Jewish Therapist of the Week: Naomi!

At the risk of sounding incredibly basic and maybe even a little creepy, I have a major friend crush on Naomi LeVine (pronounced Lah-vIne). *Hi Naomi!* I met her on the Jewish Spirituality Camping Trip this past fall (planned by GatherDC’s Jewish Outdoorsman of the Week – Daniel, Jewish Camper of the Week – Mark, and the phenomenal Natalie Birnbaum who has not yet been featured, but not to fret – her day will soon come).

I was immediately drawn to her positive spirit, laid-back energy, and heavenly singing voice. After guiding us through hours of ukulele filled jam sessions around the campfire, I knew she had to become the Jewish Person of the Week. Lucky for me – and now YOU – we have an exclusive 1:1 interview with Naomi right here.


Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Naomi: I moved here in 2016 to start my master’s in Couple and Family Therapy at University of Maryland.

Allie: Why did you decide to become a couple and family therapist?

Naomi: I had been doing a lot of work with kids, and realized that while that work was really incredible, those kids would then go home and see things that would reinforce negative patterns. So, that shifted my interest into working with families and couples. I feel like that’s where I can make the most lasting change.

Allie: What inspired you to become a therapist in the first place?

Naomi: The passion to make changes at the root of the cause coupled with the importance of individualized work and being able to talk about issues in a personal way.

Allie: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Naomi: When I see or hear about a positive interaction that somebody had that feels different than an interaction that they’ve had before. I get to see that something is different and that the work we’ve been doing is worth it.

Allie: What is one quick tip you would give to help couples who might be reading this interview?

Naomi: Don’t lose sight of why you like each other. You have to be friends first. You’re going to have moments of conflict and moments when you disagree, but try to keep that base level of respect for the other person and understand their perspective – even if you don’t agree with it.


Allie: Outside of work, I hear that you’re currently a part of GatherDC’s Open Doors Fellowship. Tell me about that!

Naomi: It’s a fellowship where DC Jewish young adults come together to learn how to form intentional, one-on-one relationships with Jewish 20s and 30s across the DC-area. I believe in personal relationship-building being the key way we can make our Jewish community feel smaller and more welcoming. So if anyone wants to grab coffee, let me know! It’s on Gather.

Allie: What would be your dream free day in DC?

Naomi: I would wander around Eastern Market for a bit, and then head over to the American Art Museum. If it’s nice out I would spend time reading outside on the Mall. Then, I’d grab some dairy-free ice cream at Jeni’s on my way home!

Allie: What are your go-to ways to relax?

Naomi: I love playing music. If I have a long day, I pick up a guitar and play or write something. I also love reading, and doing yoga or going to spin class at Zengo. And a good, long shower.


Allie: Tell me more about your guitar playing/songwriting!

Naomi: I come from a very musical family, both of my parents play a wide variety of instruments. They had me in piano lessons when I was little, but after a few years I quit because I hated it. In eighth grade, I picked up my dad’s guitar and he showed me how to play. That rekindled my interest in playing instruments. So, now I play guitar, ukulele, and tried to pick piano back up. I love to sing.

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?

Naomi: Tu B’shvat. My family went all out for Tu B’shvat. We had a huge seder with all different kinds of fruit and vegetarian food. There’s singing, reading, it’s so much fun, and everything is very intentional about it.

Allie: With Purim coming up, do you have a favorite hamantaschen flavor?

Naomi: The only time I ever bake is for Purim. I love baking hamantaschen! Last year I made a cookies & cream hamantaschen and a matcha white chocolate hamantaschen. I also made a samoa one that had the coconut caramel filling and then dipped in chocolate. This year, I’m going to do a fruity pebbles hamantaschen. I love experimenting with different fillings.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Naomi: We play a wild game of Jewish geography!


Homemade by Naomi


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.

Celebrate Purim, No Hangover Guaranteed

Purim is almost here! Around town, you will usually find hundreds of young adults gathering at local synagogues and bars while dressed up in their favorite costumes, doing lots – and lots – of drinking. On Purim, we’re actually told by the Talmud to drink to the point of not knowing the difference between Haman and Mordecai. But, as much as some may love a stiff Raspberry Hamantini, others may choose not to imbibe for a variety of reasons.

For all those who want more Purim and less alcohol, I present to you a roundup of alternative Purim celebration ideas that provide plenty of festiveness without giving you a headache the next day.

Mishloach Manot

Grab your crew and make these or these creative mishloach manot (Purim gift baskets) for friends or family, or make snack bags for a local non-profit such as Martha’s Table.


Hamantaschen Baking

Host a Hamantaschen bake-off and try unique flavors like gingerbread apple spice, cappuccino, and caramelized onion and goat cheese.


Purim Masks

Discuss a Purim theme such as the “masks we wear” or show off your creative side with a photo shoot at EntryPointDC’s Umasked: A Purim Celebration & Service Project.


Booze-Free Purim Party

Attend a Dry Purim party with Moishe House Columbia Heights and enjoy snacks, games, and some delicious mocktails.


Murder Mystery

Need an excuse to dress up and put on a costume? Host a Purim Mystery dinner and assign characters to your guests.

murder mystery

A Very Beatles Musical

Take a road trip to Philly or Brooklyn to witness the interactive musical and sing-a-long A Very Beatles Purim.

the beatles


Who knew Purim without the liquor could be so much fun?

Share your #alternativePurim ideas on Instagram and make sure to tag @e_dcjcc and @GatherDC.



About the Author: Stacy Miller is enjoys entertaining her large Jew crew at her home and is currently the Director of EntryPointDC, the 20s and 30s program of the Edlavitch DCJCC. She represents all things Northern Virginia as the Founder of NOVA Tribe Series and is a former GatherDCGirl of the Year Runner-Up. Most importantly, she wants you know she LOVES this community a-latke.








The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Spotted in Jewish DC: Supper Club @ Call Your Mother Deli!

1:1 Interview with Andrew Dana, Co-Founder/Owner of Timber Pizza Company


You might remember Andrew Dana from that time he was named Jewish (Call Your Mother) Deli Owner of the Week; or when his restaurant Timber was featured in Gather’s Ultimate DC Vegan Pizza Rankings; or perhaps when he told The Washington Post how he likes to add chicken tenders to his pizza?

Well, he’s back…

This time around, Andrew is bringing his foodie soul, laid-back spirit, and witty repartee to the dinner table. And you’re invited.


Allie: Alright, so tell me about these Family Dinners at Call Your Mother?

Andrew: It’s a fun dinner party; super fun, super delicious. Kind of like a supper club, but less formal and fancy. It’s 18 people who come in to share a meal, share the space. It’ll feel like you’re going to dinner at your friend’s house with bottles of wine on the tables, big platters of food, like a fun, chill neighborhood gathering.

We want a total mix of people, so we cap the amount of tickets you can buy. [This way], you can get to know some new people in the neighborhood. We want to open up that sense of community in DC.


Allie: How often are you hosting these dinners?

Andrew: 3 nights a week. Tuesdays are pasta night. Wednesdays are a gourmet take on fast food. Thursdays are Southern comfort food.

Allie: Let’s talk about the food…

Andrew:  Dani [AKA: Chef Daniela Moreira] is the best chef I know, she’s super talented. On Tuesdays for pasta night she’ll make three types of pasta from scratch, salads, and homemade cannolis. On fast food nights she’ll make homemade french fries, smash burgers or we can make the Impossible Burger if you’re vegetarian, and an apple pie flavored McFlurry. On Thursdays – Southern Night – she makes a chicken fried burger, peel and eat shrimp, black eyed peas, rice, homemade bread, fruit cobbler, and sweet tea. We’ll do different menus in the summer.


Allie: Why should a GatherDC reader splurge on this?

Andrew: Great community, good food, good times, it’s the best. And it’s at a Jewish deli – win-win-win. There might be a little Jewish twist in these meals, I don’t want to give anything away.

Allie: Okay, I’m sold. How do I get my ticket?

Andrew: Online here. It’s $68.50 which includes all the food, booze, tax, and tip. We’re already sold out for the month of March!


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 Jake: Jewish Dancer of the Week


Allie: What brought you to DC?

Jake: I was born in Los Angeles, and then my family moved to Potomac, Maryland for a few years before we relocated to Boston. I went to college in Minnesota and majored in political science. I knew I wanted to do something around government and politics, so I decided to move to DC when I graduated. I flew out here for a job interview about a week after graduating. I didn’t get that job, but still moved to DC full time. That was almost five years ago.

Allie: Describe your perfect DC day.

Jake: Honestly, I have not had a free weekend in a long time, because outside of my job I’m also in graduate school. But if I had the time, I would start my day with a cup of coffee and then go for a nice bike ride somewhere. Maybe I’d hit Rock Creek Park. Then I’d go for brunch with a few friends at Medium Rare.

After brunch, I’d like to go see something new in DC. When I first moved here and was unemployed, I made a habit out of finding obscure monuments and markers in DC. I’ve seen all sorts of random memorials in the city. So after brunch, I’d like to go to one of those with my friends. After that, I would go to my favorite Chinese restaurant Peter Chang’s out in Rockville and then magically get back to DC in time to go out salsa dancing.

Allie: Tell me more about your salsa dancing!

Jake: I first started dancing in third or fourth grade. I took after school lessons. Then, I took some dance classes in college for credit – they had salsa and swing dancing. I think you can’t spend time in the midwest without learning about agriculture and swing dancing. I tried to go out dancing in DC with mixed success, it wasn’t that fun to go alone. At the advice of a friend, I joined the Georgetown Ballroom Dance Team. Now, I’m learning actual ballroom dances to compete with. Like “Dancing with the Stars”, but less flash. I’ve learned foxtrot, waltz, quickstep, tango, samba, cha-cha, jive, and rumba.

Allie: “Roomba” – like the vacuum cleaning robot?

Jake: Um, I think of it more like rum the drink, which can be good to have before dancing.

Allie: What’s your favorite style of dance?

Jake: My favorite dances are the Latin dances like chacha, rumba, salsa, and jive. They’re fun to do and lighthearted. My instructor said they allegedly originated in brothels as a way to flirt.

Allie: What do you enjoy most about dancing?

Jake: I’ve always enjoyed dancing. I enjoy learning new routines. It’s healthy, a productive use of my time, and I’m learning a skill that I can show off when I go to weddings.


Allie: What are your goals for your future in dancing?

Jake: Getting better. I’ve been competing for a couple of years now and would like to place in a competition.

Allie: Outside of dance, what are your favorite ways to relax?

Jake: Going for a bike ride, cooking, and baking. This past weekend I made brownies with a graham cracker crust and caramel ganache on top!

Allie: Since Purim is coming up, have you thought about baking hamantaschen?

Jake: I have not, but probably should.

Allie: What are your favorite flavors of hamantaschen?

Jake: Raspberry, strawberry and apricot preserves, and chocolate.

Allie: What is on your life bucket list?

Jake: I’d like to go to New Orleans, and explore the U.S. more in general. I’m not a big solo traveler, so I haven’t traveled as much as I would like to. I really want to go back to Yosemite – I tried last year but there was a big wildfire and I had to cancel my plans to go to the park. I have a tent if anyone wants to go with me! [Editor’s note: Seriously, leave a comment below if interested….]

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Jake: They laugh!




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.

OPINION: Who Counts as Jewish?

Disclaimer: 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.


Who counts as Jewish?

To non-Jews, this might sound like a bizarre inquiry, but everyone within the faith knows the thorny politics that surround this question. And, as is often the case, if you ask this question to two Jews, you’ll get three opinions.

This question is more than just a political dispute. The answer essentially defines the purpose and essence of Judaism, as well as who gets to claim Jewish status. It’s a bitterly divisive question, and one that often leaves many people feeling hurt and excluded, if not downright irate. Please, for real, see disclaimer #3 at the bottom***.

In this article, I will first outline what I think are a few of the most commonly held opinions on the subject (see disclaimer #1 at the bottom*). Then, I will discuss what I feel are the strengths and weaknesses of each.

who is jewish


The Definitions


From the standpoint of traditional Judaism, being Jewish means having a mother who was born Jewish, since tradition dictates that Judaism is matrilineal. It’s binary: either you have a Jewish mother (and she had a Jewish mother, who also had a Jewish mother…), or you’re not Jewish. The essence of Judaism, according to this theory, is genetic; nothing more, nothing less. This was the way things ran for thousands of years.


As the world (and Judaism) have evolved, additional modern approaches to the “who counts?” question have emerged. The next most traditional approach argues that being Jewish means being religious and following the laws of the religion. Praying every day, keeping kosher, observing Shabbat, etc., are what define and separate us from other religions. People differ in their opinions about which specific practices you need to keep and to what degree, but the basic idea is that the essence of Judaism is religious practice.

Feeling Connected to the Religion

The religiosity theory primarily hinges on behaviors and religious practices, but part of that is an implicit sense of feeling connected to the religion. This is another answer to the “who counts?” question: that Judaism is primarily about feeling connected to the religion, engaging with the religion, and being proud to be part of the religion. This is probably the approach that has the most variation among its constituents: for some, feeling connected means thinking about issues from a Jewish perspective and having discussions about Jewish topics. For others, it means being proud of being Jewish and being a vocal advocate for Jewish causes. For others, it means being religious and deriving meaning from religious practices (essentially an addendum to the “Religiosity” answer above). For others still, it’s some combination of the three. The key component of this approach is that the person’s spirituality and connection to Judaism are what matter, not their exact behaviors, practices, or familial background.

Cultural Judaism

Finally, many Jews subscribe to the “Cultural Judaism” approach, which focuses on the many pieces of Jewish culture that do not directly relate to specific religious practices or doctrine. Eating bagels, schmoozing, Israeli dance, and other activities define this approach. From this vantage point, being around other Jews and sharing in the common culture is the defining feature of being Jewish. This approach is perhaps the most common among American Jews today.

My Take

Now that I’ve outlined some of the most common approaches to the “who counts?” question, I’ll take a moment to provide my own personal musings on their relative merits:



This is the least convincing and most problematic approach to me. First and foremost, it does not require any effort or devotion from the person; if you were lucky enough to be born to a Jewish mother, you get a free pass. This seems directly at odds with many core aspects of Judaism (especially traditional Judaism!), which emphasize the importance of hard work and dedication. In addition, it excludes a huge swath of Jews in a way that fails the “sniff test”: according to this theory, a practicing Jew who goes to synagogue, loves the religion, and constantly tries to build their Jewish community might not be considered Jewish. On the other hand, someone who hates the religion, feels no connection to it, and has no interest in raising a Jewish family, could be considered Jewish. While this is technically the answer according tradition, to me it feels inadequate and arbitrary.

On a more practical level, this seems like a strategically poor approach: the genetic theory primarily incentivizes marriage practices, with little focus on people’s religious practices or sense of connection and belonging. The question of whether intermarriage will shorten the lifespan of the Jewish religion is outside the scope of this article, but I would strongly argue that a world of genetically “pure” Jews with no connection to the religion is much less likely to keep the religion alive than a group of genetically diverse, but incredibly enthusiastic ones.


The religious approach makes sense on a basic level: Judaism is a religion, and religions are traditionally defined by beliefs and practices. If someone is born into a Jewish family, but their family does not engage in any religious activities, it seems like a misnomer to label them Jewish (unless you subscribe to the genetic theory).

From a pragmatic and self-preservation perspective, this approach makes the most sense to me. The people who are most likely to pass down the religion (and even, one could argue, the cultural aspects) are probably the people who are voluntarily engaging in Jewish practices in the first place. The religious approach is probably the simplest one that passes the “sniff test” for me.

The main problem with this approach is that it risks alienating a huge group of modern Jews for whom religious practice is not the defining feature of their Judaism. For many, religious practice might be a piece of their Jewish identity, but connecting with Judaism in other ways is their priority. Given how quickly Judaism (along with other religions) is shrinking, it seems like a mistake to cast out this massive group of people in pursuit of a stricter definition.

Connecting with the Religion

The “Connecting with the Religion” approach also makes a lot of sense to me, and it solves some of the inclusivity issues that go along with the “Religiosity” approach. Many Jews feel a deep connection with Judaism, whether or not they actively engage with the religious doctrine. This approach allows a diversity of practices and backgrounds to coexist under one roof; whether you connect to Judaism through prayer, discussion, Israel advocacy, or any of the other myriad options, this approach offers you a seat at the table.

From a pragmatic standpoint, this approach complements and mirrors the “Religiosity” one. It still focuses on people who are actively maintaining the religion, but allows for the inclusion of a wider slice of the modern Jewish pie. If you make Jewishly-focused people feel included, one would imagine that they’ll be more likely to keep up the practice (however they define it) and pass it down to their children.

The downside to this approach is that it has the potential to be a bit too permissive, since it essentially allows people to define Judaism however they want. While that may be good for the most part, there are certainly cases where it can go too far. As an example, many people define their Judaism primarily through the practice of tikkun olam, or healing the world. For many of them, though, this ends up simply being a commitment to charity that is not actually informed by the traditions of Judaism. While a commitment to charity is always a good thing, I think that this is pushing the envelope by ascribing a general, secular value to Judaism, simply because A) they subscribe to it and B) they also happen to be Jewish. At some point, it’s important for one’s Jewish principles to actually be rooted in specific Jewish traditions (however broadly defined).

Cultural Judaism

The “Cultural Judaism” approach is one that I find fairly unconvincing (at least as a complete explanation). First and foremost, it suffers from the same problem as the “Feeling Connected” approach above: if anyone can define what cultural Judaism means and no one can dispute it, then there are bound to be cases where people include things that seem too general and secular. Beyond that, this approach feels slightly too removed from the religious nature of Judaism for me. Specifically, I know many non-Jews (both self-defined and as defined by other Jews) who love many of the aspects of cultural Judaism. They sometimes joke that they wouldn’t even need to convert, because they love going to Bar Mitzvahs, eating bagels, saying yiddish words, etc. Saying that these people are genuinely Jewish fails the “sniff test” pretty clearly to me. If our definition of Judaism includes people who would never seriously consider themselves Jewish (and who very few Jews would consider Jewish), it cannot be the sole way in which we define Judaism.

That said, I think that cultural Judaism makes a lot of sense as one piece of what it means to be Jewish. Few Jews would deny that culture plays a role in their relationship with Judaism, even if they primarily define culture through religious practices like going to synagogue. If this is the case, any definition that wholly ignores the cultural component would seem incomplete.

From a pragmatic point of view, I think the “Cultural Judaism” approach has both pluses and minuses. On the one hand, the “Cultural” approach makes many people who would otherwise have little connection to the religion feel included. To not use this definition (at least partially) runs the risk of alienating those people enough to drive them away from the religion altogether. On the other hand, I think there is a strong argument to be made that Jewish culture (much like any other culture) has a tendency to fade over time, unless anchored to something more enduring. It boils down to the classic argument of whether to be prescriptive or descriptive, and I think there is merit to both points.


So, where does that leave us? Obviously, I do not have the perfect answer to the “who counts?” question, and I would strongly argue that anyone would be hard pressed to find one.

My hope in writing this article is that it encourages Jews to engage in discussion around this question in a more productive way. I hope that people will think about not only their own perspectives, but also how those perspectives interact with other Jews and their experiences.

If we do this, I think we have a much better chance of creating a religion with both purpose and inclusion, flexibility and resolve; one that has the power to attract people from across the religious spectrum, and one that can outlast the ups and downs of external historical trends.


*Disclaimer #1

This list is by no means exhaustive. If you or people you know have an approach to Judaism that does not appear in this article, that doesn’t mean it’s not legitimate! I chose to include these four approaches because they are the most common ones that I’ve encountered.

**Disclaimer #2

“It seems like sometimes you use the word ‘Judaism’ to refer to the culture/race, but other times you use it to refer to the religion.” That is correct! I find it hard to argue that Judaism is entirely one or the other, and I would have tied myself in knots trying to delineate which definition I was using in every instance throughout the article.

***Disclaimer #3

In writing this article, I sincerely did not set out to offend or upset anyone. That said, I know that it is hard to avoid doing so when discussing such a hot-button issue. I hope that if people take issue with parts of this piece, they’ll use that as inspiration to write their own articles or have discussions with friends in a respectful and productive way.



eliAbout the Author: Eli Feldman is the Research Associate to the President at The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a non-partisan non-profit that defends student and faculty rights on college campuses. Eli graduated from Yale in 2016 with a degree in psychology.  Eli is an alumni of GatherDC’s Open Doors Fellowship, from which he launched the Jewish Monthly Article Club (JMAC), a club for Jewish 20s/30s to discuss articles about a range of important topics. He is passionate about sports, music, coding, politics, free speech, Marvel movies, and tech.




Your DC Purim Guide: 2019/5779


Raise your hand if…

  • You like to party
  • Eat sugary cookies filled with peanut butter/chocolate/raspberry jam
  • Dress in costume when its not Halloween
  • Enjoy libations guilt free
  • Scream really loudly about political figures you despise

Well, you are in luck…

Purim is just around the corner.

Since its been a full year (or more?!) since you last celebrated this glorious holiday, here’s a little refresher of the Purim story: An awful anti-Semitic man wanted to destroy the Jews. He didn’t. We partied.

If you want more of a history refresher, try going to one of the many Megillah-readings around DC (listed below) or watching this brand new investigative podcast, “Haman: A True Crime Story”.

Haman: A True Crime Story from Allison Friedman on Vimeo.


There’s also a huge slew of other Purim parties, hamantaschen recipes, and gatherings across the DMV! Oh, and if we missed a Purim event – submit it here or email Allison Friedman.

However you celebrate, we wish you a chag Purim sameach – a happy and joyous Purim!

Sunday, March 10th

Saturday, March 16th

Sunday, March 17th

Monday, March 18th

Tuesday, March 19th

Wednesday, March 20th

Friday, March 22nd

Saturday, March 23rd

Monday, March 25th


Where to Get Hamantaschen

Purim Inspiration

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Spotted in Jewish DC: The Jewish Planner

Amanda Herring (former Jewish Shabbat Host of the Week) and Mo Golden met in graduate school and are both Jewish experiential educators. They wanted a Jewish planner, and it didn’t exist. So…they made one!

amanda planner

Allie: How did The Jewish Planner come to fruition?

Amanda: I was doing the JOFEE Fellowship and had just gotten back from my cohort training at the Isabella Freedman Retreat Center. [During this training], I did so much cool learning about the Jewish calendar and how it connects to the agricultural calendar and the seasons. I love planners, but found that there was not a single planner out there that’s Jewish, easy to use, and pocket-size. Mo is a friend from graduate school and is an amazing artist and designer. She had used Kickstarter before, and told me, “we can do this!”

Mo: Amanda’s been making the content with the monthly teachings and dates, and I’ve been working on illustrations and design layouts. It’s been exciting to see how our skills complement each other’s, and how we are in different communities that are all really excited about this.

Allie: What are your dreams for future of this planner?

Amanda: That people will use this planner and give us feedback on it so we can adjust and make it even better for next year. In future years, we’d love to work with Jewish organizations to make specific planners for them.

Mo: I hope this planner can reframe the way we connect to Jewish education, and make people feel less marginalized and more cohesive. It can help people find more connection and meaning in the Jewish community.

Amanda: It’s one of those things that can bring a little bit of Judaism to your day, every day.

Allie: Where can I buy one?

Mo: We’re live on Kickstarter! [Pledge $30 or more to get a physical copy of the planner shipped to you.]

Allie: What do you want people to feel when they use this planner?

Amanda: Alignment. It’s not two separate lives that you’re living between work and Judaism.

Mo: A sense of belonging, connection, and centeredness.

jewish planner



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 Tali: Jewish Bot-Maker of the Week!


Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Tali: I moved to DC last November from New York, but I’m originally from near Cleveland, Ohio. I got an exciting new job here and I was lucky to have friends in the area when I moved (shoutout to Ariella, Joelle, and to former GatherDC Jewish Person of the Week, Monica Arkin)!

Allie: What were you doing in New York?

Tali: In New York, I was focused on designing bots and AI at an incredible startup called Wade & Wendy. My portfolio includes ‘The ShaBot”, a bot you can chat with via Facebook Messenger that provides Shabbat times.

The ShaBot was discovered by the design team that I ended up joining at Capital One. I still can’t believe it, but by building my own things, I was eventually able to connect with designers and creatives that I respect a lot. It’s been an interesting experience working on Eno (Capital One’s intelligent assistant) for over a year now. I’ve loved working with the insanely talented people who challenge me to grow all the time on this team! I’m also excited to challenge the status quo of having female robot assistants (why is that a thing?) and to continue to build technologies that make people feel understood and in control of their finances!

Allie: What is you dream day in DC from start to finish, assuming money is no object?

Tali: Take a jog by the waterfront. Picnic with all the good friends I’ve made in DC by the cherry blossoms. Check out a museum. Taste a bunch of things at the DuPont Circle Farmer’s Market. Surprise someone with a speakeasy they haven’t seen before, and then end the night overlooking the city at the W Hotel’s rooftop.

tali college

Allie: What is a piece of wisdom or quote that inspires you?

Tali: “Be a rainbow in someone’s cloud,” from Maya Angelou. I love Maya Angelou’s writing and wisdom. The idea of being a rainbow in someone’s cloud is that when we take it upon ourselves to make someone else feel awesome, we all benefit. It’s based on the idea that people will forget what you said and what you did, but they won’t forget how you made them feel. So why not bring the light?!

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

Tali: White wine, a bubble bath, and some Adele blasting in the background before heading to a Shabbat dinner with friends.

Allie: What three things are at the top of your life bucket list?

Tali: Make Tina Fey laugh, climb at least one more mountain, and learn how to master baking challah.

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

Tali: We make so many mothers very proud.


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 Evan: Jewish Oklahoman of the Week!


Allison: How did you wind up living in DC?

Evan: I am originally from Oklahoma City. I was born and raised there. Then, I went to school at University of Kansas, and when I graduated I went to New York to work at URJ (Union for Reform Judaism). I was ready and excited to get out of the midwest. I was doing long distance with my girlfriend who was in DC, so when URJ let me start in a new role in DC, I moved down here. I just moved to DC this past summer. In the next couple of years, I want to go to rabbinical school.

Allison: What motivated you to want to work in the Jewish community?

Evan: I grew up in the Jewish community my entire life, but it wasn’t until high school when I went to URJ Greene Family Camp and got involved with NFTY (The Reform Jewish Youth Movement) that I was able to see Judaism as more than just showing up to religious school or synagogue. NFTY was where I found a community I cared about and got to talk about important issues.

Allison: What’s your favorite way to celebrate Shabbat?

Evan: I’m a very musical person, so I’d love to go to a a musical Shabbat service followed by dinner and dessert with friends. On Saturday, I don’t set an alarm so I can sleep in; I like to make Saturday a very chill day.

Allison: If you could invite 3 celebs to join you for Shabbat dinner, who would you choose?

Evan: Number one would be Barack Obama. Beyonce would be really cool. I might also have to say Rep. John Lewis.


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

Evan: Number one is France. I really want to go. I also want to go to Africa, I still need to pinpoint which countries. I’m biracial and my dad’s side of the family is black and descended from slaves. I would love to be able to visit that country and learn more about those roots.

Allison: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?

Evan: One of my favorite Jewish holidays is Passover because of all the delicious foods that come with it. I love the fact that we have an entire holiday that is celebrated around the dinner table and is educational and fun. I’m big on charoset and gefilte fish – which I realize is a polarizing food.

Allison: Describe your dream DC day.

Evan: I would get up early, make breakfast and journal. I would find friends to go to brunch with at Busboys and Poets. I would spend the afternoon walking around DC and get closer to the mall and the monuments. Maybe pop in to a museum or two. In the evening, I’d find a great dinner place like Little Havana. At night, my girlfriend and I would have friends over to hang out at our apartment.


Allison: What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?

Evan: Growing up, I was in choir from 4th until 12th grade. In junior and senior year I was in show choir, which was just like Glee. We had singing and dancing competitions and wore sparkly vests.

Allison: What are your favorite musicals?

Evan: Hamilton. I saw it on Broadway last year! I also love Aladdin the musical, and Wicked.

Allison: When Jewish of DC Gather…

Evan: It’s exciting, comfortable, and new!




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 Balaboosta: Jewish Cat of the Month!

Want to nominate your awesome doggy or cat to be featured? Email Sarah Brennan and let her know.


Sarah: What is your name?


Sarah: Where did your name come from?

Balaboosta: My owner tells me that balaboosta is Yiddish for  a Jew who is the fearless emotional center of their family, who makes sure her table is not only full of gorgeous food, but also full of friends, compassion, and fruit. My owner wanted me to be a balaboosta to her and make sure she’s happy.

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

Balaboosta: Go to Busboys and Poets in Takoma Park and sit outside with my owner as she drinks her favorite $5 fresh-squeezed mimosa.

Sarah: What is it like to live with your owner?

Balaboosta: Well, first of all, I’m glad my owner is a vegan. She’s a really sweet, creative soul. She’s a bit clingy, but she’s a sensitive gal so that goes with who she is.

Sarah: What is your favorite food?

Balaboosta: My favorite food is smoked salmon (AKA: lox). I mean, come on! I’m a Jewish cat  – of course that’s my fav. My owner gets me smoked salmon from Yes! Organic Market or Whole Foods Market, and makes me my favorite cat sashimi.


Sarah: Who is your best friend?

Balaboosta: My owner Michele.

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

Balaboosta: Tu B’shvat. It’s the New Year of trees which is the ideal holiday for a hippie cat like me. It’s also my owner’s favorite holiday because it celebrates her favorite things: fresh fruit, wine, and Israel – my favorite country! My owner tells me that there are lots of cats all over Israel.

Sarah: My biggest fear is….

Balaboosta: My owner being sad and not realizing that I’m always there for her. I’m a Balaboosta and that means  I take care of her!

Sarah: What is your spirit animal?

Balaboosta: A mouse. I’m sweet and shy and mousy.

Sarah: I get most excited when…

Balaboosta: There’s a simcha to celebrate, so my owner gets to see her family and dance around.



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.