What I learned from the JWI Young Women’s Leadership Conference…


This month, I attended a conference and luncheon where something amazing happened.

No one mansplained.

No one had their ideas repeated without receiving credit.

Everyone got airtime, and very rarely was someone interrupted or talked over.

After working at this event for a second year in a row, it hit me again that in hosting the Young Women’s Leadership Conference and Women to Watch (WTW) Gala Luncheon each December, JWI creates a unique platform for women’s voices.

Thus far in my career, I’ve had the privilege to work in fields dominated by women. It means that I’m often in spaces with primarily, or only, women. Even so, I’m familiar with the experiences some women have had in the workplace – e.g. working harder to prove yourself, bosses telling you that you’re too emotional, others making inappropriate comments about your appearance. Once, I sat in a meeting listening to a male executive with no design background explain color usage to a room full of women with design degrees. I do acknowledge and feel grateful that this instance is a fairly tame example compared to what some women often experienced in their professional lives.

Reimagining our workplace

JWI’s conference and luncheon represent a unique opportunity to break down these types of common experiences, and beyond that, to reimagine what a truly equitable workplace can look like.

Conference attendees heard Ellen Stone of Bravo (WTW ‘11) talk about letting other people shine, acknowledging positive intent, and sincerely thanking your employees. Dr. Bonnie Hartstein (WTW ‘13), a physician and colonel in the Army, said, “Owning yourself and being who you are is part of your strength. Being a professional doesn’t mean you have to change who you are, but to present your best self.” At the Women to Watch Symposium, this year’s honorees agreed that teamwork has had a major impact on their professional lives. These sentiments – building positive relationships, owning your strengths, the importance of collaboration –echoed throughout the weekend.  

What we witnessed at the Conference and at WTW this year was the way that leadership and company culture changes when women lead. We’re striving for authenticity, for helping others to succeed, for bringing your whole self to work. Rather than, “every man for themselves,” we’re asking how we can create high-functioning teams where everyone brings something to the table. We’re redefining what the workplace can look like, and as a result, building better companies and organizations. And, we’re supporting each other and expanding empathy and inclusivity.

Actress and disability rights advocate Marlee Matlin took the stage at the luncheon on Monday and described how she has built a 33-year career as a successful actress, overcoming both misconceptions about herself and a personal battle with domestic violence. “I know for sure,” she signed, “that it would not have been possible without the strength and the desire to overcome barriers.”  

So, here’s to a weekend that celebrated the strength and determination of women leaders.

One last thought

I’ll leave you with one last moment that I can’t stop thinking about:

In a panel on #MeToo, a conference attendee asked, “How do you approach [sexism] in the Jewish communal world with the men on your Board of Directors?” JWI’s CEO Lori Weinstein responded, “Well, I’d like to say that you can do what I do – have a Board that’s all women.”



vbAbout the authorValerie Brown has been in DC for 3 years, and questions the decision every time the humidity acts up. She is an unapologetic avocado toast consumer, avid podcast subscriber, cat befriender, and manager of Marketing and Communications for JWI in her spare time.






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.

Meet Sam: Eclectic Jew of the Week

Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Sam: In 2014, I got a job after I graduated to be a paralegal at a law firm in DC. I end up not loving that job, but it led me to staying in this city. I later switched to the job I have now, at Americans United for Separation of Church & State (AU) which I love.

Allie: Why do you think it’s so important to separate church and state?

Sam: Separating church and state lets you live your life according to your personal beliefs. It allows you to pursue the health care you want, the education you want, and to practice whatever religion you believe in without the government telling you what to do. As a Jewish person, separating church and state lets me live my life without feeling like an outsider. It might seem natural that our religious views wouldn’t be the law, but many Americans don’t see it that way.

Allie: If you could invite 3 living celebrities to your Shabbat dinner table, who would they be?

Sam: Michelle Obama, Issa Rae- I love her right now- and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday and how do you celebrate?

Sam: Well, I really like carbs, so Passover doesn’t work. I’ll say Rosh Hashanah. The food options are really excellent, and my family has a big dinner.

Allie: What’s at the top of your life bucket list?

Sam: I’d love to go to Japan, Ireland, and the UK. I’m a bit of an Anglophile and love British TV. I’d also like to run a 10K, and be able to hold a yoga handstands for longer than 30 seconds. Oh, I’d also love to bake a wedding cake for someone.

Allie: Wow! You’ve got quite a range of passions. Tell me more about your love of baking?

Sam: I love to bake. I make cakes, pies, cookies, and I’m just getting into bread. It’s very relaxing for me; it’s the perfect thing to do at the end of the week to shut the world off. I turn on a podcast, and bake something challenging. I recently made these red velvet cookie bars with cream cheese frosting that were amazing. My boyfriend’s dad has requested lemon cookies, but I don’t like lemon. I’m trying to find a way to make some that I can also enjoy.

Where do you get your recipes from?

Sam: My grandma and mom. My mom is an amazing baker.

Allie: Besides baking, what are your favorite ways to relax?

Sam: I love yoga. I’ve tried every studio. I would recommend Yoga District which has studios all around the city, and Edge Yoga which is a tiny studio that is the best in the world. I also like really trashy, horrible reality TV like Love Island and Made in Chelsea. I also love Doctor Who, Downton Abbey, and I’m watching Killing Eve right now which is amazing.

Allie: Complete this sentence. When Jews of DC Gather…

Sam: They argue, but in a friendly way.

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.

Jewish Dog of the Month: Brooklyn


Sarah: What is your name?

Brooklyn Spellman

Sarah: Where did your name come from?

Brooklyn: My mommy adopted me when I was already 7 years old, so I came with the name. But I think it suits me!

Sarah: What is your favorite way to spend a day in DC?

Brooklyn: I love to be social and around people so my favorite days are the ones where my mommy takes me somewhere fun. We love Medium Rare and St. Arnold’s in our neighborhood, Cleveland Park, or Dacha in Shaw.

Sarah: How did you get to DC?

Brooklyn: My mommy adopted me from Mid-Atlantic Pug Rescue in 2014. I was surrendered, which means that my old owners couldn’t take care of me anymore but according to my old vet records I’m from Maryland, just like my mommy!

Sarah: What is your favorite food?

Brooklyn: I love most human foods, but I would have to say that my favorites are baby carrots and French fries.

Sarah: What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?

Brooklyn: Nobody can believe that I am 12 years old! I think that I am young at heart, and my mommy takes the best care of me. We also love the doctors at City Paws Uptown, who give me tons of treats after my appointments.

Sarah: What is your biggest pet peeve that your owner does?

Brooklyn: I make a big fuss when my mommy tries to cuddle with me (or as she likes to call it, “the snuggle struggle”). She usually gets her way, and I love belly rubs and attention.

Sarah: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday and why?

Brooklyn: My favorite holiday is Pawnukkah. I love spending time with my family, and it definitely doesn’t hurt that my mommy sneaks me latkes when she thinks no one is looking.


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.

Jewish DC Year in Review: 2018

year in review


Ah, 2018. Was it all that bad?

Okay yes, Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson broke our hearts. We had some awkward political tension.  We could go through the list of awful things, because – safe to say – they were plentiful. Instead, let’s recap 2018 on a high note.

After all, 2018 had some pretty beautiful moments.

Queer Eye’s fab five travelled around the U.S. changing lives – one fabulous makeover at a time. “Crazy Rich Asians” made us smile uncontrollably for days. The Caps won the Stanley Cup. Also, Ariana Grande came out with the best music video, possibly ever.

Locally, Jewish DC hosted over 1,000+ community events for 20s/30s, ushered in more than 9 new rabbis to the area, hosted Yom Kippur in a bar, welcomed a new Jewish deli to the scene, and so much more!

Here’s a recap of some of our very favorite moments across Jewish DC in 2018.



This year, we interviewed 50 of the most phenomenal Jewish people across the District. From a professional pastry chef to politicians to renowned restauranteurs, we were stoked to introduce you to some of DC’s most dope Jews.

In case you missed one, here’s a recap.

Carly was named Most Dope Jew of the Week. She, along with 50 others, were featured as Gather’s Jewish Person of the Week this year!



MLK Shabbat at Sixth & I: January 12

mlk shabbat

A favorite Sixth & I annual tradition, this moving service with Turner Memorial AME Church—which worshiped in Sixth & I’s building for five decades—commemorates the spirit and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.


Metro Minyan Shabbat: January 26

metro minyan

Every month, Washington Hebrew Congregation’s 2239 hosts a casual, musical, come-as-you-are Shabbat service followed by dinner with other 20s and 30s from across the city.



Beyond the Tent: February 9-11


This February, GatherDC took a group of 30+ young adults out of DC to start exploring their Jewish identities from a fresh perspective.



Moishe House DMV Purim Party: March 3


All four DMV Moishe Houses (Bethesda, Capitol Hill, Columbia Heights, and Northern Virginia) gathered to celebrate Purim in spring 2018, welcoming over 200 community members with one giant bash!


Honeymoon Israel


HoneymoonIsrael DC celebrated 2018 with three trips to Israel, bringing diverse couples with at least one Jewish participant to experience Israel and build community back home in DC. We floated in the dead sea, partied in the Golan, and had hard conversations on the beach- welcome home to our 60 new HMI alumni couples!



Moishe House Columbia Heights “Friends-Over” Thanksgiving: April 6

moishe house

Noah Brown led his first Moishe House Columbia Heights event, called “Friends-Over” (think Friendsgiving), which was a wonderful housewarming/potluck during the best Jewish holiday…Passover! 🙂


Pet Projects with Moishe House Northern Virginia: April 19

gdd moho

Moishe House Northern Virginia took part in Federation’s Sara & Samuel J. Lessans Good Deeds Day to make dog toys for cute canines from a local animal shelter.



Jewish People of the Year Party: May 10


GatherDC celebrated the extraordinary people who had been featured as a Jewish Person of the Week from 2017-2018, and everyone who makes our Jewish community so friggin’ awesome at its Jewish People of the Year Party with games, photo-booth, a raffle, dancing, and more!



March with GLOE at Capital Pride: June 9


The EDCJCC’s GLOE brought together individuals and Jewish groups to join their contingent of DC’s LGBTQ Jews and allies for this fun event!



Mr. NJB Pageant: July 15

nice jewish boys

On July 15, Jeremy Sherman took home the crown at the Nice Jewish Boys DC’s annual Mr. NJB Pageant. Jeremy danced, talked, and sashayed his way to the top, raising money along the way for Keshet’s LGBTQ Teen Shabbaton Program. Read more about Jeremy’s big win here.



Jewish Run Club: August 8

run club

This year, a group of Jewish exercise enthusiasts got together and started a running club! Once a month, they “gather” at GatherDC’s townhouse and go for a run around the city, followed by drinks.



GatherDC’s Alternative Yom Kippur Experience: September 19

alt yk

For the 2nd year in a row, GatherDC hosted hundreds of young adults for an alternative Yom Kippur experience where we connected to themes of the day through small-group discussions, personal reflection, story-telling, journaling, and more.



Wisdom & Wellness: Jewish Spiritual Tools for Mental Health: October 10

adas at the well

The Jewish Mindfulness Center of Washington, Adas Israel Community Mikvah, and At The Well brought women of all ages together for an evening of learning and conversation with rabbi’s, mikvah attendants, wellness coaches, and therapists to explore using Jewish spiritual practices to live whole lives.


Federation’s Impact DC: October 18


On October 18, 2018, more than 200 young leaders joined The Jewish Federation’s Young Leadership to party with a purpose and celebrate the impact of their philanthropy at home and around the globe.


Washington Hebrew Congregation District Shabbat: October 19

district shabbat

On Friday, October 19th, Washington Hebrew Congregation (WHC) debuted District Shabbat, a soulful, joyful, and musical Shabbat for all ages at the Southwest Waterfront.



ACCESS D.C. Policy & Brew Roundtable, November 8

access dc

Attendees at the event learned about AJC’s work on important global and domestic issues, sampled delicious beer, and networked with their fellow global Jewish advocates.


YP@AI Brunch and Learn with Rabbi Sarah Krinsky: November 11

brunch and learn

Bagels, mimosas, and Jewish learning? What could be better on a Sunday morning?!



JWI’s Young Women’s Leadership Network Conference: December 2


JWI’s Young Women’s Leadership Conference brought together 250 women from across the country for a day of learning from each other, networking, and inspiring women’s leadership.


Hanukkah Happy Hour on the Hill with EntryPoint: December 5

dcjcc hanukkah

Over 300 young adults joined EDCJCC’s EntryPoint for their annual Hanukkah Happy Hour where we lit the candles, enjoyed gelt, 90s music, doughnuts, and more!


Tikkun Leil Shabbat: December 10


Tikkun Leil Shabbat celebrated the final night of Chanukah. On all eight nights, we gathered in community members’ homes across the District to light candles and eat latkes together.

Never Heard of National Landing? You’re Not Alone

Photo by Christian Wiediger

What the heck is National Landing

On November 13th, Amazon announced it had selected Long Island City in Queens, New York and National Landing in Arlington, Virginia as its two new headquarters locations. The entire population of the Washington metropolitan area raised its collective eyebrows and asked, “What the heck is National Landing?”

According to Amazon’s press release, “National Landing is an urban community in Northern Virginia located less than three miles from downtown Washington, DC. The area is served by three Metro stations, commuter rail access, and Reagan National Airport—all within walking distance. The community has a variety of hotels, restaurants, high-rise apartment buildings, retail, and commercial offices. National Landing has abundant parks and open space with sports and cultural events for residents of all ages throughout the year.” So why didn’t the locals know about this great place? In fact, National Landing didn’t even have a Wikipedia page at the time of Amazon’s announcement.

Did Amazon rename Crystal City?

The internet was abuzz with people claiming that Amazon was assigning a new moniker to Crystal City. The Washingtonian published an article on its website titled “Did Amazon Just Rename Crystal City?” Twitter users joked that if Amazon brings 25,000 new jobs to the area, it can call Crystal City whatever it wants.

Where exactly is the National Landing?

So where is National Landing, exactly? Let’s start with the basics. National Landing is in the commonwealth of Virginia;more specifically, it’s in Northern Virginia (which is an odd name considering that there isn’t a region called Southern Virginia). NoVA, as it’s commonly called, is a region composed of the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William, and the cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax, Manassas, and Manassas Park, according to  the Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s website. Arlington is a county within the Commonwealth of Virginia. Since it’s not within a city, Arlington is a self-governing county, and it does not contain any incorporated towns or villages. Arlington is divided into two unincorporated areas with Route 50 serving as the dividing line: North Arlington and South Arlington. Almost all Arlington street names begin with the prefix “North” or “South.”

What about Crystal City?

Both North Arlington and South Arlington contain a mixture of residential neighborhoods, historic districts, and urban villages. Urban villages, though not actually incorporated villages, are “compact, walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods” according to UrbanVillage.com.  The urban villages in South Arlington are Crystal City, Pentagon City, and Shirlington. The fact that two of these places have the word “city” in their name just makes things more confusing. “Why does the app say we’re going to Arlington?” countless tourists have asked their Uber drivers. “I want to go to Crystal City.”

Crystal City got its name in the early 1960s when developer Robert H. Smith built a slew of apartment buildings each with the word “Crystal” in its name, the first of which was Crystal House in 1961 with a large crystal chandelier in the lobby. Prior to that, Crystal City was a nameless area of junkyards and industrial sites along Route 1. Crystal City is nicknamed “Underground City” because of its many underground corridors linking stores, offices, and apartment buildings. It even has an underground mall, which opened in 1976 as Crystal Underground and is now Crystal City Shops.     

Now things get complicated

Now here’s where things get complicated (if you didn’t think they were complicated already). National Landing extends beyond Crystal City. It also includes parts of Pentagon City and Potomac Yard in Alexandria. If it was self-governing, it could be a municipality, but National Landing doesn’t have a governing body. It doesn’t even have borders! Stephanie Landrum, President and CEO of Alexandria Economic Development, told Washingtonian that National Landing has “no finite boundaries” and represents “an interesting way to erase an invisible line between the jurisdictions.”

Basically, National Landing is a community, albeit an amorphous one. Will it someday be nicknamed NaLa? Will the communities adjacent to it one day be referred to as North National Landing? Whatever you call it, the property values in National Landing are about to rise.


alizaAbout the author: Aliza Epstein is a native of the Washington, DC area and currently lives in Arlington, VA.  She works as a non-profit manager.








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

Meet Jessie: Jewish TV Junkie of the Week


Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Jessie: I studied abroad in Asia, and my plan was to go back there after college and do nonprofit work in Thailand. The stars aligned for me to wind up in DC because I didn’t get the opportunities I applied for in Thailand, I knew a handful of friends who were moving to DC, and I got a job at Hillel International. Also, it was in 2016 when things were ramping up for the election, and I wanted to feel some of that energy.

Allie: I hear you’re helping out with this year’s Falafel Frenzy. Tell me about that.

Jessie: Falafel Frenzy is a holiday alternative for Jewish people who are looking for something festive to do on Christmas Eve. It’s a fun night to share with friends and give back to The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

Allie: How did you wind up on the Falafel Frenzy host committee?

Jessie: I come from a tight-knit Jewish community in Cincinnati, but after a year of living in DC and working for Hillel, I realized that I didn’t have much of a tie to the local Jewish community outside of work, so I decided to go on Birthright trip. After that, I got more involved with Federation and became a part of their Young Leadership (YL) Board. Ally Sherman, who is also on the Board, asked me to chair Falafel Frenzy with her this year.

Allie: How can someone get tickets for Falafel Frenzy?

Jessie: You can buy tickets here. It’s at Hawthorne on U Street on December 24th. Mark your calendars!


Allie: What do you do to relax at the end of a long work week?

Jessie: I’m a TV junkie. I like watching comedies and stand-up comedy. I also love watching movies, particularly in theaters. Exercising, like spinning and practicing yoga, also helps me clear my head.

Allie: What are some movies and TV shows that you love?

Jessie: I loved A Quiet Place, A Star is Born, Inglorious Bastards. I also really like Big Mouth, Broad City, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I’m currently in a John Mulaney phase.

Allie: If you could invite 3 celebs to your Shabbat dinner table, who would they be?

Jessie: Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Khloe Kardashian – I’d love to see those two talk. And the third would be Ilana Glazer, she’d be pumped to meet RBG.

Allie: What do you want to do more of this year?

Jessie: I want to try more breweries, explore new parts of the city, and seek out more mentors. Maybe not mentors in the traditional sense, but people who are just a few years older than me who can show me what it looks like to be 5 or 10 years out from where I am in my career.

Allie: What’s at the top of your travel bucket list?

Jessie: Italy. There’s a lot of art history to see and wine to drink. Also, the Philippines. My mom’s family used to work in the Philippines so we have a lot of connections there and I’ve never been. I’d also really love to do a U.S. National Park tour.

Allie: What’s your favorite way to get festive during the holiday season?

Jessie: I feel like people consume a lot more sugar, and pastries – like cinnamon donuts – during the holiday season. I’m very on board with that. But, I’m a really bad gift giver so I get pretty stressed out during the holiday time.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Jessie: We have fun. I’m big on humor.

jessie bf







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

Happy Hanukkah DC: From Our Stomachs To Yours

The Festival of Lights has finally arrived! What better way to celebrate this holiday than inhaling as many latkes, donuts, and gelt as possible? If you have yet to indulge in your share of these delightful treats, not to worry. We’re here to help. Look no further for the best Hanukkah deals in DC. And no, it’s definitely not too late to dig into some sufganiyot!


Sufganiyot from Sugar Shack

Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken

Astro Doughnuts is one of our FAVORITE places for delightful sugary treats, and this year they did not disappoint. They’re offering a special “Hanukkah Mini Box” featuring a dozen doughnuts inspired by the holiday, including Sufganiyot, creme brulee mini doughnuts topped with gelt, and Hanukkah cookie mini doughnuts. These delicious little rings of joy are available at all locations throughout Hanukkah (December 2-10).

B. Doughnut

Berry jam, cinnamon sugar, and a seasonal gingerbread flavor! They also have vegan berry glazed donut holes with granola. So yeah, there’s that.

Dino’s Grotto

Dino’s Grotto (similar but different to The Little Mermaid’s grotto) has an entire Hanukkah 2018 menu available a la carte or as a family style FEAST. Take your pick from latkes, specialty pasta, a choice of chicken or fish, and an olive oil citrus cake. Ooookay!

Chai-vy & Coheney

This is perhaps the most popular pop-up bar in Washington DC. Stop by this famous Shaw watering hole for shots out of a menorah, red and green dreidels, and lots and lots of Manischewitz. Not only is this pop-up bar super fun and innovative, but all proceeds from the ShotNorah (eight guests take shots in unison) are being donated to HIAS. How’s that for some warm and fuzzy holiday feels?

Commissary DC

Commissary’s menu is currently featuring vegetarian potato pancakes with sour cream and apple sauce! They also serve potato pancakes with eggs, smoked salmon, sour cream, and toast which sounds absolutely incredible. We have not tried this, but if anyone wants to go to brunch here with us this weekend, please comment below. 🙂

District Doughnut

They carry a special sufganiyot flavor (vanilla bean, sugar, and strawberry jam) for the season, along with a year-round Bailey’s & Coffee, Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee, and definitely not kosher Maple Bacon.

Fare Well

In addition to hosting celebs like Miley Cyrus, this vegan staple on H Street boasts egg-free potato latkes with homemade sour creme and apple sauce for the season.

Miracle on 7th St

This isn’t a traditional “restaurant,” we know, but obviously we had to include this yearly staple in our roundup of Hanukkah deals across DC. While the majority of this bar centers around Christmas, there is an amazing Hanukkah section filled with menorahs, a specialty drink called The Hebrew Hammer, and Chinese food boxes. Because a lot of Jews eat Chinese food on Christmas. Get it?

Sugar Shack Donuts

Voted one of the Top 10 Tastiest Donuts in America, Sugar Shack carries flavors like Candy Cane and carries a raspberry jam filled Sufganiyot flavor that I can tell you from personal experience is fully, moist, and finger-licking good.

Other places to indulge in your favorite festive delicacies:

Know of other places to try delicious latkes or donuts before Hanukkah comes to a close? Please comment below!



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


GatherDC Giving Circle

giving circle

GatherDC’s Executive Director Rachel Gildiner and Rabbi Aaron Potek invite you to take part in a hands-on exploration of your Jewish giving values and opportunity to make a lasting impact in the community.

We will collaborate with like-minded Jewish 30-somethings and decide how to create social change in our community at sessions on January 16th, 23rd, 30th, and February 6th from 7 to 9pm at GatherDC’s townhouse in Dupont Circle.

We invite you to learn more and apply below.


Contact Information

Giving Circle Q&A

For those who have never participated in a giving circle before and have a few questions…we have some answers for you.

What’s a giving circle?

A giving circle if a form of participatory philanthropy where a group of people pool together their money and collectively decide where to donate it.

How much money do I need to contribute?

We request a minimum contribution of $180. 100% of this donation will go directly to the organization(s) you decide on together as a group.

Where does the money go?

You decide! Each member of the group will have an opportunity to explore and present charities you care about. As a group, you will decide where and how to donate the pooled money.

What is the point of this giving circle?

There are several! A few are: to increase awareness of nonprofits and charities that are worthy of your support; to empower you to discover your philanthropic values and identity; to help you meet other Jewish young adults with a passion for giving back; to increase your engagement with important causes for years to come; and to make your financial resources go further.

What will we do at each meeting?

The group will get to know one another through deep, meaningful conversations about Jewish values of giving and our own personal Jewish identity. We’ll discuss and ultimately vote on what charity to invest in.

What if I can’t afford to donate $180?

Don’t worry. You can contact Rachel Gildiner at rachelg@gatherdc.org and we can decide on an amount that works for you.

What if I would like to contribute more than $180?

$180 is the suggested amount. However, additional contributions are welcome. Please donate the amount that will enable you to make a meaningful contribution to the organization(s) that this giving circle selects.

Does any of the pooled money go to GatherDC?

No. None of the money you contribute for this giving circle will go to GatherDC.This giving circle is not intended to be a form of fundraising for GatherDC, but rather an opportunity for community members to discover their philanthropic values and identities. If you would like to support GatherDC, you may voluntarily choose to make an additional donation.

Is my gift tax deductible?



For questions, email Jackie at jackiez@gatherdc.org.

GatherDC welcomes the participation of interfaith ​individuals, and people of all abilities, backgrounds, gender identities and sexual orientations. GatherDC ​fosters inclusive communities​​​ and strive​s​ to accommodate all needs whenever possible. If you require special accommodations, please contact us​ in advance of the event​ at (202) 656-0743, and we will make every effort to meet your needs.

By attending, you understand that photographs and/or video may be taken at this event, and your picture may appear on the GatherDC website, publications, or other media.

Rabbi Rant: On Abundance and Scarcity

rabbi rant

It’s Hanukkah, and the malleable metaphor of light amidst darkness will inspire many important themes – hope amidst cynicism, clarity amidst doubt, joy amidst sadness, etc. But I think there’s a less obvious, yet no-less-important, theme related to the source of light – the oil.

It’s hard to get pumped about something lasting longer than it should have. I’ve been wearing the same coat since high school, and let me tell you – no one’s excited for me. That 30-minute meeting that lasted 2 hours? Again, not a cause for celebration. Me not getting sick from eating expired chicken? Perhaps a miracle, but certainly not holiday-worthy.

Why did the rabbis highlight the story of oil burning beyond expectation? Perhaps it was to get us thinking about scarcity, both real and perceived.

Like the Maccabees who had to work with less than what they needed, many of us might be feeling depleted in various aspects of our lives. It’s hard to sit with that lacking as well as the longing for more than what we currently have.

But also like the Maccabees, it’s possible that we already have exactly what we need.

There’s a famous chassidic story about a man – Isaac ben Yakil of Krakow – who dreams about buried treasure in a far away place, so he travels there to find it. When he gets there, he doesn’t find the treasure, but he meets a guard who tells him that he had a similar dream about treasure buried under the stove of a man named Isaac ben Yakil of Krakow. Of course, Isaac ben Yakil goes back home and finds the treasure, which was in his own home the whole time.

At times, what’s missing is only the proper perspective, an issue that Krista Tippett calls a “poverty of imagination.” Some resources aren’t as limited as we think.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks connects this idea to another aspect of the holiday – the ruling that we can light one Hanukkah candle from another candle. Despite the objection of a dissenting rabbi in the Talmud, we rule that light doesn’t diminish when shared. Rabbi Sacks then adds:

When it comes to spiritual goods as opposed to material goods, the more I share, the more I have. If I share my knowledge, or faith, or love with others, I won’t have less; I may even have more.”

When we act from a scarcity mindset, we often end up warping or misusing the resource we deem to be scarce. Even in times of abundance, the fear that it may run out at any moment can once again induce the scarcity mindset.

The weekly Torah reading, which  is always the same on Hanukkah, begins with Pharaoh’s dream about fat cows and the skinny cows, which Joseph interprets to mean years of abundance followed by years of scarcity. He then helps Pharaoh plan for the years of famine during the years of plenty.

Scarcity and abundance are interdependent – we wouldn’t know one without the other. Everyone will experience moments of abundance and moments of scarcity. As best as we can, we should cultivate and protect our resources to prevent or minimize moments of depletion – like Joseph advised Pharaoh. We should also remember that a lot is still possible from within a place of scarcity. A lot can happen from just a little. After all, the entire universe was created from a single spark


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