Whether he’s volunteering to help people experiencing homelessness or starting a community for Jews of color at Washington Hebrew Congregation, Josh Maxey is the kind of person who embodies that old quote most often attributed to Ghandi, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” But even community leaders have to find time to chill out. We caught up with Josh to learn what he likes best about the High Holidays, the advice he once received from Congressman John Lewis, and most importantly, which Real Housewife he wishes he could invite over for Shabbat.
GatherDC: Tell me about where you grew up and what brought you to the DC area.
Josh: I grew up in the suburbs of Rochester, NY, the home of Wegmans, which is not just a grocery store, but an experience.
I moved to DC in 2015 to volunteer with an organization called Franciscan Mission Service. My service site was Street Sense Media. Street Sense is a unique newspaper that elevates the voices of the unhoused and aims to eradicate homelessness. These two organizations have helped to form me into the person I am today, and I always enjoy giving back as much as I can. I currently serve on the board of directors for Franciscan Mission Service.
GatherDC: What do you love about DC?
Josh: I love how I am never bored in DC. Even during the height of the pandemic, I always can find a new neighborhood or green space to explore. I also enjoy learning about the rich cultural history of DC! I would highly recommend visiting the Frederick Douglass House in Southeast!
GatherDC: What do you enjoy about the High Holidays?
Josh: The High Holidays are such a perfect time to reset. Summers tend to be a little busy for me with work and other organizations that I am a part of preparing for autumn. One ritual that I always enjoy participating in is Tashlich. There is something very therapeutic about having sins, anxieties, general things that we want to let go of physically represented in the form of bread, and then casting those things into a body of water and watching them drift away. It is the physical reminder that what is in the past is no longer present and I need to begin to look to what is ahead.
GatherDC: How did you spend them this year?
Josh: The High Holidays are also a great time to connect. I saw old and new friends at services with 2239, which this year were held at the beautiful space of Union Market
GatherDC: Changing gears, we naturally have to ask: Do you have any pets?
Josh: I do, though sadly he lives at home with my parents in Rochester. He is a cute cockapoo who will be turning 12 this October. Has anyone invented a plane solely for the purpose of transporting pets? I would gladly use that service.
GatherDC: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Josh: The best piece of advice that I received came from the late civil rights icon and Member of Congress, John Lewis. I had the opportunity to meet him several years ago and he told me to “Keep the faith and always remember you have a purpose in this life.” I go back to that moment whenever I am feeling discouraged about a situation or feel like I’m not on the “right” path.
GatherDC: That’s seriously amazing! Now let’s say you could invite anyone in the world to have shabbat dinner with you. Who are you choosing?
Josh: Eboni K. Williams from the Real Housewives of NYC! She is not only stylish but very intelligent and uses her platform to elevate voices that are not often heard.
GatherDC: Before we go, do you have anything you’d like to plug?
I do! For those who identify as a Jew of Color or LGBTQ+ or both, please contact me because we have established two new affinity spaces at Washington Hebrew Congregation! I can be reached via email at: Joshuamaxey14@gmail.com.
Gather DC: And finally, when Jews of DC Gather…
Josh: …there are only good vibes.
Follow Josh on IG: @mosh_jaxey and FB: www.facebook.com/josh.maxey
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