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Jewish Girl of the Week – Shira

linkedinprofpicWant to recommend an outstanding leader to be featured on GTJ? Nominate him/her at info@gatherdc.org.

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.

 

Jewish Girl of the Week – Jenny

imageWant to recommend an outstanding leader to be featured on GTJ? Nominate him/her at info@gatherdc.org.

Aaron: How long have you been in DC? Where were you before DC?
Jenny: After finishing an awesome four years at the University of Michigan (Go Blue!), I spent 11 months in Israel before I moved here in September for a job.

Aaron: What’s your favorite thing about the DC Jewish community?
Jenny: I love how involved the DC Jewish community is and how welcoming everyone has been.  I’ve had a really easy transition to life in DC because everyone has been so nice and inclusive.  There’s always something to do in the community – happy hours, volunteer opportunities, gatherings of Jews, interesting speakers, and concerts – which make life in the District extra fun and exciting!

Aaron: We heard you took a gap year in Israel. What was that like?
Jenny: It was amazing!  Being in Israel for such a long time allowed me to really get a sense for the country.  I volunteered with Magen David Adom on their ambulances in Tel Aviv and interned in their overseas office (a serious plug for Career Israel, a Masa program!).  During my year there, I also tutored children in Jaffa and worked at the Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin.  My favorite part of being in Israel for a year was celebrating all the holidays (Israeli style!) and feeling integrated in Israeli culture (I have developed a true sense of chutzpah!).  I can’t wait to go back for Pesach this year!

image (1)Aaron: Are you involved in any Jewish organizations here in DC?
Jenny: I recently joined the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces Young Leadership Chapter here in DC. FIDF is a great organization that raises money to support the educational and recreational needs of soldiers serving in the IDF. We are having a happy hour on January 16 at Lost Society on 14th St which I’m really looking forward to!

Aaron: Who is the coolest Jew?
Jenny: My man, Shimon (Peres). Everyone wants to be his friend!

Aaron: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…
Jenny: …they sing to each other Les Mis style (well at least that’s what I’ve been doing all week!)

 

Jewish Girl of the Week – Rachel

rachelWant to recommend an outstanding leader to be featured on GTJ? Nominate him/her at info@gatherdc.org.

Aaron: What brought you to DC?
Rachel: I was actually born in DC!  I grew up in the DC suburbs- in Potomac, Maryland and attended the Jewish Day School in Rockville.  I went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Go Badgers!) and graduated with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication.  After graduation, I moved back to DC and landed my dream job as an Online Strategist for a global PR agency.  I am now living in the Dupont area!

Aaron: What’s your favorite thing about the DC Jewish community?
Rachel: My favorite thing about the DC Jewish community is that there are always so many different events to choose from and new people to meet.  Just last week I went to Hanukkah Happy Hour on the Hill, the Lone Soldier Happy Hour, and the Matisyahu concert.  No matter what your interests are, there are 100+ ways to meet other young Jews in DC.

Aaron: Any Jewish events you recommend?
Rachel: I am on the Communications Membership Committee for 2239.  2239 sponsors events year round for DC-area Jews ages 22-39.  Whether rebuilding a house in Birmingham, Alabama after a massive tornado, sharing Shabbat dinners along pic 3the Metro line, outings to the National’s games, or enjoying Happy Hours- there are plenty of events to choose from!  Everyone should check out the Facebook page and join us anytime.  Next? I’m looking forward to the annual Christmas Eve festivities for young Jews in DC!

Aaron: When was the last time you were in Israel?
Rachel: I’ve been to Israel 4 times in the last 7 years and I can’t wait to go back.  My last visit was in March to celebrate my best friend’s wedding.  She met her husband when he tried to sell her a hair straightener at Tysons Corner- he was living in DC after his IDF service.  You never know when or where you might meet someone!

Aaron: Who is the coolest Jew?
Rachel: This is a tough one.  Coolest Jew of the moment is definitely Carly Rose Sonenclar.  Crossing my fingers she wins ‘The X Factor’ this week!

 

Jewish Girl of the Week – Deena

Want to recommend an outstanding leader to be featured on GTJ? Nominate him/her at info@gatherdc.org.

Aaron:  Where did you grow up?
Deena: I’m a Washington DC native, born and raised.

Aaron:  Where do you live?
Deena: Aside from a 4 year hiatus in Philadelphia when I was a student at the University of Pennsylvania, I have lived on the red line my entire life (Van Ness, Tenleytown, Dupont Circle).  A year and a half ago, I moved to Columbia Heights.  It’s been great exploring different neighborhoods throughout the city.

Aaron: What was the last Jewish event that you attended?
Deena: I attended The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s Charles E. Smith Leadership Retreat at Capital Camps.  It was an inspirational weekend where community members celebrated Shabbat together, learned about each other’s passions and philanthropic interests, and strategized how to create a vibrant Jewish community full of meaningful experiences for people with diverse interests and backgrounds.  I also just went to my cousin’s bar mitzvah in New York.  With 17 cousins under the age of 13, I dusted off the ole’ Coke and Pepsi shoes, which I’ll be using for many more celebrations.

Aaron:  What is your current job/passion project?
Deena: I’m a certified Project Management Professional Consultant by day and a Jewish community organizer by night.  I am passionate about social justice and I love helping people find their connections to others with shared values.  I am involved in a number of organizations, so let me know if you are looking for a group to get involved with.  Currently, I’m volunteering with the following:

  • Holocaust Survivor Initiative to raise critical funds for holocaust survivors in the metropolitan area.
  • ConnectGens Fellowship to transform Jewish social innovators’ ideas into ventures that engage, inspire, and support the Jewish community locally, in Israel, and overseas.
  • Jews United for Justice (JUFJ) Abraham Joshua Heschel Vision Awards to honor local social justice activists and raise funds to continue our critical work in the region.

Aaron: What is a fact that few people know about you?
Deena: My exposure to football was pretty limited during my ten years at an all girls school so, in an attempt to learn new things and connect with the football lovers in my life, I joined a fantasy football league this year.  I’m in 5th place so far!!

Aaron:  What are some of your proudest accomplishments?
Deena:

  1. I co-founded the DC Rape Crisis Center’s Young Professional Circle, a group of local young professionals supporting critical services of the DC Rape Crisis Center through community building, education, and philanthropy.
  2. I directed the Baker Tilly Casino Classic fundraiser after only six months at the company.  This event was so successful that firm leadership decided to host the event as an annual tradition, showcasing our commitment to stewardship in the community.
  3. After participating in Jews United for Justice (JUJF)’s Jeremiah Fellowship, I applied the community organizing skills I learned towards chairing the Heschel Awards.  With great support from other JUFJ volunteers, we raised over 25% more than the previous year!  I’m even more excited for this year’s event.  If there’s one thing I can leave you with today, I’d encourage you to join me next Sunday, November 18!  JUFJ’s Heschel Vision Awards honor local leaders who follow in Rabbi Heschel’s footsteps, including Maryland Governor O’Malley and 3 others, for their work on Marriage Equality, Maryland Dream Act, workers rights, and other progressive issues.  I highly recommend what promises to be a fun and exciting night where you can meet leaders who you not only admire, but also can actually work with in our fight for social, economic, and political justice in the DC metropolitan region!

Jewish Girl of the Week – Shaina

You live in Columbia Heights. What is your favorite thing about your neighborhood?
I love Columbia Heights because it’s close to the city and nightlife, but still has a neighborhood feel. It also has everything I need within walking distance — a lot of my friends, great restaurants and bars, and shopping.

What is the next Jewish event you are planning to attend?
I’m planning on checking out some new books at the Jewish Literary Festival at the DC JCC.

You were in a klezmer band in high school. Tell us about this.
I played violin and trumpet in a klezmer band in high school. It was a great experience. We played a few gigs and it taught me more about Jewish music and culture.

You work in healthcare reform. What does that entail?
I work for part of the Federal government that was directed to implement the Affordable Care Act. Right now, we are working on implementing the Health Insurance Exchanges, which are marketplaces through which people will be able to access more affordable health coverage starting in 2014. It’s pretty much my dream job.

You completed an Alphabet Bar Crawl. Explain.
Everyone needs a goal, right? Well, last summer, my goal was to go to one bar for every letter of the alphabet, in order, before my 26th birthday. We traveled to bars all around DC. We made it to LMNOP in just one night. A few letters were tough to find. My favorite bar was Quarry House for the letter Q in Silver Spring.

 

Girl of the Week – Avital

How has the DC Jewish community grown over the years?
I joined the professional staff of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington nearly seven years ago because I was a young adult in the DC Jewish community that felt completely disconnected from any sort of community.  Having grown up in a vibrant Jewish community, I was certain that there must be hundreds of young Jews who were also lacking this connection.  I made a choice to help build a vibrant, engaging, and innovative Jewish community for young adults.  The Jewish community today is more exciting and collaborative with hundreds if not thousands more people involved.  The opportunities for young adults to connect and take on leadership roles is cutting-edge and a model for other Jewish communities across the nation.

ImpactDC was an incredible celebration of philanthropy, volunteerism, and leadership.  It never would have happened five years ago because our community wasn’t ready for it then.  Today we embrace new ideas and opportunities to allow people to connect to their Jewish identity through community.

Partnership and collaboration are felt more today than ever before! We have so many wonderful local and national organizations in DC that are working collaboratively to offer opportunities for young adults to connect to the Jewish community. Jewnity is also a great example!

What is the best part of the DC Jewish community?
The inter-generational connections! I don’t know any other community that links together every generation as much as the DC Jewish community does. We have young leaders at the table making decisions in our community, which demonstrates the impact and role young leaders play in our community.  Through ConnectGens, a program of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, young leaders are matched with experienced business leaders as mentors in both the business world and Jewish community and philanthropy.  The seasoned leaders of the community incorporate ideas from the next generation, fostering continued growth and creation of a vibrant Jewish community.  I feel very lucky to be part of the DC Jewish community!

What was the best part of working at The Jewish Federation?
Some might say the 7 Birthright trips, 2 missions to Moscow, 2 Alumni Leadership Missions, and so many other trips to Israel, but for me it is really all about the people!  The meaningful relationships I have built with colleagues and lay leaders have been tremendously rewarding.  It takes a village to build community and every person that I have had the privilege to work with over the last seven years has made a lasting impact on me.  Thank you all for helping me find my community!

Where can we find you on a Friday night?
Friday night is my favorite time of the week.  You can almost always find me at a Shabbat dinner on Friday night, and I am often hosting.  I believe in building community through Shabbat dinner gatherings in my home.  It is a wonderful way to connect people and feel part of a Jewish community.

Growing up, we had Shabbat together as a family every week. My father was a Hillel Rabbi for 32 years, so every Friday night we would have Shabbat services and dinner together with my immediate family and our larger Hillel family.  Sometimes it was 25 people and sometimes 125, but I knew that everyone around the table was family.  My favorite tradition is going around the room on Friday night and sharing a highlight of the week.  It is a chance to reflect on all that was good during the past week and let go of the things that were stressful or not as good.  It’s a tradition that I continue in my home when I host Shabbat dinners.

What will the DC Jewish community be like in the next 10 years?
The face of the Jewish community will be completely different in ten years because of the investment in young adults today.  Programs like Birthright and Birthright NEXT and organizations like Sixth and I are changing the DC Jewish community for the future.  The investment in cutting-edge programming, education, and leadership development for young adults in their 20s and 30s is going change the face of the Jewish community in 10 years.  We will have more people feeling connected to their Jewish identity and having a desire to be a part of the Jewish community.  I predict that more Jewish children will be enrolled in Jewish preschools, day schools, and summer camps; a greater percentage of Jews will have a strong connection to Israel most specifically because of Birthright and MASA; and hopefully this will yield increased philanthropic resources to the Jewish community which in turn could help lower the high-costs of being Jewish (i.e. day school tuition, synagogue membership dues, etc). Today’s young leaders will be paying it forward and allowing for a continued investment in the next generation of young adults. If 250 young adults can contribute $24,000 to The Jewish Federation today through ImpactDC, imagine what this group will be contributing in 10 years!

You’ve spent the last seven years working for The Jewish Federation, what are you doing next?
Professionally, I will be joining the Foundation for Defense of Democracies as the Vice President of Development. Check it out; it’s a great organization, www.defenddemocracy.org. If you work in the field of counterterrorism or national security or are interested in pursuing a career in one of these fields, apply for the National Security Trip to Israel, www.fddisraeltrip.org.

But don’t worry; it’s not goodbye to Federation or the community.  I will be transitioning from professional to lay leader in the Jewish community by joining the Board of Directors of American University Hillel. In addition, I am joining the Executive Committee of the new ConnectGens Fellowship, powered by PresenTense, as a co-chair for Venture Development. I believe the ConnectGens Fellowship is the hottest new initiative in our community and I am excited to be a part of it! Learn more at http://www.shalomdc.org/fellowship.

What is the next event that people will not want to miss?
There are lots of exciting events before November such as the Sukkkah Hop or Mitzvah Hoppin, but if I had to pick one not to miss, it would be the Network Kickoff sponsored by The Jewish Federation. On November 16th, come out to hear Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s. It promises to be a great event that you won’t want to miss. Check it out and register today, www.shalomdc.org/kickoff.

 

Girl of the Week – Tara

What is SilverStrategy?
SilverStrategy (SilverStrategy.com) is a full service public relations and public affairs firm based out of D.C. We deliver strategic communications, media consulting, event planning, fundraising, image branding, partnership building, creative marketing campaigns, and business development – it’s loads of fun!  We find innovative approaches that elevate our clients in the media and marketplace and successfully represent a diverse group of local businesses, the hospitality industry, non-profits (including the Washington DCJCC), government agencies, entrepreneurs, public figures, and the arts community.

Always keeping in mind the goals and values of SilverStrategy, we have been able to educate and create community through our work and our new blog, YourGoodIdeaFairy, and last month, I was fortunate enough to be honored with Washington Women in PR’s Emerging Leaders Award.

Why Entrepreneurship?
I grew up in Montreal in a large, strong, and beautiful Jewish community and became active in it at a young age. I joined BBYO in high school and really enjoyed what it had to offer and the impact it was making on the youth involved. BBYO taught me the responsibilities and meaning of leadership. I took on many leadership roles and eventually became president of my region. Since then, I have always felt a real desire to help others and after that, I became both a professional and lay leader Jew, working with organizations like B’nai Brith, the Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, AIPAC, Canadian Jewish Congress, and so on and so on….I fell in love with the ability I had to make a difference in my own community, and affect change in a meaningful way while connecting with others.

After working within the political, non-profit, and corporate worlds for many years, it became clear that the common thread between each position was my personal passion for the field of communications as well as an ability to seek and implement ways to maximize opportunities for others in the professional (and personal) worlds. I love bringing people together to form strategic, win-win partnerships. I decided to take what I had learned and fulfill my growing, burning desire to start my own venture. Three years ago, after working as the VP of a public affairs firm in Washington, D.C. I decided to take the plunge and start SilverStrategy.  Since starting my business, I have been lucky enough to work within many of my passions, including aiding other entrepreneurs in accomplishing their own goals.

What is the Coolest Part about Your Current Job?
It’s my dream job and I’m the boss!

What Does Being Jewish Mean to You?
The age old question. It means tons. It’s a huge part of what makes me who I am and challenges me to be a better person. I love the history, spirituality, culture, traditions, and community I get to be a part of. I have always had a true interest in learning the why’s of life and Judaism has always encouraged me to do so.  Also, I appreciate what Judaism teaches about tikkun olam, and how Judaism encourages us to make the world a better place and try to incorporate that into every aspect of my life.

What is Your Most Memorable Jewish Experience?
Great question. Looking back on life, some of my most outstanding experiences have been tied to the community.

The year I spent as N’siah of my BBYO region was my most memorable, because of all the amazing people I got to work with, what I was able to accomplish, and what the organization and its members gave back to me. They taught me the philanthropic values that have repeatedly motivated me throughout my career and gave me the tools to be the person I am today.

My year studying at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, living among Israelis, learning about the Jewish state’s culture, politics, arts, and vibrancy,  meeting some of my best friends until this day, and having a ton of good old-fashioned fun.

Birthright. When Birthright was in its first year, it was still somewhat of a test/pilot program.  I was fortunate enough to be invited as one of the very first student Madrichim to lead the trip. The ability to share my love of Israel and see it through other people’s experiences over and over again was nothing less than beautiful. It was a significant experience which further cemented my relationship with Israel and one in which I will never forget.

What cool projects are you working on right now?
I am helping launch the Washington DCJCC’s HYMAN S. & FREDA BERNSTEIN JEWISH LITERARY FESTIVAL this week. For more information on this year’s lineup and to buy tickets check out washingtondcjcc.org/litfest.

 

Jewish Girl of the Week – Derika

What does being Jewish mean to you?
To quote one of my favorite author’s, Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis: “The Torah teaches us that G-d built the world on acts of loving kindness.  There are few things that make sense in our earthly existence, but that which makes life precious and worthwhile is the ability to give, to reach out to others, and to continue G-d’s creative process through fostering generosity and committing to acts of loving kindness.”

Therefore, to me, being Jewish means I have the responsiblity to be an extension of G-d’s generosity, compassion, and loving kindness. Also, I figure the earth is a pretty difficult thing to build, and whatever G-d used has to be the best stuff on earth! I wonder if that’s what’s in snapple…

What would you like to do when you grow up?
I think I’m grown up at a measly 5’1. But in case I’m not, I would secretly love to be a comedic actress. So if anyone knows anyone, who knows anyone in the business keep me in mind!

You can invite 4 people to go on a trip to Israel, who would you invite and why?
That’s easy. My hair stylist, make up artist, wardrobe stylist, and manicurist. Totally just kidding!

Besides, I can do all that myself. I have never been to Israel, but I would probably take a friend who doubles as a GPS so I don’t get lost, because I am known to do that. I should have another friend be very spiritually knowledgeable so very “Rabbiesque” so I can maximize my trip’s holiness factor. My 3rd friend should speak Hebrew in case I run into a “no English” situation. And my last friend should know a lot of nice single men ages 27-35 in Israel, so I can meet my beshert and make aliyah. So I need a GPS, Rabbi, Interpreter, and Match Maker.

What will you do if you become Jewish Girl of the Year?
Is there an awards ceremony and a crown involved? I’m working on my wave just in case.

Besides flashing my pearly whites, I would work towards world peace one Mitzvah at a time! I’ve watched enough Ms. America’s to know the drill…

How has GTJ impacted your Jewish life?
The website content is great, the Gooey (I’m in IT) is super easy to use, and the newsletters are so relevant to being Jewish in DC!

But the best part it’s not just a website, it’s a way of life which allows us transients to make a Jewish family for ourselves in this crazy city away from home.

Did you ever go to Jewish Summer Camp?I did not just go as a camper I was a counselor too! I also met my best friend at summer camp and we are friends to this day! Thanks JCC of Niskayuna for my best friend!

Where can we find you on a Friday night?
On a Friday night you could usually find me at Mesorah or Chabad. I absolutely love spending my Shabbats here. I have made such amazing lifelong friends and connections to Jewish life here it’s hard to imagine my Shabbats not being spent here. And as a bonus, Rebbetzin T’s cholent is soooooooo delicious!

When is your going away party?
I am moving to NYC for a job opportunity and I am so sad to leave DC! I’m having a few send off parties, I am having a going away happy hour on Wednesday September 14th and a last night in DC party on Saturday night the 17th . Not sure of the venues yet, but of course I will keep GTJ posted!

Sweater Set Sideshow

Check out former Jewish Girl of the Week, Katie Balloons, this week as she performs in the Sweater Set Sideshow.

This Sixth & I event is a circus-themed extravaganza. In addition to Katie, attendees will see multi-instrumental duo The Sweater Set, Austin-based swing band Shotgun Party, and DC’s own Mab Just Mab.

WHEN: Wednesday, September 7, 8:00 p.m. (doors open at 7:00)

WHERE: Sixth & I, 600 I St. NW

Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door and can be purchased here.  Seating is limited so advance registration is encouraged.

Jewish Girl of the Week – Abby/Ms. Avi

 

Abby recently published her book “Secrets of Shiksa Appeal: Eight Steps to Attract Your Shul-Mate.

Why do you deserve to be Jewish Guy/Girl of the Year?

I’m not quite sure I deserve to be Jewish girl of the year since I live in NY now, but why shy away from shame-less self-promotion and any chance to make fun of Stephen Richer?  I’m that girl who wrote the Jewish Dating guide,  “Secrets of Shiksa Appeal.” I also write for JMag and I miss all my DC friends.  Vote for meeeeee!!!!! 🙂

I don’t have much else to say, but will include a link to the Columbia Business School video about why Jewish women are hot:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11p1cWrdRhs&noredirect=1

 

We know you in DC as Abby. What’s with your pen-name “Avi Roseman”?

Ms. Avi is my better-looking, marriage-obsessed, alter ego.  She only takes pictures with lots of airbrushing, sets up everyone she encounters, and takes no prisoners.  The name Ms. Avi comes from my Hebrew name, Avigail, and is the name I used on my singles blog for ShalomNova.org.  There was no way I was going to use my real name on this book. If you read it, you’ll get why…

Does your book tell Jewish women to conform to shiksa stereotypes?
It literally started out as just a dating book for Jewish women, but then I decided it needed an edge. This is a book for Jewish women to attract Jewish men (by using some techniques that shiksas use to get guys), but encourages us to embrace our Jewishness at the same time.  It advises women how to dress, act, meet men, date, and how to make him fall for you.  People sometimes think based on the description that this is a book to encourage Jewish women to become shiksas.  It’s not at all.

Your book is written for women (though men find it just as interesting). What advice do you have for the Jewish men in DC?
1. If you’re looking for a Jewish girl to date, she’s probably not hiding under a rock, and you absolutely have to make an effort to attend events to meet other Jews or go online. Dating is effort.  (Editor’s note: Maybe try the GTJ Happy Hour on Thursday?)

2.  If there’s a girl you want to ask out, don’t wait for your two groups of friends to magically hang out together – just ask her out! (Or get her contact info.)  I think that emailing a girl is a great way to ask her out, because it doesn’t put her on “the spot” and allows her time to craft a response.

3.  In the beginning keep the chemistry and the excitement going by making sure that you don’t let much more than a week go by between that 1st and 2nd date.  Same goes for the time between the 2nd and 3rd dates.  Waiting two weeks between dates just kills chemistry.

Does Gather the Jews get a shout-out in your book?
I cannot answer such questions…okay, see page 40.

Where can we find your book?
Check out our website www.msavitheyenta.com to see the stores that the book can be ordered from currently. Coming to Amazon/B&N in September.   Like us on Facebook at Secrets of Shiksa Appeal to find out more info and see articles from the NY Jewish Week and the Baltimore Jewish Times.