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From K Street to the Knesset – Pt 3:  What Does it Mean to be Jewish?

Over 100 events filled the GatherDC community calendar in April 2018. They ranged from a weekly Jewish yoga class at Adas Israel to listening to a Holocaust survivor at the EDCJCC. Events spanned all areas of the city, and extended to Maryland and Virginia. They included social gatherings like bar bingo, and educational outings for Jews of all identity groups.  

Diverse in many ways, but one thread bound these 100+ programs together: they were Jewish.

The 2017 Greater Washington Jewish Community Demographic Study denoted that, “DC’s Jewish community numbers nearly 300,000 Jewish adults and children in over 155,000 households.” The study found that 22% of the community is 18-29 years old, and another 21% are 30-39.

The Greater Washington Jewish community is the third largest Jewish community in the country. 43% of those in the DMV community are young professionals. Although many of these young adults are often seen at Jewish events (or on JSwipe), our local community spans far beyond these highly involved individuals. The study highlights that in America, being Jewish or not Jewish is not a binary classification. Jewish pluralism is alive and well in the U.S., and thriving in our nation’s capital.

As a part of B’nai B’rith International’s 175th Anniversary, I looked to better explore this idea of Jewish pluralism in a project dubbed The Zero.Dot.Two Initiative. With approximately 14.4 million Jews alive globally, our people represent approximately 0.2% of worldwide citizenry. In the U.S., which is the second most populous nation of Jewish citizens, we are still only 2% of the population. In Israel, three out of every four citizens are Jewish. To better understand Judaism in today’s diverse world, I began interviewing different local, national, and international Jewish influencers with just one question: what does it mean to be Jewish?

GatherDC’s Rabbi Aaron Potek answers the question by saying, “my five paths [to a meaningful Jewish identity] are spirituality, wisdom, ethics, community, and culture. I think these are five different ways to think about Judaism. Obviously, some of these paths intersect, but I believe each one individually can be a path that someone can go down.”  

Other DC-area rabbis share their own messages:

Rabbi Shira Stutman of Sixth & I Historic Synagogue discussed the orienting principles of her Jewish identity, which included tikkun olam (repairing the world) and, more specifically, how “that the world as it is, is not the world as it could be… It is our responsibility, as Jews in this world, to continue to yearn to heal the world, which is broken in so many ways, but also to improve the way that we interact with the world.”

Rabbi Steven I. Rein of the Agudas Achim Congregation of Alexandria, VA, who also serves as Jewish Chaplain for Arlington National Cemetery, said “one of the most important roles of Judaism is to provide the ‘derech‘ or path and motivation by which we can aspire to be our best selves, and in doing so, make a positive difference in the world in which we live.”

Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt, the founding rabbi of B’nai Tzedek in Potomac, Maryland, spoke of fulfilling the mitzvot. He paraphrased Elie Wiesel in saying, “to be Jewish in the 20th century is to be offered a gift. I look at Judaism as I look at this wonderful treasure – this wonderful heritage that we have. It has to do with our values that we offer both to individuals, and the values that we contribute to the world. Secondly, being Jewish offers us a sense of identity. An identity of who we are, where we come from, and where we are going.”

Rabbi Levi Shemtov, who is the Executive Vice President of American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad), and also serves the governmental and diplomatic needs of the international Chabad-Lubavitch movement, said, “the core of being Jewish means [asking], do I have a strong relationship with my creator – with G-d? Do I nurture that relationship on a daily basis? Do I do whatever I can to make the world better…bringing the world to a place where the nations of the world will be blessed through us collectively as Jews and individually?”

Beyond these religious leaders and teachers, the interview series has included elected officials, academics, celebrities, business leaders, Jewish communal professionals, and more.

U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) answered the question by saying, “It’s family, it’s tradition, it’s values. Almost every Friday, our family gets together for Shabbat dinner because that’s our tradition. We talk about each other’s lives, and what we can do to help our community – because that’s Jewish values.”

Mr. Cardin’s counterpart in the U.S. House, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who represents a swatch of Montgomery County, MD, answered by referencing the first time on Sunday school that he heard the famous Rabbi Hillel dictum, “If I am only for myself, what am I?”


This interview series has been an exciting project for me as I continue to develop my own Jewish identity, that has been significantly evolving throughout my life. 

Growing up, I used to think that I was a “bad Jew.” My family didn’t keep kosher, regularly observe Shabbat, belong to a synagogue, or even celebrate every Jewish holiday.  Today, I don’t think anyone can be labeled a “bad Jew” because I no longer look at Judaism in a binary construct. I recognize that while some may choose to observe Judaism through a more traditional path, others may choose a different route. These paths run parallel to one another, rather than in opposite directions. 

My Jewish identity has matured exponentially while living in DC due to this wonderful, local Jewish community that has taught – and continues to teach – me so much. Today, when I think about my Jewish community, I see past the 300,000 Jews living in and around DC. I consider the wider global Jewish community that offers me lessons on how I can be a better person by representing Judaism in a way that is meaningful to me. I know that I want to raise my future family Jewishly, and am beyond excited to marry a caring, loving, smart, funny, confident, and beautiful young Jewish woman in just a few months. My fiancé makes me a better person, and a better Jewish man, every day. She is my besheret (destined/soulmate). I cannot wait to see how our two Jewish lives and families, unique in their own ways, forge themselves into a single Jewish household under the ‘chuppah’ – and into our collective future.

Thinking back to my meeting with Rabbi Potek at GatherDC’s new Dupont Circle townhouse on April 19, I consider how the significance of that day relates to my personal Jewish identity. Although that day may have appeared like any other Thursday, to me, it was significant. This  importance was not just because I enjoyed learning from the rabbi, but also because we met on Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day).

My own Jewish identity includes a great connection to the land and the people of Israel.  I’m proud that last month the nation celebrated its 70th anniversary since its founding and I have a deep respect for the thousands of years of history of the connection of that land to the Jewish people.

This series of exploring differing perspectives on Jewish identity is a teaching tool. We all relate to our personal Jewish identity in our own way.  One of my favorite things about Judaism is that we often have more questions than answers to some of life’s most complex ideas. These questions and answers can be unique to each of us.

So, my blog series, “From K (or M) Street, to the Knesset”, was meant to share that there is no singular answer to the question, “what does it mean to be Jewish?” Judaism is unique to me. It is unique to you. It is unique to someone on K Street, or M Street, or in the Knesset. It is unique to a Jew in DC, Maryland, or Virginia. And it is unique to someone in Jerusalem, London, Paris, Moscow, Cape Town, Montreal, Morocco, Tokyo, or wherever Jews call home.

Like the 100+ events on GatherDC’s community calendar – to be Jewish is diverse. But, it includes one common thread: t be Jewish is to identify as being Jewish.  Whether you identity as orthodox, conservative, reform, Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Mizrahi, tall, short, Jew-curious, or just Jewish – you are all my Jewish brothers and sisters.

P.S. My personal answer to “What does it mean to be a Jew” is this: Being Jewish comes down to one question, and it isn’t “is your mother Jewish?” I ask myself, and I hope others ask themselves, if they identify as Jewish. If so, then: Do I/they choose to live a life that is based on Jewish ideals; Do I/they recognize that the world is imperfect, and that it is up to each of us to try to find our own individual way to repair it; Do I/they treat others with respect and as-if we would like to be treated ourselves; Do I/they know that God exists and that we as a people should try to both learn and teach Torah.

P.P.S. If you are interested in exploring your own Jewish identity, reach out to GatherDC to learn about all of the wonderful ways that they engage 20-and-30-somethings in the DC-area. Or, to hear other news important to the Jewish people, “like” the B’nai B’rith International Facebook page.

 

About the Author: Jason Langsner is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you. Jason has been an active lay leader of the Washington Jewish community since moving to the city in 2004.  He is a small business owner and formerly served as the head of digital strategy for the oldest Jewish human rights and humanitarian organization in the world – B’nai Brith International. When not blogging, he can often be found walking around his Eastern Market neighborhood or riding around DC area bike trails.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

The Four Types of Jewish Mothers in Our Lives

The top definition of “Jewish Mother” on Urban Dictionary is: “An unstoppable force of nature that will feed you, pamper you, and pester you at the slightest provocation, known to spout Yiddish randomly. Be warned: if you come to my house, you WILL leave with a full stomach and a bag of leftovers.”

I could not have come up with a better definition of a stereotypical Jewish mother if I had tried. However, from my experience, Jewish mothers come in a variety of different forms that cannot all be encompassed in this definition. These are the four Jewish mothers I have encountered during my twenty-six and a half years of life.

The “Jewish mom” of your friend group

Do you have that one friend who has anything you could ever possibly need at a moment’s notice? In my group of friends, this has 100% been me. Do you need a Band-Aid because your heels are giving you a blister? Check. Do you need some snacks because we are not eating lunch for another hour? Check. Do you have a headache from lack of sleep and need some ibuprofen? Check. I pride myself on being prepared for any situation that may arise and my friends know this about me.

Being the “Jewish mom” of your friend group in action

I had a coworker who was moving to a new home and had anxiety about stocking his kitchen. I of course took this opportunity to take him grocery shopping after work for anything he may need, and stocked his freezer with easy-to-make meals.

One time, I was with some girlfriends on a weekend trip and one of my friends met a very nice man. He walked her home, but then didn’t get the hint that he was not invited upstairs to our hotel room. I was the friend standing at the door telling him it was time to go back to his own place. This is not the first time I have done this for a friend.

Your “Jewish mom” at the office

As a young adult who does not live close to home, I always seem find coworker who has decided to become my “Jewish mom away from home”. Is this a perk of working at Jewish nonprofit organizations? Maybe. But I take full advantage of it!

via GIPHY

Being a “Jewish mom” at the office in action

At one of my previous jobs, I dog-sat for one of my “Jewish moms” from my office. Now, just having a cute puppy to spend time with was enough of an incentive to make this worthwhile for me. But every time I went over to my coworker’s house, she always had my favorite snacks ready for me. One time, she had my favorite – Chicago style popcorn (caramel and cheese popcorn mixed together) in her house. After I left that day, she realized that all the cheese popcorn was gone and only the caramel was left. The next time I was over, there was a whole bag of cheese-only popcorn waiting for me. When I moved to DC, she made sure I was prepared by sending me off with a calendar of her adorable puppy, some dried mango, and a gift card to Bed Bath and Beyond.

I have met some of the best pseudo “Jewish moms” who have invited me to their families’ homes for the Jewish holidays. Whenever these incredible women see my favorite foods at the grocery store, they buy it and bring it into work the next day. They are the reason being in a city on my own, away from my family has not been as difficult as I thought  – and I am beyond grateful for that.

Your first friend to become an actual Jewish mom

I have been excited to have kids since I was young. I always thought I would be a young mom and start this chapter of my life shortly after college. Of course, you cannot plan these things, and I did not end up being a young mom. But, at the age of 24, my first Jewish friend officially became a mother, and I cannot put into words how excited I have been to spend time with her little mush.

After spending hours on the phone with my friend, learning about her new life as a mom, and then spending four days watching her daughter while she was at work, I find that I am no longer in a rush to be a mom. I am in constant awe of my friend’s life as a mother, and truly have no idea how she finds enough energy daily. She takes care of her adorable baby, works, and runs her household. She has an awesome husband who equally supports their household, but I still do not understand how she has time for it all, while also finding time to create a song about me moving to a new city – to the tune of “Elmo’s World”, of course – and sleep.

As insane as this statement is, I did not realize how much having kids changes your life.

I am exhausted after a long day of work and going to a gym class. How in the world will I make it through sleepless nights with children? Needless to say, I am beyond impressed by my extraordinary friend, her endless stream of energy, and complete patience with her daughter at every moment. Right now, I am enjoying my current stage of life and no longer rushing to be at the “kids stage”. Until I get there, I will enjoy any babysitting time I get with my friend’s photogenic and hilarious daughter.

THE Jewish mom

Last, but certainly not least, is the Jewish mother for whom Urban Dictionary’s definition was tailor made for.

Being THE Jewish mom in action

The Jewish mom is the person who raises you to be the unique snowflake that you are. The Jewish mom is the woman who lent you her shoes when you accidently got in the car to go to school without taking off your slippers. The Jewish mom is the woman who sent you with Cheez-Its and Rolos to every youth group convention because those were your favorite snacks – even when youth group conventions were four weeks in a row. The Jewish mom is the woman who you woke up at 2:00 a.m. because your college boyfriend decided this was the best time to facilitate a breakup, and there was just no way you were going to end up sleeping that night. The Jewish mom is the woman who you can share shoes and clothes with when you forget to bring the right outfit home for the weekend.

While your Jewish mom may know how to lay on the guilt about the fact that you do not live close to home, she is also the amazing lady who you can call anytime you need to vent, laugh, or gossip.

Whether I need someone to help me move, or I need someone to keep me company while I am walking from one class to another, I always know my incredible Jewish mom will be there any time I need.

So, in time for Mother’s Day, I’d like to take this opportunity to to tell all the amazing moms in this world – no matter what their religion – thanks for being you. I would not be where I am today without these amazing women – but especially my own mom. Whenever someone tells me I am just like her, I know that is the best compliment they can give me.

 

 

About the Author: Marisa Briefman is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you. She is a recent DC transplant who was born and raised in Sarasota, Florida – likely where your grandparents live. Her love of all things Jewish began at overnight camp and continues to thrive in her role at ADL. She is coffee addict, lover of Mexican food, and on a permanent mission pet all the adorable dogs in DC (if someone is in need of a dog-sitter, email me).

 

 

Editor’s Note: This article is meant to be taken as satire. We acknowledge that all mothers, regardless of religious background of upbringing, have their own unique parenting styles, personalities, and behaviors.

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.

Booze and W2s… and Shabbat?

If I told you that I celebrated Shabbat with 30 strangers in a distillery, you’d probably say I had one too many glasses of wine and was imagining things.

My response would be, no, I celebrated Shabbat in a new way, with new friends in an environment that cultivated meaningful experiences in the DC community. And I’d finish with, “Welcome to the world of OneTable.”

Shabbat is my favorite part of the week. I gather with friends, enjoy good food, even better conversation, and am oftentimes wearing leggings and a sweatshirt! That being said, two years ago, I rarely participated in Shabbat experiences. I would observe Shabbat – at most – once a year. I would have never believed it would be something I would eventually do almost weekly, and even more, something I looked forward to.

Let’s go back to last Friday.

Imagine a crowded room with everyone raising a shot glass and saying kiddush. While the traditional wine may have been swapped with vodka, the meaning and intention behind the “ritual” was felt by every person in that room, no matter their religion or practices. With cocktails named after tax puns, juicy barbecue from Sloppy Mama’s, and an exclusive tour of One Eight Distilling, my Shabbat last week was unlike any other I’d ever experienced. I truly felt enriched and connected to my community here in DC.

For me, Shabbat is all about the community you bring together and the conversations you have over a good meal. It’s a way to take a break from your busy week, reflecting on all that’s happened (I like to do high“lights” from the week as a part of my Shabbat candle lighting ritual) and all to come. If tradition is important to you, by all means go for it! As I like to say, “you do you.” Don’t let anybody tell you your Shabbat isn’t enough. If it provides meaning for you, then you are doing Shabbat your way, and the “right” way.

Now, not every Shabbat of mine involves tax puns and shots, but last week’s “Booze and W2’s Shabbat” with OneTable (named in celebration of having made it through this year’s tax deadline) showcased the creative approach to Shabbat that OneTable provides and the ease of introducing Shabbat into your life. There are several dinners on the platform that are open to the public, so take a look and sign up for a dinner! Or better yet, sign up to host your own, and you too can do Shabbat your way – whatever that may look like.

Shabbat Shalom – and here’s to hoping that tax refund comes in the mail sometime soon!

 

 

 

About the Author: Judith Rontal  hails from wintry Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she grew up in a family that always managed to eat dinner together, even if that was at 10 pm. She’s continued that connection between food, family and culture in her blog, Aluminum Foiled Kitchen, and in her daily life in DC where she works in PR, focusing on media relations. When not in the kitchen working on a new recipe to serve at her next dinner party, you can find Judith sweating it out at yoga or running the Rock Creek Park trails. Follow her food adventures on Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

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.

A Conversation With My Bone Marrow on Her 15th Birthday

On every anniversary of my bone marrow transplant, I try to write a story of reflection. This is one such story in recognition of the 15th anniversary since I had my bone marrow transplant and have been cancer-free. This story is fantasy, so please suspend reality for a moment.

My 15-year-old “daughter” says that since I was born in the period when the sun passed through the constellation Capricornus, I’m—according to her favorite lifestyle magazine Elle—charming, graceful, and a freak in the sheets, lady in the streets. My daughter says this as we sit at our pollen-covered bistro set on the covered balcony of our ninth-floor apartment overlooking Crystal and Pentagon Cities. Clouds have rolled in and it has begun raining.

“I’m so glad I got that messy self-exploration out of the way!” I tell my daughter. “Now that I know myself fully, I can begin honing my sheets-and-streets skills.”

It’s cool being able to talk like this with my daughter. Though, that’s because I didn’t conceive her. She’s the stem cells collected from an anonymous baby girl’s umbilical cord. The cells were transplanted into me on April 24, 2003, to treat my second cancer called myelodysplasia. Those stem cells repopulated inside my bone marrow, and now my blood is her XX blood. My immune system is partially hers. I am partially her.

“But hold up,” says Bone Marrow—that’s what I call my daughter—“In Japan, your blood type is apparently more important than your zodiac sign. You’re type O-positive, right?…Like, duh, obvi you are because we have the same blood type. So some rando site called Body ecology says that since your blood type is O-positive, you handle stress well and you’re daring.”

“I’ll take it!” I tell her.

“Um ohmagawsh, it says you also have a well-developed physique?”

“That is true, I am shredded!” I reply.

“Um…”

“I mean, I will be again when I stop eating ALL THE CANDY. What does “Elle” say about me based on my blood type?” I ask Bone Marrow.

“Let’s see what it says about you based on the blood type you were born with and had until I changed you.” Click click click. Bone Marrow searches the internet even faster than birch pollen leads my face to mushroom. My heart swells when I consider she’s so much more brilliant than anyone else’s bone marrow. She is one big reason why I rarely catch colds, haven’t developed a third cancer or had a recurrence, and have allergies.

“”Elle Singapore” says A-positive people are creative and calm.” Bone Marrow tells me.

“Amazing, that is me!”

“But, like, it also says you are stubborn and, like, avoid confrontation.”

“…I’ve been O-positive for 15 years, so let’s go with that daring stuff instead.”

I think more about how my blood type changed. If it hadn’t happened to me, I wouldn’t even have believed it was possible. But then again, my personality has changed, too. Life is long for the fortunate ones. Long enough for us to change and learn and do almost anything. Bone Marrow has extended my life by 15 years and counting. When I feel sad about my inadequacies, I just have to remember that each day—each interaction, even—is a new opportunity to learn something new and become adequate. Thanks to Bone Marrow, I can do anything.

Neither of us speaks for a bit, and I can hear the rain splatter on the balcony railing. I look down to the ground at the greenery. The color reminds me of the towering trees I encountered the first time I left the University of Minnesota hospital after my stem cell transplant. When I was admitted, everything was frozen, and 65 days later when I exited the lobby’s revolving doors, I saw that the world had sprung to life. I feel so happy sitting here with Bone Marrow on her fifteenth birthday I could cry.

“What’d you get me for my birthday?” Bone Marrow says, interrupting the quiet. “It better be hot. It better make the boy bone marrows and girl bone marrows all cray cray for me. You know, I’m still exploring.”

Just when I was getting all sentimental about Bone Marrow, as I often do around her birthday, she reminds me she’s still a teenage girl. As much as I have to learn about overcoming inadequacy, I still have much to learn about parenting a horny Bone Marrow.

“Of course I did, Sweetie,” I say, reaching towards the plate on the table to grab a piece of chard to eat. “I learned how to sauté this in macadamia nut oil just for us!”

Bone Marrow sighs and makes some serious eye-rolling. “What?” I say.

“What do you mean, ‘What?’ You’re such a basic bone marrow host.”

“What’s ‘basic’? Chard is one of the most nutrient-dense foods! How else will we live to 150 years old?” I ask Bone Marrow.

“Only a basic would say ‘What’s basic.’ Ugh I can’t believe they put my cells in you.”

My hemoglobin drops. I know because I suddenly feel tired. Bone Marrow must have caused the drop because she’s really upset. “Calm down, I was just kidding. I got you something for real.”

I feel a jolt of energy. She’s excited. “What, what! Don’t you dare say you got me watercress.”

I laugh. My little Bone Marrow is so funny sometimes. I can’t believe she was transplanted into me 15 years ago. I remember that moment as clearly as if it happened not yesterday, but just now.

“I got you MoviePass!” I say as I show her the debit card that allows us to get right in for any movie in almost any theater.

Bone Marrow screams, and it doesn’t sound like the good kind. “Like OH-MA-GAWSH, you’re the most basic bone marrow host ever! How did you not know that I only watch Netflix shows? Movies are for old people. Ugh!”

I exclusively watch movies and not shows, apparently because I am old. I am old in part thanks to Bone Marrow. Thank you, thank you, thank you, and happy birthday, Sweetie.

From,

Your ever-grateful host

Celebrating Bone Marrow’s 15th birthday (and 15 years cancer-free)

 

 

About the Author. Benjamin Rubenstein  is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you!  Benjamin is the author of the Cancer-Slaying Super Man booksHe earned his Master of Fine Arts degree from University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast program. You can wish his bone marrow a happy birthday on FacebookYou can subscribe to his quarterly newsletter, Words by ruBENstein.

 

 

 

 

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.

Repairing the World, One Trip at a Time

I recently sat down with Michele Chakaya, a food justice fellow for Repair the World NYC  to discuss how she got started working with Repair the World and her upcoming service trip with EntryPointDC (the 20s and 30s program of the EDCJCC). This trip, called B’Yachad: A Giveback Getaway Trip to Brooklyn, is an immersive experience where participants volunteer with a variety of organizations, and learn about the systemic issues that create inequality in our society.

Stacy: Tell me more about you! Why did you want to be a fellow and what does Repair the World and their fellows do?

Michele: I am originally from Minneapolis, MN. My family comes from the former Soviet Union and I grew up speaking Russian. Prior to coming to Repair the World, I was working at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. There, I was introduced to various social justice issues and became interested in the social justice world. I have been a Repair the World food justice fellow since August 2017, and I will continue to be a fellow until July. My main partner is Hunger Free America, and I volunteer with them as a SNAP benefits screener. Repair the World organizes tens of thousands of young Jews to volunteer in tackling pressing local needs each year. Our food justice and education justice fellows work with local nonprofits to arrange volunteer and learning opportunities through a peer-to-peer model.

Stacy: What are some of the community service and learning projects participants will be partaking in on the B’Yachad trip?

Michele: We’ll learn about food justice by preparing a meal for the hungry at St. John’s Bread and Life and canvass neighborhoods to inform the local community about the SNAP Benefits and Food program.

We’ll also be helping out at a youth after-school project with Brooklyn Community Services. Racial justice is something we’ll focus on during our time together – the group will partake in anti-oppression training led by Repair the World. And, we’ll have the opportunity to empower young inmates by editing their poetry through the DC-based organization, Free Minds. One of our local board members will be leading a tour of the Crown Heights neighborhood, and Friday evening the participants will join with other local young professionals for a community Shabbat.

Stacy: What do you hope the volunteers will learn from the trip?

Michele: I hope they come back to DC committed to getting involved in service and social justice opportunities. I hope they bring back new ideas, practices, and inspiration that they learned over the weekend, and are able to explore their relationship between their Jewish identities and social justice. And I hope they can reflect on the importance of volunteering, as well as get to know the challenges, strengths, and communities in Crown Heights.

Stacy: What are some of your favorite things to do in Brooklyn and NYC?

Michele: I love to hang out in our neighborhood – Crown Heights, Brooklyn. There are several locally owned businesses on our street, many of which are Caribbean restaurants which serve delicious meats. We are also very close to Prospect Park, which is so beautiful and a very nice place to relax when the weather cooperates. When it comes to the Jewish community, I have enjoyed connecting with the various Moishe Houses, in particular, there is a Russian Speaking Moishe House that has been very welcoming!

Learn more about B’Yachad: A Giveback Getaway Trip to Brooklyn here. The trip is from June 7 – June 10 and applications are due May 7th. Limited spots available.

 

 

About the Author: Stacy Miller is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you. enjoys entertaining her large Jew crew at her home and is currently the Director of EntryPointDC, the 20s and 30s program of the Edlavitch DCJCC. She represents all things Northern Virginia as the Founder of NOVA Tribe Series and is a former GatherDCGirl of the Year Runner-Up. Most importantly, she wants you know she LOVES this community a-latke.

 

 

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EntryPointDC is committed to helping Jewish adults in their 20s and 30s in the D.C. metro-area build and maintain a Jewish identity and a connection to the community through social and educational programming.  Annual community service projects include Everything But The Turkey, D25 Day of Service, and Good Deeds Day. Repair the World NYC enables people to transform their neighborhoods, city and lives through meaningful service experiences, rooted in Jewish values, history and heritage.

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 Drag Brunch

Every once in awhile, we all need a Sunday Funday.  

A time to sit back and be entertained with a drink in one hand, and your crew spilling over to the next table, dishing out the latest in their lives.

A popular Sunday afternoon activity that has long been a DC tradition is drag brunch. Favorite drag brunch spots like Nellie’s and Perry’s provide awesome entertainment, but are missing one of our favorite elements – a Jewish shtick.

Luckily, this Sunday, April 22, the Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center (EDCJCC), located in your favorite DC neighborhood – Dupont Circle – will be hosting the fabulous  Not Your Bubbe’s Bingo: Drag Brunch and Games presented by EntryPointDC, the 20s and 30s program and GLOE, the LGBTQ outreach and engagement program of the EDCJCC.

There is drag brunch, and then there is JEWISH drag brunch. We thought you might want to know some of the extra elements you will encounter at this entertaining event (drag queens, schvitzing, and glitter may or may not be included).

Bagels, Blintzes, & Many a Mazel Mimosa

There is no better way to start your morning than with Jewish staples like bagel, lox and schmear, challah French toast casserole, blintzes, an unlimited mimosa bar, and coffee and juices for those that may be feeling less “mazel-ous”.

via GIPHY

B-I-N-G-O  (with prizes!)

Perhaps instead of getting an X or four corners on a board, you can win a round of bingo with the shape of a star of David or a Chai? Let us know if you can help us figure that one out!

via GIPHY

Drag Queen Yentas

What is a drag queen yenta you ask? Someone who can simultaneously channel Barbra Streisand, tell you about the hottest hunk in the room, all while calling bingo numbers.

via GIPHY

Mah Jongg,  Canasta, & Jewish Apples to Apples  #FTW

We would love to help you impress Bubbe when you join her at her weekly mahjong game. Learn why a Chinese tile-based game became popular among our female family in Florida and the basics of the classics.

 

Sunday may be some people’s day of rest, but we plan on ending our weekend having more fun than the time we got lifted in our chairs at our bar and bat mitzvahs.

Get tickets here for Not Your Bubbe’s Bingo: Drag Brunch & Games on Sunday, April 22.

 

 

About the Author: Stacy Miller is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you. enjoys entertaining her large Jew crew at her home and is currently the Director of EntryPointDC, the 20s and 30s program of the Edlavitch DCJCC. She represents all things Northern Virginia as the Founder of NOVA Tribe Series and is a former GatherDCGirl of the Year Runner-Up. Most importantly, she wants you know she LOVES this community a-latke.

 

 

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.

Call Me by Your (Jewish) Name

My love of the Oscar-nominated “Call Me by Your Name” may be a bit biased. The movie is set in a wonderful villa in the northern part of my home country, Italy, and the Director, Luca Guadagnino, is from my home town of Palermo. What was most exciting about the movie, though, went far beyond the bucolic setting, and the level of Italian nostalgia.

The story is about – don’t worry, no spoilers – two men who fall desperately in love during a summer in the ‘80s. Elio Perlman, a precocious half-Italian, half-American, Jew of only 17 years old, falls in love with Oliver, a 31-year-old Jewish graduate student from the States who travels to Italy to help his professor (Elio’s father) for the summer. I’ll keep silent about the rest – apart from highly recommending you see it.

Something about the movie has stayed with me for the few weeks since I watched it. In one of the main scenes, Oliver, looking intensely at Elio, tells him: “Call me by your name, and I’ll call you by mine.” Oliver’s request may certainly sound weird: why would someone call somebody else by their own name?

After watching, I found myself thinking about the importance of names and nouns in general, and about the role that our names play in our lives. We all have at least one given name. Sometimes, our names are random, chosen because our parents love how they sound. Other times, we are named after specific people. In Italy, like in Judaism, it’s quite common to name a baby after a grandparent. Whether we like it or not, we are stuck with our given name for our entire life, and there is not a lot we can do about it…or maybe there is!

Every name has a meaning, a power within itself. If we truly grasp onto the name and make it our own, then our behavior may shift a little bit to better fit into our name. Even a nickname is something we are given, and accompanies us for parts of our life. Nicknames often depict some of our characteristics, and grow into us, or – sometimes – we may change a bit under the influence of our nicknames.

So, what is the meaning of calling someone else by your own name? To do that seems almost like giving that other person your personality, your story, yourself. That, in essence, is what the two protagonists of “Call Me By Your Name” were doing during the essential scene referenced earlier: they were giving themselves to one another without restriction, exchanging their own given names. Through this exchange, Oliver and Elio nullify the differences between themselves, give each other their entire selves, and transform two separate selves into one. As lovers, the most intimate thing that they can give one another that goes beyond their bodies is, in fact, their names.

The Hebrew word “davar” illuminates the relationship between names and objects. “Davar” means both thing and word, as if to underline the idea that there is no difference between a thing, and the word that defines it. The noun gives meaning to the thing, and the most direct way we relate to a thing is through its name – to the point where the two become indistinguishable. Think, for example, about how and why God named the first man. God named the first man Adam, because he was made from the earth, “adama.” This makes a connection between the creature and what it was made from – it’s essence. We quickly discover more about the power of calling something by a name when God gives Adam the responsibility of naming all of the animals which He had created.

As Genesis 2:20 relays, “And the Lord God formed out of the earth all the wild beasts and all the birds of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that would be its name.”

What happens, though, when we have to choose a name for ourselves? How do we choose it among thousands?

Converting to another religion is never an easy choice, and was something I thought about for several years before making the big step to convert to Judaism. When I started my conversion path in 2012, I never thought that one of the most challenging aspects of it would have been calling myself by a new name.

When my conversion Rabbi told me that I had to pick a Jewish name for myself, at first, I found that odd: my name was already a Jewish name. I was named Daniela after my Jewish paternal grandfather, (nonno Daniele – whom I had never met because he passed away when my father was a child) but my name has a very beautiful Jewish meaning: Dan-i-El, “God is my judge”. I’ve tried to make this name my own throughout my entire life. I interpreted it as a pearl of wisdom to follow every single day, to inspire me to not care so much about the judgements of others, because only “God is my judge”.

When I explained this to my Rabbi, he stated that I had to pick a new Jewish name because I was going to start a new life as a Jew. Yes, people would continue to call me by my given name, but I needed a new Jewish name to remind me of my path. Having expected such an answer, I went to our next meeting prepared and told the Rabbi that I had picked “Laila” as my Jewish name. I liked “Laila” because it means night in Hebrew and Arabic, and I love the sound of it. Smiling, the Rabbi told me: “You should pick a name that has a meaning for you, not just a word whose sound you like.”

By that point, I was frustrated. It isn’t easy to pick a name. We are so used to being “given” names that, when we have the opportunity to pick one, we feel the big responsibility of the choice. After spending several days thinking about what my new name should be, I finally understood that the way to go was to follow my parents’ example and to name myself after someone who had meaningful importance in my life. That’s how I decided on the name Orly.

During a formative year studying in Israel, I met two important women named Orly. The first “Orly” was my Hebrew teacher at the Hebrew University, whose teaching helped me fall in love with that wonderful language. The second was an Orthodox Italian student from the University dorm. We connected immediately, and, despite our different ways of being Jewish, I considered her an example of how to be a “good Jew.” And then, of course, the name Orly literally translated to “light for me.” I loved the idea of a light to “light up” my new path in life. And hey: the Rabbi was satisfied too!

I know why “Call My By Your Name”, and that specific scene, struck such a chord in my heart. It made me wonder about who, among the people in my life, I would call by my own name. To whom would I give my name’s power and strength?

And what about you? Who would you call by your name?

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author: Daniela is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you! She is a “retired philosopher” who works as an executive assistant and loves to write about Italian and Jewish events happening in DC. She was born and raised in Sicily (Italy) in an interfaith family and moved to D.C. with her husband after studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where they met. They have a wonderful Siberian cat named Rambam! Daniela loves going to work while listening to Leonard Cohen’s songs and sometimes performs in a West African Dance group

 

 

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.

Levine Music: Education, Performance, Community

While covering the Edlavitch DCJCC’s Washington Jewish Music Festival (WJMF) over the past few months, I had the opportunity to speak with several musicians from Levine Music, and see their performances. After listening to their music and talking with them, I became curious about the institution they belong to. So, I decided to speak with Ms. Lois Narvey, head of performance at Levine Music, to figure out what makes Levine Music so successful, and better understand their connection to the WJMF.

Daniela: This year’s WJMF featured several concerts and shows by the Levine Music School. Tell us about the 2018 Levine performance series and the collaboration with the WJMF.

Lois: For a number of years, Levine has had a very unusual concert series of its own. It presents only our faculty, who are both teachers and performers. The series covers all of our genres: classical music, jazz, rock, and musical theater. We develop a central theme each year, and arrange the performance around that. Last year was a slightly political theme, called “The protest propaganda and promise. The power of music”. This year is an anniversary year for Leonard Bernstein, so the theme is about him and his iconic influence. It makes for a very interesting, eclectic but unified series.  

A few years ago, we started to partner with the EDCJCC. This started as a very small partnership, but when Ilya Tovbis – Director of the WJMF – took over, he revitalized it. Ilya was very interested in having some of our concerts presented under the umbrella of the WJMF. I give him choices that I think he may be interested in, and he choose them. I thought he would have definitely been interested in the “Quartet to the end of time”, and “Strange Fruit”, which was performed twice as part of the WJMF.

Daniela: What’s the story behind the Levine Music school? When and why was it created?

Lois: I can definitely tell you about that since I’ve been at Levine for 30 years! It’s about 42 years old, and started in 1976 by three women from New York who came here with their husbands and young families, and couldn’t find music schools for their kids in DC. Around that time, a woman, who was a good friend of theirs, a prominent lawyer, and amateur chamber musician, was tragically killed in an automobile crash. Her friends decided to create a music school in DC named it after their lost friend, Selma Levine. It started very humbly, in a church basement, with volunteer teachers. Today, we have five campuses, ~3,500 students, and 160 faculty.

The founders had a very particular idea about what this school would be. They wanted to have the most excellent teachers, and to bebe absolutely welcoming to anybody who wanted to study music. You didn’t need to be “good” – there were no auditions.We have continued with this mission, which we call “excellence and opportunity.” Today, two of the three school founders are still on the Board, and everybody can study at Levine Music school in any part of the city because we have five campuses, like this wonderful venue [I’m at now] in Southeast DC called The Arc. We have a very strong tuition assistance program, and age doesn’t matter. Our youngest student is – believe it or not – a 4 month-old, and the oldest just turned 100.

Daniela: You are part of the Levine Music faculty. What is the educational goal of the school, and how has your experience been so far?

Lois: We have a core of very talented students for whom we provide a conservatory form of education. The majority of our students will always be amateur, and that is fine with us. My experience with Levine Music has been varied. I came on as a faculty member teaching harpsichord and piano. Then, I became head of the Piano Department, then acting Dean, then Director of Programs and Admission. I’ve done pretty much everything, but I’ve never stopped teaching. I teach as much as I can. I love being part of the faculty and part of the school.

Daniela: In addition to education, the other two principles of the Levine school are performance and community. What does the Levine Music community look like, and who is part of it?

Lois: A few years ago, we realized that we do so much more than just teach. We do a lot of performing: our teachers perform, our students perform, we have master classes, competitions, and workshops. We want to offer our faculty the chance to perform and we want our students to be inspired by them and perform too.

Community is part of our mission. We want to reach out to our musical community, welcome everybody and shape ourselves around it. We talk a lot about how we can make people feel welcome here.

Daniela: Is there an event during your years teaching at Levine that you remember in particular?

Lois: One of the most memorable moments for me was when Yo-Yo Ma came to visit. The reason it was memorable, beside the fact that he is a very famous musician, is that, like other musicians that came to visit us, he just came and mingled with the students and made them feel comfortable. What visitors like Yo-Yo Ma offer is life changing for these kids. To see them interacting with the visiting artists is, for me, the best part of the job.

DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 25JAN08 – Yo-Yo Ma, Cellist, USA plays the cello during the ‘Presentation of the Crystal Award’ at the Annual Meeting 2008 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 25, 2008.
Copyright by World Economic Forum swiss-image.ch/Photo by Andy Mettler
+++No resale, no archive+++

 

 

About the Author: Daniela is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you! She is a “retired philosopher” who works as an executive assistant and loves to write about Italian and Jewish events happening in DC. She was born and raised in Sicily (Italy) in an interfaith family and moved to D.C. with her husband after studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where they met. They have a wonderful Siberian cat named Rambam! Daniela loves going to work while listening to Leonard Cohen’s songs and sometimes performs in a West African Dance group

 

 

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.

I Hope They Serve Beer in Heaven

I am fortunate.

I grew up with grandparents who lived, at most, within a twenty-minute drive from my house. My brother and I had “Mimi and Papa Thursdays” where our grandparents would pick us up from school, and spend time with us all afternoon. We would go to Demetrios and eat white pizza – Papa couldn’t eat tomatoes, so we did not eat tomatoes. Papa would make French pancakes whenever we slept over, and even made a stack for us to keep in the freezer and eat at home. Mimi and Papa took each of the grandkids on a special trip for our 10th birthday. We went out to Sun Valley, Idaho in the summers with Mimi and Papa. We would stay in these big houses and go fishing, hiking, and ice-skating.

Thanksgiving was always spent with Mimi and Papa. One year, we started going to Busch Gardens on Thanksgiving. All ten of us – Mimi, Papa, my parents, brother, aunt, uncle, two cousins, and me. We would drive up to Busch Gardens on Thanksgiving Day, and have dinner at Ruby Tuesdays on the way home. We would then do a more formal Thanksgiving the day after. After many years of this, we started a new tradition where we spent Thanksgiving on the beach where the kids could swim and play games, while the adults could relax.

This year was the first Yom Kippur without my Papa.

I decided, as a way of honoring him, to read his autobiography. This autobiography is just a word document that he saved on his computer to be read by his kids, grandkids, etc. I laughed when he wrote that one of his best memories as a “good Jewish boy” was when his parents set up a Christmas tree, and his Grandpa showed up dressed like Santa. This story is followed by my Papa sharing that he is angry his parents let him opt out of becoming a Bar Mitzvah. He went onto remediate this by becoming a Bar Mitzvah at age 48.

I was both proud and upset to read that he and my Mimi were active in Jewish organizations. In the 1980s, Mimi fell in love with Israel and helped to found The Sarasota-Manatee Jewish Federation’s Chapter of The Lion of Judah. She went on to be the Chairperson of the Women’s UJA Campaign, and President of the Women’s Division of the Federation. Papa joined the The Sarasota-Manatee Federation Board in 1982. He went on to build the sister city program at The Jewish Federation, became Chairman of the General Campaign, and Treasurer. I wish I had known this when he was living and could have talked to him about these experiences. Today, I work as a Jewish communal professional as a fundraiser, and I would have loved to ask my Papa his best solicitation stories or tips.

But, the part of my Papa’s biography that was the most difficult for me to read was this:The birth of our Grandchildren opened up a whole new world to [my wife] and me. We thought we knew what happiness was before the grandchildren arrived, but it was nothing compared to the pleasure and love that we have received since they were born. As the saying goes, “If we knew what pleasure we would get from our grandchildren, we would have had them first”. With the birth of the grandchildren, I spent less and less time at [The Jewish] Federation because they became the most important thing in my life…I’m truly blessed to have such loving and caring children, and the same can be said for their spouses. The crème de la crème to the whole wonderful family that I have are the grandchildren. I only hope that [my wife] and I will be blessed with at least four score and ten so that we can be around to hopefully see [our grandchildren] graduate from college and get married. Maybe some great grandchildren!

Growing up, I assumed that my Mimi and Papa were just like every other grandparent. Recently, I have realized how truly fortunate I was. Not every grandchild is blessed to have grandparents who want to have such an active role in their lives. I had grandparents who called every year on my birthday, most years with my Papa starting each call by singing the “Happy Birthday” song. I had grandparents who attended my performances and school graduations. I had grandparents who had a very active, meaningful role in the first quarter of my life.

This past year has been difficult for me. I remember judging my peers who posted tributes on Facebook about their grandparents, not fully understanding they hurt they were feeling. Now, I feel ridiculous for even thinking that – I mean, here I am writing a public blog doing the exact same thing.

When my Papa passed away, I was angry that Judaism didn’t consider me close enough to him to be a “real” mourner. I mean, I don’t follow other Jewish laws like keeping kosher and observing Shabbat, but I was mad that I was not obligated by Jewish law to mourn my Papa in the same way my Mom was. I was in need of a roadmap for how to deal with this deep loss. I wanted to figure out how to make it hurt less.

There are still some days I will be driving home and all the sudden, I start tearing up because I remember a funny moment with Papa. Every time one of the grandkids has something special going on in our lives, I think of how proud Papa would be. At the unveiling over Thanksgiving this year, the Rabbi shared that the one-year anniversary – which is typically when the unveiling occurs – is a great moment when our painful grief turns to beautiful memories.

This article will never be good enough. It will never adequately share how special my Papa was. I just hope this article can serve as a transitional moment for me to take the next step on my mourning journey from grief to fond memories.

And there are many fond memories that I will carry with me and frequent reminders that I have some “Papa” in me. Whenever I track a flight for a friend of family member, I remember every time he would watch my plane on his computer flying back to Sarasota from wherever I was traveling. Whenever I am ten minutes early to plans because I am so anxious I will be late, I remember when he would arrive everywhere SO early – up to 30 minutes early – because he always stuck to his schedule. And my favorite reminder of all – when I order a corned beef sandwich with mayonnaise and people freak out because Jews do not that. I just smile and respond, I am my Papa’s granddaughter, so eating a corned beef sandwich with mayonnaise is a must.

 

 

About the Author: Marisa Briefman is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you. She is a recent DC transplant who was born and raised in Sarasota, Florida – likely where your grandparents live. Her love of all things Jewish began at overnight camp and continues to thrive in her role at JSSA. She is coffee addict, lover of Mexican food, and on a permanent mission pet all the adorable dogs in DC (if someone is in need of a dog-sitter, email me).

 

 

 

 

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.

How to Celebrate the Spirit of Purim Across DC!

Jewish-holiday-wise, Purim is sneaky. It creeps up in mid-February or March every year, just as we’re reeling from our second try at New Year’s resolutions, and are already thinking about Passover. (Mark your calendars – Purim starts on Wednesday night, February 28th!)

For those who need a little refresher as to what this holiday is all about – I’ve got you covered. Purim celebrates the story of the Book of Esther, when the Jews were saved from Haman’s evil plot. You may have heard it called  “The Jewish Halloween” because of the awesome costumes worn to celebrate the holiday. It’s also the holiday when we shake rice-filled water bottles and make triangular hamentaschen cookies  (plot twist: fill them with nutella?).

There are four core mitzvot (commandments) for celebrating Purim:

  • Reading the Book of Esther
  • Sending Mishloach Manot (snack goodie bags for neighbors and friends)
  • Eating a festive meal (with plenty of adult beverages for those who choose to partake)
  • Giving gifts to the poor (Matanot Le’evyonim). This mitzvah is our expression of gratitude for when Queen Esther and her uncle Mordechai saved the Jews from being killed.

In my view, the last I listed – Matanot Le’evyonim, or gifts to the poor – is rarely emphasized in our general understanding of Purim. The Purim spirit is one of fun, filled with costumes, community parties, delicious Hamentaschen cookies, and general positivity and merriment. This year, I challenge us to put a bit more focus into the Matanot Le’evyonim mitzvah – to not just satisfy the mitzvah by giving to charity, but to truly carry over the positive spirit of joy and celebration that is Purim into acts of service.

These four mitzvot are all part of the Purim holiday! Here’s how to participate in all four – check out these happenings across DC to bring you closer to the Purim spirit!

 

Megillah: Reading of the Book of Esther

Listen to the Megillat Esther (the book of Esther) read aloud. When you add in maracas, rice-filled water bottles, plastic “noisemakers” from Party City, and enthusiastic booing for good measure – fulfilling this mitzvah is much more fun than it sounds.

You can hear the megillah reading at:

 

Mishloach Manot: Make gift bags for friends, family, and neighbors

If you want to send mishloach manot (gifts of food), make sure to include hamentaschen! (This may be controversial, but the best flavor is definitely poppyseed.) Get a head start on these gift bags with:

Spread the joy of hamentaschen to all: consider donating hamentaschen you bake to local senior centers like Congregation Etz Hayim did this past weekend at the Culpepper Garden senior living facility in Arlington.

 

Seudat Purim: Have a festive meal

This is the one mitzvah that everyone seems to remember as “it’s a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim!” Although this injunction does tell Jews to “drink until you don’t know the difference between Haman and Mordechai” – what it is saying, on a deeper level, is to find a way to look beyond our rational minds, and tap into our deepest, faith-based self – and, of course, to have lots of fun! However, for those of us who aren’t big into drinking – you can still celebrate this mitzvah with a delicious meal (filled with foods symbolic of the Purim story), and by letting go of stress and totally relaxing into the spirit of the holiday.

Celebrate this fun mitzvah by:

Consider providing a seudah or feast for others – collect cans or non-perishable food at your Purim meal for a local food pantry! See what places like So Others May Eat (SOME) need. In the truest millenial fashion, consider having guests purchase items in need off of Miriam’s Kitchen’s Amazon Wishlist.

Photo courtesy of The Jewish Federation

Matanot Le’evyonim: Giving back to those in need

Incorporating the spirit of service into the other Purim mitzvot can also help in bringing the spirit of Purim joy to the mitzvah of Matanot Le’evyonim!  This Purim mitzvah invites us to help at least two people and to provide enough food for a full meal. Go bigger than our typical mitzvah to give tzedakah, or charity, and bring the joyous Purim spirit to this mitzvah!

There are so many ways to infuse Purim joy into service work. Some may choose to give traditional tzedakah gifts, but others may prefer to give their time, energy, and skills. Read this article for more ways to give back across DC.

However you celebrate, wishing you a chag Purim sameach – a happy and joyous Purim!

 

 

 

 

About the Author: Shira Cohen is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you! When not writing about volunteer opportunities in DC, she works in student life and disability services at a local law school. Originally from Charleston, SC, Shira loves DC Library $1 book sales and District Taco.

 

 

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.