Meet Sam! Sam just joined the GatherDC team (like, today is his first day) as our new Communications Coordinator. Sam is super excited to be working in the Jewish professional space and help connect all of YOU to the best that the Jewish DMV has to offer! Read on to find out all about his love of Bruce Springsteen and the time he ran with the bulls in Pamplona.
Alexandra: What brings you to the Gather team/what led you to this role?
Samuel: Coming from a background in Quaker schools and Bowdoin College, where we were constantly reminded to dedicate ourselves not to personal gain but instead to the “common good,” I was really compelled by Gather’s mission. As someone who moved to DC in the middle of the pandemic with very few existing connections in the city, I have firsthand experience with how community- and relationship-building is not something that just happens, but instead something that must be purposefully practiced. With Gather, I’ll be proud to play a role in that active practice.
Alexandra: What’s something you’re excited for in your new role?
Samuel: I am pumped to have the opportunity to write! This role calls for storytelling in many different forms, and I’m looking forward to the chance to create, maintain, and cultivate connections with new and existing audiences by telling all the compelling stories that emerge from the work that Gather does.
Alexandra: If you were an author, what kind of book would you write and for bonus points – what would the title be?
Samuel: I would LOVE to publish a short story collection with a small press – something like Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son, Lewis Robinson’s Officer Friendly, or Lydia Davis’ Can’t and Won’t. Short fiction doesn’t get enough love. I’m flipping through my Notes app for a title. Here’s a funky old medical diagram I saw on a postcard recently: The Age of the Ox is Indicated by His Teeth.
Alexandra: What brought you to DC and what made you stay?
Samuel: After graduating from college at the very beginning of the pandemic, I came to DC for a Master’s program and to teach 6th grade English (to say nothing of the fact that my girlfriend was living in the area). Even in the pre-vaccine times, I got the sense that a fully realized version of DC always had something going on – incredible art, music, food, theatre, sports, and true community outside of the myopic government- and Capitol Hill-oriented expectations of the city with which people often arrive. Those constant opportunities for new experiences are what have made DC really feel like home in the past 2+ years. That, and the awesome pickup basketball scene in my neighborhood!
Alexandra: Describe your dream day in the DMV from start to finish.
Samuel: On a perfect day, I’m starting by walking through Kalorama Park to get coffee at Soleluna. I might stop in at Lost City Books before heading back to my apartment and picking something to cook – I’m working my way through Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person and Ford Fry and Jessica Dupuy’s Tex Mex Cookbook. Shopping list in hand, I head to Eastern Market and get everything I need, plus a cookie from the indoor bakery (and probably a second coffee). For the rest of the afternoon, I cook, play the new Wonder Years album, and periodically fish my cat, Agatha Christie, out of the kitchen cabinets – she’s very resourceful and knows where her food is kept. I end the night playing pickup basketball in the neighborhood – I’m finishing layups on the fast break, hitting the occasional spot-up three, and providing solid help defense with a steal or two – and coming home just in time to watch the Sixers play.
Alexandra: What is the favorite thing you’ve done this year?
Samuel: My girlfriend was getting a Master’s degree at Hollins University this summer, and I had the chance to attend the new works festival they put on near the end of their semester; it was amazing! All the plays were written, directed, and acted by students in the program, and it was just so cool to see theatre being created and refined in real time. The theatre scene in DC is excellent as well and it has been incredible to see so many local companies active and bringing new work into the world after the difficulties of the past two and a half years.
Alexandra: What is something people might be surprised to learn about you?
Samuel: In high school, my dad, uncle, and I attended San Fermin three times and I ran in 22 corridas – including two pretty nasty falls and a few hoof and sneaker prints in the back. But I have some awesome photos!
Alexandra: What’s at the top of your life bucket list?
Samuel: I want to live outside the United States someday! Not forever, but for a bit. Maybe Edinburgh or Bath or Vancouver.
Alexandra: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Samuel: I was lucky to have my great-grandparents around for much of my childhood. I have a crystal-clear memory of asking this same question to my great-grandfather (Greatpop, to me) as part of a fourth-grade project. He said: Act, don’t react. That’s always stuck with me.
Alexandra: What’s something about Jewish life/Judaism that you’re excited to learn more about?
Samuel: I’m excited to learn more about Judaism as an individual practice. Not just the academic or larger philosophical vision of how Judaism is practiced, but how those ideas actually appear in people’s individual lives. There’s a whole new level of specificity and nuance that I am excited and grateful to have the chance to explore.
Alexandra: If you could invite any three people to your Shabbat dinner, who would they be and why?
Samuel: I’m setting a plate for Bruce Springsteen, Chase Utley, and Joy Williams. Two South Jersey / Philadelphia legends, and an author I adore. I know every word to Springsteen’s first five or so albums, I pictured myself as Utley every time I batted in high school, and I read “Preparation for a Collie” once every few months.
Alexandra: When Jews of DC Gather…
Samuel: New horizons appear!
* * *
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.