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.

Meet Ilana: GatherDC’s New Rabbi!

Hailing from Brooklyn, this recently ordained rabbi is ready and eager to take GatherDC by storm. Get to know the remarkable, soulful, passionate Ilana Zietman and welcome her to the Gather team!

NOTE: If this interview piques your interest, tune into our Instagram this Friday at 12pm for our first ever AMA (Ask Me Anything): Rabbi Edition. You’ll be able to ask Rabbi Ilana your most pressing Jewish or Jew-ish questions via our Insta-story, and get her honest answers.

Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Ilana: I grew up in the greatest borough in the greatest city in the world – Brooklyn, New York. I stayed in NYC through college and then decided to be adventurous and try living somewhere else. I applied to Avodah: The Jewish Service Corps in DC, and ended up staying for a couple more years. I left five years ago to go to rabbinical school at Hebrew College in Boston, but I always had it in my mind that I would be back. 

Allie: When did you know you wanted to become a rabbi and why?

Ilana: Around the time of my bat mitzvah. I was really excited to read from the Torah and lead prayer services at my synagogue, but the rabbi of my community didn’t play much of a role in the process, nor was there any space to talk about what becoming a bat mitzvah was supposed to mean. I started thinking that if I became a rabbi, I could do things differently. 

After that, I sought out opportunities to keep growing in my Jewish identity and began to see that Jewish tradition is not simply about observing ancient customs, but is about learning how to live a more mindful, loving, and meaningful life with ourselves, others, and the world around us. Jewish tradition became something I wanted to share and bring into conversation with people from all walks of life, and I thought that I could do that most deeply as a rabbi.

Allie: What are you most looking forward to in your new role with GatherDC?

Ilana: Building relationships with young professionals across the city and seeing how we can continue to make Jewish life in DC appealing and substantial. At the end of the day, Jewish tradition and communal life must embrace who we are, even as it challenges us to think about how we might want to change and grow. 

I hope to create opportunities for honest conversations about our Judaism and Jewish lives. I’m also excited to facilitate learning opportunities for us to ask what being Jewish means and how it can add value to our lives. Also, getting to lead an alternative Yom Kippur experience (and maybe other holidays) at a beer garden or other non-traditional space…how can I not be excited about that?!

Allie: What do you hope to achieve in your rabbinate career?

Ilana: I’m not exactly sure where my rabbinate will take me, but what I do know is that as the world changes, so will my rabbinate. No matter what, I hope to be part of people’s lives in meaningful ways and to foster communities where people feel like they can show up as themselves. 

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

Ilana: I love our national parks! I will probably always choose to go camping in a national park for vacation than go on any other kind of trip. Last summer, my husband and I rented an RV and camped all around Alaska. It was so fun and beautiful. We also got to eat the halibut we caught ourselves for almost a year afterward!

Allie: If you had a totally free day in DC, how would you spend it from start to finish?

Ilana: I would start the day walking around Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown. It’s one of the most beautiful garden spaces I have ever been to. I would next visit the foodie haven of Union Market for lunch and then visit one of DC’s many (gloriously air-conditioned) museums. I especially like the National Portrait Gallery and the National Museum of American History. To relax at night, I’d binge-watch some great television like Parks & Rec, Great British Bakeoff, Broad City, and most recently, Big Little Lies.

Allie: I hear you recently discovered a love of making pottery! Tell us about that.

Ilana: I started taking pottery classes last summer, and have found a great studio in Georgetown where I’m continuing to learn. I love feeling like a kid again by playing with clay and getting messy at the wheel, and there’s nothing more satisfying than mastering new techniques that lead to making functional pieces. I hope to get good enough to make all kinds of things, maybe even Shabbat candlesticks or a seder plate for Passover. For now, I’m still figuring out how bowls work. 

Allie: What is your favorite Jewish holiday and why?

Ilana: In my opinion, Sukkot brings together some of the best parts of Judaism – wacky rituals and important life-affirming themes. 

Sukkot, meaning booths or temporary shelters, gives us the opportunity to connect to food and land and to find a sense of gratitude for the world that sustains us, and at the same time asks us to face the fact that no matter who we are, we are vulnerable to nature and the vast unknown. 

During Sukkot, there’s really nothing like sitting in a decorated sukkah at night, looking up at the stars while sharing good food and conversation. Plus, while eating or sleeping in these unconventional dwellings, we get to shake the lulav and etrog. So, I guess at the end of the day, I’m proud that Jews kind of invented the original shake shack!

Allie: Complete this sentence, When Jews of DC Gather…

Ilana: They ask big questions and get a thousand different thoughtful and creative answers.


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 Sarah: Jewish Shark Cage Diver of the Week

When she’s not getting up close and personal with Great White Sharks, you might find Sarah Graham watching Hannah B. find love on “The Bachelorette”, playing with her adorable pups, or enjoying Sofar Sounds shows on the reg.

Allie: What brought you to the DC area?

Sarah: I grew up in Manhattan, and then went to American University for undergrad. I loved DC so much that I decided to stay. I’m coming up on my 6 year DC anniversary in August.

Allie: What do you love about DC?

Sarah: As a millennial and recent graduate, there are so many things to do for free or cheaply, which is incredible. The circulator is now free which makes it easy to explore new neighborhoods. It seems like every week I’m finding cool new things to do, like a feminist woodworking workshop, Jazz in the Garden, or GatherDC events.

Allie: What is your dream day in DC? 

Sarah: Ideally my perfect summer DC day would be jam packed! If I had all the time in the world I would wake up early and take my dogs Porkey and Cuddles (@dogstagraham) along the Rock Creek pathway by my house. I would eat a true Israeli breakfast on my rooftop before going for a dip in the pool and a tanning session while reading a great book (currently Michelle Obama’s “Becoming”) or listen to a fun podcast (Michelle Buteau’s “Adulting” or “Pod Save America”).

Then, I would stop by Dupont Circle Farmers Market for a second breakfast of “Call Your Mother” bagels and Zeke’s iced coffee. Next, I would grab my friends and walk along the monuments making stops at The HirshornThe Renwick Gallery, and the East Building of the National Gallery of Art. After, we would picnic in Meridian Hill Park eating Little Sesame‘s hummus bowls and listening to the Meridian Hill drum circle. I would hit up Rewild DC for one of their awesome plant classes, catch a movie at Landmark’s Atlantic Plumbing Cinema, and grab happy hour on Takoda’s rooftop bar. I would run to Georgetown for their kayaking on the waterfront and hit up the Sculpture Garden for Jazz in the Garden!

At night, I would have Shabbat dinner with my lovely Gather friends, attend a DC United game, go to a Capitol Laughs stand up comedy show, attend a rooftop Sofar  concert, catch a Story District show, go dancing at Brixton, eat a jumbo slice and ideally be in bed by 1am. Impossible? Definitely (but amazing nonetheless).

Allie: What do you do to relax? 

Sarah: Swim. I’m a water person, so I’d sit in the pool all day if possible. I also love spending time with my dogs and unfortunately have to admit that I watch “The Bachelorette”. 

Allie: What are you most looking forward to this summer? 

Sarah: I’ve been going to a lot of Sofar Sounds shows, which I actually found out about through GatherDC. And I love going to outdoor movies in the city.

Allie: So, tell me about these dogs of yours…

Sarah: Their names are Porkie and Cuddles. Porkie is a terrier mix and he’s about 8 years old. He has a beautiful beard, very well-crafted. He has a Napoleon complex. He’s very sassy, smart, and loves attention. Cuddles is a shitzu and she’s black and really small. She has no teeth and is so sweet. They were a bonded pair that I fostered in college. They’ve been through a lot with me. 

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

Sarah: My favorite sport is scuba diving and I love sharks. I once traveled solo to Australia and did a shark cage dive there. 

Allie: What interests you about sharks? 

Sarah: The interest came from scuba diving. Being underwater is where I feel very calm, and I get to focus on this world that I don’t usually get to see. Sharks have a scary reputation, but they’re beautiful. It’s cool to see them in their natural habitat.

Allie: What was the shark dive like?

Sarah: It’s a very heightened experience. There were Great White Sharks that came and tried to bite the cage. You can look into their eyes and take pictures, and see these beautiful creatures up close without hurting them. It was funny to see men who are big wrestlers get into the cage and panic, while me as a 5’4” Asian girl gets into the cage and thinks “this is so cool!”. 

Allie: Would you do it again? 

Sarah: Absolutely! 

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

Sarah: There is a lot of laughing!    


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 Itay: Jewish Trivia Host of the Week!

Itay Balely may or may not be best friends with Disney Channel’s Aly & AJ, is terrible at trivia, and is his grandmother’s #1 fan.

Allie: What led you to live in DC?

Itay: I was born in Israel and moved to Florida when I was young, but we later moved to Bethesda, Maryland. After high school I did a gap year in Israel, and then moved back to Maryland to work in higher education. I recently started a job at the Human Rights Campaign in DC, so this is where I’ve been living ever since!

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

Itay: I’d grab brunch with friends at a new restaurant in the city. We’re lucky we have such good food in DC! My friends and I have started to do this thing where we have a little picnic in the National Mall or nearby park with my guitar and have singalongs, so I’d definitely do that. I taught myself how to play guitar when I was younger, and love it. Then, I’d go to a record store. After that, I’d go watch a show at The Kennedy Center. I enjoy theater a lot and DC has a great theater scene.

Allie: What inspired you to learn guitar?

Itay: When we moved to Maryland, I was entering eight grade and everyone already had their cliques. I felt like I needed an outlet, so I decided to be emo and write songs.

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

Itay: I host District Trivia. It’s a very fun thing to do. I learn a lot of information you can’t do anything with but it’s just good to know. The team names are always the funniest things in the world. People are so into it and get really competitive, and that makes it all the more fun.

Allie: Are you good at trivia?

Itay: Oh no, I’m terrible. I don’t know the information at all.

Allie: I hear you recently met Disney Channel’s Aly & AJ…please tell me more.

Itay: It’s kind of insane how it all happened because in the last few years Aly & AJ released new music which transformed me from an average Disney-watching fan to a true Aly & AJ fan. I was talking about their new music at work and coincidentally one of my coworkers knew a friend of theirs. When she saw her friend – who happened to be with Aly and AJ – the girls sent me a video saying hello. I wound up taking to AJ for a bit and they gave me backstage passes to meet them at their DC show (which was packed)! It was such an amazing time.

Allie: What’s your favorite way to decompress at the end of a long work day?

Itay: I love binge-watching shows on Netflix. Schitt’s Creek is one of my favorite shows of all time, and I recently watched Dead to Me which is so good. I have way too many good show recommendations on my list.

Allie: Who is your Jewish role model?

Itay: My grandma, for sure. She’s been through a lot of adversity, but still produced a large family that loves being together. We recently went back to Israel to celebrate her 80th birthday.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Itay: Our grandmas talk about how proud they are.

itay

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 Rose: Jewish Summer Intern of the Week!

GatherDC is lucky enough to have the one-and-only Rose Haas interning with us this summer. Get to know her below, and then follow a day in the life of her DC intern adventures as she takes over Gather’s Instagram this Friday!

rose

Allie: What led you to DC?

Rose: I initially moved to DC from California to attend American University and have been here for about three years. I’m a senior now, studying Jewish Studies and Special Education.   

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

Rose: It would definitely be in May, so that the weather would be warm and the sun out. It would also have to be a Sunday, so that I could go to Washington Hebrew Congregation in the morning and teach my class (4th grade Judaic Studies). Then, I’d go to Silver for brunch, because brunch is my favorite meal of the day! After that, I’d go swimming on a rooftop pool overlooking the city to sunbathe (I’m a California girl). Next, I’d go to dinner at Filomena in Georgetown – the best pasta restaurant – and then stroll by the Georgetown waterfront. After dinner, I’d swing by a GatherDC happy hour to meet some new friends, before going dancing anywhere that plays reggaeton music.    

Allie: What are you looking forward to you as an intern for GatherDC this summer?

Rose: I’m excited to help GatherDC on their mission to create a welcoming, inclusive, vibrant space for Jewish life in DC. I also want to continue their work in my personal life post-internship. I’d like to be someone that people come to when they are new to the city and looking for opportunities to explore and express their Judaism. I also hope to meet new friends and foster relationships with many of the people and organizations that Gather is connected with.  

Please email me if you want to grab coffee! I’d love to get to know you.

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

Rose: I love scuba diving! I haven’t been in a couple years, but I love observing marine life and spending time in the sun, sand, and salt water.

Allie: Oh! Tell me more about that.

Rose: I have an open water diver certification and I’ve been diving on family trips a few times to places like Cozumel, Mexico, Roatan, Honduras, and of course the freezing waters in California. My favorite trip was definitely Honduras, because the water was so warm and clear and they had amazing food. On one trip, I got to swim with a whale shark which was one of the coolest experiences of my life!  

rose scuba

Allie: What is your favorite Jewish holiday and why?

Rose: Passover! It’s always been my favorite holiday because my family gets together for a delicious meal and we celebrate our freedom. We use this time to think of others who may be experiencing some form of bondage (literal or metaphorical) and how to help them. And let’s be real, what other Jewish holiday has songs that are straight BANGERS?! I start singing Dayenu in the shower at least a couple weeks in advance.    

Allie: What three people would you invite to your Shabbat dinner and why?

Rose: I don’t have three individual people’s names in mind, but I have three types of people who would make my dinner table more interesting. First, I’d invite someone who knows a lot about Judaism and could teach me something new and help facilitate an interesting discussion. Second, I’d invite someone who doesn’t see eye-to-eye with me on Judaism, someone who can challenge my opinions and perspectives. And lastly, I’d invite someone who knows nothing about Judaism so that they might leave the dinner having learned something new.   

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Rose: You’re bound to meet either a long lost cousin or your beshert.

rose

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 Rachel: Jewish Trapeze Artist of the Week!

Rachel Erlebacher flies on ropes through the sky, should have already been featured on The Great British Bake Off, and is training for her first marathon. Meet this amazing woman!

rachel

Allie: How did you wind up in DC?

Rachel: I majored in environmental studies in college, which led me to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). I kind of knew that my home [after college] would be in DC, because I love the political scene.

Allie: What sparked your interest in politics?

Rachel: I wanted to be able to make some sort of positive change in society. And I liked the idea of working with other people and collaborating on big ideas.

Allie: I bet working in government can get stressful at times. What are some of your favorite ways to relax when you’re not in the office?

Rachel: There’s three things. The first is running. I’m training for my very first marathon which is exciting. I’m running The Chicago Marathon in October, which is great because I can indulge in some deep dish pizza afterwards. I’m a firm believer that Chicago deep dish pizza is better than New York pizza, and that the Cubs are THE best baseball team.

All of my family is in Chicago, so it’s a very fitting place to run my first big marathon.

rachel

Allie: That’s amazing! What are the other two things you do to relax?

Rachel: The second is flying trapeze. That was something that had been sitting on my bucket list for a couple of years. I finally went to a class by myself this past December at the trapeze school in Navy Yard and fell in love with it. I loved the instructors and that feeling of being free. The school is in the dead center of DC, and the minute you walk in you just kind of feel like you escape.

Sometimes, I need to get away from the stress and the politics of the city, and trapeze lets me do that. Flying trapeze has also been a great way to connect with new people.

rachel trapeze

Allie: What do you enjoy most about flying trapeze?

Rachel: It’s a no judgment zone. You sign up for a class and there are no levels. The instructor will help you with whatever activity you are working on. There are no more than 10 people to a class and you have three instructors. You go up one at a time, so you get to cheer each other on. There is a very welcoming, communal spirit.

Allie: What’s the third thing you do to relax?

Rachel: Baking. My granny is an amazing baker and when I was little, she taught me the skills to make brownies. I’ve since expanded my repertoire. During the Shutdown, I actually started a small baking business to keep me busy, aptly named the Shutdown Sugar Shack. Now, I’ve started hosting Shabbat dinners through OneTable so I can practice new baking techniques, and don’t have to eat all of the sugary foods myself. Plus, I’m social and really enjoy hosting and bringing people together.

Allie: What do you bake for your Shabbat dinners?

Rachel: This year, I hosted a crazy cookie party themed Shabbat where I created homemade versions of your favorite store-bought cookies like those Little Debbie cosmic brownies, Oreos, things like that. I think I baked 200 cookies that week, it was so fun! Most recently, I planned one that was Great British Bake Off themed.

rachel baking

Allie: How do you find time to sleep?

Rachel: I sacrifice that a bit. I’m someone who over commits and really likes to keep busy. I’m Monica Geller in a nutshell!

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Rachel: The Jewish geography game is super real. Every time I meet someone new in this city, we always have a new mutual friend. I recently invited a girl from my trapeze class to my Shabbat dinner!

 

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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.

Meet Ari: Jewish Coffee Lover of the Week!

Before he departs our great city for the Grecian life this summer, Ari is someone you better get to know. He’s obsessed with coffee, dreams of taking a cross country bike ride, and cannot wait for his first DC Pride!

ari weinstein

Allie: What brought you to DC?

Ari: I’m originally from Minneapolis and then moved to Boston. I just graduated a year ago from college, and my friend asked me if I wanted to move into an apartment with him in DC. I wound up getting a job at the EDCJCC’s GLOE.

Ari: What led you to your role with GLOE?

Ari: I had done a lot of different things related to LGBTQ programming and events. Most recently, I was involved in LGBTQ inclusion at the summer camp I grew up going to – Camp Ramah in Wisconsin. Working at GLOE was a really exciting opportunity to take my energy and excitement for LGBTQ inclusion and programming in Jewish spaces into a new capacity.

Allie: Describe your dream day in DC.

Ari: I definitely know that I need to start with coffee. I’m addicted to coffee, and I used to work at Tryst which was very enabling. I’d go to the Hirschhorn for a while and get ice cream at some point. I love those electric scooters and would want to ride one of those. Sunset is my favorite time of day, so I’d go up to my rooftop with a cup of tea to watch the sunset.

Allie: I’ve heard through the grapevine that you’re actually leaving DC soon! Is this true?

Ari: Yes, I’m leaving DC in a couple weeks. I am going to Queer Talmud Camp in California, and then working at Camp Ramah. In August, I’m moving to Greece to work with an organization related to LGBTQ refugee assistance in Athens.

Allie: Before you say goodbye to the District, what’s on your DC bucket list?

Ari: I just checked off one of the things which was to go to Mama Ayesha’s, which was really good. I want to go to The Phillips Collection soon. On my life bucket list, I’d love to go on an extended, cross country biking trip.

Allie: For your last hurrah with GLOE, you’re planning a lot of fun events for DC Pride. Tell me about those.

Ari: This is my first DC Pride, which is exciting. I’m working on a bunch of things we’ll have going on throughout the week.

On Wednesday, June 5th, GLOE is co-hosting the Annual Big Queer Jewish Happy Hour in AdMo. You’re all invited and should come to that!

On Friday, June 7th, we’re having the National Pride Shabbat with Sixth & I and Bet Mishpachah.

Then, Saturday, June 8th is the big whammy day! At 11:30am – everybody should stop by GatherDC because GLOE is going to be having a bagel brunch here. It’s free, and open to anyone in the LGBTQ community and allies. Later on, we’ll have a poster-making event for LGBTQ families, then GLOE is meeting up with the RAC for an event in Dupont, and after that we’ll be marching together in the parade.

On Sunday, June 9th is the Pride Festival and GLOE will have a booth there.

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?

Ari: I love Shabbat because of the regularity of it. It’s a reminder that you have to take a break in your life. I grew up observing Shabbat every single week with my family and the rhythm of this was ingrained in me. Finding a way to set aside time to celebrate Shabbat each has definitely been an adjustment as an adult.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Ari: There’s a lot of schmoozing!

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 Sarah: Jewish Singer of the Week!

Singer and songwriter in local band Secret Beach, Sarah Diamond is one of the coolest DC Jews we’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Get to know her…

sarah

Allie: What brought you to DC?

Sarah: I’m originally from California, but I was born in India, and lived in Ghana in high school. When it came time to go to college, I wanted to live in an international city and study international relations. I went to American University and was planning to go back to California, but ended up getting an internship in DC at NPR and decided to stay here.

Allie: Describe your dream day in DC from start to finish (assuming money is no object).

Sarah: OH my goodness. Are we allowed outside the official DC borders? Hypotheticals are hard! I’d wake up, go for a bike ride to the Takoma Farmer’s Market, and get a bunch of fresh ingredients for brunch. Then, I’d hire a private chef at an outdoor kitchen to help my friends and me cook up a big brunch, and then we’d all eat together. After that, I’d sunbathe and read a good book.

In the evening, we’d put on an intimate, outdoor, backyard, concert with my favorite bands. My band would play as well, and it would be catered by Timber Pizza. We’d dance all night and stargaze through a telescope brought to the event by a member of the DC Astrological Society (not sure this exists) so they can explain all things celestial.  

Allie: I hear you perform with a local acapella group. Has music always been a big part of your life?

Sarah: I grew up playing music. My dad was my music and drama teacher in school, and I would play and listen to music with him a lot. That was our bonding thing. I was also the only Jewish kid in my choir growing up, so I had to sing the token Hanukkah songs by myself at holiday time. It was mortifying.

sarah

Allie: What is the acapella group that you’re part of in DC?

Sarah: It’s called Makela and is really fun! I also sing in a band and write music, so [acapella] really helps me improve my voice and think about cool and different arrangements for songs. [Editor’s note: Check out Makela on YouTube!]

Allie: Ohh…tell me about this band.

Sarah: We’re called Secret Beach. I’m the singer and guitarist, so acapella is really helpful for keeping my voice fit and ready to perform.

Allie: What kind of music do you play?

Sarah: We play 50% originals and 50% covers. Our repertoire includes everything from Joni Mitchell and Norah Jones, to Aerosmith, Billie Eilish, and Yebba. We like to genre-bend and put our own spin on covers. We’re playing June 2nd at Velvet Lounge, come dance with us!

Allie: Do you have a favorite type of music you like to sing?

Sarah: I like jazz and folk singing. I especially like jazz because it’s challenging and vocally, goes places you don’t expect. Female jazz singers are badass and my inspirations.

Allie: I heard that you recently went on GatherDC’s Beyond the Tent retreat. What was that like?

Sarah: Beyond the Tent was really eye-opening. It gives you a different way of thinking about Judaism. I still think about it and talk about it.

Allie: What was your favorite memory from Beyond the Tent?

Sarah: Playing music. A bunch of us just got together to play, and at the time I thought we sounded really good. We were very enthusiastic.

Allie: If you could invite three people to your Shabbat dinner, who would you invite and why?

Sarah: Dead or alive? Do they have to come if I invite them? Important stipulations. Regardless, I would invite my mom, dad, and sister because I really really like them.

Allie: Complete this sentence, when Jews of DC Gather…

Sarah: They play Jewish jeopardy and ultimately have at least one friend in common.

sarah


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 Aliza: Jewish Rooftop Lounger of the Week!

This International Spy Museum media relations manager invites you into her top-secret world of Sydney Bristow fandom, dumplings, and DC rooftops. Get an inside look into the life of Aliza Bran!

aliza bran eating ice cream

 

Allie: Have you always been interested in spies?

Aliza: As a child, I wanted to be best friends with Sydney Bristow from Alias. I was obsessed with Jennifer Garner for years. Still am. I always found it fascinating that you can enter a world that is completely secret, where you can conceal devices into everyday items you own. I watched 24, and anything spy related. I’ve been intrigued by the fiction and reality of espionage for as long as I can remember.

Allie: What makes a good spy?

Aliza: Attention to detail. Being good under pressure. Really, it depends on what you’re doing. Analysts need to be inquisitive and precise – and careful not fall into mental traps or give into their cognitive biases. The spies on the ground doing human intelligence work need some serious courage and umph.

Allie: What is it like working at the spy museum?

Aliza: It is objectively the best job ever. You’re surrounded by the weirdest, craziest, and most intriguing stories from around the world. So it’s pretty amazing to do this full time and get to share those stories with others. And I get to work with really incredible people. The educational/curatorial folks who worked so hard to put together the content for the exhibit space are brilliant. Our comms team is amazing (I’m biased, but I’m also right).

Plus, I get to work closely with some of our incredible board members like Jonna Mendez, former CIA Chief of Disguise, who never fails to teach me something new…most recently from her book The Moscow Rules.

Allie: Is the new Spy Museum open to the public yet?

Aliza: Yes! It just opened this past weekend. Come join us! You can get tickets online – bring a date, your friends, your family, your Uber driver, whoever!

aliza and marissa

Allie: Describe your perfect day in DC.

Aliza: I’d wake up, do dim sum brunch and consume all of the dumplings. Then, I’d head down to The Wharf and go kayaking and make s’mores! Then, I’d go sit on a rooftop and read a book. Rooftops are my happy place. For the evening I might go to The Eleanor and bowl with friends or play some ping pong at SpinDC. Catch live music at the 930 Club or Union Stage or the Anthem. Dinner at a sushi place – Zeppelin, Momiji, etc. – anything with eel sauce is my favorite! The biggest problem would be fitting it all in.

Allie: Do you have a favorite DC rooftop?

Aliza: The one at American Son is really nice. There’s also El Techo, the Colada Shop, Crimson, Mi Vida. Really, I’ll go to any rooftop. What’s better than a good rooftop in the summertime?

Allie: What are your favorite ways to relax at the end of a long work week?

Aliza: Either I would binge watch something on Netflix or read a book. I try to read about 20-25 books a year, so I have a huge soft spot for my DC library membership. It’s the best! There is nothing that beats getting absorbed into a new world. Obviously, I would also spend time outside with friends, maybe a weekend picnic in Meridian Hill Park with tons of cheese and carbs.

aliza traveling

Allie: If you could invite three people to your Shabbat dinner? Who would you invite and why?

Aliza: Taylor Swift. Do I need a reason? She is amazing. Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And Jon Stewart. He does not grace the world with his presence nightly anymore and I want to know what’s up with the animals on his farm.

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

Aliza: Greece. I want to see the ruins, take in the history, enjoy the beaches, and eat all the food.

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?

Aliza: Passover. It’s one of the few holidays that my extended family comes into DC for. It’s nice to have them here, and catch up with my cousins, aunts/uncles, and my grandma (who is one of the nicest, most wonderful humans I’ve ever met). It’s all about community. Plus, my mom’s food is AMAZING. And my dad is clutch at picking up some delicious desserts (meaning ALL of the ice cream)!

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Aliza: They have a darn good time.


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 Preschool Teacher of the Week!

She got a 3D tooth in Tijuana, dreams of owning a farm sanctuary for elderly dogs, and loves a good game of bubble soccer.

Meet this Moishe House Bethesda resident and maybe future rabbi(?!) in our exclusive 1:1 interview with the fabulous Jordan Snyder!

Jordan

Allie: What brought you to DC?

Jordan: My sister had moved here and she had two children – now she has three! I had just graduated college and my sister said to come down for a few months and hang out with her. I came down, got a job at Beth Shalom teaching preschool, and started living with her and my niece and nephew who were 3 and 5. I fell in love with them, and decided to stay. Now I work at Adas Israel as a preschool teacher.

Allie: What do you enjoy about teaching preschoolers?

Jordan: I love that they’re honest, sweet, they live and let go, and there is never a boring moment in the day.

Allie: How did you wind up living in Moishe House Bethesda?

Jordan: I went to a Moishe House NoVA event and there was something special about the community there. It had been hard to make friends in DC, especially because I was living in Rockville with my sister. I found out there was a Moishe House near where I was living in Bethesda that had an opening, and decided to apply for it. I love planning events, I love the Jewish community, and I needed friends.

Allie: What has been like living in a Moishe House?

Jordan: It’s been wonderful. I love the craziness, and being a part of something bigger – being able to give back to the Jewish community in a way that I could.

Allie: What have been your favorite Jewish programs you’ve hosted or experienced as a Moishe House resident?

Jordan: Some of favorite programs have been the bonfires we’ve hosted. We’re actually hosting a pre-Lag B’Omer bonfire on Sunday, May 18th.

I also loved going to Camp Nai Nai Nai.

Allie: What’s Camp Nai Nai Nai?

Jordan: It’s like summer camp but with a twist. You get to be a kid. There’s bubble soccer which is really fun. There’s a pool, Shabbat services, and you just get to disconnect and feel like a kid. It’s camp minus the cliques I experienced growing up. This year I’m going as a counselor!

Jordan

Allie: What’s on the top of your life bucket list?

Jordan: A few things. Traveling to Australia and Egypt, although I’m terrified of airplanes. I also really want to snorkel. My dream in life would be opening a farm and having old or sick dogs come and spend their remaining years there, like hospice for dogs. I love dogs.

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

Jordan: I used to want to be a rabbi. I still do sometimes. My midlife crisis would be becoming a rabbi. Also, I have a 3D printed tooth that I got in Tijuana, Mexico. It’s a lot cheaper to do a root canal in Tijuana. So when I needed one, I went to visit my dad who lives in San Diego and drove across the border to get my root canal. Instead of a crown like they usually put on, it’s a 3D printed tooth.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Jordan: There’s fun to be had.

Jordan Yoga

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.