Meet Dillon, Jewish Corgi Dad of the Week!

by Samuel Milligan / May 8, 2024

The GatherDC blog strives to present a holistic portrait of the DMV’s Jewish community, sharing a wide variety of Jewish voices and perspectives. If you have a 20- or 30-something to nominate as our Jewish Person of the Week or for a Spotted in Jewish DMV feature, please email us!  

Dillon and I sit down at 7th Street Hill Cafe near Eastern Market for an iced mocha and wonderful conversation exploring his experience at GatherDC’s Beyond the Tent Retreat, his monthly suburb-core dinner club, getting the most out of Duolingo Premium, Shabbat dinner with Gene from Bob’s Burgers, and his corgi, Esme!

Dillon leaning into Victoria Falls.

Samuel: Thanks for joining us this afternoon! To start: what brought you to the DMV?

Dillon: I grew up in Columbia, Maryland – with Julie [Editor’s note: Gather, Inc.’s Director of People and Culture]. We went to high school together. I stayed close in College Park for undergrad, then went to law school in LA, which was a big jump. I lived in New York for three years. But, in between New York and LA, I was back in Maryland for a little while and met my now-wife. We did long distance between New York and DC, then Covid happened, which forced us to pick a place, and that brought me back to DC. 

Dillon and friends at a Hanukkah party. Samuel: What’s made DC feel like home these past three years?

Dillon: It’s always felt like home – whenever I thought of the “big city,” it was DC. I have friends from high school and undergrad still here. And, I like Capitol Hill specifically. It’s a mix of families, younger people, older people. I feel like I’m part of the community. 

Samuel: What does your Jewish community look like?

Dillon: I was decently involved in Hillel in undergrad, and then I went off and did my own thing. I always had a lot of Jewish friends, but didn’t do anything actively Jewish. I came back to DC having not been very involved in any organized religion for a decade. I knew it was there, and I knew I was comfortable in my Judaism. Coming back [to DC] feels like coming back to a community I’m used to. I’m around my family, which is my primary connection to Judaism. 

Samuel: You were part of our Winter 2024 Beyond the Tent Retreat cohort. What drew you to that experience? [Editor’s note: Applications for the Summer 2024 Beyond the Tent Retreat are open now!]

Dillon: Well first, Julie had been telling me about it for a couple of years, and I wanted to do it every time, but I was legitimately gone every week they were doing it. This year, I was like: No, I’m going to actually sit down and do this. 

I’ve never really struggled with feeling not Jewish, so I never felt like I needed any structure in my Jewish life. I’m not particularly interested in joining a synagogue right now.

Dillon and a lemur.But, I did feel like something was missing. My wife isn’t Jewish, so there were a lot of questions about Judaism that I wanted to answer more intelligently, and figure out what my life would look like now that I’m married to someone who’s not Jewish. I thought Beyond the Tent could be a comfortable space to figure it all out. I wanted to figure out what I wanted to do with my Judaism going forward. Before, I always had people who were carrying on the religion for me; I could just tag along with my Mom or Grandpa. But now, if I want to live an active Jewish life, I have to take the reins. 

Samuel: How did the retreat land for you? 

Dillon: It was really cool! It was a very thoughtful weekend. I remember being very tired afterwards, but in a good way – I was using a part of my brain that I hadn’t in a while. I enjoyed everyone, and liked the conversations. It was cool seeing people coming from very different parts and involvements with Judaism, but all coming to the same forum. We all had the same longing to pin down what Judaism looks like in our lives.

I think I knew I’d come to this eventually but, at the conclusion, I was like: I do want Judaism in my life. I’ve been thinking about the values that I hold most dear, and I can find a lot of those secularly. So, as an agnostic-y atheist, why do I need Judaism to find those values? Why do I need religion to live this fulfilled life? Beyond the Tent made me more comfortable living a Jewish life, taking that identity and making it my own. I can be comfortable knowing that [Judaism] is part of those ethical values.

Dillon and his wife dance the hora.

Samuel: Switching gears – I heard you and some friends have an ongoing suburb-core dining club. Tell me about that. 

Dillon: It’s me, my wife, and our two friends. We started this monthly restaurant club in January. We picked 11 chain restaurants and every month we spin a virtual wheel, then go out and eat at [one of] these restaurants. There’s a scoring system. We’re ranking the restaurants based on their Signature Appetizers – like, at Outback, we have to get the Bloomin’ Onion. That’s five points. Then, it’s 15 points for Main Courses, five points for Dessert, five points for Vibes, five points for a Signature Drink. We’re going to do Outback, Olive Garden, Chili’s, Texas Roadhouse, Cheesecake Factory…that one should be fun. In December, we’ll go back to the winning restaurant.

Dillon and his corgi.Samuel: Okay, a few quick ones to close. What’s a new skill you’d like to pick up?

Dillon: I want to learn German. It was one of those pandemic things where I was really bored, and downloaded Duolingo, and just picked a random language – there was no critical thought to it. I have a 700 day streak…it would be nice to get my money’s worth, because I keep paying for Premium Duolingo, and I’m not sure it’s working. 

Samuel: What’s something you’re bad at?

Dillon: Tying my shoes. Tying balloons. Snapping was hard for me until I was like 15. So, dexterity.

Samuel: What’s something you’re feeling accomplished about? 

Dillon: I’m normally a New Year’s Resolution person, and I’m good at sticking to them…though I don’t remember what mine was this year. In 2022, I said I’d run 1000 miles, and I did.

For me, running is the closest I get to meditation; I’ve tried to meditate and I just can’t focus. But that physical exertion turns off my brain. If I’m stuck on something, I’ll go on a run, and it’ll come to me. 

Samuel: Tell me about Esme, your corgi. 

Dillon: She’s two and a half. We named her after a character from A Series of Unfortunate Events, but apparently there’s also a Twilight character.

Dillon with his dog in a backpack.Samuel: The weird baby!

Dillon: It’s what everyone assumes. But in A Series of Unfortunate Events, she’s like a stylish bad guy, and I thought it would be fun to have a stylish, evil corgi. She’s a sweetie, and it’s been fun to meet neighbors that way. We got her and everyone wanted to talk to us all of a sudden. 

Samuel: You can invite three people to Shabbat dinner. Who are they? 

Dillon: A good chef: Emeril Legasse. He’s the “Bam!” guy – I feel like he created the world for all the current TV chefs. One of my favorite books is 100 Years of Solitude, so I’d invite Gabriel Garcia Marquez, too. Then, Gene from Bob’s Burgers, because he’s an optimist and a great dancer. 

Samuel: Last one. Finish the sentence: When Jews of the DMV gather…

Dillon: Conversation flows.

PS: Dillon volunteers with College Bound, a DC mentorship nonprofit which helps DMV youth prepare for college. The current academic year is wrapping up, but they are looking for mentors for next Fall. If you’re interested in chatting with Dillon about volunteering, please reach out and we’ll connect you!

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.