Meet Bryan: Jewish Swimmer of the Week!


Allie: What’s your favorite thing about living in DC?

Bryan: There’s always something new to discover and explore. I really enjoy trying new restaurants, and taking in as much culture as I can, whether it be a show, museum, or monument. DC has become such a world class city. I also live near the zoo so I go to the zoo all the time. Every morning around 5, I begin to hear the noises from the animals waking up. It’s an inspiring way to start the day.

Allie: Describe your perfect day in the city from start to finish.

Bryan: I travel a fair amount, so a day off in DC with no agenda is a great luxury. I’d get up early and go for a swim. I was a competitive swimmer growing up, and have tried to recapture a bit of that recently. I’d get some reading in (fiction on the weekends) and would definitely want try to catch up on any news I may have missed during the week. Then, I’d go out to dinner with friends. I love having no agenda on my days off and just seeing how the day unfolds.

Allie: What kind of swimming do you like to do?

Bryan: I was a sprinter- I actually raced Michael Phelps when I was younger. The mental and physical toughness you need to be a great swimmer is something I’ve always respected and been humbled by. My grandfather was a swimmer up until he passed away, and he inspired me to find a sport I could have for life. These days, I try to go as far as I can. In June, I did an open-water swim in Cape May, New Jersey. The race began by jumping fifteen feet off of a ferry into the Delaware bay, and when I hit the water, I promptly lost my goggles. Not the greatest experience, but I finished. 

Allie: Other than swimming, what’s your favorite thing to do after the work day?

Bryan: I recently started playing tennis regularly. A few of my coworkers and I actually started a tennis club at work. We have a group that gets together each week to play, and we don’t talk business. It really is fun. I like being active and being outside.

Allie: Do you have any resolutions for the Jewish New Year?

Bryan: I don’t like New Year’s resolutions, but I make pretty solid resolutions throughout the year. I make goals for myself each quarter. I’m always trying to take everything I do to the next level. And frankly, I’ll often fail. Sometimes, that’s the most important part: failure. My failures often lend greater insight into how I can improve my performance as a human. My resolutions are often based around self-improvement. It’s a never-ending pursuit, but it yields great results. 

Allie: You recently participated in GatherDC’s Beyond the Tent. How did you decide to go on that retreat?

Bryan: My first experience with GatherDC was the Giving Circle. I was looking for a way to give back in a meaningful way and found GatherDC online. I didn’t know what to expect, but the Giving Circle experience led me to realize there are multiple ways to make an impact in the surrounding community and in my own life. Mollie (one of the Giving Circle facilitators) brought up Beyond the Tent at the last Giving Circle meeting and I was hooked. It was something I’d never done before. At this stage of my life I’m trying to challenge myself in every way I possibly can.

Allie: What was your experience like on Beyond the Tent?

Bryan: It was a transformative experience. We discussed a wide variety of important topics, we shared our experiences, but the real reflection happened afterwards and continues to happen as we move forward on this journey. I came away with a bunch of new friends and some really difficult ideas to grapple with. Rabbi Aaron has a unique ability to be thought-provoking and bring up ideas that while sometimes uncomfortable at first, engage the mind and take you out of your comfort zone.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Bryan: Jewish moms are happy.




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 Steph: Jewish Fitness Buff of the Week!


Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Steph: I’m from Montgomery County – born and raised. I went to New Orleans for college, then lived in San Francisco for a job, and then decided it was time to come back to my roots. I’ve been in DC for three years now.

Allie: I hear you just started a cool new job – tell me about it!

Steph: I’m the U.S. Marketing and Communications Manager for Leon, which is a mediterranean-inspired place that serves naturally fast food.

Allie: Hmm..why have I never heard of this place?

Steph: It’s not open yet! Leon is opening in early September.

Allie: Once it opens, how do I get there and what should I order?

Steph: It’s on 1724 L Street in Farragut North, and any of our sandwiches are delicious – they’re served on challah buns. We also have really good falafel and lamb kofta. (NOTE: Follow Leon on Facebook and Instagram for updates)

Allie: Can you offer a deal to GatherDC-ers?

Steph: On September 5th and 6th, you can come in for free food if you give us feedback on it. RSVP to Also, if you sign up for our Leon club you can get 40% off after 5:00pm once it opens.

Allie: At the end of a long work day, what’s your favorite way to relax?

Steph: Yoga. But definitely not hot yoga. I really like The Yoga Shala in Shaw.

Allie: Besides The Yoga Shala, what are your top 3 favorite workout classes or studios in DC?

Steph: Oh there’s too many to pick just three! I’d say Off Road for boxing, FlyBarre for barre, and Reformation Fitness for HIIT/TRX.

Allie: What’s your resolution for this coming year?

Steph: Keeping a good work-life balance. I want to find time to work out as much as I’d like while crushing my new job.

Allie: How do you motivate yourself to workout so often?

Steph: The prospect of one day obtaining a 6-pack keeps me going.

Allie: When and/or where are you the happiest?

Steph: When I’m snuggling my Australian lab Sophie, while outside of course.steph and dog

Allie: Who is your Jewish role model?

Steph: My grandpa. He’s a Holocaust Survivor. He lost half his family and came here when he was 16 knowing no English. He had to make a life for himself and his family. Today, he volunteers for The United States Holocaust Museum once a week.

Allie: If you could have 3 celebs in your entourage, who would you choose and why?

Steph: Anna Kendrick, everyone tells me I look like her and she is awesome. Gal Gadot, because woman power. Channing Tatum, because he’s always been my man crush.

Allie: What is your favorite Jewish food?

Steph: My grandpa’s potato kugel and my mom’s noodle kugel – really all types of kugel.

Allie: What’s your favorite way to celebrate the Jewish New Year?

Steph: Being with my family. Eating lots of apples and honey.

Allie: Complete the sentence: When Jews of DC Gather…

Steph: They make and eat good food while kvelling or kvetching.

steph g

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 Daniel: Jewish Restaurant Owner of the Week!

Ever stepped into Duke’s Grocery for some truffle mac n’ cheese and an Old Fashioned?

If yes, or if no, but you happen to be a human who enjoys delicious food, it’s time you get to know the man behind it all.

This week, we were lucky enough to score an interview with the managing partner of Duke’s Grocery, Duke’s Counter, and the upcoming DC Korean BBQ joint. Get to know this Jewish restaurant owner extraordinaire – Daniel Kramer!

daniel kramerAllie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Daniel: I came to do the politics thing in late 2008. Frankly, I did not enjoy the same success in that field as I had in other cities but I liked DC so I figured out something else to do.

Allie: What’s the biggest difference between living in DC and LA?

Daniel: Logistically, weather and size. Culturally, almost everything.  

Allie: How did you decide to open up Duke’s Grocery?

Daniel: We just rolled up our sleeves and went to work with not too much more than an idea and a willingness to learn. The idea came from prior trips to East London but the menu is influenced by all the places we’ve been, so there is constant evolution.

Allie: Who would you be most excited to see dining in one of your restaurants?

Daniel: When our guests bring in their families, that is the biggest honor for us.

Allie: Does Duke’s have any special plans for the Jewish high holidays?

Daniel: Nope. Open for business as usual, though I will be at services.

Allie: I hear you are opening a Korean BBQ joint! How did that idea come about?

Daniel: It’s a delicious, fun style of cuisine and there are a ton of exciting flavors. Growing up in L.A., it’s everywhere and I could no longer understand why we don’t have it here. So I decided to change that.

Allie: What is the hardest part of being a restaurant owner? What’s the best part?

Daniel: The hardest part is the constancy. There is no let up. But I take great satisfaction in knowing we are creating and sustaining jobs for our employees while serving hearty meals and stiff drinks to our guests.

Allie: If someone goes to Duke’s Grocery or Duke’s Counter only one time, what should they order?

Daniel: The easy answer is the Proper Burger, but this question assumes they will only visit once – and I’m not ready to concede that.

dukes grocery

Allie: What are you most looking forward to this coming year?

Daniel: The opening of the third Duke’s location (at 2000 Pennsylvania Ave NW in Foggy Bottom) and the opening of the Korean BBQ (at 8th & Florida in Shaw).

Allie: What is your dream day in DC from start to finish (if you have absolutely nothing scheduled and perfect weather)?

Daniel: Wake up with no alarm. Turn phone off. Make a smoothie and some breakfast. Take a jog and hit the gym for some weights. Steam, shower. Cruise over to the Phillips Collection and chill. Grab lunch at Sushi Taro. Pick tomatoes at my garden plot. Read a good book under a tree with a light breeze. Go to the farmers market for dinner ingredients. Open a good bottle of wine. Make dinner for friends on the rooftop. Be grateful for a care-free day. Go to sleep. Then repeat.

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

Daniel: Heading to the airport with my passport in hand.

Allie: When are you the happiest?

Daniel: Exploring a new culture and learning about its people, cuisine and customs.

Allie: Who is your role model?

Daniel: My grandfather, Ernest Hagler. He recently passed just 3 weeks shy of 97. He was a total mensch and extremely humble.

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

Daniel: “There was a beautiful miracle this morning but you may have missed it: the sun came up.” – Abraham Joshua Heschel

Allie: Complete the sentence: When Jews of DC Gather…

Daniel: …good things usually happen.



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 Shabbat Host of the Week

Want to nominate your amazing Jewish friend to be featured on GatherDC? Send his/her name, brief blurb, and contact info to

Amanda Herring is mom to possibly the cutest chow chow doggy ever, a frequent host of sustainable Shabbat feasts, and a lover of tap dance. This fascinating woman is someone you definitely need to know. Read on!

Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Amanda: I grew up in Northern Virginia, and then moved to New York with my partner who was going there to work in fine dining kitchens. After we got engaged, we wanted to be close to home, and to culture and all the activity of a major city.

Allie: Right now, you’re working as the JOFEE Fellow for OneTable. From what the internet tells me, JOFEE Fellows seed local Jewish organizations with outstanding Jewish outdoor/food/environmental educators. How did you decide to pursue this position?

Amanda: Growing up, my mom made all of our meals from scratch. I didn’t realize how special this was until I went off to college. From there, I realized how much I wanted to be hosting and cooking my own meals. I got involved with Hillel and started helping out with Shabbat meals. Then, I got together with my partner Greg who is passionate about food and feeding people.

When Greg and I were living in New York, we became some of the first hosts of OneTable Shabbat meals. We got to be a part of this movement where community was forming over Shabbat dinner in Harlem. When we moved to DC, Marina Rostein had just started working as the DC hub manager and she asked me to be a Shabbat coach. Around this same time, Greg and I were on a journey to becoming more food conscious. So when OneTable was looking for a JOFEE Fellow, Marina had me in mind for it.

Allie: What do you enjoy most about hosting Shabbat?

Amanda: When I worked at Hillel and Birthright, I saw that immersive experiences could have a transformative power on people. I loved staffing Jewish trips because the power of those experiences can lead to shifts in people’s lives. To me, that’s part of hosting – making everyone feel welcome and facilitating them through an experience.

Allie: What’s your favorite Shabbat you’ve ever hosted?

Amanda: The one Greg and I just had. We hosted a Farm to Friday Shabbat at Eco City Farms. I was able to work with the farm to celebrate what they had in season. The farm’s space was kind of a classroom shipping container and we elevated it with twinkle lights, a table setting, name cards, and music. We had a cocktail hour infused with herbs from the farm, and added bits of Jewish education in between the courses. It felt really special.


Allie: I’m so bummed I missed that! Are you planning to host any other awesome Shabbats this coming year that I can come to?

Amanda: Me and the other two DC-based JOFEE fellows (including GatherDC’s Mollie Sharfman) are planning a big Sukkah-based harvest festival on September 21st. We think Sukkot is hard to connect to if you don’t want to go to a synagogue and you don’t have yard space. We’re renting out a farm in Shaw for a pop-up Sukkot Shabbat and we’re going to teach everybody how they can bring the spirit of Sukkot into their home for the following week, even if you don’t have space for a sukkah.

Allie: When are you the happiest?

Amanda: When I’m eating really good food and I know exactly where it came from. Like when I was just working at Milk and Honey Farm in Colorado and got to play with baby goats every day and drink their fresh, warm goat milk. It was just so fresh, and creamy, and delightful.

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?

Amanda: I love Hanukkah because Greg and I host a classy Hanukkah party every year. At Christmas parties everyone gets dressed up and its fancy. Hanukkah feels like this lowly forgotten holiday. So we’ve created an elevated Hanukkah experience where we get dressed up and there’s lights everywhere, jazz music playing, cocktails, and all kinds of fancy food.

Allie: I understand you have an Instagram famous dog named Bubbe. What makes Bubbe Insta-worthy?

Amanda: Our dog is a grumpy old chow chow. She is the cutest thing I have ever seen and also hates people and other dogs, except for us. We rescued her from Fairfax County Animal Shelter almost 3 years ago. Because Bubbe doesn’t want to go out and meet a bunch of people, I set up this Instagram account so other people can share in the joy. It feels like we’re hoarding her cuteness if we don’t share her with the world. She’s just a fluffy lion bear dog.

chow dog

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

Amanda: To have our own farm, produce our own food, and maybe run a Jewish retreat center where people can connect with the agricultural roots of Judaism.

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

Amanda: I grew up swing and tap dancing, I love it – it’s so fun. My brother is actually a professional swing and tap dancer. Also, I also make my own greeting cards and send them to friends.

Allie: Complete the sentence: When Jews of DC Gather…

Amanda: They eat good food together.

chow chow wedding



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 Aryeh: Jewish Photographer of the Week!

If you’ve ever been to a GatherDC happy hour, you may have noticed that charismatic redhead walking around shooting quick, candid pics of you laughing with your friends in the corner. Turns out, the man behind the camera is someone you should definitely get to know. Check out his interview below, and then be sure to say hey next time you see him at a happy hour!


Allie: I heard that in addition to being a photographer, you used to teach at the EDCJCC. What did you enjoy most about teaching preschoolers?

Aryeh: Working with preschoolers is the most pure joy you will ever have. It’s so rewarding and just makes you feel good. Something as simple as seeing one of them smile at you can brighten your day. The hardest part of transitioning into photography full time was saying goodbye to working with those preschoolers.

Allie: What inspired you to become a photographer?

Aryeh: Sophomore year of high school, I took an Intro to Film/Photography class and not going to lie – I was going to fail the class. On the second to last day, the teacher said to me that if stayed after and helped him clean up the darkroom he would give me a passing grade. So I did. He bumped my grade up and signed me up for the second level photography class. From there, I took all of the photography classes at my high school and loved it.

I’m a college drop out – I should say that with pride. I went to a small technical college in Minnesota for a year. After I dropped out, I took weekend workshops and photography classes. These classes helped me realize I could make a living off of photography, off of people watching essentially.

Allie: What do you love most about being a photographer?

Aryeh: Whenever I see a person, I notice the most minute details like the way their pinky points out, or an interesting earring. As a photographer I think it’s my job to bring those details out in the photos. It’s a challenge and really gratifying.

Allie: What is your favorite thing to photograph?

Aryeh: I enjoy happy hour style events where people are actually happy to be where they are. It’s also really cool when I can get a group of friends together and can do a funny photoshoot. I’d like to dabble in early childhood fashion photography, that’s a dream of mine.

Allie: What’s your favorite place to photograph?

Aryeh: I really like those forgotten, derelict areas of industrial cities or small towns. I love to make juxtapositions in my imagery like put a modern, stylish person in front of an old building. and that will naturally pop and stand out.

Allie: Beyond photography, you also manage a huge WNBA website. How and why did you start this?

Aryeh: My parents divorced when I was growing up, and I had majority custody with my mother. I saw my mom work crazy hours and she really inspired me. A lot of the time, I was left in charge of taking care of my sisters. I realized that I wanted female role models that my little sisters could look up, so I started bringing them to WNBA games in Minnesota. The WNBA team in Minnesota is the most winning sports team in Minnesota.

It started as me just retweeting stuff about the WNBA because I found that there wasn’t enough coverage of it. From there, it grew to my realizing that female sports in general are not covered like male sports. There’s so many inequalities in the NBA versus WNBA. The NBA pays its players 50% of league revenue, while WNBA athletes get around 20%.

Today, WNBA Insidr is the largest independent news source for the WNBA. I have a staff of 12 who write for me and a podcast called “WNBA Insidr” and have had former MVPs on our Podcast!

aryeh with wnba playerAllie: When are you the happiest?

Aryeh: During a photoshoot that’s going well or during a competitive WNBA game – or when I’m with my niece and nephew.

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

Aryeh: One dream was to sit courtside for a Minnesota WNBA game, but now that I’m press, I’m not allowed to do that. Another is to have my own photography studio/art gallery that has classes to teach kids photography and art appreciation. I would also like the WNBA Insidr to get big. But my bigger goal is that there’s a day where my outlet is no longer needed because coverage for the WNBA is so huge.

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Aryeh: I could literally live off of hummus and cucumbers for the rest of my life. Also, Aràk, which is a Middle Eastern liquor that tastes like heaven. Others say it tastes like black licorice.

Allie: Complete the sentence: When Jews of DC Gather…

Aryeh: It’s always a good time.



Want to nominate your amazing Jewish friend to be featured on GatherDC? Send his/her name, brief blurb, and contact info to

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 Boxer of the Week!

Rachel Snider is the founder and owner of DC’s boutique boxing studio, NUBOXX. When she’s not taking her stress out on a punching bag, you might find her enjoying the DC monuments, biking across town, or indulging in her mom’s homemade rugelach. Get to know this amazing athlete/business owner!


Allie: What brought you to DC?

Rachel: I was living in Israel before I came here, on a Masa Israel program called Career Israel. I thought about grad school, and getting a masters in public health. I ended up getting a job in DC in public health and the city drew me in. I fell in love with it. George Washington University had the best public health program for me, and I ended up staying. I’ve been here for over 9 years now!

Allie: How did you discover your love for boxing?

RacheI: I was exploring new fitness options in DC, and stumbled upon a boxing class. Boxing sounded cool and I had seen a lot of celebrities and models boxing. I tried it out, and it made me feel so empowered. When I’m boxing, I don’t feel like I’m actually working out because I have to focus so much. That had me hooked.

Allie: What inspired you to open your own boxing gym?

Rachel: I realized I couldn’t box everyday in DC, because a lot of boxing gyms in the city were either grungy and mainly for fighters, or places that offered boxing only once a week or so. I was looking for the Soul Cycle of boxing that was clean with nice amenities, but couldn’t find it in DC. I thought it would be great if we had a boutique boxing gym that had the community feel of an old-school boxing gym. NUBOXX kind of snowballed from there.

Allie: What’s something that makes NUBOXX classes unique?

Rachel: At the end of class at NUBOXX, everyone comes together and says “CEO”. This means we’ve “conquered, evolved, and outperformed” in the class. We want to strengthen and empower our members throughout their workouts, and in their lives beyond the studio walls. Our hashtag is #BeYourOwnCEO.

Allie: What do you love the most about boxing?

Rachel: It makes me feel empowered. I feel like I can go about my day with my head a little bit higher. And it always leaves me wanting to learn more. The sport of boxing is not only about the fitness and conditioning, but it’s also a skill set and an art. Boxing is something that is built on with persistence and practice.  

Allie: Describe your dream day in DC.

Rachel: I’d bike around the city, go downtown and visit the monuments. Then, I’d do some yoga, hang out with friends, go to happy hour. I love being by the water in DC – it clears my mind. I’d also take some time for self care – getting my nails done, just taking time for me.


Allie: What are your top 3 favorite DC restaurants?

Rachel: Most days, I am fueled by Sweetgreen. I love Chaia’s tacos in Georgetown. But when I stick close to home, I’m partial to Ghibellina or Estadio.

Allie: Who is the coolest Jew you know (or want to know)?

Rachel: Gal Gadot.

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Rachel: My mom’s homemade rugelach.

Allie: What’s your favorite quote or piece of wisdom?

Rachel: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.” – Dr. Seuss  

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

Rachel: When I think of travel I immediately think about being abroad. The truth is, I need to put our National Parks – like the Grand Canyon, Yosemite – at the top of the travel list.

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

Rachel: To take more time for me. Being an entrepreneur can be all consuming most days…. but those mental breaks are key.

Allie: Anything that people would be surprised to know about you?

Rachel:  I didn’t touch veggies or salad for the first 18 years of my life. Now kale salads and green smoothies are the staple of my diet.

Allie: Complete the sentence: When Jews of DC Gather…

Rachel: There’s a lot of food!



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 Carly: Most Dope Jew of the Week!

To be blunt – Carly likes weed. When she’s not fighting for a future of marijuana legalizations, you might find her bottomless brunching, jamming out to Drake, or binge-watching “New Girl”. Get to know Carly Wolf with our 1:1 interview!

Allie: I hear you have a pretty, um, dope job. Tell me about it!

Carly: I’m a political associate with the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). Our mission is to change federal laws to legalize marijuana. We do grassroots advocacy on behalf of the cannabis consumer – rather than businesses. My goal as a lobbyist is for marijuana users to be treated fairly in every aspect of their lives.

Allie: Where do you see the future of marijuana legalization going in DC, and beyond?

Carly: It’s definitely going to be legal everywhere soon, it’s going to continue incrementally on a state by state basis. And government will just have to respect that, and not interfere. It’s tricky in DC because we’re not a state so our budget is controlled by Congress, and they blocked us from using our local money to set up regulated marijuana market – so there’s nowhere to legally buy it.

Allie: How did you wind up working for NORML?

Carly: I used to want to be a cop, so I studied criminal justice in college. I wound up interning at NORML my last semester of college, and got offered a job when I graduated! [My criminal justice background helps me] come at my job from a social justice perspective.

Allie: If you woke up and had a totally free day in DC, beautiful weather, and unlimited money, what would you do from start to finish?

Carly: I’m not a morning person, so I’d sleep in. I’d do a bottomless brunch at Sixth Engine – I’d get a ham, egg, and cheese sandwich on a pretzel roll. Then, I’d go to the Newseum which is my favorite museum in the city. Then, I’d hit up Georgetown for some shopping. I would tell myself I don’t need it, but would end up getting Georgetown Cupcake. Then, I’d end the day at one of my favorite restaurants RPM – they have really good meatballs.

Allie: Who is your Jewish role model?

Carly: Drake. He’s my favorite – he’s so talented, and never forgets his roots.

Allie: What’s your favorite Passover food or tradition?

Carly: Hands down, favorite food is my grandma’s brisket.

Allie: What are you looking forward to most about the upcoming year?

Carly: The midterm elections. With all the controversy in the White House, I think this is a year the Democrats will take back the majority and I’m excited to see how the results will play out. And, it could be the year for marijuana legalization!

Allie: What are your favorite ways to relax and destress?

Carly:  I like to cook Italian food – lasagna in a crockpot. I’m a Netflix binger, right now I’m watching “New Girl” because I love Zooey Deschanel. And also, smoking pot.

Allie: Complete the sentence: When Jews of DC Gather…

Carly: The world gets a lot smaller. Actually, at the first GatherDC happy hour I went to, I met someone who I found out was my next door neighbor from when I grew up in New Jersey!




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 Ben: Jewish Eastern-European Buff of the Week!

Allie: What brought you to DC?

Ben: I grew up in a Suburb of Philly called Moorestown and lived there pretty much my whole life. I moved away to LA for college, and after graduating, lived overseas in Ukraine for a year on on a Fulbright research grant pertaining to Holocaust remembrance, Jewish heritage, and other Jewish community topics. I was fortunate enough to find a job in DC at The National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry, which does similar things to what I was doing in Ukraine. So, I moved here pretty much straight from Ukraine to start working there.

Allie: What spurred your interest in Russia and Eastern Europe?

Ben: In college I had to pick a language, so I signed up for a Russian on a whim. I loved it so much, I made it a second major. I’ve always been interested in that region because my great grandparents are from Eastern Europe, so in some small way it’s a part of who I am. I liked that I could explore that part of myself in an academic setting, and to be able to communicate with people who live there opened up this whole world to me. Also, the language is fun!

Allie: What’s your favorite way to spend your free time outside of the office?

Ben: I like cooking and entertaining for people. I’m like a reincarnated Jewish grandmother. I make a mean roast chicken, stews, soups, you name it. And I made really good hamantaschen during Purim. I’m also trying to become a runner, which I’m really enjoying.

Allie: Well, on top of your job, cooking, running, and entertaining, I also I hear you’re a part of TWO Jewish fellowships, tell me about those!

Ben: I’m in a leadership training with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called the Glass Leadership Institute. We learn about the different programs and issues that ADL works on, and go to ADL events, and volunteer with them. It’s a way to develop the next generation of leaders within ADL.

I’m also a part of GatherDC’s Open Doors Fellowship, which is a way for me to help people grow into and with the Jewish community, and a way for me to grow into a Jewish community in DC too. Before this, I didn’t really know how to meet other Jews, and have been on the search for a community that works for me. This is what I’ve been looking for! I’ve been given access to cool community spaces that I would never have known about before or approached on my own.

Allie: Wow! Where does this passion for the Jewish community come from?

Ben: I grew up with a pretty cookie cutter Jewish childhood – I went to a conservative shul, Hebrew school twice a week, celebrated all the holidays with my family. But, I hated Hebrew school, and I really drew away from Judaism throughout college.

But, when I lived in Ukraine, I started to re-engage with Judaism in a much more personal way. Being there made me realize how fortunate we are to have different Jewish community resources – to have choices. The Jewish community in Eastern Europe was almost completely wiped out by the Nazis, and then the Soviet Occupation made being a Jew a huge liability. The country is still dealing with that history, so there’s much less variety, and a struggle for resources when it comes to Jewish life. When I came back to DC, I decided to make Judaism a priority.

Allie: If you could trade places with any celeb for a day who would it be?

Ben: Jeff Goldblum. I don’t fully understand why people love him so much, but they do, and he’s Jewish so it sounds like a sweet deal to me. Sign me up.

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Ben: Three-words. Shelsky’s of Brooklyn. They have the most amazing selection of bagels and smoked fish that I’ve ever had in my life.

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

Ben: Southeast Asia – Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma. I’ve never been to that part of the world before and would love to spend time there.

Allie: Any surprising facts about yourself?

Ben: I played the oboe in orchestra for almost 6 years.

Allie: Complete the sentence: When Jews of DC Gather…

Ben: You always find someone who knows someone else from another time in your life.



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 Stephanie: Jewish Hip-Hop Dancer of the Week!

Move over Channing Tatum, this extroverted, Israeli chocolate loving hip-hop dancer is ready to take center stage. Get to know Stephanie Aseraph, because she’s one of the most vivacious, sweet, passionate women you’ll meet – and has a not-so-secret party trick of being able to kill it on the dance floor.

Allie: I hear you’re quite the dancer. Tell me about that!

Stephanie: I love hip-hop dancing. Dancing is a huge part of my life. I started dancing after seeing the movie “Honey” in second or third grade, and deciding that I wanted to be just like the star of the movie.

Allie: What do you love most about dancing?

Stephanie: When I dance and am on stage, I just forget about everything and all the troubles in the world go away – nothing else matters. Dancing has also given me so many amazing opportunities. In high school, I was a part of a dance troupe called Future Shock DC, and we went all around the country for showcases… and one year went to Barcelona!

In college, I had a lot of friends from Latin America and they helped me get into salsa and bachata and merengue. Hip-hop is my favorite though. Now, I’m not taking dance classes anymore, but I can go out dancing with friends– to places in the DC area like The Salsa Room, Cuba Libre, and El Centro.

Allie: Who are some dancers you admire?

Stephanie: Matt Steffanina is my favorite choreographer. Also, Channing Tatum is amazing. I love all the movies he’s in when he dances.

Allie: What motivated you to work for Masa Israel Journey?

Stephanie: Coming from an Israeli family, Israel is a really strong part of my identity. I went on a Masa program when I was a Junior in college at Tel Aviv University…and then, when I came back my senior year at Towson University, became a campus ambassador and did recruitment for Masa. After college, I did my Master’s in Leadership in Jewish Education and Communal Service, and knew I wanted to work in the Jewish professional world. When this job opened up at Masa, it was perfect because not only does it allow me to work with others with a passion for Judaism, but with a passion for Israel as well. Being able to support an organization that allows American Jews to connect to Israel and bring them on programs that can change their life, like Masa changed mine, is an amazing opportunity.

Allie: Who is your Jewish role model?

Stephanie: My mom. She’s a wholesome person that I’ve always admired and looked up to. She contributes very significantly to my love for Judaism and Israel, and she has always been my role model and my best friend.

Allie: What do you love most about Jewish DC?

Stephanie: There’s so much going on! I feel like I’m always learning about a new young Jewish professional group. It’s incredible to see so many people connected to the Jewish community, and that it’s such a broad network that there’s an event for everyone.

Allie: What’s your favorite Passover food?

Stephanie: Matzah with chocolate spread. But not just any chocolate spread…it has to be Hashachar spread – which is an Israeli chocolate spread. I love it because I can spread it on matzah and eat chocolate for breakfast…when else do I get to do that?!

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

Stephanie: Greece has been on the top of my travel bucket list since I saw “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”. After that, I really want go to South America and explore Colombia, Argentina, Guatemala, Panama, and Brazil.

Allie: Favorite show to binge watch?

Stephanie: “Friends.” I cannot get enough it. But, of new shows, I’d say “This Is Us.” Randall is hilarious, and Jack is just amazing.

Allie: Complete the sentence: When Jews of DC Gather…

Stephanie: They become connected!




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 Francophile of the Week

Le Diplomate, Croissants, French coffee, party buses to wineries – these are a few of Jason Sarfati’s favorite things. I met this super cool French-Sephardic-Arlingtonian/Jewish Lawyer at our last GatherDC happy hour (PS – next one is March 15th), and decided to find out more about his European roots over cups of caffeine at Dupont Circle’s charming French coffee shop – Un je ne se Quoi. After ordering his coffee in French, Jason opened up about his love of Jewish DC, Virginia wineries, and cyber security.


Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Jason: When I was applying to law schools, I realized I wanted to be back home –  I grew up in DC – so I applied to George Mason. I was really fortunate to live with all of my college friends in Arlington through all of law school, so I didn’t have to feel like I was outside of my comfort zone. And I wound up staying here because DC has so many opportunities in the legal field.

Allie: What do you like most about the DC Jewish community?

Jason: Its a large community, yet at the same time it feels close-knit. There are a lot of different events – any weekend there’s something going on. Also, it feels like DC has a lot of transient people who show up here looking for a place to fit in, and the Jewish community is that perfect landing spot.

Allie: If you had a free day in DC to do anything, how would you spend it?

Jason: I’m a huge fan of the vineyards out in Virginia. Every April, I organize a wine tour with my friends on a party bus. Its crazy, its a lot of fun, and it’s a whole day thing. After that, I’d have dinner in DC at Le Diplomate – obviously. Then, after a day of drinking French wine, I’d pass out.

Allie: I hear you have some French heritage…, tell me about that.

Jason: Most of my family lives in France, in a city called Lyon. The Jewish community there is actually smaller than one you would see in Paris – everyone kind of knows each other. I go to France once a year or so…otherwise I wouldn’t have a connection with my [extended] family.

Allie: How do you carry your French identity with you into your life in DC?

Jason: Well, growing up, we spoke probably 70% French in the home. And my family’s synagogue, Magen David in Rockville,  caters to Sephardic Jews. If you go there, you’d hear kids being yelled at in French. It’s very loud and close-knit, and I try to go as much as I can.

Allie: Would you ever want to live in France?

Jason: No, I’m very happy here. Also, my law degree would be useless there – and there are no Gather events there!

Allie: What are your favorite French foods?

Jason: Croissants and French coffee, like right here [at Un je ne se Quoi]. DC has some great French spots. Le Diplomate is, in my opinion, genuine French food.

Allie: And what about your favorite Jewish food?

Jason: The Jewish food I’m used to is very different than what most Ashkenazi Jews are used to. I had my first kugel when I was a sophomore in college. Where I lived, we would have marinated lamb or shawarma, which is more my speed. The spicy, north African foods that I’m used to is what I’ll go back to. A lot of beans, couscous, falafel.

Allie: What are you looking forward to most for the upcoming year?

Jason: I’ve noticed that DC kind of hibernates from January to February, and then in March it wakes up again. We’ve got the Cherry Blossom Festival, the Nats start playing again. DC is definitely a place that relies on the weather to be fun. And this year the Southwest waterfront is open, so there is a lot to do. Also, I’m excited for the coming year because just last week I started a data privacy and cyber security practice at my law firm, which is always going to be a field that’s relevant.

Allie: Complete the sentence: When Jews of DC Gather…

Jason: They make genuine connections and it can translate into business opportunities, marriages, and lots of good things!



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.