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 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 www.rosejaffe.com

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.

Super-Jewish Girl of the Week: Rachel Goldberg

What do you do?

I work for a Jewish non-profit that helps ensure Jews marry Jews so we can make Jewish babies and then they can marry Jews and keep this whole thing going!

Where are you from?

Long Island. The Jewish part.

What are some of your hobbies?

Going on Jswipe, going to synagogue, going on Jswipe at synagogue, and brunching with my friends from Brandeis.

What’s your favorite part about being Jewish?

The Torah. I’m in a book club where we read the Torah each week. You really only need one book. So many life lessons!

What’s your favorite food?

OK, so it’s like a sushi roll, except it’s called a Gefilte Roll. It’s gefilte fish wrapped in lox. And no rice, which is great because I’m actually carb-free right now. Yum!

Are all of your friends Jewish?

Define Jewish. No really, I’m so interested in hearing how you understand Judaism – it’s one of my favorite conversations.

Where’s your favorite place to travel?

Thailand.

Wait, really? I would have thought Israel.

When I’m in Israel I don’t feel like I’m traveling because it’s my homeland.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are not even those of the original author. They are totally made up – Happy Purim!

Girl of the Week – Stacy #WayBackWednesday

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Stacy was a Jewish Girl of the Week 6 years ago when the feature first began. She even competed in the first-ever Jewish Girl of the Year competition. Stacy is still an integral part of the DC Jewish community, but now in a professional capacity.

Read our updates on Stacy and her original article (including a poem) below!

 

  • I am not in the field of education anymore (I sooo miss recess and the kiddos), but before I left teaching I started an after-school cooking program for kids called Snack Attack Cooking. My favorite session was when we had an Iron Chef competition and the judges tried one group’s creation that looked like a dessert pizza.  But, the kids had used garlic instead of sugar! The looks on the judges faces when they tasted it was priceless.
  • About a year after the original article was published, I founded an organization that hosts events for Jewish young professionals in Northern Virginia called NOVA Tribe Series. Since 2011, I have hosted over 150 programs, engaged thousands of peers in the community, and helped orchestrate countless numbers of friendships – and even 2 marriages!
  • Last fall I started working for the Edlavitch DCJCC as their manager of EntryPointDC, a program for 20s and 30s. I have helped revamp the Shabbat Clusters program, started the B’Shert 2.0 Modern Jewish Love Series and am looking forward to our next big event, Schmooze & Snooze Fest on Saturday, February 25th. The event will be an “all-night” type party with a 90’s cover band, Bar Mitzvah DJ dance party, moonbounce, Havdalah, drinks, carnival snacks, Ted Talks and more! Tickets go on sale today.
  • One signature program I created that I look forward to hosting every year is Lox Meets Bagel. It has become one of the largest speed dating & mixer events in the DC area for 20s and 30s. The 6th Lox Meets Bagel is next Tuesday, February 7th, and you can register here!
  • I am still a Virginia girl, but I now live in Arlington instead of Fairfax. My favorite things to do in the neighborhood are people watch at Northside Social, catch a comedy show or movie at Arlington Drafthouse, and take long walks to Georgetown.

Read her original article below!

Stacy on why she should be Jewish Girl of the Year:

There once was a girl from VA

Who taught her students to say

“I flip my latkes in the air”

She spent $157.23 on metro fare

To get to Jewish events last year

Her Hebrew name

is a video game

She works with Jnet

Your vote she needs to get

Editor’s note: Stacy raised the bar for Jewish Girl of the Week by submitting a Youtube video as part of the application process. If you think you or someone you know has what it takes to be a Person of the Week, shoot us an email and tell us why. We encourage creativity in nominations!

How long have you been teaching?

This is my sixth year teaching. I have taught students from grades K-7 over the years, but right now I teach 1st-3rd grade at a Montessori school. These kids are awesome. The Montessori philosophy emphasizes learning practical life skills, so my kids cook me lunch every Wednesday, do the dishes and laundry every day and take field trips out of the classroom at least once or twice every few weeks. I want to take them home with me to clean my house!

Stacy, so many people ask: “What do you do?” The GTJ staff likes look deeper into the Jewish soul, so we ask, “What is your passion?!”

My biggest passion is helping others. Besides teaching, I also work with autistic kids once a week leading social skill groups. My first day at social group went something like this (and I knew from then on I was in the right place) Me: Ben, we have something in common, we both like to celebrate Hanukkah  Ben: You are Jewish Ms. Stacy? I am so glad you joined group! (He runs around the room singing the dreidel song)  Nate: You must be Israeli then because you are Jewish  Me: Actually, I am not.  Nate: Aww man, I really like Israeli women, can’t you be Israeli for me?  Dan: I know someone that is Jewish, but I don’t like her very much.  Me: Why is that?  Dan: She is a very bossy Jewish girl.

Are there really Jews that live out in Virginia?

Yes, there are and we rock.  I am on the committee of Jnet. We plan happy hours, BBQ’s, and other great events; our next BIG gathering will be a philanthropic event for the JCC of NOVA special needs department. You can find us on facebook if you add JnetVA as a friend. I promise if you come find me at an event I will make sure you have a great time!

Can we share the video of your kids with all our readers?!

Of course you can share the video! I love being Jewish, and I want to share my love of my religion and culture with everyone; the video explains it all.  You can see the enthusiasm in my students’ faces as they sing this song (and my amazing dancing skills and “latke” flipping tools as well). I spent a whole day reading Hanukkah stories, playing dreidel, sharing latkes, and taught them all the words to Candlelight and I have never seen them more excited, or in other words, equally excited to sing about/celebrate Hanukkah as Christmas.  Since you and the Maccabeats are BFF’s, can you send the video to them as well?

What has been your most memorable Jewish moment?

Hmmm that’s a hard one. I think I have had many, but one that sticks out actually occurred this week. We had a Celebration of Light ceremony with our class in which all the families came together to share their winter month traditions that involve light. I have 23 students in my class and only 1 is Jewish. After the presentation, the one Jewish family came up to me and gave me a big hug. They thanked me for teaching the students the Candlelight song and told me their daughter finally feels included and everyone is now just as excited about Hanukkah as any other winter holiday. It really touched me because I have always made it my personal mission to bring Jews together from smaller communities, whether it’s making my one Jewish student in my class feel more comfortable talking about her religion to her classmates to planning events for my alma maters’ Hillel that included only about 400 Jewish students out of 15,000.

You can only eat one Jewish food for the rest of your life, what is it and why?

It would be my mom’s challah. She started making using this recipe when I was about 10, it’s a sweet version that I can’t get enough of. It totally satisfies my sweet tooth.

Is it Chanukah, Hanukkah, or Hannukah?

Is this a trick question? I have not seen the double N’s before or if I did it was way back in the day; spell check does not like it either. Actually prefer the double K’s, Hanukkah is where it’s at. My students know 3 ways to spell it and are very proud of that fact.

Where can we find you on a Friday night?

I usually check out the services at Adas Israel and Sixth & I and then go out in the city. I have gone to Shir Delight the past few months and always have a good time with my friends and meet a lot of new people. You never know who you are going to run into, last week I saw my babysitter whom I have not seen in 20 years!

What’s the next big Gathering you will be at?

I am on the committee of Jnet. We plan happy hours, BBQ’s, and other great events; our next BIG gathering will be a philanthropic event for the JCC of NOVA special needs department.  See facebook page here.

The Jewish Leader of the Week – Rachel

Gather 3Rachel was nominated to be the Jewish feature by Ben, former Jewish Guy of the Week. They went on a Birthright Alumni trip together that inspired Rachel to come back and start her own service project in DC. When not watching baseball or cooking, Rachel is doing communications for the Pew Research Center. Learn more about her in our interview below!

Jackie: You are from St. Louis originally. What do you miss most about it? 

Rachel: I have a ton of St. Louis pride. The number one thing I miss about it is my family. The second thing is my favorite baseball team, the St. Louis Cardinals. The third is just how nice people are in the Midwest – it really is true. For all of these reasons, I try to go back to St. Louis as often as I can.

Jackie: Ben mentioned you went on an alumni mission to Israel last year together. What was that like?

Rachel: I had the privilege of participating in the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s Alumni Leadership Mission through NEXT DC in late 2015, with 25 young adults from D.C. who had been on Birthright trips. It was my second time being in Israel. I hadn’t been back since 2007 when I went on Birthright. This trip was about seeing Israel through the eyes of people who live there and experiencing day-to-day life and culture, beyond seeing tourist sites that we visited on Birthright. We learned all about the work that the Federation does in Israel, visited several Israeli businesses, volunteered, and spent time with Israelis who staffed Birthright trips from D.C. Along the way, we participated in leadership workshops and learned the art and importance of storytelling. The best part about the trip was that we came back to D.C. with a new group of Jewish friends, and we’ve inspired each other to become even more involved in Jewish life here.

gather-5Jackie: You are currently working on a project interviewing Jews with disabilities. Can you tell me more about that? 

Rachel: Yes, after our trip, each of us began working on a project to impact the D.C. Jewish community. I’m working with two other people on a project to help tell the stories of young Jews in D.C. who have disabilities, with the goal of fostering a dialogue that will ultimately help the community become more inclusive. We’ve begun interviewing people and are in the process of turning the interviews into blog posts that will eventually be shared.

Jackie: What inspired you to start such a meaningful project?

Rachel: One of the main themes of our Israel trip was inclusion, which tied into much of our itinerary. For example, our first dinner in Israel was at Café Kapish, a restaurant where all of the staff are hearing-impaired. We found ways to order or ask for things using body language, rather than spoken words. We also visited a military base where we spent time with young soldiers participating in the Special in Uniform program – a program that provides work opportunities in the military for Israelis with special needs, who would otherwise not be able to serve. We talked to them and helped them disassemble computers into parts that the military could use. When I think about the trip, these are some of the experiences that stood out to me most. We’ve all felt excluded at times, and the Jewish community is one that should be welcoming to everyone. Telling the stories of young Jews with disabilities and sharing their ideas for how to make our community more inclusive is something that would benefit all of us.

Jackie: What is one thing you can’t get through your day without?

Rachel: Baseball. I’m a diehard St. Louis Cardinals fan and am literally counting down the days until Spring Training starts! Also, chocolate chip cookies. I’m on a quest to find the best one in D.C. So far, my favorite is the Captain Cookie and the Milkman food truck.

gather1Jackie: Speaking of cookies, I hear you love to bake. What are some of your favorite things to bake?

Rachel: I especially love to make my mom’s kugel on Jewish holidays. Without fail, I always have to call her when I’m making it because I can never remember the exact recipe. My mom knows it by heart and can always figure out the ingredient I’m forgetting. I also love making cookies, whether classic chocolate chip, hamantaschen on Purim or Chanukkah cookies in December. Lately, I’ve also been trying new recipes from Dorie Greenspan’s new cookie book, Dorie’s Cookies.

Jackie: Can you tell us more about your job – what’s it like to work at the Pew Research Center?

Rachel: Our mission at Pew Research Center is to inform the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world, which is something that I feel good about doing, every day. I work on the communications team, so my job is to help our research reach the right audiences. Pew Research Center is nonpartisan and non-advocacy, which are qualities that can be hard to find in Washington. I feel lucky to work with such smart colleagues at a place that produces research that is so relevant to what’s happening in the world.

Jackie: What is your favorite Jewish holiday? 

Rachel: Passover. Seder has always been one of my favorite family traditions, and I love the themes of freedom and Spring.

Finish the sentence: When the Jews Gather…there is loud conversation, laughter and way too much delicious food… and I wouldn’t have it any other way!