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Girl of the Week – Stacy #WayBackWednesday

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

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

 

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

Read her original article below!

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

There once was a girl from VA

Who taught her students to say

“I flip my latkes in the air”

She spent $157.23 on metro fare

To get to Jewish events last year

Her Hebrew name

is a video game

She works with Jnet

Your vote she needs to get

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

How long have you been teaching?

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

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

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

Are there really Jews that live out in Virginia?

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

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

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

What has been your most memorable Jewish moment?

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

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

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

Is it Chanukah, Hanukkah, or Hannukah?

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

Where can we find you on a Friday night?

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

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

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

Why Open Doors is What I’m Bringing with Me When I Move

kelleyI am currently preparing to move to the other side of the country. The people close to me, including those with whom I shared my Open Doors Fellowship experience, have been hearing a lot about this recently. It comes with a good deal of stressors, and an even greater deal of reflection about my 6 years in DC. I’ve been particularly grappling with my most recent year, which has been tumultuous and full of change and confusion in a lot of areas in my life and my relationship to DC. However, as I was talking with my housemate about the things I experienced in DC over the last year, I was able to speak with unmatched gratitude and appreciation for my experience in the Open Doors Fellowship.

Being an Open Doors fellow provided me with an impressive array of resources, information, and skills. As the Communications and Engagement Fellow at Temple Micah, I found myself in many ways struggling know how to make the most of my time and do the best I could for the community I served in my work. The Fellowship taught me what engagement could mean—I learned how to leverage my networks in order to reach people who might not be Jewishly connected, how to have meaningful and connecting conversations that let me better connect people to resources, and how to derive enormous meaning from those connections. As the Fellowship progressed, I came to look forward to my coffee dates and drinks with the people I met, and I made enormous strides in my work.

However, to focus primarily on the professional and logistical benefits of the Open Doors Fellowship would be to do it a disservice. Those benefits were enormous and innumerable, but they were also secondary. The real beauty of the Open Doors Fellowship was that as I built a community around me, I also found myself woven into it. My cohort was a group of people I always looked forward to spending time with, and having a diverse, supportive team of people in pursuit of a mission alongside me was endlessly inspiring. The Fellowship gave me a space to deeply explore my Judaism and explore Judaism with the people I met in DC, and I made incredible connections with fascinating people through those conversations. The Fellowship left me with a network of genuine friends who were entirely new to me, and I hope that it brought new friends to the people I met as well.

As I move forward to a new place, the way I felt in the Open Doors Fellowship shapes the decisions I am making about how to build my new life. Having the conversations this fellowship empowered me to have demonstrated how powerful they can be in my life and in the lives of others. Being supported by the Gather team led me to realize that powerful, beautiful Jewish experiences can be created by anyone, including me. This experience left me with new thoughts that can be gained only from learning with others, and showed me that I can participate in building a Jewish community that allows me to do that, even if I don’t do so professionally. I am endlessly grateful to Rachel and Jackie for giving me this opportunity, and to my cohort for laughing, thinking, and creating with me. As I pack my bag and say my good-byes, I know this experience will come across the country with me.

Learn more about applying to be a 2015 Open Doors Fellow HERE!

Shavuot Guide 2015/5775

shavuos-banner2Shavuot is the second of three Biblical pilgrimage and agricultural holidays (the others being Passover and Sukkot) but the lesser known of the three. So what exactly is Shavout? It is the Festival of Weeks, the holiday’s date is determined by counting seven weeks after the end of Passover. Shavuot commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. It is customary to stay up all night and study Torah and to eat dairy foods (especially cheesecake!)

There will be several opportunities to participate in Shavuot celebrations all over DC and we will update the list as the events are announced! Did we miss anything? Submit Events Here.

Tuesday May 19th

Wednesday May 20th

Saturday May 23rd

Recipes for Shavuot:ChocolateCheesecake-230x150Try this Chocolate Cheesecake & Challah Recipe from Aish.com

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Cooking these Cheese Blintzes, recipe from Chabad.org, will make your roommates love you!

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These Spinach Tidbits from About.com make a great appetizer, or whole meal if you have no portion control!

Other Shavuot Resources:

DC Purim Bash (2.0)

DCPurimBashPoster_2015 graphicThis year’s DC Purim Bash on Saturday, March 7th (affectionately known as Purim Bash 2.0) is going to be outstanding. Last year, the DC Purim Bash was a total experiment. We had no idea how much the young professionals community wanted a huge community Purim celebration, and the 530 of you who joined us probably saw that, while the party was awesome, we had no idea so many people would show.

This year, we’re ready. Last year, we had one bar. This year, we’ll have four. Last year, we were in a yoga studio in Adams Morgan. This year, we’re in the heart of Chinatown in the Shakespeare Theatre’s Sidney Harman Hall- one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. Plus, we added a photo booth, great drinks, and a bunch of other things that will make this year’s DC Purim Bash even better, so join us. You’ll have a great time.

The DC Purim Bash is able to happen because the organizations who really like Jewish young professionals also really like each other. Before the DC Purim Bash, we all used to have our own Purim celebrations, often on the same night as each other. Last year, we asked ourselves “Why?” There is one big DC community of Jewish 20’s and 30’s, so what about celebrating together instead? The DC Purim Bash launched an unprecedented level of collaboration between our organizations, and after a lot of planning, DC saw the biggest Purim celebration in our city’s history. And we’re just getting started.

So who’s the “we” behind this shindig? Adas Israel’s YP@AI, DCJCC’s EntryPointDC, Gather the Jews, NOVA Tribe Series, Sixth & I, Washington Hebrew Congregation’s 2239, and Young Leadership of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington (joined, of course, with other community partners) are coming together to make this year’s DC Purim Bash happen. Our organizations are all a little different- some of us have buildings, some have rabbis, one of us is in Virginia, we are Reform, Conservative, or nondenominational, but we are all passionate about DC’s Jewish 20’s and 30’s community, and that’s why the DC Purim Bash works.

We can’t wait to get everyone together again this year, and see you March 7th. Register today!

 

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The DC Purim Bash Team

 

Do Good this Chanukah and Winter Season: Ways to Give Back

Know of more opportunities to help out in DC this season?  Or looking to organize a group to do service together? E-mail RGildiner@gatherdc.org. 

images-2In this season of Chanukah, winter cheer, and rededicating ourselves to what we care most about, here are some ways to consider giving back to those who could use some warmth, kindness, and extra blessings in their own lives:

Coats for Kids:  Help provide new winter coats to more than 6,500 children from (30) thirty local charities and community organizations in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. 

Volunteer on Christmas Day:   NOVA Tribe Series is working with The Holiday Project this year and visiting patients at the Washington Hospital Center in DC. We will sing songs, pass out presents, and visit with patients.

D25: Join the DCJCC Day of Service on Christmas Day. Projects range from 2-4 hours in length and include serving meals, preparing food for the homeless, visiting seniors, painting and throwing Christmas parties.

Donate Blood and Give the Gift of Life:  There is always a need for blood and platelet donations, but there is an increase during the holiday season.  Find the closest donation site to give or to volunteer your time.

JScreen: JScreen at Emory University is a public health initiative dedicated to preventing Jewish genetic diseases through carrier screening.

MLK DayAs the DC Commission on National and Community Service and the Mayor’s Office on Volunteerism, Serve DC commemorates the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service each year by supporting and promoting service and civic engagement across the city.

House of Ruth:  Make a financial contribution to help end homelessness and life-long abuse.

Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse:  Help support victims of domestic abuse to become empowered and obtain safe environments. 

Eat and Party!:  Check out these culinary organizations and benefit parties that do good in their community:

Sunflower Bakery: They prepare individuals with developmental or other cognitive disabilities for employment in baking and related industries through skilled, on-the-job training.

Falafel Frenzy: Proceeds of the event will go to support hunger action programs, local Holocaust survivors living below the poverty line and many other community programs through the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

Know of more opportunities to help out in DC this season?  Or looking to organize a group to do service together? E-mail RGildiner@gatherdc.org. 

Press Release: GTJ named by Slingshot as one of Most Innovative DC Jewish Non-Profits!

GATHER THE JEWS (GTJ) NAMED ONE OF WASHINGTON, DC’S MOST INNOVATIVE JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS 

Slingshot Guide Highlights the Best of the Thriving Jewish Nonprofit World

Washington, DC – Gather the Jews (GTJ) has been named one of 18 leading Jewish organizations in the Greater Washington, DC area in the first-ever DC Edition of Slingshot: A Resource Guide for Jewish Innovation. The DC Edition was released today, alongside the tenth annual Slingshot Guide (Slingshot 2014-15), a Midwest Edition, and a supplement highlighting Jewish organizations that impact the lives of women and girls. The Slingshot DC Edition will help the selected organizations carry out their missions, as well as expand the resources available to volunteers, activists and donors looking for new opportunities and projects. 

More than 100 professionals with expertise in grant-making and Jewish communal life reviewed a competitive pool of proposals in order for to select the Slingshot to select the recipients. The DC Guide praises Gather the Jews: “With no denominational or political agenda, GTJ has emerged as the agreed-upon atlas for the DC Jewish community.” Organizations included in this year’s Washington, DC Edition were evaluated on their innovative approach, the impact they have in their work, the leadership they have in their sector, and their effectiveness at achieving results. 

“Gather the Jews is honored to be among the 18 organizations included in this brand new edition,” said Rachel Gildiner, Gather the Jews’ new director. “The organizations highlighted in Slingshot’s Washington, DC Edition represent the many ways that Jewish life in DC is thriving. Gather the Jews, which began as a local grassroots effort and maintains its grassroots mission, is thrilled that Slingshot has chosen to highlight the amazing work of organizations in the Washington, DC area. We are proud to now be part of the community of innovative organizations that have benefited from the Slingshot Guide over the last ten years.” 

The DC Edition was supported through a generous partnership with the Emanuel J. Friedman Philanthropies.  Simone Friedman Rones, Executive Director of the Emanuel J. Friedman Philanthropies, said, “One of our goals was to highlight the exciting Jewish projects happening here in the Washington, DC region. Without a doubt, DC is one of the centers of gravity for Jewish innovation. The Emanuel J. Friedman Philanthropies is providing a grant for every program in the guide this year, and our hope is that our friends in the community will join us in supporting those programs that speak to them.” 

To increase the impact of the Guide, the Emanuel J. Friedman Philanthropies is sponsoring several launch events in Washington, DC. These events, happening October 19th to October 22nd, engage DC area Jewish professionals, college students, and young adults in workshops about innovation and philanthropy. Event participants will have the opportunity to allocate grants of approximately $500-$1,000 to organizations featured in the Washington, DC edition of Slingshot.

Julie Finkelstein, Associate Director of Slingshot, said, “While innovative organizations based in DC have been listed in the national Slingshot guide before, we are excited to publish a resource that better demonstrates the depth and breadth of DC’s Jewish innovation. Our upcoming events are a way to engage the many stakeholders in DC Jewish life that may not yet know about the amazing things happening in the community.”   

Being listed in the Guide is often a critical step for organizations to attain funding and expand their work. Selected organizations are eligible for grants from various DC-based networks of young donors. These donors, who represent the next generation of philanthropists, are focused on identifying and advancing causes that resonate with their peers. The Guide is a frequently used resource for donors seeking to support organizations transforming the world in novel and interesting ways.

About the Slingshot Guide

The Slingshot Guide, now in its tenth year, was created by a team of young funders as a guidebook to help funders of all ages diversify their giving portfolios to include the most innovative and effective organizations, programs and projects in North America. The Guide contains information about each organization’s origin, mission, strategy, impact and budget, as well as details about its unique character. The Slingshot Guide has proven to be a catalyst for next generation funding and offers a telling snapshot of shifting trends in North America’s Jewish community – and how nonprofits are meeting new needs and reaching new audiences. The book, published annually, is available in hard copy and as a free download at www.slingshotfund.org.

About Gather the Jews

Gather the Jews (GTJ) facilitates Jewish life in Washington, DC for singles and couples (in their 20s and 30s) by serving as a portal for up-to-date and accurate information about the city’s robust offerings of Jewish social, religious, and learning opportunities. GTJ connects Jews to organizations, organizations to Jews, and Jews to one another. GTJ has been the preeminent resource for young adults seeking a connection to DC Jewish life through information provided on its website, a 4,500+ person listserv, and monthly happy hours. GTJ emphasizes its role as a resource and partner to communal organizations and individuals.  

This year, GTJ will usher in a bold new phase for DC Jewish young adults by creating a relationship-based model to enable individuals to further explore their Jewish connections and create community within the robust offerings of DC. Using relationship-based engagement, GTJ will expand its platform through which individuals can connect to each other, connect with Jewish institutions, and create their own Jewish lives based on personal interests and desires. GTJ will provide high-quality training and professional development for young Jewish adults, with the intention of enhancing the social fabric of Jewish life in DC and helping DC become an exceptionally dynamic and inclusive city for Jewish life.   

Gathering Voices: Free Coffee for a Sweet New Year

rosh hashanahDear Friends,

From Gather the Jews (GTJ), I wish you a happy, healthy and sweet new year ahead.  May it be filled with good friends, personal growth, and new DC adventures!

And I hope GTJ can be a part of it.

To start the Jewish new year with some extra sweetness, let me treat you to a new years coffee on me in your neighborhood!  Just e-mail me at RGildiner@GathertheJews.com or sign up HERE.  Feel free to sign up with friends as a group, too.

As part of GTJ’s listening tour (Gathering Voices), I am excited to meet you, hear your story, and learn from your DC experiences.  I hope you’ll add your voice to these conversations!

Warmly,
Rachel Gildiner at Gather the Jews

AJWS DC Action Team Launch Party

ajws_logo_large15 years ago, I took a chance by using my summer break to travel with American Jewish World Service (AJWS) to the developing world. I only knew about AJWS because the then-new President, Ruth Messinger, was a prominent New York City politician that I greatly respected and I was curious about this organization with which she was involved, but had no idea that it would inspire such passion in global social justice in me.

I ended up spending 7 weeks working side-by-side with community-based organizations on projects that helped build infrastructure and economic sustainability. For 5 weeks in Zimbabwe, I helped the local rural community we lived with construct a dam and reservoir to preserve their water supply during the frequent droughts. While performing this physically laborious work, we also managed to conduct a cultural exchange program, sharing sports, song and dance, and to document the stories of the community members in an area where AIDS was diminishing the population rapidly. Then, for 2 weeks in Israel, we had day projects with various different communities, ranging from Ethiopian children to Druze teenagers and even Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

When I returned, I was determined to stay involved with the organization, as I credited the experience with sparking my own interest in social justice. Over time, I have followed the development of a partnership with AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps, engaged the DC community through involvement in its DC City Team, spoke out for food justice as part of its Reverse Hunger campaign at Global Hunger Shabbats, and joined the organization for a White House Community Leaders Briefing Day with the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable. Additionally, I have listed to Ruth Messinger herself and recipients of AJWS grants when they have spoken at local synagogues and community centers about the work of the organization.

While AJWS no longer offers volunteer service programs like the one in which I participated, there are now amazing opportunities to get involved in social justice changemaking with AJWS in DC through its strong advocacy and campaigns and organizing departments. The We Believe campaign has action opportunities to promote passage the International Violence Against Women Act and the International Human Rights Defense Act, and to urge the appointment a special envoy on Global LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) rights. This campaign calls on the U.S. government to stop violence against women and girls, to stop hate crimes against LGBT people, and to empower girls to end child marriage, in order to help improve the lives of people in the developing world. And you too can be part of this changemaking by joining me and other members of the DC Action Team at our launch party on October 1st!

Timed to fall between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, this party is an open invitation to our local community to attend a party to celebrate both the Jewish New Year of 5775 and our new team. Ruth Messinger will discuss our work and ways for you to take action here in D.C. to advance justice around the world. Nikki Mawanda, an AJWS grantee from Uganda who advocates for transgender rights, will talk about the grassroots activism AJWS supports that is creating lasting change for the most marginalized people. And members of our team will address opportunities for direct involvement in international human rights advocacy!

So, if you are at all interested in enjoying some food and drinks and meeting others in the area who share this passion for international human rights and believe in taking action on its behalf, please join us at the 5th & K Busboys and Poets between 6pm and 8pm on Wednesday, October 1st!

If you would like to RSVP or have any questions, please contact Mike Salamon at either 202-379-4265 or msalamon@ajws.org.

 

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