Le Diplomate, Croissants, French coffee, party buses to wineries – these are a few of Jason Sarfati’s favorite things. I met this super cool French-Sephardic-Arlingtonian/Jewish Lawyer at our last GatherDC happy hour (PS – next one is March 15th), and decided to find out more about his European roots over cups of caffeine at Dupont Circle’s charming French coffee shop – Un je ne se Quoi. After ordering his coffee in French, Jason opened up about his love of Jewish DC, Virginia wineries, and cyber security.
Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?
Jason: When I was applying to law schools, I realized I wanted to be back home – I grew up in DC – so I applied to George Mason. I was really fortunate to live with all of my college friends in Arlington through all of law school, so I didn’t have to feel like I was outside of my comfort zone. And I wound up staying here because DC has so many opportunities in the legal field.
Allie: What do you like most about the DC Jewish community?
Jason: Its a large community, yet at the same time it feels close-knit. There are a lot of different events – any weekend there’s something going on. Also, it feels like DC has a lot of transient people who show up here looking for a place to fit in, and the Jewish community is that perfect landing spot.
Allie: If you had a free day in DC to do anything, how would you spend it?
Jason: I’m a huge fan of the vineyards out in Virginia. Every April, I organize a wine tour with my friends on a party bus. Its crazy, its a lot of fun, and it’s a whole day thing. After that, I’d have dinner in DC at Le Diplomate – obviously. Then, after a day of drinking French wine, I’d pass out.
Allie: I hear you have some French heritage…, tell me about that.
Jason: Most of my family lives in France, in a city called Lyon. The Jewish community there is actually smaller than one you would see in Paris – everyone kind of knows each other. I go to France once a year or so…otherwise I wouldn’t have a connection with my [extended] family.
Allie: How do you carry your French identity with you into your life in DC?
Jason: Well, growing up, we spoke probably 70% French in the home. And my family’s synagogue, Magen David in Rockville, caters to Sephardic Jews. If you go there, you’d hear kids being yelled at in French. It’s very loud and close-knit, and I try to go as much as I can.
Allie: Would you ever want to live in France?
Jason: No, I’m very happy here. Also, my law degree would be useless there – and there are no Gather events there!
Allie: What are your favorite French foods?
Jason: Croissants and French coffee, like right here [at Un je ne se Quoi]. DC has some great French spots. Le Diplomate is, in my opinion, genuine French food.
Allie: And what about your favorite Jewish food?
Jason: The Jewish food I’m used to is very different than what most Ashkenazi Jews are used to. I had my first kugel when I was a sophomore in college. Where I lived, we would have marinated lamb or shawarma, which is more my speed. The spicy, north African foods that I’m used to is what I’ll go back to. A lot of beans, couscous, falafel.
Allie: What are you looking forward to most for the upcoming year?
Jason: I’ve noticed that DC kind of hibernates from January to February, and then in March it wakes up again. We’ve got the Cherry Blossom Festival, the Nats start playing again. DC is definitely a place that relies on the weather to be fun. And this year the Southwest waterfront is open, so there is a lot to do. Also, I’m excited for the coming year because just last week I started a data privacy and cyber security practice at my law firm, which is always going to be a field that’s relevant.
Allie: Complete the sentence: When Jews of DC Gather…
Jason: They make genuine connections and it can translate into business opportunities, marriages, and lots of good things!