Jewish Renaissance Man of the Week – Ben

Shaina: I hear you’re quite the guitar player. Tell us a bit about your background in music.

Ben: When I was nine, my older sister brought home a drum set for herself…but I mistakenly thought it was forme. Years later, I picked up guitar through Jewish music at youth group events and summer camp. I never learned any classic rock songs on guitar, but I know a lot of Debbie Friedman!

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

Ben: Music is one way to enhance and make accessible the great gifts of Judaism. I really like synagogues that bend the rules of formal music and composition to better serve their community engagement.

Shaina: We also know you’re vegan – do you have any good recipes to share?

Ben: Crumble up some tempeh and diced onions – add salt, oil, and a little brown sugar and roast. A great addition to any meal, vegan or not!

Shaina: Any Jewish recipes to add to that list?

Ben: I used to make a mean bread-pudding latke – a dessert latke if you will – but that was well before I was vegan…

Shaina: You moved here pretty recently and started working at Tesla. What’s that like?

Ben: Amazing. The sense of urgency in our mission is invigorating. I’ve never had the opportunity to work on such an important issue as energy sustainability, and it has been a constant source of motivation and pride.

Shaina: What kind of work do you do for them?

Ben: I lead the sales team for Tesla in Baltimore. We educate folks on the many benefits of electric vehicles and help customers find their next car.

Shaina: Complete the sentence: When the Jews Gather…

Ben: It’s generally a little later than we planned, but there’s usually bagels to nosh, so who cares?!

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 Generic DC Guy of the Week: Avi Shapiro-Weinstein

What do you do?

I love that question, and I ask it all the time. It’s such a great conversation starter – even with people I’ve known for a while. You can never hear too much about what someone does – it’s always interesting! Personally, I’m a lawyer, but I’m currently studying for my MBA.

Where are you from?

Wow, another one of my favorite questions! I’m from New Jersey, Exit 4.

What are some of your hobbies?

I work out pretty regularly and love watching sports. Also, Game of Thrones is so great. I could talk about that for hours, which I do, basically every day.

What’s your favorite part about being Jewish?

I went to summer camp and loved it, so I love getting together with Jews and talking about summer camp, even though that was when I was 12 years old and I’m currently 34.

How’s your dating life?

I’m not really looking for anything serious right now. I’m more into just hooking up with people and then ghosting them. I’ve been doing this for like 16 years now. But I’m definitely not scared of intimacy.

Do you have any values or care about anything meaningful?

I’ve been socialized to think that not caring about anything is cool, so… nah brah.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are not even those of the original author. They are totally made up – Happy Purim!

#WayBackWednesday Jewish Guy of the Week – Ben

img_5324Ben is a familiar face for many of us in the Jewish community. If you haven’t had the opportunity to meet him you can run into him at any number of Jewish events around DC! Gather first interviewed him in 2012 but we wanted to check back in with him to see what he has been up too. Read his updates and his original article below!

Ben, what have you been up to since your original interview?

  • I’ve been a teacher at the Religious School with Adas Israel.  One of the classes I enjoy teaching is on “Pop Culture and Judaism”, where we discuss topics in movies and TV shows and look at how they parallel Jewish values in our world today.
  • I worked in online advertising and marketing in the tech and software community.  This year, I’m having a blast working in the Preschool with Adas Israel.
  • I traveled to Israel a good amount. I staffed three Birthright trips, including a DC community trip. Last year, I participated in the Birthright Alumni trip with Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.
  • I was a ConnectGens Fellow in partnership with PresenTense where my initiative was bringing together Holocaust Survivors in our community with Hebrew School students.

New Question:  Why do you deserve to be Jewish Guy of the Year?

We have one of the greatest cities in the world for young Jewish professionals. I’m that guy who’s always trying to connect people in the Jewish community and helping others out. There’s so much out there in this town and lots of great people to meet and network with and I’m always encouraging others to get involved because… I mean why not? I’m genuinely a good guy and a mensch.

That’s why I’m your Jewish Guy of the Year.

You have a cool mix of jobs. Tell us about it.
I’m substitute teaching at the DC JCC preschool and the Jewish Primary Day School. I’m also teaching a 3rd-grade class at the Adas Israel Hebrew school. I’m interning in the area of marketing for It’s a one-stop shop for readers who want to become more informed on Israel’s economy, and it helps readers identify investment opportunities in Israel. In addition, I lead tours of restaurants in Georgetown on weekends through a tour operator geared towards foodies.

Did you say restaurant tours? You’re going to have to explain this.
I really enjoyed taking people around my campus as a tour guide when I was studying at Florida Atlantic University. Recently, I learned that I can do something similar on weekends here in Washington, but instead of showing prospective students the ins and outs of a college campus, I get to show off the restaurant highlights across neighborhoods of DC. This spring, I’ll be working with DC Metro Food Tours showing visitors and locals around Georgetown, speaking about its history and stopping into a few local restaurants along the way to nosh on some of their featured dishes. It’s a fun birthday present or great afternoon activity to do with friends or family visiting from out of town.

You attended a summer institute in California. What was this experience like?

I participated in a program in Los Angeles called Brandeis Collegiate Institute (BCI). It allows you to really immerse yourself in exploring your Jewish identity through various ways including learning about the arts, studying Jewish texts, and forming a community with young Jewish adults from all over the world. It definitely was one of the most meaningful and uplifting experiences I have ever had. You can find out more about BCI here

You’re from Florida. What brought you to D.C.?
Ever since my sister became a student at GW, I’ve had an interest in the DC community. After a summer internship at the Hillel International Center and a semester internship on Capitol Hill, I saw that DC had so much to offer Jewish young professionals, career-wise and socially.

Where can we find you on a typical Friday night?
It varies but typically at Sixth & I or DC Minyan and chilling with friends.

To learn more about Ben, email

Jewish Impacter of the Week – Ben

10433063_10106417899434901_4469569414043671584_nJackie: What brought you to DC?

Ben: I moved to DC back in 2007, after working on a political campaign for Kirsten Gillibrand (now-Jr. Senator from NY.)

Jackie: How did you get involved in Federation?

Ben: I grew up in Pensacola, FL (yes, there are Jews in the Florida Panhandle) in a family that was always involved in the community. After a few years here in DC, I decided to get involved myself and applied for the Jewish Federation’s Birthright Alumni Mission.

Jackie: What are you most excited for with IMPACT DC this year?

Ben: Anyone who knows me knows, I am the first person on the dance floor, and the last to leave. I can’t wait to celebrate with hundreds of young Jews from across the area and really make a difference in the lives of so many in our community, in Israel, and around the world.

Jackie: Where is your favorite place to spend time in the city?

Ben: Most Thursday nights you will find me at Stead Park in Dupont Circle playing with the Matzo Balls as part of the Stonewall LGBT Kickball League! What we may lack in athletic prowess we make up for in ruach (spirit)!!

Jackie: How do you take your bagel? 

Ben: Whole Wheat everything, double toasted, veggie cream cheese, tomato slices, and capers.

1426562_10104304474131151_1966111093_nJackie: How do you like to spend Shabbat? 

Ben: In addition to my work with Federation, I also run DC’s only young, gay Jewish organization, Nice Jewish Boys DC. We host Shabbat-luck dinners a few times a year at member’s homes. You haven’t experienced a Shabbat till you have one with a rainbow challah!

Finish the sentence: When the Jews gatherwe make an impact! Whether you are talking about the civil rights movements of the 60’s, the LGBT rights movement of today, or a host of other causes, the Jewish community has always been on the forefront of social justice. The Chosen People are an elite club that can do a lot even though there aren’t many of us. We accomplish that when we gather.

Meet Adi! Jewish Actor of the Week

Adi Stein Headshot 2 Jackie: What brought you to DC?

I came to DC because I went to school at American University and I just haven’t left since.

Jackie: So, you are an actor who often works in theater, can you tell us about the show you are currently working in?

Adi: Sure thing! I’m currently working on a show called The Cerulean Time Capsule. It’s a new site-specific play produced by The Kennedy  Center at The Botanic Garden. It’s a fun and exciting interactive children’s piece that takes the audience on a time traveling adventure  through the various gardens within The Botanic Garden. We run Saturdays and Sundays every half hour from 10:30am until 4pm and we’re  playing through October 25th! Also, it’s free, so you should come check it out.

Jackie: Since you are so involved in the DC theater scene, can you give us any recommendations of shows we should see?

Adi: Can do! There is actually this great new festival that just started called the “Women’s Voices Theater Festival” and there are a number of  exciting shows in it. The festival is a collaboration between all of the major theaters and theatre companies in DC. Together, over 50 new plays  by 50 female playwrights are being produced, and this kind of work is unprecedented. I just saw Queens Girl in the World by Caleen Sinnette Jennings at Theater J and it was spectacular. Beautiful text, outstanding performance from Dawn Ursula, and all around great production.  One of my favorite things I’ve seen in a while.


Jackie: You make a podcast with your friend, what made you decide to do this project? Also can you recommend your  favorite episode of the podcast or should we just start at the beginning?

Adi: Ha! Yes, I have a podcast with my good friend Brandon McCoy. It’s called Highly Unreasonable and it’s essentially just the two of us  goofing off and talking about any topic that people send our way. It’s a lot of fun, which is essentially what made us start it. We were both at a  time in our lives when we were looking for avenues of pure joy, and hanging out and talking was just that. So we said, “We should record this  and just see what happens.” And lo and behold, Highly Unreasonable was born. We’re less than 20 episodes in now so I would say start with  the beginning if you’re interested. Each episode is between 30 minutes and an hour and you can find them all on iTunes, SoundCloud, and  Stitcher!

Jackie: I actually saw you in a movie before we even met! You were in a movie Stolen Summer can you tell me about that experience?

Adi: Wow! Bringing it back. Okay. Well what you say is true: I was in a movie called Stolen Summer when I was about… 13? 14? In any case, it was a complete blast. It was the first Project Greenlight movie, so I don’t think I was as aware of the attention is was getting at the time, but looking back… woof. It was so great meeting and working with such incredible people like Bonnie Hunt, Kevin Pollack, Aidan Quinn, and Brian Dennehy. I was one lucky little dude.

Jackie: Who is your favorite Jew?

Adi: Maybe Magneto? He’s pretty badass. A little xenophobic, but that’s all because of the Holocaust so… maybe it’s understandable? This got dark.

Jackie: What is your favorite way to spend Shabbat?

Adi: Eating delicious homemade foods until I fall asleep then waking up and doing it all over again.

Jackie: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather… there better be food.

adi play

Jewish Techie of the Week – Sam


Sam with Tiffany and David also Open Doors Fellows

Meet Sam! He was an Open Doors Fellow Cohort I and a coder who created the Gather Now app, an events app that pulls from the Gather the Jews Calendar. Sadly he will be leaving DC soon but learn all about his next adventure below!

Jackie: What first brought you to DC?

Sam: College! I moved out to DC in the fall of 2006 to start my freshman year at American University. My intention was never to stay in DC however after 4 year of undergrad, a year of grad school, and 4 years working in DC it has really started to feel like home (sorry Mom and Dad, I know you would like me to move back to Chicago).

GatherNow_withSubtext_512x512 (1) (1)Jackie: Can you tell me about your experience in the Open Doors Fellowship?

Sam: Being an Open Doors Fellow was an absolutely amazing experience! Through the fellowship I had the opportunity to meet so many extraordinary people and it helped empower me to play a more active role in shaping the Jewish community. As part of my capstone project I developed the Gather The Jews events app called Gather Now. The app is still being beta tested but it will be released in the coming weeks for download through the app store.


Sam working on the Gather Now app!

Jackie: You are leaving us shortly, can you tell us about the amazing opportunity you will be taking in Israel?

Sam: I will be moving to Tel Aviv in October to be a 2015-2016 Israel Tech Challenge Fellow. This fellowship takes a handful of Jewish software engineers from around the world and brings them to Israel for 10 months to work in some of Israel’s most elite high tech startups and companies. I’m very much looking forward to living in Tel Aviv and having the opportunity to learn from some of Israel’s best engineers. But I’m definitely going to miss DC a lot.

Jackie: I know that you are a candy fiend and love both Bubble Tape and Dum-Dums, but if you had to pick one, which would it be?

Sam: Oh definitely dum-dums! The flavor selection with dum-dums is unbeatable however I was really bummed with the recent news that the raspberry lemonade flavor will be canceled. It’s a big loss for the lollipop community.


Sam at the Moishe House With Out Walls Ba_ Mitzvah Party with Sasha another Open Doors Fellow [far right].

Jackie: What is your favorite Jewish Food?

Sam: Definitely bagels. Specifically Everything bagels with tomatoes and chive cream cheese. My apartment is actually located right next to an amazing local bagel shop so I basically have a bagel everyday; I’m kind of addicted.

Jackie: What is your favorite way to spend Shabbat?

Sam: I’m happy doing anything as long as it involves lots of food and friends or family.

Finish the sentence: When the Jews Gather…

Sam: Fun will be had!


Jewish Public Historian of the Week – Jason

Jackie: What first brought you to D.C.?

Jason: I went to college here, spending fours years at The George Washington University. I then moved back to New York, where I’m from, and worked for seven years in the museum field, as a curator, archivist and consultant. In 2009 I gave a lecture at the Library of Congress and learned about the Library’s Veterans History Project (VHP). I applied for a job, and in October of that year I was hired. I moved here on December 1, 2009, and have worked at the Library of Congress ever since.

Jackie: Can you tell us about your work with Library of Congress?

Jason: When I began at VHP, my job was to help collect and preserve the stories of America’s war veterans. I worked with organizations and volunteers nationwide to record the stories of veterans and donate them to the Library. After two and a half years, I moved into the Library’s John W. Kluge Center, where I am today. The Kluge Center brings scholars from around the world to the Library to conduct research and shares their research with policymakers and the public. I manage the public-facing side of the Center: our web content, our blog, our social media, our public programming, media relations, Congressional relations, and strategy. It’s a fun challenge, as I get to absorb all the research done by top scholars in multiple disciplines and distill it into digestible forms for the public. It’s a great job, and I think one of the best in Washington. But I’m biased.

Jackie: Tell us about your concept of History Communicators? How are you implementing this idea?

Jason: Just as science has Science Communicators, I’ve argued that history needs History Communicators. History, like science, can often come across to those outside the field as impenetrable, full of jargon, perhaps even boring. It is anything but. Over the past three years I’ve worked with many historians at the Kluge Center to make their research more accessible and show its relevance to a wider audience. History Communicators is the next step in that work, a new way to communicate history to non-experts in the digital age. I’m working with leaders in the history profession and beyond to train future historians for this work. As a historian by training, specifically a Public Historian—a historian whose work is targeted toward a general audience—the concept of History Communicators is one I am very passionate about seeing come to fruition. More news about it will be coming soon!

Jackie: Where is your favorite place to spend time in D.C.?

Jason: Indoors, it’s probably the National Gallery. I love wandering the different rooms, and I’m a sucker for landscape paintings—Turner, Constable, the old Dutch masters. Outdoors, it’d be Meridian Hill Park. I love to play football, Frisbee, or just sit under a tree and read.

Jackie: Can you tell us about your passion for music? Can we see you play anywhere in D.C.?

Jason: Music has alwaySB1s been a big part of my life. My dad played guitar, and growing up we always had instruments in the house. My parents also had an impressive record collection. I began playing guitar in high school and have been in several different bands over the years. The most recent was a two-person blues rock band called The Grey Area. We were fortunate to make two music videos, one of which is on, to tour the west coast and play at SxSW. At this point, though, we are not actively performing.

Jackie: What is your favorite Jewish Food?

Jason: Nothing beats Jewish deli: corned beef, turkey breast, rye bread, and cole slaw, washed down by Dr. Brown’s. 

Jackie: Who is your favorite Jew?

Jason: Probably a tie between George Gershwin and Jerry Seinfeld. Gershwin is something of an icon in my family: a Jewish kid from New York who was arguably the most gifted composer of the 20th century. My grandma still knows all the lyrics to his songs. Jerry Seinfeld is, for me, the funniest comedian alive today. His sensibility and humor are exactly to my taste: random observations, analyzing and debating the minutiae of life. Years ago I wrote a parody of Seinfeld using some of my best friends as the main characters. His fictional life on the show almost exactly resembled my real life in New York as a young adult.

JackieWhat is your favorite way to spend Shabbat?

Jason: Either reading a book or catching up on The New Yorker.

Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…

Jason: we play Balderdash! I just got back from a family reunion, and it’s a tradition in our family to play Balderdash when we get together. We play for hours and at the end of the night we save the best answers for our Balderdash Hall of Fame. Nerdy? Yes. Fun? Absolutely.


Jewish Foodie of the Week Dave!

Untitled design (14)Jackie: We heard you have a job by day and another passion on the weekend, can you tell us about the two hats you wear?

Dave: Over the last two years, I worked at an IT government contracting company by day and ran my culinary walking tour business, Mangia DC Food Tours, in the evenings and on weekends. I haven’t had much downtime, but I’m pursuing my dream of building my own business, so that has kept me motivated.

However, I recently made the transition to working on the tour as my full time hobby. I say hobby because it’s impossible to call this a job…I’m having way too much fun!

Jackie: What’s a culinary walking tour and what inspired you to start it?

Dave: A culinary walking tour is similar to a historic sightseeing tour, except that in addition to learning about history and architecture, you’re also stopping at some of the best and most unique local restaurants for tastings. The guide weaves the story of the food and the restaurants into the larger history of the city.

Indonesia Embassy Pic 9-7-2014I’ve always wanted to run my own business and I love food and travel and cultural experiences. About five years ago I went on a food tour in Barcelona and enjoyed every minute of it. Plus, I’ve worked as a tour guide and have a marketing background – so it seemed like the perfect way to combine all of my passions into a business. When the idea hit me, it felt a light bulb pop up over my head like in cartoons. It took me two years of thinking about it before taking the leap to make it happen, but finally did it! The rest is history.

Jackie: What makes your food tour so unique?

Dave: Mangia DC takes its name from the Italian interjection Mangia! which translates to both “Eat!” and “Enjoy!” This Italian Food Tour pays tribute to DC’s original Italian population that resided here in DC in the late 1800s. We explore the historic Dupont and Logan Circle neighborhoods by foot and stop along the way to sample dishes from local family-owned eateries and learn about the city’s unique cultural heritage. There is no other Italian food tour like it in the city.

pepper funny momentJackie: What are your favorite types of groups to lead? Any funny moments from food tours you can share?  

Dave: I love working with both tourists and locals who are interested in trying something different and experiencing the city in a new way. We have a great time. A funny moment happened on one of our tours. A server offered the group pepper and then came out with a 4-foot-long pepper mill! It was quite the ice breaker as we all could not stop laughing.

Jackie: I hear you are a new home owner for all the renters out there can you tell us what are some of the joys and challenges of a new place?

Dave: It’s great because I don’t have to worry about my rent going up like I did when I lived in an apartment! However, there’s a lot of work involved in maintaining the home and yard. We’ll see how that goes.


Jackie: What is your favorite Jewish Food?

Dave: Kugel – so good!

Jackie: Who is your favorite Jew?

Dave: My dad. My dad instilled the values of honesty, integrity, and an entrepreneurial mind set in me, which I believe is why I’ve had success as a small business owner.  He’s taught me that hard work pays off.

Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…

Dave: we eat oh so well!

Jewish Guy of the Week – Ben

B smiling (1)Jackie: What brought you to DC?

While I was choosing between 6 wildly different schools to attend, my older brother was living in DC, so GW came out the winner and I came here for college! I ended up getting a job here after graduation and stuck around.

Jackie: Have you been here since graduating GW? For the most part, except for a 3-year stint [as an international man of mystery] living in Dubai, Iraqi-Kurdistan, and working around the region.


Jackie: So you are in a band! How did you guys get A&B1together? Yep! I’m in a band called Cosmic Romp (I have to plug, check out our SoundCloud/YouTube/Facebook/Twitter/courier pigeons). We met through Flashband, a DC-based company which provides a music community for musicians to easily get together, form bands, plays gigs, etc. Any musicians out there should check it out, it’s awesome.

Jackie: Do you play around DC? Sure do! Our next show is on Saturday, April 11, at Club Heaven and Hell in Adam’s Morgan. It’s actually the Flashband 3-year anniversary show and we’re a “reunion” band of members who met through Flashband. We’ve also played at Axum’s Lounge, Heaven & Hell, and Iota in Clarendon since our forming last fall.


BJackie: I hear you are getting married in the fall, Mozel Tov! How did you and your partner meet? (will your band be playing at the wedding?!)

Thank you! We actually met at GW during undergrad, we only dated for a brief not-so-serious period of time during junior year, but 7 years later (she says) I came crawling back. And, my band may just make a cameo at the reception…

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

Lately, as I hear is commonplace for when you hit your 30’s, we’ve often been staying in, deflating from a typically intense and fast-paced week, and we’ll usually cook some dinner and catch up on House of Cards. Or more lately, discuss wedding stuff. Saturday, if we’re in DC, is just a relaxing day to do whatever comes our way.

B jumpingJackie: What is your favorite Jewish food? Chocolate. Oh wait, Jewish food? Gelt.

Jackie: Who is the coolest Jew? Rabbi Yoni Kaiser-Blueth (he’s officiating our wedding!)

Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather… they schmooze.