Meet Jeremy: Jewish Canadian of the Week

Want to nominate your amazing Jewish friend to be featured on GatherDC? Send his/her name, brief blurb, and contact info to info@gatherdc.org.

hanging at a sports gameAllie: What brought you to DC?

Jeremy: Like most people, it was happenstance of the job. I went to school in St. Louis, and am from Toronto originally, so I didn’t have ties to any cities in the US. I’d always heard that DC was a cool city to live, and filled with a lot of young people. After 3 years here, I’m so happy I made that decision.

Allie: How did you decide to move to America after growing up in Canada?

Jeremy: Canada’s university system takes a very European approach to education. When you apply to college out of high school, you apply directly to a specific program, like pre-med. In the US, it’s a lot more liberal. You don’t need to pick your major until the second year, there’s a lot more flexibility. Also, I had the same group of friends since middle school, and they were all going to go to the same college, so it was good for me to expand.

Allie: What do you think are the biggest differences between America and Canada?

Jeremy: 1) The cities in the US. have a much more diverse group of people. In Canada, people are either from Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver. In the US, you have people from the middle of Iowa and people from New York who are now living in the same city.

2)  In the US, there is a lot more homegrown, original stuff that goes on in the cities. Toronto is a big city, but if you look at the entertainment options there, most shows and art didn’t originate in Toronto, they started in New York or L.A.

3) There are a lot more all-you-can-eat buffets in the US.

4) Canada just got its first Cheesecake Factory six months ago. Since then, there have been non-stop lines at the restaurant, and Canadian food bloggers are writing food blogs about it. People can’t even get reservations.

Allie: What are you most excited about for the summertime?

Jeremy: It’s my dad’s 60th birthday this summer, so my family rented a house in Puglia, Italy and are going to go at the end of summer. Apparently, there’s a wood-burning pizza oven in the backyard of the house, and it’s near wineries. I’m excited to drink wine, eat pizza, and it’s only 20 minutes from the beach and some old Italian cities.

Allie: If you had an entirely free day to do whatever you want in D.C., how would you spend it?

Jeremy:  I’d probably sleep in, go to Bethesda Bagels, and ideally there wouldn’t be a line. Then, I’d head towards the monuments. I’ve always wanted to go up the Washington Monument, even though the elevators have been broken for so long. In my ideal day, the elevators would be working. I’ve really wanted to go to the African American Museum, so I’d go there, and then  grab lunch somewhere downtown. I’d go to Mini Bar for dinner, and then to a speakeasy – the one behind Jack Rose called Dram and Grain DC. I’ve never been, but apparently they have really good bourbon drinks. Oh, also, I love going to see movies at the Air and Space Museum.

Jewish friends in DC

Allie: What’s your favorite smell and why?

Jeremy: Vanilla, Cinnabon, and the smell of a flower shop.

Allie: What’s your favorite way to relax and destress?

Jeremy: I try and go for a run every so often, and read. I tried to meditate for a week, and I wish I could do that longer, maybe that’s something I can learn this year.

Allie: If you could eat 3 foods for the rest of your life what would they be?

Jeremy: Bagel/lox/cream cheese, steak with a side of parmesan truffle fries, and any veggie pizza.

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

Jeremy: I want to see the Northern Lights. I want to go skydiving, but I’m terrified of heights. And I want to go scuba diving more often.

Allie: Are there any Canadian terms for things that you wish people knew?

Jeremy: My favorite word you guys don’t have here is a garburator – it’s a garbage disposal.

Allie: Hobbies or skills you want to do or learn this year?

I want to do more snowboarding and ice hockey. I’d like to go on a snowboarding trip to Vail or Big White in Canada for hockey and snowboarding.

Allie: Do you have any interesting facts that people may not know about you?

Jeremy: I have slept in an igloo, and have been dog sledding before.

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

Jeremy: They argue whose mom makes the best matzo ball soup (mine does).

Jewish guy of the week and girlfriend

 

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 Alyssa: Jewish Moishe House Resident of the Week

Want to nominate your amazing Jewish friend to be featured on GatherDC? Send his/her name, brief blurb, and contact info to info@gatherdc.org.

Alyssa Silva is a woman of many talents. She can plan a 300 person Jewish event, sell kosher meats to farmer’s market samplers, and dominate on the softball field. This is why we’re pretty bummed she’s leaving us this summer 🙁 Before she goes, we wanted to make sure all of our readers have the chance to get to know her, and both meet and say goodbye in person at her going away party this coming Sunday. Alyssa – thanks for all you have done and continue to do to make Jewish DC so incredible! We will miss you.

Allie: What brought you to DC?

Alyssa: I was coming from Tucson, Arizona. When I decided I wanted to move to DC, I reached out to my friend Tiffany Harris  – who I met at a Moishe House retreat in Arizona – to see if she knew of any housing or job opportunities. She told me there was a resident opening at Moishe House Columbia Heights. One thing led to another, and I moved into that house with Tiffany soon after!

When the Moishe House Columbia Heights accepted me, I drove cross-country to move into the house and figured I would find a job later.

Allie: What is it like living in a Moishe House?

Alyssa: It’s been a whirlwind. I’ve lived here for two years and have seen four different people move in and out as residents. I’ve seen our community change a lot in two years, everything from people who just want to party and meet Jewish singles, to people who want to pursue Jewish learning. I’ve hosted over 168 programs since being here! Overall, I’ve made some really good friends, and met hundreds of people who I’ve connected with in some way.

Allie: What Moishe House program stands out the most?

Alyssa: The Syrian Sweets Soiree. This event went viral. We released the event and overnight there were over 3,000 people said they were interested on Facebook. The event tickets were donation-based and would go to the Syrian American Council, and we had a speaker who was speaking about Syrian refugees and the crisis there. We had sold over 500 tickets and raised over $5,000 to help Syrian families trying to resettle in the U.S. Since we couldn’t fit 500 people in the Moishe House, we held it at Hawthorne, which gave us their rooftop space for free.

Allie: I hear that you’re soon going to be leaving us to live in Israel. Tell me about that!

Alyssa: I’ve decided that it’s time to continue my education and am going to be doing a Jewish Experiential Educators program at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem! I’ll be moving out of Moishe House at the end of May, and you’re all invited to my going away party this coming Sunday!

Allie: What’s your favorite way to spend Shabbat?

Alyssa: With people that I love, having a beautiful song-led Kabbalat Shabbat where everyone is singing followed by a delicious dinner with lots of wine and talking.

Allie: I hear you keep pretty busy in DC, tell me about that.

Alyssa: I have four jobs! My main job is at Maryland Hillel where i am the Programming and Operations Associate. I’m also a peer-led retreat mentor with Moishe House, and a Moishe House resident so I plan programs programs [as a part of this role]. I also work at the Bethesda Central Farm Market for a kosher meat distributor called CWS where I help him sell kosher sandwiches and ribs.

Allie: Wow! How did wind up working at the Bethesda Central Farm Market?

Alyssa: I was on JSwipe one day and swiped right on a guy named Hillel. He then messaged me and asked if I wanted to help him sell meat on Sundays. I didn’t totally get what he meant, but he explained that his brother owns a meat business and wanted someone to help with sales. This was before I found my job at Maryland Hillel, so I said “sure”! It was a way I could make some easy cash on Sundays. It’s super fun and the guys are awesome.

Allie: What’s your favorite way to de-stress?

Alyssa: I play softball every week with DC Fray (just like Alissa!). Finding this team was one of the first things I did when I moved to DC. I played softball in high school, it’s one of my favorite things to do. I didn’t know anyone on the team, and now I’ve been on the same team for two years! I also wind down by being a the farmer’s market on Sundays. It’s super calm and just fun. I’m your typical extrovert – so sitting in my room not talking to anyone would make me stressed out.

Allie: Who is your Jewish role model and why?

Alyssa: My mom. Growing up, it was really important to my mom that I learn about my Jewish heritage, because she didn’t grow up with that. My mom and I learned about Judaism together. When I was in middle school, my mom taught a class called Social Action Sunday at my Hebrew School. Instead of sitting in a classroom, she had us go to a men or women’s shelter or animal rescue and actually do tikkun olam together. My mom has always pushed me to be the ultimate kind person and be a Jewish role model to my peers.

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

Alyssa: Portugal. My last name is Portuguese, and there’s all of this history we don’t know about my father’s side of the family. I’d love to do some digging on that.

Allie: if you could eat only 3 foods for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?

Alyssa: Sushi, specifically salmon sashimi. Gefilte fish. And brisket.

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

Alyssa: We make noise.

 

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 Valerie: Jewish Real Estate Agent of the Week

Get to know Valerie Bluestein, and then meet her – and other Jewish People of the Week – in person at our Jewish Person of the Year Celebration on May 10th!

Allie: What brought you to DC?

Valerie: I’m one of the very few DC natives! I was born at Georgetown Hospital, spent most of my childhood in Bethesda, and then went to college at University of Maryland. I’m pretty convinced that my parents brainwashed me into never moving more than 30 minutes away. Although, DC is a great place to live. So, if I’m going to be stuck somewhere, I’m glad it’s here.

Allie: What is it like to be married to the Pickle Eating Champion of DC (AKA: Max Bluestein)?

Valerie: My grocery bill has tripled, and I’ve learned to eat fast. Max is the eating champion of everything, not just pickles. I remember we had just started dating when he participated in one of the pickle eating competitions –and I was simultaneously impressed, revolted, and intrigued. But being married to Max is wonderful. We really have the best time together.

Allie: How did you meet Mr. Bluestein?

We have differing perspectives on whether our first date was a date. As someone who was taught to be courted, I didn’t count “lets meet up after my friend’s birthdayday dinner at 11pm” as a date. I thought that was just a friendly get-together. So, when I texted him before that “get-together” that I couldn’t make it, he thought I stood him up (I thought we could just reschedule)…so we didn’t talk for 3 years. Luckily, we reconnected at a Jewish event and were able to explain each of our sides of the story, confess that we both had crushes on each other, and seal it with a kiss. Good thing he’s already had his Jewish Person of the Week interview, so I’ll get the final say on this :).

Allie: Why – did you become a real estate agent?

Valerie: I’ve always been fascinated by real estate, and HGTV was always in the background at home. I’m not sure why I never considered it as a career before now. But, I decided it was time to change gears after being at my job for 8 years. After having lots of informational interviews, I decided to dive into real estate sales since it incorporates all of the skill-sets I’ve developed, and I would be doing what i love most.

Allie: What’s your favorite way to spend Shabbat?

Valerie: Enjoying a dinner with close friends.

Allie: What is your number one piece of house-hunting advice?

Valerie: You’re going to have to think with both your head and your heart. There’s so much that goes into the process – financial, emotional. It’s exciting and scary, and really important that you find  a real estate agent who understands what you want and need, and gets your personality.

Allie: What is your favorite show to binge watch?

Valerie: I’ve already watched “Veronica Mars” 3 times, and I would be down to watch it again anytime.

Allie: What’s your favorite way to de-stress?

Valerie: A combination of exercise, reading, or napping.

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

Valerie: Being married to Max has increased my travel 1,000%. I’d love to go to Hawaii next.

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

Valerie: There’s a lot of food and a lot of fun.

 

 

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 Defender of the Week

After living in Lebanon, walking with lions in Africa, and trying to retrace her grandfather’s historical trek around the globe, this worldly woman found her homebase at the U.S. Department of Defense. Get to know Sarah Geller, a far from #basic, multilingual, workout-loving fashionista in our 1:1 interview…and then meet her in person – and other Jewish People of the Week – at our Jewish Person of the Year Celebration on May 10th!

At my best friend’s wedding in Philly

Allie: How did you wind up working at the Department of Defense?

Sarah: I was a Middle Eastern Studies and Politics major at college, which is part of what led me to study abroad in Lebanon. Although I think my mom had a heart attack every day while I was there, [being in Lebanon] was incredible. It reminded me a lot of Israel. I met great friends, and I worked on my Arabic.

When you step away from your normal culture and way of life, you appreciate and have a different perspective on things. While in Lebanon and traveling through the Middle East, I developed a unique appreciation for American values and the freedoms we have. I decided that the best way for me to contribute to society would be working for the Department of Defense – behind the scenes, not on the front lines. But, I am deeply in awe of the people who can be on the front lines.

Allie: How have your Jewish values informed your career?

Sarah: It might seem ironic–because the Department of Defense may bring about images of war and guns – but what we do is about making a positive impact on the world. I believe in the bigger American picture, and see us as working towards a peaceful solution in the end, which relates to the Jewish idea of tikkun olam (repairing the world).

Allie: Do you have a favorite way to celebrate Shabbat?

Met Jordan Klepper of Comedy Central at the Newseum

Sarah: Eating challah and having dinner with friends. I’m not super religious, but I appreciate taking that time to step back from the day-to-day craziness of life and have a good meal with friends. And if Judaism says you have to, then alright, I’m going to eat and drink wine with friends. It’s simple, but I like it.

Allie: How would spend the day in DC if you had an entirely free day and money was no object?

Sarah: I would get breakfast at A Baked Joint, which has really good food and coffee for a good price. Hopefully it would be a nice day in DC, and I’d just walk the entire city. I’d love to go to the monuments, maybe go to a museum, and then walk to Georgetown for some shopping. At night, I’d start with a nice dinner somewhere at Le Diplomate, someplace you can get dressed up for. Then, I would get drinks at a cocktail or hotel bar like POV at the W, and then go out with friends.

Allie: What’s your favorite way to relax?

Sarah: Working out – I like FlyBarre, Solid Core, and exercising with my roommate – who’s not currently my personal trainer, but I really want him to be! After a good work out, I like taking a long hot shower and sitting in my room with a candle, reading a book…or just taking a nap.

Allie: If you could only eat 3 foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?

Sarah: My grandma’s french toast, chocolate chip cookie dough, and cauliflower. I love cauliflower. I prefer my cauliflower stir-fried, with basil, salt, pepper, and cumin (it might be basic but I think it’s delicious).

Walked with lions in Zambia, Africa

Allie: Where’s the coolest place you’ve traveled?

Sarah: My mom used to live and work in Zambia, Africa, and we went there as a family trip. I got to walk with lions while I was there, which was terrifying and exhilarating.

Allie: What else is on your bucket list of places to travel?

Sarah: My grandfather was in the Coast Guard during WWII. From that experience, he traveled almost the entire world. I’m trying to follow his footsteps of where he went. I’ve been to India, Nova Scotia, England, and South Africa – where he docked. I have Australia, Italy, and Morocco left on the list and then, I will have completed where he’s been. It’s really cool to be a part of that history.

Allie: Who are your Jewish role models?

Sarah: Outside of family, I’d say Diane Von Fürstenberg and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. They are strong women who have overcome a lot to get to where they are, and they have shown that you can be successful and do well with integrity and perseverance.

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

Sarah: They make Jewish babies

 

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 Ben, Ben, Ben, AND Ben! (yes, you read that right)

GatherDC’s winter 2018 Beyond the Tent retreat was an amazing experience for young adults to get outside of DC for a weekend, unpack 21st century Judaism, and explore their Jewish identity over deep, meaningful conversations. Among the 30 participants, zero were named Rachel…but FOUR were named Ben! This week, the Bens of Beyond the Tent share their unique perspectives on Jewish DC and life in general – proving, once and for all, that not all Bens are the same. Get to know them…

 

Ben D. – Former Jewish Guy of the Week!

Allie: Where does your unique name come from? Do any of you have a cool story behind why you were named Ben?

Ben D.: I was going to be named after my grandfather, Sidney, which is now my middle name. As a result, my hebrew name is Simcha.

Ben F.: It was passed down from my great-grandfather.

Ben R.: I don’t know. Does that make me a bad Jew? Fake Jew? Typical Jew?

Ben L.: No, but my family and I grew a bit tired of our names last year (we’ve been using them for decades…) and so we used nicknames for a few good months. I went by Josh.

Ben F.

 

Allie: What do you love most about living in DC?

Ben D.: DC brings the best and the brightest young people from around the country, who come here specifically to make a difference in the world. DC is a springboard for young leaders.

Ben F.: Great collection of educated citizens that aren’t afraid to challenge the establishment. Ask questions, drive for change, and push forward.

Ben R.: All within a few miles and by way of a mass-public transportation train, there’s movies, comedy, craft beer, rock climbing, pour-over coffee shops, and challenging hikes. What else is there in life?

Ben L.: The monuments at night.

 

Allie: If you could pick a new name for yourself right now, what would it be and why?

Ben D.: I usually go by my full name “Ben Droz”, (rhymes with “Ben Rose”).  I like it just the way it is.

Ben F.: Staying with Ben. Simple name but yet plenty of clever nicknames.

Ben R.: When I was 26 years old, my first book was published. I had unlimited options for the name that was published on the cover: I could have chosen Ben, Benjy, Ben-jammin, Ben-jammmmmmmmmin, Benjamin, or an alias. I chose Benjamin, the name by which my loving parents chose to call me. And, I’m sticking with it.

Ben L.: Josh. Worked before. Could work again.

Allie: I hear you all recently went on GatherDC’s Beyond the Tent retreat with Rabbi Aaron! First, how was it? Second, was it weird, awesome, or both meeting 3 other Bens?

Ben D.: Beyond the Tent was a great experience, to get out of the DC bubble and make time for deep reflection. It helped to highlight that any person can define Judaism for themselves. I am used to there being other Bens around throughout my life, which is one reason why I usually go by my full name. But this time, we made up more than 10% of the whole group, so yes, that was both weird and awesome.

Ben F.: Beyond the Tent was a mind-changing experience. Rabbi Aaron encouraged us to ask difficult questions and not to be afraid to stand behind our beliefs. In terms of meeting all the Bens, I think we embraced it – it was like our own little breakout group in itself.

Ben R.: Beyond the Tent impacted my life positively, partly because I was one of four individuals named Ben. Never again in my life, I’m certain of this, will I be in the same place with three other friends named Ben. That’s “Beyond the Awesome”.

Ben L.: It was a thought provoking weekend. I’m a regular attendee of the weekly secret underground gatherings of the Bens, so nothing too new.

 

Allie: Favorite thing to do on a free Sunday in the city?

Ben D.: There are always so many events in DC that I like to see what is going on and base my decision on that.  Last weekend I randomly went to the Zoo, which was fun.

Ben F.: Go for a run along the National Mall.

Ben R.: Watch professional football. Oh wait, I live and die by the Washington Redskins and football season is over? Dang it!

Ben L.: Park. I really enjoy not having to use the meter.

 

Allie: Favorite Jewish food? Ben R., we already know you hate hummus

Ben D.: Chicken Soup.

Ben F.: Might be a classic choice, but Apples and Honey.

Ben R.: [haha. Yep]. Not hummus.

Ben L.: My mom’s challah. All of her’s are good, but I’d say that 1 out of 4 is truly something divine, especially when my two year-old niece helps. Shout out to Maya, Talia, and Andrew, my favorite Jews in DC!

 

Allie: Any surprising facts about yourself?

Ben D.: I had a spiritual experience at Burning Man and now want to incorporate spirituality into my life in new ways.

Ben F.: I was born without two normal teeth and with all 4 wisdom teeth. Call me strange I guess!

Ben R.: Every morning, I touch my three tattoos and say aloud a blessing of gratitude about having my third chance in life and about accepting myself and others as we are. Thanks to Beyond the Tent, I realize now that, for me, this is a deeply Jewish and spiritual ritual.

Ben L.: I used to tear it up at table tennis tournaments as a kid.

 

Allie: Favorite Jewish holiday and how do you celebrate it?

Ben D.: Passover, because there is so much relating to the holiday (I follow sephardic food rules so that I can still enjoy rice and lentils). I like to celebrate by re-interpreting the Haggadah from a post-modern perspective.

Ben F.: Rosh Hashanah. And I try to spend time back home to reminisce on the year prior and look at new ways to seize the future.

Ben R.: Purim because my friend is baking me hamentashen. Ask me again in April, and I may say a different holiday if a friend bakes me something else.

Ben L.: Havdalah. I like to hear the candle’s flame slowly go out in the wine. Judaism places a lot of emphasis on transitions throughout one’s day, week, or year and when in crisis, and I think that’s smart.

 

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

Ben D.: They will always find connection and meaning.

Ben F.: If meeting for the first time, you’ll probably get a first question like what you do for a living or where are you from.

Ben R.: They still congregate around the hummus.

Ben L.: You’ll never be the one with the best question or the best answer. That means it’ll be pretty exciting.

 

 

 

 

 

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 Maxim: Russian Jew of the Week!

When he’s not running the amazing Jewish community group for Druzya DC: Jews of the FSU, hiking across Shenandoah, or working as an engineer, Maxim is…eating hamantaschen?! Get to know the founder of Druzya DC with our exclusive 1:1 interview!

Allie: I hear you helped start the group Druzya DC, tell me a little bit about this group and what motivated you to start it?

Maxim: Druzya DC was organized by two of my friends. We wanted to unite the Russian-Jewish community. I come from the NY/NJ area where the sense of the Russian-Jewish community is very strong. Growing up, if I wanted to find a Russian store, doctor, lawyer, or plumber – all I had to do was ask and the community would take care of the rest. When I came to DC, this sense of community for Russian Jews did not exist yet, and I wanted to create it. Two of my friends that founded Druzya DC with me eventually left to follow other life ambitions, but I continue to run it in my spare time. I love bringing people together. You can check out our Facebook page with events and details.

Allie: In what ways do you think Russian Jews differ from American Jews?

Maxim: If you know American Jews and Israeli Jews, Russian Jews would fit somewhere in the middle. American Jews grew up with the safety and freedom inherent in their country. Russian Jews grew up with anti-Semitism, government oppression, and The Gulag. Although many American Jews have not been tempered by these same experiences, they serve as great examples about how much you can achieve, while being Jewish. In politics and religion, I think many Russian and American Jews can be polar opposites. Many Russian Jews grew up after the monarchies fell and were replaced by a variety of socialist systems. They saw what these kinds of governments can do to people– and because of this – tend to lean right. They also differ on religion. Many American Jews believe in God and are religiously observant. In my experience, I notice that Russian Jews, who grew up in a country with no or little religion, are not as observant. Many see being Jewish as less of a religion and more of a culture with certain beliefs, spirituality, and traditions.

Allie: What do you love about the Jewish community in DC?

Maxim: Coming from a very large Jewish community in NY/NJ, it has been wonderful to be a part of a Jewish community in DC that is slightly smaller. This smaller size allows the people in it to integrate and become closer to one another. It’s nice to have a place where everyone knows each other, hangs out at events, and if they ever need something, I know someone who can help.

Allie: What do you like to do for fun outside of work?

Maxim: Nature is my thing. I love getting lost in Shenandoah National Park; it is my home away from home. Nothing beats heading out into the deep woods, roasting something on a fire, and letting the sound of forest and nature engulf you.

Allie: What are you most excited about in 2018?

Maxim: New opportunities, new friends and new adventures! Life continues to move along, and we should enjoy every moment of it.

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Maxim: I can eat Hamentashen all day!

Allie: What is your best piece of life advice?

Maxim: Never let life bring you down. Things happen, and you can’t control that. You should never spend your energy trying to control things. Instead, take the good with the bad and continue marching on. Sometimes, life events are like buses – if one comes that you don’t want or like, wait a little, and there will be another one in 15 minutes.  

Allie: What’s your favorite way to spend Shabbat?

Maxim: With close friends

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

Maxim: …fun and music don’t stop until the light of dawn.

 

 

 

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 the Newest GatherDC Staff Member – Allie!

Get ready, DC – you’re going to start seeing a lot more of our newest team member, Allie! She’s just come on board as our Communications Director, and she’s SO excited about her new role. From her background in marketing with The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, to her unparalleled passion for the DC Jewish community, Allie is the perfect addition to our Gather team. Learn more about her path to Gather (and her obsession with all things Halloween).

P.S. Read more from the last time we checked in with her as the Jewish Girl of the Week 3 years ago! #WayBackWednesday

Shaina: Tell us about yourself!

Allie: My name is Allie of House Cossman, Friend of Bubbies Everywhere, Queen of Young Jewish Professional Events, Breaker of Fasts. My lifelong passion for Jewish culture, tradition, community, and spirituality have followed me from the faraway land of Potomac, Maryland, to Ann Arbor, Michigan (go blue!), and now to our nation’s capital. When I’m not enthusiastically promoting or attending Jewish community events, I love hiking, whipping up new vegan recipes, unwinding in Bethany Beach, practicing my downward dog, and spending time with friends and family. I also proudly maintain a ferocious obsession with (the not so Jewish holiday of) Halloween, and anything spooky, mystical, or related to the best season in the world – fall. This autumn in particularly will be a wee bit extra special because my wedding “falls” in 53 days, but who’s counting?

Shaina: What most excites you about working for GatherDC?

Allie: Well, my very favorite things in the world are meeting awesome new people, being a part of our incredible Jewish community, and letting my creative brain soar. So, being able to meld these passions as the GatherDC Communications Director is one of the most extraordinary opportunities I’ve encountered in my life thus far. I can’t wait to get to know the phenomenal Jewish young adults across DC, and help each and every one find their niche and discover a deep sense of belonging. Moreover, I hold a profound admiration for all GatherDC has done – and continues to do – to strengthen our local Jewish community and cannot wait to be a part of this remarkable mission.

Shaina: I heard you met your fiancee in a pretty cool way. Do you want to tell us about that?

Allie: Many, many years ago (3 to be exact), on a Wednesday evening in our great District of Columbia, the sun was shining, the drinks were flowing, and the Jews – were Gathering. Gather the Jews (AKA GatherDC) was hosting its May happy hour on The Brixton rooftop. Allie thought (why yes, I am telling this story in the third person. I think it gives the drama a little boost), this would just be like any other happy hour – she’d schmooze, nosh, gather, and head on her merry way. That all changed the moment she spotted one Mr. Andrew, house of Friedman, Lord of the Avocadbros, across the bar. His blue eyes glistened in the sunshine, his dimples made her swoon, and the moment he said “hey, what’s up?” she knew….she knew that one day he would become her lifelong Bachelor in Paradise viewing buddy, and also her husband. So, it’s safe to say GatherDC holds a pretty special place in my heart (back to first person now) and my Jewish journey, and I can’t wait to share this “Gather” love with others.

Shaina: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday or event?

Allie: Shabbat! I mean, yes, Chanukah latkes are quite delicious and it’s always fun hanging out with Elijah come Passover, but let’s be real…you can’t beat a holiday that happens EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK. You just can’t! Plus, challah. No phones. It’s Friday – meaning the best excuse to jam out to Rebecca Black. Most of all, it is a sacred responsibility to set aside our stresses, worries, and anxieties; to power off our devices; to sit back, eat, sing, be present, and RELAX. I’m truly grateful to have this miraculous opportunity, every week, to be free from the frenzy of daily life and present with the beauty of life’s simpler things.

Shaina: What is something not a lot of people know about you that you’d like to now share publicly with thousands of our readers?  

Allie: I am very much into practicing – and learning about – mindfulness. I love listening to Tara Brach podcasts, meditating, taking yoga classes, and doing what I can to live each day as presently, fully, and wholeheartedly as I can. It’s a tall order, but I may as well give it my best shot!

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

Allie: they have lox of fun.

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.

Jewish Foodie of the Week – Hilary!

Shaina: Not to be “too DC,” but what do you do?

Hilary: I currently the Head of Development for Plum Relish; we are a women-owned and managed “corporate catering” concept currently in the DC area. Our concept is geared to make the catering process super seamless, knowing the orderer is dealing with a handful of other tasks.

Shaina: What’s your favorite place to eat in DC?

Hilary: The hardest question!  My answer will probably change depending on the day or neighborhood I am in, however one of my every day “go-tos” is Glen’s Garden Market. It’s a block from my house, they already have great prepared food at a decent price. and I am way comfortable drinking a beer there alone.

Shaina: What do you see as the intersection between Judaism and food?

Hilary: For me, food is Judaism.  All of my favorite memories surrounding my culture are all food related, eating hamantaschen at the Purim Carnival as a kid, trying chopped liver at the Passover Seder at my Grandma’s house– or more recently throwing my first break-fast and scouring DC for good bagels (for those who are reading this Heckman’s in Bethesda sells an awesome product).  I love that every celebration involves gathering friends and family to eat foods that our people have eaten for centuries.

Shaina: What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Hilary: An over-sized everything bagel with way too much schmear and a mountain of lox.

Shaina: Explain your ideal Sunday in DC.

Hilary: Sleeping in (that’s until about 8:00 am for me) heading to the gym then coming back home to lounge for the day, finally ending the weekend with a dinner with friends.

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

Hilary: multiple days worth of calories will be consumed…at least that my DC Jewish friends.

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.

Jewish Artist of the Week – Rose

You may not have met Rose in-person, but you have likely seen her art around the city. This Jewish Artist of the Week sits down with us to talk about the art scene in DC, where you can see her art and how she connects to her Judaism.

How long have you lived in DC?

I am a DC native! Born on Capitol Hill, and raised in NW, Chevy Chase DC to be exact. 

What are some ways in which you connect with your Judaism?

My father was (and still is) my most significant connection to Judaism. He would cook Shabbat feasts every Friday growing up, and we would host a myriad of friends and family around our dining room table. Those experiences, along with attending Sunday School, services, and of course my Bat Mitzvah, have had an influential effect on how I live my life today. I love hosting small gatherings, having critical dialogues, questioning the status quo and brainstorming action are things I feel grounded in from my Jewish education and experience. I have engaged with the amazing work of Jews United for Justice on a few occasions and enjoy returning to synagogue for high holy day services at Sixth and I Historic Synagogue each year to reinforce my connection to Judaism and the role I can play as an active participant in the narrative. 

Tell me about your art! How would you define your style and what inspires your work?

I love art with every fabric of my being! I always have. I would define myself as a painter but am recently exploring ceramics and sculpture. I love working with large scale and have about 7 murals displayed in the DC area. I am drawn to public art that can be appreciated by many people, day after day and year after year. Content wise – I enjoy people and the human figure. I strive to make art that carries a message. I never tire of a face and a story it can tell. Art for me is a form of expression that crosses language and cultural borders and a critical tool for social influence and change.  

What are some of your favorite projects that you have worked on?

I painted a mural at the Mitch Snyder Homeless shelter last year as part of a MuralsDC grant. I photographed folks from the shelter and painted them on the wall. The entire experience was enlightening and solidified the importance of working directly with my DC community and using art to shed light on various populations. 

What’s it like being an artist in Washington, DC? What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages?

I think being an artist in DC is both excellent and tough at the same time. There is money in this city, and the DC government treats its artists quite well compared to other cities across the country. The pool of artists is much smaller than NY or LA, so I am a bigger fish. The flip side is that the cost of living is so high that it can be unsustainable for artists to live (and make a living) inside District lines.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist? How did you get started?

I started drawing and painting around six years old and haven’t really stopped. That being said, I didn’t think of it as a viable career until college. Only then did I see examples of artists making a living from their work and knew that is what I wanted to do. I hustled after college with part time jobs, building my freelance portfolio and participating in gallery shows. After four years I made the leap to full-time artist. 

Do you have any work you want people to know about right now?

I have a show coming up at the Mansion at Strathmore opening June 10th. The show runs until August 4th. Follow me for updates on @rose_inks. My website portfolio is www.rosejaffe.com

What do you love about DC?

The amount of green space, the diversity, the small size. 

What’s one thing you would change about DC?

The transient population that does not invest time or money into the rich history and culture of this city. 

What’s the one thing you can’t get through the day without?

Other than art???? 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.