Meet David: Jewish Gym Owner of the Week!

[WARNING: The following interview may induce feelings of inadequacy.]

Okay GatherDC-ers, this week, we have the utmost pleasure of introducing you to the one-and-only David Magida. If you’re in the fitness scene, you may have seen his name before as the author of the book “The Essentials of Obstacle Race Training”, or on Facebook Live as NBC Sports’ Spartan Race host, or as a founding member of the Reebok Spartan Race Pro Team, or at one of the two locations of Elevate Interval Fitness – which he owns, runs, and coaches at. If you’re not in the fitness scene, maybe this interview will inspire you. If not, well, you can always work out your taste buds at Shake Shack.


Allie: What triggered your passion for fitness?

David: I’ve always loved fitness. Being active is me in my most natural state. Competing and testing my limits is a big thing for me. Whenever I’m down or in a funk, I just sign up for a race. It’s like therapy for me. It clears my mind, and mentally resets me. I try to make working out one of the first things that I do each day, and it sets me on a very positive track. Days when I don’t exercise I’m kind of a hot mess.

Allie: Were you this passionate about fitness when you were growing up?

David: I was really small as a kid, but was always athletic and loved sports. I was a soccer player, swimmer, and wrestler. In middle school I discovered running. By sixth grade, I was already training with the varsity cross country team. I would run with them after my middle school soccer practice and travel to meets with them, even though I had to be marked as ineligible until 9th grade. I loved workout out so much that my wrestling coach made me team captain as a freshman so I could lead team conditioning. It wasn’t over until I said it was over. I wasn’t super popular with the guys.

Allie: Wow! What sport did you like the best?

David: Running. [In high school], I made the choice to commit to running. My junior year I had to give up wrestling for a year so I could focus on my running career. I went to run collegiately, but only briefly. I did one season and was so fed up with the way the team was coached and so I fell out of love with running. I didn’t run for several years.

Allie: What did you do to replace running?

David: I got really into strength training and even joined the football team for a season. I ended up getting certified as a personal trainer at 19, and took a break from school to do that. But, I didn’t think there was long-term career viability in fitness so I went back to school to get my undergraduate degree. Then, I went to grad school at University of Miami and got my master’s degree in public relations. While I was in Miami I started running Spartan races.

david spartan

Allie: What’s a Spartan race?

David: It’s a running race with a series of military style obstacles, anywhere from 3 miles to marathon distances. In 2012, I did the Spartan Ultra Beast which is 31 miles of ski slopes, obstacles, and overall just pure torture. I also completed the Death Race, which is well over 100 miles in the wilderness over several days of no sleep.

Allie: The Death Race?! That sounds insane. Tell me more.

David: It’s appropriately named. It’s backpacking through the woods with a map and compass, and there’s no set course. It changes each year and sometimes mid-race, at the whims of the directors. You don’t know what it’s going to be and they do crazy things to mix it up. The race is full of time cutoffs, crazy physical tasks, and mental challenges. One year, they took our shoes from us for 20 hours and we were in the Vermont wilderness running barefoot on a trail known as Bloodroot. It’s crazy. All the while you’re filtering water out of rivers and chopping wood and basically running around in survival mode.

Allie: After you survived the Death Race, how did you wind up in DC?

David: I got a job working at a public affairs firm. Around that time, I was also offered a professional contract to race in 2013 for the Reebok Spartan Race Pro Team, so I was doing 25 or 30 Spartan races a year.

Allie: How did you manage to keep up with your job while also racing professionally?

David: I was run-commuting to and from work every day, about 3.5 miles each way, and skipping happy hours with my co-workers to go to the gym. I had very little semblance of a social life. But the run-commuting barely took longer than riding on the metro. It was about efficiency. I still often run-commute to this day.

Allie: Tell me how Elevate came to be.

David: I basically hated my job and wasn’t happy. But my success racing garnered some interest. People started asking me if I would coach them. I eventually started leading some outdoor classes. I was having more fun with this than anything I had done before. It’s really fulfilling work. So, I found this spot on 14th street, left my job, and just went for it. Elevate (a studio with high intensity circuit and interval workouts) opened in October 2014. We opened a second studio in Southwest this past August.

Allie: What’s the best part of running Elevate?

David: Getting to do the stuff that I love and connect with people on a deep level. And actually having an impact on people’s lives in a positive way. I like to help people change the way they look at fitness. People look at fitness as this thing they dread or do for body image issues, which is completely backwards. My goal is to teach people to embrace the process and find the joy in the workout and their own personal improvement. Community is also such a huge part of it. It’s difficult to meet other people in a big city. You go to work and go home, but you need a third place. For some people, that’s a bar. But going into a gym and sweating together can bring people closer and builds really dynamic communities.

Allie: What’s been the biggest challenge?

David: Time and stress. When you’re a business owner, you’re working 24/7. You’re never really off.  Fitness in particular, because the days start early and end late. The first year I felt like I was at work from 5am to 10pm every single day, and it can wear you down.


Allie: What advice would you give to someone hoping to kick-start a fitness routine?

David: Don’t try to do it on your own. Consult an expert and go to a class or get a trainer. You need direction. Don’t worry about what other people think about you in the gym. If you’re working hard, people will respect that. If you focus on frequency (how often you go), intensity (how hard you go), and duration (how long you go for) you will be successful. And then get your eating in line. Try to meal prep if you can.

Allie: Not sure if it ever happens, but if you had a free day in DC. How would you spend it?

David: First thing, coffee. I make a double or triple shot Americano and then go for a run. Then I wouldn’t mind going out on the river and go boating. If I could do some wake-boarding or wake-surfing that would be ideal. As weird as it sounds, I’d probably do an hour or two of work so I could feel productive. I’d want to go out to the rec center and play pickup basketball with some friends. Then, go out to a meal or happy hour with some friends at Grady’s. And then, play some board games.

Allie: Do you have anything still on your life bucket list?

David: I want to climb some of the world’s biggest peaks, like Matterhorn. I’d love to go running through Mont Blanc. I’d like to do some SkyRunning series, or a century which is a hundred miles. There’s a lot of the world I want to see. I’m going to Japan at the end of February with the B’nai B’rith Young Leadership Network. Maybe one day I’ll live in another country or on the West Coast just to do something different. I don’t see myself being limited to just working in fitness. I’d like Elevate to be a self-sufficient thing so I can go on to explore other client-facing business ventures.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

David: They have great conversation.

david and dog

David and his dog Oscar


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 Debo: Jewish Violinist of the Week

Allie: What brought you to DC?

Debo: I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio but spent most of my adult life in San Francisco. I moved to Mexico in 2011 and spent almost five years playing in an orchestra in the Yucatan. I met my partner online in Mexico City. Then, we moved to Athens, Greece, and then to DC because my partner works for the State Department and his job brought him here.

Allie: What instruments do you play?

Debo: I play violin, viola, and my mom’s a piano teacher so I grew up playing piano. I’ve also recently started playing the ukulele.

Allie: What instrument do you enjoy most and why?

Debo: Violin. It’s very challenging. I feel like no matter how many years I practice, I can never fully master it. When I do feel good about it, it’s super rewarding. I can play violin with other people, in small ensembles, orchestras, and in the last few years I’ve been playing in operas.

Allie: How did you start playing violin?

Debo: I’ve playing since I was five. My older sister played violin, and I wanted to do everything she did.

Allie: What is your favorite kind of music to play?

Debo: I always love playing Beethoven. It’s meaty and familiar enough that you can just delve right into it without having to overthink it.

Allie: Who is one of your musical role models?

Debo: My friend David. I used to play in a string quartet with him in San Francisco, and he plays violin while he does yoga. He wears a suit jacket and yoga pants. It’s really amazing all the yoga positions he can do while he plays violin. It’s really out of the box.

Allie: How would you spend your dream free day in DC?

Debo: I would wake up, eat some avocado toast, drink coffee, and journal. Then, I would take a long walk. I like to explore and people watch. I would go to the Hirshhorn and see some modern art and talk to strangers. I would bring my tiny sketchbook with me. Then, I would go find something yummy to eat, maybe at Busboys and Poets. After that, I would go to a drag king show at Pretty Boi. It’s such a fun vibe and there’s so much diversity in those kinds of spaces.

Allie: What’s your favorite way to relax at the end of a long week?

Debo: I like to go to the gym to swim. Afterwards, I’ll sit in the hot tub and the sauna, get a massage, and then go home and snuggle with my dog Pippy and share a meal with my partner and niece.

debo and pippy

Allie: What is one thing you want to learn this year?

Debo: I want to take a jazz or tap dance class. I have a hard time with structured dance classes, which is why I sometimes go to ecstatic dances.

Allie: What are ecstatic dances?

Debo: You just go and there’s a DJ, you don’t talk to people, you don’t drink, you just dance it out in a free way. You can get on the floor, be an animal, there’s no questioning anybody’s expression. It’s a safe place to do that.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Debo: They have a potluck.







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 Alesandra: Most Mindul Jew of the Week!

If slowing down, being more mindful, and starting a yoga/meditation practice are on your list of 2019 goals – Alesandra Zsiba is your woman. This zen yogi fills us in on what it’s like to direct the Jewish Mindfulness Center of Washington (JMCW) at Adas Israel, her dream Shabbat celebration, and tips to live more mindfully. Get to know her!


Allie: What brought you to DC?

Alesandra: Well, like many stories, I came to DC to follow love. It was the year after my year of service with AmeriCorps and my partner from college was here, so I made the decision to come to DC. While at AmeriCorps, I started my own course for ELL students (English Language Learners) focused on healing trauma and self-actualizing through the creative process – photography, performance, documentary filmmaking, and poetry. That spring boarded me into this career developing the Identity Project, which I brought to schools and organizations around DC.

Today, I still run the Identity Project in addition to my work with the JMCW.

Allie: What does JMCW do?

Alesandra: JMCW started as a way to bring mindfulness practice into the synagogue space. We host weekly, drop-in Jewish yoga and meditation classes, Rosh Chodesh programs to celebrate the New Moon, and we’re having our first daylong retreat at Pearlstone Retreat Center on President’s Day. I’ll be co-leading it! 

Allie: How did you get into your role at JMCW?

Alesandra: After I did a yoga teacher training in 2013, I was really excited to connect what I learned about yoga to what I know about Judaism. I started going to yoga classes with Roni Zelivinski at JMCW – Roni is wonderful. She’s a doula and a midwife, and used to teach at JMCW. She got me involved. I was soaking up whatever JMCW had to offer, and then started teaching there. As I deepened my relationships with people there, I  stepped into the role of program coordinator for the yoga program and then became Director of Engagement.

Allie: What first drew you to yoga and mindfulness?

Alesandra: I had a really beautiful, deep relationship with my grandfather who was a cantor and a mystic in his own right. Everything that I learned about Jewish mindfulness as an adult I tie back to him.

Alesandra Zsiba

Allie: What is your favorite way to celebrate Shabbat?

Alesandra: Years ago, my partner at the time and I went to Israel with Sixth & I, and found a really beautiful Shabbat on the beach – there was so much music and dancing, and everyone felt so free. The organic and public nature of that was really appealing. I’ve always wanted to go back to that. I also would really love to have a havdalah yoga practice within community.

Allie: What does mindfulness mean to you?

Alesandra: It means creating a path to stillness inside yourself. It’s a practice of healing, self-actualizing, and maturing…it’s about pressing pause on the doing and finding calm in a busy, busy world.

Allie: What is one tip you would give for someone seeking to live more mindfully?

Alesandra: Find community. We’re so conditioned to try and do things on our own, but I really think the answer is to get excited about it through other people. All the good, juicy bits of life happen in the context of relationships. Go make a pact with a friend to be mindfulness buddies, and try out a meditation event together.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Alesandra: There’s a lot of questioning, talking, and curiosity. It’s beautiful and loud.

Alesandra Zsiba



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 Amanda: Jewish Backpacker of the Week!


Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Amanda: I ended up back here to live near family as I’m originally from the area. I went away for college in Ohio and after graduating, backpacked in South America. Once I had been bitten by the travel bug, I decided to live in South Korea for a year. Eventually, it was time to come home.

Allie: What led you to live in South Korea for a year?

Amanda: In high school I was very interested in anime, which was a gateway for me into Korean dramas and music. After college, I was interested in moving abroad to teach. South Korea stood out to me because of my interest in Korean culture and language. After living in South Korea, I continued traveling and went backpacking throughout Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, and Myanmar. I’m very lucky that I was able to do this. I really miss traveling.

Allie: What are some of your favorite memories from traveling and living abroad?

Amanda: In South America, the salt flats in Bolivia (Salar de Uyuni) were so breathtakingly beautiful. In South Korea, teaching every day was so much fun. I taught English to children through a program with the Korean government called EPIK.

Allie: Is there anything left on your travel bucket list?

Amanda: I haven’t been able to explore the African continent, and would love to go pretty much anywhere there. I’d also like to go to Russia and Germany. I made friends from both countries while I was abroad and would love to visit them.

Allie: What life lessons have you learned from all of your traveling?

Amanda: Always keep an open mind, whether that is in response to food, cultural norms, the language, exploring a new city, or meeting people with different opinions.


Allie: What do you do to relax at the end of a long work week?

Amanda: I love playing with my guinea pigs (named Chips and Salsa), watching TV with my roommates, or grabbing a drink with friends. I try to fill up my weekend with as many friend playdates as possible.

Allie: If you could be famous for anything, what would you want to be famous for?

Amanda: I’d like to be famous for being a philanthropist. I’d love to be a crazy rich person who gives tons of money to struggling causes.

Allie: What is your favorite Jewish holiday and how do you like to celebrate?

Amanda: I guess Hanukkah! I usually have parties for both sides of my family, and we all dress in Hanukkah sweaters and eat lots of latkes and light candles. I’m lucky I have a lot of family in the area and everyone stays really connected.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Amanda: They play a very easy game of Jew-ography. Everyone knows each other here.



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 Athlete of the Week!


Josh and I go way back. We met at age 5 when he was my down-the-street neighbor, but sadly we lost touch over the years. Recently, we discovered the we work one block from one another and happily reconnected over a delicious cup of Philz Coffee. I was stoked to make Josh a “Jewish Person of the Week”, and loved hearing about his newfound passion for fitness, travel adventures, and dodgeball. Enjoy getting to know this mensch of a man!


Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Josh: I grew up outside of DC, up the street from you! I went to school in Philly for undergrad and law school and then returned after that to start working at my current job at a big law firm. I’m your typical Jewish lawyer.

Allie: Did you do anything fun to ring in the new year?

Josh: I booked a last minute trip to Costa Rica. I went up to the mountains and did some zip lining, and white water rafting. It was a completely solo trip and the perfect way to get out of the bustle of DC.

Allie: What would your dream DC day be?

Josh: I’d definitely wake up early and go for a nice run along the mall. I’d treat myself to a hearty Bethesda Bagel breakfast, and then check out a few museums. I’ve also never been on a Segway tour and would love to do that. Then, I’d finish it up with a dinner on 14th Street. I’m a huge fan of trying new restaurants.

Allie: What is your favorite Jewish holiday and how do you like to celebrate it?

Josh: Well, Hanukkah is what the people want to hear. I do enjoy it a lot. It’s a nice festive time of year that is not heavily focused on prayers, but rather focused on having friends and family come together. I really just like any Jewish holiday that involves fried food.

josh volunteering

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Josh: My mom’s noodle kugel with raisins. Noodle kugel without raisins is not noodle kugel. It is just pasta.

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

Josh: In 5th grade, my parents helped me create a model of the Sydney Opera House. I was fortunate enough to travel to Sydney and see that opera house first hand, and got to check that off my list. Now, I’d love to go skydiving. As a former fat kid, I was always over the skydiving weight limit, and I think now I am under it and am eligible to go skydiving. I also want to go to Colombia and am looking for a travel partner. If anyone wants to come, please comment below.

Allie: I hear you are now a big runner, what motivated you to get into this?

Josh: In high school, I sat on my butt all day and watched TV. In college, I started going to the gym and really enjoyed it. I found running and exercise to be a great stress reliever. I recently finished my second half marathon and just found out that I got into the Chicago Marathon! I’ll be running that October 2019.


Allie: What do you enjoy about running?

Josh: Running is just me, my headphones, and maybe some Lady Gaga. It’s such a great way for me to release stress, get around the city, and maybe one day I’ll run into the love of my life at a stop sign.

Allie: Who is your Jewish role model?

Josh: When I came to DC I joined the Nice Jewish Boys network. Without calling out these people by name, seeing how they interact with their friends, the love they give to newcomers to DC, and their willingness to open up their homes to those who want new friends – that warms my heart. I hope to be able to emulate them.

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

Josh: I’m a pretty good recreational dodgeball player. I joined the Stonewall Dodgeball League when I first moved to dc and really enjoy it. It’s been a really good way to meet people and relieve stress. As the last kid to get picked for the dodgeball team in elementary school, I am now shining in my glory days!

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

Josh: There’s always good food.

With my Stonewall Dodgeball team!


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 Sam: Eclectic Jew of the Week

Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Sam: In 2014, I got a job after I graduated to be a paralegal at a law firm in DC. I end up not loving that job, but it led me to staying in this city. I later switched to the job I have now, at Americans United for Separation of Church & State (AU) which I love.

Allie: Why do you think it’s so important to separate church and state?

Sam: Separating church and state lets you live your life according to your personal beliefs. It allows you to pursue the health care you want, the education you want, and to practice whatever religion you believe in without the government telling you what to do. As a Jewish person, separating church and state lets me live my life without feeling like an outsider. It might seem natural that our religious views wouldn’t be the law, but many Americans don’t see it that way.

Allie: If you could invite 3 living celebrities to your Shabbat dinner table, who would they be?

Sam: Michelle Obama, Issa Rae- I love her right now- and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday and how do you celebrate?

Sam: Well, I really like carbs, so Passover doesn’t work. I’ll say Rosh Hashanah. The food options are really excellent, and my family has a big dinner.

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

Sam: I’d love to go to Japan, Ireland, and the UK. I’m a bit of an Anglophile and love British TV. I’d also like to run a 10K, and be able to hold a yoga handstands for longer than 30 seconds. Oh, I’d also love to bake a wedding cake for someone.

Allie: Wow! You’ve got quite a range of passions. Tell me more about your love of baking?

Sam: I love to bake. I make cakes, pies, cookies, and I’m just getting into bread. It’s very relaxing for me; it’s the perfect thing to do at the end of the week to shut the world off. I turn on a podcast, and bake something challenging. I recently made these red velvet cookie bars with cream cheese frosting that were amazing. My boyfriend’s dad has requested lemon cookies, but I don’t like lemon. I’m trying to find a way to make some that I can also enjoy.

Where do you get your recipes from?

Sam: My grandma and mom. My mom is an amazing baker.

Allie: Besides baking, what are your favorite ways to relax?

Sam: I love yoga. I’ve tried every studio. I would recommend Yoga District which has studios all around the city, and Edge Yoga which is a tiny studio that is the best in the world. I also like really trashy, horrible reality TV like Love Island and Made in Chelsea. I also love Doctor Who, Downton Abbey, and I’m watching Killing Eve right now which is amazing.

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

Sam: They argue, but in a friendly way.

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 Jessie: Jewish TV Junkie of the Week


Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Jessie: I studied abroad in Asia, and my plan was to go back there after college and do nonprofit work in Thailand. The stars aligned for me to wind up in DC because I didn’t get the opportunities I applied for in Thailand, I knew a handful of friends who were moving to DC, and I got a job at Hillel International. Also, it was in 2016 when things were ramping up for the election, and I wanted to feel some of that energy.

Allie: I hear you’re helping out with this year’s Falafel Frenzy. Tell me about that.

Jessie: Falafel Frenzy is a holiday alternative for Jewish people who are looking for something festive to do on Christmas Eve. It’s a fun night to share with friends and give back to The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

Allie: How did you wind up on the Falafel Frenzy host committee?

Jessie: I come from a tight-knit Jewish community in Cincinnati, but after a year of living in DC and working for Hillel, I realized that I didn’t have much of a tie to the local Jewish community outside of work, so I decided to go on Birthright trip. After that, I got more involved with Federation and became a part of their Young Leadership (YL) Board. Ally Sherman, who is also on the Board, asked me to chair Falafel Frenzy with her this year.

Allie: How can someone get tickets for Falafel Frenzy?

Jessie: You can buy tickets here. It’s at Hawthorne on U Street on December 24th. Mark your calendars!


Allie: What do you do to relax at the end of a long work week?

Jessie: I’m a TV junkie. I like watching comedies and stand-up comedy. I also love watching movies, particularly in theaters. Exercising, like spinning and practicing yoga, also helps me clear my head.

Allie: What are some movies and TV shows that you love?

Jessie: I loved A Quiet Place, A Star is Born, Inglorious Bastards. I also really like Big Mouth, Broad City, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I’m currently in a John Mulaney phase.

Allie: If you could invite 3 celebs to your Shabbat dinner table, who would they be?

Jessie: Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Khloe Kardashian – I’d love to see those two talk. And the third would be Ilana Glazer, she’d be pumped to meet RBG.

Allie: What do you want to do more of this year?

Jessie: I want to try more breweries, explore new parts of the city, and seek out more mentors. Maybe not mentors in the traditional sense, but people who are just a few years older than me who can show me what it looks like to be 5 or 10 years out from where I am in my career.

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

Jessie: Italy. There’s a lot of art history to see and wine to drink. Also, the Philippines. My mom’s family used to work in the Philippines so we have a lot of connections there and I’ve never been. I’d also really love to do a U.S. National Park tour.

Allie: What’s your favorite way to get festive during the holiday season?

Jessie: I feel like people consume a lot more sugar, and pastries – like cinnamon donuts – during the holiday season. I’m very on board with that. But, I’m a really bad gift giver so I get pretty stressed out during the holiday time.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Jessie: We have fun. I’m big on humor.

jessie bf







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 Alex: Jewish Nature-Lover of the Week!

Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Alex: I moved to DC this past July for a job at the World Resources Institute (an environmental think tank-meets-NGO) after finishing my master’s degree at Duke. Even though DC is the go-to place for all things policy, I actually never imagined I would move here until I was in grad school. I’m a native Seattleite and had always lived on the West Coast. But after almost 6 months in my new home, I’m loving the city and glad I made the leap!

Allie: Describe your dream free day in the city.

Alex: It would probably start with a bagel. I know this is no NYC, but I finally made it to Call Your Mother this past weekend and I can’t stop thinking about it. Later, I’d work off the bagel with some tennis. The afternoon would be spent jamming with friends on guitar and/or saxophone–my two musical pursuits. Then we’d get Ethiopian food for dinner (I love how much Ethiopian food DC has!). The night would end by biking around the monuments. I did that on my first visit to DC five years ago. There’s really nothing like pedaling from the Capitol to Lincoln with no one else around.

Allie: What do you enjoy most about being in nature?

Alex: There’s a lot that I enjoy. Fresh air, beautiful scenic views, trails to stretch your legs on, a break from the sounds of the city. But my absolute favorite thing is watching wildlife. I’m kind of an animal nut.


Allie: If you could be famous for one thing, what would you want it to be and why?

Alex: My music. It’d be nice to be recognized professionally for my work, too, but having people know my music sounds way cooler.

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

Alex: Possibly hiking the John Muir Trail in California. The Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier would be a close second. Hiking backcountry in Yellowstone or the Tetons would also be up there. The funny thing about bucket lists is the more things you check off, the longer they seem to get.

Allie: Describe your perfect latke.

Alex: Speaking of Call Your Mother… they also might have the perfect latke. Crispy, flavorful, steaming hot inside. I also like to make my own latkes. The secret is to serve the latkes with homemade applesauce. Applesauce is the easiest thing in the world to make, and tastes way better than the store-bought variety. Plus, it never fails to impress.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Alex: There will be bagels–and hopefully latkes, too!



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 Dana: Jewish Baker of the Week!


Allie: How did you become a professional pastry chef?

Dana: I started baking when I was 5 years old with my Easy Bake Oven, which was one of my first Hanukkah gifts. I continued to bake for my friends, and started blogging about baking and creating new recipes. I then went to school for culinary arts and hospitality management.

Allie: What do you love the most about baking?

Dana: The joy and happiness that baking can bring other people is what I love the most about it. Dessert is obviously such a sweet thing, and seeing someone light up over a creation made from raw ingredients is so enjoyable

Allie: What’s your favorite thing to bake?

Dana: Laminated doughs and breads like croissants, or danishes. I also love baking challah. And the classics like apple pies, banana cream pies, and cookies. It’s hard to pick just one!

Allie: Do you have any foodie role models?

Dana: Again, I can’t pick one. Growing up, I always watched Hell’s Kitchen with my dad and Gordon Ramsay really inspired me. I also admire Christina Tosi, her Milk Bar empire is huge and blossoming. Oh, and Belinda Leong, she owns b.patisserie in San Francisco and her pastries are amazing. Also Carla Hall, she’s a DC native and I worked with her in college.

Allie: What is your favorite Jewish holiday?

Dana: Hanukkah is 8 days of fun and celebration, good food, and spending time with family and friends. I don’t live with Jewish people, but I’ve been trying to practice the traditions with my roommates. We’ll light the menorah together every night, and being able to share that with them has been really special.


Allie: How would you spend a totally free day in the city?

Dana:I’d wake up and go to Philz for coffee, then get a massage at Deluca. There are so many hidden gems in DC that I don’t even realize are here. So, I would go exploring, find a new place to eat, and then meet up with friends and go see a comedy show, go bowling, or go to a sporting event.

Allie: What is your fantasy of your future baking career?

Dana: I’d love to move abroad and work under a big chef. Then, in 10 years my dream is to open my own place and call it Bloomies, like my last name.

Allie: Are Gather readers able to hire you to bake something for them?

Dana: Yes! Just contact me on Instagram. I can make vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, anything you want!

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Dana: They laugh and eat good food.

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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 Jenna: Jewish Bookworm of the Week!


Allie: What brought you to DC?

Jenna: I moved to DC from LA to do my undergrad at Georgetown. I absolutely loved it. I feel like a Los Angeles traitor because I’m the 4th generation of my family to live in Los Angeles, but I find myself liking the East Coast better. I like being surrounded by so many young people, and that DC is so densely packed in.

Allie: How do you relax at the end of a long work day?

Jenna: I read a book with wine. Right now, I’m reading a biography of Sandy Kofax. It’s a beautiful biography.

What’s your favorite book of all time?

Jenna: The Wrinkle in Time book by Madeleine L’Engle. Those were my favorite books as a kid, it was hard for the movie to live up to them.

Allie: Describe your perfect DC day?

Jenna: I’d go to the Dupont Circle Farmers Market with a friend, taste different cheeses, and buy fancy products that I don’t need. Then, I would play softball or volleyball on the National Mall with one of my DC Fray teams. After that, tI’d wander around the city and try out a new restaurant, check out a museum, and grab drinks with friends. I love Rasika, their crispy baby spinach is the best.

Allie: I hear you work at the RAC, can you explain to me what the RAC is/does?

Jenna: The RAC (Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism) is the social justice and organizing arm of the Reform Jewish movement. We are nonpartisan, and take action based on enduring Jewish values.

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?

Jenna: Passover. I didn’t celebrate many holidays growing up, so celebrating Passover in college was the first time I had a big Jewish holiday experience. I love to cook and host people, and hosting seders is one of my favorite newly created traditions. I also love that Passover has a lot of room for different interpretations. I’ve been to a feminist seder and a racial justice seder; there are so many ways to apply the story of Passover to modern day and have meaningful conversations with friends.

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Allie: Favorite Jewish food?

Jenna: I love to make (and eat) Shakshuka. It really doesn’t take that much effort to make, but people don’t know that, so you look like a star.

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

Jenna: I’d love to go Greece and see the ancient ruins. I’m fascinated by Greek mythology. Something on my professional bucket list is that I’d love to work on a presidential campaign where I can go live somewhere that I’ve never lived before, work my butt off for a year for no pay, eat pizza, and get to be on the ground and in a community during a presidential race.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Jenna: Make new friends, and have meaningful and different conversations.



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.