Meet Andrew: Jewish Dog Lover of the Week

andrew cohen

Allie: What brought you to DC?

Andrew: I’m originally from Orlando, Florida and was most recently living in Boston. I moved to DC about 5 to 7 years ago for a job with Hillel International. They were building an Israel Education and Advocacy support branch and I was one of the regional support support staff. 

Allie: It seems like you’ve built a really strong Jewish community in DC. How did you do that?

Andrew: Raechel, my wife, and I are both from the Hillel world, so we are used to gathering friends. Raechel lived here years ago and met a lot of people while working at the RAC. When I started working at Hillel, I met more Jews. We also became friends with some of the DC area rabbis, and recently started doing programs with The Den. We do couples learning at our house. We hosted around 30 people for our Tu B’Shevat seder, which is my wife’s favorite holiday! She even has her own Haggadah for it. 

Allie: I hear you have a really adorable dog. Please tell me more about him. 

Andrew: Jack Banks. He took my wife’s name like a good dog should. He is a rescue, and we think he is from Georgia and about a year old. We rescued him through the Humane Rescue Alliance. I was friends with the coordinator and she sent me a picture with his little nose poking out. I called my wife and told her we were picking him up. He is 12 and half pounds and is a beast. He’s the best.

andrew dog

Allie: Walk me through your ideal day in DC.

Andrew: I would start at Call Your Mother and have the place to myself: just me, the owners, and a bagel. Like a good Jew, I would then go home and take a nap. If I’m feeling fancy, I’d do the smoked salmon and whitefish with onion on an everything bagel or I’m feeling healthy I get the Za’atar bagel with radish and carrots. Then, I would either go to the zoo or The Air and Space Museum because I’m still a child on the inside. I have to talk to people, so I’d lead or take a Segway tour. I’d have lunch at any Jose Andrés spot and then get an oat draft latte at La Colombe. We’d finish the day at my new favorite restaurant Maydan. If it’s a perfect world, I’d also get froyo. 

Allie: What do you do to relax at the end of a long day of work.

Andrew: I go to the dog park. I love that everyone knows the dogs’ names, but no one knows each others’ names. I’m also a sucker for The Great British Baking Show, it’s amazing. I also love to talk to people, so chatting with friends and catching up is nice.

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

Andrew: I would love to talk to Oprah, I would want Amy Poeler there to make it fun, and I’d invite the author of the Golden Compass – Philip Pullman.

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Andrew: Okay, I think this is a trick question because not all traditional Jewish food is good, but lots of food Jewish people have adapted can be really delicious. I love Kubbeh soup – a great Iraqi dish. I also love Knafeh (best made by Palestinians) and hummus. You can tell I just want to be in The Shuk in Israel. 

Allie: What is on your bucket list for the coming year?

Andrew: My wife and I are going to Thailand. I’m really excited to see elephants and go scuba diving! In terms of life bucket list, I never want to stop traveling. 

andrew wedding

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

Andrew: I love gardening, I love to repot plants and arrange succulents. I do them as gifts for friends. My grandmother competes with African violets and I like that gardening is a hobby that connects me with her. 

Allie: When the Jews of DC Gather…

Andrew: We’re a force to be reckoned with.

Meet Dane: Jewish Teacher of the Week!

dane

Allie: Tell me how you found yourself in DC?

Dane: Well I have GatherDC to thank for that, more specifically Julie Thompson. She is my roommate, and my girlfriend; we share a one bedroom apartment in Columbia Heights. She sleeps in the bedroom, and I sleep on the couch. She’s the one who got me to move down here. I used to live in Baltimore and used to hate DC, but I finally came down and turns out DC is a pretty great city.

Allie: Where are you from originally?

Dane: I’m from Laurel, Maryland. It’s roughly between DC and Baltimore. Then, I went to undergrad at College Park. Living in DC is actually my first time living outside maybe a 30-mile radius. 

Allie: What inspired you to become a teacher? 

Dane: Is masochist the one where you like to hurt yourself? I just wanted to set myself up for a bad time. Kidding! 

Really, I’ve never been a big fan of school. Growing up, I had a couple of teachers that pushed me to go above the bare minimum, and it really helped me want to strive for excellence in the work I did. They paid attention, and made me feel really proud of working hard. It had a major impact on my life, and I wanted to do the same for others. So, I became a teacher.

Allie: What grade and subject do you teach?

Dane: I teach 7th grade English and 6th grade reading. I originally wanted to teach high school in New York, because I wanted to move away from this area and be on my own somewhere new. In grad school, I was placed in a middle school in the last county I wanted to be in – Howard County. They told me I would be there for one quarter and then would move to a high school. By the time that quarter was up, there were claw marks in the walls because I didn’t want to leave, and I beat down the door of that middle school when I was looking for a job. It’s such a great place to be. 

Allie: What are your favorite things about teaching?

Dane: The kids, they’re great. They are full of life, full of energy and enthusiasm – which is a blessing and a curse. High school is very grade driven, where students are constantly thinking about how to get A’s and how things will benefit them later. 

Middle school students really make me think about the purpose of what I do here: what is the meaning behind it? Why should they care? When you hit that groove it’s such a fulfilling feeling. You have a lot of freedom to make an impact and help others learn how to make an impact.

Allie: What’s the most challenging part? 

Dane: It’s a very big time commitment and it’s a very big emotional commitment. I’ve moved around to different curriculums every year I’ve been teaching, which is exhausting. You have to anticipate how things will go for the first time. Grading is ridiculous as an English teacher, and then emotionally you have kids going through the biggest changes of their lives. You have to anticipate that and work with that to help them get through it, which is worthwhile but tiring. 

Allie: Why did you choose to teach English?

Dane: My dad told me I should be an English major because I like to read and am a good writer. If I could go back I would think about science. I am not a natural scientist by any means, but I taught a sustainability course last year and it’s a really cool thing to teach. 

Allie: What is your perfect day in DC, assuming you don’t have school and have unlimited money to spend. 

Dane: I’ll wake up, feed former Jewish Cat of the Month Chloe, and then make coffee. Ideally the weather outside is low 70s – a nice, sunny day. I’ll go for a walk, and then Julie and I would go to RedRocks and sit on the patio. I’d get myself RedRocks’ hash because it’s the best breakfast food that’s ever been created. After that, I would go downtown and spend some time at the museums. I’d grab lunch at a burger joint with outdoor seating. Then, I’d find a good rooftop bar and meet up with some friends. After that, I’d go to Meridian Hill Park and watch a beautiful sunset. Then, I’d go to dinner with some friends, and be sure to crawl into bed by 9:30. 

dane

 

Allie: How do you relax after a long work day?

Dane: I like my couch. I’ll sit on the couch, close the door, and light a candle. I like to put my things away so I’m sitting in a nice clean space, and take a little bit of time to have some quiet and watch the sunset.

Allie: Do you have any resolutions for the year ahead?

Dane: Oh yeah, whether or not they’re going to be fulfilled is another thing. This last decade was one of major shifts. I started college in 2010, finished in 2015 with grad school. A lot of it was very youthful – figuring out who I am. It came with a lot of anxiety around not knowing what was going to happen next. This year, I just want to think less and do more. My first instinct is usually good but I don’t always follow it, and I need to trust myself more. 

Allie: Are there any places you want to travel to?

Dane: I haven’t really been outside the country, so my next big thing is international travel. Julie loves to travel and I’ve been along for the ride with her, which has been awesome. I’d love to go to a place that’s a little outside my comfort zone, somewhere where I’m not as familiar with the language and can get immersed in a culture that’s very unlike mine. I’d also love to continue to visit national parks, especially out west. The parks there are more beautiful than anything you can see in a picture. 

dane Allie: Do you have a favorite Jewish holiday?

Dane: I would say Passover, I really enjoy having people over for Passover, and all the food that we make. I come from a family of great cooks, where there was always plenty of good food to go around. My mom makes an unbelievable brisket for Passover and my dad also makes a great matzah ball soup. I’m also fascinated by Purim, but haven’t really celebrated it before. 

Allie: What’s something someone might be surprised to know about you?

Dane: I’m very introverted. I do not get my energy from being around people. I try very hard to be friendly, and I think people expect me to be more extroverted than I am. Julie and I have figured out that she is definitely more extroverted, whereas I am usually quite worn out after talking. 

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Dane: Hopefully it’s on M Street! 

dane

Meet Corey: Jewish Nats Fan of the Week!

corey

Allie: What brought you to the area?

Corey: I grew up in Bethesda, Maryland and have several friends from high school who moved back to the area after college. We’ve maintained a core group of guys who have been close for 20+ years, and that combined with DC having job opportunities in my field brought me back here. I’ve also always liked DC, it has worldly people and is a nice balance size-wise.

Allie: Tell me about where your interest in working in politics came from.

Corey: My dad is a First Amendment lawyer, and growing up – he would always cut out clips from The Washington Post and put them on my breakfast table in the morning. I always had more to read than I could possibly take on. Little did I know, I’d have my name in The Washington Post one day as a spokesperson for a politically-active organization. But originally, I wanted to be a journalist. 

When I was an undergrad at Syracuse, I began to find my way when I interned for Chuck Schumer. I was a communications and constituent services intern, and really enjoyed seeing how government responds to people’s needs and how the media can drive attention to problems in the community. That set me in the direction of working in political communications. So when I graduated from Syracuse, I got a job with a campaign. Ultimately, I worked at a political media firm and today work in media relations for a legal services  organization that specializes in election law, the Campaign Legal Center

Allie: What is it like working for Campaign Legal Center?

Corey: I’ve been there since September 2016 – it’s been a time of great change. When I started there we were a staff of 16 full timers, and today we have a total of 53 staff. Being part of the maturation and growth of an organization has been the experience of a lifetime. The 2016 election was definitely awakening in many regards. As a result, more people see the need to fund democracy work because they are increasingly aware that our election system needs the proper infrastructure in order to protect people’s voting rights. That’s what is at stake when I go to work every day. 

Allie: Walk me through your perfect day in DC from start to finish.

Corey: If I could pick a perfect day, it would be to re-live the day the Nationals won the World Series. But that may only happen once in a lifetime. I love seeing Nats games and also like to watch basketball, hockey, and football. A good breakfast and early start is important. I’d have bacon, eggs, yogurt, a little coffee. A good workout helps me feel more alert and present. I’d enjoy a walk through the American History Museum or the National Portrait Gallery, since people in other cities don’t get to take advantage of what we have here in DC. Dinner would be sushi or steak. After, I’d have a big party with my friends. It would be a fancy, catered party maybe at The Monaco or The Willard.

corey

Allie: Are you a big Nationals fan?

Corey: Oh, yes. I was a day 1 fan of the Nationals when they came to DC in 2005. I take immense personal credit for their victory. Baseball was the first sport that I ever loved, I played through high school. Today, I play on a softball team through Beth El, which is the synagogue I grew up going to.

Allie: Do you have any resolutions for 2020?

Corey: One of the lessons my mom used to teach me was to not wish time away, and to appreciate the regular days more thoroughly. So, I want to appreciate Mondays more. Also, I’d really like to find something in the Jewish community to get involved with that fits my personality.

Allie: Who is your Jewish role model?

Corey: My grandma. Her optimism lights up a room. She’s always upbeat and is friends with everybody. She really appreciates people and takes time to get to know their name even if they are somebody she will likely never see again. She’s also a really good cook.

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

Corey: I’m in a book club where we read fiction novels. Right now, we’re reading Midnight’s Children, which is really long! I also like watching and playing sports. 

Allie: When Jews of DC gather…

Corey: We respond with, “I know it’s a big school” when the person we are talking to at the event does not recognize the family friend’s name. Nevertheless, we proceed to list every name we know that went to the same college. When the person doesn’t know any of them, we proceed to find things in common about our shared knowledge of east coast suburbs.

corey

 

Have a suggestion for a Jewish Person of the Week? Email allisonf@gatherdc.org to nominate your friend. colleague, partner, or even yourself!

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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 Sam: Jewish Moishe House Resident of the Week!

sam

Allie: What brought you to DC?

Sam: I was living in Indonesia as part of the Boren Scholars, which is a year-long post-grad language program. I went before officially graduating from the University of Maryland because I wasn’t ready to enter the workforce just yet. I decided to go, learn a new language, and then would work for the government in DC when I came back. 

While I was in Indonesia, I felt far removed from any sense of Jewish community, and decided to apply to be a Moishe House resident in DC. I’d heard about Moishe House from my friend Alyssa Silva, a former resident. I applied to live in Moishe House Capitol Hill and unfortunately didn’t make the cut, but luckily they forwarded my application to Moishe House Northern Virginia and I got in! 

Allie: What was your experience like in Indonesia?

Sam: It was a small cohort of 11 people, and was unlike any experience I’ve ever had. I lived with a host family, and spoke Bahasa which is the national language. But, there are hundreds of local languages in Indonesia, and where I lived most people spoke Javanese. 

Before that experience I had always lived in very Jewish environments, growing up in Jewish day school and then going to the University of Maryland. When I get to Indonesia, people didn’t know anything about Jews or if they did, it was likely a conspiracy theory. Judaism is not one of their recognized religions, which is a problem for the underground Jewish communities there. I told my host family about my Jewish religion after the Pittsburgh massacre, because my grandparents live in Pittsburgh and it was a very emotional time for me. I was really lost and didn’t know what to do, and tried explaining to them where I was coming from and how I was feeling. They were understanding about it. 

Allie: Was that your first experience studying abroad? 

Sam: No. After high school, I went to Bar Ilan University for their Israel Experience One Year Program and took college classes and Judaic studies classes. In the evenings I was a volunteer first responder

Allie: Describe your dream day in NoVA.

Sam: Waking up at 9:00am and then finish prepping the food I’d started last night for a Moishe House brunch event. My friends would come and we’d have a lot of people enjoying brunch, and maybe get tipsy on mimosas. Then probably walk around Arlington with my girlfriend Sarah, maybe do some jump roping. I’d end the day going swing dancing in DC.

sam

Allie: Why did you decide to apply to Moishe House?

Sam: At college, I studied International Development & Conflict Management, and Global Terrorism. I dedicated a lot of my academic career to understanding extremism, and how to combat it by taking a whole society approach and mobilizing communities to create acceptance and strive for dialogue. Part of why I joined Moishe House was so I could take what I learned from a community building perspective and put it into practice.

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

Sam: It’s a surprising adventure every day. It’s been a real growth experience from a personal standpoint and a programmatic standpoint as I learn to create events people actually want to go to, manage a budget, and send newsletters. It wouldn’t be successful if we didn’t put in the effort to build relationships with people, go to other events, and make things happen. I’m eternally grateful for this opportunity. 

Allie: What’s your favorite Moishe House event you’ve planned?

Sam: I love our Shabbat dinners. Our Shabbat dinners can get even rowdier than our parties. Some of our community members aren’t Jewish and come because they’re just interested in exploring Judaism or are in interfaith relationships, and I love opening the door and helping other people experience Shabbos.

moishe house

Allie: Are there any fun Moishe House events coming up you want people to know about?

Sam: Yes, we are partnering with the Anti-Defamation League on Sunday, December 8th to do a Words to Action training on Anti-semitism. The following Sunday we’re hosting a Babka and Bonfires event in our backyard. We’re also looking for a new resident, so if you’re interested, please fill out this application to join the house!

Allie: What’s on your bucket list?

Sam: Go skiing in Switzerland, where my dad is from. This year, I also want to go to more swing dancing classes.

Allie: If you could invite anyone, what three people would you want to invite to your Shabbat dinner?

Sam: I’d want to build the best conversation that can actually go somewhere. So I’d say Barack Obama, Israeli author Etgar Keret, and Harvard professor Ruth Wisse.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Sam: Connections are made. 

moishe house

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 Andrew: Jewish Home Chef of the Week

andrew

Allie: What brought you to DC?

Andrew: It’s been my dream to move to DC ever since I interned here during college for House Majority Leader Pelosi at the time. I fell in love with the city, it was easy to navigate and fit me so well personality-wise. I love politics, and DC is the political epicenter of the nation. Plus, there’s so much action here which is great because I’m someone who likes to be very involved. After graduating, I got a job working for HUD (Housing and Urban Development department). 

Allie: Have you always been interested in politics?

Andrew: Ever since high school I’ve known I wanted to work in the public sector so I could do something to improve people’s lives and give them better opportunities. I was very inspired by the 2008 election and got into politics after that. 

Allie: What was it like interning for Nancy Pelosi?

Andrew: I had the time of my life. It was a part of a Semester in Washington program that I did during college. I was on Capitol Hill and I learned so much, both in terms of policy and politics, as well as expectations and professional decorum. I gained more maturity and broader perspectives on things.

Allie: Walk me through your perfect DC day.

Andrew: I would check out one of the farmer’s markets and Trader Joe’s in the morning, and then play basketball with my friends. After that, I’ll have a nice light lunch and then go to a cultural event at an embassy or museum. I love doing things where I can learn and feel awe-inspired. Then, I might ride my bike to a new area of the city. Since I’m still relatively new, I’m amazed by all the different pockets of DC. 

Later, I’ll go out to dinner with friends at Zaytina. I started going there during the government shutdown because José Andrés had free sandwiches, and just kept going back. If it’s a Sunday, I would also prepare my dinner list for the week and do some cooking. 

andrew

Allie: Is cooking a big hobby of yours?

Andrew: Yes, I love cooking – it’s very rewarding. I have a whole spice and cutting board area set up in my apartment and love experimenting with different spices, seeds, and mustards. I love chopping produce, and making recipes that are healthy and fun. I’m always trying new things. 

Allie: What inspired your love of cooking?

Andrew: I grew up in a house where we were all foodies, and my mom was a very big advocate for cooking. She taught me a lot. I’m also someone who has struggled with weight and lost weight, and don’t want to regress and go back. To maintain my healthy lifestyle, I’ve learned to make dishes that are nutritious and enjoyable.

I also love cooking for others and hosting them for Shabbat or Havdalah. Hosting is such a nice way to welcome people into your how and show a different part of your personality. I think that how and why someone cooks says a lot about their values.

Allie: Do you have any cooking goals for yourself this year?

Andrew: I’d like to get into baking, which is much more scientific and you really have to follow instructions. Baking will be a new challenge for me, and I think will give me a big sense of accomplishment and joy.

Allie: What are your favorite ways to spend free time in the city?

Andrew: I love going to the embassies, or new exhibits at museums like the Freer Sackler Gallery. I really like to pursue things that get me out of my comfort zone, and DC has so many educational opportunities that help me see things from different angles. I also love the incredible diversity of speakers in DC. I went to see Hilary and Chelsea Clinton a few weeks ago and am going to see Nikki Haley this week. 

I’ve also been inspired by DC’s fitness culture. Biking seems like a religion down here, and I’ve been trying to pick up my biking pace on a daily basis. I love long extended bike rides.

Also, I enjoy relaxing at Compass Coffee. That is where I do some of my best decompressing, reading, and thinking. You can almost always find me there during a free weekend afternoon.

Allie: What are you looking forward to this coming year?

Andrew: Since I’m still pretty new, I really am excited about all of the young Jewish professional events around town. I like the more meaningful, intimate gatherings that create a sense of camaraderie. I’m hoping to get more involved with FIDF’s young professional arm.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Andrew: It brings out the best of us. We build a sense of community, camaraderie, and friendship – which is exactly what we need more of. 

andrew

 

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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 Dan: Jewish Dog Lover of the Week

dan

Allie: What brought you to DC?

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

Allie: Walk me through your dream day in DC.

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

Allie: Tell me about your dog Archie.

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

dan

Allie: Have you always been a dog-person?

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

Allie: What do you love about dogs?

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

Allie: What is your favorite Jewish food?

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

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

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

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

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

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

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

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Meet Jordan: Jewish Politician of the Week!

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

jordan

 

Allie: What led you to DC?

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

Allie: What interests you about working in politics?

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

Allie: What was your first segue into government?

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

jordan obama

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

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

Allie: Do you have a job outside of campaigning? 

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

Allie: Tell me about your dream DC day.

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

Allie: What’s your favorite musical? 

Jordan: The Last Five Years

Allie: What do you do to relax? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allie: What is your favorite Jewish food?

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

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

Jordan: They have a great time! 

jordan

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Meet Josef: Jewish Community Engagement Director of the Week!

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

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

Allie: What brought you to DC? 

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

Allie: Tell me more about your interest in activism.

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

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

Allie: Did you think about going into politics? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allie: Describe your dream day in DC…

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

Allie: What is your favorite way to celebrate Shabbat?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Meet 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 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.