Meet Aurell: Jewish Doctor of the Week

aurellAllie: What brought you to DC?

Aurell: I’m from Kansas City, originally, went to medical school in Tel Aviv. Most recently, I was living in Denver after residency but had no family around because they’re all in DC. I also wanted to find a place with a bigger Jewish community. So, I looked for jobs in DC and found a hospital that fit what I was looking for, and moved here. 

Allie: What kind of medicine do you practice?

Aurell: I did my residency in internal medicine, and practice as a hospitalist, which is basically an internal doctor who only works in hospitals. I see a lot of cancer patients, and patients with pretty challenging cases.

Allie: What’s your favorite thing about being a doctor?

Aurell: I feel like it’s something I can become better at all the time as I deal with challenging situations and learn to problem solve. I can feel myself becoming a better physician each year, and that’s the best gift you can give to a future patient. I really like interacting with patients and collaborating with the people on my team. It’s very rewarding.

What’s your favorite way to relax after a long work week in the hospital?

Aurell: I like treating myself to spa days. A facial, massages, anything involved in going to a spa. I also recently started playing golf which is very fun.

Allie: Describe your perfect DC day from start to finish.

Aurell: I’d wake up very late. I really enjoy sleeping in. Then, I’d work out. I like doing lots of different types of exercises like spinning, boxing, lifting weights. I’d pick one of those to do. At night, I’d probably go see an artist I like at the 9:30 Club. I like upbeat, dance music, but have pretty eclectic taste. I recently saw Zara Larsson there and have tickets to see Lauv at The Anthem

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?

Aurell: When I lived in Israel my favorite Jewish holiday was Shavuot because it was widely celebrated, but since moving to DC my favorite holiday has shifted to Hanukkah. There are just so many fun activities and the whole thing seems to last a month. I see my friends more often around Hanukkah time because there are so many fun events for young adults.

aurellAllie: Do you have any Jewish New Year resolutions?

Aurell: I don’t. I’m not into making resolutions because I feel like you should always be working on and for yourself. My mantra is to continuously be better, learn from others, and not wait for a certain time to work on yourself.

Allie: Do you have anything on your bucket list?

Aurell: I want to go on a big Scotland, Ireland, England trip. There is a lot of history and scenery I want to see.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Aurell: Babies are made.

 

 

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.

Meet Carolyn: Jewish Influencer of the Week!

She’s wielding her Instagram powers for communal good. Get to know Carolyn Becker, the fashion forward, plant-based brains behind @DCVeganLife, @FindingYourGood, and @Petite_Punk.

WARNING: This interview may cause hunger.

carolyn

Photo by @Petite_Punk

Allie: How did you wind up in DC?

Carolyn: I was born here, raised in Bethesda, and then went to American University. I’ve always loved this city so I never moved. I joke that rather than move to different states, I just moved from State Street to State Street.

Allie: Tell me how the @DCVeganLife Instagram account came to be.

Carolyn: I’ve been a vegetarian since college and had a lot of vegan friends. Then, one of my best friends said that for her birthday she wanted her friends to try going vegan for a week. So I said, “heck yes” and went to Yes! and bought all the Daiya cheese and vegan deli meats. I love deli sandwiches! But, being the petite size that I am, I had leftovers after the week ended. I hate wasting food so I just continued begin vegan. 

Shortly after that, I started @DCVeganLife. I was already active on Instagram documenting my thrifting adventures, so I figured this would just be one more account to run – it’s fine. Mostly, I was so excited about the foods I could have as a vegan – like fried ice cream and donuts. I also really love supporting local vegan businesses and wanted to help fuel the local DC vegan community. I made a strict posting schedule and tagged other brands – and it just started to grow from there. 

Photo by @DCVeganLife, from Sugar Shack Donuts Arlington

Allie: What’s your favorite part of running @DCVeganLife?

Carolyn: Supporting and connecting with the DC vegan community, specifically with businesses who do not have as big of a budget as other companies. There are some brands that I hold dear to my heart like Donut Run and Pow Pow, because I’ve been able to help them grow, and that brings me so much satisfaction.

Allie: Walk me through your dream DC eating day.

Carolyn: I’d start with a dope breakfast bagel sandwich at Bethesda Bagels. I’d get a whole wheat everything bagel with creamy veggie tofu cream cheese with a side of fruit salad. For lunch, I love Little Sesame. I’d get their cauliflower hummus bowl and their tahini soft serve. It’s so fresh and healthy and feels good. I’d get a snack later on at Sticky Fingers; either a calvin cookie or a cupcake. Or maybe both! For dinner, I’d get Menomale pizza with vegan cheese. They have scissors so you can cut your own slices. Or Roscoe’s Pizzeria in Takoma Park. Then, I’d have to get a slice of vegan funfetti cake at Fare Well for dessert.

vegan pizza

Photo by @DCVeganLife, from ROSCOE’S Neapolitan Pizzeria

Allie: On top of running your vegan food Instagram, you have a full time job; tell me about that.

Carolyn: DC Vegan Life is my 6pm-8am. From 9-5pm, I’m the DC Communications Manager for Goodwill of Greater Washington. I run their social media platforms, and am one of their in-house photographers and event planners. In that capacity, I get to connect with the local DC community from a sustainable fashion capacity through their lifestyle community brand, Finding Your Good..

Allie: Why is sustainable fashion and veganism so important to you?

Carolyn: It all goes back to supporting community and loving your home. When you make a purchase, you have a lot of power. I think it’s so important to take a moment to think about whether your purchases are supporting organizations that are doing good in the community, supporting animals or people, or not. In regards to fashion – when you buy something new, that leads to more trash, which creates poison in the world. You don’t have to buy, buy, buy to have interesting fashion. I actually think it’s really cool to have the confidence to repeat outfits. Buying recycled fashion from local thrift stores can make such a difference – both for the people in the community and for the environment.

Allie: What are some things you like to do to relax?

Carolyn: Walking. It is one of the most therapeutic and invigorating activities; you’re exercising, exploring your city, all while saving money on a gym membership. I also love to thrift. I love finding that gem in the rough, and have a passion for one-of-a-kind finds and vintage fashion. I love being outdoors – hiking, urban foraging, discovering edible trees and plants, and baking vegan treats with my boyfriend, Steven.

Photo by @DCVeganLife, vegan funfetti cake from Farewell

Allie: What would people be surprised to know about you?

Carolyn: I do have time to watch Netflix! 

Allie: Do you have any resolutions for the Jewish New Year?

Carolyn: To slow down and relax.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Carolyn: We can foster a greater sense of community and build a stronger DC.

Photo by @Petite_Punk

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.

Meet Elissa: Jewish Economist of the Week

She may seek balance, but this thoughtful PhD candidate can already perform a headstand with ease! Read all about Elissa Cohen and her secret past life as a saber fencer!

Allie: What brought you to DC? 

Elissa: I originally moved from Philly to DC in 2012 to work as a welfare policy researcher at the Urban Institute. At the time, I totally thought I was going to be a member of the transient DC community, and leave after a couple years for grad school. Yet here I am, seven years later; a legit DC resident with a DC driver’s license and all! So, in case you were wondering about DC Statehood – vote yes! 

Allie: Tell me about the PhD you are currently pursuing? 

Elissa: I’m pursuing my PhD in Economics. I had been on the fence about whether a doctoral degree was the right path for me. Ultimately, I decided a research path would allow me to make the impact I wanted on society. Being able to rigorously evaluate the policies and programs we have in place is extremely important to me. So, one day, you know, post dissertation, I hope to use my skills and knowledge to improve the quality and structure of our safety-net and financial systems.

Allie:  What led you to your interest in economics?

Elissa: I was in college during the Great Recession and wanted to understand why socioeconomic systems broke down and led to widespread turmoil. I also observed how the burdens of these system failures were unevenly distributed across the income and wealth distributions. I felt compelled to understand which policies could best help those most vulnerable. 

Allie: What was this awesome program you participated in this past summer in Santa Fe?

Elissa: The Santa Fe Institute’s Complex Systems Summer School! It was basically a nerdy adult summer camp. It brings together an interdisciplinary group of people from around the world come to learn about complexity science, including chaos theory, network theory, and information theory. I was able to start – and am now continuing – to collaborate on projects with some of the incredible people I met from this program.

In addition to all the learning, I managed to find some free time to explore the area! I attended my first rodeo, hiked amazing trails, and got to view inspiring local Native American art. The only thing I wish I could’ve done was go to the Santa Fe Opera, of which RBG is a regular patron! Everyone should find time to go to Santa Fe.

Allie: I hear you’re also a certified yoga instructor, tell me about that!

Elissa: I did my teacher training in 2013 at Studio DC up in AdMo, and it was one of the best investments I’ve ever made in myself. Having practiced yoga for eight years already, I had a strong desire to deepen my physical and meditative practices, and to be able to share the passion I had cultivated for yoga with others.

I love that yoga is a forever practice; there’s always something fun and new to discover within it. There’s this intrinsic recognition that our bodies differ every day, so when we’re flowing through the same sequence again, our experience changes. We inevitably learn – and it’s definitely a learning process – to appreciate the experience in the present, letting go of expectations.

I also love being able to empower my students to have fun and feel comfortable in their own skin. I often hear new students say, “I’m not flexible, so that means I’m bad at yoga”. Having been at that stage myself, I get from where they’re coming; but I also know where they’re going! Yoga is a process…and, you gotta trust the process.

elissa yoga

Allie: It seems like you’re someone who stays pretty busy. What is your favorite thing to do to relax at the end of a long work/school week?

Elissa: Honestly, I really enjoy going to Kabbalat Shabbat services and then having a chill Shabbat dinner with friends to catch up.

Allie: What are some of your favorite Jewish dishes to cook?

Elissa: I’m going to have to say shakshuka. I make my own harissa paste, and there’s something incredibly satisfying about being able to develop layers of flavor in a shakshuka. I’m also of the camp that one should cook the egg in the shakshuka and not separately.

Allie: With the Jewish New Year quickly approaching, what is something you want to achieve in the coming year?

Elissa: I’m seeking balance. The past two years of grad school were quite rough, and so it’s my intention to do a better job this year of making time for friends and family. 

Allie: What is something people might be surprised to know about you?

Elissa: In an earlier life, I used to be a saber fencer, and got to go to Junior Olympics! Perhaps if, and when I have time, I’ll find a fencing club in the area to join. At this point I’m definitely rustier than my sabers.

Allie: Complete the sentence: When Jews of DC Gather…

Elissa: …let the Jewish geography games begin. 

elissa c

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.

Meet Dan: Jewish Dog Lover of the Week

dan

Allie: What brought you to DC?

Dan: My job, and the fact that I absolutely love DC. I came here a number of times while I was in college and got to know the city. I’m originally from Philly, so it seemed like the perfect place for me to live because it’s an easy trip home, and is the center of politics. As an international politics major that was something I looked for and enjoyed. I love the fact that we have Hollywood for ugly people here in DC, which is what one of my former bosses – a congressman – used to call it. 

Allie: Walk me through your dream day in DC.

Dan:  I’d wake up, let my dog Archie out of his crate and he’d be willing to cuddle with me for more than two minutes. I’d go for a hike in Rock Creek Park or Great Falls. Then, I’d go to a brewery where we can sit outside and enjoy great weather, like Dacha or Wunder Garten. Then, take a solid nap by a rooftop pool. At night, I’d have friends come over for a small get together or maybe we’d go bowling, which I secretly love. 

Allie: Tell me about your dog Archie.

Dan: Archie, or Sir Archibald. He’s a golden-doodle: half golden retriever, because that’s the kind of dog I had growing up, and half poodle because I was looking for a dog that didn’t shed per my roommate’s request. Unfortunately, Archie sheds. He’s adorable, but there is hair all over the place.

dan

Allie: Have you always been a dog-person?

Dan: Oh yes, I was the crazy guy in college that would seek out any opportunity I could find to bring puppies to my fraternity, to my residents when I was an RA, or to my volunteer group. 

Allie: What do you love about dogs?

Dan: They just make your day better. I’ll come home from work so exhausted, and Archie will be there when I open the door with the cutest, funniest look on his face. He doesn’t care that I had a bad day, we can just go for a long walk and not think about work. He gives me unconditional love.

Allie: What is your favorite Jewish food?

Dan: Sweet kugel. It’s delicious, but I don’t really want to think about what it’s made out of.

Allie: What’s on your life bucket list at the moment?

Dan: Hike the Appalachian Trail, from the bottom to the top. I grew up going to Camp Ramah in the Poconos and as a part of camp there was a yearly 3-day trip where we hiked along the Appalachian Trail. I fell in love with it. I think it would be such a cool and unique experience to hike the whole thing, but logistically I’d have to do a lot of thinking to figure out how to actually do it. I also really want to go to India. I went to Japan last year, and I’m going to Portugal next!

Allie: Do you have any resolutions for the Jewish New Year?

Dan: I use the High Holidays more as a way to reflect, rather than set resolutions. I feel like we all suck at sticking to resolutions. I’d like to think about how I can reset, and become a little bit more involved this year.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Dan: They party like no other. The amount of bottles of wine I go through when DC Jews come to my apartment is absolutely insane.

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.

Meet Jana: Jewish Doctor of the Week

Jana Bregman recently moved to DC for her fellowship and is looking to make some awesome new friends – preferably those who enjoy early morning runs, cross-country bike rides, and handmade knitted sweaters as gifts. Read on!

Want to nominate someone to be featured as Jewish Person of the Week? Click here!

janaAllie: What brought you to DC?

Jana: I’m originally from Nashville and went to Vanderbilt for both undergrad and medical school. I recently moved to DC after my residency in Baltimore for my fellowship at Children’s National in pediatric ophthalmology, aka medical and surgical eye-care for little kids. 

Allie: What did you like about pediatric ophthalmology? 

Jana: What’s cuter than a tiny kid in glasses?! I chose pediatrics because within ophthalmology it’s an underserved field, and one that provides opportunity to make a lifelong impact on people by helping to preserve their eyesight from a young age.

Allie: What are the biggest differences between living in Nashville versus DC?

Jana: When I was growing up in Nashville, there were way more differences than there are today. Back then, Nashville was still quintessential south with a slower pace of life. Now it’s more of a sprawling, cosmopolitan city. I think that the Jewish community in DC is better and it seems like there are more young people walking around here.

Allie: Describe your dream DC day from start to finish?

Jana: I would get up early before it gets too hot and go for a run or bike ride in Rock Creek Park. After that, I’d host brunch for some friends, and then take a nap. Later in the afternoon, I’d let out the nerd in me by knitting while watching a movie. Then, I’d go to the pool for a while before heading to a local brewery. After some beers, I’d go out to dinner with friends, followed by some live music. I’d go to sleep by 10 o’clock.

Allie: Is knitting one of your favorite pastimes?

Jana: Yeah, I’ve been knitting since I was in high school. I knit sweaters, socks, pretty much anything. I most recently knit a sweater vest for my brother. I find it really relaxing, especially because I’m not very good at just sitting still. I also like the idea of taking a ball of nothing and turning it into something really pretty. It makes great presents for people!

Allie: What’s your go-to ways to relax at the end of a long work day?

Jana: Running or swimming. I love just reading a book and drinking a beer outside, preferably while sitting by a pool. Banneker Pool is probably one of my favorite places in DC so far. 

jana

Allie: Do you have a favorite Jewish holiday?

Jana: Shabbat. I have so many fond memories around it – Shabbat was always a priority for my family when I was growing up. My mom is a really good cook and would make delicious vegetarian meals. 

Allie: What’s at the top of your bucket list at the moment?

Jana: I’d love to go to Acadia National Park in Maine, and break 20 minutes in a 5K.

Allie: What is something people might be surprised to know about you?

Jana: I’ve biked across the country. When I graduated from high school, I took a year off before college. I spent the first part of that year with an organization called Bike and Build – we biked and built houses with Habitat for Humanity. It was a two month long trip – we started in Jacksonville, Florida and ended in San Francisco, California. We would bike between 80-100 miles everyday. I sported the proudest farmers tan of my life 🙂 

Allie: Do you have a Jewish role model?

Jana: My cantor growing up. He is someone who truly acts out what it means to be Jewish. He connects with people on a very personal level, he’s there when you need him during both happy and sad times, and always has the right reference to Jewish teachings for the moment.

Allie: Complete the sentence: When Jews of DC Gather…

Jana: Friendships are made!

jana

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.

Meet Jordan: Jewish Politician of the Week!

This musical theater lover, soccer-playing, “Jane the Virgin” fan is running for DC Council. Upgrade from his past job as a bar-mitzvah dancer? Read on to get to know Jordan Grossman.

jordan

 

Allie: What led you to DC?

Jordan: I’m the 5th generation in my family to live here! My great-great grandparents and great grandparents immigrated to DC in the early 1900’s. My great-great grandpa was a kosher butcher in Georgetown, my great grandma had a grocery store called Sherman’s Market, and my grandpa had a store on H Street. I also work in politics and government, which is part of why I live here. 

Allie: What interests you about working in politics?

Jordan: I’m a true believer that if you do it right, the government can make people’s lives better. Growing up, I learned all about the importance of participating in public life and strengthening our community through tikkun olam (repairing the world). So it wasn’t an accident that I came to care about all of these things. My dream is to work on things that make services easier to access, and make life better for my neighbors.

Allie: What was your first segue into government?

Jordan: I did internships in DC while I was in college. My first full-time job was as a field organizer for Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008. I spent most of my time in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and had an extraordinary experience. 

jordan obama

Allie: I hear that you’re now running for DC Council. What exactly is the DC Council?

Jordan: The DC Council is the legislative branch of the DC government and is made up of 13 members – eight are elected from specific wards and five are elected city-wide. I’m running to represent Ward 2, which includes neighborhoods like Chinatown, Logan Circle, Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom, and Georgetown. The Council votes on things like affordable housing, child care, healthcare, safety, and really anything that affects you in your day-to-day life in the city. In DC – it’s a unique situation because technically everything the Council passes, Congress can reverse. This is one of the main reasons I think DC should be a state – we deserve the right to govern ourselves and to have full representation in Congress. 

Allie: Do you have a job outside of campaigning? 

Jordan: Yes, I work for a nonprofit called Co-Equal. We help members of Congress with accountability, oversight, and policy research. 

Allie: Tell me about your dream DC day.

Jordan: I’d start the day at Buttercream Bake Shop, my favorite place in my neighborhood. My wife and I love walking and being outside. So, we would probably walk to the National Mall or to Rock Creek Park. We’ll play tourist and go to a cool museum, and then – if it was a special occasion – have a meal at Rose’s Luxury. After, I’d love to go to a show at The Kennedy Center – I’m a huge musical theater fan. 

Allie: What’s your favorite musical? 

Jordan: The Last Five Years

Allie: What do you do to relax? 

Jordan: I love playing soccer with District Sports here in DC, and watching Netflix with my wife. Jane the Virgin is one of our favorites.

Allie: What is at the top of your travel bucket list?

Jordan: I’d love to go to China and Japan. 

Allie: Do you have a piece of Jewish wisdom that inspires you?

Jordan: It comes from my Jewish grandmother, who grew up here in DC. She always says, sometimes in Yiddish, “if you give a smile, you get a smile.” 

Allie: What is something people might be surprised to know about you?

Jordan: In high school I was a part-time bar mitzvah dancer. So I wore sequin shirts and danced to Motown medleys. 

Allie: What is your favorite Jewish food?

Jordan: I’m a huge fan of Call Your Mother. An everything bagel with lox from there makes it a very good morning. I can’t wait to go to their second location in Georgetown when it opens! 

Allie: Complete the sentence! When Jews of DC gather…

Jordan: They have a great time! 

jordan

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.

Meet Shira: Jewish Travel Lover of the Week

shira

Allie: Tell me how you ended up in DC.

Shira: I like to base my life choices on the show I’m binge watching at the time. During finals my senior year of college, I was watching “The West Wing. I thought every day in DC would have an invigorating Toby-Sam argument. Spoiler alert: After working as a policy fellow in DC for a few years, I got into “Mad Men” and moved on to an ad agency.

Allie: Describe your dream day in DC from start to finish.

Shira: I’d embrace my inner “basic-ness” for a day: I’d start with an early morning hike, drink just the right amount of coffee to feel cool with my friends but not enough to start up my Ashkenazi stomach, skip brunch (that’s my one non-basic move), and get free samples at the farmer’s market. After such a stressful morning, I’d need to take a load off at a local beer garden. Dacha, anyone?

Allie: What outdoor adventures have you loved the most?

Shira: Hiking Old Rag is a classic, and Old Town Alexandria is fun when I’m not there for work. Outside of the DC-area, I try to go on two big trips every year. One of last year’s trips was the Grand Canyon. Next week, I’ll be traipsing my way through Sweden and England with my high school frienemy Laurie Hunt (shout out). Boys – don’t worry if you see me disappear from the JSwipe scene. My distance filter is only 1,000 miles, but I’ll be back in two weeks.

shira

Allie: What has been your favorite trip?

Shira: Peru. I’m a history nerd, so I loved going to Machu Picchu and learning about the earliest religions. I also loved hiking Lake 22 outside of Seattle.

Allie: What do you love most about traveling?

Shira: The fact that I am traveling. But really, I just love learning about history and language, and I love seeing how others live and exploring the beautiful views while hiking. I especially love visiting the Jewish communities for a Friday night dinner when I’m abroad.

Allie: Where do you most want to travel to next?

Shira: My new client project might be taking me to Bethesda, and I hear it’s hopping there. Other than that, I’m hoping to plan a trip to Spain and Portugal soon, as well as go hiking in Switzerland one day.

Allie: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

Shira: I got an A+ in my hip hop dance class in college. And I’m really good at Super Smash Bros.

Allie: What is at the top of your DC bucket list? 

Shira: Take an improv class. I’ve read Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, and Mindy Kaling’s books, so I think I’m ready.

Allie: What is your favorite Jewish holiday?

Shira: Sukkot; specifically in the Atlanta weather with my mom’s butternut squash pie. October 2019: You’re all invited.

Allie: Complete the sentence: when Jews of DC gather…

Shira: They refuse to acknowledge their previous conversations on JSwipe.

shira

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.

Meet Josef: Jewish Community Engagement Director of the Week!

Attention Jewish DC: The one-and-only Josef Palermo has made his way onto the GatherDC team, and we COULD NOT BE MORE THRILLED. All caps are 100% necessary to express our uncontainable excitement.

If you don’t know Josef, read on. If you do know Josef, read on and you might learn something new. Either way, email Josef to welcome him to the team or grab coffee. Okay enough with this intro, onto the interview…

Allie: What brought you to DC? 

Josef: I’ve been in DC for about 11 years – I came here right after undergraduate as a part of a fellowship with Greenpeace. I started to carve out a career path for myself in activism and community organizing because, like so many young people, I wanted to have some kind of positive impact on the world. I had a 6-month stint in San Francisco, but kept my place in DC so I could come back. DC really feels like home! 

Allie: Tell me more about your interest in activism.

Josef: I really started to dive into activism in college, organizing my college campus community on issues related to human rights and genocide prevention and awareness.

From there, I just kept going! I’m from Florida, so I decided to intern for a Florida state senator, then in 2008, I worked for a presidential campaign. After that, I went back to Florida, and just a few months later I was in DC advocating for the environment at Greenpeace. 

Allie: Did you think about going into politics? 

Josef: Yes, but I ultimately found it wasn’t for me. My interests are more in advocating for specific issues and causes that I believe in. 

Allie: What ultimately led you to find your career path as a Jewish professional?

Josef: I was hired to run GLOE, the Kurlander Program for GLBTQ Outreach and Engagement at the EDCJCC. It was the first, and for a long time, only, full-time LGBTQ outreach program at any JCC. This position really spoke to where I was in my life, and my passion for working with the community at the intersection of LGBTQ and Jewish identity.

I recently started at Gather as the 30s Community Engagement Director, and am excited to continue working in a space that speaks to where I am in my life. 

Allie: What are you most looking forward to in your role at Gather?

Josef: I’m excited to connect with other folks in their 30’s who are still connecting to their Jewish journeys and looking for more meaningful engagement with those journeys. Often in your 30s, you focus your time differently and may search for new ways to engage in Jewish life. I’m very excited to innovate opportunities for Jewish 30s to think differently and challenge themselves more in connecting to their Judaism.

Allie: Outside of work, what are your favorite ways to relax? 

Josef: I love to cook! I’m not someone who follows recipes, I just like to open the cupboard and whip something up. I also like to explore museums, hang out with my friends, take books to the park and read. 

Allie: Describe your dream day in DC…

Josef: I recently discovered how fun the electric scooters are, and love scootering to places I’ve never been to before. My dream day would include scootering to Roosevelt Island or Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. It would also include the Potomac – I love being on the water. I would get a boat with some friends and head down to Old Town Alexandria. We would end the day with a potluck dinner on a rooftop. I love the DC skyline, especially when you can see the Washington Monument and the National Cathedral.

Allie: What is your favorite way to celebrate Shabbat?

Josef: I try to include at least one person who is new to the Shabbat experience whenever I host. I like sharing Jewish traditions and rituals with people and helping them learn about it. 

Allie: What is at the top of your bucket list? 

Josef: I want to sail the Amalfi Coast. I would love to spend a couple weeks with friends, making stops along the way to explore! 

Allie: Is there anything else you would you like to share? 

Josef: I’m openly queer identifying, and I’m excited to join the Gather staff and bring those experiences of mine to the team, and connect with others who have an LGBTQ identity in the Jewish community.

Allie: Complete the sentence! When Jews of DC gather….

Josef: …There will be several rounds of Jewish geography!            

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.

Meet Jessica: Jewish Nurse of the Week!

When she’s not slaying it as a pediatric oncology research nurse, this outdoor lover might be found reading on a kayak, playing volleyball, or planning her dream trip to Iceland. Get to know Jessica Nooriel!

 

Allie: What brought you to DC?

Jessica: I’m pretty extroverted, so I wanted to live in a big city where there are lots of people and things happening. I’m also from Atlanta and am a southern girl at heart, so I didn’t want to go too far north. I decided to apply to jobs in DC, and got a great offer as a clinical, pediatric oncology research nurse at NIH. It worked out well! 

Allie: What are the biggest differences between DC and Atlanta? 

Jessica: Weather! It gets cold here (maybe not this week…). There is also a lot more going on in DC. In Atlanta, I lived in a nice, quiet, suburb which I loved. But here, it’s very happening, and political, and people all seem so smart and passionate.

Allie: What led you to a career in nursing?

Jessica: Science has always been a big topic of interest for me. I am fascinated by the science of healing, and love how nurses look at patients holistically. Seeing patients from a biological, sociological, and psychological perspective can give us a lot of insight. 

In the future, I’d like to go back to school to become a nurse practitioner so I can be involved in making the big decisions.

Allie: Describe your dream DC day.

Jessica: I’m an outdoorsy person, so my day would start with a morning hike. Then, I’d get lunch somewhere outside – maybe go to a brewery. After that, I would go kayaking or paddle-boarding. I’ve never lived near a body of water, so that is still new and exciting for me. I have a kayaking season pass for the summer at the Potomac. Then, I would go on a private tour of the White House and the monuments.

Allie: What is at the top of your bucket list? 

Jessica: Skydiving, but in a different country. I’d also love to go to Iceland, I’ve heard it’s the type of country you can just camp the entire time, and that the food and sights are amazing. 

Allie: What are your go-to ways to relax?

Jessica: Boating and reading. I read a lot. I’m about to finish Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. I’m also interested in Holocaust books. Two of my favorites are Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl and The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult.

Allie: What is your favorite Jewish holiday?

Jessica: Passover, because my family always gets together as a big group. I love long meals and being around people. And I also love matzah, especially matzah pizza! And I enjoy anticipating that the holiday is coming with all of the cleaning and the preparation. 

Allie: Is there something that people would be surprised to know about you?

Jessica: Yes! Even though I’m super short, I play volleyball. I played competitively in high school and intramural in college. My position is setter. I can’t join a DC league because of my schedule, but I would love to get a pick-up game started. 

Allie: Complete the sentence: when Jews of DC gather…

Jessica: …They have a good time.

jessica

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.

Meet Allen: Jewish Real Estate Guru of the Week!

 

Temporary Matt Corrado Mural at the Carnegie Library

Allie: What brought you to DC?

Allen: I went to school at The University of Maryland and was offered a job with a real estate developer doing an enormous mixed-use, multi-phase development project in Montgomery County. It was exciting, so I stuck around.

Allie: Do you still work in real estate?

Allen:  Yes! I had spent years working with restaurants on their design, construction and real estate expansions all over the east coast and have since started a company, Concept Lab CRE, which focuses on real estate, design and analytics consulting, primarily for restaurants, retail businesses and small multi-family projects.  

There are a lot of businesses that have great concepts, but need help developing processes to grow and evolve efficiently. I am always excited to talk to business owners interested in growth or addressing issues affecting their businesses.

Allie: Outside of work, I hear you’re also involved with Bridge To Health. Tell me about that.

Allen: Bridge To Health USA is a charity that provides sustainable healthcare to underprivileged communities in the US and around the world. I really wanted to be involved with a non-denominational, results-focused organization, and I’m a founding board member of BTH USA and serve as our Director of Fundraising and Development. We are setting up programs in Peru and Ohio and having worked in countries like Kenya and Uganda in the past.

We’re actually holding an event on September 26th at Prather’s on the Alley and we still looking for corporate partnerships, so if our mission resonates with you – reach out to me.

Rosenthal Vineyard, Malibu, CA

Allie: Wow! You must stay pretty busy.  What is the number one superpower you wish you could have?

Allen: I definitely try to stay active. If I could have a superpower it would be the ability to slow down time.  By the time the week starts it’s so packed with work and activities I always feel like I need more time in my day! I feel like you can never spend too much time with the people that you love and sometimes you just want time to stand still so you can really savor those moments.

Allie: If you could have a totally free day in DC, what would you do?

Allen:  I’d start out grabbing an espresso at Kafe Leopold in Cady’s Alley. They have a courtyard terrace where you can sit outside and relax listening to their fountain, you might as well be in Europe. From there I’d go to The Phillips Collection and sit in the Rothko Room for 15 minutes before biking the Mount Vernon trail – I try to do a 40 mile ride every other day. Then, I’d pick up lunch and go to The Graham Rooftop in the afternoon, which has one of my favorite views in the city and is probably my favorite place to throw parties during the day.  

After that, it’s dinnertime. Making dinner plans is one of my favorite things to do so I’d probably have made a reservation somewhere; favorites include Spoken English, Maydan and Kinship. Anyone who’s been out to dinner with me knows I’m also a big fan of the legendary tea menu and apple pie at Blue Duck Tavern for afterwards, and then drinks would continue after that.

Dinner and drinks with Friends at Bourbon, best fries in town included

Allie: What is something that people might be surprised to know about you?

Allen: I’m a huge post-war modern art fan, particularly hard edge pairings and minimal art from artists like Flavin, Kelly, Stella, Serra, Yves Kline, and Rothko. I’ve always been fascinated by beautiful architecture, design, and art, and it’s amazing showing up to the Hirshhorn or National Gallery of Art and seeing some of the most impressive works in the world. Big fan of The Whitney in NYC and The Broad In LA as well.  

Allie: Do you do art yourself?

Allen: I used to work on mixed-media pieces. I did some painting, worked with paper, and cut-out work. I also collect DC street art, but I really should be doing more of it. It’s funny you ask that actually, I was just speaking with a friend and DC street artist this weekend, we are going to work on a piece together.  

Allie: What’s at the top of your travel bucket list?

Allen: I really love the water, especially shallow reefs, so most of the travel items on my list involve the ocean. I’ve always wanted to dive the Maldives or the Great Blue Hole in Belize. They are supposedly some of the most beautiful reefs in the world, and great beaches to relax on afterwards. Also, I’m a huge fan of Japanese culture, architecture, and food, so I’d love to spend time there as well.

allen

Swimming at Caneel Bay, St. John

Allie: Which 3 people would you invite to Shabbat?

Allen: I’m not much of a small group person, so let’s call it a party and invite a bunch of people: I’d invite Frank Sinatra, Audrey Hepburn, Hilton Founder Conrad Hilton, Actress and Honest Company Founder Jessica Alba, Real Estate Developer Donald Bren, Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat, Danish Architect Bjarke Ingels, and have Off-While Founder Virgil Abloh spinning records. 

Definitely a fun night.

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?

Allen: A tie between Passover and Hanukkah. Passover because I love drinking around the table with my cousins and friends we invite over. And Hanukkah because I enjoy thinking of very personal, specific gifts to give to people.

Allie: Complete the sentence: when Jews of DC gather…

Allen: We make fun of everything and everyone.

 

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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.