See DC Like Never Before!

Camp Nai Nai Nai and Sixth & I are teaming up for an ‘Uncover DC Scavenger Hunt.’ Clues and ridiculous tasks await all daring individuals as you uncover DC treasures. Using a mobile app, teams will traverse Chinatown and explore Jewish history, art, and culture in our beloved metro scene. Come with your friends and a ready-made team or be adventurous and join a team of new friends when you arrive. P.S. This scavenger hunt uses a super cool app developed in Berlin, no pieces of paper and markers needed!

Expect the Unexpected!


Random acts of kindness? Yup! Food from a country you’ve never visited? Yup! Jewish Deli in DC? YUM and most definitely yup!

Wrestle with clues, discover historical sites, and compete in absurd team challenges!

Ever invented an odd job and tried to get paid for it? How about cheering on strangers for simply crossing the street? As you venture through Chinatown, we promise to show you a side of DC rarely explored!

What will YOU find?

Do you like puzzles and logic games? Do you like to dance in the streets like nobody’s watching? Synagogues become churches…and back again? Uhhh, yup! Several synagogues in DC have become churches over the decades and some have even come back to the tribe. We promise you will see the same streets you walk every day in a brand new light.

Camp Nai Nai Nai & Sixth & I believe that Jewish ritual and culture should be vibrant, relevant, and exciting. We don’t know how many clues you’ll solve, but we do know that you’ll find  a group of people who enjoy spending time together in this beautiful city of ours. “Uncover DC” is an opportunity to meet fun new people and become a part of a brand new community.


$$$, SWAG for the Winners

Why do this? First of all, everyone that shows up will get a Sixth & I tote bag, and we ALL need more tote bags for walks home from Trader Joe’s! Second, it will be a guaranteed raucous good time. Third, the winners will get exclusive and fabulous Camp Nai Nai Nai swag and 50% off registration for Camp Nai Nai Nai.


Camp Nai Nai Nai is a Jewish Summer camp for adults, taking place over Memorial Day weekend, May 25 – 28, 2018, in Waynesboro, PA (1.5 hours from DC). Camp Nai Nai Nai gives you a chance to relive the curious and courageous days of youth through spirited song sessions, creative play-shops (there’s no work at camp), color wars, festive meals, and more. This inclusive and pluralistic weekend getaway is your canvas to connect with new and old friends and recharge your city-worn spirit. Camp busses will be leaving from DC, and we would love to see you all there!


RSVP and Invite Friends on Facebook

Sign up for the Uncover DC Scavenger Hunt

Sign up for Camp Nai Nai Nai

Check out Sixth & I


The above is a sponsored blog post. 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.

Passover Guide 2018

Attention DC-area Jewish young adults – Passover is around the corner.

Translation: It’s time for matzah pizza, Manishevitz (or grape juice) overload, and the best excuse to re-watch A Rugrats Passover.

This year, Passover takes place from Friday, March 30th – Saturday, April 7th. And no matter how you celebrate, DC’s amazing Jewish community has something for you. We’ve compiled the best in Passover happenings across the DMV so you can dig into the holiday with new friends, delicious food, and beloved traditions. Oh, and if you’re having a Passover event that’s not listed — submit it here!

P.S. Not sure which of these events is the right fit for you? Email the GatherDC team!

P.P.S. Planning to host your own Seder this year? Check out Moishe House Without Walls, OneTable, or EntryPointDC (to be matched with other young adults looking for Seder). OneTable is nourishing Friday and Saturday night seders with help from Whole Foods Market. Whole Foods Market will be providing seder hosts with their own seder plates to use at their tables! OneTable is a great place to post your seder and find seders to attend.

Eh, I strongly dislike meals that start with homemade matzo ball soup and highly encourage consuming four cups of wine.” Said no one ever.


Passover Related Events

First Night Seders

Second Night Seders

Passover Recipes, Videos, + More!

Restaurants with Passover Menus

Meet Jason: Jewish Francophile of the Week

Le Diplomate, Croissants, French coffee, party buses to wineries – these are a few of Jason Sarfati’s favorite things. I met this super cool French-Sephardic-Arlingtonian/Jewish Lawyer at our last GatherDC happy hour (PS – next one is March 15th), and decided to find out more about his European roots over cups of caffeine at Dupont Circle’s charming French coffee shop – Un je ne se Quoi. After ordering his coffee in French, Jason opened up about his love of Jewish DC, Virginia wineries, and cyber security.


Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Jason: When I was applying to law schools, I realized I wanted to be back home –  I grew up in DC – so I applied to George Mason. I was really fortunate to live with all of my college friends in Arlington through all of law school, so I didn’t have to feel like I was outside of my comfort zone. And I wound up staying here because DC has so many opportunities in the legal field.

Allie: What do you like most about the DC Jewish community?

Jason: Its a large community, yet at the same time it feels close-knit. There are a lot of different events – any weekend there’s something going on. Also, it feels like DC has a lot of transient people who show up here looking for a place to fit in, and the Jewish community is that perfect landing spot.

Allie: If you had a free day in DC to do anything, how would you spend it?

Jason: I’m a huge fan of the vineyards out in Virginia. Every April, I organize a wine tour with my friends on a party bus. Its crazy, its a lot of fun, and it’s a whole day thing. After that, I’d have dinner in DC at Le Diplomate – obviously. Then, after a day of drinking French wine, I’d pass out.

Allie: I hear you have some French heritage…, tell me about that.

Jason: Most of my family lives in France, in a city called Lyon. The Jewish community there is actually smaller than one you would see in Paris – everyone kind of knows each other. I go to France once a year or so…otherwise I wouldn’t have a connection with my [extended] family.

Allie: How do you carry your French identity with you into your life in DC?

Jason: Well, growing up, we spoke probably 70% French in the home. And my family’s synagogue, Magen David in Rockville,  caters to Sephardic Jews. If you go there, you’d hear kids being yelled at in French. It’s very loud and close-knit, and I try to go as much as I can.

Allie: Would you ever want to live in France?

Jason: No, I’m very happy here. Also, my law degree would be useless there – and there are no Gather events there!

Allie: What are your favorite French foods?

Jason: Croissants and French coffee, like right here [at Un je ne se Quoi]. DC has some great French spots. Le Diplomate is, in my opinion, genuine French food.

Allie: And what about your favorite Jewish food?

Jason: The Jewish food I’m used to is very different than what most Ashkenazi Jews are used to. I had my first kugel when I was a sophomore in college. Where I lived, we would have marinated lamb or shawarma, which is more my speed. The spicy, north African foods that I’m used to is what I’ll go back to. A lot of beans, couscous, falafel.

Allie: What are you looking forward to most for the upcoming year?

Jason: I’ve noticed that DC kind of hibernates from January to February, and then in March it wakes up again. We’ve got the Cherry Blossom Festival, the Nats start playing again. DC is definitely a place that relies on the weather to be fun. And this year the Southwest waterfront is open, so there is a lot to do. Also, I’m excited for the coming year because just last week I started a data privacy and cyber security practice at my law firm, which is always going to be a field that’s relevant.

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

Jason: They make genuine connections and it can translate into business opportunities, marriages, and lots of good things!



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.


Confused? Good. This was a joke in honor of the holiday of Purim, which begins tonight, February 28th. Purim is known as the day we eat triangle shaped cookies (hamentashen) and read the story of Esther in the megillah out loud. It’s also known as a day we turn everything upside down by wearing costumes and getting drunk (if you so choose) – it’s basically April Fools meets Halloween.

But, Purim’s not just another excuse to dress up and party – there’s actually a deep spiritual message behind the holiday. Throughout the year, we delude ourselves into thinking that we control our surroundings and that we know everything. Purim is a day to let go of that control and give in to the unknown. To specifically lose control.

There’s a deep fear in acknowledging and sitting with uncertainty. But, it can also be liberating to appreciate the limits of what we can perceive or know. Purim is about finding hope in the most unexpected places by giving in to surprise and embracing how quickly things can turn around.

If you’re looking for ways to celebrate Purim this year, there are lots of incredible opportunities here in DC – check them out HERE!

And if you’re looking for more hilarious spoof articles to brighten up your Wednesday, look no further:


The GatherDC Staff

Rachel #1, Rachel #2, Allie, Jackie, Mollie, Julie, and Aaron

Meet Mollie: Jewish Educator of the Week!

Allie: So, what will you be doing with Gather?

Mollie: I’m the Community Manager, and I’ll be supporting the Jewish learning opportunities  that Gather already offers, while also creating new, volunteer and outdoor focused options. I’m really excited to be a part of a team that’s already doing such cool things, and for the chance to be creative and collaborative. This position is part of the JOFEE Fellowship, which gives me the support and training to try out different things from my education toolbox. Most of all, I just love being a Jewish educator! I feel so lucky to be able to play in the “Jewish learning sandbox” – even as an adult.

Allie: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Mollie: I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland with a close knit family that was very involved in our community. My family always showed me how important it is to give back and make a sustainable impact where you live. After high school, I did a gap year in Israel – which took my passion for Israel and Jewish education to new heights. So, while in college I sought out some amazing opportunities for experiential Jewish education and facilitation in communities across the globe – from Oakland, California to the Austrian Alps. I went on to get a Masters in Experiential Jewish Education because I want to create Jewish learning opportunities that are of the highest possible quality. Then, I moved to Israel and worked for the Shalom Hartman Institute, where I spent a lot of time learning how to bring people together from all different backgrounds to have tough conversations. I moved back to the US three years later and now am at GatherDC!

Allie: Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Mollie: French fries – as long as they’re crispy.

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday and how to celebrate it?

Mollie: Purim. It’s a serious story, but the theme of the holiday is to be happy and savor in the good stuff in your life. The story of Purim shows us that we can still believe in miracles – that something can be going in a bad direction and then take a turn for the better. In Israel, when it’s Purim, everyone goes to the shuk everyone and dances through the streets. It’s both so much fun and really meaningful at the same time!

Allie: What excites most about living in DC?

Mollie: I’m excited to be in a city that’s close to home, while at the same time I’m not super familiar with it and have a lot to explore. I also love learning about new cultures, and meeting new people from all different places – and am excited to get to do that here. In a few weeks, I’m going to check out cool DC cultural events like the Croatian Wine Tasting and Around the World Embassy Tour.

I also really love breakfast foods, so I think I’ll fit well into DC’s brunch culture!

Allie: Any goals for the New Year?

Mollie: Lately, I’ve gotten into yoga and meditation, and like the idea of checking in with myself and making sure I’m centered, have two feet on the ground, and can get out of my head.

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

Mollie: Jewish geography is played!


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.


Top 3 Reasons To See “Light Years”

Folk-rock music in a new theatrical experience.

This isn’t like the musicals Bubbe used to take you to. Light Years combines the power of storytelling with all new music you would hear at an indie rock venue.

Signature Theatre is a black-box space which means that we rebuild the room to tell every story the best way possible. So, while Signature is best known for our world class musicals, the 275 seat room’s intimacy feels perfect for a folk-rock show.

Here’s a video of Robbie and the cast of the show singing the opening song of the show.

The theater is located in Shirlington, a two-block shopping neighborhood of Arlington with 16 different restaurants. Some of the options include Busboys and Poets, Cheesetique, and New District Brewing, a brand new brewery 2 blocks behind the theater. It’s easy to make a night-out of seeing a show here.

Robbie Schaefer, photo by Pippa Samaya

Robbie Schaefer is the definitive NJB (Nice Jewish Boy)

Aside from having a shayna punim (Yiddish for “beautiful face”), Robbie is kind, approachable, and the kind of person everyone wants to bring home to mom and dad.

He has charm and an earnest smile to please Mom and jokes for your dad. He founded an organization called OneVoice which works to unite children worldwide through music and creative expression. Most recently, he and his team went to a small island in Greece to bring art and music to the children in a Syrian refugee camp.

And, let’s be honest, who doesn’t melt over a man with a guitar?* 

I’m lookin’ at you guy-who-sang-Green-Day’s-”Time-of-Your-Life”-after-every-youth-group-convention.

It’s a Jewish story without being A JEWISH STORY

This is the first story that I’ve heard of a Holocaust survivor’s unique relationship with their family after the war. Like in Robbie’s story, my grandfather was a Holocaust survivor. His wife and son were lost to the Nazis, so he immigrated to the US, married an American woman and had a son, my father. In the short 18 years my dad had before his father passed, they shared a deep love for one another and a shared unspoken understanding that the past was not something to discuss. Like Robbie’s father, my grandfather kept his past a mystery to protect his son. And rather than dwelling on the holes between them, Robbie tells us about the deep love they shared and the life and the future he made. His father was his father, not his father, “the Holocaust survivor.”

Robbie tells my father’s story as he shares his own on stage. It’s a story that hasn’t been told, and Robbie tells it well.

My father and grandfather

Light Years is playing at Signature Theatre from February 6 – March 4, 2018.

*You can see this show with other 20s and 30s at a reduced ticket rate on February 20 with NOVA Tribe and Oy the World’s a Stage.



The above is a sponsored blog post. 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.

From K Street to the Knesset – Pt 1:  Zionism Today and Into Tomorrow

[Editor’s Note] Jason Langsner, one of our community members and bloggers, shares his perspective on Zionism today, and his experience at the American Zionist Movement Conference this past November. The views and opinions expressed in his blog post are not necessarily representative of GatherDC, and we welcome readers to share their thoughts in the comments section, or to reach out to Jason to dialogue further at

It is the year of chai (18) – of life – so let us all hope that 2018 is the year that a just and lasting peace is found between the Israeli people and the Palestinian people.

Some signs point to optimism, such as the recent behind-the-scene actions of Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in how they’re approaching a new peace plan with the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership.  Other signs point to continued pessimism, such as how the PA and United Nations reacted to President Donald Trump recognizing Jerusalem as the capitol at the end of 2017, that such a peace will not be found this year.

GatherDC readership, the broader Washington Jewish community, the American Jewish community, and the Jewish diaspora as a whole are not a monolith.  We each have different opinions on whether a just and lasting peace can be met between the Israeli people and the Palestinian people this year (or at all).

We are all individuals, who may be tall or short.  Our hair and eyes are different colors.  Our faith in Judaism may be self-identified as Conservative, Traditional, Reform, Orthodox, Modern Orthodox, Secular, non-practicing, or other.  We may be Sephardic.  We may be Mizrahi.  We may be Ashkenazi.  We may not be Jewish, by birth, but we identify with aspects of Judaism or Jewish culture.  We may not be Jewish, by birth, but a spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend/partner may be and we want to be supportive.  Or we may have converted…

We are all individuals.

Some of us will be attending the AIPAC Policy Conference in March.

Others will be avoiding it and attending the J Street National Convention in April.

Some may be at both.  Others at neither.  And some reading this blog may not know what AIPAC or J Street stand for as organizations.  If you’ve gotten this far in the blog, I can tell you now, that I’m not going to be telling you about either advocacy group or how they are perceived to be different within their organizations or from outside of them.

What I am happily willing to talk about is about my feelings about Zionism, what Zionism means to me today, and some points addressed at the American Zionist Movement (AZM) conference, about how Zionism may be defined into tomorrow.

It isn’t my place as a person or as a Jew to question another Jewish man, woman, or non-binary individual’s motivations in how they express their Judaism; how that may relate to Israel; how they feel about the word, “Zionism;” and how or if that may relate their Judaism to how they look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  It certainly isn’t my place to state any of this in my first blog post for GatherDC in this series – although I’ve happily shared many an opinion in Gather’s blog since it was launched years ago. And, I’ll gladly grab a coffee, beer, or scotch with anyone reading this that wants to chat about Jewish identity, Zionism, or Israel (no matter your perspective).

I’m always happy to talk and to learn from others.  And I know when thinking about Israel, I should sometimes consider the advice taught in “Hamilton” to “Talk less.  Smile more.”  Because active listening and engaging with others from different viewpoints is the best way that I personally learn.

Unfortunately, though discussions of Israel are sometimes, if not often, contentious within our Jewish community.  Some synagogues have chosen to avoid discussing the topic as to not create friction between congregants who hold different positions.  But my feeling is different.  The hard talks are the important ones that we need to have as a community.

It seems so recently that the Jewish people celebrated a milestone year, 2017, which was what brought AZM to DC commemorate and hold conversations around two important moments in Jewish history over the last 100 years.  

Last year represented the Centennial anniversary of the British government’s Balfour Declaration on November 2, 1917, which was the first time in modern history that a major world power declared support for the creation of a Jewish State and the 70th anniversary of the UN Partition Plan of the British Palestinian Mandate, which was adopted on November 29, 1947. Certainly, a great deal of history has occurred over these 100 years and I think I may need more than a single blog post to go through those years.  

At the AZM conference, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in written remarks read by AZM President Richard Heideman, qualified the 30 years between the Balfour Declaration and the UN Partition Plan as “long” and “tragic” to turn “international support for Herzl’s dream into reality.”  Israel Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer, while hosting a reception at the Embassy of Israel in DC, said that this 30-year span that began in 1917 and ended with David Ben-Gurion’s declaration of statehood, “is probably the most significant period of Jewish history since the days of the bible.”

In future blog posts, I’ll discuss the next 70 years including current events related to the U.S.-Israeli affairs.

Ron Dermer, Israeli Ambassador to the US, speaking at the AZM National Conference

In hopes of sharing some of the messages about what Zionism means today and what it may mean tomorrow, based on the AZM speakers, I’ve compiled a short video montage from the conference so you – as the GatherDC reader – can infer your opinions as if you were in the room with us.  While watching, think to yourself – what does Zionism mean to you?  And if you could reframe the narrative about Zionism and supporting a Jewish State into tomorrow, how would you do it?

To me, I understand Zionism as the national movement of the Jewish people that supports a re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic Land of Israel; and that Zionism comes from the root word of Zion.   As a noun, Zion is the hill in Jerusalem where the City of David was built and a synonym for both Jerusalem and the Jewish people.  I support a two-state solution, but I don’t know what the future borders of the State of Israel will look like – although I have great faith in the Israeli people and all Israeli elected officials who have been elected to represent different views of the diverse Israeli population that they are the best shepherds of their own future.

I recognize to some, the term Zionism is a pejorative.  To me, it isn’t.  I’m very proud to be a second generation Jewish American and a proud Zionist.

 If the modern State of Israel existed when my grandparents and great-grandparents emigrated from Eastern Europe, perhaps I would be an Israeli rather than American.  Who knows?  I’ll gladly plant trees in Israel with JNF, purchase Israel bonds to support the development of Israel, give to other Jewish/Israeli causes that are meaningful to me, and write about my appreciation for Israel and allow whoever who chooses to read it (thank you for reading this far!) hear my voice.

If you have a difference of opinion to me, I’ll gladly hear you out and I pledge to respect your opinions we search for common ground – such as with finding a path to bring about a just and lasting peace for all people affected by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  If you’re interested in dialoguing further, share your thoughts on the blog’s comment section or to my directly/privately at


About the Author: Jason Langsner is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you. Jason has been an active lay leader of the Washington Jewish community since moving to the city in 2004.  He is a small business owner and formerly served as the head of digital strategy for the oldest Jewish human rights and humanitarian organization in the world.  When not blogging, he can often by found walking around his Eastern Market neighborhood with his Jewish dog, Shekels, or riding around DC area bike trails.


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 Rachel: Jewish Bicyclist of the Week!

Finishing the RAGBRAI at the Mississippi River

She rode her bike across Iowa. She hosts themed Shabbats. She volunteers for her temple. She writes for Petworth News. Is there anything the marvelous Ms. (Rachel) Maisler doesn’t do?! Find out with our exclusive 1:1 interview!

Allie: What brought you to DC?

Rachel: I’m originally from Jupiter, Florida, and came to DC after college because there were jobs. It was during a recession so those were hard to come by. And I wound up staying because I started to get involved with aging policy at the Department of Health and Human Services right before the Affordable Care Act was passed. I got to get both a front row seat of history, and got to actually help write history.

Allie: How did you become a DC bicyclist?

Rachel: I’ve always liked riding, and I eventually realized it was much quicker to get to work for me via bicycle than metro, so I started bike-commuting. I actually started a social media account called “View from the Handlebars” with pics from my commute. Then, I wound up getting involved with a group called “DC Jews on Bikes” that was created by past Jewish Girl of the Week Lisa Kaneff [Editor’s Note: Lisa started this group as part of her Open Doors Fellowship capstone project]. Lisa was so friendly and had so much energy that motivated me to get involved in the group. I loved it – we would ride bikes on Saturday at sunset, and then celebrate havdalah together.

Allie: What’s the coolest bike ride you’ve ever done?

Rachel: Last summer, I rode my bike across Iowa (411 miles) as a part of RAGBRAI.

Allie: I hear you do some pretty cool advocacy work in DC on behalf of cyclists, tell me a little bit about that. 

Getting sworn into the BAC with Council member Brandon Todd

Rachel: I was politically appointed to work on the DC Bicycle Advisory Council (BAC) as a representative of Ward 4. The BAC is tasked with advising the city council with bicycle transportation matters, and I’m very passionate about finding ways for bicyclists to share the street. 

Allie: What are your goals on the Bicycle Advisory Council?

Rachel: To make sure that we’re aware of the barriers facing cyclists, and how we can continue to integrate cycling into our neighborhoods as a viable means of transportation and recreation. And to make sure we educate people about cyclists and safety.

Ball themed Shabbat during the World Cup

Allie: Tell me a little bit about how you stay connected Jewishly in DC?

Rachel: I’m part of a monthly Shabbat club, which is an amazing group of friends who get together one Friday a month. It’s been going on for 6-7 years now! Every Shabbat we have a theme, from using special ingredients like beer to making foods that are different colors of the rainbow. We always pick a “best dish winner” and said winner gets an amazing prize –  like a jar of gefilte fish.

I’m also a member of Ohev Sholom synagogue, which I love. There are a lot of incredible people there, like the Maharat – Ruth Friedman, who is an amazing ordained female rabbi. I’m part of the synagogue’s Tzedek Committee, which helps our friends and neighbors who need it.

Allie: What do you do as a part of the Tzedek Committee at Ohev Shalom?

Rachel: We do what we can to help those who most need it. Right now, we’re helping to resettle a family who immigrated here from Afghanistan. We recently helped a wounded warrior family for Christmas through the Operation Ward 57 program, and we coordinate our shul’s Good Deeds Day efforts – like making sandwiches, doing a coat drive, collecting school supplies, etc.

Allie: Who is your Jewish role model?

Rachel: My grandmother. She’s a Holocaust survivor and has been through more than anything I could ever imagine. But she wakes up with a smile on her face every day. She continues to be an inspiration, and is never afraid to tell her story.

Allie: What’s your favorite way to relax and destress?

Rachel: It’s always nice to go on a long bike ride with good friends on a great trail. Also, hiking in Shenandoah, or kayaking on the Potomac or Anacostia rivers. I also enjoy writing, and am a contributor to Petworth News!

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

Rachel: Anything is possible.


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.

Life Changes: How to Know When It’s Time to Move?

After living in Chicago for four years, I moved to DC on May 31, 2017. Since moving, many people have asked what brought me here.

The common answers to this question people traditionally give are: moved for a job, grad school, to be closer to family, or for a partner. My answer was none of those.

I decided it was time for a change and wanted to fulfill my five-year dream of living in DC. I get two responses to this: people tell me I am brave and they could never do this, or people share that they are thinking of moving, but are afraid of uprooting their current life. Their life is good enough, so why move just because?

I understand that people don’t want to rock the boat. The saying that the known is better than the unknown exists for a reason. Why leave a life where you have a good job, great community, and a city you consider “home?” Why relocate for no reason besides you want to? Shouldn’t there be a good reason to make such a big change?

Yet, I did just that. For the past four years, I considered Chicago my home. I had a great apartment in the heart of Lakeview. I knew the best place to get deep dish pizza (Lou Malnati’s, trust me). I was working at an organization that not only cared about my professional development, but also my personal life. Lastly, I had made some amazing friends that had helped me navigate my post-grad years. I had built a great life for myself.

Let me just say for the record that I am not brave. I moved out of necessity. While from the outside (and social media) my life seemed great, I felt like I was living in Chicago with a permanent grey cloud hovering above me at all times.

Millennials are so concerned about how our lives are seen by our peers. I would look at people’s Facebook and Instagram profiles thinking how happy they looked and wondering how I could become that happy.

I am in my twenties, the decade society says is the most fun. Why was I not enjoying my life? Why was I not going out enough, or involved in enough activities? I tried everything to get rid of my grey cloud. I switched jobs, got involved with different Jewish organizations, and made new friends. I did not want to leave Chicago because I assumed that was giving up and people would think I failed.

I spent years bringing up the idea of moving to DC with my friends and family, going back and forth in my head about whether I should stay or move, and agonizing over what people I barely knew would think. Finally, the moment came where I knew it was time to give up trying to make Chicago happen, and just start over somewhere new. I started picturing my life six months or one year out, and knew I would be disappointed if I was still in Chicago. While I could not guarantee that DC would work out, it was better to try than not move at all.  

The ten months after making the decision to move were the hardest. I spent months applying to jobs, pricing out moving companies, and only making plans two months out so – that when I finally landed a job – I could pack up and go. But, I actually ended up giving notice to my last position before having an apartment or job lined up.

Making this big of a life change was not easy. For me, this decision was years in the making. To this day, I miss my Chicago friends and all the things we used to do together.

Life is not perfect, but I needed to be happy.

When I landed in DC, the grey cloud instantly disappeared. I knew it would be challenging to transition to a new home with little to fall back on. I knew it would take time to find new friends and create a new Jewish community. But in that moment I knew, regardless of what lay ahead, I had absolutely made the right choice.

I am now six months into my new life in DC. I frequently am asked if I have any regrets, and my answer is always no. I still regularly check in with my friends and family. I am still building my new Jewish community and making new friends. But I knew myself enough to know that I needed to shake up my life.

And if I can’t shake things up when I am in my twenties, then when can I? This was the perfect time.


About the Author: Marisa Briefman is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you. She is a recent DC transplant who was born and raised in Sarasota, Florida – likely where your grandparents live. Her love of all things Jewish began at overnight camp and continues to thrive in her role at JSSA. She is coffee addict, lover of Mexican food, and on a permanent mission pet all the adorable dogs in DC (if someone is in need of a dog-sitter, email me).

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