Posts

Spotted in Jewish DC – Indie/Folk Singer Eli Lev

Folk singer-songwriter Eli Lev was spotted at the Silver Spring Fresh Farmers Market by our very own Rachel Gildiner. The moment Eli’s soothing indie/folk music hit Rachel’s ears, she was captivated. So, to ensure all of our amazing readers can experience this mesmerizing music around DC, we’re featuring Eli’s band in this week’s #SpottedinJewishDC!

Oh, and you can go check him out in person next week on December 13th at SonyByrd for his album release party.

Allie: How did you become a musician?

Eli: Growing up I was always exposed to Jewish music especially klezmer music. I came back to DC last year to take care of my family because my dad has been going through some health issues. Before coming here, I was working as a teacher and finishing my Master’s in Language Education from Indiana University. When I came back to the area, someone asked me to play music with them at Tryst. This led to me playing at SongByrd, the Kennedy Center, and then Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton asked me to perform at The Capitol! All of a sudden – I’m a full time musician.

Allie: What type of music do you play?

Eli: Indie/Folk, Americana with a little bit of soul in there. Jack Johnson meets Johnny Cash. Smooth, laid back vocal approach with some honky tonk general.

Allie: Music heroes?

Eli: Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, all the best singer/songwriters from the 60s/70s. Vance Joy I like a lot. Mumford and Sons I have to thank for bringing folk back to people’s ears.

Allie: What are your songs about?

Eli: A lot of my songs I wrote when traveling around the world. My most recent single is “Go Down,” about a baptismal site I saw when I was living in Israel. I just made a music video based on that song.

Allie: What are the goals for your music?

Eli: My music is about bringing people together, and creating power with ourselves to identify who we are. This has a lot to do with getting back to nature, connecting to your neighbors – and understanding that we’re a part of the community we create. The folk music brings this all together because it inherently has a link to the past.

In today’s political climate, we’re at the mercy of the latest news cycle. We’re being taught to fear each other, even within the Jewish community, and it makes us weak. To be a strong person and a strong community, there has to be unity. My music speaks to that.

My next single is called “Making Space” and that is about creating space for ourselves to feel empowered, and use our voice to protest.

Allie: Any plans for the future of your music you’re particularly excited about?

Eli: I’m playing with a full folk band, and we have an album release party coming up at SongByrd. Playing with a band gives me a lot of excitement, and expands my reach. Ultimately, I’d love to do national and international touring.

 

 

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.

Spotted in Jewish DC: Baked by Yael

Baked by Yael was founded in 2010 by recovering attorney Yael Krigman. After operating Baked by Yael as an online business for several years, Yael finally opened DC’s very first Cake-poppery® in 2015. Today, Baked by Yael has claimed the illustrious distinction of having cake pops that Washingtonian Magazine called “Best of Washington.” Side note – her bagels are truly a hidden gem of DC, and you must try them.

Now, bite into this exclusive interview with Yael as she digs into the trials and tribulations of running her very own cake pop shop in our nation’s capital.

Allie:  I heard you used to be a lawyer. So…how did you wind up opening Baked by Yael?

Yael: When I worked at a big law firm, I used to bake for fun and I’d bring in my baked goods to share with coworkers each week. People would crowd in my office to try the latest “Monday Treat.”  They would tell me I was a fine attorney… but that if it didn’t work out, I should start a bakery. I figured there was no reason to wait, so I started Baked by Yael. A part-time side gig eventually turned into a full-time passion.

Allie: When did you first start baking? Who taught you?

Yael: I remember making cookies with my family when I was little, but I started baking regularly when I was in law school. It’s amazing the skills you can develop when you’re trying to avoid studying for the bar exam!

My baking as an adult began with bagels. It was so hard to find a good bagel in DC. I finally gave up and decided to make my own. From there, I branched out to black & white cookies and rugelach, and then of course to cake pops!

Allie: How did you find the courage to take a risk and start your own business?

Yael: It wasn’t easy. I had a stable, well-paying job in the legal field. After a while, I started to realize that I had one job I worked because of the money and another job I worked because of the joy it gave me.

It was an email from the then-popular Daily Candy that really gave me the push I needed to leave my day job.  They sent an email to all of their subscribers with the subject “The best bagel we’ve ever eaten.” That really put Baked by Yael on the map. The rest, as they say, is history!

Allie: Any new treats coming out this season that you’re particularly excited about?

Yael: We had our honey cake pops for Rosh Hashanah, and we’ll be rolling out some more seasonal flavors in the coming weeks. We’re also thinking of doing a spin on “Christmas in July” with hamantaschen in November.  Stay tuned 🙂

Allie: What advice do you have for someone dreaming of opening up their own business?

Yael: Keep your eye on the prize and be prepared to develop thick skin! The journey of a small business owner is quite the emotional rollercoaster.  You need a solid plan, a great product, and a strong support network of family, friends, and customers.

Allie: What do you like to do for fun outside of work?

Yael: I try to find time throughout the year for short trips or visits to the symphony. The highlight of my week is mentoring a middle school student. This is my fifth year with her. It brings me such joy to watch her grow and to know that I’m playing a small role in the life of an extraordinary young girl.

Allie: How are are you involved in DC’s local Jewish community?

Yael: I’m a member of Adas Israel, which is only a few blocks from Baked by Yael, and I’ve helped support the Edlavitch DCJCC by catering several fundraising events. I’m proud to provide one of the only options for fresh kosher food in DC.

Allie: What is your favorite Jewish food?

Yael: Oh man, that’s like asking a mother to choose between her children. If I had to pick one, I would probably say the black & white cookie. I used to only like the chocolate side, then I switched to preferring vanilla, and now I love both sides.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baked by Yael is located at 3000 Connecticut Avenue (directly across from the National Zoo) or online at bestcakepopever.com. Baked by Yael offers curbside pickup at their bakery, as well as local delivery and nationwide shipping. You can also find Baked by Yael on weekends at the Cleveland Park and Palisades farmers’ markets in DC and the Old Town and Del Ray farmers’ markets in Alexandria. Baked by Yael’s products are nut-free and kosher, and have lots of gluten-free and vegan options as well. Kids and kids at heart can hold cake pop parties in Baked by Yael’s kitchen, offering all the fun of rolling, dipping, and decorating without the usual mess.

 

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.

Spotted in Jewish DC – One Eight Distilling

Whiskey lovers rejoice!

Recently #SpottedinJewishDC is one of the finest whiskey, vodka, and gin distilleries around – One Eight Distilling. Pour yourself a tall gin and tonic (or favorite drink of your choosing) and enjoy this 1:1 interview with One Eight’s co-founder, Alex Laufer, who left a thriving career in biotechnology to open the distillery.

Allie: When you were growing up, what did you dream you’d do as an adult?20161103_OneEight5887.jpg

Alex: From an early age I loved exploring nature (mucking about a salt marsh, checking out the creepy crawlies under a log in the forest, collecting shells), and dreamed I’d be a biologist when I grew up.

Allie: What is your favorite drink? Do you get to be a “taste-tester” for One Eight?

Alex: Very hard to pick one favorite drink. I enjoy many spirits, cocktails, beers, wines, ciders, etc. For cocktails, I tend to enjoy those that are balanced, yet are boozy, and often have bitter elements; such as a Negroni, Old-Fashioned, or Martini. All of the core staff members at One Eight are taste-testers. Whether we are making the “cuts” on the still run itself, tasting barrel pulls for blends and finishes, proof samples, or creative cocktails, the diversity of pallets and opinions leads to a better final product.

Pepsi & Alex Handshake_Lands End Farm_Sandi Moynihan.jpgAllie:  How did you come up with the idea to open One Eight Distilling? And also, where does the name come from?

Alex: One Eight’s co-founder, Sandy Wood, had the inspiration to open the distillery. It had come from discussions with another friend, a nagging desire to create a business, and early visits to other distilleries in the region. Sandy wrote a lengthy proposal email to me, asking me to partner with him and come on board as Head Distiller. After discussions with my family I agreed, and we dove in!

The name was also Sandy’s inspiration; as an attorney by training, he is familiar with our Constitution.  One Eight refers to Article One, Section 8, which- amongst several provisions-calls for the formation of the Nation’s capital. For us, One Eight demonstrates our pride to be crafting spirits here in Washington DC. I also love that One Eight could read as 18 or Chai (life in Hebrew).

1F6A8063.jpgAllie: Tell us the best – and most challenging – part of running your own distillery?

Alex: Crafting our spirits is my favorite part of the business. Many aspects of this part of the job are physically demanding and can become routine, but it is extremely satisfying when we have bottled 300 cases or filled 10 new barrels with whiskey for the future.

I also enjoy sharing our work with others, from giving a tasting at a local liquor store, or making cocktails with our spirits for friends and family at home.

Allie: Any new products coming out this year that you’re particularly excited about?

Alex: We released our Rock Creek Bourbon in September, and have been floored by the amazing reception it has been receiving. Our next release will be a collection of four beer-projects we have been working on for some time. For three of the spirits, we collaborated with local breweries, DC Brau and Hellbender. Stay tuned for a release next month!

Allie: Sounds like you’re pretty busy running a distillery, launching new products, and being a DC whiskey connoisseur…what do you like to do for fun outside of work?

Alex: First and foremost, outside of work, I love to spend time with my family; my wife, Jen and sons Jonas (12) and Abe (10). I enjoy cooking for them at home, taking time for hikes, bike rides, camping, or the beach and attending the boys’ various baseball games, swim meets and concerts.

Alex and the team at Tales of the Cocktail.png

Allie: How do you connect to Jewish life in DC?

Alex: My family and I are members at Tifereth Israel on 16th St. It is a lovely, diverse congregation with great local history (last year marked TI’s centennial), and an amazing leader in Rabbi Siedel. The congregation is very active, and has provided us with meaningful opportunities to cook and serve food at local shelters.

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

Alex: Tough to pick just one, as TI can really party for Purim and Simchat Torah!  But, honestly, I love the Passover seder the most. We combine elements from seders Jen and I attended growing up and are making our own tradition. We often host family and friends, so I can cook several of the traditional dishes (except Jen makes the best matzah ball soup!).

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.

Spotted in Jewish DC – Challah at Bread Furst

#SpottedinJewishDC this week is a holla at Bread Furst Bakery‘s challah, located in the Van Ness neighborhood. These braided beauties are hand-rolled every Thursday from 9am to 11am, and are then put in the proofer overnight. You can watch this time-honored tradition in their open-kitchen while noshing on their other baked goods. Note – none of their baked goods are certified Kosher.

The recipe is from Head of Production, Ben Arnold, former Range Bread Baker. When we asked General Manager, Eun Yim, about the challah flavor profile, she said they’re “not on the sweet end in terms of the challah spectrum. I may be biased but they’re the best challah I’ve ever tasted.”

Since this bread is only baked Friday mornings, you’ll need to get to the bakery before they run out. Depending on demand, this could be before the end of the day. But, Yim says, you can always call ahead and request for them to put one on hold for you.

Try one of your very own for $7 before tax. And, if you try it, post about it with #SpottedinJewishDC. We want to know what you think!

Spot something particularly Jewish in DC? Let us know about it by emailing or snapping a photo and posting it on social with #SpottedinJewishDC. You may see it here!

 

Spotted in Jewish DC – National Museum of American Jewish Military History

Memorial Day, when America remembers men and women who died serving our country in the U.S. Military, is this coming Monday.  In honor of this, our #SpottedinJewishDC this week goes to the National Museum of American Jewish Military History, located in Dupont Circle. We sat down for an interview with Michael Rugel, the museum’s Program and Content Coordinator to learn more about the museum’s history and what you can find within its walls.

How did the museum come to be?
The museum was founded by the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. The JWV originated in 1896, when a group of Civil War Veteran in New York formed the Hebrew Union Veterans Association. One of the organization’s goals was to disprove the anti-Semitic stereotype that Jews don’t serve in the military. When JWV moved their headquarters to DC, they created the National Shrine to the Jewish War Dead. In 1958, the museum was created by a Congressional Charter as the Jewish War Veterans National Memorial, Inc. In 1984, under the Reagan administration, the museum opened at its current location. George H. W. Bush nailed the mezuzah to the doorpost at the building dedication.

Why do you think it’s important to focus on Jewish, U.S. military members?
It’s important to show that Jews participated in virtually every aspect of American history. In my opinion, the stereotype of the American Jew as intellectual nebbish is still alive today. We want to show that Jewish Americans are very accomplished in a field that some might not expect. When Americans think of Jews in the military, they often immediately think of Israel. People lose sight of how many Jews have contributed to the American military, going back to the colonial era. Over 500,000 served in World War II. These are important stories.

Most of the time, the stories of Jewish service members are the same as service members of any other religion or ethnicity. But there are times when it was very significant that these men and women were Jewish.This includes Jewish brother fighting against brother in the Civil War, Jewish immigrants who left Russia specifically to escape military service – but came to America and volunteered to join the Army, and Jewish American soldiers who liberated concentration camps during WWII.

How long has the museum been at the Dupont Circle location?
Since 1984.

Any tips for our readers who may want to visit?

There are three good upcoming opportunities to check us out:

Friday, May 26th – We’re sponsoring a Memorial Day Shabbat service at Sixth and I (not at the museum). A representative will read the names of those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sunday, June 4th – During the Dupont-Kalorama Museums Consortium Walk Weekend, we’ll be open from 11 am – 4 pm, along with 4 other museums in the neighborhoods: Anderson House, Dumbarton House, The Phillips Collection, and the President Woodrow Wilson House. All of us are open free of charge, with special programming. We’ll have a genealogy expert on hand to answer questions.

Sunday, July 16th – At 1:00 pm, we’re having a talk on Jews and Baseball.  Phil Wood is the host of Nats Talk Live and a long-time radio personality in the D.C.-Baltimore area. He’ll join us to discuss the history of Jews in baseball including Hank Greenberg and others who served in the military.

What do you think the most interesting things to see are in the museum?
That’s hard because there are so many, but I’ll list them!

  • A trepanning kit used by a Civil War surgeon to cut into skull and bone.
  • A WWII POW diary kept by Louis T. Wigdortz while a prisoner at Stalag Luft III. It prompts the question of what it was like to be a Jewish prisoner of the Nazis.
  • A listening station with a first-hand account of liberating concentration camps. Many of the American Jewish soldiers were Yiddish speakers and the only ones who could communicate with the Holocaust survivors.
  • Fallen Heroes – a touchscreen display listing the identified American Jews killed in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
  • A portable ark and altar created by Chaplain Martin Weitz to honor the “swords into plowshares” theme. The ark and altar used artillery shells and other elements of war to create the ark. He used it to lead Jewish services in the Pacific
  • Hall of Heroes – Features the 17 identified Jewish recipients of the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military honor, dating from the Civil War to Vietnam.

The museum is open Monday – Friday, 9 am – 5 pm. Memorial Day (5/29) hours are 1pm – 5pm. The museum is open Sundays by appointment for groups of 6 or more, and the museum also hosts Sunday and weeknight programs on a regular basis.

Spot something particularly Jewish in DC? Let us know about it by emailing or snapping a photo and posting it on social with #SpottedinJewishDC. You may see it here!

Spotted in Jewish DC – On Rye’s Awesome SWAG

Whether you’ve tasted their modern take on Jewish deli food or not, you’ll certainly have a craving for On Rye‘s creative piece of SWAG, which happens to be our #SpottedinJewishDC feature this week.

This awesome design that pays homage to the Helvetica List shirts of 2012.  It makes your mouth water on the front and then sports an “On Rye” logo on the back. While this beauty only comes in a sweatshirt (not ideal for summers in DC), pick up one now either in store on online. Or, enter to win one through our contest!

We asked Co-Owner, Ilyse Fishman Lerner, about the sweatshirt’s origin. She said she wanted to create something modern but comfortable. Comfortable it is, made from Bella + Canvas fleece, which is super wearable and soft.

 Want to win a sweatshirt of your very own! Enter the contest! We’ll announce the winners Friday!

Spot something particularly Jewish in DC? Let us know about it by emailing or snapping a photo and posting it on social with #SpottedinJewishDC. You may see it here!

Spotted in Jewish DC – The Den’s Cookbook Recipe of the Month

Depending on your interest, The Den is either the coffeehouse/wine bar in Politics and Prose, or the coffeehouse/wine bar with Politics and Prose in it. Wherever your loyalties, chances are you’ve been to bothand love them for the community and cultural epicenters they are.

This week, we’re spotlighting The Den’s ‘Cookbook Recipe of the Month’ for our #SpottedinJewishDC feature. If you’re not familiar with this fun monthly menu special, the chefs at The Den select a recipe each month from a cookbook that Politics and Prose sells, and adds it to their menu. This month, they’re featuring the Cauliflower Salad from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem: A Cookbook.

The recipe features celery, parsley, hazelnuts, pomegranate, spiced vinaigrette on a bed of local greens and is $9.50 before tax. This is not a bad price considering buying all of the ingredients to make it at home will be at least that. They will be featuring it for a limited time only, so hurry in!

Spot something particularly Jewish in DC? Send it our way via email or tag it on social media with #SpottedinJewishDC. You may see it here sometime soon.

 

 

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.

 

Spotted in Jewish DC – Israeli Iced Coffee

Unicorn Frappuccino

Unicorn Frappuccino

Our newest feature – #SpottedinJewishDC – will highlight something we or our readers find in DC that is particularly Jewish. It can be a product, store, bumper sticker, whatever! If you spot something Jewish and want us to mention it, just snap a photo and tag it with #SpottedinJewishDC or email it to us!

While the Unicorn Frappuccino may be winning the Instagram game, our newest feature, #SpottedinJewishDC thinks that Pleasant Pops‘ newest summer drink wins the flavor game. If you’ve been to Israel during the summer, you know how refreshing an Israeli Iced Coffee can be. Their version of an iced coffee turns this morning essential into the best adult slushie the world has ever tasted. Made of coveted cold-brew coffee, local whole milk and organic raw cane sugar, you’ll be wide awake and dreaming of the next time you can have one.

Past Jewish Entrepreneur of the Week, Roger Horowitz, brings this Israeli treat to his shop in Adams Morgan, with an option for the milk-averse made with almond milk. We suggest you try one ASAP (ask for a coffee slushie), and take a photo with it using #SpottedinJewishDC. We can keep the unicorn on her toes (er…hooves).

Israeli Cafe

Israeli Iced Coffee at Pleasant Pops

Spotted in Jewish DC - Aroma

Aroma Espresso at Montgomery Mall

If you’re looking to do a taste-test of this treat, head to Montgomery Mall in search of Aroma Espresso Bar, an actual Israeli brand specializing in coffee and beyond.

If you’re looking for other Israeli flavors, check out this recent post on The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s Jewish Food Experience, “In DC, Israeli Food is On the Rise,” or their recipe for an Israeli cappuccino (cafe hafuch) you can make at home!

 

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.