Jewish Jeweler of the Week – Elana


Elana was nominated to be the Jew of the Week by her roommate Emma, who was the past Jewish Musical Lover of the Week! Emma nominated Elana for her sense of humor and her exciting work in DC. Learn more about Elana in our interview with the Jewish Jeweler of the Week!

Jackie: You just moved to DC from Wisconsin. I know our cheese isn’t as good here so what brought you to DC?

Elana: A job! I graduated this past May from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. After graduating I spent about a month at home in Denver volunteering at Ryan Seacrest Studios in the Children’s Hospital Colorado and then made the big move out to DC in July.

Jackie: Emma told me you help run a jewelry business. Tell me more about that?

Elana: Dayna Designs is a small jewelry design and manufacturing company. We sell sterling silver collegiate jewelry for 100+ school and sororities and are just announcing our new designer line for 2017.

Jackie: What is your job at Dayna Designs?

Elana: My official role is Operations and Marketing, but given the small size of the company, the beauty is I really get to do it all! My daily operations incorporate business decisions/plans, strategy, creative/design, marketing, advertising, etc.

gather-the-jews5Jackie: Since you are new to DC, what are you excited to try out for the first time?

Elana: I haven’t been to the Zoo yet, but have heard great things about it. I am especially excited now that the Zoo Lights are open.

Jackie: Who is your favorite Jew?

Elana: My grandmother, of course.

Jackie: What is your favorite Jewish holiday?

Elana: Passover, without a doubt. My family goes all out – lots of guests, good food, lots of singing and discussions. Last year our Seder went until midnight…I didn’t make it past dinner.

Finish the sentence: When the Jews Gather…we play our favorite game of all time – Jewish geography. 

Jewish Actor of the Week – Sophie


I had met Sophie only a few times before our 10 hour road trip to North Carolina for the wedding of a mutual friend. Over the course of our drive, I got to know more about Sophie and her work. I just knew she needed to be featured here for the Gather the Jews Person of the Week!

Jackie: You first came to DC for school at American University. After living in California, why did you want to move across the country for school?

Sophie: I wanted to study theatre, as opposed to film. Most of the musical theatre programs that you have to audition for were on the East Coast, so East Coast it was! I do not relish the change in weather. I was very happy living without seasons.

Jackie: When did you know you wanted to be an actress?

Sophie: You know, I’m not sure. I wrote a letter to myself in elementary school that said I wanted to be a marine biologist/flutist/maybe a singer, so I guess performing was always a part of the equation.

Jackie: Do you have a favorite show you were in or character you played?

Sophie: Probably Little Red in Into the Woods. I get to play a lot of children – when you’re 5’1″ it comes with the territory- and it’s always amazing to play a young character with depth and dignity; there is a lot going on in those little brains. The writing from Sondheim and James Lapine is so rich; they do all the work for you. woods3

Jackie: Can you tell us about the show are you in currently?

Sophie: Currently, I’m playing Fan in A Christmas Carol at Toby’s Dinner Theater in Columbia, Maryland. Oh, the irony. But, in all honesty, I think the show has some messages that the world really needs to hear right now. “Till each child is fed. Till all men are free. Till the world becomes a family. Star by star up above and kindness by human kindness, light this world with your love and G-d bless us, everyone.” At its core, the story and the lessons it teaches are pretty universal.

Jackie: Do you have any recommendations of shows to see in DC?

293Sophie: Unfortunately, I don’t get to see much when I’m in a performance.
I have heard amazing things about The Secret Garden at The Shakespeare Theatre. I’m also dying to see Milk Like Sugar at Mosaic Theater and Looking Glass Theatre Company’s Moby Dick at Arena Stage. Ooh and, looking forward to January, I cannot wait for Caroline, Or Change at Round House Theatre; it’s about an African-American maid working for a Jewish family in Louisiana during the Civil Rights Movement. The casting is impeccable, and it’s the kind of piece that makes you uncomfortable, which is so important. It’s the perfect collaboration between Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori, two of the greatest theatre-makers of our time.

Jackie: When you aren’t working, where can we find you spending time in DC?

Sophie: Honestly, I love just wandering the city and exploring new neighborhoods; I’m a good walker. Favorite haunts include the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, the Kogod Courtyard, the Smithsonian’s Butterfly Pavilion, and any block where every row house is topped with a turret.

Jackie: What is your favorite Jewish Holiday?

Sophie: I’m sure I’m in the minority, but Pesach [Passover] has always been my favorite. That whole no bread thing is a bummer, but who doesn’t love a good matzoh ball?

Finish the sentence: When the Jews Gather… there are more than enough opinions to go around.

Jewish Girl of the Week – Susan

Susan1Rachel: What brought you to DC?
Susan: The love of cold weather.  Not quite.  Being from Atlanta, I had no plans to move up north.  However, after staffing a trip to Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Israel…BBYO Passport, the travel arm of BBYO, offered me a full time position in DC.  After getting back to the states, I packed my car and drove up to DC.  A large U-haul followed a few months later.

Rachel: So what exactly do you do for BBYO Passport?
Susan: I work as a Program Manager with the BBYO Passport team.  What is BBYO Passport?  Glad you asked, its the leader for Jewish teen travel.  This year, I focused on March of the Living, a Holocaust Remembrance journey.  Right now, we’re gearing up for our summer programs that span 16 countries.  I’m excited that I’ll be staffing one of our Europe programs traveling to England, France, Holland, and Belgium.  PUMPED to say the least.

Rachel: So you’ve traveled a lot.  What was your favorite country?Susan4
Susan: Traveling is definitely a passion of mine.  Can’t say I have a favorite country, but a few of my favorite experiences have included living in Italy for a summer, backpacking in Australia & Fiji, being in the most intense traffic jam in India, and spending a month on an Eco-farm in Costa Rica.

Rachel: We heard you attend a lot of music festivals.  Which ones are you looking forward to?
Susan: LOVE MUSIC!  I’ve been to a bunch of one day festivals and weekend ones… Hangout Fest in Gulf Shores BAMA (3 times), Bonnaroo in TN, Chicago’s Lollapalooza, Atlanta’s Music Midtown (4 times), and Governors Ball in NY to name a few.  On my list in the future is: Coachella in CA, Sasquatch in Washington State, and Electric Forest in Michigan.

Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish food?
Susan: There’s two: my Bubbie’s salt & pepper kugel AND Mama Sloan’s Coca-Cola Brisket!

Rachel: Who is the coolest Jew?
Susan: Who isn’t the coolest being a Jew?  We are the chosen people.

Rachel: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…
Susan: There’s a line for the buffet.

Jewish Girl of the Week – Jenny

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Rachel: What brought you to DC?
Jenny: I was lured to DC by promises of fame, fortune, and power. 🙂

Actually it was a natural progression.  After getting a masters in policy and working in consulting for a couple of years in Austin, I was ready to branch out.  I came up to DC for a friends bridal shower/bachelorette party and decided that his was the city I need to be in.   Low and behold two months later I had a job and moved to DC, and haven’t looked back.

Rachel: What is your favorite thing about DC?
Jenny: There is ALWAYS something to do here, something happening, or someone incredibly impressive speaking at one of a number of various different events.  The cultural opportunities here rival those of NYC and perhaps other European cities, but I think you’d be hard pressed to find another city in the US with the wealth of the population and the engagement found here.  I play on a softball team and it always boggles my mind that I play on a field (The National Mall) right next to monuments that I only saw in textbooks growing up.  Gives me chills every time!

j1Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish holiday?
Jenny: It’s a tie between Tu B’Shavat and Purim.  I was born on earth day and have an affinity towards all things earthy, plus fruit is one of my favorite things to eat so it works out well.  Purim on the other hand is a little more exciting for obvious reasons.  Like every other little girl out there, I have fond memories of dressing like Esther year after year.  Finally had to retire that costume last year due to the fact that it didn’t fit after 25 years 🙂 (jk).

Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish food?
Jenny: Such an easy question, obviously fresh challah right out of the oven.  Growing up I had a hard time waiting for shabbos to eat my moms fresh baked challah, so often I would start sneaking challah by pulling pieces from the bottom, hoping no one would notice.  It always became incredibly obvious I had hollowed out the challah when my parents went to cut into it and the middle was hollow.

Rachel: Who is the coolest Jew?
Jenny: I see Jews as a collective group, therefore I am going to have to say the community as a whole.  It’s the incredible diversity and complexity that make us “cool”.

Rachel: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…
Jenny: ruckus ensues!

Jewish Girl of the Week – Jessica

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Rachel: What brought you to DC?
Jessica: I moved to DC for a job—- I received a really unique offer that I couldn’t pass up.  I’m a Jersey Girl and New York will always be my city.  But with all of the District’s galleries and entertainment options, DC and I are getting along fine.

Rachel: What are some things you enjoy doing in DC?
Jessica: Brunch, hitting up the farmers markets, trivia at Sixth and I (you’ll find me on team Blink 180 Jew), schmoozing with interesting people, being on a first name basis with every dog in Chinatown, and brunch.

Rachel: You said brunch twice.
Jessica: I like brunch.  But thankfully I’ve gotten really into running lately.

Rachel: Any races coming up?
Jessica: Glad you asked!  I’m actually captain of a team for PurpleStride, the 5K to raise money for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.  Anyone can join (or donate to!) my team.  We’re called Brunch.FIGHT.Run!  (Click here to join the team or donate)

photo (2)Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish food?
Jessica: Definitely Noodle Kugel.

Rachel: Who is the coolest Jew?
Jessica: That’s a tough one- there are a lot of cool Jews!  I’ll go with Adam Levine, Ben Stiller, Josh Radnor, and Rick Recht.  Adam Sandler would be on the list if only he’d dressed up a little more for the 12-12-12 concert.  And there are a ton of Jewish philanthropists that deserve credit here too.

Rachel: You co-authored “21 People You Will Meet at a Jewish Singles Happy Hour” with Brian Fishbach- who you met at a GTJ happy hour!  Did you personally experience those 21 people before meeting Brian?
Jessica: Absolutely.  We had been talking about these archetypes of people that you’re basically always meeting in any networking situation, and the article just took form.  We received a ton of feedback- everyone was saying how relatable it was- like they know or can identify with at least five of the 21 people on the list.  Personally, I’m the bagel snob state school sorority girl, but if I met your cousin in Israel, then I’m the Jewish geographer too.

Jewish Girl of the Week – Rachel

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Rachel: What brought you to DC?
Rachel: I came to DC to study anthropology at GW, and I haven’t really left, except for two short stints living abroad (Senegal in college, and Thailand as a volunteer with the American Jewish World Service).  Who could leave DC with this many free museums and festivals?

Rachel: We heard you co-chaired Yachad’s Grown-up Field Day.  What was that like?
Rachel: Field Day was a blast!  We had a great turnout, and had a lot of fun with goofy challenges like “Soapy Skeeball” where people tossed water balloons into buckets.  We raised a lot of money for Yachad’s programs, which will all go towards future repair projects, including one coming up this fall at Marie Reed– where the event was held.  I just wish I had put on more sun screen!

with chrisRachel: You just became the new Director of Engagement at Adas Israel. What will you be doing?
Rachel: I’m wearing a lot of hats in my new position at Adas, but a big one is continuing to build our successful Young Professional program.  We have 200-300 people each time Shir Delight meets, and we have a lot of plans in the works for new events and ways to build the community.  Come check us out sometime!  I’ll save you a seat.

Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish holiday?
Rachel: Sukkot, but only when the weather is nice.  I love eating outside with friends and seeing all the neat things people do with their sukkahs.  We’re in a tiny apartment now, but someday, we’ll have space for a sukkah.  Someday.

Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish food?
Rachel: Hamentashen and just about any dessert at the end of a shabbat meal, whether it’s brownies at Shir Delight, or Ben and Jerry’s at home.

Rachel: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…
Rachel: …the noshes disappear.

Jewish Girl of the Week – Shira

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Aaron: What brought you to DC?
Shira: School!  I came to DC for college at GWU.  Except for a brief break to study abroad in Switzerland, I haven’t left.

Aaron: What is your favorite part of the DC Jewish community?
Shira: I love how accessible it is.  There are tons of events events every month, but I love going to the Shabbat services and dinners that are designed for young professionals.  I also love how small the Jewish world is – between Jewish high school and summer camp, I run into people I know all the time!

Aaron: We hear you work on the Hill for a fellow member of the Tribe.  Can you tell us more about that?
Shira: I work for a Jewish member of Congress, and it is so great to have that connection with my boss.  The Congresswoman is me with rachelan active Israel advocate, so I’ve gotten to meet lots of interesting people.  It’s nice to have someone in charge who understands needing to take time off for the holidays.  Besides, if we run out of things to talk about, I always ask about her brisket recipe – I hear it’s divine.

Aaron: Who is the coolest Jew?
Shira: Coolest Jew of the moment is Spike Mendelsohn.  I am slightly embarrassed to admit it, but I recently watched a lot of Top Chef and was super impressed that a local chef was up there and making such delicious food!  Also, We, the Pizza and Good Stuff Eatery are among my favorite places to grab lunch during recess or dinner after work.

Aaron: Where can we find you on a Friday night?
Shira: Either at happy hour with friends or at one of the young professionals services around the District.  My favorite is Shir Delight at Adas Israel.  After long weeks at work, I like to unwind with friends.


Jewish Girl of the Week – Jenny

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Aaron: How long have you been in DC? Where were you before DC?
Jenny: After finishing an awesome four years at the University of Michigan (Go Blue!), I spent 11 months in Israel before I moved here in September for a job.

Aaron: What’s your favorite thing about the DC Jewish community?
Jenny: I love how involved the DC Jewish community is and how welcoming everyone has been.  I’ve had a really easy transition to life in DC because everyone has been so nice and inclusive.  There’s always something to do in the community – happy hours, volunteer opportunities, gatherings of Jews, interesting speakers, and concerts – which make life in the District extra fun and exciting!

Aaron: We heard you took a gap year in Israel. What was that like?
Jenny: It was amazing!  Being in Israel for such a long time allowed me to really get a sense for the country.  I volunteered with Magen David Adom on their ambulances in Tel Aviv and interned in their overseas office (a serious plug for Career Israel, a Masa program!).  During my year there, I also tutored children in Jaffa and worked at the Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin.  My favorite part of being in Israel for a year was celebrating all the holidays (Israeli style!) and feeling integrated in Israeli culture (I have developed a true sense of chutzpah!).  I can’t wait to go back for Pesach this year!

image (1)Aaron: Are you involved in any Jewish organizations here in DC?
Jenny: I recently joined the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces Young Leadership Chapter here in DC. FIDF is a great organization that raises money to support the educational and recreational needs of soldiers serving in the IDF. We are having a happy hour on January 16 at Lost Society on 14th St which I’m really looking forward to!

Aaron: Who is the coolest Jew?
Jenny: My man, Shimon (Peres). Everyone wants to be his friend!

Aaron: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…
Jenny: …they sing to each other Les Mis style (well at least that’s what I’ve been doing all week!)


Jewish Girl of the Week – Rachel

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Aaron: What brought you to DC?
Rachel: I was actually born in DC!  I grew up in the DC suburbs- in Potomac, Maryland and attended the Jewish Day School in Rockville.  I went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Go Badgers!) and graduated with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication.  After graduation, I moved back to DC and landed my dream job as an Online Strategist for a global PR agency.  I am now living in the Dupont area!

Aaron: What’s your favorite thing about the DC Jewish community?
Rachel: My favorite thing about the DC Jewish community is that there are always so many different events to choose from and new people to meet.  Just last week I went to Hanukkah Happy Hour on the Hill, the Lone Soldier Happy Hour, and the Matisyahu concert.  No matter what your interests are, there are 100+ ways to meet other young Jews in DC.

Aaron: Any Jewish events you recommend?
Rachel: I am on the Communications Membership Committee for 2239.  2239 sponsors events year round for DC-area Jews ages 22-39.  Whether rebuilding a house in Birmingham, Alabama after a massive tornado, sharing Shabbat dinners along pic 3the Metro line, outings to the National’s games, or enjoying Happy Hours- there are plenty of events to choose from!  Everyone should check out the Facebook page and join us anytime.  Next? I’m looking forward to the annual Christmas Eve festivities for young Jews in DC!

Aaron: When was the last time you were in Israel?
Rachel: I’ve been to Israel 4 times in the last 7 years and I can’t wait to go back.  My last visit was in March to celebrate my best friend’s wedding.  She met her husband when he tried to sell her a hair straightener at Tysons Corner- he was living in DC after his IDF service.  You never know when or where you might meet someone!

Aaron: Who is the coolest Jew?
Rachel: This is a tough one.  Coolest Jew of the moment is definitely Carly Rose Sonenclar.  Crossing my fingers she wins ‘The X Factor’ this week!