Jewish Girl of the Week – Mindy

Punting in CambridgeJackie: What brought you to DC? 

Mindy: I knew if I didn’t leave my hometown to pursue my desire to work in public policy after finishing law school (go Canes!), I never would. I moved up in November 2008 and worked on the Hill for 3 years.

In December 2011, I left the Hill to become the Assistant Director of Government & National Affairs at the Anti-Defamation League. I spend most of my time focusing on international affairs issues, like fighting against global anti-Semitism and preventing a nuclear Iran, and on comprehensive immigration reform. Because of ADL’s dynamic multi-issue agenda and over a century of trusted work, I have no qualms about calling myself a “lobbyist.” I am humbly one of the lucky ones – I get to work for an organization who’s mission is my own personal mission in life.

After 6+ years in DC, I continue to be as passionate as ever about the power of advocacy to create the change you want to see.

Jackie: I hear that you get to travel a lot for your job! Where are some places you have visited recently/ what has been some of your favorite places to visit?

Mindy: I do travel a lot for work, luckily! I get to interact with so many interesting people and I love meeting our grassroots activists across the country who support our mission. So far, for work in 2015, I’ve been to Houston, Austin, Boston, NYC, Detroit this week, and then off to Philly next week! My favorite places to visit for work include our Israel office in Jerusalem, Warsaw to participate in Europe’s largest human rights conference, and Hungary, Greece, and Austria for a program we’re piloting.

JNFuture Jay Footlik Event Feb 26 2015Jackie: What is your involvement with JNFuture?

Mindy: I’m currently serving my second term as DC Co-Chair with the great Evan Hoffman. For me, my connection to Jewish National Fund (JNF) started with my earliest memories of having the “little blue box” in my kitchen for Tzedakah, along with planting trees in Israel for gifts. With JNFuture, I love that we get to put aside Middle East politics (i.e. my day job) and focus on the “neshamah” part of loving Israel.

On Thursday, March 26th, at 6pm (or whenever you can actually leave your office), we have our next event — our 2nd annual Schmooze and Booze happy hour at The Gryphon.The door price for non-members is $18 and admission for JNFutures is always free for our events. Everyone who attends will get a drink ticket and JNFuture DC will donate 100% of the proceeds. If you join JNFuture and mention this article at the happy hour, I’ll totally buy you a drink. RSVP here and I hope to see you there!

Min with boysJackie: So you’re a yogi, where is your favorite studio in DC?

Mindy: Flow on 14th and P is my favorite studio but, really, anywhere I have enough room for downward dog is a perfect spot for me.

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

Mindy: Every month, I look forward to Sixth and I’s Shabbasana with my yoga teacher, Greg Marzullo, and then I head downstairs for Sixth in the City. I always love to have Shabbat dinner with my friends. There’s nothing better than a table full of good wine and food surrounded by your crew. For the past year, my brother and I have also started a tradition of facetiming before Shabbat so I can light the candles with my 2 (of 13!) nephews in South Florida.

Jackie: What is your favorite Jewish food?

Mindy: Bring on the noodle kugel — the sweet kind, obviously.

Mom-mom visits DCJackie: Who is the coolest Jew?

Mindy: My grandmother, Dr. Joy Rubin, AKA “Mom-mom.” She is 92, still a practicing psychologist, works out every day, and raised 3 kids as a single mom while running her own art school in Hollywood, FL. She’s legally blind, but has successfully hidden it most of her life and has traveled to over 30 countries around the world, usually on her own — she and I both love a solo vacay! During World War II, she drafted blueprints for US submarines. When one of the subs she worked on was ready to go out, FDR himself came in and she was next to him when he christened it. She continues to live a very full life and helps to keep me grounded, always reminding me: “We plan. G-d laughs.” She’s definitely the coolest Jew I know.

Jackie: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…

Mindy: we get down with our bad-ass social justice, tikkun olam selves…and anyone else who likes to party!

 

Jewish Girl Of the Week – Rachel

10931402_10203602684762973_8146198511068096987_nJackie: What brought you to DC?

Rachel: Gather the Jews brought me to DC! I was hired to be the first ever GTJ employee in August 2012. Running GTJ was one of the coolest things I have ever done- I helped connect young professionals to a vibrant Jewish community, and also had the opportunity to learn firsthand about getting a start up nonprofit off the ground.

Jackie: What do you miss most about Gather the Jews?

Rachel: After I moved on to my current role, I stopped attending as many DC Jewish events. I’d like to get back into going to events and reconnecting with the larger community. Then again, working for Hillel, sometimes I feel like my life is one giant Jewish event.

Jackie: What is your favorite part of working for GW Hillel?

Rachel: There are so many things I love about working at GW Hillel, but my favorite is the relationships I build with students.

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

Rachel: My favorite way to spend Shabbat is hosting friends in my apartment. I don’t do it often enough, but I love bringing people together over food.

Jackie: What is your favorite Jewish food?

Rachel: I love a solid latka. The perfect latka is crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside. I ate latkas six out of the eight nights of Hanukkah this past year- it probably would have been all of the nights, but eventually the oil caught up to my stomach.

1011195_10201364089839499_230281580_nJackie: Who is the coolest Jew?

Rachel: Golda Meir is one of my heroes. When I was in Israel last month, I bought a T-shirt with her face on it.

Jackie: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…

Rachel: My work is done.

 

If there is someone you would like to nominate for Jewish Girl/Guy of the Week email Jackie!

Meet the Jewish Girl of the Week Alex

Alex 3Jackie: What brought you to DC?

Alex: My family and I are originally from DC. After I graduated from Old Dominion University (located in Norfolk, VA) I decided DC would be the best place to look for work and cultivate my career considering I am interested in politics and law. One of these days I plan on attending law school in the DC area. I know that you just came back from Birthright, was this your first time in Israel? This was my first time in Israel and I fully intend on going back as much as possible!

Jackie: What made you decide to go now?

Alex: I had always intended on going and I felt like now would be the best time to capitalize on the experience. I felt like I was at an age that I could fully comprehend and appreciate everything that these birthright trips have to offer.

Jackie: What was your favorite moment from the trip?

Alex 4Alex: I would have to say climbing Masada to witness the sunrise. It was certainly a difficult feat climbing on the way up but once we got to the top to witness the sunrise and learn about to history of Masada the climb was completely worth it. Ialso had my bat mitzvah on top of Masada since I never had one when I was younger. It was incredible to have that experience in Israel along side so many amazing people that have now become life long friends.

Jackie: Did you make new connections on your trip?

Alex: I made multiple connections on this trip with those from the DC area as well as the Israelis that were on the trip with us the whole time. I never knew I could grow so close with so many people in such a short amount of time. We have actually all stayed in constant contact through social media and the DC residents have been getting together on the weekends a lot.

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

Alex: I like to go to Friday night service and get together with friends for dinner and wine after. I try to stay as restful as possible on Saturday’s but I generally end up having to run errands due to my busy schedule during the week.

UntitledJackie: What is your favorite Jewish food?

Alex: Sticking to my Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry I am naturally obsessed with matzo ball soup. Anytime it’s really cold out or I’m sick I will make a fresh pot of matzo ball soup from scratch. I took my grandma’s recipe and tweaked it just a little bit.

Jackie: Who is your favorite Jew?

Alex: Golda Meir by a long shot. She is the epitome of a strong willed Jewish woman paving the way not only Jews but women as well. Golda Meir constantly fought for the betterment and fundamental rights of Jews and Israel. For example, she single handedly raised $50 million in 1948 to purchase weapons to protect the young country even though everyone told her it was not possible. Persevering and protecting her people are things she constantly clung to which is truly admirable.

 

Jackie: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…

Alex: There will most certainly be constant chatting and eating! The feeling of community is emitted at all times.

 

Registration for Birthright’s next community trip is now open! Click here to apply.

Jewish Girl of the Week/Newest Gather Team Member – Jackie

Want to recommend an outstanding leader to be featured on Gather the Jews? Nominate him/her at jackie@gatherdc.org.

IMG_5490 (1)Rachel: What are you most excited for with Gather?

Jackie: I am beyond excited to join the Gather team! One of the things I look forward to most is getting more involved in the DC Jewish community. While I have been living here for over a year now, I can’t wait to meet more awesome Jews in DC. Mostly though, I just want to find more people to discuss Serial with at Shabbat dinner- is that so wrong?

Rachel: How did you first get involved with the Jewish community in DC?

Jackie: My very first weekend after moving to DC, I went with some friends to a young professionals Shabbat service at Sixth and I. After graduating from Brandeis University, I realized how I had taken my Jewish community there for granted and was anxious to find a similar place for myself here in DC. After attending the service and other young professional events in DC, I realized how vibrant the DC Jewish community is and I knew I wanted to get involved.

Rachel: What’s your favorite part about being Jewish?383695_2527634710289_1431782458_n

Jackie: I would normally say the community and the people, but to avoid being repetitive… I love furthering my Jewish knowledge and learning. I think Judaism is a fascinating intersection of culture, religion, politics and history. There is so much to learn and I have enjoyed every opportunity I have had to deepen my Jewish knowledge.

Rachel: Do you have a favorite Jew?

Jackie: I’ve got a lot of favorites but someone I’m really loving right now is Leandra Medine aka the Man Repeller. Leandra is a New York fashion blogger with an eccentric style and the chutzpah to accessorize her most daring outfits. I loved her book Seeking Love and Finding Overalls. I felt immediately connected to her strong Jewish identity and funky feminist spirit.

305568_467512219965970_501600054_nRachel: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday and/or food?

Jackie: I go crazy for Borekas, potato or cheese filled pastries found in bus stations all over Israel. I attended the Turkish Festival in DC this year and I insisted that my friend and I sample every flavor of boreka we could find, which I think ended up being 6 different types! It was one of my favorite memories in DC.

My favorite Jewish holiday is Rosh Hashanah. I love the celebratory feeling of having a new start for a new year. Sitting down with friends to a delicious home-cooked dinner (I really do love food!) and having a wonderful fall feast is very special to me. This Rosh Hashanah was the first I celebrated in DC and I was fully invested in reflecting on my past year and setting goals for my future.

Rachel: When you aren’t gathering, what do you like to do?

Jackie: One of my favorite things to do is going to see concerts- I can’t get enough live music. DC has a dynamic music scene and I’m always sending out mass texts to friends to see who wants to get tickets to the next show with me (let me know if you want to get in on the next mass text!)

Rachel: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…

Jackie: I’ll bring the borekas.

 

Jewish Girl of the Week and Trivia Queen Robin

Robin 1Meet Gather’s Jewish Girl of the Week, Robin. Read on if you want a recommendation on great vegetarian spots in the city and a leg up on this week’s trivia at Sixth & I!

Jackie: What brought you to DC and how long have you been here?
Robin: I moved to DC two and a half years ago, without a job, for a change of scenery. I grew up in MA, went to school at Brandeis, and then lived in Boston for a few years after graduation. So it was time to explore a new city!

Jackie: What do you love to do in the city for fun?
Robin: I love exploring new restaurants. I’m a vegetarian, so sometimes it’s hard to find a substantial meal in the more meat-heavy places. Recently, I went to Ghibellina and was blown away by the food. Their gnocchi with butternut squash, maitake mushrooms, and sage was maybe the best thing I’ve ever eaten.

Robin 2Jackie: So you work for Sixth & I. What’s your favorite part of your job?
Robin: Trivia Night is by far my favorite part my job. We do it every other month and we try to center each one around a creative theme. Tonight, January 21st, for example, we’re having British Invasion Trivia. The questions will touch on all different areas of British culture and we’ll be serving fresh-made fish n’ chips! We’re really trying to revive our Trivia Nights by adding in some new fun elements to stand out from your typical pub trivia. Plus, $15 for dinner and 2 drinks? Can’t find that kind of deal anywhere else in the District.

Jackie: For people coming to Trivia Night tonight, any hints to help their game?
Robin: I would definitely study up on your British History (i.e., monarchs), and you may want to watch this YouTube clip.

Jackie: What’s your favorite way to spend Shabbat?
Robin: Well, when I’m not spending Shabbat at Sixth & I, I love having Shabbat dinner with friends or family. There’s nothing like a relaxing evening of good food and good company.

Robin 3

Jackie: What is your favorite Jewish food?
Robin: I love love love kugel. The more dairy the better (contrary to what many Jews might prefer). Also, Cheryl Ann’s challah from Brookline, MA is my weakness.

Jackie: Who is the coolest Jew?
Robin: Lizzy Caplan is pretty badass.

Jackie: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…
Robin: the complaining ensues.

 

Want to recommend an outstanding leader to be featured on GTJ? Nominate him/her by emailing jackie@gatherdc.org.

Jewish Girl of the Week – Sasha

Sasha 1

Want to recommend an outstanding leader to be featured on GTJ? Nominate him/her at rgildiner@gatherdc.org.

Rachel: What brought you to DC and where are you from originally?

Sasha: I came to D.C. to be a part of both the history and the future of our country. I am originally from San Diego, California. Though I will always be a California girl, I fell in love with the culture and excitement of D.C. two years ago when I interned at the Corporation for National and Community Service. The museums, music, political involvement, and all together, passion that you see in D.C. made me realize that this was the city for me. I moved here this past summer and am the National Library Project Coordinator and Executive Associate at Jewish Women International. JWI’s National Library Initiative, along with a team of volunteers, businesses and corporations, is working to establish 100 children’s libraries in battered women’s shelters across the United States.

Rachel: Tell us about how you’ve made Tikkun Olam and community service a part of your life in the past, and now here in DC.

Sasha: My passion for community service started at a young age. In high sasha 4school, I was president of Sister Schools of San Diego, a club that raised money to send children from Northern Uganda to school. I am the founder of The Smile Bringer Singers at the University of Michigan, a club that performs musical numbers at local nursing and retirement homes, family centers, for children with mental disabilities, and various on-campus events. This organization allowed me to mix my passions for performing and Tikkun Olam.

Rachel: What’s a cool or different interest of yours that others might not know about you?  

Sashasasha 3: I make a point of exploring and taking advantage of every opportunity I get to try a new activity. From a gallery opening to Soul Cycle, from the drum circle at Meridian Park to trying new restaurants, seeing Shakespeare, attending street festivals, concerts, and farmer’s markets. I am constantly seeking out new adventures. From Canada>California>Michigan>DC, I can’t wait to immerse myself in this city. One of my favorite activities to do in D.C. is paddle boating on the Tidal Basin-highly recommendable.

Rachel: So we hear you now work for Jewish Women International (JWI).  Can you tell us about their mission and what inspires you to do this work? 

Sasha: JWI is the leading Jewish organization empowering women and girls – through economic literacy; community training; healthy relationship education; and the proliferation of women’s leadership. We work to ensure that all women and girls thrive in healthy relationships, control their financial futures and realize the full potential of their personal strength. I am from a generation where sexual assault on college campuses and teen dating abuse rates are ridiculously high; I feel that the incredible work that JWI does has the power to decrease these numbers and increase education on the topic, give individuals access to necessary tools, and support victims. In addition, I am inspired by the work that we do with financial literacy. As a recent graduate, our work is critically important to me and my friends in order for us to lead lives that are physically safe and financially secure.

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

Sasha: At the Eisen’s, hands down. They make food from all over the world, have a famous guacamole, and great company. 

Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish food?

sasha 2Sasha: Challah. I can proudly say that I learned how to make it this year at a Young Women’s Leadership Network event. I was so excited when I brought in my ultra garlicy challah to my office to impress everyone.

Rachel: Who is the coolest Jew?

Sasha: My mother, because she is the strongest person I know. Also, Ruth Bader Ginsberg is pretty cool- she is the first Jewish woman and only the second woman to serve on the US Supreme Court. Stay notorious, RBG.

Rachel: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…

Sasha: everyone becomes a matchmaker.  

Jewish Girl of the Week – Ariella

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Want to recommend an outstanding leader to be featured on GTJ? Nominate him/her at rgildiner@gatherdc.org.

Rachel: What brought you to DC? How long have you been here?

Ariella: My family moved here from Minnesota in 1988. I grew up in the area and went to college and grad school in DC. Currently, I teach in Montgomery County Public Schools and run a calligraphy business. My notes home to parents are impossible to forge!!

Rachel: What do you love to do in the city?

Ariella: Anything having to do with food or sports. I also love to  explore  different neighborhoods, go to concerts, museums, etc… when  I can, I  get out of the city to travel!

Rachel: We heard you’re co-chairing Reverse Mifgash.Could you tell us more about that?

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Ariella: YES! This November 3-12, Reverse Mifgash will bring 12 Israeli Taglit-Birthright Alumni for an unforgettable experience in DC. NEXT DC of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, my co-chairs Max and Rachel, and an amazing committee of DC-area Birthright alumni have worked hard to plan 10 full days of jam-packed fun! There are tons of events that GTJ’ers will love, including a volunteer project, Election Night Viewing party, a comedy night with Benji Lovitt, a special Shabbat experience at Sixth and I, and A Night of Israeli Music at Tropicalia on 14th Street. For more information and to register, click here.

I served on the RM committee two years ago, and I can tell you — whether you went on birthright or not — it is a series of events you definitely don’t want to miss! This year will be better than ever!!

unnamed (1)Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish food?

Ariella: Matzo Balls 🙂

Rachel: Who is the coolest Jew?

Ariella: This guy Joe. He’s a financial adviser who led the campaign to raise  the $200 million to create the U.S. Holocaust Memorial  Museum. Also, he  just happens to be my father, but I  promise I’m not biased! He’s the best, and  an inspiration to my involvement and growing leadership in the Jewish  community.

Rachel: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…

Ariella: The “Nelson France Fan Club” must be having a chapter meeting!

Jewish Girl of the Week – Hillah

BoliviaWant to recommend an outstanding leader to be featured on GTJ? Nominate him/her at info@gatherdc.org.

Rachel: What brought you to DC?

Hillah: I came here to pursue a Ph.D. in German at Georgetown University. Today, I work in Project Management and honestly, I couldn’t be happier.

Rachel: So you’re from Germany. What is one of the biggest differences between living in DC and where did you grow up in Germany?

Hillah: Public Transport comes to mind. I guess the biggest difference for me is that there aren’t as many bike lanes in DC as there are in Germany. I lived in a city with tons of metro routes and the trains literally came every five minutes. However, as much as I like the education and healthcare system and the social scene in Germany, I feel like in DC you can really become whatever you put your mind to; there are no limitations to your dream.

Rachel: How did you get into rock climbing and where is the coolest place you’ve climbed?

Hillah: My cousin in Portland, OR introduced me to rock climbing when I visited her about a year and a half ago. We would always go climbing in the afternoons once she got off work. Upon my return to DC I decided that I wanted to continue climbing. Up until now, I haven’t been to any quote on quote “cool” spots, since I am still building my skill set. However, my hope is to go climbing in Latin America or out in the southwest in the next year or two.

Profile Picture in BoliviaRachel: We heard you’re the AJC ACCESS DC Intergroup Task-Force Chair. Could you tell us more about that?

Hillah: AJC’s ACCESS DC Board consists of three Task Forces: International, Intergroup, and Leadership & Advancement Task Force. My role as Intergroup Task Force is to facilitate the building of relationships between the Jewish and other communities. As the global Jewish community faces a defining moment in 2014, due to rising anti-Semitism in Europe and Latin America, strengthening ACCESS DC’s relationships with interfaith and intergroup partners is more important than ever. ACCESS DC has a strong relationship with the Urban League’s young professional program, Thursday Network. This year, we are also aiming to strengthen our Muslim, Asian, Latino, and German relationships. Since the 50th ACCESS DC is focusing on engaging the German Diaspora and Diplomatic community throughout 2014-2015. The work as Task-Force Chair is very exciting – there is never a dull moment.

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

DCPS Beautification Day with Thursday NetworkHillah: On Shabbat, I love to participate in Shabbat hopping, attending different Shabbat services around the city, especially the ones for young professionals. I also can never turn down an invite to a Shabbat dinner. Friday evenings are such a special time to come together as a community.

Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish food?

Hillah: Definitely, Bagel, lox, and cream cheese. If the Deli has white fish salad, even better.

Rachel: Who is the coolest Jew?

Hillah: Hands-down my grandfather Arthur Lampert. During World War II he was a ranking U.S. Army officer. In addition to liberating Jews from the concentration camps, and bringing in matzos for the first Pesach after the war for newly liberated Jews, he also helped many of them start new businesses after the war.

Rachel: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…

Hillah: Great things happen!

Jewish Girl of the Week – Annie

IMG_5526Want to recommend an outstanding leader to be featured on GTJ? Nominate him/her at info@gatherdc.org.

Aaron: What brought you to DC?

Annie: Serendipity brought me to DC.  I was in Southeast Asia working with social entrepreneurs when I came across an intriguing startup called Self Spark that designs lifehacking events around the world.

After only one Skype call, I packed my bag and joined the team in our group house.  It just so happens the DC area is also where my mother, cousins, aunts, and uncles live which is pretty amazing.  I love being back around mother’s Jewish cooking, which includes going out to sushi and Whole Foods salads.

Aaron: You are creating a company that caters to lifehacking.  What are the coolest hacks you recommend?

Annie: People often ask me this question expecting a flashy answer of life’s greatest shortcuts.  Of course, I’ve got a few of those, but for me the most impactful lifehacks are the simplest.  At Self Spark, we talk about creating minimum viable change, or finding the smallest change that will have the greatest impact.  Like most things in life, simple is not always easy.

Practicing gratefulness. It’s the first thing I do when I wake up, and the last thing I do before I hit my pillow.  It’s also a tradition I practice with my roommates each night at dinner.  I pick 3 things I feel for grateful in that moment.  It can be range from the most important (i.e. my mother and sister) to the mundane (I’m grateful when I tripped I only lost half of my ice-coffee.)  On days when it feels like everything goes wrong, when the violence in Israel escalates, or when I rejected from a cute boy, I have to dig deep.  I am continually amazed that I can always find beauty in the world no matter how dire it may feel.

Followupthen has changed my life.  Like many DC young professionals, you either manage your email or it manages you.  Turns out, email is not a place to store information, manage tasks, or organize information.  At Self Spark, we run a lot of productivity trainings and I’ve relearned how to use email to make me look like a boss.  A lot of my job includes chasing people down.  Let’s face it, most folks in DC have a mile long to-do list and they forget to get back to you.  Setting a calendar reminder for every person and email I need to chase is tedious.  The hack?  When I email a client, I bcc 5days@followupthen.com and like magic, it sends me a reminder email, in you guessed it, 5 days.  Boomerang is another service that does the same thing.

2014-02-10 23.32.33Mindful walks.  I try to meditate at least 3-4 times a week.  However, trying to run a company, have a life, and not go crazy makes it hard to always find the time.  The pressure to meditate can make me anxious, which is hilarious since I mediate to feel less anxious.  To combat this, I started to infuse mindfulness into everyday activities, like walking.  If I’m not in the mood to do traditional meditation, I take walks around my neighborhood (and leave the Apple products at home.)  I try to notice things I’ve never seen or to appreciate the things I always see.  It’s not rocket science and it’s not about “clearing my mind.”  Instead, it’s about being aware, and giving myself a moment out of the day to breathe and be free from my never-ending to-do list.

Eating the right food.  Picky eaters always annoyed me.  You know who I’m talking about the, “please hold the cheese, bread, and put the dressing on the side” – folks.  They might as well have said, “just give me the blandest and most un-delicious thing you have.”  Food is one of the best parts of life, and things like ice cream and cheese are too delicious to be left uneaten.  I thought I was healthy enough.  I mean, I grew up in California and enjoyed things like avocados, kale, and even Brussels sprouts.  In recent months, all of that has changed, and I’m a big scared to admit that I’ve become that person.  Turns out, foods affect us all differently and taking out certain foods groups can alleviate stomachaches, headaches, and more.  So I may be a bit more annoying, but the upside?  I feel amazing and have more energy throughout the day.

Aaron: You have traveled to countries around the worl.d  Where was your most memorable Shabbat?

Annie: In 2010, I spent 5 months living and working in Uganda.  For Passover, my friend and I visited the Abayudaya- the Ugandan Jews in a small village.  After a grueling bus ride, I took the chicken off my lap and wedged myself from the overflowing bus to be greeted on the side of the road by Moses, a Ugandan Jewish elder.  For months, I felt constantly aware of my “otherness” and was an outsider to all traditions and customs.  But for those few days, I entered into a community where we sang familiar tunes, ate matzoh, and poured each other Manischewitz wine.  We didn’t share the same language, nor understand each others cultures, but halfway across the world I felt at home. 

1394282_1968447486006_1667998764_nAaron: Which Jew inspires you the most?

Annie: Hadas Goldman, my sister’s best friend and honorary sister is leading a movement to transform Israeli culture through the arts.  It started with 6 committed individuals and since expanded to over 500.  They live in Urban Kibutzim around the country.  I say she has a PhD in community.  Currently, I’m also living in kibutz-esque house with my coworkers and I continually draw upon her wisdom and experiences to build a thriving community.

Aaron: What is your favorite Jewish food?

Annie: Gefilte fish.  It’s the only thing I can’t get my non-Jewish friends to eat.  I haven’t quite graduated to liver & onions but I’m in training.

Aaron: Where are you for the High Holidays?

Annie: I’ll be in Rockville with my entire extended family, which will include visiting this children’s service with my little cousin Benny.  He told me they get to eat apples and honey and the songs are better.

Interested in learning more about lifehacks?  Come to our upcoming lifehacking camp, focused on mind body, and sleep, called Spark Weekend happening on September 13-14 in downtown DC.  Register at dc.sparkweekend.com and use the discount code “JEWSROCK” for an additional -50% off.  Have questions?  Email me, annie@selfspark.com.

Jewish Girl of the Week – Lisa

ProspectParkWant to recommend an outstanding leader to be featured on GTJ? Nominate him/her at info@gatherdc.org.

Rachel: What brought you to DC?
Lisa: The stork!  I was born and raised in the Montgomery County part of DC, and after a few years as a wandering Jew, I came home.  I’ve been back and living in the Arlington part of DC for almost 3 years and couldn’t be happier I made the decision to come back.  DC will always be home for me.  I’m working for myself as a freelance writer and marketing consultant now, but I have no plans to leave DC.

Rachel: What is your favorite DC Jewish event?
Lisa: Camp Sixth & I was by far the best event I’ve attended here in DC.  We turned our phones off and connected for a beautiful, educational, spiritual, and super-fun Shabbat/Sukkot experience.  Getting to know a group of amazing DC Jews in a camp-like environment was a blast from the past… with booze.

Rachel: You participated in Sermon Slam at the DC JCC.  What was that experience like?
Lisa: The theme was “Revelation” which is not an easy topic to tackle.  When I arrived, the energy in the room was incredible and put me at ease, which I needed quickly since I slammed first.  The entire event was inspiring.  I loved that these young professionals took the time to craft and share a meaningful story, each leaving the audience with a nugget of wisdom to take home — like a spiritual doggie bag.  While it was a competition, it was the most supportive, caring, kind group of competitors I’ve ever met.  The talent in our community is unparalleled.

IMG_3695Rachel: Tattoos, huh?  How does your mother feel?
Lisa: I have 5 and certainly plan on getting more.  Each is super meaningful, but I definitely stand out in a room full of Jews.  My mother has come to the realization that I will continue to make what she considers to be poor decisions when it comes to this particular area.  But I’m pretty sure she loves me anyway.  They all have deep meaning to me — two have references to quitting my job to pursue a writing career.  I did it and I have never been happier.

Rachel: What’s your favorite way to spend Shabbat?
Lisa: For the past few years, I’ve spent almost every Friday night at services.  I’m kind of a shabbat vagabond, bouncing between 2239 and 6th & I Services.  But my very favorite part is the walk to the White House with my friends (because even the strangers who join us are friends by the end) after services.  We wander and wonder.  It’s the best part of my week.

Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish food?
Lisa: Fried Matzah.

Rachel: Who is the coolest Jew?
Lisa: Tina Fey.  Wait, what?  She’s not Jewish?  Just kidding.  I stand by saying the coolest Jew would be Jewish Tina Fey.  The second coolest Jew would be Toby Ziegler from West Wing.  But given he’s not a real person… I think I’ll go with Robert Krulwich, co-host of NPR’s Radiolab.  Because “cool” in Judaism is really subjective.

Rachel: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…
Lisa: …shenanigans.  Pure shenanigans.