Jewish Guy of the Week: Nathaniel

Jackie: What brought you to DC?

Nathaniel in ChileNathaniel: A job with the federal government. I had been working in New York for the state part-time during law school and then gratefully had this opportunity to take a federal job right after graduating! A lot of my extended family was already here, making the transition nice and smooth!

Jackie: What do you do at the Department of Labor?

Nate: I am an attorney there and enjoy the work that I do on behalf of the American people (which I’d rather not elaborate on here), but am also glad for a flexible schedule and leave so that I can also maintain an active volunteer life while off duty.

Jackie: I heard that you are very involved with the social justice organizations around town can you tell me more about that?

Nathaniel at Greater Washington Urban LeagueNathaniel: I am very happy to do so! I am currently on the AJC ACCESS DC Board, where I am focusing on the interfaith, intergroup, and international relations work of the organization. I am also the co-chair of the American Jewish World Service DC Action Team, which is focused on trying to get the International Violence Against Women Act passed and in general focused on improving the condition of women, girls, and the LGBT community internationally. I have also been involved with Jews United for Justice (JUFJ) in several of their campaigns over the years, including the current focus on paid family leave. And I coordinate a tutoring program at the Central American Resource Center for aspiring U.S. citizens, inspired by my work with HIAS (formerly known as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society). Additionally, I remain involved with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Entwine DC Planning Group and the Anti-Defamation League’s DC Young Professionals Division.

Nathaniel at Shabbat in GermanyJackie: What’s your favorite way to spend Shabbat?

Nathaniel: I am grateful to have a lot of family and friends in the area and do enjoy mixing it up every so often, but, by far, the Shabbat options at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue are my favorites. It’s truly a place where, the more you go, the more part of the community there you can feel.

Jackie: What is your favorite Jewish food and/or holiday?

Nathaniel: Passover is by far my favorite holiday, Jewish or otherwise. The structure of the Seder to teach us empathy, viewing ourselves as if we personally had been enslaved and then freed from bondage in Egypt, is a powerful tool in our heritage to remember in every generation. And I am glad to note that will be used this year in two social justice programs with which I am assisting leading up to Passover: The 14th annual Jews United for Justice Labor Seder at Adas Israel on March 22nd and the 1st annual AJC ACCESS DC Black-Jewish Seder at 6th & I on March 30.


Jackie: Who is your favorite Jew?

Nathaniel: That’s an easy one: Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. He approached his Judaic studies as a guidepost for social justice work and was extremely active in the American Civil Rights Movement of the 50s and 60s. He is an inspiration to me and many others with his letter to Dr. Martin Luther King that, when he marched in Selma, he felt that his legs were praying.

Jackie: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…

Nathaniel: tremendous social change can happen!

If there is someone you would like to nominate for Jewish Girl/Guy of the Week email Jackie!


Jewish Guy of the Week: Gabe!

Gabe 2Jackie: What brought you to DC?

Gabe: After college, I took a job and spent a year up in Minnesota. Eventually I was just about done with the extreme snow and cold (the week where it didn’t get above -10 did it for me) and I was ready to move on.  I had a few friends that lived in the area and they couldn’t stop talking about how great it is so I decided to move here. The first time I was in the area in the past 15 years is when I showed up with my car packed with all my possessions.  Almost two years later now, I haven’t looked back!

Jackie: I hear you travel a lot, can you tell about some of your recent adventures?

Gabe: My most recent (and probably my favorite so far) was a trip to Peru this past September. The highlight of the trip was four days spent camping and hiking the Inca trail.  It wasn’t the easiest way to get to Machu Picchu but I know that we appreciated the view from the top way more then anyone who took the train did.

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

Gabe: Anywhere that there is friends and food. It never ceases to amaze me how Jewish people from all over the country (and world) all know the same tunes to the songs and prayers.

Gabe 3Jackie: What is your favorite Jewish food and/or holiday?

Gabe: While I’m not in love with the eating restrictions for the rest of the week, nothing beats a good Passover Seder

Jackie: Who is your favorite Jew?

Jackie: I’m kind of on a 60’s kick right now, so I’ll go with Bob Dylan

Jackie: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…

Gabe: there’s no place I’d rather be.

Jewish Guy of the Week – Rich

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unnamedRachel: What brought you to DC? 

Rich: I went to grad school in Baltimore and came to DC for my amazing Adas job. So glad I did—this city is the

Rachel: So you’re from Morristown, NJ but you love the New York Rangers.  How does that work? 

Rich: Are you suggesting there is another hockey team in NJ worth rooting for??

Rachel: Did you play hockey as a kid? What got you into it? 

Rich: I started playing hockey when I was 7 and it immediately stuck with me. Hockey has become a huge part of my life and I’ve learned much of what it means to be a part of a team and how to work well with others from it.

Rachel: What is your favorite part of your job as Youth Director at Adas Israel? 

unnamed (2) Rich: I love showing youth & teens that life can still (literally) be fun and games well into your 20’s. Life is tough and can seem intimidating when you’re young, and I like to think I can help dissipate some of the fear of growing up by providing fun programming, meaningful life discussions, and just being someone who they can talk to about anything.

Rachel: What are your favorite ways to relax and unwind after a busy day? 

Rich: There’s nothing like a nice long run to reflect after a hard day’s work. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the occasional glass of white wine every now and then too.

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

Rich: Back in Baltimore my friends and I created what we call “Vegan Shabbat”. We cook a bunch of vegan foods, crack open a couple bottles of wine, light the candles, and just talk and enjoy each other’s company. Usually some Jenga, Apples to Apples, or a puzzle finds their way into the evening before it ends.

unnamed (1)

Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish food?

Rich: FALAFEL. #obsessed

Rachel: Who is the coolest Jew?

Rich: Marcy Spiro.

Rachel: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…

Rich: I’m most likely there.





Jewish Guy of the Week – David

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Rachel: So tell us where you’re from and what brought you to DC?

David: I grew up in Columbia, Maryland, and returned to my hometown a handful of years ago after working as a reporter in New England. I’ve always wanted to live in a major city and had already been falling for D.C. Now that I’m here, those feelings haven’t changed. My long commute is totally worth it to be in such a vibrant place.

Rachel: How long have you been here and what are some of your favorite things to do in the city (besides Gather the Jews Happy Hours of course!)?

David: I’ve been in D.C. since June and have been exploring as much as possible. I love trying new bars and restaurants, going to concerts and sporting events, walking and bicycling and driving to become acquainted with neighborhoods, and searching for places and events that have character. I could even do the touristy stuff over and over again: the zoo, the museums and galleries, the monuments at night. And while I’ve got a handful of friends in the city, I also enjoy meeting new people.

Rachel: What is your day job and what were you doing before that? 

David: I work in media relations and communications for Columbia Association, a nonprofit in my hometown that is dedicated to making the community one of the best places to live in the country. Does that sentence make it too obvious that I sometimes act as a spokesman? Before that I was a journalist who covered everything from the presidential primary campaigns in New Hampshire to government and politics, murder trials, homelessness and poverty, and good, old-fashioned community reporting. I still do plenty of writing on the side, mostly about boxing but also a little bit about poker.

Rachel: What are some of your favorite things to write about?

David: I never thought when I started writing about boxing that I’d still be covering the sport 10 years later, but it’s probably where I’ve done some of my best work. The stories that can be told about the fighters themselves and the fights they’re involved in can be dramatic and touching. There is a contrast between the brutal nature of the sport and the prose that describes it, and yet what A.J. Liebling coined “The Sweet Science” has also drawn literary luminaries such as Ernest Hemingway, Norman Mailer and Joyce Carol Oates.

Beyond that, I’m proud of the work I’ve done covering homelessness and poverty in a handful of communities, and I want to continue to shine a light on the people who are struggling and those who work so hard to help them.

Rachel: YOU’RE GOING TO BE ON JEOPARDY!? Tell us more about that…

David: It’ll be broadcast on Thanksgiving! If you’re in D.C., it’ll be on ABC7 (WJLA) at 7:30 p.m. Otherwise, well, I’ve always wanted to say this: Check your local listings. For my friends and acquaintances who’ve always felt that I’m either a know-it-all or a know-nothing, now we can find out which is truer.

Oh, and I guess I should say that I did my Mike Tyson impression while chatting with Alex Trebek.

Rachel: Since this is our Thanksgiving edition, tell us one thing you’re thankful for this year. 

David: Not to get too sappy, but the people in my life. I hope they know I’m always thankful for them. And there I just went and got too sappy. Thanks for that, Rachel.

Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish food?

David: Do shawarma and falafel count? If not, there’s something about a really good loaf of challah…

Rachel: Who is the coolest Jew?

David: Jon Stewart, far and away. Jon, if you’re reading this — and I know you are — I’m available as a writer.

Rachel: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…

David: Sure, why not end on a bad pun? You end up with a Flock of Siegels!  (Thanks. I’ll show myself the door…)

Jewish Guy of the Week – Jason

unnamed (3)Want to recommend an outstanding leader to be featured on GTJ? Nominate him/her at

Rachel: So how long have you been in DC and where were you before?

Jason: I’ve been in DC for a decade.  I started my career in Boston, but that adventure was over after my first 10-month winter in the Northeast.  I was born and raised in Richmond (VA) and attended college in Charlottesville (VA).  So, you could say that I never really left my backyard.

Rachel: I hear your last name has a cool story – can you tell us about it?

Jason: My last name is hebrew and means “wise.”  It was changed from Verstandig, which is German and means “understanding”, when my father and his family moved to the U.S. from Israel.  I like that we loosely kept the meaning, while changing the language.

Rachel: Are there any interesting ways that your Jewish and professional lives have intertwined? 

unnamed (1)Jason:Yes…I left PricewaterhouseCoopers’ tax practice about four years ago — I still do freelance tax work for many of my local, business-owning friends, which is how I got my current full-time gig.  I joined my long-time friend and now business partner, Jeff Rossen, at Rossen Landscape (local, residential landscape company).  Jeff and I met freshman year of high school in BBYO!  Jewish ties run deep!

Rachel: What do you do to recharge? 

Jason: When I’m not cutting grass…just kidding, I don’t cut grass, I cut costs!  In my free time, I like to be active — yoga, cycling, snowboarding, any sport, etc.  I enjoy traveling as well whether it be a Hilton Head Island beach week with my family or biking the Rallarvegen trail in Norway with friends.  My current sedentary obsessions are watching Shark Tank and managing my fantasy football squad.

Rachel: We heard you’re on the Impact DC Host Committee which is coming up this month! Could you tell us more about the event and why it’s so important to you?  

Jason: Glad you asked!  We’re very excited for this year’s event on Thursday night, November 20th at The Howard Theatre — it’s the fourth annual.  (For complete information and to register visit  Last year I was a member of the host committee and this year I was honored with a role as co-chair of the event.  Impact DC is a great way to introduce young professionals to charitable giving.  It’s both a party and a fundraiser to benefit The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.  The event registration fee is part party cover charge and part donation.  Therefore, it ends up being a celebration of our generation’s unnamed (4)contributions to improve our community.  It’s definitely a night to remember!  Philanthropy has always been important to me.  That’s one reason I’ve become so involved with Impact DC.  On some level (some more obvious than others), we’ve all been offered a helping hand when we needed it (hopefully) and it gets you to a better place (hopefully).  To ensure that “hopefully” is a “definitely” for someone else, it’s become an underlying theme of my life, manifesting itself in various ways.  It started with Key Club in high school, continued with Madison House at UVA, and evolved into adulthood in various forms (i.e., big brother/big sister, blood drives, monetary/clothing donations, etc.).  It’s one of the best win wins still around.  The person in need certainly benefits and the donor (of time or money or clothing, etc.) feels good as a result.

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

Jason: You mean, how Jewish am I?  Just kidding.  I love when Shabbat falls at the end of the week.  It really is a great time to do something quiet and reconnect with friends and family after a long work week.

Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish food?

Jason: [Without hesitation]  Bagel with cream cheese, lox, capers, red onion, and tomato.  Jason Navon - snowboardIf that doesn’t qualify then I’d have to say the Passover spread.  I enjoy all the tastes of the Seder plate.

Rachel: Who is the coolest Jew?

Jason: Is the next question who is the most athletic Jew?  I don’t feel qualified to answer this question.  The first person that came to mind was Adam Sandler.  I think Drake’s Jewish — who’s cooler than a rapper?  Rabbis can be when they drop knowledge to enlighten us.  It depends how you define cool.  My nephews and niece (pictured) are pretty cool too.

Rachel: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather

Jason: …good things happen.

Jewish Guy of the Week – Adam

unnamed (2)Want to recommend an outstanding leader to be featured on GTJ? Nominate him/her at

Rachel: So you’re from LA. What was your favorite part of living on the west coast?

Adam: Time seems to slow down on the west coast. It may be just that being on the west coast means I’m not at work, which tends to speed things up, but I think there’s something to it. Life seems to fly by whenever I’m somewhere else. Its something in the air I guess.

What brought you to DC and what do you love about it?

Adam: DC… the land of young professionals with IR backgrounds (if you don’t know what IR stands for, you don’t belong here). Like so many others I came to get a job in this field.

I love the constant supply of fun, usually free activities going around the city. You can find me at the concerts at the park, yoga on rooftops, drum circles, museum parties, festivals, and so on.

Rachel: We heard you served in Peace Corps in Ukraine. Could you tell us more about that?

Adam: Where to start!? I could say this: Peace Corps was an amazing, transformative experience in my life. Ukrainians are the nicest and most welcoming people I’ve ever met. They welcomed me  into their communities with open arms.

It was challenging at times. Definitely colder than the sunny California weather I grew up with. unnamedSomehow I managed to plan and teach seven classes a day, organize 3 English clubs, and pull off a seminar on teaching methodologies in my short time at site, so it was nice to see something kind of concrete come out of the whole experience.

My experience in Ukraine was unfortunately cut short. I was evacuated due to the conflict that broke out there. I hope I was able to make a difference, even if in a small way. I’ve gained personally tremendously in ways I could never possibly give back.

Rachel: You’re a Moishe resident and you run the House’s Hebrew Speakers’ Meetup.  What made you want to start that group and what’s it like?

Adam: So the group is just starting to form. I had my first event last month in our Moishe House Sukkah. It was awesome 100% because of the people that came. Five or Six bottles of Israeli wine and we were all singing songs in Hebrew and I suddenly became fluent. Or at least so I thought…

The inspiration behind it was simple. My mom is Israeli, so coming out to DC I really wanted to join a Hebrew club to practice my language skills. I did some research, and although there are some pretty
unnamed (1)awesome clubs out there, I didn’t find that right meet-up geared towards twenty-some-year olds, so I decided to start my own! This Sunday we’re having an Israeli movie night and an Israeli brunch on the 16th! Spread the word!

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

Adam: With family and no plans in the world.

Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish food?

Adam: Mom’s Moroccan salmon. Not inherently Jewish, but it counts since we only have it on Shabbat!

Rachel: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…

Adam: The kevethching begins. 

Jewish Guy of the Week – Avi

1Want to recommend an outstanding leader to be featured on GTJ? Nominate him/her at

Rachel: What brought you to DC?
Avi: I got a job working in the vast right-wing conspiracy.

Rachel: You’ve had articles published in a few different blogs. What is your favorite thing to write about?
Avi: I mostly write about higher education policy, since that’s my niche in the vast right-wing conspiracy. I especially like writing about academic freedom and what it’s like to be a conservative on a largely liberal college campus. I went to Brandeis, where I could count my fellow Republicans on one hand, so that’s a topic about which I have a lot to say.

Rachel: We heard you spent a year in Yeshiva after high school. What was that experience like?
Avi: Funny story about that. In yeshiva, we had an auction to see who would win the various honors of Simchat Torah. But instead of betting money, we bet extra hours of learning Torah (super frum, right?). I won that auction and ended up having to learn 1000 extra hours that year. I never finished. But I learned an awful lot, and I can’t say enough nice things about my yeshiva (Eretz Hatzvi).

3Rachel: What’s your favorite way to spend Shabbat?
Avi: If I’m in an introverted mood, then a quiet dinner with the girlfriend and plowing through old issues of the Economist is pretty great. If I’m in a more extroverted mood, hosting a big meal, drinking some wine on the roof, and walking to the Mall.

Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish food?
Avi: Matzah balls all the way.

Rachel: Who is the coolest Jew?
Avi: Shyne. Look him up.

Rachel: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…
Avi: They look for roommates and good apartments.

Jewish Guy of the Week – Nelson

CamelWant to recommend an outstanding leader to be featured on GTJ? Nominate him/her at What brought you to DC?
Nelson: I Moved from Morgantown, West Virginia to the DC area to work at Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) in 2011.

Rachel: What does Israel on Campus Coalition do?
Nelson: ICC strengthens the pro-Israel movement on American college campuses and I am the West Coast Consultant.

Rachel: We heard you went on the Alumni Mission to Israel? What was that like?
Nelson: Spending a week in Israel with 20 fellow leaders from the DC Jewish community was an amazing experience and I encourage all those who are eligible to apply. Here we are 8 months later, and I am still close with a number of the trip’s participants, in fact, Max Bluestein and Josh Margolin are two rising leaders in the Nelson France Fan Club. Other members of the Fan Club include, Avi D Gordon, Justin Rhudy, Daniel Kuhn, Isaac Snyder and Evan Hoffman.RugelachRachel: What are you involved with in the DC Jewish community?
Nelson: I was recently sworn in as Co-Chair of AJC ACCESS DC; we aim to inspire and substantively involve outstanding young Jewish professionals in AJC’s important agenda through innovative programs, which provide insight into today’s complex cultural, political, and social challenges. In addition to my work with the American Jewish Committee, I serve on the JDC Entwine DC planning group, Chair the marketing and outreach committee for Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity and serve on the NoVa Tribe Series planning committee.

Rachel: What’s your favorite way to spend Shabbat?
Nelson: Celebrating the sabbath with friends over dinner and drinks. “More than the Jewish People has kept Shabbat. Shabbat has kept the Jewish People.”

IstanbulRachel: What is your favorite Jewish food?
Nelson: Green’s chocolate babka. If you haven’t yet tasted this Babka, it is only fair to warn you that once you do, you will never be satisfied with an inferior one.

Rachel: Who is the coolest Jew?
Nelson: The coolest Jews would be the cast from Freaks and Geeks; Seth Rogen, Jason Segal, and James Franco.

Rachel: What do you do for fun in DC?
Nelson: Brunch, happy hour, Wizards games, embassy events and grilling out.

Rachel: Finish the sentence:
Nelson: When the Jews gather…Nelson is on his way.

Jewish Guy of the Week – Benjy

science club 3.2014Want to recommend an outstanding leader to be featured on GTJ? Nominate him/her at

Rachel: What brought you to DC?
Benjy: I grew up in this area, then moved to Miami for a while.  I knew it was time to leave Miami when I started thinking Gucci loafers were a cool thing to wear.  I wanted to be near my family again too.

Rachel: You live in the Moishe House DC.  What is that like?  What kind of programming do you do?
Benjy: I love living in Moishe House.  It’s like running the Jewish organization you always wanted to see, except you also have to figure out who’s turn it is to unload the dishwasher.

I like to organize events around Jewish food like Hamantaschen Making or challah braiding class.  I also created “THE JEWISH JEWS OF COMEDY Comedy Show & Party”, which is a stand-up show we do in our living room (really).  It was very fun & successful so I’ve taken it on the road to a bunch of other Moishe Houses across the country.

IMG_1368Rachel: So you perform stand up comedy.  How did you get into that?  Do you ever get nervous while preforming?
Benjy: I’ve always liked trying to make people laugh to the detriment of making money or being an emotionally mature person, so stand-up was an obvious career choice!

Seriously though, I work hard at comedy.  I perform 5 (or more) nights a week and write all the time because I want it to eventually be my full-time career.

I don’t really get nervous actually, I do get excited about trying out new bits.

IMG_1455Rachel: What’s your favorite way to spend Shabbat?
Benjy: Either quietly with my family in the suburbs OR cooking for/hosting 60 people with my housemates at one of Moishe House DC’s super blow-out bash shabbat dinners in Adams Morgan.

Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish food?
Benjy: Lox.  Is that too obvious?  I really do love any type of smoked fish.

Rachel: Who is the coolest Jew?
Benjy: Besides Herzl or Larry David, I’m going to say Israelis in general.  If American Jews are the nerds, Israelis are the cool kids.

Rachel: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…
Benjy: there’d better be food.



Jewish Guy of the Week – Adam

169_9303640519_4385_nWant to recommend an outstanding leader to be featured on GTJ? Nominate him/her at

Rachel: What brought you to DC?
Adam: I came to DC in 2000 to attend law school at the George Washington University.  I fell in love with the area and decided to stick around.

Rachel: We heard you served 3 combat tours- two in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.  Thank you for your service!
Adam: I did serve three combat tours- two in Iraq from 2005-2008 and one in Afghanistan from 2011-2012.  I am an Infantry Officer in the Maryland Army National Guard where I hold the rank of Major.

Rachel: Your engineering firm won a UN award for sustainable development in Liberia (mazel tov!).  Can you tell us more about the projects your firm has in Liberia?
Adam: I co-founded my company with two partners to focus on reconstruction and sustainable development in Post-conflict environments.  We opened our first office in Liberia in 2011.  We focus on infrastructure work- namely roads and sewage waste treatment projects, however we are looking to expand into telecommunications and energy. 

Goli AdamRachel
: What’s your favorite way to spend Shabbat?
Adam: My favorite way to spend Shabbat is at home with my wife, and a full Shabbat table of young Jewish professionals.  Several times a month, my wife and I host Shabbat dinners at our home in Fairfax for YJPs from all walks of life and from all over the DC region.  Our table is always open to new guests, so if anyone is interested in coming, they should get in touch and let me know.  Alternatively, they can join our Meet Up group where they can get information about upcoming Shabbat dinners and RSVP:

Rachel: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…
Adam: When the Jews gather we maintain our collective faith and traditions and create a community that will be able to pass along our culture and religion to future generations of Jews.

Rachel: Who is the coolest Jew?
Adam: To me, the coolest Jew is not an individual, but our Jewish ancestors who maintained their faith when to be Jewish was to be persecuted and to live in fear.  Jews who are alive today, are only Jews because their ancestors held onto their faith through thousands of years of discrimination, destruction, and adversity.  Being Jewish today is a gift but it also comes with a responsibility.  In a world where we are now free to practice our religion, it is incumbent upon us to maintain our shared culture, faith, and our connections to Israel.  To do any less not only dishonors the sacrifice and dedication of our ancestors who held onto their faith through the most trying of times, but it cuts short the possibility of future generations of Jews who deserve the right to carry on the incredible legacy of what we have inherited.