New Music Monday: Win tickets to see Zusha!


Are they brand new? Not exactly. Zusha‘s self-titled album came out October of 2014, but they have been on repeat in the Gather the Jews office recently so we decided to feature this up-and-coming trio as a band to watch.

What is especially cool about these “neo-hassidic hipsters” is that Gather has two tickets to see them at the Washington Jewish Music Festival May 10th and we are raffling them off at our April Happy Hour on Wednesday the 29th!

The three man band includes percussionist Elisha Mendl Mlotek, guitarist Zachariah “Juke” Goldshmiedt  and Shlomo Ari Gaisin as the vocalist. Together they create the wordless melodies that make Zusha so intriguing. Though they don’t love the term “neo-hasidic” they have come to embrace it. The band shies away from being labeled a Jewish band but also seeks to get back to the roots of Hassidism with their music that strives for simplicity, authenticity and joy.

Often called Folk/World music their songs draw on folk, ska,reggae, gypsy swing, jazz and traditional Jewish Soul. But don’t take our word for it, listen yourself!

Zusha recently auditioned to be a part of NPR’s Tiny Desk concert series and although they were not the chosen finalists, we got a great video to jam to!

Celebrating Culinary Diplomacy: The Art of Breaking Bread and Building Bridges

ACCESS_CulinaryDiplomacy_Invite_TwitterThe spotlight of the American Jewish Committee’s ACCESS DC 15th Annual Young Diplomat’s Reception “Celebrating Culinary Diplomacy: The Art of Breaking Bread and Building Bridges,” on Thursday, May 7th is on how we as Jews can increase understanding and create meaningful relationships through food: by literally breaking bread together.

Specifically, this year’s 15th annual Young Diplomat’s Reception will focus on culinary diplomacy and how food builds bridges between young leaders in the Jewish Community and young diplomats. On May 7th we will have representatives from more than 50 countries on assignment to Washington, one of the most high profile postings in their foreign service. These diplomats and the Jewish leaders they will meet are going places and are worth knowing.  More importantly, this event will be an opportunity to create meaningful relationships that help safeguard the Jewish people within their countries, and enhance the relationship between the countries they represent and our own.

Are you interested in care building ties between the Jewish people and diplomatic representatives from around the world? Do you like great food? We will have both at a historic location: the Arts Club of Washington, the residence of our fifth president, James Monroe.

You may be wondering, “What is culinary diplomacy?” In Sam Chapple-Sokol’s interview with The Splendid Table, he defines culinary diplomacy as “the use of food in cuisine as an instrument to create cross-cultural understanding in the hopes of improving interactions in cooperation. That’s an academic way of saying using food to get along with people, to talk with people and to get to know them better.”

The highlight of the event is the diplomacy that will take place and a focus on learning about what the United States is doing to promote our food culture globally, and how we’re using culinary diplomacy to build international relationships. The Diplomatic Culinary Partnership of the U.S. State Department is a great example of this diplomacy. Through this program, American chefs travel abroad and plan programs with the local population. For instance, Pastry Chef, Duff Goldman of Charm City Cakes in Baltimore, traveled to Algeria where he hosted a pastry chef challenge.

The AJC ACCESS Young Diplomat’s reception will feature top flight preparations of cuisine paired with appropriate wines and beers from four different regions of the world: Latin America, the Eastern Mediterranean, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia. The event is vegetarian, with kosher options available.

Speakers will include Lauren Bernstein, the Director of the Department of State’s Diplomatic Culinary Partnership and other special guests, including one or more top chefs who are part of the Partnership and are involved in high-level international diplomacy.

If all this sounds interesting, join us on May 7th for ACCESS DC’s 15th Annual Young Diplomats Reception!  For more information, contact Cassie Chesley at, or call 202-776-5441 or go to to sign up today! 

New Music Monday: A-WA, Yes please!


The three Haim sisters (different Haim) who make up A-WA (pronounced Ay-wa, Arabic for “yes”) grew up in the south of Israel near the Egyptian boarder. All three sisters (and their three other siblings) studied music, sang, danced and performed from a young age. These talented ladies sing in English, Hebrew and Yemenite. “Habib Galbi” is a Yemenite song the sisters had first heard in childhood and their updated recording of this song has become their break out song. Inspired by Yemenite women’s chanting, A-WA’s debut album consists of 12 original recordings of Yemenite songs layered over dance and hip-hop beats.

The sisters have been working with Tomer Yosef (singer and lead vocalist for the Israeli-American band Balkan Beat Box) to help produce their music but he also directed and shot their first music video for Habibi Galbi; which was filmed over one intense weekend in the desert.

Their new album is slated to come out later this year, Insh’allah we can get it in America!

The Golden Rule of Dating

imageIt’s funny how many people reference The Golden Rule in their online dating profiles: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Okay, perhaps not too many people reference it on JDate or JSwipe considering it’s often claimed by Christianity (though similar phrases do appear in the Torah—The Book of Leviticus, to be exact). But the sentiment is still there. Treat people with the respect with which you want to be treated. Period.

erika e-1368 (1)So why is it that, especially in the world of technology, people often don’t practice what they preach? At least once a month, a client tells me that he or she was stood up. Not cancelled on at the last minute (this is more like an everyday occurrence), but actually stood up. I even got this email recently from Emily, the associate writer who works for me, who is in her mid- to late-20s:

“A couple issues that my single/dating friends have been talking to me about are related to being stood up. They’ve been connecting with these guys on Tinder who agree to meet up and seem totally into them, and then bail at the very last minute with the WORST excuses (literally one of them was told that the guy couldn’t make it because his parents were coming over to go over their taxes). And others have shown up on dates that have been planned and confirmed… and the date just isn’t there.”

Let’s talk for a minute about how most of us like to be treated:

  1. Our time is valuable, so if someone is going to cancel, we would prefer a day’s notice.
  2. If there is a last-minute cancellation, we would like there to at least be an apology.
  3. If someone changes his or her mind at the last minute about meeting at all, a short and simple explanation would be appropriate.
  4. If someone doesn’t like us, we’d like to know rather than being left in the dust wondering if we’ll ever hear from him or her again.

If you’re the one who needs to cancel or otherwise change plans, here are some simple solutions to make sure you’re treating the other person with the respect with which you’d want to be treated:

The day before the date – a nice text or email

“Hey! I am so sorry to do this, but I was just informed of a business dinner I need to attend tomorrow. I wanted to reach out as soon as I heard so I didn’t leave you hanging without plans. Can we reschedule for Monday or Tuesday next week? Again, I really appreciate your understanding.”

The day of, before about 1 PM – a nice text or email early in the day

“Was really looking forward to seeing you tonight! Unfortunately, there’s been a change of plans on my end that I can’t get out of, and I wanted to let you know as soon as I heard. I’m really sorry about that. Can we reschedule for Monday or Tuesday next week? Again, I really appreciate your understanding.”

“Was really looking forward to seeing you tonight! I hate to do this at the 11th hour, but I recently started seeing someone else, and the more I thought about it, I realized it wouldn’t be fair to him/her to still meet up with you. So sorry to have waited until now. I hope you understand, and I wish you the best!”

The day of, after about 1 PM – a nice call

Yes—a call! Even though it took me a while to adapt to the fact that people “date” over text now (and it is admittedly much more convenient), if you’re cancelling within a few hours of the date, the courteous thing to do is to call. Texting is the easy way out because you don’t have to deal with the repercussions of seeing or hearing someone’s reaction, often disappointment. While I know not everyone will heed this advice, I’d be remiss if I didn’t put it out there.

“Hey Jess. This is Joey from OKC. I know it’s probably weird that I’m calling, but I wanted to sincerely apologize for having to cancel at the last minute. Something came up that I can’t get out of, and I just wanted to say that I’m sorry.”

I once had to do this to someone. It was 5 PM, and I had a first date at 6:30 PM. I had just received an email from a long-term ex-boyfriend informing me that he was in a new relationship. (Jerk move? I think so.) At any rate, I was in no place to put my best foot forward on a first date, so I called the guy I was meeting from OKC or Tinder (who could remember?), told him I was really sorry (and was actually honest about what happened), and rescheduled for a couple days later. He actually thanked me on the date for handling things so maturely and for calling him. Even though it was the only date we went on, it’s nice to know that I handled it in a way that I can be proud of. And that’s what I want for all of you. Obviously the reasons will differ, but the sentiment is the same.

The day after – a nice text or email

Let’s say you went on a date on Tuesday night. By Wednesday, you already have a text expressing interest in seeing you again.

“Hey Joey. Thanks for a fun time last night! Unfortunately, I just didn’t feel a romantic connection (or insert your preferred synonym: click, connection, spark, etc.) that I was hoping for, but I wish you only the best!”

Just because it feels like you’re incognito on these dating sites doesn’t give you license to deny others the same respect that you’d want to be shown. People are not things. You can’t just throw them away like garbage or treat them as if your time is more valuable than theirs. Just keep this in mind when making, planning, and cancelling dates. Let The Golden Rule live… one date at a time.


Vote for the Jewish Guy and Girl of the Year!

Gather the Jews is proud to announce its Fifth Annual Jewish Guy and Girl of the Year Competition!

Every week, we feature a new Jewish Girl or Jewish Guy of the Week, highlighting the outstanding Jewish Leaders in our community. Once a year, we hold a contest, in the spirit of fun, to elect a Jewish Guy and Jewish Girl of the year.

The competition will then proceed as follows:

  • Voting will open Wednesday, April 8th at 4:30 pm. Voting will close Thursday, April 16th at 5:00 pm.
  • Visitors will be allowed to vote for one guy and one girl per day for each day of the week.
  • The three top girl vote-earners and three top guy vote-earners will advance to the second round.
  • Finalists will  submit videos for why they should be crowned to be voted on by the GTJ community.
  • Final voting will happen at our May Happy Hour! Look out for more details!

Click here to cast your votes for the girls.

Click here to cast your votes for the guys.

Last year’s winners:

Is Tinder (or JSwipe) a Hookup Site?

erika e-1368 (1)People ask me this all the time: Is [fill in the blank with a dating app of your choosing] a hookup site?

My answer is always the same: Yes… if you both hook up.*

The point I’m trying to make here is that any site can be used for anything you want it to be used for. Do more people “hook up” on Tinder than on eHarmony? Probably. Do some people troll the “serious” dating sites looking for a one-night stand? Of course. And do some people find meaningful, lasting relationships from an app like Tinder or JSwipe? You bet. It’s all in how you decide to use the site for you.

One writer on wrote, “Most guys I know are content looking at the cleavage shots, and in the case of a match, asking the girl if she wants to meet up and grab a beer. Let’s be honest, they’re looking for a casual encounter. After a casual date or two, they expect to get laid.” Even Rolling Stone wrote an article called Inside Tinder’s Hookup Factory.

Is this view of Tinder, though, a self-fulfilling prophesy? If someone tells you it’s a hookup app, then you perpetuate the rumor by doing just that—hooking up with someone—thereby confirming it’s just the type of app you thought it was? Seems plausible. If that same person instead tells you he met his amazing long-term girlfriend on the app, would you go in with different expectations? I’d venture to say yes.

In my own various stints on Tinder (partly for professional reasons and partly for personal), I can tell you that the people I’ve texted with and/or met have run the gamut, from the ones who straight-up asked “DTF?” (no thank you, sir) to the ones who seem genuinely interested in at least getting to know me… outside of my pants. There was the one who was so rude to me that I had to walk out after 15 minutes (there’s a first time for everything) and the one who’s now very serious with a friend of mine because one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. There was the one who was apparently my bartender once and recognized me yet somehow had nothing (like, really nothing) to say on our date and the one who was looking to get married and have kids ASAP… if I relocated to Denver (again, no thank you, sir). There are the ones who compliment my body (no need to get specific) and the ones who actually read the six bullets I wrote talking about my love of my dog, puns, and Scotch.

Through it all, though, the only person who has the final say as to whether any of these apps are “hookup” apps is you. Then the question becomes whether you need to say up front what you’re looking for or just see how things pan out. I am of the belief, as I tell my clients, that before you decide how to proceed with someone, hooking up or otherwise, you have to see if there’s even a connection to begin with. (My exact words are actually, “Before you decide if (s)he’s going to be the mother/father of your child, first make sure you even like each other!”) Err on the side of going on the date and then deciding what to do. None of this is black and white—hookup or not, relationship or not, swipe left or right (okay, that one’s pretty clear-cut)—so it’s okay to live in the gray until you know what you want, and that may be different with different people.

So, are all of these apps hookup apps? Sure. Are they relationship apps? Yep. Are they apps that you can use to while away the time while you’re bored in line at the DMV? Um-hum. And are they apps that you can use to simply get out there and decide on a case-by-case basis what’s best for you? Yes, siree.

*Just for the record, I hate the term “hookup.” I’m using it here only because it’s become pretty much universal for a casual encounter.

Jewish Guy of the Week – Ben

B smiling (1)Jackie: What brought you to DC?

While I was choosing between 6 wildly different schools to attend, my older brother was living in DC, so GW came out the winner and I came here for college! I ended up getting a job here after graduation and stuck around.

Jackie: Have you been here since graduating GW? For the most part, except for a 3-year stint [as an international man of mystery] living in Dubai, Iraqi-Kurdistan, and working around the region.


Jackie: So you are in a band! How did you guys get A&B1together? Yep! I’m in a band called Cosmic Romp (I have to plug, check out our SoundCloud/YouTube/Facebook/Twitter/courier pigeons). We met through Flashband, a DC-based company which provides a music community for musicians to easily get together, form bands, plays gigs, etc. Any musicians out there should check it out, it’s awesome.

Jackie: Do you play around DC? Sure do! Our next show is on Saturday, April 11, at Club Heaven and Hell in Adam’s Morgan. It’s actually the Flashband 3-year anniversary show and we’re a “reunion” band of members who met through Flashband. We’ve also played at Axum’s Lounge, Heaven & Hell, and Iota in Clarendon since our forming last fall.


BJackie: I hear you are getting married in the fall, Mozel Tov! How did you and your partner meet? (will your band be playing at the wedding?!)

Thank you! We actually met at GW during undergrad, we only dated for a brief not-so-serious period of time during junior year, but 7 years later (she says) I came crawling back. And, my band may just make a cameo at the reception…

Jackie: What’s your favorite way to spend Shabbat?

Lately, as I hear is commonplace for when you hit your 30’s, we’ve often been staying in, deflating from a typically intense and fast-paced week, and we’ll usually cook some dinner and catch up on House of Cards. Or more lately, discuss wedding stuff. Saturday, if we’re in DC, is just a relaxing day to do whatever comes our way.

B jumpingJackie: What is your favorite Jewish food? Chocolate. Oh wait, Jewish food? Gelt.

Jackie: Who is the coolest Jew? Rabbi Yoni Kaiser-Blueth (he’s officiating our wedding!)

Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather… they schmooze.








#WomanCrushWednesday with Sasha and Ruth

11057741_10204981762638271_4711157390105351408_o (1)Gather’s Open Door Fellows are charged with creating genuine authentic connections in the DC Jewish Community. When we charged them with this task we did not expect who Fellow Sasha would gather. While attending a reception hosted by Nancy Pelosi to celebrate the women on the Supreme Court for Women’s History Month, Sasha had the opportunity to meet none other than Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Below are her reflections on meeting the Notorious RBG and why she should be your #WomanCrushWednesday.

“It is not every day that you meet a Supreme Court Justice. It is not every day that you stand in a room with three trailblazers of the Judicial Branch of the United States government. But one day, March 18th, I had the chance to attend a reception put on by Nancy Pelosi where the work of these women was celebrated; their passion, determination and drive was publicly acknowledged and supported by the strongest women leaders in Washington.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a legend, plain and simple—she exemplifies the word notorious with grace. This is a woman who raised a two year old child while going to law school herself, and taking notes for her ill husband. This is a woman who was among 8 women in a class of 500, but pushed her way to the top of the class. And, this is a Jewish woman. This woman challenged all boundaries- gender and religion and defied all odds.”

Sasha had the opportunity to attend Pelosi’s reception through her position with Jewish Women International. JWIs work is focused on empowering women, healing enable them to thrive, no matter what situation they may be in. There is no better way to really feel this empowerment than being surrounded by successful, strong women.

11078171_10204983005269336_4502072864156096631_n 11076722_10205023890211434_678112041_n



Gather Guide to Passover DC 2015

passover2015(2)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 3rd but there are many events leading up to Passover during the week of passover. We have pulled together a list of what is going on in DC for Passover to make sure you do not miss out. Make sure you sign up early so you do not miss out on a spot at one of these great events!


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

Tuesday March 17

Thursday March 19

Friday March 20

Sunday March 22

Friday March 27

Sunday March 29

Tuesday March 31

Friday April 3

Saturday April 4

Monday April 6

Wednesday April 8

Friday April 10

Saturday April 11



Seder help

  • A group of Jews put together this incredible resource to help us change the way we think about the Passover Seder and to deepen our connection to the holiday.



Is Being Single Treif?

1Believe it or not, Passover is right around the corner. As we sit around the Seder table this April (or Nisan, if we’re being technical) discussing the exodus from Egypt and why the “mortar” tastes so darned delicious (hint: I make mine with both sugar and honey), our family and friends sometimes use the holiday as an opportunity to talk about our own lack of exodus… from singledom.

Time and time again, over a big helping of brisket at a family gathering, Aunt Mildred decides to break out the question, “So, when are you going to bring a significant other home for the holidays? How hasn’t anyone snatched you up yet?” This is when we start turning the color of the beet horseradish that’s sitting in front of us. Why can’t this question just be forbidden to ask? Why can’t this year be different from all other years?

This intense curiosity, or backhanded compliment if you will, is certainly not restricted to the Seder table. It also happens on first dates. Believe it or not, a client actually emailed this to me right while I was in the middle of writing this article:

“I get this question a lot on a date, ‘Why are you still single?’ I swear, I hate that question so much! I feel like men think it’s a compliment, like, ‘Oh, you’re so attractive that it’s hard to understand why you’re single.’ Or maybe they are just trying to find out if I’m crazy or not, but I never know how to answer it. I want to say it’s because men don’t act right, but I realize that might be a turn-off. LOL. How do you think I should respond?”

I have clients who also don’t know how to respond when their first dates ask equally inappropriate questions, like:

“Why did you get divorced?”

“Why haven’t you ever been married?”

“Why don’t you have children?”

I’d lump Mildred’s “interest” in with the questions above. They’re things that shouldn’t be asked, at least not in front of a crowd or on a first date… but that doesn’t mean that people won’t ask them anyway.

How does one graciously deflect questions when family asks about your dating life during the holidays? As I would say to anyone trying to avoid the inevitable discomfort, just respond with something that does not put you on the defensive but instead looks to the future. Rather than yelling out the first instinct—“Leave me alone! I just haven’t met the right person yet! Pick on someone your own age!”—you could instead reply, “You don’t want me to bring just anyone, do you? When it’s right, I’ll let that special person in.” Or even, “Thanks for noticing I’m a catch,” and ending with a smile. Some other alternatives that might get the job done are, “I respect myself too much to be with just anyone.” Or even better, “Is that you offering to pay for my JDate subscription? (wink wink)”

Just remember that the only person who has the right to judge you is, you guessed it, you. The only person who looks bad in this scenario is that family member or date who lays it on too thick with the personal questions. So, rather than hurling an equally low question at Aunt Mildred—“Why did you and Uncle Fred get divorced again?”—just hold your head up high. You know that wherever you are in the process, or whatever life decisions you choose to make, no one has the right to make you feel badly about them. If all else fails, just tell her how delicious her pickled herring is. That compliment should last her until, oh, next year in Jerusalem.

This article also appeared in JMag, the official magazine of JDate.