Jewish Guy of the Week – Brett

You just got back from the Birthright alumni leadership mission. What was your favorite part?
Let’s see…besides the amazing co-chairs Jeremy Rosen (GTJ Note: If we get 1 more Jeremy shout-out, we’re just going to rename this site “Jeremy’s Jews”) and Casey Girard, the staff and 22 other participants, it had to be a visit to an organization called the Ayalim Association.  Ayalim’s goal is to revive a Zionist model of community building in Israel, led by young Israeli men and women. They are truly pioneering the periphery regions of Israel, and the idea of pioneering really resonated with me. Seeing the work that they do with my own eyes made it one of my favorite parts. It was also great that this organization and its programs used to be primarily funded by the Federations and now it’s 75% funded by
the Israeli government.

You’re frequently spotted at 6th & I. Explain.
It’s true, I’ve been going there for over 3 years now and I’ve been known to be there up to three times a week sometimes. I may be taking a class, at Shabbat services, seeing a concert or just participating in the Afikomen Scavenger Hunt. There’s so much that 6th & I has to offer. I also serve on the Advisory Board for their young professional programming. 6th & I has become quite a home for me in the D.C. Jewish community. Come find me there and hopefully we’ll find something for you.

Who would play you in a movie about your life?
That’s a tough one to answer. I have a small list of celebrity doppelgangers that I’ll share first. Lately I’ve been told that I look like Bobby Flay or Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Mitch from “Modern Family”). Maybe Seth Green could play me in a movie, not Austin Powers style but more like Can’t Hardly Wait. He’s also a ginger and a Jew (GTJ note: how did you miss this cutest DC redheads list too?!).

What do you think is D.C.’s best kept secret?
As an Arlingtonian I’m not sure I can tell you D.C’s best kept secret. I will share with you the best pizza place I’ve eaten in Arlington and I just discovered it.  It’s called Pupatella and its traditional Neopolitan style. It’s about 10 minutes west of the Ballston metro off Wilson Boulevard so slightly off the main path. I’ve been told it’s better than 2Amys. If you ever want to check it out just let me know, I’m already in for another trip.

What is the last concert you saw?
The last concert I saw was a Black Eyed Peas concert.  This wasn’t just a regular concert.  It was one of those Fathom one night only events that they advertise for during movie previews.  So yes, my last concert was in a movie theater.  It was an interesting experience, certainly not like a live concert, but I couldn’t say no to my 11-year-old niece when she asked me if I’d go with her.

Jewish Guy of the Week – Ben

1.) You recently led Jew at the Zoo. Explain.
Jew at the Zoo might have been the best event in the history of the world. I led a tour of about 30 young professional Jews through the National Zoo. I provided lots of important facts like that the sloth bear at the top of the Asia Trail is the same type of bear as Ballou from Jungle Book. Also, the Hyrax is the only animal at the zoo that is found in Israel. I also provided animal crackers for everyone so no one would get hungry and cranky.

2.) You’ve had a fascinating career path. Tell us about it.
My very first job was washing dishes at Kenny Rogers Roasters. After that I had stops at Best Buy, Kohr Brothers/Twist Again (frozen custard and pretzels), Trader Joe’s, and I moonlighted as a DJ. In college, I started doing security for concerts and sporting events and worked backstage for almost every big concert that came through D.C. for a couple of years. I once took Mick Jagger to the bathroom.  Britney Spears also said hi to me once and before Coldplay was really famous, I was stationed outside their dressing room and Chris Martin kept on trying to get me to have a beer with him. I still regret saying no. I have also worked for various local newspapers and I blog for Examiner.com about D.C. Tourism and Travel. For the past four years and eight months I have written about associations for USAE News. And finally, I just accepted a new job, joining the campaign staff of Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

3.) You’re a Marylander. What’s your favorite part?
Although I was born in Israel I have lived in Maryland, Rockville specifically, my entire life. I think my favorite part is really getting to know the area and have my favorite places that I go to year after year after year. In general I don’t like restaurants or even the idea of them but there are two Rockville restaurants I’ve been going to for more than 20 years: China Taste and Ambrosia. Those in the know call them CT and Amby.

4.) Your music tastes are comparable to a teenage girl. Confirm or deny.
I cannot be any more adamant in my confirmation. I only listened to oldies until middle school when I got caught up in the East Coast/West Coast rap wars and I chose Biggie (Big ups to B.I. up above). Bar/Bat Mitzvah time must be when I first got into “girl” music with the likes of Ace of Base and stuff like that. Now, I have come down with a severe case of Bieber fever and I don’t think I’ll ever be cured. In a 9 day stretch this month I saw NKOTBSB, Glee, and Katy Perry. I think I’ve answered your question sufficiently.

5.) What Jewish events will we see you at this summer?
To be honest, I am not even sure what Jewish events are going on this summer. I will be at the Gather the Jews happy hour on Thursday at Dirty Martini and beyond that, I am open to invitations for future events. If anyone is interested in having a 30-year-old with Bieber fever attend an event, get in touch with Gather the Jews. They’ll know how to reach me.

Jewish Girl of the Week – Hannah

New Question:  Why do you deserve to be Jewish Girl of the Year?

Because I’m finally becoming a Bat Mitzvah this summer!

 

1.) You volunteer at an animal shelter. Tell us about that.

 

I have volunteered with the Washington Humane Society (WHS) for the past five years. I started volunteering there because I love animals and I couldn’t keep a dog of my own in my apartment. Volunteering at WHS is one of my favorite things to do. I’m a volunteer trainer on staff, so I get to teach the dogs good manners, tricks, and help show them off to potential adopters. Through my involvement with WHS, I was able to help start a group at the State Department—Foreign Affairs Friends of Animals. Through that group, I have been involved in helping evacuate and resettle animals belonging to U.S. government personnel who were evacuated from Egypt, Libya, and Yemen this spring.

2.) You work at the State Department. What do you do there?

 

I work in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, supporting youth exchange programs. In my work, I bring high school students and teachers from abroad to the United States, and send Americans abroad to other countries for intensive leadership workshops. I get to work with some of the best teenagers across the globe, and they always keep me busy. I’m particularly excited about this summer because we are sending our first group of American Youth Leadership Program participants to Kenya, and I am joining them for the end of their exchange! I have had a lot of fun jobs (U.S. Senate Page, Junior Zookeeper, intern at The Daily Show), but this is the most interesting, challenging, and exciting one.

 

3.) You’ve been spotted at the Dupont Farmer’s Market. What’s your favorite thing to get?

 

Sugar snap peas, cherries, and adventure.

 

4.) Your birthday is coming up. How will you be celebrating?

 

I’m having a little happy hour with some friends at Tortilla Coast on Capitol Hill on Friday—it should be fun. Everyone is welcome!

5.) Write a Jewish-related Haiku for us.

Benjamin Franklin

Was not a Jew, although he

Was still pretty great.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured DC Entertainer: Adam Ruben

Adam Ruben – molecular biologist, stand up comedian, and author of Surviving Your Stupid, Stupid Decision To Go To Grad School – speaks with Gather the Jews about getting into comedy and his upcoming one-man show at the Capital Fringe Festival.

First of all, thanks for generating exclusive video content for GTJ!

Remind me, did you do stand up back in college?

I did a little bit of stand up in undergrad. My freshman year, the minority affairs advisers were having a stand up contest.  It was the first time I’d ever tried stand up and it was a lot of fun.  Next year, a different group hosted it and I participated again. So I basically did stand up at Princeton at a contest once a year, every year, and a few more times at small shows senior year. I got a little bit spoiled performing at Princeton.  It was a large audience, a smart audience, and it was primarily comprised of all my friends.  So it’s a supportive environment.  Then you go out and try it in the real world and it’s completely different.

So what was your grad school stand up experience?

Grad school was the first time I tried to do stand up in the ‘real world’.  The summer before I started grad school, I performed in a club in New York called the ‘Comic Strip’ that had an open mic night.  It’s a great club and I thought I’d be able to get to NYC and perform at open mic nights during grad school.  But the show was on a weeknight, so I planned to leave at four in the afternoon, perform, and drive back at four in the morning.  I did that once and was so tired driving back that I decided I needed to find some place closer to Baltimore to perform. There were a few fairly crappy open mic nights at Baltimore. I tried to expand to DC but, at the time, it was not that easy to find places to perform.

And you also worked on your book at that time?

I really didn’t work on the book until the end of my grad school career, in my fifth or sixth year. I was writing little articles for the National Lampoon website.  At a certain point, the Lampoon wanted to write some humorous books and asked if anyone had a pitch. I pitched my idea for a book on grad school and it was rejected right away because they said it wasn’t appropriate for their target demographic (frat boys).  Shortly afterward, the book division of National Lampoon went under so it wasn’t relevant anyway.  But I still had this completed book proposal so I tried to see if I could get someone else to accept it.

What was one of your favorite things about writing the book?

One of my favorite things about this book experience is hearing someone say, “I was on the subway and someone sitting across from me was reading your book.” I love that people are reading it who don’t have to (i.e. not my friends who feel obligated to read it).  It’s very flattering.  I’ll go into bookstore sometimes and offer to sign some books, because apparently that’s something that authors do.  Then, when I go back a few months later, all the books on display are not signed, which means that the original stock of books was sold.  It’s very gratifying.

Where do you get most of your material?

I use all kinds of different themes.  I have some stuff about grad school, some stuff about Judaism.  I use topics lots of comedians do: driving, living in Baltimore, living in DC.  My upcoming show is not quite stand up. In recent years, I started getting into story-telling, which is a step beyond stand up.  For some reason, this type of thing has started getting very popular lately. People get up and tell stories on a particular theme.  For example, there’s a group called Speakeasy DC that put up a show called ‘My So-Called Jewish Life.’  They found people to tell ten minute stories with Judaism in the theme.  As I was developing my stand up routines, I discovered that a lot of horrible social things that had happened to me – for example, getting picked on or not having a lot of friends in school – really resonated with people when I framed them in an amusing way, so I ended up turning that stuff into a one hour show.

I also perform with a group called ‘Mortified’.  The idea is that you look through old diaries or journals from your youth or adolescence and then you get on stage and read from it and you turn it into a performance piece.  I have a lot of relevant stuff for that, such as a fifth grade diary, an audio diary from seventh grade, and some poems from high school, so I’ve done a lot of things using those experiences. And I put some of that into the longer show, which I’m excited to perform at the Capital Fringe Festival in July.

Can you tell us a bit more about the Capital Fringe Festival?

This is actually my first time doing anything with it and I’ve never actually seen it before. As far as I can tell, it’s like the Fringe Festivals in a lot of different cities.  NYC has a Fringe Festival.  Edinburgh also has a big one, for some reason.  The way it works it that you send in an application to perform and you actually have to pay them to participate. You have to buy insurance and then produce your show entirely yourself, so there’s some fear that you won’t recoup your costs from this type of thing.  You’re performing more for performance’s sake than for profit.

The festival is spread out around ten or eleven different venues around the city, from July 7 to 24.  There are different shows and performers of all types: musicals, dance, some performance with social media that I don’t really understand, a lot of experimental low budget stuff, a lot of one person shows. Each show is performed about five times throughout the festival, all in the same location but at different times of day. My venue is the Wonderbox at 629 New York Ave, NW.  I will be there at 5 specific times and the place seats around 80 people. I don’t really know what I’m getting myself into but I’m excited.  The next step, if this is successful, is another Fringe Festival.

Performance Times:

  • Thu. 7/7 @ 8:00 PM
  • Sat. 7/9 @ 3:15 PM
  • Sun. 7/17 @ 6:30 PM
  • Tue. 7/19 @ 9:45 PM
  • Thu. 7/21 @ 6:00 PM

Other fun links featuring Adam Ruben:

Jewish Girl of the Week – Allison

You’re from the area. Tell us about that.
I was born and raised in the D.C. area. I grew up in Northern Virginia in a conservative Jewish family. I went to the University of Tennessee
in Knoxville for college. Upon graduating with my Masters in Education, I relocated to North Potomac, Maryland. I feel extremely blessed to have a close relationship with my family. My parents, brother, sister-in-law, nephew, and niece all live close by.

What is it like to be a special education teacher?
I am a very patient and loving person and have always been accepting of the differences in others. Being a special education teacher is an unbelievably rewarding, but equally tough job. Each day you put your heart and soul into your students. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else with my life.

When you’re not working, where can we find you?
In my free time, I love spending time with my friends!  I enjoy scrapbooking, traveling, reading, movies and knitting. Lately, I have become a more serious knitter and I just learned how to crochet. I enjoy making scarves and hats for my friends. There’s nothing like a homemade gift!

What is a cause that is important to you?
I am extremely passionate about the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (www.ccfa.org). In December of 2009 and 2010, I completed two half marathons and raised almost $10,000 for this cause. I volunteer for this organization whenever I can.

Which Jewish events will we see you at?
I enjoy going to many social events for young Jewish professionals in the D.C. area.  I am a member at Adas Israel and I feel each time I have gone to synagogue, I have walked away having met new people and
having had a blast with my friends.

Jewish Guy of the Week – Scott


You moved from Ohio, what are the similarities between DC and Ohio Jewish life?

Well in Cleveland the proximity of synagogues is very similar to DC. The conservative shul is just a couple blocks away from the Chabad house (there is a whole street with many synagogues of all denominations). What is interesting is that unlike back home where one belongs to just a certain synagogue and can’t go anywhere else, in DC I have many choices as to where to go, whether it’s Chabad, Sixth and I, DC Mynan, etc. I very much like the idea of having a choice from week to week on where I would like to go.

Why did you jump out of a plane?
Well that’s easy, why not? It was actually a goal of mine all throughout college, and during my senior year I decided to finally take the plunge. I’m a bit of a adrenaline junkie, so this was just the beginning.

What is your favorite Jewish holiday?
Actually its Hanukkah. This is the only time of year when I get to see all of my cousins at once, and we always have a blast.  Our big family party is a great way to see each other, and there is some amazing food.

What is the most delicious dish your mother cooks? And that’s a tough one.  My mother is a very good cook, so picking one dish is pretty difficult. I would say it is the sweet and sour pot roast she makes on Rosh Hashanah or perhaps the Matzah ball soup (depending on the holiday I may change my answer). Oh, she also makes a mean calzone. The list goes on and on.

Challah French toast or Matzah brei?
French toast hands down.  Actually, before I came to DC I made challah French toast about once a week. I haven’t had a chance to do it lately, but hopefully I can find the time.

How did you find your apartment?
Well from…. Gather the Jews of course! I just moved to the city and was looking for a place to live any way I could think of, and a friend of mine told me about Gather the Jews. So about a day after I posted that I am looking for a place to live I get a call from none other than… Aaron Wolff!

Girl of the Week – Jenn

NEW QUESTION:  “Why do you deserve to be Jewish Girl of the Year?”

I deserve to be Jewish Girl of the Year because I’m the girl everyone wants to know & I make a sinfully delicious sweet kugel that you just gotta try! Free kugel for everyone who votes for me!

 

 

Monday was Jenn’s birthday, don’t forget to wish her a Happy Birthday…

What does being Jewish mean to you?

My parents are both Jewish but come from very different Jewish backgrounds. My mother was born into an modern Orthodox family and raised on Long Island, New York. Her family kept strictly kosher, she was shomer Shabbos and she attended a Jewish day school. In contrast, my father is a native Washingtonian and was raised reform. His family didn’t keep kosher and only went to synagogue on the major holidays. Growing up with two very different ideas and practices of Judaism in my home, I had to carve out my own Jewish identity. In middle school and high school I was active in B’nai B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO) and United Synagogue Youth (USY). During high school, I had the opportunity be part of the inaugural USY on Wheels Mission Mitzvah Bus where we traveled all over the United States performing different mitzvahs and service projects in various Jewish communities. Being raised in a family that has so many different traditions has made me feel comfortable in any Jewish setting and has given me a greater appreciation for my Jewish background!

How did you decide to become a wedding and event planner?

Actually, I didn’t know that I wanted to a wedding and event planner until college. I changed my major from elementary education to hotel and restaurant management right before my freshman year at the University of Delaware. Growing up my parents always threw elaborate birthday and holiday parties. I can recall decorating heart-shaped cookies for our Valentine’s Day party and decking out our house with Halloween decor. Friends and family who know me well tell me that being an event planner is the perfect career for me because I am outgoing, creative and I am always planning the next adventure! The best part about my job is getting to know my clients personally. I enjoy showing them the party room before their guests arrive-their reactions are priceless and makes all the hard work and many months of planning worthwhile. I am very grateful I have a career that I am passionate about and in doing my job I create spectacular parties for my clients!

Have you always loved to travel?

Yes! I was always enthralled by the stories my grandparents told me about their travels to exotic and distant locations. I wanted to travel and see the world from a very young age. While my friends were attending summer camp my grandparents took my family to places like Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, Mount Rushmore, Pikes Peak & the Petrified Forest. During high school and college we visited Australia, Israel, Brussels & Amsterdam. Most recently I had the opportunity to travel all over India and Nepal with my mom and grandmother. I love visiting my grandmother’s home in New York because it reminds me of a museum with all of her masks, dolls and souvenirs from her travels. On our recent trip to Nepal we had the rare opportunity to visit the Chabad rabbi and his family who run the Chabad Center in Kathmandu, Nepal which is the most remote location where Jews reside. I cant wait to see where my next travel adventure takes me! In the future I would like to venture to Ankgor Wat, Cambodia; Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; Lake Baikal, Siberia; Papua, New Guinea & Machu Picchu, Peru-if you’re interested in being my travel partner, let me know!

What do you like to do when you’re not planning parties?

I am always on the go! I love going to the theater, concerts, museums and I am a avid moviegoer. I am always willing to try something new. I just attended my first opera at Kennedy Center where I heard Andrea Bocelli sing and was quite impressed. I attend many Jewish social events at Adas Israel and Sixth and I Synagogue with my friends. I often volunteer at Sixth and I to help with their events. I love a good barbeque, dining with friends and trying new restaurants throughout DC. Whenever I have the time, I take the bus to New York City to visit with family and friends and to see a Broadway show! I like being outdoors and enjoy activities such as swimming, hiking, running & ziplining. I also enjoy bar hopping with friends or checking out a local wine bar. With all the cultural & social events going on in DC and Maryland I have a tough time deciding what to do next!

When you aren’t in Maryland, where can we find you?

My brother, his wife and their two adorable daughters live in Boca Raton, Florida. I love being an Aunt to my nieces and enjoy watching them grow up! Im very excited about an upcoming trip to Florida to celebrate my niece’s 1st birthday. When I am not visiting Florida I am on my way to New York City which has a special place in my heart! I spent a summer interning as an event planner at the Convention and Visitors Bureau of NYC and know the city very well. Getting together with family and friends is always the highlight of my trips to the Big Apple! I take the subway to Soho to dine at my favorite restaurants and shop in all the local funky stores. I like shopping at the little kiosks along the street and I am always up for a good bargain. Florida and NYC are great places to visit but I love returning to my home in Maryland!

Jenn, thank you for taking that extra step to Gather the Jews…  We heard you brought co-founder Aaron Wolff to his first on campus Shabbat dinner at the University of Delaware (shout-out to Rabbi Sneiderman and his family).  Jenn, as a result of your actions, you helped inspire Aaron to share Shabbat and Judaism with others.  We wonder how many other Jewish souls you have inspired?!

Mitzvah Maker — Kevin Fishkind

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington recently announced the winner of its Jerome J. Dick Young Leadership Award:  Kevin Fishkind.

Gather the Jews:  Congratulations, Kevin!  Can you tell us a little bit about the award and what you did to win it?  Big cash prize?!

Kevin with his wife (Meryl) and his daughter (Ruby).

KF:  I have been involved with Jewish Federation of Greater Washington (JFGW) for 6 or 7 years.  My wife and I were introduced to JFGW by taking a Jewish Heritage Class with Erica Brown (she’s the greatest).  I have also been a volunteer and participant in Young Leadership Programs including Nexus and Nexus Next Step.  My first leadership role was (along with my wife) as Co-Chair of Dialogues with JFGW.  For the last two years I have served as Co-Chair of Young Leadership along with Eva Davis (2010-11) and Jeremy Rosen 2011.  We have made amazing strides and, along with the professional staff, have created a Young Leadership Board.

GTJ:   Dialogues… tell us more about that!

KF: This is a JFGW program for Young Couples in the DC/MD/VA area.  Most of the programs for young people in Washington DC are located in the District and cater to a single crowd.  Dialogues is a way for young couples that are dealing with similar challenges in marriage or career or raising children to interact with other couples and also stay connected to the Jewish Community.

GTJ:  If you could give one thing to the young professional Jewish community of Washington, DC, or if you could improve one thing about the community, what would you do?

KF:   I would like to create a better network for young Jewish Professionals to conduct business with one another and also connect for personal reasons.  I am passionate about passing on Jewish traditions and values to the next generation and I think we need a connected community to accomplish this.  We need to make being Jewish “cool” and a club or “tribe” that people want to be a part of.  In general, our generation is less interested in religion and this matters less if you are a Catholic as there are still plenty of Catholics out there.

GTJ:  If you had to give this award to another person, whom (other than your wife) would you give it to?

KF:  Sorry to cheat here but I would give the award to Jeremy Rosen, Rachel Cohen Gerrol, and Josh Stevens.  Eva Davis has already won the award and is deserving.  All four of these young leaders inspire me.

GTJ:  That’s the second week in a row that Jeremy Rosen has gotten a shoutout.  See Casey’s interview.  Unprecedented!!

GTJ:  When not saving the Jewish community of DC from evil monsters, what do you do (… What’s your day job?)

KF: I work as a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.  I help clients answer 2 questions: Do I have enough money to make it?  Are there any blind spots in my plan?

GTJ:  Describe the DC young professional community with four adjectives.

KF:   Intelligent, Driven, Caring, and Socially Aware

 

Girl of the Week – Jessica

1.) You’re an avid collector. Tell us about that.
I come from a family of collectors and so on a family trip to California I started my own collection by buying my first snowglobe. My dad would bring me snowglobes back from business trips, I would get them for birthday and Hanukah presents, from family vacations, etc., and soon I had over 200! At 16, I was invited to join the Smithsonian in their 150th anniversary celebration by displaying my collection in their young collector’s exhibit. My collection and I were also featured on the cover of the Potomac gazette and in a young collectors show on FX. Shortly after that my mother started my second collection – Peach Crest Fenton glass, or as I call it – Pink Fenton. Knowing I had a love for pink, it was the perfect addition to my love of collecting. My paternal grandmother was also a collector and being extremely close to her, she left me her two most important collections when she passed – her clowns and her teapots. I cherish both of these collections just as much as my pink Fenton glass and my snowglobes; they are truly a part of who I am.

2.) You work in television production. What goes on behind the scenes?
Working in TV isn’t always glamorous – especially when you work in government TV like I do. As a little girl I wanted to be the next Katie Couric, but in high school I was introduced to the production side and fell in love with the creativity it allowed me to bring. Government TV isn’t very exciting but I love what I do – I handle all the logistical parts of production. I get to location scout, hold casting calls, travel to new cities, interview exciting people, and work with clients to produce all kinds of multimedia. I smile every time my friends tell me what a cool job I have, but it’s not always thrilling! Most of my days are spent in front of a computer planning and organizing upcoming shoots. It’s not your typical 9 to 5 job, but I wouldn’t trade it in for any other job in the world.

3.) You’ve had many traveling adventures. What was your favorite?
I can only pick one? That’s really hard! My travels started as a young child with many family vacations. When I was 16 I went on USY on Wheels where for 6 weeks, along with 45 other Jewish teens, I traveled by bus around North America. A few years later I traveled to Israel to attend the Alexander Muss High School in Israel – another incredible opportunity. After that I loved to travel to new places and see new things – besides more family vacations like Cape Cod and Hawaii – where I swam with Sharks – I’ve traveled with friends to Vegas and New Orleans. In college I visited Delmarva where I went skydiving – not your typical traveling but an adventure I had to mention! New York City is another favorite destination, I have a lot of friends there so it’s nice to go visit. I also love to go to Chicago to visit my 4 year old nephew Max and my 8 month old niece Ruthie. Next up? I would love to plan a trip to India! There are so many places I would love to see though that someday I hope to travel the globe!

4.) How did you decide to become a youth advisor?
Growing up I was extremely active in USY – it is a huge part of who I am today. I’m still very good friends with many of my USY friends and I love to reminisce about how much fun we used to have at activities, dances and conventions. When the opportunity came up to be a youth advisor at Har Shalom, the same synagogue that I grew up at, I jumped at it. I hope to have a positive influence on these kids, and that they have the same amazing experiences as I did. I am truly blessed that I am able to give back to the synagogue that taught me how important Judaism is and to the Jewish community that taught me so much.

5.) Where can we find you on weekends?
I am such a social butterfly that I’m always out doing something! I love to go out dancing in Bethesda so you can usually find me out bar hopping somewhere in the area. I try to visit my college friends in Baltimore when I can and always have a blast there! I’m much happier in a laid back city like Baltimore than a busy uptight one like DC – although since buying my condo a year ago, Bethesda is definitely home. I also enjoy going to Shir Delight at Adas once a month and do that whenever I can! Life can get so busy it’s nice to have options to enjoy it every once in awhile.

Jewish Guy of the Week – Yasha

Yasha explains why he should be Jewish Guy of the Year:

When I moved to US from Russia in 2006 I didn’t know a single person in DC. Yet I was very much welcomed by the Washington Jewish community and through my involvement with the DC Jewish life I’ve met great friends and had many memorable and meaningful personal and communal experiences. Now I feel very much at home here and whether or not I will be named the Jewish Guy of the Year I will continue to pay it forward by being as engaged and welcoming as I can.

1.)     Tell us about your work at Hillel.
I work at Hillel’s International Division in our headquarters in Chinatown. My job, which I love, is to support and grow over 30 Hillels in the countries of the former Soviet Union, Israel, Latin America, etc. No, I don’t travel to all these places all the time, but I definitely use Skype way more than my regular phone.

2.)     Where can we find you on a Friday night?
I enjoy taking advantage of the diversity of the DC Jewish community. Over the years I attended services at TLS Shabbat, DC Minyan, 6th in the City, Mesorah DC, Shir Delight, 6th Street Minyan and others. These days most of the time you will find me at 6th and I Historic Synagogue as I’m a big fan of their truly inclusive community of communities model. Maybe that is why I am currently the mayor of the place.

3.)     I hear you love to host parties. You had a Glee season finale party. What did that entail?
Ooops. I guess I’m out of my Glee closet for good now. It was a very laid back night with my fellow gleeks where we had some vodka slushies and decorated a Glee chalkboard during the commercial breaks. It wasn’t as crazy as some other parties that my roommate and I recently hosted at our place in Van Ness such as Russian Space party or guys-only Whiskey Night. But the next party I’m planning will put them all to shame as I’m looking forward to celebrating my American citizenship later this summer.

4.)     Vodka slushies, Russian space party, citizenship – it seems pretty clear you came from Russia not too long ago. What were the biggest adjustments you had to make when you came to the U.S.?
First there was language and food but that was relatively easy. Then came the real learning and the process of breaking down the stereotypes about Americans as a whole and certain communities in particular that I didn’t get to experience before moving here. It was an eye- and mind-opening experience that I am very grateful for. One other interesting observation that I made is that Russians usually have fewer friends, but the relationships among friends seem to be deeper. Here everyone is friendly but building a meaningful friendship is not easy, especially in such a transient city as DC. But being the member of the tribe certainly helped a lot with my adjustment here as it creates an instant bond with someone with whom you might not have much in common otherwise.

5.)     What’s your favorite thing to do in DC?
I host a lot of international visitors and often take them around to see the sites. Strangely enough I still very much enjoy it as I get to see and rediscover the beautiful city that we live in through their eyes. Library of Congress, FDR and Einstein Memorials, Old Post Office Tower are some of my favorite places to take people to but there are many more that are off the beaten path. And since I recently signed up for Capital Bikeshare I’m discovering even more unique neighborhoods and cool streets. I’ve been here for 5 years but still feel like the journey has only just begun.