Jewish Short Filmmaker of the Week – Ivan!

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


GatherDC Staff: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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



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

Ivan: The food is always good!


The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Jewish TV Producer of the Week – Sally!

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

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

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

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

Allie: What inspired you to become a news producer?

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

Allie: What brought you to DC?

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

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

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

Allie: Who’s your favorite Jewish journalist?

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

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

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

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

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

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


The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Meet the Newest GatherDC Staff Member – Allie!

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

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

Shaina: Tell us about yourself!

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

Shaina: What most excites you about working for GatherDC?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allie: they have lox of fun.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Jewish Foodie of the Week – Hilary!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shaina: What’s your favorite Jewish food?

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

Shaina: Explain your ideal Sunday in DC.

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

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

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

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Jewish Renaissance Man of the Week – Ben

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shaina: Any Jewish recipes to add to that list?

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

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

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

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

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

Shaina: Complete the sentence: When the Jews Gather…

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

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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.