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Jewish, Under 40, and Love Theater? Join the Club.

In the movie “Mean Girls, new kid Cady Heron has to navigate the complex, fragmented society that is her high school cafeteria. Each table is filled with new faces, representative of different clubs and cliques. None of them invites her to sit. Rejected and lost, she eats lunch alone in a bathroom stall—which we can all agree is both disgusting and sad.

Spoiler alert: Cady soon finds her people, or rather, they find her. Which, happens to be exactly what GatherDC and its Open Doors Fellowship aims to do.

I was a member of the spring 2017 Open Doors Fellowship cohort, a group of self proclaimed “people persons” who love building connections and community, especially in a Jewish context. We spent months reaching out to newcomers and not-so-newcomers to DC, buying coffees, and schmoozing our way through GatherDC happy hours. [Editor’s note: applications are NOW open for the 2018 Open Doors Fellowship.]

At the end of the program, each fellow organized a capstone project. The goal was to create a space for Jewish community, though the events didn’t have to be explicitly Jewish or religiously oriented. For example, a previous Open Doors Fellow started the popular Jews on Bikes group. A member of my cohort hosted a “Vodka, Babka, and Board Games” Shabbat dinner.

As a theater lover, I often find myself interested in watching local productions, without any idea who to see them with. I’ve been to a few shows solo, but the experience isn’t quite the same as seeing it with friends. Surely, I thought, I can’t be alone here.

For my capstone project, I elected to create a club for Jewish young professionals to attend plays together. I called it Oy The World’s A Stage, and immediately began organizing our first outing. In July, nine of us saw Arthur Miller’s “Broken Glass, a psychological drama set in Brooklyn during 1938. As horrors unfolded in Europe, a Jewish couple struggled with morality, health, and marital issues – as well as their own Jewish identity.

The event was a huge success, helped in part by funding from Moishe House Without Walls. Theater is an expensive hobby, which may be why the average audience has more white hairs in it than a home with a Persian cat. Thankfully, numerous DC-area theaters offer discounts for people under 35. Between this option and the beloved “Pay What You Can” nights, theater can be as affordable as your weekend brunch habit.

By creating a space for people to talk about current and upcoming productions, plan outings, and share information on ticket discount programs, I hope to build an accessible and welcoming community for local Jews in their 20’s and 30s to bond over a shared love of theater.

Members don’t need to be new to town—I’ve been in DC for nearly a decade. They also don’t have to be Jewish or under 40, though the club was created with that population in mind. For Hanukkah, female “Oy” members went to see “Pajama Game at Arena Stage alongside women over 50. It was our first intergenerational event, evidence that this club need not be an exclusionary venture.

Half a year after creating the “Oy” Facebook group, I found myself at Char Bar with a group of ten “Oy” members, ready and eager to finish dinner and head to The National Theatre for the world premiere of “Mean Girls: The Musical.

It was a sold out performance, and we laughed along with the packed audience as actors threw out classic lines like “She doesn’t even go here!” and cast members turned favorite scenes into songs. We watched as Cady navigated the cafeteria on her first day. From my seat, I imagined “Oy The World’s A Stage” as a table where local Jewish theater lovers can find their people.

We’re already busy planning our next outing, a joint event with Moishe House Bethesda. We’ll be seeing “Everything Is Illuminated at the Edlavtich DCJCC on Thursday, January 11. Oh, and you can totally sit with us! You just have to buy a ticket.

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Editor’s Note: Roundup of upcoming chances to see live theater with new friends.

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About the Author: Lauren Landau (@laurenmlandau) lives in Silver Spring, MD with her roommate and a more-or-less alive houseplant. She is a producer for NPR, where she works on fundraising projects. She was a regular contributor to DCist’s Arts & Entertainment Desk until the publication’s recent demise. When she isn’t thinking about raising money for public radio, she is planning her next weekend getaway or theater outing. Following her participation in Cohort 3 of GatherDC’s Open Doors Fellowship, Lauren founded Oy The World’s A Stage, a club for D.C. area Jewish theater lovers in their 20s and 30s.

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.

Your (Jewish) Guide to Christmas Weekend in DC

Your long, eskimo winter coat has officially left its hiding place deep in the back of your closet and made its way onto your freezing cold body. “Santa Clause” 2 airs 67 times a week. 97.1 FM has converted to playing solely holiday jingles for 24 hours-a-day (so long for now Ed Sheeran). It’s dark long before you leave the office. Speaking of which, there’s literally nobody else in the office. Because you, as the diligent worker and loyal Hanukkah observer that you are, are the only person not taking a vacation this week.

It’s official – Christmas break has hit our nation’s capital and you are left all alone. With nothing to do. No one to see. Just boredom, Netflix, and Instagram-induced FOMO loom on your horizon. 

Well, in the words of Mr. Grinch, let me just say…you are “WRONG-O.”

Christmas is, may I be so bold, the BEST TIME to be left in DC. Read on for my personally curated list of what to do, where to go, and who to see this weekend, to make your Christmas break the best ever. And no need to thank me for providing you with this epic list. Gift cards to Amazon or Jeni’s Ice Cream will suffice. 😉

Your Jewish Guide to Christmas Weekend in DC:

Friday, December 22 – PM: Chances are, you’ll get to head home from the office a bit early today (as you will be the only one there). So, why not use the extra time to prepare a Shabbat feast for the best date out there — YOU! Shabbat is all about relaxation, so sit back and embrace the much-needed R&R. Pick up a challah at Bread Furst, don your coziest PJs, light candles, fill your Kiddush cup to the brim, make your own matzo ball soup and some latkes (in case you’re already missing Hanukkah), put away your phone, and enjoy the quiet. Reconnect with yourself, reflect on the past week, start a new book, brainstorm New Year’s resolutions, write in your journal – you do you.

But, if you happen to be more in the “schmooze with society” kind of mood, head to the Chai-vy and Cohen-y Hanukkah pop-up bar for a night of Manischewitz’s finest kosher wines.

Saturday, December 23 – AM: After sleeping in, go for a long, brisk walk around Georgetown – maybe grab a coffee and bagel along the way. There are few things quite as miraculous as a beautiful, morning stroll around DC when the only sounds you can here are whatever tunes you choose to blast – or not – on Spotify. Also, Christmas sales.

Saturday, December 23 – PM: Pregame Christmas Eve at the Hava Tequila party at the DC9 Nightclub. A portion of your ticket supports the It’s On Us campaign to end sexual harassment.

If late night partying ain’t your thang, grab a friend and host a holiday movie marathon! All you need is popcorn, hot chocolate, fuzzy blankets, and this list of top holiday movies.

Sunday, December 24 – AM: See Star Wars at the Cleveland Park Uptown Theater, followed by lunch at Paragon Thai (because, spring rolls).

Sunday, December 24 – PM: Hit the dance floor, mingle with friends new and old, and try a Miracle Mule signature cocktail at Falafel Frenzy.

Monday, December 25 – AM: Volunteer at D25 – sign up in advance to take part in the EDCJCC’s largest volunteer event of the year. You can serve meals, paint a homeless shelter, or throw holiday parties for those in need. There’s also a special event just for young professionals where you’ll visit and deliver food to isolated seniors living in Colombia Heights.

Monday, December 25 – PM: Head to Moishe House Columbia Heights for a Harry Potter marathon and chinese food feast.

Now that you have all you need to enjoy the BEST WEEKEND EVER – go grab your favorite holiday sweater, slip on your coziest winter socks, blast “Baby It’s Cold Outside” on your iPhone, and take advantage of some much needed relaxation and fun. Wishing you and your loved ones a very merry holiday season!

 

 

 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Passover Guide 2016

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Passover is the Jewish Holiday that American Jews are most likely to celebrate! There are many different way Jews all over the District will be celebrating in the upcoming weeks. Whether it is getting together in small groups or finding a larger community to celebrate with, there is an event for you.

Passover begins Friday evening April 22nd, but there are events throughout the week worth checking out. Here is a list of what is going on in DC for the holiday to make sure you do not miss out. Sign up early to secure a spot at one of these great events!

Did we miss anything? Submit events here and/or leave a comment on this post.

Saturday, April 9th

Sunday, April 10th

Monday, April 11th

Tuesday, April 12th

Saturday, April 16th

Monday, April 18th

 Friday, April 22nd

Saturday, April 23th

Sunday, April 24th

Tuesday, April 26th

Wednesday, April 27th

  • 6:00 pm – Freedom Seder with Washington Hebrew Congregation

Friday, April 29th

Sunday, May 1st

Other Resources: