Annie: I originally came to the area for a programming and engagement job at the University of Maryland Hillel. All I knew of DC was the Capitol and the Smithsonians, so I was delighted to discover a real local flavor beyond the white stone buildings of the Mall. I love how many ways there are to get involved locally, and how often folks are building their own communities. Some people joke that the constant networking can be tiring (I feel that, too!), but when it goes beyond the job search, there’s really a deep desire for connection — and that’s what’s made me stay.
Annie: When I moved to DC, the very first communal thing I signed up for was OneTable. I heard about this organization that helps you meet new people by sharing Friday night dinner, and I was all in. Hosting with OneTable quickly became one of the most fulfilling parts of my social life in DC — being able to create an intentional space with my non-Jewish partner and roommates that was open to people of all backgrounds, rooted in Jewish tradition, and centered on joy, mindfulness, and good food. I was thrilled to join the team in an official capacity this past March. Getting to empower others to make their own Friday night magic is truly a dream job!
Annie: In the last six months, OneTable has pivoted from supporting in-person gatherings for 5+ people to supporting intimate household dinners, outdoor and socially distanced dinners, virtual dinners, and even solo dinners. Much of my week is spent dreaming and scheming with OneTable hosts from Baltimore to Richmond and beyond about how to elevate their Friday night experience through thoughtful discussion, delicious takeout, and rituals both ancient and brand-new.
In these times, we are all so in need of connection and community. I feel really lucky to be a part of helping people find that. I think many of us are missing the experience of being a guest at someone else’s table, so one of my favorite new(er) parts of this job is helping with OneTable Live programming — weekly opportunities to plug into experiences run by others in our community, from yoga sessions to cocktail workshops to discussions about mental health, civic engagement, and anything in between.
An Instagram screenshot from @onetableshabbat, taken during a OneTable Live cocktail workshop with @matt.makes.drinks
Annie: In a pre-pandemic world, a dream day would involve a lot of learning — either a day at a museum, or a walk through one of the neighborhood heritage trails. I might go for Shouk or PLNT Burger for lunch. And then a walk to the Mall for ice cream. I miss pilates at Reformation Fitness!
These days, a dream morning would be a sleepy wakeup with breakfast at a new bagel place I haven’t yet tried, followed by a bike ride in nature (I’ve been meaning to check out Roosevelt Island for a year) and takeout in a park (perhaps Foodhini!), then time at home with our cat and a new board game from Labyrinth Games & Puzzles.
A dream closing to any day would be sipping iced tea from HipCityVeg or sangria from Immigrant Food as I watch the sunset from my rooftop, cuddled in a blanket, with good friends to share the view.
Annie: Shabbat, in any form (as long as it involves challah!)
Annie: Usually, I’d have spent this week with family. I was honestly feeling pretty bummed about not going home. Instead, I was lucky to find this Rosh Hashanah Seder guide, written by OneTable and Jewtina, which inspired me to try out a new ritual I didn’t grow up with. Friday night ended up being really beautiful. I’ve appreciated the reminder that it doesn’t need to take a pandemic to find and create new traditions.
Speaking about the season as a whole, I’m spending a lot of time reckoning with the state of the world and our country as they currently are. And dreaming and acting about the world and our country as I hope they can be. I am always inspired by the Haftorah reading I often hear in synagogue on Yom Kippur about the dangers of ritual becoming rote if it is done without intention — and the reminder that this season isn’t supposed to be about tradition for its own sake, but about taking inspiration from that tradition to pursue justice.
Annie at the Jerusalem Pride Parade. She is wearing pink, blue, and purple earrings and holding a sign in pink, blue, and purple which says “equality!” in Hebrew
Annie: Of course, this week my mind is on Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a woman who proudly championed the cause of justice and worked tirelessly to create the world she knew was possible. She was an unabashed feminist and used her many skills and strengths to pursue a better world not just for those who shared her identities, but for all people. RBG never hid her Jewishness, even as she struggled with and opted out of some religious practices. She knew the ways in which the system was flawed, but worked through it to make positive change, excelled in her field, and inspired generations. I wish I could have met her — the atmosphere in our city this week is heavy. May her memory be for a blessing and for a revolution.
Annie: Oh, I love traveling and exploring new places! Internationally, my top choices would be Brazil (for the nature, the music, and so my partner can flex his Portuguese) and India (for the food, of course, and for the vast diversity of cultures in a relatively small area). Since we might not be able to travel internationally for a while, I’m leaning on my many more local adventures. I love road trips — especially stopping by roadside attractions or trying local cuisine in off-the-highway towns. My partner is from Louisiana and Mississippi, so we’ve had a wonderful time traveling between here and there. There’s so much to explore within a day’s drive of DC. I’m hoping to get out more now that I have a car.
Annie and her partner, Dayton, enjoying a roadside attraction (a stuffed gator dressed in overalls) and some local cuisine (slushies) in Sorrento, Louisiana
Annie: My inbox is always open, and I’d love to get to know you. If you’re not yet involved with OneTable, apply now to create your own Friday night experience (or check out our OneTable Live programming). And if you’re reading this, let’s talk!
Annie: with good wine, good food, and good friends, we can make some beautiful magic.
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.