Meet Emily: Jewish Plant Mom of the Week

by Allison Friedman / May 4, 2021

Throughout the past year, Emily Adler has developed her passion for plants, container gardening, and kombucha making. When she’s not tending to her home hobbies, Emily can be found working at the nonprofit, Tony award-winning Signature Theatre company in Arlington.

Read this week’s interview to find out Emily’s favorite houseplants, her top recommendation for grabbing a drink in the city, and how she knows the Beach Boys! 

Allie: How did you make your way to the DC area?

Emily: I grew up in Fairfax County, so I’ve been in the area for a long time. I went to Chicago for a year for college and then moved down to Richmond and eventually found my way back up here when I found a position at Signature Theatre. I currently live with my husband in Van Ness.  

Allie: So you’ve done both the Virginia and the DC life. Do you have a preference? 

Emily: DC! I’ve always enjoyed cities. What I love most about DC is when you jump from neighborhood to neighborhood, every single one has its own everything. It feels like a culture jump to just go on a walk and experience the different architectural styles and people. I also love that there are so many public transportation options. 

Allie: What led you to your job at Signature Theatre?

Emily: I was an actor earlier in my career. I have a degree in Theater Performance from VCU in Richmond. Before that, when I was in school growing up, I participated in a program where students reviewed other high school theater shows. I was super involved in that as well as other community theater projects.

I thought I would be an actor, but ultimately decided what I really love is talking to people about theater. So, I got a job in community outreach at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. I spent my days talking to people about free shows that were coming to their neighborhood. That’s when I really found my passion for audience development and community development. The best part about working at Signature Theatre is that I get to be in charge of connecting people to the theater. 

Allie: That’s wonderful you were able to meld your passion with a job you enjoy! Do you ever do acting auditions on the side? 

Emily: I did a little bit. My husband is also an actor-turned-administrator, but he has been the one that has really dived in. I was about to step my toe back in to acting, but then the pandemic hit. 

Allie: Did you meet your husband through acting?

Emily: Yes, we met at VCU and got married two years ago. We had two weddings, actually! We are an interfaith couple and we had our first wedding in September 2018 that we rushed for some family health reasons. A year later, in September 2019, we had a Jewish ceremony. A big shoutout to Jackie from the Gather team for helping us with our interfaith wedding plans and helping us emotionally through the process.

Allie: What’s a fun new hobby that you’ve gotten into over the course of the pandemic?

Emily: Plants! I’ve really leaned into being a plant mom. I’ve also been making my own kombucha. It’s a lot easier than I ever would have thought and you can make a ton at once. I really like sharing it with friends – both the kombucha and the scoby so that they can then start making their own kombucha. I love that community aspect of it. 

Allie: Very cool. How did you get started making kombucha?

Emily: A friend of mine was a production assistant in a movie and they got a ton of kombucha for the staff, which they didn’t end up drinking. So, she brought the rest over to my house and I thought it was delicious. I casually looked up how to make it, and because my husband brews beer I realized I could use some of the things he already had for brewing to make kombucha. It was also another thing to care for, which has been a theme of the pandemic for me – getting all these plants to take care of and making kombucha that you have to watch and care for. 

Allie: You two brew beer, make kombucha, and take care of tons of plants – you’re living the millennial dream. 

Emily: I’ve never thought about it that way, but it’s so true! 

Allie: Do you have a favorite plant? 

Emily: I love the plants that are reactive – that need water, that need care. It gets me out of bed in the morning to check on them and see how they are doing. I have a couple of favorites. There is a plant that is green, but if you put it in sunlight it turns purple. It’s called Purple Heart. That one is so cool. Another one that I love is a Prayer Plant. It has these oval shaped leaves that have pink and red veins that run throughout. I’m definitely drawn to the plants that are uniquely colorful. 

Allie: How many plants do you have? 

Emily: Last time I counted I had about 14. We also have a balcony, so we’re excited to grow some of our own food this spring. Last year we tried growing tomatoes, basil, and lavender. We’re excited to give that a go again this year because we love the idea of growing our own food. 

Allie: What is one thing you can’t get through the day without? 

Emily: Recently, smoothies. I bought myself a blender and it’s been wonderful. I’ve been starting my mornings with a smoothie and it has just totally changed my days. 

Allie: Describe your dream day in DC. 

Emily: I would start my day walking through Van Ness and Tenleytown looking for the Little Free Libraries, because it’s super fun. I think it’s so telling to look at the books that are in certain areas. Then, I’d do a picnic at Peirce Mill Park. That has been a go-to quarantine spot to hang out with friends. I would get food from Baked By Yael or Bread Furst for a picnic lunch. 

I’d close the day by going to Midlands Brewery. Their beer list is unbelievable, and the environment is so nice, too – they have fire pits, the staff is friendly, its dog friendly which is fun. Oh, and they have these chocolate truffles that melt in your mouth. So, I’d definitely end my day there. 

Allie: Is there anything people might be surprised to know about you? 

Emily: I have a twin sister. We are very different in every aspect, though she also lives in the area in Arlington. While I went the arts route, she went the social-work route. She wants to be a child-life specialist. 

Also, my dad is a morning radio DJ host. He used to be on what’s now Big 100 as the morning DJ there. Then he was on WashFM for a while, and now he is on a station in Fredericksburg. So, I’ve gotten to meet a lot of major musicians through my dad, which is cool. In fact, I’ve danced on stage with the Beach Boys – twice! 

Allie: When the Jews of DC gather…

Emily: We run through Jewish geography until we find another person that we know in common and love. 


This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 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.