Allie: What brought you to DC?
Matt: I’m a DC area native. I grew up in Potomac, MD so for me, coming back to DC was a sensible step to be closer to my family. I missed DC after being away for a while in Israel and then Philly. I missed the greenery, the funky neighborhoods, the beautiful architecture, and the incredible bookstores.
Allie: What were you doing in Israel?
Matt: I was in Israel for a year and a half starting in July 2017. I speak a bunch of different languages including Hebrew, Arabic, and Yiddish, and while living there, I got to use these languages almost every day. I was working as a PR freelancer to fund my experience there, and was mostly there to travel and explore. I traveled to 120 different towns and cities in Israel and 10 different European countries. I blogged about all of it, so you can read about some of my adventures.
Allie: I hear you recently landed a job as the new director of GLOE. Tell me about that!
Matt: Full disclosure, today is my second day on the job. But, GLOE is the Gay and Lesbian Outreach and Engagement program of the EDCJCC. It’s the only program of its kind through a JCC in the country. It’s social, cultural, spiritual, and offers people an opportunity for queer Jews to really plug into a Jewish space. It also offers Jewish institutions that are not specifically from this community an opportunity to make their spaces more welcoming and engaging for the LGBTQ+ community. If you’re interested in plugging in, reach out to me!
Allie: What are you most excited about for this role?
Matt: I get to be in my space! I’ve spent a lot of time working in refugee and immigrant communities, where I was in a mostly Latino community, so it’s very different that I get to work in a Jewish and gay space where I don’t have to explain anything about myself. I have so many allies around who get it.
Allie: Are there any GLOE events coming up people should know about?
Allie: Describe your perfect DC day.
Matt: First, I’ll go to Torah Brunch at Bread Furst, and then walk around the Hillwood Estate. Then, I’ll go to a few bookstores. Some of my favorites are The Lantern, Second Story Books, and Kramer Books. I might read at Teaism after the bookstores. For dinner, I’ll go to Paragon Thai. The people there are so nice – for my birthday one year, they gave me gifts. I love Paragon Thai – go visit! After dinner, I’d like to go to my favorite language exchange event where you write the languages you speak on a nametag and can walk around and practice with people.
Allie: What are all the languages do you speak?
Matt: English, Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic, French, Portuguese, Catalan, and intermediate Yiddish.
Allie: What about language interests you and how did you ever manage to learn all of these?!
Matt: I love language because it just opens your mind to a different world, you can meet new friends, and you learn about different ways of being and thinking. For me, I’m a big music fan so I will sometimes learn a language because I like the music that it’s sung in. I usually learn languages from a private tutor, and practicing and teaching. I actually teach Hebrew, Spanish, and French. If you want to learn a language – contact me. I think private tutoring is the most effective way to learn, and then you need to use it.
Allie: Are there other languages you want to learn?
Matt: Oh my god, yes. I’ve studied some Greek and am considering taking German or Italian. I found a language exchange person who knows Romanian and wants to learn Spanish, so hopefully we will get together and learn from each other.
Allie: What’s your favorite language?
Matt: I like Spanish because you can use it almost everywhere in America. French makes me relaxed. But I love all of them.
Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…
Matt: They can and should find interesting questions to ask each other besides “What do you do?”
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