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.

Jewish Shabbat Host of the Week – Justin

I met Justin at the OneTable DC Hub launch party a few months ago. I was lucky enough to sit at his table and learn a bit about him and his past experience hosting Shabbat dinners. We recently connected again and got to talking about this awesome Shabbat dinner he had. Learn more about it in this week’s interview!

Shaina: I hear you hosted quite the eclectic Shabbat dinner recently! Tell me a little bit about your menu.

Justin: The menu featured appetizers and main course dishes from Zannchi, a tasty Korean restaurant, while dessert was catered by the bake shop Pie Sisters; both these restaurants are located in Georgetown. Appetizers included mandu dumplings (fried and steamed), japchae noodles, and patty jeon (think of it like a Korean-style latke). For the main meal, I brought in a series of different Bibimbap bowls for guests to choose from. To finish off the night, I picked up an assortment of different Pie Bites (hand-held mini pie cupcakes) from Pie Sisters, which included Apple Caramel Crunch, Bourbon Chocolate Pecan, and Jumble Berry (their unique mixture of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries). To wash everything down–and also

bridge the two styles of food featured in my dinner–I decided to make Peach Soju Sangria that included white wine, peach juice, Peach Soju (a Korean spirit similar to Japanese Sake), and fresh peaches.

Shaina: That sounds delicious! How did you decide to pair these cuisines?

Justin: Because Pie Sisters reminds me of traditional, southern-style comfort foods and Zannchi is the best Korean food I have ever had, I decided to call my dinner “Seoul-Soul Shabbat” (Get it–bridging Seoul, Korea and Soul food…I know, I am not as clever as I think).

Shaina:  It can be hard to host meals. How were you able to pull together such a fantastic meal?

Justin: OneTable was super helpful; they encouraged me to do host the Shabbat dinner my own way, with awesome food. In addition, OneTable’s financial assistance enabled me to throw together a dinner at a fraction of what it would have cost me to do it otherwise. It helped me to realize that I could host OneTable Shabbat Dinners week-after-week in the future without having to worry about selling a kidney to pay for them.

Shaina: Where did you learn about all these great restaurants?

Justin: One of my side jobs is leading food tours through the DC area. The company I work for, DC Metro Food Tours, has several different routes; I specifically lead tours through the U Street and Georgetown neighborhoods. They usually last 3-4 hours, during which my groups of 10-12 people walk through the neighborhood stopping at various 

spots to hear about the history, culture, and architecture. Interspersed along the way, we go to four different restaurants that speak to the spirit of each neighborhood. Zannchi and Pie Sisters have both been featured in the Georgetown tours recently. I wanted to bring a taste of my food tour experience to my friends in DC.

Shaina: There’s also rumblings of your mom being really excited for you to host. What happened there?

Justin: In classic Jewish mother fashion, my mother grew up idolizing and cherishing her mother, who was the queen of hosting and entertaining guests. My mother vicariously embodies her spirit––so much so that I have come to nickname her “Martha Jewart” each winter when she decorates our house in enough Chanukah ornaments/paraphernalia to make it look like something out of a Homes and Living magazine.

As a result, there was no way I was going to be able to keep concealed from my mother the fact that I was hosting a Shabbat dinner–she demanded pictures of the event before I had even sent out invites to my guests. I think she takes solace in knowing that some of the “hosting and entertaining” traits she got from her mother have been passed on to me.

Shaina: What’s your approach to decorating for a Shabbat meal?

Justin: I have way too many Shabbat accoutrements, all of them courtesy of my mom. For example, I do not merely have a Kiddush cup, challah cover, and candlesticks; I have a Shabbat wine bottle koozie that goes around any sized bottle and a Shabbat matchsticks holder that fits around your average-sized matchbox. Nevertheless, I have little space to openly display them in my apartment so I end up having to stuff them in a single hidden cabinet in my kitchen above my microwave. If you ever visit, open this slowly…

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

Justin: “The Best of Britney Spears” playlist on Spotify starts playing.

Want to host your own OneTable dinner or attend a meal? Register to host here or connect with Marina at OneTable to learn more!

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 Feminist of the Week – Chloe

I met Chloe for coffee a few months back, shortly after she had moved to DC. She was super passionate about getting involved in international policy, specifically Israel-based work. She and I would see each other around occasionally until I randomly saw her working at a store in Adams Morgan. We started talking, and I found out that she had actually landed a job there. Learn more about her in this week’s interview below!

Shaina: What’s the story of the unique retail store that you work at in DC?

Chloe: I work at The Outrage in Adams Morgan. Our goal is to stop the patriarchy, change the system and start a conversation with expression through fashion. The Outrage sells mission-forward apparel as a way to connect with others who support equality and want to smash limits, stereotypes, and barriers. We are located in Adams Morgan, right near all the bars on 18th Street.  We actually started as an online business last fall, and our CEO Rebecca Funk decided to open a pop-up shop right before the Women’s March in January. We didn’t realize how successful itwould be – lines to get into the store were over 2 hours long…and even actress Sophia Bush stopped by to shop! The pop-up shop has now been converted to a real store, and we still continue to do e-commerce as well.

Shaina: What excites you about the opportunity to work there?

Chloe: One of my favorite parts about working there is being able to raise money for human rights organizations. Also, we recently collaborated with Teen Vogue journalist Lauren Duca to create the “Thigh High politics” tank.  Last December, Tucker Carlson told her live on the air that she wasn’t qualified to write about politics, and that she “should stick to thigh high boots.” The week we released the shirt, we had so many sales that we raised $10,000 for Planned Parenthood.

Shaina: Have you gotten to design your own clothes since starting there?

Chloe: Actually yes, which is something I never imagined doing! I came up with idea for our newest collection, “The Flower of Life” (see left). It is basically an ancient symbol that represented the fertility goddess in ancient Greece, the womb of the cosmic mother of the universe Ma’at in ancient Egypt, and is the root element for the Flower of Life in Jewish Kabbalah. I thought it not only looked cool, but would make a great symbol of female power to empower modern women.

Shaina: What’s the best part about working in retail?

Chloe: That I get to wear crop tops to work! Just kidding. Probably that I am able to have an outlet for my creativity at work. I’ve always had interest in comedy writing as a hobby, and it’s cool to be able use that interest to write sassy copy for our websiteand social media posts.

Shaina: When’s the best time to come check out the store?

Chloe: Anytime! Come say hello, we are open everyday of the week from 10am-8pm. A fun time to stop by could be before going to happy hour after work. Word on the street is the next GatherDC happy hour is right across the street from The Outrage at Adam’s Morgan hang out Mellow Mushroom.

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

Chloe: We share ideas and gain new perspectives! Preferably over a glass of nice kosher wine 😉

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 Newbie of the Week – Adam

I met Adam at Moishe House – Columbia Heights! We were hanging out with Reb Aaron when he was teaching some Chasidic text. In classic Jewish fashion, I approached him asking if I had known him from somewhere else. Awkwardly, I didn’t. Still, it led to a beautiful friendship. Learn more about him below.

Shaina: So Adam, one of the first things I noticed about you when we met is your height. How tall are you?

Adam: Yes! Thank you for noticing 🙂 Last I checked I am about 6’5”, but I’ve never gotten a consistent answer when I get my height measured, so I just guesstimate at 6’5”

Shaina: What’s the best part about being so tall?

Adam: I’ve honestly never thought a bunch about why I like being tall. But the top things that come to mind are always being able to reach the top shelf …and that it’s an easy excuse for needing to eat lots of food.

Shaina: So, what’s the family recipe that helped you get so tall? Jews aren’t often known for their height…

Adam: Nope, no secrets. The most peculiar thing about my diet is that I didn’t eat vegetables until I got to college [Editor’s Note: we don’t recommend you try this]. As soon as I found out that something was a vegetable, I immediately decided it wasn’t for me. The no-vegetable habit only really changed in college because it had to – I was keeping kosher and effectively had to be a vegetarian while eating in the dining halls. But, being a vegetarian without vegetables was a little too much… so I finally broke and haven’t looked back since!

Shaina: What are the top 3 things people say to you because of your height?

  1. Wow! You’re tall! (No way. You’re short.)
  2. Have you grown since I last saw you? (I hope not.)
  3. Would you donate any of your height to me? (This is by far the strangest, yet surprisingly very common question I get.)

Shaina: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday and why?

Adam: Passover. When I was growing up, my extended family would get together for a huge Passover meal, and having all my family around was always incredibly fun. But now, even if I’m not home with my family, I love getting together with my friends and having a nice long Seder with a bunch of great food and even better conversation.

Shaina: What’s your favorite museum?

Adam: I still have a ton of them to check out (I’ve only been here for 13 months), but my favorite so far has to be the Renwick Gallery†  . There’s this one exhibit on the second floor that has really colorful waves of netting on the ceiling and it’s a great place to go, lie down on the floor and just stare up and think. [Editor’s Note: I don’t think that this is there anymore. Interested? Check this out. The WONDER exhibit was magnificent – get your own virtual reality tour here.]

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

Adam: I almost always try to teach them about my favorite game, The Resistance.

Jewish Hill Staffer of the Week – Ellie

Ellie was my roommate for a year when I first moved to DC. Even though she moved to Arlington, she still works in DC! Although I can’t say who she works for, she definitely works on the Hill! Check out this week’s Jewish Hill Staffer of the Week, Ellie!

Shaina: How long have you been working on the Hill and what’s it like?

Ellie: Since beginning at American University here in DC, I have been able to intern and work on Capitol Hill for a few different members of Congress. I started interning up here during the summer of 2014 and have not stopped since! I was very fortunate to be offered a full-time position in the winter of 2015. In the end, being up here on the Hill for the past three years and in DC for the past five, has been a dream come true.

Shaina:  What’s your favorite part about your job? Plus, I heard you’ve had some celebrity sightings!?

Ellie: I think my favorite part about working on the Hill is just being able to feel like I’m making a difference. I know it all sounds super corny, but those who know me know I’m a corny person! Whether it’s helping constituents with tours, answering their calls about policy issues, or helping shape legislation that will benefit the American people, I love the feeling of knowing my work will have a direct impact on people’s lives.  Walking around the Capitol listening to people talk about the issues that are important to them, and meeting with Congressmen and women, makes you feel like a part of the process more than ever.

Also, it’s never a bad thing to see your favorite celebrity walking around the Hill from time to time! Like running into and talking with Harrison Ford…probably a favorite moment of mine!

Shaina: Assuming people who work on the Hill find time to eat, do you have a favorite Jewish food?

Ellie: I have a few! Interestingly enough, I love matzah, even though I’m pretty sure I’m one of three people who would agree. But most importantly, I love to eat my grandmother’s kugel and especially her chicken noodle soup, as any good Jewish grandchild would! Coming home for the Holidays to a few bowls of that soup always made my time at home even more special and delicious. Now if only she would give me her recipes…

Shaina: How about a favorite Jewish holiday?

Ellie: My absolute favorite Jewish holiday is Passover. (See matzah answer above.) I know it may surprise some people as we can’t eat certain foods for 8 whole days, but Passover to me is much more than that. It’s about coming together with family and friends to remind ourselves of what our ancestors endured to achieve freedom. Sitting around the Seder table with my family every year, we read the Haggadah and retell the story of when our ancestors were slaves in Egypt and that through the help of G-d, we were able to become free once again. Our sense of optimism has not faded and continues to be strong today.

Lastly, this holiday allows me to spend time with my family and close friends as we sit together eating and drinking 4 (or more) glasses of wine together. In the end, Passover to me is all about the freedom and celebrating with the people who mean the most to me.

Shaina:  Can you describe your ideal Sunday in DC?

Ellie: My ideal Sunday would be to wake up mid-morning, head to brunch, as any good DC-er would do, and then walk around the city and find something interesting and fun to do. I love exploring new parts of the District and the surrounding areas, particularly when the weather is just perfect! So if anyone knows of any good spots to visit, please let me know!

During the school year, I wake up early on Sunday mornings to teach Hebrew School at a local synagogue, so that is always a highlight of my Sunday, even if it does mean waking up at 7:30 am on a weekend.

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

Ellie: you are in for a great time!

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 Mayoral Candidate of the Week – Dustin

I met Dustin at our November happy hour at Hill Country BBQ. Our conversation began with Dustin sharing some of his favorite things about DC. And as our conversation progressed, he divulged that he was running for mayor of this great District! I couldn’t have thought of a better person to be GatherDC’s Person of the Week. Read more about him, his leadership journey, and his love for this city below…

Shaina: I hear you’re running for mayor of DC! What made you decide to do this?

That’s the question a lot of people have been asking! I just posted my bio on and the whole story is in there, but it all started when I was on a journey in Central America in early 2016. I was teaching yoga and doing a lot of meditation. While I was going through deep self-reflection about my purpose and my future, I began thinking about many of the great leaders in the world who inspired me in my life.

I was thinking about how I could apply the lessons they learned along their journeys in my life, and I started getting a lot of ideas about my community and my city – Washington DC!

My path led me to decide to put myself on the ballot and step-up as a leader. I knew that I had to get out there and tell people about my vision for the city.

Shaina: What has most excited you throughout your campaign?

So many things! The most innovative thing that I am super-excited about right now is Dustin For DC’s commitment to a “clean campaign.” The team has designed an unprecedented fundraising model that goes above and beyond in meeting all explicit, implicit, and just plain common sense standards for campaign finance ethics.

We accomplished this by designing a subscriber-based donation model where we build strong relationships with our “subscribers” who commit to provide a small (so small) monthly donation to the campaign so that we can fund predictable monthly expenses. And in this “all-volunteer campaign,” we have no salaries to pay and this enables us to deploy 100% of donations to campaign infrastructure and projects.

We will publicly release detailed analytics on this innovative campaign, as it happens – and everyone can watch it grow!

Shaina: How long have you been in DC?

I grew up in Rockville, MD but due to family ties to the city, I always had a strong affection for DC and this whole metro area. I was in the Midwest for college but moved back to the area in 2011 and began working and living in DC. I fell in love with the technology community, the arts community, the fitness community, the startup and business community, and – especially – the AMAZING non-profit organizations and PEOPLE who have true spirit and compassion. We have some problems but I am so proud of DC!

Shaina: What’s your favorite part about this city?

This will probably sound sad – but I love our sports! I have been playing sports and doing athletic activities my whole life. I know we can’t ever bring home a championship – but maybe things will change if I’m the Mayor!

Shaina: If you got accidentally got locked in any museum in DC overnight, which one would you hope to get stuck in?

I would pick the National Air and Space Museum. I really enjoy the advance of technology and the story of the human race’s 

drive to gain flight – and space exploration! I am fascinated by the early space program, particularly the imagination and big-thinking involved. Those American heroes had a wonderful “overcome at all cost attitude” and look what they accomplished – wow!

Shaina: What’s your favorite brunch in the District?

My favorite would be teaching an early yoga or meditation class and just enjoying a coffee and healthy recharge meal with friends – and conversation! I don’t have a particular place but sometimes I’ll definitely get a craving for an Affogato from Dolcezza on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in DC.

Complete the sentence: When Jews of DC Gather…  According to the Washington Jewish Week, we volunteer!

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 Resident of the Week – Jill

If you’ve been to Moishe House Bethesda, you’ve probably met Jill! She’s always smiling, ready to meet new people and is really excited to be featured as this week’s feature. Read more about her passion for community building, what it’s like being a resident of Moishe House, and her plans for the summer.

How long have you been in DC?

I relocated to DC about 3 years ago after I could no longer handle the commute from Baltimore to Bethesda – I needed more out of my day than commuting. Since moving to DC, I have fostered a love affair with the red line taking up residence in Cleveland Park, Woodley Park and now Bethesda. Surprisingly, living in Bethesda was the best choice I could have made towards living an active life daily – I barely use my car and metro issues rarely cross my radar. It is lovely.

How did you get involved with Moishe House?

My introduction to Moishe House started I’m sure the same way as many others – with a Shabbat meal. I didn’t know anyone at Moishe House and convinced my one Jewish friend in the area to go with me to this free Shabbat meal. I ended up sitting next to hysterical people and we spent the whole evening talking and laughing together. I left that Shabbat with the BEST opinion of Moishe House – and then didn’t return to another event for about a year.

Not what you expected to hear from a resident, I know, but scheduling and life get in the way sometimes – it happens. What did sit really well with me, and what I want people to take away from this story, is when I did return it was easy to integrate back into the community. Some organizations you feel weird when you disappear for a bit, but for Moishe House the door is open whenever it fits into your schedule, and that makes it a really accessible Jewish community to be a part of.

What is your favorite thing to do in DC?

There is no one favorite thing in DC, but I can share a few of my favorite things. I am so excited that summer has hit because my DC summer means 1 thing – paddleboarding on the Potomac!

I have recently discovered how easy it is to travel from Bethesda to Georgetown via the Capital Crescent Trail, so you can be sure most of my summer will be spent biking to Georgetown and hitting the water. For some indoor favorites, DC has some of my favorite dive bars. I will gladly challenge ANYONE to a competitive game of adult Jenga at Atomic Billiards ,and on Thursdays I like to attempt fame at Madam’s Organ Karaoke night. Finally, no true discussion of best things in DC would be complete without mentioning the culinary journey that is Union Market, one of my favorite ways to spend a Sunday afternoon, and a must for anyone visiting DC.

What does community building mean to you?

Community building for me means building meaningful connections. In my short time with Moishe House, my understanding of how to build those connections has evolved. I understand that it is not solely about planning events to get the biggest turnout. Rather, community building is about allowing community members to feel a sense of belonging and connection. Community building and being a community leader requires listening and flexibility as much as strong leadership.

What is the best part about living in Moishe House?

The best part about living in Moishe House are the opportunities. I am in a period of personal and professional growth right now, and I look at the Moishe House community (resident community, DC area community, US national community, the international community, etc.) as boundless opportunities to expand my professional and personal network, to expand my event marketing and community building skill set, to make an impact on the DC Jewish Community, and to foster amazing friendships.

Surprisingly, there are also massive opportunities to travel through Moishe House sponsored weekend retreats and the world wide network that the Moishe House community provides. Many of my housemates have taken advantage of the learning retreats offered by Moho. Personally, I was recently selected to attend the international resident conference in Barcelona this year. There I will get to meet, connect with, and learn from residents in the European Moishe Houses about how they build a strong Jewish community. Then, through Moishe House, I am able to come back to DC and focus on building a stronger connection to our international community. I’m so grateful and excited for this opportunity and can’t wait to return to the states and share what I learned with you all – definitely one of the best parts of being a Moishe House resident.

What is your favorite Jewish holiday?

Hands down – Passover. I love the food, family, and songs.

I hear you’re looking for a new resident. What does it look like to be a resident in a Moishe House?

It looks like growth and new opportunities. Being a Moishe House resident provides you with a new array of options that, if willing to maximize on, can open professional and personal doors for you and provide a platform for your own personal growth. On a month to month basis Moishe House involves planning meaningful events for you community, connecting to community members, leveraging skill sets and developing new skills to support your community and events. As the resident, you own what that means to you. It could be anything from attending every Jewish Young Professionals happy hour to meet and connect with new and established community members to picking up a weekly blog on life in Moishe House that would promote your community and passions. As a resident, you are in the driver’s seat for the community you build and the resident experience you will have.

Do you have any fun summer plans?

Travel. Travel. Travel. I am a marketing manager for a federal government contractor and summer is conference season, so I will be bouncing around the US attending various events, and tying them into fun travel when possible.  I am currently trying to go hiking at the Grand Canyon with a conference in Anaheim; I’m really hoping I can make that work, as 3 days exploring the grand canyon would be life changing!

Complete the sentence: When Jews of DC Gather…we are either early or late, but rarely on time.

Jewish Artist of the Week – Rose

You may not have met Rose in-person, but you have likely seen her art around the city. This Jewish Artist of the Week sits down with us to talk about the art scene in DC, where you can see her art and how she connects to her Judaism.

How long have you lived in DC?

I am a DC native! Born on Capitol Hill, and raised in NW, Chevy Chase DC to be exact. 

What are some ways in which you connect with your Judaism?

My father was (and still is) my most significant connection to Judaism. He would cook Shabbat feasts every Friday growing up, and we would host a myriad of friends and family around our dining room table. Those experiences, along with attending Sunday School, services, and of course my Bat Mitzvah, have had an influential effect on how I live my life today. I love hosting small gatherings, having critical dialogues, questioning the status quo and brainstorming action are things I feel grounded in from my Jewish education and experience. I have engaged with the amazing work of Jews United for Justice on a few occasions and enjoy returning to synagogue for high holy day services at Sixth and I Historic Synagogue each year to reinforce my connection to Judaism and the role I can play as an active participant in the narrative. 

Tell me about your art! How would you define your style and what inspires your work?

I love art with every fabric of my being! I always have. I would define myself as a painter but am recently exploring ceramics and sculpture. I love working with large scale and have about 7 murals displayed in the DC area. I am drawn to public art that can be appreciated by many people, day after day and year after year. Content wise – I enjoy people and the human figure. I strive to make art that carries a message. I never tire of a face and a story it can tell. Art for me is a form of expression that crosses language and cultural borders and a critical tool for social influence and change.  

What are some of your favorite projects that you have worked on?

I painted a mural at the Mitch Snyder Homeless shelter last year as part of a MuralsDC grant. I photographed folks from the shelter and painted them on the wall. The entire experience was enlightening and solidified the importance of working directly with my DC community and using art to shed light on various populations. 

What’s it like being an artist in Washington, DC? What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages?

I think being an artist in DC is both excellent and tough at the same time. There is money in this city, and the DC government treats its artists quite well compared to other cities across the country. The pool of artists is much smaller than NY or LA, so I am a bigger fish. The flip side is that the cost of living is so high that it can be unsustainable for artists to live (and make a living) inside District lines.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist? How did you get started?

I started drawing and painting around six years old and haven’t really stopped. That being said, I didn’t think of it as a viable career until college. Only then did I see examples of artists making a living from their work and knew that is what I wanted to do. I hustled after college with part time jobs, building my freelance portfolio and participating in gallery shows. After four years I made the leap to full-time artist. 

Do you have any work you want people to know about right now?

I have a show coming up at the Mansion at Strathmore opening June 10th. The show runs until August 4th. Follow me for updates on @rose_inks. My website portfolio is

What do you love about DC?

The amount of green space, the diversity, the small size. 

What’s one thing you would change about DC?

The transient population that does not invest time or money into the rich history and culture of this city. 

What’s the one thing you can’t get through the day without?

Other than art???? Yoga. 

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 Library Lover of the Week – Sally

Most days, you can find Sally at the library… organizing scavenger hunts, punk shows and 3-D printing classes. We sat down to hear more about her position as Development and Communications Specialist for DC Public Library Foundation and to learn about her life in DC!

You’re from NY originally. What brought you to DC and how long have you been here?

I moved to DC a little over four years ago at the beginning of Obama’s second term – it felt like a lot of millennials were making the same move during this time. It’s a bit cliché to say I came to DC looking for more meaningful, mission-driven work, but that’s basically the truth! I was ready to leave my corporate marketing job in NYC. I also had a couple of very close friends from college who were living here, so having some built-in support made the transition easier. I began applying for government and non-profit jobs, and I ended up accepting an offer from the DC Public Library to help launch a city-wide early literacy initiative. I love NYC and my family is near there (in the suburbs), but I have no plans to move back.  

You just returned from a trip to Morocco. What did you see or learn that you will bring back to your life here?

Before this visit to Morocco, I hadn’t left the country in six or seven years. The trip was a good reminder for me to prioritize travel a little more and save/budget accordingly because there is no substitute for physically visiting and absorbing a new place. The culture in Morocco is perhaps the most hospitable I have ever experienced. Everyone is very warm and eager to share their cities, food and traditions with tourists. There’s always time for afternoon tea; no one is ever in a rush. This is very different from the east coast mode of operation!

Since my return, I’m trying to slow down, enjoy more simple moments, and take time for mint tea breaks.  I was reminded of another lesson that always seems to come up when traveling abroad. You have to be at peace with what you cannot control because things almost never go according to plan, especially when relying on public transportation and Mother Nature.

Tell us about your job with the DC Public Library! What do you do there?

After working in the Library’s Marketing Department on the initial phase of the Sing, Talk and Read DC early literacy campaign, I moved over to the DC Public Library Foundation – the Development Department at the library. My role focuses on developing public and private programs designed to attract the next generation of library users and supporters. I get to work with our brilliant librarians and community partners to market and execute a variety of programs including free concerts, co-working for local creatives, author events, Fab Lab happy hours, fundraisers, and more. Come fall, I’ll be working on our second annual city-wide banned book scavenger hunt in celebration of Banned Books Week.

Every day is different and our program offerings are always evolving. I created the @dcpl_literati Instagram account as a way to promote some of these unique library programs to a new audience. I also manage less interesting but necessary administrative stuff, like the Foundation’s accounts payable and receivable and our donor database.

When many people think about a library, they think–obviously–of books , but DC’s library is so much more, right?

Public libraries are safe, egalitarian spaces that cater to the needs of the community. Nowadays this increasingly includes digital literacy and access to technology.

The DC Public Library is a very innovative system when it comes to leading the makerspace movement in libraries. With a DC Public Library card, you can take classes ranging from PowerPoint Basics to 3D printing, record music in the Studio Lab, print your own novel using the self-publishing machine, and so much more. As a history nerd, I love our Washingtoniana and Black Studies Special Collections, which house everything from the DC Music Archive to old photographs and oral histories. Library visitors can come for the free internet and stay for the documentary screening or the punk show in the basement. This intersection of free educational and cultural opportunities is what makes the DC Public Library such an important, local institution. 

Are the renovations at MLK making things crazy for you right now?

Definitely! From a public perspective, that location, at the convergence of every metro line, was the most central in the city. The departments and resources that were housed at the MLK Library are now scattered throughout the District in interim spaces. Communicating all of these changes and updates to the public is challenging. We also no longer have a central, free space to host author events, job trainings, story time, art exhibitions, etc. Internally, this forces us to be creative and thrifty, and engage the community where they already are. Although there is a void downtown left by the temporary close, the library is so much more than just a physical building.

What is your favorite thing about living in DC?

The diversity and access to cultural events. It’s hard to be bored here. There’s always something new to explore, like an exhibit or live show. I really appreciate the music scene and love how the city celebrates with different festivals like the Funk Parade, H Street Festival, Bluegrass and Folk Festival and Capital Pride Festival. I’ve also met a lot of passionate and interesting people here. So many people who live in DC are working and fighting for a greater cause. You don’t see that in every city.

What is one thing you would change about DC if you could?

Obviously the cost of living is high and only continues to go up. I also wish the food scene was more accessible. There are tons of ‘buzzed about’ trendy restaurants for foodies, but DC lacks a wide variety of affordable places that offer quality basics. My taste buds are not very sophisticated but the New Yorker in me would like to see more options when it comes to delicious and affordable bagels, bakeries, Italian and Chinese food. That’s not to say these places don’t exist, but they are just fewer in number. I realize it’s probably difficult for small, independently owned businesses to meet rent and charge reasonable prices, but I wish that could change. It all ties back to cost of living being high. On Rye feels like a little taste of NY, and I am excited about Shouk.

What does being Jewish mean to you?

Like a lot of secular young Jews in the States, being Jewish is a big part of my cultural identity and has shaped my personality, values and sense of humor. I definitely take an interest in Jewish history, tradition, food, arts and culture and like to see what’s happening at Sixth and I and the DCJCC, which is just a few blocks from where I live. I really love the Washington Jewish Film Festival at the DCJCC as a lens into the Jewish experience across the globe, from Israel to Europe to Africa.

I also have a close group of friends in DC (Jews, non-Jews, half-Jews) with whom I celebrate the holidays when I can’t make it home to family. This year we started doing a friends-Seder for Passover, and I think it will become an annual tradition.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

That’s always a tough question, it’s hard to set expectations for the future. Where do I realistically see myself vs. where I’d like to be – these are probably two different projections! I hope I’m in a funky, cool city with access to nature. Maybe that’s DC or somewhere new. I hope I’m surrounded by close friends, not too far from family, maybe starting my own family, who knows!? I hope my work is creative and benefits society in some way. I do see a dog in the picture, that’s about all I can guarantee.

What is one thing you couldn’t get through the day without?

Coffee incentivizes me to get out of bed every morning, and I usually have to cater to my sweet tooth on a daily basis. But it’s my wonderful friends, boyfriend, family and coworkers who provide the comic relief I need to get through the day-to-day. Times are tense, so a good laugh and some nonsense is paramount.