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Mini Gatherings – Early 20s

Mini GatheringsWant to meet other interesting Jews in a smaller, more personal setting? New to DC and looking to make new connections? Looking to explore questions that matter to Jewish 20s and 30s? Like drinking? Afraid of commitment?

Gather the Jews is excited to open applications for the next round of Mini Gatherings, taking place this October. Building off of the success of previous sessions, Gather is looking to create a space for those who are in their early 20s.

What is Mini Gatherings, you ask? It is a 3-week-long mini-fellowship that brings together about 15 diverse Jews in their early 20s to meet one another and have some DMCs (deep meaningful conversations) over beers. By the end, you’ll have made new friends, had some great discussions, and laughed at least twice. Guaranteed or your money back!

Cost: FREE

What: The three gatherings will be held from 6:30 – 8:00 pm on Wednesday, November 2, 9 and 16. Each session will involve some schmoozing, drinking, and an open conversation facilitated by Senior Associate Jackie about questions relevant to Jewish 20s and 30s, such as “Are Jews different?” “What are the unique challenges to being Jewish today?” and “Does Judaism have any deal-breakers?”

No background or knowledge necessary – everyone is welcome. In addition, Jackie will host a Shabbat meal on Friday, November 11th at her apartment in Cleveland Park. Must commit to attending all three sessions and the dinner.

Who: People who do not feel connected to a Jewish community in the DC area and is looking to meet other Jews in a smaller, more personal way in their early 20s.

Application: Apply here. Applications close Wednesday October 26th at midnight.

Want more information? Email Jackie

Goodbye DC

GTJ’s President Stephen Richer, Guy of the Year Uri Manor, and Vice President Aaron Wolff

The famous Twelfth Century Spanish Jewish poet, philosopher, and statesman Judah Halevi once wrote, “My heart is in the East, but I am in the West.”

Though I’ve only been west of DC for four days, Halevi’s words have already come to my mind.  No city has been better to me than DC, and the excellence of these past four years is due in no small part to the city’s young adult Jewish community.

…..

Four years ago I was a bit lost.  I had just deferred the continuation of my political science studies, and I chose almost carelessly between two destinations that could provide one year for me to collect my thoughts:  Washington, DC or Bogota, Colombia.  The scale eventually tipped in favor of DC, not because of any visit that proved the city’s merit, but simply because an attractive girl who routinely kicked my butt in Scrabble, and who was my superior in policy debates, had told me she would spend the summer in DC.

The courtship amounted to very little (not surprising for those of you who know my ideas of appropriate dress and what constitutes an ideal date).  So within three weeks of moving to DC, I was friendless.

George Washington University had lots of Jews.  I knew that because my Dad routinely informed me about Jewish populations of different campuses.  So seeing as how I was Jewish and 22, I didn’t think it would be too outlandish to hang out on the campus and attend undergraduate events (including debate club!) Oddly enough, this strategy worked, and it especially worked with the Jewish community.  GWU’s Jew world eventually led me to Mesorah DC, which led me to Sixth & I, which soon opened my eyes to the enormous tapestry of Jewish life in Washington, DC.

And – atheist though I was (and remain) – the Jewish community, more than any other community, made me immediately and routinely feel like I was valued, that my company was wanted, and that I had a place where I could make good friends who would grow in DC with me.

Before I knew it, I was a Jewish Jockey or “Super Jew.”  On a bad week, I hit three Jewish events.  Good weeks had upper limits of seven or eight.

I developed a reputation among my friends as the person who knew the Jewish scene, so I – without too much prompting from my friends (you guys know I love writing emails) – started sending a weekly email to friends that listed the week’s best Jewish events.  So was born my version of Gather the Jews.

Fast forward to two weeks ago:  I’d just sent out the 130th Gather the Jews newsletter, and I’d logged what was probably my 2,000th hour on the Gather the Jews project.  Total dollars earned = $0.

So why’d I do it?  Because the Jewish community of Washington, DC, never lost the feel it had during my first months in DC.  It still was my home; it still was the place where I could be with tons of my friends; it still was the place where I could learn; it still was the place where I could laugh and be goofy; it still was the place I could go for support; it still was the place where I knew that I could out-dance almost every male (maybe not Josh Stevens!).

That’s why I did it, and that’s why, even after the time spent on GTJ, I owe the DC Jewish community so much.

I promise to continue making this payment from afar, and to the greatest extent that I can, while in law school.  But the day-to-day show will no longer be the Stephen Richer show.  This is my last newsletter (hopefully!); I’ll appear on the blog less frequently; and you won’t see me at Jewish events until winter and summer breaks.

But GTJ is in good hands:  co-founder and vice president Aaron Wolff will still be in town; Rachel G. is starting as our first true staff member next week; and volunteer stalwarts such as Mike W., Jodi T., Noa L., and Sara S. are still putting in hours on the website late at night.

As confident as I am in their abilities, if I could make one request of you the Jewish young adult community of DC, it’s this:  Help us keep making GTJ better.  It’s a true labor of love, but the project is supposed to be an awesome resource for the community, so if we ever cease be this, kindly let us know, and we’ll try to fix it.

It’s been a real pleasure.  See you over Winter Break (and Summer Break… and once I’ve graduated…)

Stephen

 

P.S.  Starships were meant to fly.

P.P.S.  If you’re bizarrely saddened by the fact that you’ll be hearing less from me on this blog and you want to subscribe to my non-GTJ writings listserve, let me know (stephen@gatherdc.org)

GTJ Events… A new approach

For months, hundreds (average attendance: 250) of you have enjoyed (or not enjoyed, but you came anyway) the monthly (ish) Gather the Jews Happy Hours.  Perhaps we shouldn’t mess with a working formula, but we… Because we want to keep improving.  So here’s the new deal regarding GTJ events:

Happy Hour Months:

We will now host our GTJ Happy Hours on the second week (Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday) of every other month.  For each of these happy hours we will feature a local DC Jewish organization — doing our best to make you aware of the impressively wide array of Jewish activities that this city offers.  For the August GTJ Happy Hour (Tuesday, Aug. 14), we’ll present Sixth & I Synagogue — the organization that many call “The Heart of Jewish DC.”

Non-Happy Hour Months:

We won’t be hiding during the non-Happy Hour months.  Just mixing it up.  Right now we have two types of events on the docket for these months:

  1. Community service event.  We’ve done our best to listen to what you, the DC Jewish community, want and community service opportunities seem to be very high on the wish list.  Accordingly, starting September, we’ll do our best to provide once-every-two-months a big opportunity to serve the DC community (Jewish some months, gentile others).  We’ll likely partner with another Jewish organization to make this happen.  Suggestions?  Ideas?  Email Jodi (jodi@gatherdc.org) and/or Sara (sara@gatherdc.org)

 

  1. Young Adult Speaker Series.  Also in the works is a Thirst DC-style speaking series that will take place every two or four months.  Here’s the basic idea:  Four speakers from our young adult Jewish community will give 10 minute speeches about topics relating to Judaism that are both educational and fun.  I, for one, will strongly petition the chance to speak on “Harry Potter and Judaism,” and I’m sure I we’ll be able to get Jonathan Horowitz to talk about “Famous Jews in Sports.”  If you have any ideas for how to make this speaking series a success, please let me know (stephen@gatherdc.org).

In the meantime, see you on Tuesday!!!

 

Rosh Hashanah Event for Jewish US Troops in Afghanistan

The Chesed Project is hosting an event to donate food items and make holiday cards for US troops stationed in Afghanistan over Rosh Hashanah.  We did a similar event this past Chanukah and it was so successful, so for our final event, we wanted to support the troops again!

We are asking you to bring something from the following list of donations (cash is also welcome and checks can be made to Kosher Troops — donations are tax deductible):

  • Healthy snacks with a reliable hechsher (granola bars, trail mix, dried fruit).
  • Instant coffee or tea with a reliable hechsher.  These guys are adults and appreciate more adult creature comforts (although no alcohol is allowed).
  • Rosh Hashana related candy (not sure if this exists, but it if does, how excited will our Jewish servicemen/women be?!)
  • Construction paper, markers/crayons, scissors, glue, glitter — things to make some decorations and also cards for the soldiers. We’ll have some, but if you have extra supplies you’d like to donate, they are welcomed.

The event will be THIS SUNDAY, August 12, from 2-5pm, in the basement party room at 2000 N St NW (The Flats).

This will also be Samantha’s last Chesed Project event, before going to Israel, so we hope you’ll be there to help make it successful. Contact Samantha with any questions at daydreambeliever82 at gmail dot com.

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To learn more about Chesed Project, see these past GTJ posts:

What is “Yalla Yalla”?

At 9:30 pm on Saturday night Expo Bar will be temporarily transformed into a Tel Aviv nighclub for “Yalla, Yalla Part Deux.”  In case missed Part Un and don’t know what to expect, here’s a brief sketch of the night provided by one of the event’s co-hosts Jen N.

SR:  What does “Yalla Yalla” mean?
JN:  Colloquially, it’s used as “Come on, let’s go!”  So, in this case, you should all listen to us and come to the party!

SR:  What’s going down on Saturday night?
JN:  Well, we think that DC is seriously lacking in good Israeli pop music (by seriously lacking, we mean that there is none at all.)  So, we’re having an awesome Tel Avivdance party on U Street, to remind everyone of their fun nights out in Tel Aviv.  Our goal is both to put on an amazing party for everyone who wishes to experience Tel Aviv for a night, and at the same time to contribute the funds we earn to an Israeli organization that does meaningful and effective community service.

SR:  How is this related the previous “Yalla Yalla” party held in dc?
JN:  The first Yalla Yalla party back in November was a huge success, and we’re hoping that this second one will be the start of a continuing tradition. This party should offer the same vibe as the one in November — same location, same DC, same music, but this time we’re donating the proceeds to a different charity (Shalva, see below).  We’re hoping to continue these parties once or twice a year, bringing the Tel Aviv spirit to DC and helping some worthy organizations at the same time.

SR:  Do you feel likeyou’re cheating on Moshe I. by having this party without him?
JN:  Moshe cheated on us first by moving away!!  Just kidding — we have an open relationship with him, it’s cool.  But seriously, Moshe will definitely be there in spirit and hopes everyone has the best night ever.

SR:  What are you doing to add Israeli flavor to the party?
JN:  The music will be Israeli, the DJ is Israeli, we invited some of our Israeli friends, and the proceeds are all going to an Israeli community service organization.  It’s safe to say that everyone at the party has some connection to Israel.

SR:  What gives the three co-hosts Israeli street cred?
JN:  Well, Yoni is actually from the hood (Tel Aviv style), and he eats hummus by the spoonful, literally.  I (Jen) run on Israeli time, and Hillary just looks really Israeli.  But actually, all three of us are very connected to Israel and have spent a significant amount of time living there.

SR:  Will American Top 40 make an appearance? That’s how I get my dance on…
JN:  Of course!  They play American jams in Israel too!  It will be a perfect blend of Israeli and American top hits.

SR:  It says it’s $5 atthe door and all proceeds go to shalva.  That sounds good, but what’s Shalva?
JN:  Shalva is an amazing organization that offers individualized therapy to specials needs children in Israel, at no cost to the families. The therapies are tailored to each specific child, helping each one reach their full potential. To learn more visit Shalva.org.

290 gather for Jewnity … Pictures!

Shooting hoops at Jewnity

On Sunday at 5:00 PM, approximately 290 local Jews gathered together at the North Hall of Eastern Market to sample beer, wine, cheese, and 16 different Jewish organizations.  Pictures, courtesy of GTJ’s Aaron Wolff, can be found on Facebook.

……….

Joe Brophy is an Avodah participant in Washington, DC. 

You could feel Jewnity pulsing before you even heard the music.

This past Sunday afternoon, Eastern Market’s main hall was briefly transformed into a bustling shuk for Jewish organizations, a bazaar where those interested in Jewish connections could discover more about a diverse spread of Jewish organizations.  It was all there — from volunteering with the elderly to Israel activism, West Virginia service retreats to JCC young adult events. The second annual event brought Jews from all sides of the spectrum together with organizations looking to serve them, and made connections that will extend well beyond additional e-mail addresses on a listserv.

More pictures can be seen at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/media/set/?set=a.10151311629348709.559489.353081553708&type=1

“It’s been a success!” exclaimed Sarah A. of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, one of the event’s organizers, who continued by stating that the event definitely “met our goal in terms of attendance!” She explained that the new venue’s larger space allowed Jewnity to provide a diversity and depth in Jewish community that many had not previously experienced. Attendees were met with ten drink and food tickets, a raffle ticket, and a tote bag to use as they sampled beer, wine, and cheeses, and munched on free bags of PopChips.

The 16 amazing Jewish organizations, schmoozing, drinks and snacks, and GTJ’s Stephen Richer’s legendary dance moves (editor’s note: “legendary” can be a pejorative) were all definite highlights for many attendees. Though for one person in particular that I spoke with, Jewnity was a perfect next step in discovering the DC Jewish scene:

Steven G. is a civil engineer and moved just three days ago to the DC area from southern Virginia. After going on Birthright last year, he knew that he wanted to further explore the Jewish community — and what better place than in an active community like DC? Jewnity made it “a lot easier to get connected” and made him want to “get more involved.”

More pictures can be seen at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/media/set/?set=a.10151311629348709.559489.353081553708&type=1

And Steven was definitely not the only one that felt that Jewnity provided him with the tools to become more engaged. The relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere helped young Jewish adults new to the area (as well as those that have been around a while) find a common ground with whichever Jewish organization spoke to their passions.

Overall, the second annual Jewnity was a great success. The crowded and energetic room allowed people to ”mingle and get to know each other,” explained David G. (Sixth and I), another one of the organizers. Another David once wrote something similar – “Hineh mah tov u’mah nayim” – “How good and beautiful it is, when brothers dwell together.” I don’t think that anyone in the room would have disagreed.

The 16 sponsoring organizations:

  1. AJC Washington/ACCESS DC
  2. B’nai B’rith International
  3. DCJCC – EntryPointDC
  4. Embassy of Israel
  5. GatherTheJews.com
  6. Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)
  7. The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington 
  8. Jewish Foundation for Group Homes
  9. The Jewish Social Service Agency (JSSA)
  10. Jews United for Justice
  11. J Street DC Metro
  12. NOVA Tribe Series
  13. Sixth & I
  14. Washington Hebrew’s 2239
  15. YACHAD
  16. Young Professionals @ Adas Israel

 

 

 

Star & Shamrock — A restaurant that unites my peoples! (redheads and Jews)*

All mediocre photography is the fault of Stephen I. Richer.

The number of meals I have at Jewish-themed restaurants is sometimes overwhelming (2 in the past 55 days…).

On November 30, 2011, I took my Canadian date to a sumptuous meal at DISTRIKT Bistro — DC’s newest kosher restaurant (see my review here).

Unfazed by this Jewish culinary outing, I lunched on Sunday at Star and Shamrock Tavern and Deli, 1341 H Street, NE.

I’ve been meaning to try Star and Shamrock for a long time.  It opened in early 2011, but my interest was really piqued when the Washington Post mentioned both Star and Shamrock and GTJ in this December article on young DC Jews.

Better late than never!

……..

From the outside, Star and Shamrock could not be better.  A tavern-style sign bears a giant Star of David with an Irish clover in the middle.  If that doesn’t draw your attention, then the restaurant’s storefront title surely will:  “Star” — written in what looks like Irish characters — and “Shamrock” — written in what looks like Hebrew characters.  So great.

Almost by definition, the inside couldn’t be as good as the outside, but it was still pretty solid.  The restaurant features a Jewish-style deli and an Irish-style pub.  All of your favorite deli sandwiches are there: Corned beef, pastrami, beef brisket, liverwurst, etc.  Other Jewish staples also make appearances throughout the menu: Latkes, reubens, Hebrew National franks, Jewish rye bread, etc.  (see the menu here)

Lame as I am, I went with a tuna sandwich, but my date — a tall brunette (**) with an obsession for yogurt, tennis, and model rockets — was a bit more adventuresome and ordered the Latke Madness: “3 potato pancakes, hot corned beef, griddle sauerkraut, swiss.”

I finished my sandwich quickly in the hopes of trying a bit of the Latke Madness.  It worked.  I got to try it.  “And it was good.”  (Genesis 1:31)  My date, admittedly a picky eater, praised the food in less divine terms, but still gave it a thumbs up.

……

Beyond the deli sandwiches, Star and Shamrock is also a place to drink (drink menu), watch sports (lots of TVs), and socialize.  On Monday nights, S&S hosts a trivia night; Tuesday night is kids eat free night (defined by age, not maturity level… damn!); and Thursday night has live music (see full “Happenings” list).

……

You may not be able to see it, but trust me, it's a picture of a menorah on a mantel.

I would have liked a stronger Jewish theme to the restaurant.  As it is, Judaism is limited to the exterior, the menu, and the menorahs on the mantel.  Perhaps this is best for attracting the non-Jewish customer, but I was definitely disappointed when I got a “no” upon asking the waiter if I could answer Jewish trivia for a discount (I guess that’s the Mr. Yogato in me).   There’s also the fact that the restaurant is NOT kosher, which of course detracts from the Jewishness of the place, though I can hardly blame the owners given my own experience with the Kosher process.  (Speaking of kosher food… Maoz recently closed, so we’re back to just two NW kosher restaurants)

The other problem is the obvious one: location.  I can count the number of times I’ve been to NE on two hands, and most GTJ readers are similarly ensconced in NW.  I haven’t explored how to get around the metro limitation — I would imagine Mike Weinberg knows of a bus that goes to H Street, NE — so for now, the only times I’ll go to S&S are when I can bum a ride.

But overall, the restaurant is very solid and definitely worth checking out if you’re on H Street, NE.

……

Souvenir S&S t-shirts.

Our meal, with tip, wound up costing $30 — probably about average for a $10 sandwich shop.

In true Twenty First Century fashion, we split the bill.

……….

To learn more about the restaurant and the owners Jewish/Irish background, see this Washington Post review.

I emailed the owner to get more information on the restaurant and to see if GTJ readers can have a discount, but I am impatient and didn’t want to wait to post this.  I will update the post when he replies.

(*) Though I am a redheaded Jew, I’m only 1/8 Irish, and the red hair probably doesn’t come from that side of the family…

(**) My date’s self-described hair color:  “A luxurious blend of mahogany and chestnut.”

 

 

DC Jewish Blog Round Up — Samantha gets a boy.

In case you weren’t able to read the other local Jewish blogs this week, here are a few of my favorite posts:

ShalomNova:

  • New Year, New Dating Approach: News flash:  Singles columnist Samantha has a boyfriend!  She’s apparently been dating him for a few months; am I the only guy that feels like I’ve been led on?  Now she’s out to help her roommate find a match, and she wonders if JDate is the only option.

Jewish Policy Center:

  • Iranian Plot in U.S. Foiled: If you haven’t read about the Iranian assassination plot in the U.S., read this article by Samara Greenberg.  Remember, the Iranian government is a peace-loving regime that should be offered a seat at the negotiating table.  I wonder if this will make Ron Paul end his sympathetic remarks for Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

ShalomDC – Weekly Jewish Wisdom (by Dr. Erica Brown)

  • Complex Happiness – The Release of Gilad Shalit: Dr. Brown discusses the release of Gilad Shalit in the context of Simchat Torah.  Interesting fact from the article:  “In the past 54 years, Israel has exchanged 13,509 prisoners for 16 soldiers.”

Also, Dr. Brown asks, “And if Gilad were allowed to languish in captivity to prevent this kind of leveraging, would any parent of sound mind be prepared to send a child into an army that is not committed to returning their children, whenever possible, home safely?”  Well… U.S. policy does not allow us to negotiate with terrorists, so if Shalit was American, he likely would have “languished” in prison.  American soldiers know this, yet we still have an Armed Force of about 1.5 million soldiers.  Does that mean there’s roughly 3 million American parents who are not “of sound mind?”

Washington Jewish Week:

  • JFNA bumps BDS backer from Heroes contest: The Jewish Federations of North America and Jewish Voice for Peace into a little spat over the latter’s support for the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign.

 

Want to recommend a DC Jewish blog that we should be reading? Email stephen@gatherdc.org

Local Jewish blogs we’re reading:

 

 

The broken Jewish engagement model

An article on the “The broken Jewish engagement model” by GTJ’s president Stephen Richer is featured in this week’s Washington Jewish Week.  The article’s not bad, but we wish they could expand the picture a bit…

Favorite part of the article:

But the Jewish nonprofit market is not an efficient market. Especially in the young professional world, supply is not directed by the consumer (the young professional service goer), but instead by the donor. Donors — who tend to be older — give money to what they know: the synagogue, rabbi, Torah-centric Judaism. It’s a bit like a Soviet system where the government dictates what types of cars should be produced — rather than letting consumers choose — and then acts surprised at slumping consumer interest.

Go here to read the rest.

DC Jewish Blog Round Up

Moment magazine names the top 10 Jewish apps.

In case you weren’t able to read the other local Jewish blogs this week, here are a few of my favorite articles:

The Blog at 16th and Q:

  • Is G-d Important?: Halley Cohen asks if God is still (or ever was) central to Judaism – a question that the J will explore on September 21.

Moment Magazine:

  • Top Ten Jewish Apps: Moment Magazine’s just-released September/October issue features a story on the top ten Jewish Apps.  My favorite is Jew Booth: “Sure, that photo of you at cousin Jake’s wedding looks nice, but does it need a little Jewish je ne sais quoi? Jew Booth is here to help. Take any photo and make it distinctly Jewish by adding a kippah, a Star of David necklace or other Jewish accouterments. Your Facebook friends will think you’ve undergone a religious transformation when they see photos of you wearing a black fedora; whether or not you clue them in to Jew Booth’s photographic trickery is up to you.”

Jewish Policy Center:

  • Remembering 9/11 in the U.S. – and Afghanistan? Samara Greenberg points out that it’s a bit hard for Afghanis to commemorate 9/11 when “only 8 percent of the Afghan men surveyed… said they know of ‘this event which the foreigners call 9/11.”  GTJ recently logged a couple hits from Afghanistan… perhaps we’re up to 8 percent there now too…

Want to recommend a DC Jewish blog that we should be reading? Email Stephen.richer@gmail.com