Meet Stephanie: Radical Jewish Rabbi of the Week!

Think you know what a rabbi does with their free time? Think again. Stephanie Crawley is a turtle-owner, Queer Eye fan, Purim hater, and Temple Micah’s new(ish) rabbi!

Meet this radical rabbi taking DC by storm.

stephanie

Allie: How did you wind up living in DC as a rabbi?

Stephanie: I knew I wanted to be a rabbi since I was maybe 12 years old. I also knew that I didn’t want to go straight from college to rabbinical school. After graduating from undergrad in Cleveland, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do in that time period before rabbinical school, and decided to move to DC and do Jewish work. I wound up working at Temple Micah.

I really loved, and love, how Temple Micah is a place that challenges itself to think differently about what Judaism can look like. Its full of people who are simultaneously brilliant and super humble, and are all very invested in their Jewish life.

After working at Temple Micah for three years, I left to go to rabbinical school. When I was leaving, I worried that I would never find another synagogue that I love as much as I love Temple Micah. But, miraculously, in my fifth year of rabbinical school the Assistant Rabbi position at Temple Micah opened up and I was able to find my way back there.

Allie: Hold on, you wanted to be a rabbi from the time you were 12?!

Stephanie: When I was younger, I knew I liked the idea of doing social work, I liked acting, public speaking, and social justice. A rabbi seemed like it combined all of those things. I knew that becoming a rabbi was the only thing I wanted to do in the world.

Allie: What do you enjoy most about being a rabbi?

Stephanie: I think Judaism gives us such a good answer for how to live our lives with meaning. Particularly right now, it feels like Judaism is everything I need. Judaism reminds me that when it feels like everything is go-go-go, Judaism says stop. When I feel like I’m prioritizing the new, Judaism reminds that what is ancient has real validity. Bringing that countercultural voice to people is something that I really enjoy.

stephanie

Allie: What has been the most meaningful experience you’ve had as a rabbi thus far?

Stephanie: I used to work in a Jewish addiction and rehab facility called Beit T’Shuvah. While I was there I really saw Judaism save lives. From that, I’ve thought a lot about what we want to save and reclaim in all of our lives, and how can Judaism help with that.

Allie: What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Stephanie: There’s so much that I want to do, and learning what my capacity is has been a journey. Also, to be really frank, holding half an hour conversations with 12 year-olds.

Allie: As a rabbi, how do you cope with the rising threat of anti-Semitism we are feeling right now in America?

Stephanie: I do feel a real sense of purpose to figure out how and when to appropriately call out anti-Semitism without alienating Jews. You can’t just publish an op-ed every time there’s anti-Semitism, sometimes you really have to sit with the person who is saying these [anti-Semitic] things and talk to them.

There is a Jewish philosopher Simon Rawidowicz who has an essay called “The Ever Dying People” and I like to keep in mind that every generation has thought they were the last generation of Jews, and they’re not.

Allie: On to lighter things. What is your favorite Jewish holiday?

Stephanie: It’s not Purim. I loathe Purim. One Rabbi once said to me you’re either a Yom Kippur Rabbi or a Purim rabbi. I’m definitely a Yom Kippur rabbi. I like this little bubble we create to focus on our community on Yom Kippur, and the catharsis that comes when we’ve done the whole thing together. I think the metaphors are really powerful, and appreciate the concept of t’shuvah (repentance).

I also love Passover. I like that the meal is such a good way of teaching Judaism and encourages children to ask questions. I like that women play an important role in the narrative, and that its one of the Jewish rituals that we’ve found a way to modernize and speak for different movements.

rabbi stephanie

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

Stephanie: I have a pet turtle who, for a long time, we thought was a girl turtle named Slowla. We recently found out the turtle is a boy and his new name is Mr. Slow. I think of turtles as puppies with armor.

Allie: What are your favorite ways to relax when you’re not at work?

Stephanie: Normal Netflix and chill, or right now Queer Eye and cry is my new hobby. I also love running and yoga, guitar, singing, and reading.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Stephanie: We make our city stronger, and highlight the beauty of the diversity of the Jewish world.

stephanie

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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 Josh: Jewish Wikipedia Editor of the Week

When he’s not working at innovative digital art space ARTECHOUSE, creating DC-themed pins, or eating avocado BLT bagels, you might find Josh hanging out with his sister who may or may not have invented the flat iron. You’ll just have to find out…

josh

Allie: What brought you to our great nation’s capital?

Josh: I grew up in Rockville and have basically spent much of my life in the DC area. I spent four years in Hartford for undergraduate before I wound up back in DC. Coming back to DC was kind of a scheme planned by my friend Marc Friend [Editor’s note: Yes, that’s his real last name!].

Allie: How did you wind up working at ARTECHOUSE?

Josh: I took my wife to an ARTECHOUSE exhibit last year for her birthday and fell in love with it. I just started working there last August. It’s a very cool space that bridges the gap between art and science technology through immersive installations. We’re doing a cherry blossom exhibit right now. I can give GatherDC readers a discount on tickets! [Editor’s note: He’s not lying! Use code GatherDC for 10% off from 4/8-4/14, excluding Saturdays. Max 2 tickets per household.]

artechouse

Allie: Describe your dream day in DC.

Josh: I’d wake up and get a Bethesda Bagel, an avocado BLT on a salted bagel. I know it’s not kosher. Then, I’d go to the farmer’s market and one of the record stores in the area. Then, I’d grab lunch. I’m a big fan of BIBIBOP in Dupont. I’m also a big fan of board games or having Netflix marathons with friends. In the evening, I’d grab at a cocktail at El Techo in Shaw.

Allie: I also hear you are lowkey a famous Wikipedia editor. Tell me about that.

Josh: Okay, so when my sister was in high school she was trying to cite Wikipedia for a paper. I was trying to show her that Wikipedia was not a credible source. To prove this point, I purposely edited the Wikipedia page about the flat iron and listed her as the inventor.

Today, it is an international conspiracy that my sister, Erica Feldman, invented the flat iron in the 1800s. If you Google “who invented the flat iron?”, her name will come up. She has been listed as the inventor of the flat iron by Conair, in books, tons of websites, and weird magazines even have odd conspiracy theories about it.

Allie: Are there any other strange facts people might be surprised to know about you?

Josh: I was partially responsible for changing the birthday song at Buca di Beppo. I went to school for art’s management, where a huge piece of my education was learning copyright law. I had just written a paper about the copyrights surrounding the Happy Birthday song when my family and I went to celebrate my dad’s birthday at Buca di Beppo. At the end of the meal, the waiters came over and sang the “Happy Birthday” song to us. Since I had just written this paper, I decided to go up to the manager and tell him that he should know they shouldn’t be singing that song. Flash forward to a week later, I was in touch with the Buca di Beppo corporate lawyer and I sent them proof and evidence about it. I didn’t hear anything back, but then a few weeks later I saw this YouTube campaign came out about Buca di Beppo’s new birthday song.

Allie: What are you favorite hobbies outside of copyright law and Wikipedia editing?

Josh: I collect pins, I think it’s a fun way to show a piece of your personality. I actually co-own a pin company with my wife and two of our friends called Federal Pins. It’s all DC-influenced things that a local would connect to. 

josh

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Josh: Latkes with applesauce. I don’t like sour cream.

Allie: What’s a piece of wisdom that inspires you?

Josh: My grandfather always taught me to soak it up and never take anything for granted.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Josh: Hilarity ensues.

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 Emily: Jewish Arlingtonian of the Week!

I met Emily Mathae back when I worked at The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. Since then, I’ve been blown away by how her presence has brought so much sunshine to Jewish DC and Northern Virginia. Besides making our bellies happy with her incredible talent for whipping up Jewish baked goods, she also makes our community happy with her warm smile and contagious kindness. Although Emily is soon moving out of the Moishe House Northern Virginia (MoHo NoVA), she’s not going far. So if you don’t know her yet, now is your chance!

P.S. If you’re interested in taking Emily’s spot in Moishe House NoVA, let them know!

emily

Allie: What brought you to Arlington?

Emily: I was born and raised in Arlington; I’m what you call an Arlington native through and through.

Allie: I hear you’re soon moving out of in Moishe House NoVA! What’s been the best part about being a Moishe House resident?

Emily: I’ve been living there for almost two years and it’s been amazing. It’s been a life-changing experience. I get to create really meaningful relationships with community members and put on programs that I’m personally excited about.

Allie: What programs have you hosted at Moishe House that you’re most proud of?

Emily: I love to bake, so it’s been incredible to host programs related to that. I’ve hosted a round challah bake for Rosh Hashanah, babka-making, sufganiyot, hamantaschen, and traditional challah baking events.

I also love Rosh Chodesh and celebrating Jewish women and our lives together as a community. We’ve been doing Rosh Chodesh events since last July. It’s a very strong group of women who are very supportive of one another. I’m curious to see how things will turn out when I move out, but I’m hoping to continue to do the Rosh Chodesh events with Moishe House Without Walls (MHWOW).

moho

Allie: What’s your perfect DC – or Arlington – day from start to finish?

Emily: It would be April 25th; not too hot, and not too cold. All you need is a light jacket! Yeah, hopefully it would be a beautiful day outside, but not too much sun because I get sunburnt very easily. I would go out to Leesburg and visit a couple of wineries and just relax. Maybe I’d go for a long walk or hike. If my favorite band Judah and the Lion was in town I would go see them. That’s one of the bands I will never get tired of.

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

Emily: I had struggled with my faith for a long time. I was very active in my former faith community, but started questioning some of the things that were told to me and asked some really deep questions that they just didn’t have the answers to. It felt like destiny that I wound up doing my study abroad in Israel where I studied conflict analysis and resolution. While there, I also worked at BINA and loved it so much.

When I returned home, I wrote my senior thesis on young American Jews and their relationship with Israel. This was so impactful for me that I wound up applying to work at some Jewish nonprofits after graduating. At that point, I was halfway through my conversion process. I got the job [that I currently have] at The Jewish Federation and have constantly worked to become a leader in the Jewish community since then. By working at Federation and living in the Moishe House, I feel like I’ve found my place.

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Emily: I have a fabulous challah recipe that I stole from the Mega Challah Bake I went to in NoVA. I also love bagels.

Allie: What’s your perfect bagel?

Emily: An everything bagel with vegetable cream cheese, with onion, cucumber, and tomatoes. Please don’t hate me for not liking lox…

Allie: Favorite Jewish holiday?

Emily: Shavuot. I love dairy and because of the story of Ruth. It connects back to my own Jewish journey and I feel like I’m Ruth in a way.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Emily: They have a grand old time.

emily

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 Jason: Jewish Abstract Artist of the Week

I met Jason Lessans a few weeks because he was selling paintings at an art event that my mom was also a part of. I was absolutely blown away by the beauty, intricacy, and emotion that was palpable in his artwork. When I met him, I was shocked this was just an after-work hobby and not his full-time job. More than that, I couldn’t believe how humble and down-to-earth he seemed about his insane talents.

Enjoy our 1:1 interview with this gifted Jewish artist, and then check out his Instagram to follow along on his journey.

jason

Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Jason: I actually live in Vienna, by Tysons Corner. I moved here from the Baltimore area to be closer to my office after I changed jobs and started work at Alarm.com as a data engineer.

Allie: Outside of work, you create some amazing art. What kind of artwork do you do?

Jason: I primarily focus on abstract painting using different techniques and styles. For some of my paintings, such as cityscapes, I use palette knives, brushes, combs, and various other tools to create different effects. For other paintings, I use fluid art techniques, pouring a paint mixture directly onto the canvas. I also enjoy working with other media like metal, ceramics, and glass.

Allie: What motivated you to become an artist?

Jason: I’ve been interested in art since I was a little kid. I went to art camps growing up and took a few classes in high school and college. Although, I would say most of what I’ve learned was just by practicing in my spare time. I wasn’t actually motivated to sell paintings until recently. I would get very attached to my paintings and didn’t want to part with them. In the past year or so I started painting more frequently and ran out of room to hang them. When they started piling up, I knew I had to start selling them.

jason lessans

Allie: What do you love about painting?

Jason: I find it very relaxing and therapeutic. I listen to music and just kind of zone out and let my subconscious take over as I paint.

Allie: What is your favorite subject to paint?

Jason: A lot of my paintings don’t have a subject. I like how they mean different things to different people. I also found that I like to paint abstract cityscapes after I made one by accident. I’d been playing with a new technique and noticed it resembled a skyline reflected on water. Since then I’ve made more and improved on the technique.

Allie: What painting(s) are you most proud of?

Jason: That’s a tough question to answer. I have a lot of paintings that I’m pretty attached to. I think sometimes I’m the most proud when I do one unlike any that I’ve done before. There is one portrait I did years ago of Arya from Game of Thrones that I really like, mostly because I never do portraits and it came out much better than I expected. I also really like the first geometric painting I did, along with some of my recent black, white, and gold pour paintings where I create a tree-ring effect. [Note: Check out Jason’s artwork on the ‘Gram @lessans_in_abstraction!]

arya

Allie: How do you find time to paint outside of your full time job?

Jason: I try to set aside an hour or two most nights before bed. It relaxes me and has kind of become part of my bedtime routine.

Allie: Who are your artist role models?

Jason: I would say Wassily Kandinsky – his work is incredible and unlike anything before him. He is generally considered the father of abstract art.

Allie: Do you have any other hidden talents?

Jason: I’m a really good whistler. I’ll admit, it’s a pretty useless skill and but I can basically whistle any tune.

Allie: What is your favorite Jewish food?

Jason: Oh man – so many good ones. I’ll go with brisket – I never get sick of it.

Allie: What’s your favorite flavor Hamantaschen and why?

Jason: Maybe strawberry. Anything other than prunes.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Jason: Bagels don’t stand a chance.

jason great falls

 

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 Therapist of the Week: Naomi!

At the risk of sounding incredibly basic and maybe even a little creepy, I have a major friend crush on Naomi LeVine (pronounced Lah-vIne). *Hi Naomi!* I met her on the Jewish Spirituality Camping Trip this past fall (planned by GatherDC’s Jewish Outdoorsman of the Week – Daniel, Jewish Camper of the Week – Mark, and the phenomenal Natalie Birnbaum who has not yet been featured, but not to fret – her day will soon come).

I was immediately drawn to her positive spirit, laid-back energy, and heavenly singing voice. After guiding us through hours of ukulele filled jam sessions around the campfire, I knew she had to become the Jewish Person of the Week. Lucky for me – and now YOU – we have an exclusive 1:1 interview with Naomi right here.

naomi

Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Naomi: I moved here in 2016 to start my master’s in Couple and Family Therapy at University of Maryland.

Allie: Why did you decide to become a couple and family therapist?

Naomi: I had been doing a lot of work with kids, and realized that while that work was really incredible, those kids would then go home and see things that would reinforce negative patterns. So, that shifted my interest into working with families and couples. I feel like that’s where I can make the most lasting change.

Allie: What inspired you to become a therapist in the first place?

Naomi: The passion to make changes at the root of the cause coupled with the importance of individualized work and being able to talk about issues in a personal way.

Allie: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Naomi: When I see or hear about a positive interaction that somebody had that feels different than an interaction that they’ve had before. I get to see that something is different and that the work we’ve been doing is worth it.

Allie: What is one quick tip you would give to help couples who might be reading this interview?

Naomi: Don’t lose sight of why you like each other. You have to be friends first. You’re going to have moments of conflict and moments when you disagree, but try to keep that base level of respect for the other person and understand their perspective – even if you don’t agree with it.

naomi

Allie: Outside of work, I hear that you’re currently a part of GatherDC’s Open Doors Fellowship. Tell me about that!

Naomi: It’s a fellowship where DC Jewish young adults come together to learn how to form intentional, one-on-one relationships with Jewish 20s and 30s across the DC-area. I believe in personal relationship-building being the key way we can make our Jewish community feel smaller and more welcoming. So if anyone wants to grab coffee, let me know! It’s on Gather.

Allie: What would be your dream free day in DC?

Naomi: I would wander around Eastern Market for a bit, and then head over to the American Art Museum. If it’s nice out I would spend time reading outside on the Mall. Then, I’d grab some dairy-free ice cream at Jeni’s on my way home!

Allie: What are your go-to ways to relax?

Naomi: I love playing music. If I have a long day, I pick up a guitar and play or write something. I also love reading, and doing yoga or going to spin class at Zengo. And a good, long shower.

naomi

Allie: Tell me more about your guitar playing/songwriting!

Naomi: I come from a very musical family, both of my parents play a wide variety of instruments. They had me in piano lessons when I was little, but after a few years I quit because I hated it. In eighth grade, I picked up my dad’s guitar and he showed me how to play. That rekindled my interest in playing instruments. So, now I play guitar, ukulele, and tried to pick piano back up. I love to sing.

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?

Naomi: Tu B’shvat. My family went all out for Tu B’shvat. We had a huge seder with all different kinds of fruit and vegetarian food. There’s singing, reading, it’s so much fun, and everything is very intentional about it.

Allie: With Purim coming up, do you have a favorite hamantaschen flavor?

Naomi: The only time I ever bake is for Purim. I love baking hamantaschen! Last year I made a cookies & cream hamantaschen and a matcha white chocolate hamantaschen. I also made a samoa one that had the coconut caramel filling and then dipped in chocolate. This year, I’m going to do a fruity pebbles hamantaschen. I love experimenting with different fillings.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Naomi: We play a wild game of Jewish geography!

purim

Homemade by Naomi

 

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 Jake: Jewish Dancer of the Week

jake

Allie: What brought you to DC?

Jake: I was born in Los Angeles, and then my family moved to Potomac, Maryland for a few years before we relocated to Boston. I went to college in Minnesota and majored in political science. I knew I wanted to do something around government and politics, so I decided to move to DC when I graduated. I flew out here for a job interview about a week after graduating. I didn’t get that job, but still moved to DC full time. That was almost five years ago.

Allie: Describe your perfect DC day.

Jake: Honestly, I have not had a free weekend in a long time, because outside of my job I’m also in graduate school. But if I had the time, I would start my day with a cup of coffee and then go for a nice bike ride somewhere. Maybe I’d hit Rock Creek Park. Then I’d go for brunch with a few friends at Medium Rare.

After brunch, I’d like to go see something new in DC. When I first moved here and was unemployed, I made a habit out of finding obscure monuments and markers in DC. I’ve seen all sorts of random memorials in the city. So after brunch, I’d like to go to one of those with my friends. After that, I would go to my favorite Chinese restaurant Peter Chang’s out in Rockville and then magically get back to DC in time to go out salsa dancing.

Allie: Tell me more about your salsa dancing!

Jake: I first started dancing in third or fourth grade. I took after school lessons. Then, I took some dance classes in college for credit – they had salsa and swing dancing. I think you can’t spend time in the midwest without learning about agriculture and swing dancing. I tried to go out dancing in DC with mixed success, it wasn’t that fun to go alone. At the advice of a friend, I joined the Georgetown Ballroom Dance Team. Now, I’m learning actual ballroom dances to compete with. Like “Dancing with the Stars”, but less flash. I’ve learned foxtrot, waltz, quickstep, tango, samba, cha-cha, jive, and rumba.

Allie: “Roomba” – like the vacuum cleaning robot?

Jake: Um, I think of it more like rum the drink, which can be good to have before dancing.

Allie: What’s your favorite style of dance?

Jake: My favorite dances are the Latin dances like chacha, rumba, salsa, and jive. They’re fun to do and lighthearted. My instructor said they allegedly originated in brothels as a way to flirt.

Allie: What do you enjoy most about dancing?

Jake: I’ve always enjoyed dancing. I enjoy learning new routines. It’s healthy, a productive use of my time, and I’m learning a skill that I can show off when I go to weddings.

jake

Allie: What are your goals for your future in dancing?

Jake: Getting better. I’ve been competing for a couple of years now and would like to place in a competition.

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

Jake: Going for a bike ride, cooking, and baking. This past weekend I made brownies with a graham cracker crust and caramel ganache on top!

Allie: Since Purim is coming up, have you thought about baking hamantaschen?

Jake: I have not, but probably should.

Allie: What are your favorite flavors of hamantaschen?

Jake: Raspberry, strawberry and apricot preserves, and chocolate.

Allie: What is on your life bucket list?

Jake: I’d like to go to New Orleans, and explore the U.S. more in general. I’m not a big solo traveler, so I haven’t traveled as much as I would like to. I really want to go back to Yosemite – I tried last year but there was a big wildfire and I had to cancel my plans to go to the park. I have a tent if anyone wants to go with me! [Editor’s note: Seriously, leave a comment below if interested….]

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Jake: They laugh!

jake

 

 

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 Tali: Jewish Bot-Maker of the Week!

tali

Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Tali: I moved to DC last November from New York, but I’m originally from near Cleveland, Ohio. I got an exciting new job here and I was lucky to have friends in the area when I moved (shoutout to Ariella, Joelle, and to former GatherDC Jewish Person of the Week, Monica Arkin)!

Allie: What were you doing in New York?

Tali: In New York, I was focused on designing bots and AI at an incredible startup called Wade & Wendy. My portfolio includes ‘The ShaBot”, a bot you can chat with via Facebook Messenger that provides Shabbat times.

The ShaBot was discovered by the design team that I ended up joining at Capital One. I still can’t believe it, but by building my own things, I was eventually able to connect with designers and creatives that I respect a lot. It’s been an interesting experience working on Eno (Capital One’s intelligent assistant) for over a year now. I’ve loved working with the insanely talented people who challenge me to grow all the time on this team! I’m also excited to challenge the status quo of having female robot assistants (why is that a thing?) and to continue to build technologies that make people feel understood and in control of their finances!

Allie: What is you dream day in DC from start to finish, assuming money is no object?

Tali: Take a jog by the waterfront. Picnic with all the good friends I’ve made in DC by the cherry blossoms. Check out a museum. Taste a bunch of things at the DuPont Circle Farmer’s Market. Surprise someone with a speakeasy they haven’t seen before, and then end the night overlooking the city at the W Hotel’s rooftop.

tali college

Allie: What is a piece of wisdom or quote that inspires you?

Tali: “Be a rainbow in someone’s cloud,” from Maya Angelou. I love Maya Angelou’s writing and wisdom. The idea of being a rainbow in someone’s cloud is that when we take it upon ourselves to make someone else feel awesome, we all benefit. It’s based on the idea that people will forget what you said and what you did, but they won’t forget how you made them feel. So why not bring the light?!

Allie: What are your favorite ways to relax and destress at the end of a long work week?

Tali: White wine, a bubble bath, and some Adele blasting in the background before heading to a Shabbat dinner with friends.

Allie: What three things are at the top of your life bucket list?

Tali: Make Tina Fey laugh, climb at least one more mountain, and learn how to master baking challah.

Allie: Complete this sentence. When Jews of DC Gather…

Tali: We make so many mothers very proud.

tali

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 Evan: Jewish Oklahoman of the Week!

evan

Allison: How did you wind up living in DC?

Evan: I am originally from Oklahoma City. I was born and raised there. Then, I went to school at University of Kansas, and when I graduated I went to New York to work at URJ (Union for Reform Judaism). I was ready and excited to get out of the midwest. I was doing long distance with my girlfriend who was in DC, so when URJ let me start in a new role in DC, I moved down here. I just moved to DC this past summer. In the next couple of years, I want to go to rabbinical school.

Allison: What motivated you to want to work in the Jewish community?

Evan: I grew up in the Jewish community my entire life, but it wasn’t until high school when I went to URJ Greene Family Camp and got involved with NFTY (The Reform Jewish Youth Movement) that I was able to see Judaism as more than just showing up to religious school or synagogue. NFTY was where I found a community I cared about and got to talk about important issues.

Allison: What’s your favorite way to celebrate Shabbat?

Evan: I’m a very musical person, so I’d love to go to a a musical Shabbat service followed by dinner and dessert with friends. On Saturday, I don’t set an alarm so I can sleep in; I like to make Saturday a very chill day.

Allison: If you could invite 3 celebs to join you for Shabbat dinner, who would you choose?

Evan: Number one would be Barack Obama. Beyonce would be really cool. I might also have to say Rep. John Lewis.

evan

Allison: What’s at the top of your travel bucket list?

Evan: Number one is France. I really want to go. I also want to go to Africa, I still need to pinpoint which countries. I’m biracial and my dad’s side of the family is black and descended from slaves. I would love to be able to visit that country and learn more about those roots.

Allison: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?

Evan: One of my favorite Jewish holidays is Passover because of all the delicious foods that come with it. I love the fact that we have an entire holiday that is celebrated around the dinner table and is educational and fun. I’m big on charoset and gefilte fish – which I realize is a polarizing food.

Allison: Describe your dream DC day.

Evan: I would get up early, make breakfast and journal. I would find friends to go to brunch with at Busboys and Poets. I would spend the afternoon walking around DC and get closer to the mall and the monuments. Maybe pop in to a museum or two. In the evening, I’d find a great dinner place like Little Havana. At night, my girlfriend and I would have friends over to hang out at our apartment.

evan

Allison: What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?

Evan: Growing up, I was in choir from 4th until 12th grade. In junior and senior year I was in show choir, which was just like Glee. We had singing and dancing competitions and wore sparkly vests.

Allison: What are your favorite musicals?

Evan: Hamilton. I saw it on Broadway last year! I also love Aladdin the musical, and Wicked.

Allison: When Jewish of DC Gather…

Evan: It’s exciting, comfortable, and new!

evan

 

 

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.

Lindsey: Jewish Bra-Inventor of the Week

Lindsey Weiss created a bra made of magnets (it’s called BetterBra and hasn’t hit the market yet), is an epic painter, regular yogi, and skin care connoisseur. Oh, and this is all outside of her full-time job with the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

Let’s get to know this phenomenal woman.

Lindsey Weiss

Allie: How did you wind up in DC?

Lindsey: I’m originally from Dallas, Texas. I majored in Arabic and International Relations in college, and then spent a while in Dubai. Afterwards, I got a job in DC at AEI doing foreign defense policy. I always knew I wanted to end up in DC, and now I’m fixin’ to leave it so I’m pretty sad.

Allie: What?! Where are you going?

Lindsey: I’m applying to business schools.

Allie: What are you hoping to do with your business school degree?

Lindsey: Well, my day job is with AEI, but my night job is starting a company called BetterBra with my best friend who lives in San Francisco. My friend is now working on a presidential campaign, and I’m going to be taking over operations for the company. I have no business expertise or experience, and am learning as I go, so I knew that I needed to go to business school for this. I’ve started applying – so we’ll see where I end up.

Allie: What’s BetterBra?

Lindsey: It’s a bra that addresses breast asymmetry. 88% of women have some type of breast asymmetry, but there are zero bras on the market that cater to that. It uses magnets as support so it takes the weight off of your shoulder and back. The magnets either attract each other to create cleavage or repel each other to make separation, and you can lift the bra and move it using the magnetic fabric. Our whole supply chain is American made and women-run. It took off faster that we thought – we closed our second round of seed funding a couple of weeks ago, and are waiting for manufacturing to come in. We’re launching in April!

lindesy

Allie: What motivated you to start this?

Lindsey: I was feeling a little lost for a while because I wasn’t working towards a concrete goal. That made me kind of depressed, like I was wandering around with nowhere to go. The idea for BetterBra made me excited in a way that I hadn’t been excited in years. I felt like that was a sign I should be pursuing it. Also, I get bored easily and need to constantly be doing a bunch of things of once.

Allie: How do you have time to launch this company on top of a full time job?

Lindsey: I don’t sleep very often.

Allie: What’s your dream for the future of BetterBra?

Lindsey: For it to get acquired within the next five years. My big dream is to run my own venture capital firm that invests in women-run startups, specifically in developing countries.

Allie: What’s a quote or piece of advice that inspires you?

Lindsey: “I am a great believe in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” – Thomas Jefferson

Allie: What does self-care look like for you?

Lindsey: Waking up early in the morning to do yoga and Pilates. I’m also big on skincare, hair care, and painting. Also, I live right next to the zoo and love going jogging through the zoo and seeing the panda bears.

lindsey

Allie: Describe your dream DC day from start to finish.

Lindsey: I’m a huge fan of Shenandoah. If we left really early, I would drive there and hike Old Rag. Then, I would come back and go on a nighttime monument walk with my friends. Living in DC, we’re so lucky that we can see the Lincoln Memorial whenever we want. That’s crazy! People would kill for that. My parents lived in DC for 20 years and said that if you see the monuments at night and it doesn’t make you shudder a little, it’s probably time to leave. After that, I would then go to Barcelona on 14th Street and grab a few drinks with my friends. Nothing too crazy.

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?

Lindsey: Passover. I have a lot of grandparents in Dallas – it’s a tribe. My uncle passed away last year and he was usually the one that led the Passover Seder. He was such a scholar. He taught me how to do the Seder, and last year was the first year that I led it. It was a very lukewarm experience. I still have my grandfather and uncle’s notes about preparing for the Seder. Hopefully I can pass those down to my children and grandchildren one day.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather….

Lindsey: They make the most welcoming community!

lindsey


 

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 Rachel: Jewish App Creator of the Week

At the age of 26, Rachel Koretsky is – to put it simply – living the dream.

She is the CEO of her own company, just spent five weeks traveling in Israel with her boyfriend, and recently learned how to make the best matzo ball soup ever. Let’s get to know the #bosslady behind the app transforming fitness communities across the U.S. and Canada – upace.

Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Rachel: I went to American University and stayed here ever since. One of the main reasons I stayed is because of the really great startup community in DC, and especially the support of women entrepreneurs. It’s also such a beautiful city filled with history and has a hustle and bustle to it.

Allie: Can you sum up upace?

Upace is a customizable mobile platform for gyms/rec centers to build communities for their members, while improving their operations. [Once gyms/rec centers download the platform], members use the app to make reservations for classes and equipment, personal training, spa services, receive push notifications, and view real-time facility occupancy.

Allie: What inspired you to start this app?

Rachel: I love fitness, but had a lot of frustrations with my university’s recreation center while in college – the long wait times, equipment and facility crowds. I had this idea [for upace] to use mobile technology to help university rec centers and gyms better manage their facilities and classes, and allow members to gain control over their workouts. Two of my professors from the American University Entrepreneurship Incubator program encouraged me to take this idea beyond the classroom and explore making it into a business.

Allie: What’s been the hardest part of launching this app?

Rachel: At the beginning, my knowledge of technical development was very limited. It was a struggle to find the right development team to bring this vision to life.

Allie: What’s the best part?

Rachel: When users tell us how the app has helped them meet fitness goals, feel confident in the gym, and become more engaged with their facility and its member community. Hearing those stories and watching our gyms and centers increase member engagement and retention inspires us every day.

upace rachel

Allie: You must be very busy running your own start-up! What are you go-to ways to relax at the end of a long work day?

Rachel: Playing tennis. I love getting out there on the courts. Also, going to different workout classes across the DC-region, like CorePower and Pulse House of Fitness. I also love some good TV shows, like Grace and Frankie on Netflix.

Allie: What are the top 3 things still on your life bucket list?

Rachel: The top is going to the Galapagos Island. I want to climb Machu Picchu in Peru and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

Allie: Who is your Jewish role model?

Rachel: Ruth Messinger, the president of American Jewish World Service. The work she’s done to make a difference in the world and bring attention to global crises has been really miraculous.

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Rachel: I love matzo ball soup. My mom recently taught me how to make it and I’m trying to make it as good as hers. One day I’ll get there.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Rachel: They make great food!

rachel and bf

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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.