GTJ’s February Volunteer Event – Young Adult Sports Day with KEEN!

keen_dc_logoThe KEEN Foundation‘s primary goal is to promote awareness, enrich education, and provide services to improve the quality of life for individuals and families affected by autism and other special needs.

On February 3rd, GTJ will participate in Young Adults Sports Day with KEEN.  Young Adult Sports takes place in the gym at Tilden Middle School and has two components: tae kwon do and kickball.  The first is 30-45 minutes we do tae kwon do led by a local tae kwon do master.  Volunteers help our young adults with the tae kwon do exercises, cheer them on, and help them stay on task throughout this time.  After tae kwon do, we play very casual, friendly games of kickball in which there are no real rules and everyone wins.

KEEN could very much use your help and support with the Young Adult Sports program, and our young adults would love to have DC young professionals come hang out with them and be their buddies.  We will organize a carpool for those without transportation.

WHEN: February 3rd, from 2:15 pm to 4:30 pm (we will be done before the Superbowl!)
WHERE: Tilden Middle School (11211 Old Georgetown Road., N. Bethesda, MD)
WHAT: Young Adult Sports Day with KEEN

We only have 24 spots so please RSVP here! – All spots have been filled. See you next time!


Jewish Girl of the Week – Shira

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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

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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 Guy of the Week – Aaron

251012_10100195057155924_3426824_nWant to recommend an outstanding leader to be featured on GTJ? Nominate him/her at

Rachel: What brought you to DC?
Aaron: I grew up in the DMV, so I always intended to return to the area after college.  I also work in politics, so a return to Washington was kind of a no-brainer.  I went to school near Cleveland, which I loved, but I could only take so much frostbite.  The East Coast homecoming has allowed my extremities time to thaw.

Rachel: Are you involved in any Jewish organizations in the DC area?
Aaron: Formally and informally, yes.  I work with my synagogue (Adat Reyim) on various young adult programs from time to time, and I’ve served as a volunteer advisor for the youth group BBYO for about three years.  Being able to get away from the chaos of Washington politics on the weekends to contribute to the development of our Jewish youth in a meaningful way is extraordinarily gratifying.  Plus, I don’t have to wear a tie at BBYO events, which is nice.

Rachel: We hear you like to surf. How did you get into that?
Aaron: I get that question a lot, namely because it’s a pretty impractical hobby for someone living in DC.  I actually started surfing my freshman year of college which is even more impractical, since as I mentioned earlier, I went to school in Ohio.  Not a ton of waves to rip on in Lake Erie.  Growing up, I always wanted to get into surfing.  I wore Quiksilver and Billabong shirts, and I taped surfing pictures to the inside of my locker.  I’d truly perfected the art of posing.  Unfortunately, people were pretty quick to call me on it.  My parents never liked the idea of me surfing – sharks, drowning, other Jewish mother driven rationales – but they gave in after I informed them that it seemed like a less risky venture than the snowboarding/skateboarding that they had permitted me to do since I was ten (breaking my femur snowboarding added legitimacy to this argument).  My mother, to her credit, figured that I needed to get this whole surfing thing Surfing (1)out of my system, and thought that signing me up for one surfing lesson in Florida would satisfy my pining for the sport.  Despite being stung by 11 jellyfish during the one hour lesson, including stings by two Portuguese Man O’ War, I was immediately hooked and had no intention of stopping.  I ordered a board from California the very next week, and it blossomed from there.  During the summer, you can usually find me taking day trips to the Eastern Shore for some quality shred time.

Rachel: Who is the coolest Jew?
Aaron: Sacha Baron Cohen… Or Albert Einstein.  They’ve both contributed so much.

Rachel: Where can we find you on a Friday night?
Aaron: It depends.  Often, I’m supervising a BBYO event in Northern Virginia.  Other times, I’m just hanging out with friends or getting into trouble in Dupont.  And every now and then, when the stars align, you’ll find me making a cameo at Shul.  I like to mix things up.

Rachel: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…
Aaron: … the world’s problems are solved.  Or talked about extensively.  Probably the latter.

GTJ’s Satirist Brian F. – Jewish Geography Offered as a Major at 23 Universities

Jew GField of Study Focuses on Jewish Peoples’ Ability to Find Mutual Connections

MADISON, WISCONSIN – (@The Comedy News) – Its description starts almost like a joke: “Two Jews meet in the street. One says to the other, ‘Hey do you know’…”

The social inquisition colloquially known as Jewish Geography is now being offered as a major field of study at twenty-three colleges and universities across the nation.

Some of the universities and colleges offering Jewish Geography as a major include Columbia, Duke, University of Delaware, University of Wisconsin, University of Michigan, University of Florida, Maryland, George Washington University, Brandeis, and Vanderbilt.

The Jewish Geography department at the University of Wisconsin in Madison offered to publish its syllabus for their survey class during the upcoming spring semester: Jewish Geography 118: Introduction to Jewish Geography
Lecture 1:  Jews:  Who the hell are you?

Lecture 2:  New York, Miami, and Wyoming??  Big City vs. Small City Jewish Geography
Lecture 3:  The Art of Asking Leading Questions
Lecture 4:  Conventional Reactions to Positive Jewish Connections
Lecture 5:  The Steins and the Bergs:  Goldsteins and Bernsteins; Goldbergs and Pittsburghs
Lecture 6:  Tactics in Abruptly Ending a Jewish Geography Session Gone Awry
Lecture 7:  Summer Camp Politics
Lecture 8:  Jew-dar:  Seeking Potential Jewish Geographers Without Saying a Word
Lecture 9:  Guilt Trips: Backhanded and Intentional
Lecture 10:  Parent-Orchestrated Blind Dates and Other Disasters in Jewish Geography

Other classes in Jewish Geography:

Jewish Geography 269: Forming Early Geography Skills in JCC Nursery School

Jewish Geography 313: The Bar/Bat Mitzvah Wars

Jewish Geography 613: Overbearing Jewish Mother Seminar

Jewish Geography 714: Jewish Dads and The Sociology of Tolerating Miserable Jokes

Jewish Geography 750: Palm Beach, Palm Springs, and Scottsdale: Jewish Geography While Eligible for Social Security

Jewish Geography 799: Gathering the Jews: How to Run a Jewish Community Website

What I’ve Learned So Far: GTJ’s December Business Leader of the Month Shares Insights

Adelman, CEO and founder, Reel Tributes and ReelGenie.

Adelman, CEO and founder, Reel Tributes and ReelGenie.

In this new monthly column Victoria Shapiro asks top young business leaders in the D.C. area to share their thoughts on succeeding in business and life.

Business Leader of the Month: David Adelman, CEO and founder of Reel Tributes, a personal history film production company, and of ReelGenie, an online storytelling platform.
Age: 30
Relationship Status: Married to Melissa Adelman, economist at the World Bank
Education: Undergrad: Harvard University; MBA: The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
About Reel Tributes: The company produces tribute documentaries for families and family businesses. By incorporating oral histories, photos and other content, these films add a special touch to milestones such as birthdays, anniversaries and retirement celebrations.
Reel Tributes’ Key Market Differentiators: The company focuses exclusively on creating personal history films, so their client needs are well-understood and met. The team organizes and guides clients through the production process, ensuring the experience is easy, fun and educational.

Victoria: David, you’re a perfect fit for this column which spotlights business leaders who have shown a sense of adventure, innovation, tenacity, and commitment to community.  It’s going to be fun to interview you.
David: Thanks Victoria!  Looking forward to it

Victoria: Talk to me a little bit more about what Reel Tributes does.
David: We create documentary films, mostly for families and family owned businesses.  Perhaps a grandmother is turning 90, and the family wants to capture her stories.  They would hire us to interview the grandmother and other family members… to make sure her stories and values are never forgotten.  Our family business clients understand the importance of preserving the legacy of the company’s founder and maintaining a sense of tradition.  This is especially critical around a leadership transition, as the founder hands the reigns to a son or daughter.  Every film is customized according to the client’s preferred focus, which makes each project fun and unique.

Victoria: You started Reel Tributes when you were still at Wharton?
David: I started it in the summer between the first and second year of business school.  My grandmother, who was a very impressive woman, passed away.  My mom made a film about her life, and brought the family together to watch it.  No one had ever seen anything like that.  It was great to see the joy and inspiration on everyone’s faces, and that’s how the company got started.

Victoria: I read that genealogy is the second most searched topic online.  You’re tapping into this market with another venture, ReelGenie.
David: Yes, ReelGenie in an online storytelling platform, focused on family history.  Users can showcase all of their research and genealogy findings by creating their own movies using photos, voiceovers, music, and other relevant content.  Often genealogists spend years doing research, and the family yawns at it.  This platform allows family history enthusiasts to share their findings and get the rest of their family engaged in what they’ve done.

Victoria: Has ReelGenie launched yet?
David: We are planning to launch in March 2013, only a few months away!

Victoria: What energizes you?
David: Making a difference in peoples’ lives, and solving challenges.  I love bringing a smile to their faces.  One of the reasons I got into entrepreneurship is that I saw it as the best way to make a difference in the most lives.  Also, every business faces challenges, but the companies that succeed are the ones that come up with creative solutions and are led by individuals who understand that every day is a new challenge.  You can never be complacent. Embracing adversity is part of the fun of growing a company.

David and his wife, Melissa Adelman, with their dog Samson. David recently wrote an article for Forbes on how dogs are great for entrepreneurs.

David and his wife, Melissa Adelman, with their dog Samson. David recently wrote an article for Forbes on how dogs are great for entrepreneurs.

Victoria: You’re running a company.  You’re starting a new business.  You’re newly married.  How do you balance the different pieces of your life?
David: Since a young age, I have been a multi-tasker… I’ve always thrived on being really busy, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I love work, but there’s a limit.  I make time for being social and doing things that I enjoy… Having an active social life and spending time with my wife and our friends keeps me grounded. We also have a little puppy, a shih tzu named Samson.  I actually wrote an article for Forbes about how great dogs are for entrepreneurs.  Also, I prioritize staying in shape.  I believe in the link between staying physically fit and being emotionally and intellectually fresh.

Victoria: Your perspective every day as an entrepreneur is…
David: An entrepreneur with tunnel vision is doomed to fail.  You have to have a goal or plan, but need to stay attuned to the opportunities that arise along the way.  There will always be new information coming in that should change the way you see your business.

Victoria: Talk to me about some of your other philosophies.
David: I was a speaker at my Wharton graduation, and my speech was about how we, as Wharton graduates, can help the world and not just make a lot of money.  The analogy I used in my speech was from when I climbed a mountain called Cotopaxi in Ecuador.  The trip leader had this phrase he used, “Don’t reach the peak but miss the point.”  It’s not just about getting to the top of the mountain, it’s about how you behave along the way and what you do once you reach the top.  There’s a lot more to life than just making money.  It’s important to think about building meaningful relationships and service to the community.  These other aspects make the most difference and add incredible meaning to our lives.

Victoria: Are you a practicing Jew?  How do your Jewish values inform you as a business leader?  What’s your philosophy?
David: I am a practicing Jew.  My philosophy is very consistent with Judaism, but I wouldn’t say it’s because I’m Jewish that I live the way I do.  It’s a combination of upbringing and personality.  Judaism — and especially seeing both of my parents being really active and giving back— taught me important lessons about the value of community and compassion.  My mom raised me on a kibbutz in Israel, to impart the values of community and help get me away from some of the materialism that she saw in America.  I also value Shabbat services and dinners.  I find synagogue to be a soothing time for reflection and spirituality.

Victoria: What kind of a leader do you aspire to be?
David: I want to continue to love what I do.  I want to be the type of leader who has a smile on his face when he’s leading the company and not stressed because every day is a fire drill.  Leading a company should be fun.  On a personal level, I want to make a difference.  If I get to the point where I’m not making a difference, I need to stop.  Also, I want to be fair. It’s really important to me to think about fairness and leading in such a way that no one feels cheated, whether it’s employees, clients, or competitors.  I don’t want to be known as the guy who lied and cheated his way to the top.

Victoria: What advice do you have for people who want to start their own businesses?
David: You need to have thick skin.  Don’t take anything too personally, since you’ll have a lot of people telling you “no” along the way.  That’s just part of the deal. You have to persevere.  There will be times where you think you’re the smartest person in the world and times when you think you’re the dumbest person in the world.  Also, nothing happens as quickly as you expect it to.  You need to be prepared financially and emotionally to weather the storm for a long time.  But if you do, the dividends are enormous.  It’s worth the wait (or so I hear!)

We at GTJ wish David continued success and can’t wait to check out ReelGenie!

Victoria headshotVictoria Shapiro is a senior account executive at Susan Davis International, a full-service communications and public affairs firm on K Street. She is also an advisor to her family’s company, The Donald J. Ross LLC, the official licensing company for the legendary 20th century golf course architect.






GTJ’s Satirist Brian F. – Jewish Holiday Parties That Were Discontinued

getting lit - kosher ham - funny jewish tshirt website.jpgWASHINGTON, DC – (@The Comedy News) – We have all been invited to our fair share of holiday parties- with our coworkers, with our friends, with our neighbor who hoards cats and trash in the front yard.

And for the 165,000 Jews in the DC metro area, there is no shortage of Jewish-themed winter gatherings.

Various Jewish organizations have facilitated dozens of successful parties for the DC Jewish community, some even running annually for over twenty years.  Just like good Jewish humor, the names of the parties have been alliterated and cheesy.

However, there are some Jewish winter holiday events that were discontinued over the years:

Challah Back Y’all Karaoke Kabbalah (2005-2006)
A short-lived karaoke tournament inspired by the Gwen Stefani song, Hollaback Girl.  A schmorgesborg of challah bread kept the bashful non-singers enthused.  Discontinued after too many renditions of Sweet Caroline, Don’t Stop Believing, and Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu.

Bagel Bash (2000-2008)
A $5 fee got revelers admission to a wild and crazy dance party at McFaddens in Foggy Bottom, as well as all-you-can-eat bagels and schmear. Discontinued after Michelle Obama smote excess carbohydrate ingestion.

Pork Protest (1993-1994)
A dance party primarily attended by reform Jews who advocated for a change in kashrut laws forbidding pork products.  Popular with American Jews from Midwestern states.  Discontinued after no one would admit to each other that they loved the taste of pork.

Shrimp Strike (1993-1994)
Same as pork protest.  Just more popular amongst New England seafood snobs.

Brisket Bris-off (1946-1964)
During the post World War II baby boom, DC Jews used to gather at RFK stadium on Christmas Eve for an outdoor mass-celebration of brit milah, or “bris”.  Local chefs provided complimentary brisket samplings to the new parents.  Discontinued for too many reasons to list.

Mistletoe Mitzvah (1989-1999)
Billed as “The Easiest Jewish Singles Event to Get To First Base!”  Basically, it was an awkward happy hour with mistletoe hanging from the tavern’s ceiling.  Interest faltered after everyone in the Jewish community had made out with each other.

Jew-Jitzu Jam (1984)
Popularized by the film, Karate Kid, the Jew-Jitzu jam was a martial arts-themed dance party that encouraged Jewish revelers to dress up in either Cobra Kai attire, or Miyagi-do Karate attire.  Discontinued after too many fights broke out on the dance floor.

None of the aforementioned parties are real.  Instead you should subscribe to GTJ’s events calendar for your holiday cheer.