Meet Ike – Jewish Journalist (and Newbie) of the Week!

Ike Swetlitz is a man of many talents. A contra-dancing aficionado, world traveler, Jewish music guru, medical journalist – just to name a few. Though he is brand new to our nation’s great capital, he seems to be taking full advantage of what DC has to offer. Get to know him, and welcome him to the city!

Allie: I hear you have a pretty cool job as a journalist. Tell me a little bit about that.

Ike: I’m a health and medical journalist for STAT, which is part of The Boston Globe Company. Before this, I was majoring in Physics at Yale and doing a lot of journalism on the side – trying to decide if I wanted to be a Physicist or a Journalist. In the end, I realized I prefered developing relationships with people instead of a computer, so I figured it would be a lot more enjoyable to work as a journalist. I’m still really fascinated by science, so getting to be a health/medical journalist is a wonderful opportunity for me to pursue both of these interests.

Allie:  Where is the coolest place you’ve ever traveled?

Ike: I have two: The Point Reyes National Seashore, on the coast of California, just north of San Francisco. It was such a beautiful place, and has an incredible sea lion reserve. The second is my visit to the the Jewish community in rural Ghana – Sefwi Wiawsoin. While I was spending a few weeks in Ghana working for an agricultural news radio station, I had the opportunity to travel to the Jewish community and spend a Shabbat there.

Allie: What brought you to DC?

Ike: I grew up in a suburb outside of Chicago, and after college was looking for journalism jobs. STAT was just starting up in Boston, and I got a job there as a medical/health journalist, and moved to Boston. I started working on many journalism projects related to DC, and wound up moving down here just a few months ago to pursue these projects at STAT’s DC-office.

Allie: Being new to the city, what is your take on DC so far?

Ike: DC reminds me of when I first moved to Boston, and I’m in this period of meeting a lot people and trying to figure out where I fit into the community. It’s a different kind of city than Boston though. In Boston, every other person works for a university or health company, and in DC every other person works for the government or an organization related to the government.

Allie What are your favorite things to do in the city?

Ike: I really enjoy going to the farmer’s markets in DC, and checking out the many Jewish community programs, and folk dance communities.

Allie: Folk dancing? How did you get involved with that?

Ike: Well, I learned square dancing in ninth grade, because we were told it was was the State Dance of Illinois. Then, when I was at college, I discovered this small, nearby town that had contra dancing – which is sort of like square dancing, but more fun – and every so often, I took part in that. While living in Boston after college, there was a big dancing community, so I started doing contra dancing, and have been happy to see there are lots of those communities in DC too.

Allie: How do you connect to Judaism in your own life?

Ike: I love Jewish music, Jewish ritual, and find that Jewish communities I’ve been a part of are really welcoming. It’s refreshing to spend time with a group of people who can be intently focused on one thing at hand.

Allie: Who is your Jewish role model?

Ike: I’d say the founders of Nava Tehilah – a song-based community in Jerusalem. They’ve created this incredible group that brings people together who normally have different religious practices, and show one another the beauty of each other’s traditions.

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Ike: Sweet potato latkes. They’re basically like gigantic sweet potato fries.

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

Ike: They’re surprised by who they recognize.




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 Sarah: Jewish Tech Startup Founder of the Week!

Sarah Hostyk is one of those people who makes you want to deactivate your Netflix account and start doing more productive things with your evenings (but Stranger Things Season 2?!). At age 13, she wrote her first business plan. At 21, she was a finalist in Virginia Tech’s regional business competition. The following year, she was the first US employee at a Tel-Aviv based mobile app. And by age 26, she founded her very own mobile app. …maybe Stranger Things can wait until I’m a super successful app-creator? Ugh, but then I’ll never know what really happened to Barb. Life choices are tough.

Sarah seems to be really good at life. Get to know her!

Allie: So, you founded and just launched a mobile app in DC and on DC college campuses. That’s pretty awesome, tell us a little about that?

Sarah: Thanks! I founded Place Tempo – a free Apple and Android app that matches remote workers, students, and travelers with the top six places nearby to work/study that best fits their selected productivity needs (quiet, great wifi, how busy, open seating, outlets, etc). It’s driven by daily real-time and recent crowd-sourced ratings from fellow users and from your ratings. The app covers cafes, coffee shops, university buildings, restaurants, libraries, transit hubs, hotel lobbies, work spaces, etc. I describe it is as a productivity focused Yelp meets real-time Waze. You can download it from my website, or on the Apple App or Android/Google Play stores! (More info on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram)

Allie: How did you come up with the idea for Place Tempo?

Sarah: When I was in college, I would stay up very late every night, moving from place to place in order to find some place quiet with few distractions so I could productively study. After college, I moved to Boston where I worked as the first US employee of an early-stage mobile app startup based near Tel Aviv, and then I worked on/at other Boston startups. There was a lot of remote work involved, and I encountered the same problems: home was too distracting/comfortable, staying in a location that didn’t have what I needed and that meant I wasn’t as productive, and I’d waste valuable time searching out decent places both in Boston and while traveling to other cities.

I couldn’t find a tech solution to help, and I saw the US workforce moving more and more to remote work… so Place Tempo was born. I moved back home to the DC area to bootstrap it and get it off the ground.

Allie: What are some lessons you’ve learned about running your own tech company from launching this app?


    Be relentlessly determined, keep pushing through closed doors and No’s, and never give up until you get the Yes’s you need.

      Be a Jack-of-All-trades, teach yourself the basics of everything until you can bring on a specialist.

      Serendipity is real, so pitch strangers everywhere: in coffee shops, restaurants, grocery stores, on the metro. I’ve made amazing connections, and gotten great feedback and new users this way.

      Be creative and resourceful. I created a life-size Place Tempo smartphone costume and went to DC campuses in it to get users and attention (see photo).

      Constantly seek user feedback and build a community around your product.

      Ask for help and advice. People in the tech community are always willing to help.

      Always try to help others and pay what you know forward.

Allie: Very great advice! Besides, you know, running your own tech startup, what do you like to do for fun in DC?

Sarah: On Shabbat afternoons, I meet with friends and we walk for miles across the city and explore without any plans, randomly falling into wonderful adventures. Major highlights: coming upon an Army band concert with live cannon fire on the mall, running into hundreds of swing dancers and a swing band at Dupont Circle, a 20 foot tall wooden dragon, all kind of festivals and interesting people, walking through historic hotels and museums, across bridges and monuments, listening to talented buskers, and the list goes on.

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

Sarah: Shabbat (my weekly reset to factory settings)!

Running a startup is an around the clock rollercoaster ride. So to have one day to unplug, not stress about work, go to shul, be introspective and take a measure of the past week, socialize and enjoy the company of friends and family without distraction, smell the roses and see the outside world unfiltered, explore and walk around the city with friends seeing where the day takes us, reading, playing cards… is a gift.

I go to shul at DC Minyan and Rosh Pina, two independent traditional egalitarian partnership minyans that meet in the DCJCC. I also sometimes go to Ohev Sholom/The National Synagogue.

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

Sarah: We schmooze and kibitz!




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.

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



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



These Spinach Tidbits from 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!



The DC Purim Bash Team


Jewish Girl of the Week – Shira

linkedinprofpicWant to recommend an outstanding leader to be featured on GTJ? Nominate him/her at

Aaron: What brought you to DC?
Shira: School!  I came to DC for college at GWU.  Except for a brief break to study abroad in Switzerland, I haven’t left.

Aaron: What is your favorite part of the DC Jewish community?
Shira: I love how accessible it is.  There are tons of events events every month, but I love going to the Shabbat services and dinners that are designed for young professionals.  I also love how small the Jewish world is – between Jewish high school and summer camp, I run into people I know all the time!

Aaron: We hear you work on the Hill for a fellow member of the Tribe.  Can you tell us more about that?
Shira: I work for a Jewish member of Congress, and it is so great to have that connection with my boss.  The Congresswoman is me with rachelan active Israel advocate, so I’ve gotten to meet lots of interesting people.  It’s nice to have someone in charge who understands needing to take time off for the holidays.  Besides, if we run out of things to talk about, I always ask about her brisket recipe – I hear it’s divine.

Aaron: Who is the coolest Jew?
Shira: Coolest Jew of the moment is Spike Mendelsohn.  I am slightly embarrassed to admit it, but I recently watched a lot of Top Chef and was super impressed that a local chef was up there and making such delicious food!  Also, We, the Pizza and Good Stuff Eatery are among my favorite places to grab lunch during recess or dinner after work.

Aaron: Where can we find you on a Friday night?
Shira: Either at happy hour with friends or at one of the young professionals services around the District.  My favorite is Shir Delight at Adas Israel.  After long weeks at work, I like to unwind with friends.


Yom Kippur Events — Full listing!

Please note that many of these events require tickets/registration.

Kol Nidre — Friday, October 7

Yom Kippur — Saturday, October 8

Evening/Neilah — Saturday, October 8

Any options you think should be on our list but aren’t? Email Noa ( or Stephen (


Jewish Guy of the Week – Eli

How long have you been in DC?
I’ve lived in DC for three years. I moved here from Israel, where I was on a fellowship at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I’m a Chicago native — West Rogers Park represent.

Why did you move here and why are you moving to Texas?
I moved here to work for the American Jewish Committee, where I most recently served as Assistant Legislative Director — the organization’s lobbyist responsible for foreign affairs issues. I’m moving to Texas next week to begin my next adventure, as AIPAC’s Area Director for Houston, Austin, South Texas, and Louisiana.

Will you miss DC?
I will miss DC tremendously. This is a phenomenal city, especially if you venture outside of the confines of Dupont and check out the myriad of fascinating people, places, foods, and other gems around town.

I’ll miss the energy of the Sunday drum circle at Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park. I’ll miss exhausting, fulfilling days on Capitol Hill. I’ll miss the many people with whom I’ve built relationships over the past three years — I’m humbled to have worked with and learned from undoubtedly some of the most passionate, intelligent and eloquent individuals in the country.


Where do you currently live, and who is your favorite roommate?
I’ve lived at Moishe House DC for the past thirty-four months, working to build an eclectic, vibrant Jewish community based in Adams Morgan. And in that time, I’ve shared the house with 13 people, so it’s hard to choose — everyone with whom I lived brought something special and unique to the house. I suppose the safest answer is Potus, our 2-year old Husky mix. Appetite-wise, I’d say my favorites were Emi and MP, the Japanese electropop duo who fled Japan after the earthquake and stayed with us for a few months.  They are incredible chefs.

What has been your favorite thing about being Jewish in DC?
I’ve been inordinately fortunate to be part of the Moishe House movement – an organization that grants unparalleled resources and autonomy to the residents of its nearly 40 houses around the world allowing them to build welcoming Jewish communities as they see fit. Along with my housemates, I’ve been proud to offer creative and unique programming — whether slam poetry, home beer brewing, art gallery openings, text study about ethical kashrut, outdoor havdallahs, movie screenings about the punk rock community in Israel, Kenyan and Haitian Shabbat dinners, basil gardening, and more — that, for the most part, wasn’t being offered elsewhere, and for many young Jews in the area who, for a variety of reasons didn’t participate in “mainstream” Jewish offerings.


What does being Jewish mean to you?
Being Jewish to me has always meant, to paraphrase Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, “praying with your feet.” I owe it to my parents — my mother, a social worker who helps children with autism, and my father, a ketubah artist — who immersed me in an environment rich in Judaism, community volunteerism, and a commitment to social, economic, and racial justice. I began my involvement with the Labor Zionist movement Habonim Dror at age 11, and began to lead Jewish and advocacy groups in high school, during which I travelled twice to Eastern Europe to trace my roots — and bear witness to the death camps and mass graves where my family was exterminated. I made a commitment then to devote myself to combating injustice and to work to safeguard Israel and the Jewish people.

Where will we find you during your last Shabbat in DC?
At my farewell party, from 10pm-3am this Friday, September 23rd , featuring one of DC’s most talented DJs – Danny Harris of Fatback DC and People’s District . All of you GTJ enthusiasts should stop by.

If you could live with any six Jews, who would they be?
While I don’t necessarily endorse their political or personal inclinations, I think it would be interesting to live with Theodor Herzl, Abbie Hoffman, Ernestine Rose, Arthur Szyk, Abba Eban, Ari Gold, and, to teach me how to be a true “Texas Jewboy”, Kinky Friedman. That would be a hell of a Moishe House.


Are you funny? GTJ wants you!

Given the comical talent of the Jewish people, it’s a tragedy that GTJ doesn’t have a regular comical feature.

But that’s about to change!

We’re looking for a talented young professional in DC to produce something funny on a weekly basis for the GTJ website.  The funny content can be in any medium that is easily posted to our blog:  video, picture, writing, etc.

The more the material pertains to the DC Jewish scene, the better!  As such, we’re only looking for applicants from the community.

While we unfortunately can’t offer a regular salary, we can offer you a small stipend if you produce great content on a timely basis.  Details to be discussed.

If you’re interested, email



Does DC stack the deck against single Jewish women?

Is she fighting an uphill battle in DC?

For better or for worse, I’ve started reading Samantha’s “singles blog.” Her post this week (I think she averages about one a week) hinges on the following four sentences:

I know so many terrific Jewish women but have a really hard time finding a decent Jewish guy who isn’t already attached. All my single Jewish girl friends are amazing people who if given the opportunity, would wow any guy.

So I ask you this, are guys looking for this unrealistic Chupacabra and passing over great girls who are in front of them? Are they perpetually looking for the next best thing out there hoping for perfection?

How is it that there are so many more single Jewish women in the DC area than single Jewish men?

I know that conventional wisdom accepts this as fact (see e.g. this post or this post).  But I’m interested in why this is.  After all, for every man paired off, there is presumably a woman paired off too.[2] Relationships are moving forward at a 1:1 ratio.

The only way the imbalance makes sense is if:  1) A large number of Jewish men in DC have girlfriends in other cities, 2) Jewish men in DC are especially inclined to date gentile women, or 3) there are just a lot more Jewish women in DC than there are Jewish men.

I doubt any demographic studies have been made on the first two possibilities, and I couldn’t find any quick gender breakdown of the DC population, Jewish or otherwise.  Can somebody help me?  But even if we do find it, it wouldn’t necessarily be representative of the DC that most of GTJ’s readers live in (northwest, Dupont)…  To paraphrase Senator Edwards, there are two DCs.

So I’m not yet 100 percent sold on Rachel’s postulate that single Jewish women in DC have a harder time than single Jewish men.  And, for what’s worth, DC apparently isn’t the worst city out there; according to Single Minded, DC ranked second last year and fifth this year in terms of best cities for single women looking for a man.


** Update (August 3):

Ok.  I did some more exploring on this.  First, the website MaleToFemaleRation offers the following statistics on DC:

  • The male to female ratio is 100:113, and the female to male ratio is 89:100.
  • The male population is 266,591, and the female population is 300,234.
  • There are 33,643 more females than males in Washington; in percentage terms, there are 11.21% more females than males.
  • The median male age is 34.48 years, and the median female age is 36.13 years.
  • The average household income in Washington is $46,267, and the average house value is $232,478.

As I said before, however, there’s the entirety of DC, and then there’s NW yuppie DC.  I don’t know how well these statistics reflect NW yuppie DC.

But even if they did, this doesn’t put DC in the 10 most female dominant.  Look at following three charts from National Atlas . Gov











As for male-dominated cities:












If you’d prefer to see a heat chart on where to give yourself the best odds…














So I guess the message for women is “Go West, young [wo]man!”

P.S.  Mike Weinberg informs me that on the GTJ fan page there are 6.1 women for every 5 men.

P.P.S. This new iPhone app tells you the gender ratios of different bars.

[1] I definitely think it’s for the better.  It’s fun!

[2] This assumes female and male homosexual relationships balance each other out.




Wardrobe Malfunction? What not to wear on the first date — GTJ dating series with Erika E. (week 4)

Ah, the age-old question of what to wear on the first date…

Now, I’m not saying we should all be fashion mavens (I can’t believe I’m even saying this, but my store of choice is Wet Seal, and as long as it still fits, I’ll be shopping there ‘til I’m 80. ;)), but for the first date, it’s important to put yourself together nicely.

Some first dates are right after work (a happy hour drink), so that’s easy – just go in your work clothes.  But some aren’t.  I always have to laugh because on my first date with Jeremy, I wore a very heavy sweater dress because I had actually made plans afterwards to go to this après-ski party in case he was a dud.  (Luckily, he wasn’t, and I ditched the party.)  But that was not a good first date outfit, and we still joke about it because it was so not representative of my clothes.  (I recently donated it, so hopefully some girl out there will have good luck in it too.)

For women, if you’re coming from work, a nice business casual outfit works well.  Try not to look too “business” and no fun, but a nice pair of pants or skirt and a top that shows off your shape but isn’t too revealing works well.  Save the low-cut, curve-hugging stuff for going dancing Saturday night.  I know it’s not the right season for it, but when it’s cold, try not to wear anything like a huge turtleneck (or the dress I wore) because it makes you look very closed off from the guy’s point of view, like he’d need a lock and key just to get to your neck.  And in the winter, a good pair of tall boots is very sexy.

Irons are a man's best friend?

For men, all I can say is that the iron is your friend.  I can’t think of anything worse than a guy showing up in clothes that are completely wrinkled.  Heck – I’m not even saying you need to iron anything yourself.  I often bring my shirts to get dry-cleaned because I really just want them pressed.  Don’t tell!  Other than that, just go with your style.  Check your teeth, make sure there are no stains on your shirt, and you’re good to go.

One final note: If you go on a date with someone you consider a bad dresser, remember that while their personality may not change, their clothes can, so don’t let it be a deal breaker.  Although Jeremy and I like most of each other’s clothes, there’s a certain blue striped sweater that I subtly (or maybe not so subtly) mentioned wasn’t my favorite.  Oddly enough, I haven’t seen it since.

So, go get dressed and enjoy your date!


Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, helping people find success in online dating and getting them excited about its possibilities. “Like” A Little Nudge on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.

Got burning questions you want answered in a future post?  E-mail

Past dating articles by Erika E:

1) Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day
2) Extra Cheese, Please!
3) Getting Hot Hot Hot