Meet Noa, GatherDC’s new engagement director! Noa grew up in Arlington and has spent many years working in the Jewish DMV. Noa is so excited to join the Gather team and is looking forward to meeting lots of new people. Read on to learn more about Noa, her newfound love of cooking, and how she connects with Judaism.
GatherDC: Welcome Noa! What led you to this role at Gather?
Noa: I’ve worked in Jewish spaces in NoVA and DC for most of my career. My favorite parts of my job were always meeting people and learning about their connections to this region and to their Judaism. I loved digging into questions like: What brought them here? (“Here” in this context was often both literal and figurative.) What compelled them to stay? What “works” for them Jewishly, and what are they seeking? I worked at a synagogue and a Jewish day school and encountered so many different types of Jews – from the new parents who experienced Judaism through their young children, to the longtime temple members looking for a renewed Jewish purpose after their own children graduated Hebrew school. It opened my eyes to the rich tapestry of Jewish existence in this area and led me to ask questions about my own Jewish identity.
As the new Engagement Director at GatherDC, I feel uniquely qualified to help other young Jews find their thread in the tapestry. I have both sought a Jewish identity for myself within this region and led others to find theirs. It’s soul-nourishing work.
GatherDC: What’s something you’re excited for in your new role?
Noa: I can’t wait to meet new people! As someone who’s lived in the area for such a long time, I often feel like I “know everyone” but even in my first couple of days at GatherDC, I’ve learned about so many people I don’t know.
GatherDC: Can you describe your dream day in the DMV from start to finish?
Noa: I live in the Rosslyn/Ft. Myer area of Arlington, so I’m lucky enough to be within walking distance from Georgetown. I’d start my day by walking to Baked and Wired and ordering a vegan cakecup and a cortado. (I’m not vegan; I just love their vegan cakecup!) I’d take my goodies to the Reach at the Kennedy Center, my favorite place to read and sit. Ideally it’s 75 degrees but no one is there and it’s a perfect cloudless day. After, I would meet up with my partner, Matt, and we walk to the Freer/Sackler galleries to check out some art. We’d then get Bantam King ramen for lunch and walk around Capitol Hill, and pretend to be on House Hunters. We’d end the day with a dinner date at Zaytinya. They make a za’atar margarita, which is absolutely the best margarita in the city. Depending on how we’re feeling, we’ll either meet up with some friends at Wok and Roll for karaoke or go home and watch The Bachelor until our brains melt.
GatherDC: How do you connect with your Jewish identity or the Jewish community?
Noa: I’m still working on this! My Jewish connection really took a hit during COVID. I try to bake challah on Friday evenings, both as a way to self-soothe and as a way to connect Jewishly on an individual level.
My career has led me to form friendships with incredibly diverse, vibrant, and brilliant young Jews. I’ve spent much of the past two years working on building and sustaining these friendships. Being able to connect over our shared faith (sometimes over Instagram DMs, not ashamed to admit that!) made me feel really seen during the more isolating parts of this pandemic. My Jewish connections have really been an anchor for me.
What’s your favorite Jewish tradition or cultural reference/experience?
Noa: I love Shabbat and my relationship to it. (I mean, I even named my cat Friday!) From my experiences at Jewish day camp and day school to the Friday-night traditions I’ve shared with my family, I have so many fond memories of this special, restorative time. Plus, my mom always makes an incredible Shabbat meal!
GatherDC: What is one new fun hobby you’ve gotten into over the course of this pandemic?
Noa: I’ve gotten really into cooking and baking! I dabbled a bit before but tended to get really overwhelmed, but I realized that there’s so much you can do with just a few ingredients. Cooking and baking don’t have to be incredibly complicated, multistep processes. Making food for other people has become my love language – it fills my cup to see someone take a bite of my food and say, “Wow, thank you!”
GatherDC: Last question! Complete this sentence – When Jews of DC Gather…
Noa: So many people benefit!
Want to meet Noa? Say hi here!
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