Meet Shira: Jewish Travel Lover of the Week

shira

Allie: Tell me how you ended up in DC.

Shira: I like to base my life choices on the show I’m binge watching at the time. During finals my senior year of college, I was watching “The West Wing. I thought every day in DC would have an invigorating Toby-Sam argument. Spoiler alert: After working as a policy fellow in DC for a few years, I got into “Mad Men” and moved on to an ad agency.

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

Shira: I’d embrace my inner “basic-ness” for a day: I’d start with an early morning hike, drink just the right amount of coffee to feel cool with my friends but not enough to start up my Ashkenazi stomach, skip brunch (that’s my one non-basic move), and get free samples at the farmer’s market. After such a stressful morning, I’d need to take a load off at a local beer garden. Dacha, anyone?

Allie: What outdoor adventures have you loved the most?

Shira: Hiking Old Rag is a classic, and Old Town Alexandria is fun when I’m not there for work. Outside of the DC-area, I try to go on two big trips every year. One of last year’s trips was the Grand Canyon. Next week, I’ll be traipsing my way through Sweden and England with my high school frienemy Laurie Hunt (shout out). Boys – don’t worry if you see me disappear from the JSwipe scene. My distance filter is only 1,000 miles, but I’ll be back in two weeks.

shira

Allie: What has been your favorite trip?

Shira: Peru. I’m a history nerd, so I loved going to Machu Picchu and learning about the earliest religions. I also loved hiking Lake 22 outside of Seattle.

Allie: What do you love most about traveling?

Shira: The fact that I am traveling. But really, I just love learning about history and language, and I love seeing how others live and exploring the beautiful views while hiking. I especially love visiting the Jewish communities for a Friday night dinner when I’m abroad.

Allie: Where do you most want to travel to next?

Shira: My new client project might be taking me to Bethesda, and I hear it’s hopping there. Other than that, I’m hoping to plan a trip to Spain and Portugal soon, as well as go hiking in Switzerland one day.

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

Shira: I got an A+ in my hip hop dance class in college. And I’m really good at Super Smash Bros.

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

Shira: Take an improv class. I’ve read Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, and Mindy Kaling’s books, so I think I’m ready.

Allie: What is your favorite Jewish holiday?

Shira: Sukkot; specifically in the Atlanta weather with my mom’s butternut squash pie. October 2019: You’re all invited.

Allie: Complete the sentence: when Jews of DC gather…

Shira: They refuse to acknowledge their previous conversations on JSwipe.

shira

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

Meet Josef: Jewish Community Engagement Director of the Week!

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

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

Allie: What brought you to DC? 

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

Allie: Tell me more about your interest in activism.

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

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

Allie: Did you think about going into politics? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allie: Describe your dream day in DC…

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

Allie: What is your favorite way to celebrate Shabbat?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meet Jessica: Jewish Nurse of the Week!

When she’s not slaying it as a pediatric oncology research nurse, this outdoor lover might be found reading on a kayak, playing volleyball, or planning her dream trip to Iceland. Get to know Jessica Nooriel!

 

Allie: What brought you to DC?

Jessica: I’m pretty extroverted, so I wanted to live in a big city where there are lots of people and things happening. I’m also from Atlanta and am a southern girl at heart, so I didn’t want to go too far north. I decided to apply to jobs in DC, and got a great offer as a clinical, pediatric oncology research nurse at NIH. It worked out well! 

Allie: What are the biggest differences between DC and Atlanta? 

Jessica: Weather! It gets cold here (maybe not this week…). There is also a lot more going on in DC. In Atlanta, I lived in a nice, quiet, suburb which I loved. But here, it’s very happening, and political, and people all seem so smart and passionate.

Allie: What led you to a career in nursing?

Jessica: Science has always been a big topic of interest for me. I am fascinated by the science of healing, and love how nurses look at patients holistically. Seeing patients from a biological, sociological, and psychological perspective can give us a lot of insight. 

In the future, I’d like to go back to school to become a nurse practitioner so I can be involved in making the big decisions.

Allie: Describe your dream DC day.

Jessica: I’m an outdoorsy person, so my day would start with a morning hike. Then, I’d get lunch somewhere outside – maybe go to a brewery. After that, I would go kayaking or paddle-boarding. I’ve never lived near a body of water, so that is still new and exciting for me. I have a kayaking season pass for the summer at the Potomac. Then, I would go on a private tour of the White House and the monuments.

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

Jessica: Skydiving, but in a different country. I’d also love to go to Iceland, I’ve heard it’s the type of country you can just camp the entire time, and that the food and sights are amazing. 

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

Jessica: Boating and reading. I read a lot. I’m about to finish Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. I’m also interested in Holocaust books. Two of my favorites are Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl and The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult.

Allie: What is your favorite Jewish holiday?

Jessica: Passover, because my family always gets together as a big group. I love long meals and being around people. And I also love matzah, especially matzah pizza! And I enjoy anticipating that the holiday is coming with all of the cleaning and the preparation. 

Allie: Is there something that people would be surprised to know about you?

Jessica: Yes! Even though I’m super short, I play volleyball. I played competitively in high school and intramural in college. My position is setter. I can’t join a DC league because of my schedule, but I would love to get a pick-up game started. 

Allie: Complete the sentence: when Jews of DC gather…

Jessica: …They have a good time.

jessica

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

Meet Allen: Jewish Real Estate Guru of the Week!

 

Temporary Matt Corrado Mural at the Carnegie Library

Allie: What brought you to DC?

Allen: I went to school at The University of Maryland and was offered a job with a real estate developer doing an enormous mixed-use, multi-phase development project in Montgomery County. It was exciting, so I stuck around.

Allie: Do you still work in real estate?

Allen:  Yes! I had spent years working with restaurants on their design, construction and real estate expansions all over the east coast and have since started a company, Concept Lab CRE, which focuses on real estate, design and analytics consulting, primarily for restaurants, retail businesses and small multi-family projects.  

There are a lot of businesses that have great concepts, but need help developing processes to grow and evolve efficiently. I am always excited to talk to business owners interested in growth or addressing issues affecting their businesses.

Allie: Outside of work, I hear you’re also involved with Bridge To Health. Tell me about that.

Allen: Bridge To Health USA is a charity that provides sustainable healthcare to underprivileged communities in the US and around the world. I really wanted to be involved with a non-denominational, results-focused organization, and I’m a founding board member of BTH USA and serve as our Director of Fundraising and Development. We are setting up programs in Peru and Ohio and having worked in countries like Kenya and Uganda in the past.

We’re actually holding an event on September 26th at Prather’s on the Alley and we still looking for corporate partnerships, so if our mission resonates with you – reach out to me.

Rosenthal Vineyard, Malibu, CA

Allie: Wow! You must stay pretty busy.  What is the number one superpower you wish you could have?

Allen: I definitely try to stay active. If I could have a superpower it would be the ability to slow down time.  By the time the week starts it’s so packed with work and activities I always feel like I need more time in my day! I feel like you can never spend too much time with the people that you love and sometimes you just want time to stand still so you can really savor those moments.

Allie: If you could have a totally free day in DC, what would you do?

Allen:  I’d start out grabbing an espresso at Kafe Leopold in Cady’s Alley. They have a courtyard terrace where you can sit outside and relax listening to their fountain, you might as well be in Europe. From there I’d go to The Phillips Collection and sit in the Rothko Room for 15 minutes before biking the Mount Vernon trail – I try to do a 40 mile ride every other day. Then, I’d pick up lunch and go to The Graham Rooftop in the afternoon, which has one of my favorite views in the city and is probably my favorite place to throw parties during the day.  

After that, it’s dinnertime. Making dinner plans is one of my favorite things to do so I’d probably have made a reservation somewhere; favorites include Spoken English, Maydan and Kinship. Anyone who’s been out to dinner with me knows I’m also a big fan of the legendary tea menu and apple pie at Blue Duck Tavern for afterwards, and then drinks would continue after that.

Dinner and drinks with Friends at Bourbon, best fries in town included

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

Allen: I’m a huge post-war modern art fan, particularly hard edge pairings and minimal art from artists like Flavin, Kelly, Stella, Serra, Yves Kline, and Rothko. I’ve always been fascinated by beautiful architecture, design, and art, and it’s amazing showing up to the Hirshhorn or National Gallery of Art and seeing some of the most impressive works in the world. Big fan of The Whitney in NYC and The Broad In LA as well.  

Allie: Do you do art yourself?

Allen: I used to work on mixed-media pieces. I did some painting, worked with paper, and cut-out work. I also collect DC street art, but I really should be doing more of it. It’s funny you ask that actually, I was just speaking with a friend and DC street artist this weekend, we are going to work on a piece together.  

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

Allen: I really love the water, especially shallow reefs, so most of the travel items on my list involve the ocean. I’ve always wanted to dive the Maldives or the Great Blue Hole in Belize. They are supposedly some of the most beautiful reefs in the world, and great beaches to relax on afterwards. Also, I’m a huge fan of Japanese culture, architecture, and food, so I’d love to spend time there as well.

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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 Ilana: GatherDC’s New Rabbi!

Hailing from Brooklyn, this recently ordained rabbi is ready and eager to take GatherDC by storm. Get to know the remarkable, soulful, passionate Ilana Zietman and welcome her to the Gather team!

NOTE: If this interview piques your interest, tune into our Instagram this Friday at 12pm for our first ever AMA (Ask Me Anything): Rabbi Edition. You’ll be able to ask Rabbi Ilana your most pressing Jewish or Jew-ish questions via our Insta-story, and get her honest answers.

Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Ilana: I grew up in the greatest borough in the greatest city in the world – Brooklyn, New York. I stayed in NYC through college and then decided to be adventurous and try living somewhere else. I applied to Avodah: The Jewish Service Corps in DC, and ended up staying for a couple more years. I left five years ago to go to rabbinical school at Hebrew College in Boston, but I always had it in my mind that I would be back. 

Allie: When did you know you wanted to become a rabbi and why?

Ilana: Around the time of my bat mitzvah. I was really excited to read from the Torah and lead prayer services at my synagogue, but the rabbi of my community didn’t play much of a role in the process, nor was there any space to talk about what becoming a bat mitzvah was supposed to mean. I started thinking that if I became a rabbi, I could do things differently. 

After that, I sought out opportunities to keep growing in my Jewish identity and began to see that Jewish tradition is not simply about observing ancient customs, but is about learning how to live a more mindful, loving, and meaningful life with ourselves, others, and the world around us. Jewish tradition became something I wanted to share and bring into conversation with people from all walks of life, and I thought that I could do that most deeply as a rabbi.

Allie: What are you most looking forward to in your new role with GatherDC?

Ilana: Building relationships with young professionals across the city and seeing how we can continue to make Jewish life in DC appealing and substantial. At the end of the day, Jewish tradition and communal life must embrace who we are, even as it challenges us to think about how we might want to change and grow. 

I hope to create opportunities for honest conversations about our Judaism and Jewish lives. I’m also excited to facilitate learning opportunities for us to ask what being Jewish means and how it can add value to our lives. Also, getting to lead an alternative Yom Kippur experience (and maybe other holidays) at a beer garden or other non-traditional space…how can I not be excited about that?!

Allie: What do you hope to achieve in your rabbinate career?

Ilana: I’m not exactly sure where my rabbinate will take me, but what I do know is that as the world changes, so will my rabbinate. No matter what, I hope to be part of people’s lives in meaningful ways and to foster communities where people feel like they can show up as themselves. 

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

Ilana: I love our national parks! I will probably always choose to go camping in a national park for vacation than go on any other kind of trip. Last summer, my husband and I rented an RV and camped all around Alaska. It was so fun and beautiful. We also got to eat the halibut we caught ourselves for almost a year afterward!

Allie: If you had a totally free day in DC, how would you spend it from start to finish?

Ilana: I would start the day walking around Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown. It’s one of the most beautiful garden spaces I have ever been to. I would next visit the foodie haven of Union Market for lunch and then visit one of DC’s many (gloriously air-conditioned) museums. I especially like the National Portrait Gallery and the National Museum of American History. To relax at night, I’d binge-watch some great television like Parks & Rec, Great British Bakeoff, Broad City, and most recently, Big Little Lies.

Allie: I hear you recently discovered a love of making pottery! Tell us about that.

Ilana: I started taking pottery classes last summer, and have found a great studio in Georgetown where I’m continuing to learn. I love feeling like a kid again by playing with clay and getting messy at the wheel, and there’s nothing more satisfying than mastering new techniques that lead to making functional pieces. I hope to get good enough to make all kinds of things, maybe even Shabbat candlesticks or a seder plate for Passover. For now, I’m still figuring out how bowls work. 

Allie: What is your favorite Jewish holiday and why?

Ilana: In my opinion, Sukkot brings together some of the best parts of Judaism – wacky rituals and important life-affirming themes. 

Sukkot, meaning booths or temporary shelters, gives us the opportunity to connect to food and land and to find a sense of gratitude for the world that sustains us, and at the same time asks us to face the fact that no matter who we are, we are vulnerable to nature and the vast unknown. 

During Sukkot, there’s really nothing like sitting in a decorated sukkah at night, looking up at the stars while sharing good food and conversation. Plus, while eating or sleeping in these unconventional dwellings, we get to shake the lulav and etrog. So, I guess at the end of the day, I’m proud that Jews kind of invented the original shake shack!

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

Ilana: They ask big questions and get a thousand different thoughtful and creative answers.


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 Sarah: Jewish Shark Cage Diver of the Week

When she’s not getting up close and personal with Great White Sharks, you might find Sarah Graham watching Hannah B. find love on “The Bachelorette”, playing with her adorable pups, or enjoying Sofar Sounds shows on the reg.

Allie: What brought you to the DC area?

Sarah: I grew up in Manhattan, and then went to American University for undergrad. I loved DC so much that I decided to stay. I’m coming up on my 6 year DC anniversary in August.

Allie: What do you love about DC?

Sarah: As a millennial and recent graduate, there are so many things to do for free or cheaply, which is incredible. The circulator is now free which makes it easy to explore new neighborhoods. It seems like every week I’m finding cool new things to do, like a feminist woodworking workshop, Jazz in the Garden, or GatherDC events.

Allie: What is your dream day in DC? 

Sarah: Ideally my perfect summer DC day would be jam packed! If I had all the time in the world I would wake up early and take my dogs Porkey and Cuddles (@dogstagraham) along the Rock Creek pathway by my house. I would eat a true Israeli breakfast on my rooftop before going for a dip in the pool and a tanning session while reading a great book (currently Michelle Obama’s “Becoming”) or listen to a fun podcast (Michelle Buteau’s “Adulting” or “Pod Save America”).

Then, I would stop by Dupont Circle Farmers Market for a second breakfast of “Call Your Mother” bagels and Zeke’s iced coffee. Next, I would grab my friends and walk along the monuments making stops at The HirshornThe Renwick Gallery, and the East Building of the National Gallery of Art. After, we would picnic in Meridian Hill Park eating Little Sesame‘s hummus bowls and listening to the Meridian Hill drum circle. I would hit up Rewild DC for one of their awesome plant classes, catch a movie at Landmark’s Atlantic Plumbing Cinema, and grab happy hour on Takoda’s rooftop bar. I would run to Georgetown for their kayaking on the waterfront and hit up the Sculpture Garden for Jazz in the Garden!

At night, I would have Shabbat dinner with my lovely Gather friends, attend a DC United game, go to a Capitol Laughs stand up comedy show, attend a rooftop Sofar  concert, catch a Story District show, go dancing at Brixton, eat a jumbo slice and ideally be in bed by 1am. Impossible? Definitely (but amazing nonetheless).

Allie: What do you do to relax? 

Sarah: Swim. I’m a water person, so I’d sit in the pool all day if possible. I also love spending time with my dogs and unfortunately have to admit that I watch “The Bachelorette”. 

Allie: What are you most looking forward to this summer? 

Sarah: I’ve been going to a lot of Sofar Sounds shows, which I actually found out about through GatherDC. And I love going to outdoor movies in the city.

Allie: So, tell me about these dogs of yours…

Sarah: Their names are Porkie and Cuddles. Porkie is a terrier mix and he’s about 8 years old. He has a beautiful beard, very well-crafted. He has a Napoleon complex. He’s very sassy, smart, and loves attention. Cuddles is a shitzu and she’s black and really small. She has no teeth and is so sweet. They were a bonded pair that I fostered in college. They’ve been through a lot with me. 

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

Sarah: My favorite sport is scuba diving and I love sharks. I once traveled solo to Australia and did a shark cage dive there. 

Allie: What interests you about sharks? 

Sarah: The interest came from scuba diving. Being underwater is where I feel very calm, and I get to focus on this world that I don’t usually get to see. Sharks have a scary reputation, but they’re beautiful. It’s cool to see them in their natural habitat.

Allie: What was the shark dive like?

Sarah: It’s a very heightened experience. There were Great White Sharks that came and tried to bite the cage. You can look into their eyes and take pictures, and see these beautiful creatures up close without hurting them. It was funny to see men who are big wrestlers get into the cage and panic, while me as a 5’4” Asian girl gets into the cage and thinks “this is so cool!”. 

Allie: Would you do it again? 

Sarah: Absolutely! 

Allie: Complete the sentence: when Jews of DC gather….

Sarah: There is a lot of laughing!    


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.

Meet Rose: Jewish Summer Intern of the Week!

GatherDC is lucky enough to have the one-and-only Rose Haas interning with us this summer. Get to know her below, and then follow a day in the life of her DC intern adventures as she takes over Gather’s Instagram this Friday!

rose

Allie: What led you to DC?

Rose: I initially moved to DC from California to attend American University and have been here for about three years. I’m a senior now, studying Jewish Studies and Special Education.   

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

Rose: It would definitely be in May, so that the weather would be warm and the sun out. It would also have to be a Sunday, so that I could go to Washington Hebrew Congregation in the morning and teach my class (4th grade Judaic Studies). Then, I’d go to Silver for brunch, because brunch is my favorite meal of the day! After that, I’d go swimming on a rooftop pool overlooking the city to sunbathe (I’m a California girl). Next, I’d go to dinner at Filomena in Georgetown – the best pasta restaurant – and then stroll by the Georgetown waterfront. After dinner, I’d swing by a GatherDC happy hour to meet some new friends, before going dancing anywhere that plays reggaeton music.    

Allie: What are you looking forward to you as an intern for GatherDC this summer?

Rose: I’m excited to help GatherDC on their mission to create a welcoming, inclusive, vibrant space for Jewish life in DC. I also want to continue their work in my personal life post-internship. I’d like to be someone that people come to when they are new to the city and looking for opportunities to explore and express their Judaism. I also hope to meet new friends and foster relationships with many of the people and organizations that Gather is connected with.  

Please email me if you want to grab coffee! I’d love to get to know you.

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

Rose: I love scuba diving! I haven’t been in a couple years, but I love observing marine life and spending time in the sun, sand, and salt water.

Allie: Oh! Tell me more about that.

Rose: I have an open water diver certification and I’ve been diving on family trips a few times to places like Cozumel, Mexico, Roatan, Honduras, and of course the freezing waters in California. My favorite trip was definitely Honduras, because the water was so warm and clear and they had amazing food. On one trip, I got to swim with a whale shark which was one of the coolest experiences of my life!  

rose scuba

Allie: What is your favorite Jewish holiday and why?

Rose: Passover! It’s always been my favorite holiday because my family gets together for a delicious meal and we celebrate our freedom. We use this time to think of others who may be experiencing some form of bondage (literal or metaphorical) and how to help them. And let’s be real, what other Jewish holiday has songs that are straight BANGERS?! I start singing Dayenu in the shower at least a couple weeks in advance.    

Allie: What three people would you invite to your Shabbat dinner and why?

Rose: I don’t have three individual people’s names in mind, but I have three types of people who would make my dinner table more interesting. First, I’d invite someone who knows a lot about Judaism and could teach me something new and help facilitate an interesting discussion. Second, I’d invite someone who doesn’t see eye-to-eye with me on Judaism, someone who can challenge my opinions and perspectives. And lastly, I’d invite someone who knows nothing about Judaism so that they might leave the dinner having learned something new.   

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Rose: You’re bound to meet either a long lost cousin or your beshert.

rose

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 Trapeze Artist of the Week!

Rachel Erlebacher flies on ropes through the sky, should have already been featured on The Great British Bake Off, and is training for her first marathon. Meet this amazing woman!

rachel

Allie: How did you wind up in DC?

Rachel: I majored in environmental studies in college, which led me to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). I kind of knew that my home [after college] would be in DC, because I love the political scene.

Allie: What sparked your interest in politics?

Rachel: I wanted to be able to make some sort of positive change in society. And I liked the idea of working with other people and collaborating on big ideas.

Allie: I bet working in government can get stressful at times. What are some of your favorite ways to relax when you’re not in the office?

Rachel: There’s three things. The first is running. I’m training for my very first marathon which is exciting. I’m running The Chicago Marathon in October, which is great because I can indulge in some deep dish pizza afterwards. I’m a firm believer that Chicago deep dish pizza is better than New York pizza, and that the Cubs are THE best baseball team.

All of my family is in Chicago, so it’s a very fitting place to run my first big marathon.

rachel

Allie: That’s amazing! What are the other two things you do to relax?

Rachel: The second is flying trapeze. That was something that had been sitting on my bucket list for a couple of years. I finally went to a class by myself this past December at the trapeze school in Navy Yard and fell in love with it. I loved the instructors and that feeling of being free. The school is in the dead center of DC, and the minute you walk in you just kind of feel like you escape.

Sometimes, I need to get away from the stress and the politics of the city, and trapeze lets me do that. Flying trapeze has also been a great way to connect with new people.

rachel trapeze

Allie: What do you enjoy most about flying trapeze?

Rachel: It’s a no judgment zone. You sign up for a class and there are no levels. The instructor will help you with whatever activity you are working on. There are no more than 10 people to a class and you have three instructors. You go up one at a time, so you get to cheer each other on. There is a very welcoming, communal spirit.

Allie: What’s the third thing you do to relax?

Rachel: Baking. My granny is an amazing baker and when I was little, she taught me the skills to make brownies. I’ve since expanded my repertoire. During the Shutdown, I actually started a small baking business to keep me busy, aptly named the Shutdown Sugar Shack. Now, I’ve started hosting Shabbat dinners through OneTable so I can practice new baking techniques, and don’t have to eat all of the sugary foods myself. Plus, I’m social and really enjoy hosting and bringing people together.

Allie: What do you bake for your Shabbat dinners?

Rachel: This year, I hosted a crazy cookie party themed Shabbat where I created homemade versions of your favorite store-bought cookies like those Little Debbie cosmic brownies, Oreos, things like that. I think I baked 200 cookies that week, it was so fun! Most recently, I planned one that was Great British Bake Off themed.

rachel baking

Allie: How do you find time to sleep?

Rachel: I sacrifice that a bit. I’m someone who over commits and really likes to keep busy. I’m Monica Geller in a nutshell!

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Rachel: The Jewish geography game is super real. Every time I meet someone new in this city, we always have a new mutual friend. I recently invited a girl from my trapeze class to my Shabbat dinner!

 

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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 Ari: Jewish Coffee Lover of the Week!

Before he departs our great city for the Grecian life this summer, Ari is someone you better get to know. He’s obsessed with coffee, dreams of taking a cross country bike ride, and cannot wait for his first DC Pride!

ari weinstein

Allie: What brought you to DC?

Ari: I’m originally from Minneapolis and then moved to Boston. I just graduated a year ago from college, and my friend asked me if I wanted to move into an apartment with him in DC. I wound up getting a job at the EDCJCC’s GLOE.

Ari: What led you to your role with GLOE?

Ari: I had done a lot of different things related to LGBTQ programming and events. Most recently, I was involved in LGBTQ inclusion at the summer camp I grew up going to – Camp Ramah in Wisconsin. Working at GLOE was a really exciting opportunity to take my energy and excitement for LGBTQ inclusion and programming in Jewish spaces into a new capacity.

Allie: Describe your dream day in DC.

Ari: I definitely know that I need to start with coffee. I’m addicted to coffee, and I used to work at Tryst which was very enabling. I’d go to the Hirschhorn for a while and get ice cream at some point. I love those electric scooters and would want to ride one of those. Sunset is my favorite time of day, so I’d go up to my rooftop with a cup of tea to watch the sunset.

Allie: I’ve heard through the grapevine that you’re actually leaving DC soon! Is this true?

Ari: Yes, I’m leaving DC in a couple weeks. I am going to Queer Talmud Camp in California, and then working at Camp Ramah. In August, I’m moving to Greece to work with an organization related to LGBTQ refugee assistance in Athens.

Allie: Before you say goodbye to the District, what’s on your DC bucket list?

Ari: I just checked off one of the things which was to go to Mama Ayesha’s, which was really good. I want to go to The Phillips Collection soon. On my life bucket list, I’d love to go on an extended, cross country biking trip.

Allie: For your last hurrah with GLOE, you’re planning a lot of fun events for DC Pride. Tell me about those.

Ari: This is my first DC Pride, which is exciting. I’m working on a bunch of things we’ll have going on throughout the week.

On Wednesday, June 5th, GLOE is co-hosting the Annual Big Queer Jewish Happy Hour in AdMo. You’re all invited and should come to that!

On Friday, June 7th, we’re having the National Pride Shabbat with Sixth & I and Bet Mishpachah.

Then, Saturday, June 8th is the big whammy day! At 11:30am – everybody should stop by GatherDC because GLOE is going to be having a bagel brunch here. It’s free, and open to anyone in the LGBTQ community and allies. Later on, we’ll have a poster-making event for LGBTQ families, then GLOE is meeting up with the RAC for an event in Dupont, and after that we’ll be marching together in the parade.

On Sunday, June 9th is the Pride Festival and GLOE will have a booth there.

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?

Ari: I love Shabbat because of the regularity of it. It’s a reminder that you have to take a break in your life. I grew up observing Shabbat every single week with my family and the rhythm of this was ingrained in me. Finding a way to set aside time to celebrate Shabbat each has definitely been an adjustment as an adult.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Ari: There’s a lot of schmoozing!

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.