since then, I’ve chosen to make Shabbat dinners a regular part of my life.

When I threw my first dinner this past summer, however, I didn’t know where to start. I ended up putting way too much pressure on making sure every part of the night was perfect. The first dinner that I threw helped me realize that as much as I wanted to make it perfect, it was ultimately about enjoying the company of my loved ones, rather than whether or not I cooked a four-course meal.

Since then, I’ve hosted many dinners, both by myself and with others. I have been able to pick up a couple of tricks here and there to help throw a great Shabbat dinner. Read my tips below.

THE GUESTS

Don’t Invite People Who Only Know Each Other

It might be easy to want to only have a specific group of your friends at your first dinner, such as your work friends or the friends you made from your kickball team. It makes it easier on you, as the host, and easier on them, as the guests, because everyone knows each other. But, I really encourage bringing people together from different parts of your life. Your friends will enjoy meeting all the other special people in your life and you will enjoy the dynamic you create by bridging the gaps between your different worlds. If you have concerns about logistically bridging those different worlds, try to make sure that everyone at the table knows or has something in common with at least one person in the room.

Do Invite People Who Aren’t Jewish

Yes, Shabbat might be a Jewish holiday, but that doesn’t mean that non-members of the tribe can’t enjoy it as well. I find that friends of any (or no) religion can all appreciate coming together for a meal, good conversation, and the chance to unwind. As someone who didn’t grow up around a lot of Jews, I really enjoy sharing my culture and my background. Just make sure you encourage them to ask questions at any point during the night.

THE MEAL

Don’t Be Afraid of Store Bought Food

Yes, homemade Jewish food is the absolute best thing in the world! Nothing says a “warm, inviting home” like your mom’s homemade matzo ball soup or that challah recipe that your grandmother taught you how to make as a kid. However, the likelihood of you pulling off an entire home-cooked meal after you get off of work on Friday and finishing it before your friends arrive is “meshugana” (crazy). Just worry about making one or two main dishes. For everything else, go store-bought; the food will be just as good – I promise.

Do Suggest People Bring Items That Will Help Shrink Your To-Do List

Most guests will ask if they can bring something to dinner. While your first thought is probably “no” or “bring whatever you want,” you’ll be better off responding with specific suggestions from your own list. You don’t want to end up with 26 hummuses and no dessert. Wine is always great, and it is what most people will default to. But if someone offers to bring paper products? Take them up on it. Your co-worker wants to make a dessert? Even better. You won’t have as much pressure on your shoulders and you’ll be able to focus on your main dishes.

GENERAL TIPS

Don’t Think The Night Has To Be Super Serious and/or Traditional

If I’ve learned anything from all of the Shabbat dinners that I’ve hosted and participated in it’s this: everyone does Shabbat differently. For example, while I say the prayers and light the candles before every Shabbat dinner, others might choose to forgo that part of the evening. The differences can even be more minute than that, like putting salt on your challah or not (I do for what it’s worth). Part of the beauty of Shabbat dinner is that you can make it yours. Whatever you choose to do, own it — people will just be glad to be there and be part of a special evening.

Do Enlist the Help of Organizations That Serve This Exact Purpose

If you are still feeling overwhelmed after reading this entire post or you just aren’t quite ready to tackle hosting Shabbat dinner all on your own, enlist some of the organizations that solely focus on making hosting Shabbat dinner easier. OneTable and Moishe House Without Walls are two organizations that provide up to $150 credits/reimbursement subsidies to help young adults host dinners. I have personally used OneTable, and it has allowed me to host high-quality Shabbat dinners without feeling like I’m breaking the bank.

 

Leave comments below to talk about your own pro-Shabbat hosting tips.

 

 

 

About the Author: Bryna Kramer is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you. She is originally from the small, southern town of Danville, Virginia. She’s been in D.C. for just over four years, as she moved here in 2013 to attend American University. When she is not busy covering the Wizards on a nightly basis or hosting her own podcast, Meet Us At Molly’s, you can find her binging television or brunching her way through the city. Follow her on Twitter.

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.

Rogue Rabbi to host alternative Purim experience in a Synagogue

Rabbi Aaron Potek, GatherDC’s infamous rabbi and provocateur, is pushing the envelope yet again.

Rabbi Aaron Potek

Potek announced earlier this week that he will be hosting an alternative Purim experience this Wednesday night…in a synagogue.

It’s a risky move for someone who works with Jewish 20s and 30s, many of whom don’t connect to synagogues. But Potek thinks the idea just might be crazy enough to work.

“We were originally looking to host this in an abandoned warehouse or something hipster like that,” he said. “But then we realized that synagogues were just as abandoned and even more unexpected. I mean, honestly, where’s the last place you’d want to celebrate Purim?”

Some Jewish leaders are calling this the most innovative program to happen in DC in years. “You look at the landscape here – Hannukah Happy Hours, Shabbat Happy Hours, Happy Hours for Immigrants’ Rights, or even just generic monthly Happy Hours… it’s literally all Happy Hours,” said Mordy Goldstone, head of OJO, an outdated Jewish organization. “It takes real vision and out-of-the-box thinking to come up with something as genius as this.”

But others, specifically from the religious community, are less enthusiastic. Observant Jews typically celebrate Purim in a bar or at a festive party – eating and drinking in complete and total excess. Potek’s new idea is a serious departure from tradition.

“God clearly thinks Purim must be celebrated in a bar,” said Avi Frumstein a religious Jew and apparently God’s spokesman. (God did not respond to multiple requests for comment.)

“Rabbi Potek has crossed a line here and his ordination should be revoked,” continued Frumstein. When pressed on whether that response was perhaps an overreaction, Frumstein doubled down. “My seemingly random, zealous passion on this insignificant, meaningless issue is actually just my way of overcompensating for a lack of passion about my insignificant, meaningless life.”

Potek seems to have embraced the controversy behind his initiative.

“I guess I am trying to challenge what it means to be religious, which is not only about drinking and partying,” he said. “You can be religious in a synagogue, too.”

When asked why she planned to attend the alternative Purim experience in a synagogue this year, Pam Scherzer said it sounded “exotic.” She elaborated, “I’m into alternative spirituality – for example, my friends and I all do yoga, which is basically like a workout class, but with a smack of Sanskrit. But I’m even more into telling people that I’m into alternative spirituality. So I’m looking forward to telling people that I went to this so I can sound cool and different without actually being too different because I’m uncomfortable with difference.”

So what can people expect at the event itself?

“No costumes, no groggers, no hamantaschen,” Potek said. “Those are all distractions from a holiday that’s meant for adults. We’re going to read from the scroll of Esther – about an ostentatious, vindictive, womanizing ruler – and see if we can find any modern-day parallels.”

That goal may be overly ambitious for a population that seems perfectly content with an un-compelling, childish, kitschy Judaism. But maybe, just maybe, a few people will move past the conversation about the location of the event and actually engage with the content of the holiday.

 

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!