Thanksgiving in Washington, D.C.

It’s like college all over again—many friends go home since nobody’s actually from D.C., and enjoy the company and warmth of their families and childhood friends. But for those for whom “home” is much too far for a quick jaunt, it can be tough to be left behind here. That feeling of being stranded doesn’t exactly make you feel all fuzzy about Thursday morning parades on TV, the overpriced Thanksgiving dinner specials at local hotels, or missing out on two weeks of leftovers. And if it’s your first time being stuck in D.C., all the worse.

Per usual at Gather the Jews, we’d like to help.

I’ll recommend not worrying about helping yourself right away—go help some other people before you think about where you’re going to procure sweet potatoes and cookies to scarf down.

DC JCC is having a volunteer night Wed., Nov. 23 to prepare more than 7,000 servings of food for people in need in the D.C.-metro area. While you can’t get tickets to the event anymore, I’d say check in with the JCC just to see if there’s anything they still need. (Does anyone ever turn free food down?) DC Central Kitchen is helping to coordinate this effort, and could probably always use more help in the future. So Others May Eat is having its Thanksgiving Day Trot for Hunger on Thurs., Nov. 24, starting at 9 a.m. to benefit the hungry and homeless in D.C. Or help by donating to the Capital Area Food Bank through Nov. 30, particularly to help out low-income seniors who could use a good Thanksgiving meal.

But feeding yourself is also key.

You can either, a) Go find someone else who’s making a whole bunch of Thanksgiving food and hosting a meal, or b) Take the initiative and host a dinner yourself.

There are definitely a few kind souls around town who are hosting kosher Thanksgiving dinners for those stranded in D.C., and are of the opinion that the more, the merrier. If you’re looking for such a generous host, feel free to email me.

And if you’d like to do some hosting yourself, we’ve already got you started with a parve pumpkin pie recipe posted on the site yesterday. These kosher Thanksgiving recipes look pretty salivating-worthy too. Or maybe I’m already hungry for lunch at 10:45 a.m. But either way, give them a try whether you’re joining someone’s dinner and need to bring a dish or are playing host.

Hello, Goodbye

You know what’s sad? When you’ve been in D.C. just long enough that you’ve made a great new set of friends, and already a few of them are leaving.

I recently had my first experience saying goodbye to new friends thanks to the infamous nature of D.C.’s transient young professional scene. Because if there’s one adjective I’ve consistently heard since coming here, it’s that dreaded T-one. I also learned that even a few more new friends will be leaving the area in the upcoming weeks. (For those of you reading and know who you are, you’ll be missed greatly.)

So what do you do when you find out your new friends are leaving?

Replace them.

Kidding, of course. In the case of a couple friends, it helped to go to events or places in the community that they were involved in that I didn’t normally or previously attend. After all, whether it was a synagogue they loved or a charity they helped out, these institutions were what made those friends special and comprised who they were.

For example, one friend loves knitting. She participated in the DC JCC’s Handmade for the Homeless program. So stopping by on Wednesday night this week from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. could be one way to think of how she contributed to the area.

Another friend was a regular Kesher Israel attendee. I got the opportunity to visit the synagogue last weekend thanks to that friend, and was reminded of how great the community is there. Visiting again, whether for Friday night services or Wednesday night learning, is definitely in the future.

There are definitely plenty of ways to remember these friends, and you never know—if they come back into town, they might need a way back into those programs and institutions that you’ve now joined. There’s a great deal of benefit into letting yourself be inspired by those who cross our paths in D.C.

If you really are all about making new friends quickly and easily, while I won’t support replacing your old ones, there is this Gather the Jews event on Thursday I can’t not tout… If you’ve really missed the big banner at the top of the website, just click on the link to get more information on what will likely be a huge social event.  [Editor’s note: I swear we didn’t make her write this. But, yes, you should all come. It will be awesome.]

JCC’s Arts Center Benefit, with Melba Moore

The Washington DC JCC will be hosting a benefit for its Morris Cafritz Center for the Arts, featuring actress Melba Moore.

Moore gained popularity on Broadway with leads in Hair and Purlie—for which she won a Tony Award. She then launched a highly successful recording career with over a dozen albums, multiple Grammy nominations and hits like: “This Is It,” “You Stepped Into My Life” and “Lean on Me.” In addition to headlining engagements at the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera, Moore returned to Broadway to take over the role of Fantine in Les Miserables.

When: Tuesday, November 8,

Where: 1529 16th St. NW

The MCCA Benefit supports all arts programming at the DC JCC.  Tickets are on sale at the DC JCC website.

Jewish Literary Festival Starts TODAY

Interested in Jewish authors and literary themes?  Want to hear talks by established Jewish writers from around the globe or learn about emerging ones? Then come check out what the DC JCC has to offer during the Hyman S. & Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival this upcoming week and a half. The festival features author panels, readings, and talks for lovers of fiction, history, politics, humor, and more.

WHEN: October 23 – November 2

WHERE: 1529 16th St. NW

Some highlights:

For the full festival schedule, click here.

Israeli Fusion Holiday Recipes

Israeli-born caterer, Vered Guttman, offers Middle Eastern twists to holiday favorites.  Guttman, owner of Cardamom &  Mint Catering, uses her mixed Iraqi and Eastern European Jewish heritage to create unique dishes for Rosh Hashanah. Come hear her and learn how to spice up your holiday, literally!

WHEN: Wednesday, September 14, 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

WHERE: DC JCC, 1529 16th St. NW

Cost is $25 for members and $36 for non-members.

To purchase tickets, click here.



EntryPointDC Brunch a Success

The Newcomer Brunch this past Sunday was a huge success! Prior to Sunday, I had been concerned about the turnout due to Hurricane Irene. Instead, more than double the people projected attended the event. Over the weekend alone, 30 more people registered for the brunch, and about ten people showed up at the door, totaling the count to approximately 70 people.

I received excellent feedback from participants at the brunch. One girl, who had moved from New York City three weeks ago, came up to me and expressed how this was the best time she has had since her arrival to DC and that she was so excited that she had met so many new people. This large turn out, despite the weather, really shows the need for young adult events.

This event not only attracted newcomers, but also long time residents of DC, both singles and couples. The people at the event were eager to learn about what EntryPoint DC offers them, especially High Holiday discounted tickets and Shabbat/Special Interest clusters. With fall approaching and many newcomers arriving to DC, this event also fulfilled the need for people to start their year off building a community. I would like to see this event continue in the future!

Ilana Weltman is the Interim Director of EntryPointDC at the DC JCC

Don't Miss the DC Newcomers Brunch on SUNDAY

New to town? Not really dialed in to the DC Jewish scene?  Then come get acquainted with the warm, dynamic, and diverse young professional Jewish community in DC at the Annual EntryPointDC Newcomers Brunch.

Not new to the community?  Come anyway to welcome some new Jews to town, hang out with old friends, and hear about some Jewish organizations that may be new to you.  Many Jewish groups, including Gather the Jews, will have representatives at this event.

WHEN: Sunday, August 28, 12:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

WHERE: The DC JCC, 1529 16th St. NW

For tickets, click here.  The event sold out last year, so advance registration is encouraged!

This event – co-sponsored by Jconnect and the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington‘s NextGen and Birthright Israel NEXT DC projects – is truly a great place to meet people. In fact, blog editor Noa Levanon met GTJ president and co-founder Stephen Richer at this event, two weeks after moving to town, thus catalyzing her involvement in the coolest Jewish organization in DC. [Editor’s Note: We may be a bit biased in our categorization.] And, if that anecdote wasn’t enough to tempt you, then you should also know that they’ll be serving bagels and lox.