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Meet Alissa: Jewish Sports Fan of the Week!

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German opera singing. Indigenous language preservation. Aaron Judge wedding fantasies. Alissa Platz is one unique lady. Get to know her in this exclusive interview!

Allie: How did you wind up in DC?

Alissa: I’m from central New Jersey, went to college at American University and have been here ever since.

Allie: I hear you work at AJC. What motivated you to become a Jewish professional?

Alissa: Growing up, I was the only Jewish person of my friend group, so Judaism took a back seat. But, my mom always instilled in me that it was important to be proud of my Judaism. I associate the Jewish community with positive childhood memories, and I love the values of being Jewish, like tikkun olam (repairing the world) and tzedakah (charity).

When I went to college, I really tried to get involved in the Jewish community in as many ways as I could. My Hillel director once said to me, “Why don’t you consider being a Jewish professional? You could make a great impact.” So, when I was looking at jobs, I looked in both International Relations (my major) and Jewish professional jobs – and landed at Sixth & I [and later went to AJC].

Allie: What do you do at AJC?

Alissa: I manage the young professional division at AJC called ACCESS, which empowers millennials to advocate for the values of AJC. On May 22nd, we are having a Young Diplomat Reception at Social Tables. This is one of our signature events that brings members of the Jewish young professional community together for a night of conversation around a specific theme. This year, the theme is sports and diplomacy. I’m personally a really big sports fan, so I’m excited to use a lot of sports puns in my Facebook posts [to promote this event].

Allie: What are your favorite sports?

Alissa: I’m a really big Yankees fan, and I love the Chile National Futbol team. I love watching sports in general, and am really excited to watch the World Cup this summer. I’m also a big Nationals fan. I love Mark Teixeira, Rhett Gardner, Derek Jeter is a classic, and Aaron Judge is my future husband.

Allie: Do you play any sports yourself?

Alissa: I’m in a rec softball league with DC Fray, we play each week next to the Washington Monument which is really beautiful. We haven’t won a game yet, but we’re working on it.

Allie: If you could be amazing at any sport what would it be?

Alissa: Baseball. But, that would require me being a lot taller than I am. I’d want to be catcher because you have to know what’s going on and strategize with the pitcher.

Allie: Where did your love of baseball come from?

Alissa: In middle school, my teacher always talked about the Yankees, and I wanted to be a part of the conversation. So, I started watching Yankees games with my dad every night. My dad turned 65 last year, and I took him to a baseball game and surprised him with his own personalized jersey.

Allie: What are you most excited about summertime?

Alissa: Warm weather, the heart of baseball season, and going to Italy with my friends! We’re going to go to Venice, Florence, and the Alps.

Allie: What’s your favorite smell and why?

Alissa: Freshly cut grass, I love warm weather and that smell signals to me that warm weather is coming.

Allie: What is something people might be surprised to find out about you?

Alissa: I love singing opera style –  in German.

Allie: Is there a quote that inspires you?

Alissa: Ellen Degeneres, who is a phenomenal human being, and the voice of Dory, says to “be kind to one another.” Today, politics can be pretty divisive, people are segregating themselves based on their political beliefs, and a lot of nasty things are being said by our elected officials – and we should all try to be kinder.

Allie: What’s your favorite way to spend free time in the city?

Alissa: I love being outside in nature. I love Rock Creek Park, the National Mall, and still have on my bucket list to go to Great Falls and Shenandoah. DC always has new festivals or activities happening, and I like to check the events section of Facebook or GatherDC’s calendar and see what’s coming up.

Allie: If you could be anything (besides an awesome Jewish community professional) what would you want to be?

Alissa: I’d want to live in an indigenous community in Latin America studying indigenous languages, and how to preserve them.

Allie: What do you find funny?

Alissa: A combination of 6-year old boy humor, SNL, and observational humor. I love John Mulaney, and also really love a good pun. I feel like an old soul trapped in a 24 year old’s body.

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

Alissa: We play Jewish Geography.

 

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

Top Five Reasons to Go to AJC’s Winter Party

Meet other Jewish young professionals

This night is for you to meet other Jewish young professionals across the DMV. Don’t worry, we won’t let you mingle on an empty stomach. Your ticket includes delicious appetizers and sweet and savory crepes from 2-star Michelin chef, Gerard Pangaud. Start your weekend off early with drinks, a live DJ, and dancing!

Learn about AJC ACCESS DC

AJC has been around since 1906. It is the leading global Jewish advocacy organization with unparalleled access to government officials, diplomats, and world leaders. We take a nonpartisan lens. Some call us “the state department of the Jewish people”. We work with the few that affect the many.

ACCESS DC empowers Jews in their 20s and 30s to develop strong relationships with these key contacts so they can advocate on behalf of the Jewish people here in Washington, D.C., and around the world.

Get involved with ACCESS

ACCESS supporters can attend insider events like our Marshall Society Insider Series. This is a great opportunity to hear from foreign policy professionals. Past speakers covered the political issues in Turkey, German elections, genocide in Bosnia Herzegovina, and trade in Singapore.

Join for local and international ACCESS

ACCESS offers young leaders unique domestic and international travel experiences, enabling them to hone their diplomacy skills at high-level meetings and conferences. Recently we sent groups to Morocco and Japan! We have an upcoming trip to Greece and Cyprus in June!  

Party with a purpose

Support an organization thinking ahead about the safety and security of the Jewish people. In 2015, AJC launched the Mayors United Against Anti-Semitism campaign, inviting U.S. mayors and municipal leaders to sign on to a statement that calls upon their European counterparts to publicly address and take action against anti-Semitism in their communities. To date, more than 350 U.S. mayors and municipal leaders from all 50 states and D.C. – representing nearly 86 million people – have signed on, along with nearly 200 European mayors from 31 countries representing more than 70 million people.

 

No matter what your reason is for showing up, we can’t wait to dance the night away with you on Thursday, February 8th! Get your ticket now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Jewish Advocate of the Week – Alyssa

img953972Jackie: What first brought you to DC?

Alyssa: GW! I moved to DC in 2010 to study international affairs at The George Washington University and I fell in love with the city. Six years later and I still feel fortunate to call the District my home.

Jackie: I hear you’re quite the foodie. What’s your favorite restaurant in the District?

Alyssa: There are few things I love more than great food with great company. With the recently announced Michelin DC Restaurant Guide, Michelin’s Bib Gourmand and the Washington Post’s 2016 Fall Dining Guide, I’m excited to continue exploring the DC food scene! My favorite restaurant is probably Le Diplomate, but recent places I’ve loved are Kinship in Shaw and Tail Up Goat in Adams Morgan.

Jackie: How did you get involved in Jewish Women International’s Young Women’s Leadership Network?

Alyssa: I was invited on a whim to a YWLN Potluck Shabbat in Summer 2015 and was surprised at the ease with which I could talk to and connect with other YWLN members. Soon after, I joined the network and have been involved ever since. I joined the DC Board a few months ago and I’m excited to continue working with this amazing organization.

img_0838Jackie: Have you always been interested in advocacy for women?

Alyssa: Absolutely. I grew up with the best role models: fiercely strong women who showed me the importance of believing in and standing up for oneself, caring for others, dreaming big and giving back. I was lucky to have been raised in such an environment. It’s important to me that I give my voice to making sure all women and girls feel supported and empowered to realize their full potential.

Jackie: What is your role for the JWI Young Women’s Leadership Conference on December 11th?

Alyssa: I’m on the Young Women’s Leadership Conference Committee, so I’m part of a team of YWLN members working to make this conference the best one yet! I’m on the workshop review subcommittee, so I work with my subcommittee to make sure the workshops are engaging and meaningful to conference participants.

Jackie: Why should someone come to the Conference?

Alyssa: This conference is a great way to network with young Jewish professional women in a variety of different fields, not just those working in the Jewish community. The Conference is also an amazing opportunity to learn from former and current JWI Women to Watch, notable women recognized by JWI as change-makers and leaders in their respective fields ranging from art and culture to business and technology. The different workshops cover both professional and spiritual topics, making this a well-rounded and meaningful event.

img_0304Jackie: Can you tell us about your role at AJC?

Alyssa: I’m the Senior Associate for the Department of International Jewish Affairs at AJC. In my role, I support the work of my boss, Rabbi Andrew Baker, who has been working to combat global anti-Semitism for decades. I also plan exchange programs with overseas foundations. My next program is called Promoting Tolerance, which brings emerging liberal civil society leaders (i.e. journalists, politicians, lawyers, NGO directors, etc.) from former Soviet Union countries to learn about pluralism, tolerance, and the role of minorities in a flourishing civil society. They’re coming less than a week after the election– it’ll be a very interesting program, depending on the results…

Jackie: Do you have a favorite Jewish dish to cook?

Alyssa: Two dishes I love to make that bring me back to cooking at home are roasted rosemary potatoes and vegetable soup.

Finish the sentence: When the Jews Gather… We Eat! 🙂

Learning from History

AJC-logo3_H-tag newThis article originally appeared in The Times of Israel.

At the end of June, I was fortunate enough to take part in the American Jewish Committee ACCESS Third Generation Initiative trip to Germany, which brought together ten young American Jewish professionals and ten young German professionals to explore modern Germany and its history.  The trip was co-sponsored by American Jewish Committee

ACCESS; the Munich-based financial services company, Allianz; and Germany Close Up, a German nonprofit that promotes American-Jewish-German relations.

I first traveled to Germany in 1994 with my high school orchestra on a cultural and educational exchange program with the Detmold Jugendorchester from the small town of Detmold, Germany.  At the time, I was a bit hesitant about traveling to Germany because some members of my family regarded anything German or related to Germanys with some suspicion and distrust.  During my high school trip, I stayed with a German host family and was struck by how sensitive they were to my being Jewish and how attentive they were to my Kosher dietary restrictions, making special efforts to prepare vegetarian meals for me.  During this trip, I spoke to some Germans about the Holocaust and could see they were eager to learn about it and discuss it.

On my recent trip to Germany with the Third Generation Initiative, I saw that this interest in learning about the Holocaust runs far deeper than I initially thought.  During this trip, I saw Germans in all aspects of society going to great lengths to educate themselves about their Nazi era past and learn from it.

We visited the offices of Allianz, a large German financial services company that co-sponsored the trip.  Allianz has spent years uncovering its corporate history during the Nazi era, including its involvement with the Nazi regime during that period of history, and has taken a leading role in handling Holocaust-era insurance claims.

During the trip, we visited the former concentration camp, Sachsenhausen.  As I walked through the camp, I was surprised to see a number of groups of elementary school-aged German children visiting the camp.  After the visit, many of the German participants on our trip shared what grandparents and aunts and uncles were doing during the Holocaust.  I was moved to see how visibly conflicted and upset some of them were about relatives that may have been complicit in the atrocities.

On a visit with leaders from the German armed forces, I learned that the country’s history during the Nazi era influences current military policy.  The German Nazi and Stasi history has led to a general policy of military restraint, although this may be changing as Germany becomes a larger force on the world stage.  The military leaders told us that the army’s current oath is to defend the rights of the German people as opposed to the military’s oath during the Nazi era, which was to pledge unconditional obedience to one individual—Hitler.

Over the past couple of months I have seen numerous newspaper articles about the recent rise of anti-Semitism in Europe.  I was especially shocked to read that protesters were shouting anti-Semitic slurs and attacking Jewish individuals on the streets of Berlin, which is so much at odds with my experiences in Germany.  However, I am encouraged by the strong statements denouncing these anti-Semitic actions made by Chancellor Merkel, other prominent Germans, and members of the German press. I have confidence that Germany will continue to take a strong moral stance and put a stop to the spread of anti-Semitism in Europe, and that Germany will be a model for the world in learning from its past.  As young leaders in the Jewish community, we have a critical role and responsibility to continue to support these efforts and to strengthen the German-Jewish relationship in the years to come.

Natalie Rosenfelt lives in Washington, DC and is an antitrust lawyer for the U.S. Department of Justice. She received her law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law and her undergraduate degree from Cornell University. 

ACCESS DC To Highlight Migration at 13th Annual Young Diplomats Reception

logo_ajcIlana Ron Levey is a Co-Chair of ACCESS DC, the young professionals initiative of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in the Washington D.C. area, and a member of the Global ACCESS Steering Committee (GASC).  

For over 100 years, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) has considered issues of immigration- particularly to the United States and to Israel- as part of its core mission. Virtually all American Jews today are intimately familiar with the immigration experience, and its positive prospects for new beginnings and social mobility and its negative challenges of dislocation. Today, the AJC is a leader amongst American Jewish organizations in advocating for a comprehensive immigration reform vision that supports American growth by welcoming skilled and talented foreigners to our shore, and protects the rights of individuals fleeing persecution and oppression.

Likewise, through the AJC and our young-generation program, ACCESS, we are deeply committed to engaging with diplomats across the world and to building enduring relationships borne out of mutual respect, common interest, and shared responsibility. Our annual ACCESS DC Young Diplomats event honors this commitment by bringing young diplomats from over 60 countries together with talented young Jewish leaders to connect over a topic of mutual interest and importance.

On October 10th, we will come together at our annual Young Diplomats Event to speak about the challenges and opportunities of international migration. While the United States remains the most popular destination for migrants worldwide, with more than 45 million of the 232 million people defined by the United Nations as living abroad, diverse countries such as Germany, France, England, China, and South Africa are also experiencing major waves of migration. The topic of international immigration also includes the challenges posed by forced migration of millions from war torn areas, including the more than two million recently forced out of Syria- more than 10 percent of the population.

We should ask ourselves important questions about migration and its impact. What attracts or repels people from one country or another? What are the challenges and opportunities afforded by immigrant populations? Do democratic nations have the moral obligation to take in refugees in times of crisis? What do global populations look like in the 21st century?

There is no doubt that long term migration can change societies and how countries interact with one another. For example, the largest source of foreign income for countries like Russia or Mexico today is from migrant remittances. Today, there are 37 million Americans of Irish descent- and just under four million Irishmen in Ireland. These migrants changed the face of our country in the past, just as the faces of other countries around the world are changing today.

Please join us on October 10th  at 1777 F Street to discuss this complex, timely, and important topic, together with young diplomats from around the world. We are honored to host three expert and diverse speakers, who approach this issue from the perspectives of American foreign policy, international advocacy, and trans-national policy. The panel will feature Manuel Orozco, Senior Associate at Inter-American Dialogue, Anne C. Richard, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration at U.S. Department of State and Michael Werz, Senior Fellow at Center for American Progress.

For more information and to purchase a ticket, please visit www.ajcwashington.org/youngdiplomats2013.

Hezbollah, The EU & You

2_1On Monday morning, the United States awoke to the announcement that after decades of gruesome bombings and terror attacks worldwide, the European Union has voted to designate the “military branch” of Hezbollah a terrorist organization. This unanimous decision was voted on by foreign ministers representing the 28 EU member states and should hinder Hezbollah operations across Europe. Although the distinction between Hezbollah’s “political” and “military” wings is tenuous and should be dismissed, this designation must be viewed as a success for those who work to combat anti-Semitism and promote peace across the globe. As such, the American Jewish community should welcome the announcement.

For those of us as the American Jewish Committee (AJC), this designation came none too soon. Over the past several decades, Hezbollah has singled out Jewish institutions and communities worldwide while orchestrating their attacks. Last July, Hezbollah carried out a bloody terrorist attack on a bus in Burgas, Bulgaria in which five Israeli tourists and the Bulgarian bus driver were killed.  Hezbollah was responsible for the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in 1992 and the AMIA (Argentine Israelite Mutual Association) Building in 1994. These attacks, which both took place in Buenos Aires, together killed 114 civilians and injured numerous more. Furthermore, in 2006, Israel found itself under siege as Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets and missiles into the northern region of the country. Designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organization serves to protect the state of Israel and the Jewish people worldwide.

For the past several years, AJC leaders across the globe have been working tirelessly towards this designation. We’ve engaged in direct diplomacy with senior officials of EU member states. We’ve published op-eds in major media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal and El Pais. We’ve expressed the urgency of this initiative on the CBS radio network. And here in D.C., leaders of ACCESS, AJC’s young professionals’ arm, have participated in the diplomatic engagement that makes moments like this possible. From group meetings with leaders of European countries to substantive one-on-one conversations at our annual ACCESS SummitACCESS DC leaders contributed to the diplomatic advocacy that ultimately played a significant role in the European Union designating Hezbollah’s “military branch” a terrorist organization. As Nelson France, vice chair of ACCESS DC, remarked: “as an ACCESS leader, I have had the privilege of being in private meetings with several EU Ambassadors and Diplomats here in DC, and I can tell you, they are all familiar with AJC’s work on this issue.” This is global Jewish advocacy in action.

We encourage you to join ACCESS DC and become a part of the forefront of global Jewish advocacy. To learn more about AJC, please click here.

Alyssa Bogdanow serves as the Goldman Bridge Fellow for the Washington Regional Office of the American Jewish Committee (AJC). In this capacity, she works primarily with ACCESS DC, AJC’s young professionals’ initiative in the Greater Washington area.

What is Global Jewish Advocacy?

Jeremiah Baronberg serves on the Board of ACCESS DC, the young professionals initiative of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in the Greater Washington, DC area. He is co-chair of the 2013 ACCESS Summit at the AJC Global Forum, May 31-June 2.

As young Jewish professionals living and working in Washington, DC, we all know there is no shortage of organized Jewish opportunities to be crammed together with your friends in a Dupont Circle, Downtown, or Capitol Hill bar with a few hundred of your peers.

As fun and social as these gatherings can be, I often found myself asking, is there more to Jewish networking and meeting new people in DC?

A few years ago, I stumbled upon a series of organized Jewish opportunities for young professionals to step outside of our usual circles.  Happy hour with young Indian-American professionals.  Wine and cheese at the Goethe-Institut with visiting German journalists.  Dinner reception with young foreign embassy diplomats.

What piqued my interest about these gatherings was that they were focused not only on our Jewish and personal networks, but also about broadening horizons and meeting people from other local communities and countries.  The events also featured substantive elements that spoke to my strong interest in international relations, Israel, and multi-culturalism and support for democratic values, human rights, and pluralism in the US and abroad.

In fact, their whole purpose was to bring young Jews and non-Jews together in a spirit of friendship and partnership, to get to know one another, and to dialogue on issues of mutual concern and interest to our communities and our countries.

How cool was that?, I thought.

From experience, I recognized in today’s globalized world that it’s not enough for Jews to be isolated in our own communities and networks.  And for Israel to thrive and flourish, it needs friends and allies around the globe.  Here was an organization that was offering me both the tools and the opportunity to be an advocate for Jewish communities, and for Israel, by helping develop strategic partnerships with foreign diplomats and non-Jewish partners with the goal of safeguarding democracy, civil liberties, and Israel’s existence.

It brought the opportunity to learn about other countries, cultures, and communities.

In fact, it required it.

The fact that it was a Jewish organization, the American Jewish Committee (AJC), that pulled these pieces together with the understanding (the expectation!) that there would be some cultural differences and sensitivities, was all that I needed to find a Jewish connection.

It was intellectual, cross-cultural, and international – with Jewish values and Israel at the core.

Since those initial gatherings, I’ve become more involved, as a volunteer lay-leader, in AJC’s work and with its young professionals initiative, ACCESS.  I’ve attended small briefings at embassies and dinner receptions with ambassadors and young diplomats from around the world.  I’ve traveled with ACCESS to Austria and met with foreign ministers and dignitaries, UN and EU officials, parliamentary leaders, and local Jewish communities and to Miami this past February to meet with local Latino-American leaders and Latin American consuls general.

Through these opportunities, I’ve seen these experiences not as an extension of a high school or college youth group, but as part of something bigger, a global-oriented agenda advocating on behalf of Jewish communities, Israel, and democratic values through building bridges with foreign countries’ leaders and intergroup and interfaith partners in the most thoughtful of ways – through face-to-face engagement, dialogue, and friendship.

What’s more, is that here in Washington, DC, we are at the forefront of this work.

AJC’s annual Global Forum and ACCESS Summit are hosted here each spring, where people from across the country and from around the world gather each year to discuss and debate the big issues of the day facing our communities, our countries, and Israel.  Where else can you network and dialogue with Jews from Brazil, France, Australia, Czech Republic, and Israel?  Where else can you have private, small group dinners with a foreign minister or ambassador from Azerbaijan, Colombia, Morocco, Poland, Spain, and Singapore, among others.  Where else can you hear a Muslim theologian speak to a Jewish audience about how best to dialogue with the Islamic world?

These are elements at this year’s gatherings.

I hope you will join me at the 2013 AJC Global Forum and ACCESS Summit.

And I hope you will join us in our work here in Washington, and abroad, this year.

Live Program on Turmoil & Transition in the Middle East

The American Jewish Congress‘ National Executive Director David Harris has traveled the world this summer with AJC leaders – from Rome to Singapore – meeting with senior officials to convince them that only direct negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis can lead to peace.

Listen and talk to him as he gives an insider’s perspective on the Arab Spring, the expected consequences of the Palestinian gambit at the United Nations next week, and long term prospects for peace in the Middle East.

When: TONIGHT! September 15, 7:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.

Where: WHEREVER YOU ARE! Watch this event and send in questions from any computer by going to http://live.ajc.org/

For more information, see the Facebook page for this event.

This week’s big Jewish party

This Jews are gathering tomorrow night (Thursday) for the next big party:  ACCESS DC Winter Party 2011

The bottles start popping at 6:30, and the open bar doesn’t close until 8:00.  There will be vegetarian hors d’oeuvres all night long.

Where?  Glad you asked.  Lounge 201  (201 Massachusetts Ave NE) (map).

Tickets at the door are $25, or pre-purchase tickets for $20.

ACCESS DC Winter Party is hosted by the American Jewish Committee.