Meet Aaron: Jewish Teacher of the Week!

Aaron Bregman is a history teacher by day, and hardcore Big Lebowski fan by night (White Russian anyone?). He also recently got engaged (thanks JSwipe!) and is super-excited to teach at this year’s ROUTES: A Day of Jewish Learning. We think he’s a pretty objectively awesome guy, so you should most definitely read on to get to know him.

NOTE: GatherDC-ers (that’s you!) can get $20 off the ROUTES registration price with code GATHERDCROUTES2017. The cost is normally $48 including lunch, but for you it would be $28 (not including lunch – you are welcome to BYO).

Allie: Tell us, how did you become a teacher?

Aaron: Well, while growing up in Danvers, Massachusetts (just outside of Boston), I loved learning about history and politics. So, I went on to study history and education at American University. After graduating, I spent several years developing curriculum on the Arab-Israeli conflict at The David Project in Boston. In 2012, I came back to DC to teach American, European, and Middle East Jewish History for 11th and 12th graders at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, Maryland – where I’ve been for five years now. And in just a few weeks, I’ll be teaching about the Soviet Jewry and The Jewish American Experience at ROUTES.

Allie: Huh? What’s ROUTES?

Aaron: ROUTES is kind of like going back to college for the day – except just the actual, education part of college ;). It’s an entire day of Jewish learning hosted by The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington at George Mason University on November 5.

You show up, pick four learning sessions, have lunch, meet new people, and leave with at least one new piece of life wisdom. There’s tons of sessions to choose from…across diverse topics like addiction and Jewish spirituality, rebranding Judaism, creating a sustainable kitchen, using media to talk about Israel, Jewish women making an impact, gratitude in Jewish prayer, and more. See a full list here. And if you’re a history buff – you better sign up for my session!

Allie: Wow. That sounds like quite the day! In other news, I hear you have an exciting life update…
Aaron: Yes! I recently got engaged to my fiancé who I met on JSwipe, and am having fun wedding planning with her. We’re planning a wedding in DC at Hotel Monaco.

Allie: Mazel Tov! What do you guys like to do for fun together in DC?

Aaron: It’s fun going to many of the political events and Jewish community events across DC. There’s just so many interesting ways to be involved. Also, my fiancé is a big foodie…so I’ve subsequently become a lot cooler in terms of my restaurant-going behavior over the past few years. We also like going for walks, playing chess, seeing museums, trying new restaurants…pretty much whenever we see something fun going on in DC when we have time off work – we go check it out.

Allie: More importantly, what TV shows do you guys binge watch together?

Aaron: I used to be very anti reality shows, but my fiancé has officially converted me. Now I watch Big Brother and Survivor (no shame). But my personal favorites will always be Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, John Oliver, and The Daily Show. Oh, and fun fact, one of my friends is actually a writer for John Oliver, which is pretty awesome.

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?

Aaron: I’m going to have to go with Rosh Hashanah. It really brings the family together and you get to enjoy that great big dinner, without the difficulty of preparing a big seder. And I love a good brisket and matzo ball soup.

Allie: If you had to be stuck on a desert island with a celebrity who would it be and why?

Aaron: Well, there’s two. I would go with Jon Stewart – he is brilliant in everything he’s ever done. His background, his beliefs, his whole shtick. And also Gal Gadot, because in my world, she is the new Jennifer Aniston.

Allie: Any fun facts about yourself that might surprise our readers?
Aaron: I was in the high school marching band and played snare drum, and our band actually performed at the Rose Bowl in 2001 (between University of Washington and Purdue University). Also, I am a huge Big Lebowski fan; when I went to Lebowski Fest in 2004 in Louisville, Kentucky, my buddies and I won the best costume award.

Allie: Hold up. What’s Lebowski Fest?

Aaron: Oh, it’s incredible. It’s just the most ridiculous, fun time complete with White Russians, bowling, a big screening of the movie on the green, and obscure costumes…

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

Aaron: a family comes together.

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 Daniel: Jewish Outdoorsman of the Week!

Michigan-native Daniel Wasserman loves everything fall: pumpkin-y drinks, s'mores around the bonfire, hot apple cider, wool socks, camping, and Curb Your Enthusiasm (but we promise he's far from basic!). If you're a self-proclaimed #notbasic fall fan too, we suggest you get to know him.

Allie: What are your favorite outdoor activities in the fall?

Daniel: Few things in my life compare to a fall camping trip. The crisp air, the fall foliage, wearing your favorite flannel or fleece, and most importantly... hiking without sweating too much. Of course I appreciate any chance to sit around a campfire, but there’s something special about cozying up to the warmth from a fire on a cool night. Throw in some close friends, a guitar, and a pot of hot whiskey-cider - and I don’t know if there’s anything else I could ask for.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, sky, cloud, outdoor, closeup and nature

Allie: What’s this I hear about a Jewish Camping Weekend in Shenandoah?

Daniel: Yeah! All that fall camping magic I just talked about, I want YOU to experience it with me in Shenandoah National Park, November 3 - 5. I’ve gotten to know GatherDC’s Rabbi Aaron Potek well, and Aaron is also big into camping. One evening, Aaron, Mark Nathanson (maybe a future Jewish Outdoorsman of the Week, wink wink...), and I were talking about going camping ourselves, but that conversation quickly spiraled into, “What if we made this into something more official and invited more people to join us?”

We’re lucky to have a place like Shenandoah in our backyard, so it all came together perfectly. We’ll be doing all the typical camping activities—sleeping in tents, hiking, making a bonfire, drinking, etc.—but we’ll also be having deep meaningful conversations, which might be my favorite part of any camping trip! There’s something about being in nature that just strips us down to our core and brings out the best in us, so channeling that into conversations around Judaism, spirituality, and more should lead to some pretty incredible, intimate dialogue. Along the way, we hope that you’ll meet some new people and come away with friends to go on future camping trips with.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing, sky, mountain, cloud, outdoor and nature

Allie: What was your first experience with GatherDC?

Daniel: I signed up for the first Beyond the Tent retreat in the summer of 2016 without knowing anyone or anything about GatherDC. I can confidently say it was the best decision I’ve made since moving here. Not only did the experience introduce me to some of my closest friends, but it also challenged—and reshaped—the way I think of myself as a Jew. Since then, I’ve continued learning regularly with Rabbi Aaron and had the chance to facilitate the third iteration of Beyond the Tent this past summer

Allie: What is your favorite fall food?

Daniel: When it comes to fall, I’m about as basic as it gets. I just want to eat something pumpkin-y and drink something pumpkin-y, while wearing wool socks and a Patagonia fleece OR jacket. So far, the DC weather hasn’t been cooperating as much as I’d like, but if you’ve seen me around town lately, you’d know I’m still doing my part to usher in the fall spirit.

Above all, though, I really miss quality apple cider—not the kind you buy in grocery stores around here. You can find some decent cider at Eastern Market, but nothing compares to the stuff they have back in Michigan where I’m from (shout out to the cider slushies at Franklin Cider Mill).

Allie: If you could spend one full day binge watching any show, what would it be?

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing, ocean, sky, plant, outdoor, nature and water

Daniel: I started watching Curb Your Enthusiasm at a young age and have seen every episode at least four times. It would be exaggerating to say that I think about the show every single day of my life, but honestly, at least every other day something will inevitably trigger a Curb reference in my mind (and often aloud to whoever will listen). So to all of DC’s pig parkers, stop and chatters, chat and cutters, and ice cream sample abusers: you’re on notice.

Allie: Complete this sentence: When Jews of DC Gather...

Daniel: they should do it outside, November 3 - 5, in Shenandoah!

 

 

 

 

 
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 Miranda: Jewish Instagram-er of the Week!

Miranda Lapides has achieved every DC millennial’s most lofty life goal – she knows how to take the perfect Instagram pic, filter it just right, AND top it off with the wittiest of captions. In addition to successfully realizing this dream, she also just (spontaneously!) ventured on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to China, can make a mean butternut squash mac n’cheese, and is on the prowl for dates…at CVS? Get to know her in our GatherDC exclusive interview!

Allie: I hear you recently went on a big adventure to China. What were some of the best memories from that trip? Eat anything particularly crazy?

Miranda: I did! My favorite memory was going on a Yangtze river cruise, that we literally decided to go on minutes before the boat left. It was at night, so you could see lit up bridges and buildings. Some lights even changed patterns… so it was like watching one beautiful, magical light show with colors reflecting on the river. 

Another great memory was visiting the Moishe House in Shanghai. It was a great experience getting to meet Jews living in another part of the world and asking them what being Jewish in China was like.

As for food, the craziest thing I ate was pig brain. It was tasteless and mushy, but it sure made a neat photo! I also had pig feet, duck neck, and what I think was intestine. Sorry, not kosher 🙁

Allie: As a – GatherDC proclaimed – Instagram pro, what makes a good post?

Miranda: I’m flattered! I would say perhaps the right lighting or filter, but I don’t know much about photography. My real answer is anything genuine that speaks to you, whether it’s the books on your bookshelf, a meal you cooked, or a quote you like. It’s your personal ‘gram, so post what gets you jazzed, rather than what you think will garner the most likes. Or when in doubt, go with food. Food is always a solid choice.

Allie: What do you find is the best way to meet potential dates in DC?

Miranda: Honestly, the best way to meet potential dates is in unlikely situations when you’re not even trying! I met someone on my morning commute, just because I thought he was cute and told him so. Meanwhile I was on six hours of sleep and in desperate need of coffee, but the moment felt right. I’ve also met someone at CVS when I was buying toothpaste. Moral of the story is you can find that spark in unlikely places if you’re open to it!

Allie: I hear you’re a pretty great chef. What have you cooked that you’re most proud of?

Miranda: Every fall, I make butternut squash mac and cheese. It’s the perfect comfort food: cheesy and full of warm, comforting flavors like nutmeg and thyme. Invite me to your potlucks around this time of year, and I will surely bring it!

Allie: What’s on your bucket list?

Miranda: One thing I’d love to do is to see a performance at the Kennedy Center. I would love that! Also, traveling to India has always been my lifelong dream.

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

Miranda: Israel and Curb Your Enthusiasm are common topics of conversation. 🙂

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 Kira: DC Jewish Professional of the Week

Kira Borman is what your Bubbe would call a mensch (role model). She spends her days creating a vibrant Jewish life for young adults as Federation’s Young Leadership Associate, her weekends downward dogging at yoga class, and her nights attending fun Jewish community events across the city. She also happens to be one of the sweetest, friendliest, and most hard-working ladies out there. So…you should probably get to know her.

Allie: So, tell us about a day in the life of a DC Jewish professional.

Kira: As The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s Young Leadership Associate, no day is ever the same. One day, I may be surfing in Tel Aviv while staffing a Birthright Israel trip, and another day, I could be drinking cold brew coffee at WeWork with other Jewish young professionals for our monthly learning collaborative.

When I’m not traveling across continents or throughout DC, I spend lots of time in the office planning fun get-togethers for Birthright Israel alumni, creating special programs for members of Federation’s giving societies, and putting on great events for our larger Jewish community (such as our upcoming Havdalah with an Israeli Changemaker on November 4). So, it’s safe to say my work keeps me pretty busy day-to-day. More than anything, what I love most about my job is that I’m always meeting new, amazing young adults living in our local community!

Allie: I hear you’ve staffed a TON of Birthright Israel trips. What’s that like?

Kira: I’m beyond thankful that part of my job includes staffing Birthright Israel trips for adults ages 22-26! Looking back on my last trip (shout out to #Bus555), the highlight was definitely the 13 participants that celebrated their Bar or Bat Mitzvahs while looking over the Saadim ruins near Jerusalem.

The B’nei Mitzvah participants ranged from Hebrew school dropouts (no shame!), to individuals that wanted to re-experience their Bar/ Bat Mitzvahs at a time that was more meaningful to them. Each of the B’nei Mitzvah participants had the opportunity to say the blessings before and after the Torah reading, share the meaning of their chosen Hebrew names, and discuss what this experience meant to them. This was one of those truly unforgettable memories that motivates me to get up every morning and do what I do.

From my first trip (#Bus488) to my most recent trip, I’ve been absolutely blown away by how curious participants are. The amount of genuinely meaningful and deep conversations I’ve had on Birthright Israel continue to inspire me for months after the trip.

My biggest challenge on each trip is how to make my Birthright participants’ 10 days in Israel as incredible as possible.

Allie: What’s your go-to food to break the fast with on Yom Kippur?

Kira: Definitely a GOOD bagel and cream cheese. I was gluten free (you can make all the jokes you want!) for about a year and a half because my body seemed to strongly dislike wheat. But…last Yom Kippur, I felt so cruddy from fasting all day that I figured, worst case scenario, if I tried a bagel, I’d continue to feel awful. Thankfully, that was not the case and I felt totally fine! While I can’t say it was as good as a Tompkins Square Bagel, I’ve been happily enjoying the gluten life ever since =]. Hooray for not gluten free challah and finally getting to try District Donuts!

Allie: Tell us your favorite way to spend a free Sunday in the city.

Kira: Assuming I’m not starting the day off too slow, my ideal Sunday kicks off with a yoga class and then a trip to the Dupont farmer’s market for some delicious fresh fruits and veggies (and, yes, maybe some gluten-full treats as well). Those who know me, know that I’m still getting over my move from the Navy Yard and missing my very favorite VIDA down at The Yards. If you ever have the chance to take yoga (or even Pilates) with Chris Parkison at The Yards’ VIDA, take it!! I promise, I’m not getting paid to say this, Chris just totally got me hooked on yoga and I’m forever grateful to him for that.

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

Kira: You know that at least one person showed up because their mother told them, “go! you might meet someone nice!”

 

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 Aaron: DC’s Jewish Coffee Guru of the Week!

Aaron Wallach is kind of living the DC young professional dream. After bonding with his friends at The University of Maryland over college drinking…of coffee…he and his friends went on to start their very own organic coffee company JavaZen. Today, he is JavaZen’s Chief Wellness Officer, current (though soon to be former) Moishe House Bethesda resident, Boca Raton aficionado, and chicken soup connoisseur. Get to know him!

 

Allie: A little birdie (AKA: my coworker) tells me you started a company called JavaZen. First off, mazel. Second, how did that that came about?

Aaron: My 3 second pitch – JavaZen is organic coffee in a compostable tea bag. Its truly brewed coffee on the go. Check it out on Amazon prime, Mom’s, Wegmans, and at camping stores across the country.

The JavaZen journey began four years ago at the University of Maryland. My co-founders and I wanted better coffee than what was being served to us.  So, we went about working on solutions to make coffee better and healthier for ourselves and for the world.

 

Allie: What’s your go-to coffee order?

Aaron: Easy. A single origin organic coffee bean brewed in a french press for four to five minutes with 8oz of purified spring water. However, this is hard to find since most “coffee bars” are more focused on selling milk and sugar than on coffee.

One free pro-tip: when going to Starbucks, they have a sugary matcha tea drink for pretty cheap. It’s my go to order.

Allie: Any special plans for the High Holidays?

Aaron: I’ll be hitting the clubs with my grandma down in Boca Raton, FL. This means, Sunday brunches, early evening dinners, tennis lessons – all while wearing nice khaki pants and a collared shirt of course. It will truly be something special.

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Aaron: Chicken Soup made with a special heritage kosher chicken. For the past two years, I’ve lived in a Moishe House in Bethesda.  Over the summer, my house did a series of meals and events which focused on ethical kosher eating. For many of the meals, we went around the table asking each participant what it meant to keep kosher. For some, the ethics of how food was made is important, and for others is was an afterthought.  

As a young Jewish leader and professional, I see the connection between Judaism and food becoming a central tenet of what it means to be Jewish for our generation.

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

Aaron: …we all talk about the food.

 

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 Short Filmmaker of the Week – Ivan!

Ivan Kander, 32, of Silver Spring, MD “did a little dance” when he found out he got into DC Shorts Film Festival. His short film, Getaway, is an Official Selection at this international, critically-acclaimed film festival. It’s playing until this Sunday, September 17th in venues all around DC. We sat down with Ivan to ask him about his filmmaking, Jewish upbringing, and what he recommends doing at the festival….other than seeing his film, of course!

 

GatherDC Staff: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Ivan: I’m a freelance video producer and motion designer. I write, curate, and edit for Short of the Week, the best place to watch free narrative short films on the web. And if you need an awesome video made for your company or organization (live action or animation), I’m your guy.

 

GatherDC Staff: What is Getaway about, and what was your inspiration for making it?

Ivan: The film revolves around a couple determining what they mean to each other. The audience is forced to wonder, as the sun sets, if their relationship will make it another day. After making my previous short—a viral Spider-Man/Miles Morales fan film complete with stunts, VFX, and a big crew—I wanted to do something that was simpler and character focused. Getaway is the result: a single, unbroken take with two people talking. It’s a character driven piece with minimal crew and even less distractions. I wanted to find out if I could tell an interesting story without all the cinematic “tricks” that allow you to manipulate an audience’s emotions. There’s no musical score to remind you to feel sad, no close-up cutaways to remind you to focus on an actor’s facial expression. The hope is to capture the moment in a relationship that it starts to fall apart.

GatherDC Staff: Is DC a good place to be a filmmaker?

Ivan: Absolutely! Obviously, the network isn’t as big because it’s not New York or LA. But, that also means we feel more like a family. Everyone is often willing to work together and help one another out to make something cool, especially amongst the indie film crowd. Some of my best friends are fellow film-people in the area.

 

GatherDC Staff: We see you did a film about Rob Jones, which was narrated by Gary Sinise.  That’s kind of awesome. How did that happen?

Ivan: Rob is my best friend. We both grew up Loudoun County, VA. He’s also the most inspirational person I know. He lost both his legs serving as a Marine Corps. combat engineer in 2010. During his recovery back home, I started to document his life. The result is a 30 minute profile piece called Survive. Recover. Live, which won the Sgt. William Genaust Award from the Marine Corps. Heritage Foundation. After the completion of that film, Rob decided he wanted to challenge himself even further while also raising money for Veterans charities by cycling across the country on a stand-up bicycle. So, I made a follow-up doc about this particular journey. 

GatherDC Staff: How do you connect to the DC Jewish community?

Ivan: I grew up in Waterford, VA and had to travel to Winchester, VA to go to synagogue. Now, I’m active in the DC Jewish community, but not as much as I’d like to be. I’m a member at the Bender JCC of Greater Washington, but currently not attached to a particular synagogue. I go to their family Shabbats, various events, and, of course, use the gym and exercise facilities.

 

GatherDC Staff: So, what are your tips for people who make a trip to the DC Shorts Film Fest?

Ivan: I’d highly encourage people to go to the mixers and parties. It’s a great way to meet people and forge connections that can often blossom into rewarding, creative relationships. I met my current screenwriting partner at a small short film festival in Nevada. You truly never know who you’re going to meet.

 

 

GatherDC Staff: Complete this sentence…When Jews of DC Gather…

Ivan: The food is always good!

 

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 TV Producer of the Week – Sally!

I recently ran into my friend Sally at a Metro Minyan Shabbat dinner where I got to hear all about her awesome adventures with Chuck Todd. On top of having a pretty cool job, she also happens to be a pretty cool girl. Get to know Sally, her love of kugel, and her exciting journey to DC from New Orleans.

Allie: I hear you have a pretty cool job with Meet the Press. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

Sally: Yes! I’m a producer for NBC News’ “Meet the Press with Chuck Todd,” which means I have my hand in every part of production: research, writing, more research, and logistics.

During an average week, I produce one of our guest interviews and our “Data Download” segment, where we use numbers and polling to look at different political issues: How stressed are people about politics? Where do Democrats and Republicans go shopping? How do President Trump’s poll numbers compare to his predecessors? On Sunday mornings, I’m in the studio with our moderator, Chuck Todd, doing last-minute research and making sure he has everything he needs before the show goes live.

Allie: What inspired you to become a news producer?

Sally: I’ve always been fascinated by politics, but I didn’t know I wanted to be a news producer until the summer I interned at MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” at 30 Rock in New York City. It was an incredibly eye-opening experience. The producers there are so smart and driven. They really care about storytelling and helping the public understand complicated issues. Plus, I loved the adrenaline rush of being in the control room of a live news show every night. I’ve been with NBC News ever since!

Allie: What brought you to DC?

Sally: My job at “Meet the Press” is actually what brought me to DC nearly two years ago. I was working for MSNBC in New York for two years after graduating college, and I was looking to make the move to Washington. The stars aligned, and I ended up at “Meet the Press” right as the presidential primary season was starting to pick up in the fall of 2015. It’s been a nonstop rollercoaster ride ever from that moment on.

Allie: What’s your favorite part about living in this city?

Sally: Even though I miss my New York bagels, DC has really started to feel like home! What I love more than anything is its history, whether you’re walking along the National Mall or the cobblestone streets in Georgetown. I grew up in New Orleans, so living in a place with a rich history and culture is really important to me. I’ve definitely found that in DC.

Allie: Who’s your favorite Jewish journalist?

Sally: It’s a tie between Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell, NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent. Working so closely with Chuck, it’s nice to be able to share and talk about our religion. I love knowing that around the fourth day of Passover there’s someone else in the office I can rely on to complain with me about our dwindling matzoh supplies.

Andrea has been one of my role models since before I even met her. She’s a trailblazer in political journalism and inspires me everyday. Plus: we share an alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania (Go Quakers!).

Allie: What’s your favorite Yom Kippur Break-the-fast food?

Sally: My mom’s sweet noodle kugel! The first year I made it myself — WHILE FASTING — on Yom Kippur was when I knew I’d be a great Bubby one day!

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

Sally: There’s ten people…and 15 opinions. Oy!

 

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 the Newest GatherDC Staff Member – Allie!

Get ready, DC – you’re going to start seeing a lot more of our newest team member, Allie! She’s just come on board as our Communications Director, and she’s SO excited about her new role. From her background in marketing with The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, to her unparalleled passion for the DC Jewish community, Allie is the perfect addition to our Gather team. Learn more about her path to Gather (and her obsession with all things Halloween).

P.S. Read more from the last time we checked in with her as the Jewish Girl of the Week 3 years ago! #WayBackWednesday

Shaina: Tell us about yourself!

Allie: My name is Allie of House Cossman, Friend of Bubbies Everywhere, Queen of Young Jewish Professional Events, Breaker of Fasts. My lifelong passion for Jewish culture, tradition, community, and spirituality have followed me from the faraway land of Potomac, Maryland, to Ann Arbor, Michigan (go blue!), and now to our nation’s capital. When I’m not enthusiastically promoting or attending Jewish community events, I love hiking, whipping up new vegan recipes, unwinding in Bethany Beach, practicing my downward dog, and spending time with friends and family. I also proudly maintain a ferocious obsession with (the not so Jewish holiday of) Halloween, and anything spooky, mystical, or related to the best season in the world – fall. This autumn in particularly will be a wee bit extra special because my wedding “falls” in 53 days, but who’s counting?

Shaina: What most excites you about working for GatherDC?

Allie: Well, my very favorite things in the world are meeting awesome new people, being a part of our incredible Jewish community, and letting my creative brain soar. So, being able to meld these passions as the GatherDC Communications Director is one of the most extraordinary opportunities I’ve encountered in my life thus far. I can’t wait to get to know the phenomenal Jewish young adults across DC, and help each and every one find their niche and discover a deep sense of belonging. Moreover, I hold a profound admiration for all GatherDC has done – and continues to do – to strengthen our local Jewish community and cannot wait to be a part of this remarkable mission.

Shaina: I heard you met your fiancee in a pretty cool way. Do you want to tell us about that?

Allie: Many, many years ago (3 to be exact), on a Wednesday evening in our great District of Columbia, the sun was shining, the drinks were flowing, and the Jews – were Gathering. Gather the Jews (AKA GatherDC) was hosting its May happy hour on The Brixton rooftop. Allie thought (why yes, I am telling this story in the third person. I think it gives the drama a little boost), this would just be like any other happy hour – she’d schmooze, nosh, gather, and head on her merry way. That all changed the moment she spotted one Mr. Andrew, house of Friedman, Lord of the Avocadbros, across the bar. His blue eyes glistened in the sunshine, his dimples made her swoon, and the moment he said “hey, what’s up?” she knew….she knew that one day he would become her lifelong Bachelor in Paradise viewing buddy, and also her husband. So, it’s safe to say GatherDC holds a pretty special place in my heart (back to first person now) and my Jewish journey, and I can’t wait to share this “Gather” love with others.

Shaina: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday or event?

Allie: Shabbat! I mean, yes, Chanukah latkes are quite delicious and it’s always fun hanging out with Elijah come Passover, but let’s be real…you can’t beat a holiday that happens EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK. You just can’t! Plus, challah. No phones. It’s Friday – meaning the best excuse to jam out to Rebecca Black. Most of all, it is a sacred responsibility to set aside our stresses, worries, and anxieties; to power off our devices; to sit back, eat, sing, be present, and RELAX. I’m truly grateful to have this miraculous opportunity, every week, to be free from the frenzy of daily life and present with the beauty of life’s simpler things.

Shaina: What is something not a lot of people know about you that you’d like to now share publicly with thousands of our readers?  

Allie: I am very much into practicing – and learning about – mindfulness. I love listening to Tara Brach podcasts, meditating, taking yoga classes, and doing what I can to live each day as presently, fully, and wholeheartedly as I can. It’s a tall order, but I may as well give it my best shot!

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

Allie: they have lox of fun.

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 Foodie of the Week – Hilary!

Shaina: Not to be “too DC,” but what do you do?

Hilary: I currently the Head of Development for Plum Relish; we are a women-owned and managed “corporate catering” concept currently in the DC area. Our concept is geared to make the catering process super seamless, knowing the orderer is dealing with a handful of other tasks.

Shaina: What’s your favorite place to eat in DC?

Hilary: The hardest question!  My answer will probably change depending on the day or neighborhood I am in, however one of my every day “go-tos” is Glen’s Garden Market. It’s a block from my house, they already have great prepared food at a decent price. and I am way comfortable drinking a beer there alone.

Shaina: What do you see as the intersection between Judaism and food?

Hilary: For me, food is Judaism.  All of my favorite memories surrounding my culture are all food related, eating hamantaschen at the Purim Carnival as a kid, trying chopped liver at the Passover Seder at my Grandma’s house– or more recently throwing my first break-fast and scouring DC for good bagels (for those who are reading this Heckman’s in Bethesda sells an awesome product).  I love that every celebration involves gathering friends and family to eat foods that our people have eaten for centuries.

Shaina: What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Hilary: An over-sized everything bagel with way too much schmear and a mountain of lox.

Shaina: Explain your ideal Sunday in DC.

Hilary: Sleeping in (that’s until about 8:00 am for me) heading to the gym then coming back home to lounge for the day, finally ending the weekend with a dinner with friends.

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

Hilary: multiple days worth of calories will be consumed…at least that my DC Jewish friends.

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 Renaissance Man of the Week – Ben

Shaina: I hear you’re quite the guitar player. Tell us a bit about your background in music.

Ben: When I was nine, my older sister brought home a drum set for herself…but I mistakenly thought it was forme. Years later, I picked up guitar through Jewish music at youth group events and summer camp. I never learned any classic rock songs on guitar, but I know a lot of Debbie Friedman!

Shaina: What do you see as the intersection between music and Judaism?

Ben: Music is one way to enhance and make accessible the great gifts of Judaism. I really like synagogues that bend the rules of formal music and composition to better serve their community engagement.

Shaina: We also know you’re vegan – do you have any good recipes to share?

Ben: Crumble up some tempeh and diced onions – add salt, oil, and a little brown sugar and roast. A great addition to any meal, vegan or not!

Shaina: Any Jewish recipes to add to that list?

Ben: I used to make a mean bread-pudding latke – a dessert latke if you will – but that was well before I was vegan…

Shaina: You moved here pretty recently and started working at Tesla. What’s that like?

Ben: Amazing. The sense of urgency in our mission is invigorating. I’ve never had the opportunity to work on such an important issue as energy sustainability, and it has been a constant source of motivation and pride.

Shaina: What kind of work do you do for them?

Ben: I lead the sales team for Tesla in Baltimore. We educate folks on the many benefits of electric vehicles and help customers find their next car.

Shaina: Complete the sentence: When the Jews Gather…

Ben: It’s generally a little later than we planned, but there’s usually bagels to nosh, so who cares?!

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.