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.

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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.

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 IsraelStrategist.com. 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 http://bci.ajula.edu/

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 info@gatherdc.org.

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

11908903_10101083395703195_6272990545499405007_o

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 MTV.com, 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.