Meet Aliza: Jewish Rooftop Lounger of the Week!

This International Spy Museum media relations manager invites you into her top-secret world of Sydney Bristow fandom, dumplings, and DC rooftops. Get an inside look into the life of Aliza Bran!

aliza bran eating ice cream

 

Allie: Have you always been interested in spies?

Aliza: As a child, I wanted to be best friends with Sydney Bristow from Alias. I was obsessed with Jennifer Garner for years. Still am. I always found it fascinating that you can enter a world that is completely secret, where you can conceal devices into everyday items you own. I watched 24, and anything spy related. I’ve been intrigued by the fiction and reality of espionage for as long as I can remember.

Allie: What makes a good spy?

Aliza: Attention to detail. Being good under pressure. Really, it depends on what you’re doing. Analysts need to be inquisitive and precise – and careful not fall into mental traps or give into their cognitive biases. The spies on the ground doing human intelligence work need some serious courage and umph.

Allie: What is it like working at the spy museum?

Aliza: It is objectively the best job ever. You’re surrounded by the weirdest, craziest, and most intriguing stories from around the world. So it’s pretty amazing to do this full time and get to share those stories with others. And I get to work with really incredible people. The educational/curatorial folks who worked so hard to put together the content for the exhibit space are brilliant. Our comms team is amazing (I’m biased, but I’m also right).

Plus, I get to work closely with some of our incredible board members like Jonna Mendez, former CIA Chief of Disguise, who never fails to teach me something new…most recently from her book The Moscow Rules.

Allie: Is the new Spy Museum open to the public yet?

Aliza: Yes! It just opened this past weekend. Come join us! You can get tickets online – bring a date, your friends, your family, your Uber driver, whoever!

aliza and marissa

Allie: Describe your perfect day in DC.

Aliza: I’d wake up, do dim sum brunch and consume all of the dumplings. Then, I’d head down to The Wharf and go kayaking and make s’mores! Then, I’d go sit on a rooftop and read a book. Rooftops are my happy place. For the evening I might go to The Eleanor and bowl with friends or play some ping pong at SpinDC. Catch live music at the 930 Club or Union Stage or the Anthem. Dinner at a sushi place – Zeppelin, Momiji, etc. – anything with eel sauce is my favorite! The biggest problem would be fitting it all in.

Allie: Do you have a favorite DC rooftop?

Aliza: The one at American Son is really nice. There’s also El Techo, the Colada Shop, Crimson, Mi Vida. Really, I’ll go to any rooftop. What’s better than a good rooftop in the summertime?

Allie: What are your favorite ways to relax at the end of a long work week?

Aliza: Either I would binge watch something on Netflix or read a book. I try to read about 20-25 books a year, so I have a huge soft spot for my DC library membership. It’s the best! There is nothing that beats getting absorbed into a new world. Obviously, I would also spend time outside with friends, maybe a weekend picnic in Meridian Hill Park with tons of cheese and carbs.

aliza traveling

Allie: If you could invite three people to your Shabbat dinner? Who would you invite and why?

Aliza: Taylor Swift. Do I need a reason? She is amazing. Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And Jon Stewart. He does not grace the world with his presence nightly anymore and I want to know what’s up with the animals on his farm.

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

Aliza: Greece. I want to see the ruins, take in the history, enjoy the beaches, and eat all the food.

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?

Aliza: Passover. It’s one of the few holidays that my extended family comes into DC for. It’s nice to have them here, and catch up with my cousins, aunts/uncles, and my grandma (who is one of the nicest, most wonderful humans I’ve ever met). It’s all about community. Plus, my mom’s food is AMAZING. And my dad is clutch at picking up some delicious desserts (meaning ALL of the ice cream)!

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Aliza: They have a darn good 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.

Getting High and Talking Torah

BREAKING NEWS! Judaism’s newest, hottest podcast has officially arrived. As two soon-to-be Jewish DC alums, we wanted to share an exciting new project we have officially launched with our favorite group of Jews.

Sufficiently Chai, our brand new Jewish-themed comedy podcast, aims to disrupt the traditional narrative that Judaism is outdated and inaccessible for the average person. We both realized that we were much more connected to our Judaism than the average Millennial Jew, and we wanted to create something that helped make Judaism relatable and relevant to everyday life for people in their 20s and 30s.

We decided to chat with GatherDC’s podcast connoisseur Julie Thompson to share the big news.

rachel and lindsey

Julie: Walk me through an episode; what can listeners expect to hear?

Lindsey: Each episode contains a D’var Torah (a discussion about the week’s Torah portion) and a JewISH, which explores various aspects of secular life through a Jewish lens. We always close out the episodes by playing a couple games, and we’re committed to keeping the episodes funny, entertaining, and rated at least PG-13.

Rachel: You’ll be laughing so much you won’t realize until the end that you’ve actually learned something – and that’s exactly the point.

Julie: Why did you decide to incorporate marijuana into the podcast?

Lindsey: If you know us, you know we had to spice it up a little bit and it couldn’t JUST be a Torah study podcast. So, we decided to incorporate something else – the cannabis component.

Rachel: One in four Millennials consume marijuana, and by loosening the stigma around recreational marijuana use and infusing it with Jewish learning, we realized we could connect with a generation of listeners who would be otherwise less than likely to tune in to a Jewish themed podcast.

Lindsey: Smoking a joint and studying the Torah do not have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, we believe they go hand in hand.

Julie: What motivated you to launch this podcast?

Lindsey: We’re two 20-something Jewish blondes living on the edge of glory (or so we wish) in the nation’s capital, trying to figure out who we are, what we want, and how to find meaning in a society where so many things feel out of our control. We confirmed what we already knew – that there’s a void in the Jewish-themed comedy podcast space dying to be filled. Then, we decided to do our civic duty and put our love of learning and hearing ourselves talk to good use. And thus, our brain child, Sufficiently Chai, was born.

Julie: What are your goals for this podcast?

Rachel: We ultimately want to be famous. Just kidding! Kinda! Obviously worldwide acclaim and recognition is the overall dream, but we realize that may be a stretch. In the immediate future, we want:

1) People to listen to the podcast;

2) To help listeners connect to Judaism in an alternative, but relatable way.

Julie: Anything else you want to say to your current and future listeners?

Lindsey: As we figure out the world of podcasting, we want people to want what we’re giving to them! We want all kinds of feedback (unless it’s just really rude and aggressive then you can keep it to yourself), and we’re always thinking of new, interesting ways to engage with our audience.

Rachel: We’re committed to making this podcast as amazing as possible in every way we can. We have a blast recording every episode and we want to show the secular Jewish community that Judaism and religion can be fun and entertaining.

Lindsey: Sixth & I – we’re looking at you if you want a live show anytime soon.

Sufficiently Chai co-hosts Lindsey and Rachel


Find Sufficiently Chai on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, Soundcloud, and anywhere else you get your podcasts. For updates, sources, and tbh hilarious content, follow us on Instagram @Sufficiently_Chai.

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.

Top 6 Jewish Podcasts for Your Summer Vacay

As I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed myself becoming less and less interested in the latest social media app of the day. You lost me with the “finstagram” and I could not pick a “TikTok” out of a line-up, but one of the newer media trends I am deeply in love with and will never give up?

Podcasts.

They’ve been around for a while, but in the last couple years I’ve noticed that podcasts have taken an increasingly larger role in how I consume… well, everything.

Current events? The Daily’s got me covered on my walk to work.

Need a little dose of history? American History Tellers is my jam.

Have a 40-minute metro ride where I want to learn a lot about one thing but don’t really want to expend any future energy in pursuing said subject? Those Stuff You Should Know guys sure are funny.

Want to hear the latest in politics, flavored with my preferred brand of irreverence/despair/humor/activism? Ha, nice try.

As an employee and community member of GatherDC, I feel like I’m surrounded by Judaism everywhere I go, and it’s only fitting that I’ve expanded my desire for Even More Judaism into my podcast life. I thought my fellow podcast-listeners might feel the same, and I have therefore compiled a list – in no particular order – of six of the most interesting Jewish learning, history, current events, humor, and pop culture podcasts.

Author’s Note: As an (increasingly reluctant) Apple user, I have no idea how Android users consume their podcasts; in the interest of accessibility, I’ve linked to Apple Podcasts in the heading and Stitcher in the body, but if there’s a better or more widely used app than Stitcher that I’m unaware of, let us know in the comment section so we can update those links!

Can We Talk?

Coming from the Jewish Women’s Archives, Can We Talk? is an AWESOME monthly show that features “stories and conversations about Jewish women and the issues that shape our public and private lives”, and it is a stellar contender for your podcast rotation. The format switches between documentary-style narration and roundtable conversational formats, and the topics – and the frankness with which they’re discussed – feel highly relatable to me as a Jewish woman in her late 20s. Some of my personal recs: “Jewish Hair”, “Sonnet for America”, “Women Wage Peace”, “Dirty Dancing Turns 30”, “The Power of Women’s Anger”, and “The Red Tent: Claiming Our Place in the Story”.

can we talk

The Joy of Text

The Joy of Text explores the intersection of Judaism and – you guessed it (or did you?) – sex. Hosted by an Orthodox rabbi and Orthodox doctor, The Joy of Text is a fascinating way to explore sex and relationships through an Orthodox Jewish lens. Featuring in-depth conversations with rabbinic and medical experts, nothing’s off-limits: the last three episodes as of publication date are “On Matzah and Sex”, “Why Cross-Dressing on Purim is Kosher”, and “The What if My Kids See Me Naked Episode”.

Sufficiently Chai

Sufficiently Chai is a brand-new entrant into the podcast game, but is no less deserving of a spot on this list because of it! A Jewish-themed comedy podcast, Sufficiently Chai aims to disrupt the traditional narrative that Judaism is outdated and inaccessible for the average millennial, and uses d’var Torah, secular discussions through a Jewish lens, and various games to make Judaism relatable and relevant to everyday life for people in their 20s and 30s – all with a little marijuana thrown in for some extra flavor.

Full disclosure, co-host Rachel Nieves is my former coworker/current friend, and you all may know her as GatherDC’s recent Community Coordinator! Check out our interview with her and co-host Lindsey Weiss here to learn more about Sufficiently Chai and why they decided to jump into the podcast scene.

rachel and lindsey

Over My Dead Body

What would a podcast round-up be without a true crime podcast? Over My Dead Body follows the story of Dan and Wendi, two high-powered attorneys whose wedding was featured in the New York Times– but not all was picture perfect. When Dan winds up murdered, the community is left reeling and trying to put the pieces together. Who would do this? Could it be connected to the Prodfather case Dan was working on about a rabbi in New York who tortures men so they give their wives gets? Or was it something a little closer to the family?

Although OMDB isn’t an explicitly Jewish podcast, the murder victim, suspects, and the factors that went into the fraying of their marriage (kosher food fiasco at the wedding? Dan refused to go to Wendi’s grandmother’s funeral because he’s a kohan? You’ll have to listen for more!) are all Jewish, and like I said, there can be no self-respecting podcast round-up without some true crime thrown in.

over my dead body

Judaism Unbound

Judaism Unbound explores pressing issues for 21st century American Judaism through the hosts’ own analysis and interviews of leading thinkers, practitioners, artists, and “regular Jews.” In episodes such as “100% Black, 100% Jewish”; “Creating Jewish Theater”; “Beyond Christmukkah”; “God and Gender”; “Antisemitism, Nativism, and Immigration”; and more, Dan and Lex look to push past the bounds and dig deeper into what it means to be Jewish in the 21st century.

Side note, GatherDC’s Rabbi Aaron Potek was once featured on this podcast!

judaism unbound

Seincast

Seinfeld is no longer, and neither is this podcast, but it would have felt wrong wrapping up this list without including Seincast, a hit show with a 4-year run that regretfully ended in May 2018. During their run, hosts Matt and Vinnie took a deep dive into all 180 episodes of Seinfeld (and we mean deep: the run-time for the average episode dissecting each 22 minute episode is well over an hour). We could be sad it’s over, but on the bright side, there’s now nothing stopping you from binging Seinfeld from start to finish with Matt and Vinnie by your side!

seincast

And that’s my round-up! As a small post-script, I’d also like to shout-out some Gather staff favorites with Jewish hosts, including: Who? Weekly, My Favorite Murder, and of course, NPR’s Code Switch from our very own Leah Donella!

What do you think? Missing any favorites? Let us know in the comments!


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 Jordan: Jewish Preschool Teacher of the Week!

She got a 3D tooth in Tijuana, dreams of owning a farm sanctuary for elderly dogs, and loves a good game of bubble soccer.

Meet this Moishe House Bethesda resident and maybe future rabbi(?!) in our exclusive 1:1 interview with the fabulous Jordan Snyder!

Jordan

Allie: What brought you to DC?

Jordan: My sister had moved here and she had two children – now she has three! I had just graduated college and my sister said to come down for a few months and hang out with her. I came down, got a job at Beth Shalom teaching preschool, and started living with her and my niece and nephew who were 3 and 5. I fell in love with them, and decided to stay. Now I work at Adas Israel as a preschool teacher.

Allie: What do you enjoy about teaching preschoolers?

Jordan: I love that they’re honest, sweet, they live and let go, and there is never a boring moment in the day.

Allie: How did you wind up living in Moishe House Bethesda?

Jordan: I went to a Moishe House NoVA event and there was something special about the community there. It had been hard to make friends in DC, especially because I was living in Rockville with my sister. I found out there was a Moishe House near where I was living in Bethesda that had an opening, and decided to apply for it. I love planning events, I love the Jewish community, and I needed friends.

Allie: What has been like living in a Moishe House?

Jordan: It’s been wonderful. I love the craziness, and being a part of something bigger – being able to give back to the Jewish community in a way that I could.

Allie: What have been your favorite Jewish programs you’ve hosted or experienced as a Moishe House resident?

Jordan: Some of favorite programs have been the bonfires we’ve hosted. We’re actually hosting a pre-Lag B’Omer bonfire on Sunday, May 18th.

I also loved going to Camp Nai Nai Nai.

Allie: What’s Camp Nai Nai Nai?

Jordan: It’s like summer camp but with a twist. You get to be a kid. There’s bubble soccer which is really fun. There’s a pool, Shabbat services, and you just get to disconnect and feel like a kid. It’s camp minus the cliques I experienced growing up. This year I’m going as a counselor!

Jordan

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

Jordan: A few things. Traveling to Australia and Egypt, although I’m terrified of airplanes. I also really want to snorkel. My dream in life would be opening a farm and having old or sick dogs come and spend their remaining years there, like hospice for dogs. I love dogs.

Allie: What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?

Jordan: I used to want to be a rabbi. I still do sometimes. My midlife crisis would be becoming a rabbi. Also, I have a 3D printed tooth that I got in Tijuana, Mexico. It’s a lot cheaper to do a root canal in Tijuana. So when I needed one, I went to visit my dad who lives in San Diego and drove across the border to get my root canal. Instead of a crown like they usually put on, it’s a 3D printed tooth.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Jordan: There’s fun to be had.

Jordan Yoga

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.

Leave Adulting Behind this Memorial Day Weekend

Have you figured out your Memorial Day Weekend plans yet? The time is NAI. There are only 50 spots left at the ultimate Jewish summer camp for adults in their 20s and 30s. Haven’t heard of Camp Nai Nai Nai? Let’s break it down.

Four days and 3 nights with 200+ young adults having the experience of a lifetime. From friendship bracelets and Maccabia to Shabbat dinners and chilling out by the lake, CN3 is a total nostalgia trip and the perfect way to unplug and forget about #adulting for the weekend.

AND Camp is a choose your own adventure experience! There are playshops for every mood and every interest because let’s be real here, not everyone wants the same thing.

Feeling crafty? Go learn how to make a gorgeous flower crown!

Feeling adventurous? Give our mud obstacle course a go.

Feeling like you want to do nothing at all? We support you. Go hang out by the lake with your new camp besties.

Come alone, come with friends, there is no wrong way to do Nai except for not doing Nai. So let’s go through the specifics real quick:

WHEN

Friday – Monday, May 24-27, 2019

WHERE

Waynesboro, PA

HOW

Registering at campnainainai.org by May 10th at 11:59PM.

Aaaaaaand guess what? First-time campers can use code “FirstTimeNai” at checkout to register for only $300. That’s right, you’ll save a total of $75 off of registration which includes meals, accommodations, programming, and all things Nai.

Learn more and book your bunk at www.campnainainai.org.

camp nai nai nai


 

This is a sponsored blog post. 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.

Why I hate Jewish happy hours

I work for a Jewish nonprofit that is perhaps best known in some circles for our happy hours that “Gather the Jews” of DC together at trendy bars throughout the city every month.

These happy hours have been gracing our Jewish community since the good ole days of 2010. Over the past nine years, these monthly gatherings have helped thousands of young DC-area Jews with diverse interests, backgrounds, levels of religiosity, professions, and relationship statuses make their bubbies proud.

And yet, if I earned a shekel for every time someone in the community has said “I hate those Jewish happy hours”, I’d be floating on a blow-up unicorn in my private infinity pool full of hummus right about now. #lifegoals

But, I digress.

The fact of the matter is that there seems to be a large percentage of the young Jewish DC community that feels happy hours, well, kind of suck. As the person who does the marketing for these happy hours, and as a regular attendee myself, I decided it might be a really good idea to compile a list of reasons why.

1. You have to make painfully awkward small talk with strangers.

Yes. I feel this one. I mean, how many times are people going to ask “What do you do?” Seriously? Even though I spend 60% of my waking hours at my job, it’s such a random question! Plus, small talk is boring and leads to nowhere.

And yes, maybe it was small talk at GatherDC happy hours that led me to meet the woman who became my boss, the people who became some of my closest friends in DC, and the man who became my husband. But really – enough with the small talk.

via GIPHY

2. You have to pay $5 to get into the happy hour and don’t even get a free drink!

Look, it’s not like I can’t afford the $5, it’s the principle of it! Why should I have to put $5 of my hard-earned money toward an entry fee to these happy hours? It would be one thing if that money was supporting something important, like a local Jewish nonprofit organization that is a pretty big part of my life in DC. But I have no idea where that money is going.

Ugh, I’ll just head home. Hold on though, let me stop by Sweetgreen to get a $14 salad.

via GIPHY

3. You’re peer-pressured into wearing a name-tag.

It’s awful. I hate having to go through the effort of taking 12 seconds to write my name on a sticker. Also, sticking the sticker to my beautiful outfit totally ruins the look I was going for. Everyone at these fashion-forward happy hours really cares what I’m wearing.

I would much rather have people ask me 17 times to repeat my name because they have trouble remembering.

via GIPHY

4. You have to be happy for a full hour – or more!

What if I had a bad day at work and am feeling stressed out? What if my mom just called nagging me and I’m super annoyed? What if I just ate three slices of cheese pizza but I’m lactose intolerant so I’m feeling extremely bloated? The pressure to be forced into happiness for an extended period of time is almost too much for me to handle.

What’s that you say? GatherDC’s Rabbi Aaron Potek already made it clear that all emotions are welcome at Jewish happy hours? So, I can come as my real, authentic self even if that means I’m full of annoyance or exhaustion or sadness? Alright then, I’m going to show up to the next happy hour with a big pouty face on. Just you wait.

via GIPHY

5. There’s way better things I could be doing with my night.

I work hard during the day and when the clock strikes 6pm, the night is my oyster (#notkosher). Why spend it in a bar full of potential new friends? My Netflix app gets mad at me when I don’t binge watch “The Office” for the eighth time.

Yeah, meeting awesome young adults and finding connection to Jewish DC life is definitely not how I want to spend an hour of my night.

 

via GIPHY

 

In sum, it seems that these Jewish happy hours we love to hate are the same places that we can find our future community, roommates, soulmates, friends, and colleagues. They have the potential to connect us to one another, and help us find one of our places in the Jewish community. It’s these very happy hours that, while at times awkward, might just be the starting point to living your very best Jewish life. And hey, if they suck – you can always go home to spend the rest of the night with Dwight Schrute and your Sweetgreen salad.

P.S. Our next happy hour is May 22nd at Takoda. See you there?


P.P.S. We fully understand that happy hours just might not be your scene. Some people don’t like spending time in bars or feel uncomfortable in large groups of people. Our only goal at GatherDC is to help you find your fit in Jewish DC life – however that works best for you. If happy hours aren’t for you, there is zero pressure to attend. We have tons of other ways for you to connect to Jewish life! We can connect you to intimate cohort experiences, Jewish learning, volunteer opportunities, and a huge calendar with amazing events around the city. If you’re not sure where to begin, let’s grab coffee (our treat!) so we can help you find your people and place in this community. No happy hour attendance required. 

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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.

Rabbi Rant: Freedom Rules!

rabbi rant

Two weeks ago, someone shared with me that, for him, discipline is freedom. He closely watches his diet, works out regularly, studies diligently for grad school…in short, his regimen helps him be the person he wants to be.

A week later, someone else shared with me that freedom means not having any rules. She listens to her body and brain and does what she wants in the moment. To her, freedom is letting go of all the burdensome rules that are imposed on us and that we impose on ourselves.

Rules vs. No Rules

I’m still thinking about these two different perspectives on freedom and where I fall on this rules vs. no rules spectrum.

I know one doesn’t just magically become self-actualized, physically fit, spiritually aware, etc. To be the person you want to be, you have to work hard at it. It’s so obvious and trite that it belongs on a poster with an eagle soaring over a river.

Yet the thought of living a life of rule-following feels constraining, exhausting, and not fun. As adolescent as it sounds, I still associate the word discipline with after-school detention.

The struggle is real

It might seem funny that I’m a rabbi and that I struggle with rules. After all, Judaism is full of rules. The rabbis even make an explicit connection between Jewish law, which was engraved (in Hebrew: charut) on the tablets, and the Hebrew word for freedom (cheirut). “For no person is free unless they are involved in the study of the law.” (Ethics of our Ancestors 6:2)

But Judaism recognizes the limits of rules. As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel writes: “Rules are generalizations. In actual living, we come upon countless problems for which no general solutions are available. There are many ways of applying a general rule to a concrete situation. There are evil applications of noble rules. Thus the choice of the right way of applying a general rule to a particular situation is “left to the heart,” to the individual, to one’s conscience.” (God in Search of Man, p. 327)

Are we ever free from rules?

We’re currently in the period of the Jewish calendar known as the omer, where we count the days from Passover to Shavuot. I think the wisdom of connecting these two holidays, one celebrating freedom and the other celebrating the Torah, is to remind us that we can be free from slavery but will never be free from rules. As writer David Foster Wallace said:

“There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.”

People who claim to live a life of no rules are either unaware of or in denial about the rules they are following.

The rules we follow reflect our priorities and our values. Paradoxically, choosing to follow certain rules can free us from the need to follow other rules. The Ishbitzer Rebbe, commenting on the verse that the Israelites left Egypt with their “heads held high,” explains:

“They were free, without any fear or worry from any person.”

We choose what to worship. There’s a freedom in choosing which rules to follow, and which ones not to.

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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 Eric: Jewish Internationalist of the Week

Since he wakes up before sunrise each day without an alarm clock, jet lag is no match for this fitness-loving, world traveler. Also, he’s a social media rebel who prefers podcasts to television.

Meet Eric Krasnow in our 1:1 interview!

eric

Allie: What brought you to DC?

Eric: I’m from Boston originally, but spent two years living and working in Buenos Aires, Argentina after graduating from college in 2015. I wanted to stay involved in that region but be closer to home (and my mom’s cooking!), and found the perfect solution – a position covering Latin American investments at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of The World Bank.

Allie: What do you do at IFC?

Eric: The mission of the IFC is to develop a sustainable private sector in emerging markets. The best part of the job is travelling to the countries we are investing in and building relationships with our local partners. I have worked on projects in Latin America and countries around the globe, including Morocco, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and the Philippines.

Allie: You seem like someone who truly embodies wellness. Can you run through an average day in your life to motivate me and our readers?

Eric: I am in bed every night before 9 pm, which lets me wake up without an alarm the next day before 6. Once up, I go for a 5 mile run around Meridian Hill Park, followed by weight training at the gym near my apartment. After a quick shower and breakfast – Israeli style: vegetables, eggs and salmon – I go to work.

In the evening, if I can get out of work early, I will go to a hot yoga class at CorePower; if not, I will walk home listening to podcasts. I don’t have social media or a TV, and rarely go online when home. That makes it easier to go to bed early, and start the routine over the next day.

Allie: How do you stay so disciplined?

Eric: It’s a virtuous cycle. My favorite part of the day is when the sun has not yet risen and I have already hit a new personal record. That is a psychological win. It gives me confidence that I can not only overcome being tired or sore, but also overcome whatever challenges come up during the day. I’ve found that the more disciplined I am with my fitness, the more disciplined I am with work and my emotions.

Allie: Do you have any fitness goals?

Eric: I’m going to run a half marathon in June – the Warrior in Georgetown. I’m training for that now.

Allie: What is your favorite Jewish holiday?

Eric: Sukkot! I just planted a garden on my balcony and am diligently caring for it each day. My goal is to host a Sukkot dinner this fall, with a balcony-to-table salad for the first course.

Allie: I hear you’re co-chairing this year’s AJC Young Diplomats Reception. Tell me about that.

Eric: It’s the signature diplomacy event of AJC ACCESS DC, which is the part of AJC that focuses on developing young Jewish leaders in their communities. The reception brings together Jewish young professionals, Capitol Hill staff, and policy partners with 100 members of DC’s diplomatic community. This year, the cocktail reception will take place on the LINE DC rooftop, with a keynote speech given by AJC CEO David Harris. I encourage all who read this to attend!

Allie: Why did you decide to get involved with AJC?

Eric: Being Jewish is core to my identity, and supporting Israel is core to my Judaism. I’ve always felt deeply tied to Israel and feel like it’s my duty as a Jew to defend Israel in some capacity. Shortly after moving to DC, I attended the AJC Global Forum.

I was immediately drawn to the organization’s comprehensive efforts to combat anti-Semitism, defend Israel’s place in the world, and safeguard democracy and pluralism for all. I became an AJC ACCESS member and am now very excited to co-chair the Young Diplomats Reception.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather….

Eric: My first experience with Gather was with a fantastic group of young Jewish professionals during a camping trip in Shenandoah: when Jews of DC gather, they do so outdoors!

eric

 

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.

FREE Summer Yoga with GatherDC!

yoga

  • Stressed out?
  • Struggling to get out of bed?
  • Feels like Friday but its only Tuesday?

Yup. Yup. Yup.

We understand.

That’s why we’re inviting you to OM-it-out with us on Thursday evenings so you can head into your summer weekends with invigorated energy! Our in-house yoga teacher Allison Friedman (bio below) will be hosting 60-minute power yoga classes on Thursdays from May 30th – August 22nd. 

After class, you’re welcome to hang out and schmooze with your new “omies” over tea and healthy snacks.

Classes are free to attend and all levels are welcome. Please come in yoga clothes and BYOM (Bring Your Own Mat).*

 

sign up

Details

  • When: Thursdays from May 30th – August 22nd at 5:30pm
  • What: 60-minute Jew-ish power yoga at beginner to intermediate level
  • Where: Gather’s townhouse at 1817 M St NW
  • Who: Jewish and “Jew-curious” 20s/30s in the DC-area

Cost

  • Class is FREE to attend, but we suggest a $12 donation to GatherDC for each class.

RSVP

 

*If you do not own a mat, one will be provided for you. Just give us the heads up.

yoga

About Allison: In addition to working for Gather as Communications Director, Allison Friedman recently graduated from a 200-hour yoga teacher training with CorePower Yoga. Yoga and Jewish spirituality are two of her favorite things, and she can’t wait to share the healing practice of Jewish-infused yoga with you. She sees yoga as an invigorating physical and mental practice that can inspire internal serenity, strength, and compassion.

For questions, email allisonf@gatherdc.org

Meet Risa: Jewish Sports Feminist of the Week

Risa Isard is one of the most passionate and fascinating women I’ve ever had the pleasure of interviewing over the years. As a 13-year-old, she was casually reading a WNBA collective bargaining agreement before bed and dreaming about how to leverage the power of sport for social change. As a young woman today, she is a thought leader at KaBoom!, self-proclaimed sports feminist, and lover of Passover. Read on to get to know Risa!

Allie: What brought you to DC?

Risa: After college I was living in Fresno, California working for a minor league baseball team. While there, I had an opportunity to intern at the annual espnW Summit. It was there that I met my future boss. A few months after meeting, he offered me my dream job opportunity in DC and I moved across the country for it.

Allie: What triggered your passion for sports?

Risa: I grew up as the biggest WNBA fan ever. I was and am a female athlete. I grew up playing soccer and basketball with my dad and brother, and since high school have predominantly been a runner. I’ve dabbled in rowing, frisbee, triathlons, and cycling. I will play anything and everything as long as I’m having fun and being active outside. I first came at [my love for the WNBA] from a fan perspective, but I became more interested in the business of it. At the same time, I was active in community service and social change efforts and as I traveled along these parallel paths, I came to understand the role of sport in the community and the world.

Allie: How old were you when you started learning about the business of sports?

Risa: In middle school, I stumbled across the collective bargaining agreement between the WNBA Players Association and the League. I printed it out and read it before bed. That got me really into sports business. But I felt conflicted. I remember standing at my kitchen counter when I was around 13 years old, trying to figure out how I could change the world and also work in the sports industry. I developed my own personal theory about using sports for social change. In college, I designed my own major around sports and social change, gender, and culture and wrote my honors thesis on the pre-history of Title IX, which I’ve been lucky enough to be able to continue to do some work in.

Allie: How do you think sport relates to social change?

Risa: Sport is a microcosm of society and society is a macrocosm of sport.  There’s a constant, metaphorical conversation between the field and the stands, and the stands and those outside the stadium. Sport serves as a barometer of our society’s values towards race, gender, sexuality, class, bodies, ability, and so much else.

There’s a nice narrative about sport being this beautiful thing that brings people together, and I think that is true – or at least can be true – but it’s not inherently so. If we want sport to be a force for good, we need to be intentional about it. That’s my interest. Personally, I’m passionate about the human side of sports and what we can learn about ourselves, our societies, our cultures, our beliefs, and our values through sports.

risa

Allie: If you could change one thing about the sports industry, what would it be?

Risa: Equality. Women’s sports and women athletes are not valued the same way as men’s sports and male athletes are. It mirrors the rest of our society’s gender gap, and it’s a problem. Equality also means making sure athletes with and without disabilities are valued. The first step in both is investment – by leagues and governing bodies, corporate sponsors, and media. Market demand for sport is created, and right now we’re shortchanging a lot of athletes – which perpetuates a culture of inequality off the field, too. We should be celebrating what the human body is capable of.

Allie: If you could be a professional athlete, what sport would you want to play?

Rise: Soccer. You can’t be a female athlete who grew up in the 90s and not dream of playing with Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain and Julie Foudy. Today, I’m such a fangirl for women’s running. Being a super fast marathon runner would be amazing. If I were taller, I’d say basketball.

Allie: I heard you just started an awesome new job, tell me about that!

Risa: I’m the Associate Director for Thought Leadership at KaBOOM!, which is a national nonprofit dedicated to ensuring all kids grow up with the active and balanced play that they need to thrive.

Allie: Describe your dream day in DC.

Rise: Waking up really early to go for a run during a beautiful sunrise with amazing friends, and brunching somewhere after — maybe the Whole Foods hot bar. Then, I’d go for an adventure in the city, making the most of who I’m with, and end with an evening theater production. Some of my best days are when I think I have nowhere to be but exactly where I am, so I’d love to have a day where I can do that with my friends. We’d probably just sit on the couch at some point, too.

risa

Allie: What is your favorite Jewish holiday?

Rise: Passover. I grew up across the country from all of my extended family and Passover was the one time we all got to be together. That was always really special. I love my family’s traditions – we dance to Dayenu, we have this big negotiation that happens with the afikomen, we tell stories about my grandparents and great grandparents, and I love that my favorite Biblical character – Nachshon Ben Aminadav – makes a small appearance in the Passover story. I love when we get to the part in the story when Nachson has the courage to walk forth into the Red Sea. Passover is an awesome opportunity to reflect on that story and what it means to me.

Allie: What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

Risa: I’m a hard ambivert. People who just see me out my might think I’m an extrovert, but I have a lot of introverted tendencies. At the end of the day, I often need solo time to recharge.

Allie: Who is your Jewish role model?

Risa: I’m lucky to come from a line of amazing Jewish women. To know me is to know I adore my Bubby. I also feel really connected to my great grandmother Reisa, who I’m named for. She came over by herself in the early 1900s. She was a doctor and I’m told she spoke 7 languages. I’ve always heard people say amazing things about her.

Allie: When Jews DC gather…

Risa: There better be challah.

risa

 

 


 

Want to nominate your amazing Jewish friend to be featured on GatherDC? Send his/her name, brief blurb, and contact info to info@gatherdc.org.

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.