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DID JEW KNOW? It’s already time to dust off that shofar and wake up your soul

did jew know

For all the shofar lovers out there, you may be pleased to know that blowing the shofar is a ritual that can be done well before Rosh Hashanah. In fact, starting this Sunday, when the new Hebrew month of Elul begins, there is a tradition of sounding the ram’s horn every single day for a month up until and including the first day of the next month, a.k.a. Rosh Hashanah, a.k.a. the Jewish New Year. 

Just as you would train for a marathon or practice before performing with your band, it makes sense that we would spend time emotionally preparing ourselves for the High Holy Days. These essential days are a time for making amends with the people we have hurt (including ourselves) and recommitting to our moral values. 

Personally, I’ve come to appreciate having some lead time to gauge where I am in my life and plan for how I can, to the best of my efforts, set myself up for success moving forward. 

I like to think of the High Holy Days as a mirror that reflects back at us an honest reflection of who we are and what we’ve done. However, when I don’t give the necessary thought and emotional energy to where I want to be, how I can get there, and what my realistic obstacles are before the High Holy Days arrive, I wind up feeling more overwhelmed by Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur than is helpful. By spending time in self-reflection throughout the entire month leading up to this time of year, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur can ultimately be days I am able to fully honor and uplift my process of renewal and forgiveness. 

Judaism recognizes how hard it can be to observe and change our behaviors, as well as reconcile our personal relationships.Therefore, with innovations over time, Jewish tradition has come to offer us a whole High Holy Day season, rather than just two or three days to think about and embrace real change. 

This is why the practice of personal introspection has evolved as a central part of the month of Elul. Some call this practice cheshbon hanefesh, or soul-accounting, and it includes mindful reflection through journaling, conversation, meditation or prayer, and, you may have guessed it, blowing the shofar. (Side note: therapy works, too!)

Personally, I love the blowing of the shofar (evidence below). I love the eerie, loud cries that emanate from it. I love how it makes us uncomfortable and alerts us to the urgency of addressing what feels broken in our lives. The shofar is there to guide us so we can be motivated to take positive action for the sake of improving our own lives and the wider world. 

Since the mitzvah, or commandment, around the shofar is to actually hear its sounds rather than blow it, I’m including a video of me blowing the shofar that you can listen to once a day during your own period of cheshbon hanefesh. Give it a try, and let me know how it’s going!

As we begin this new month and start sifting through the messiness of our lives, remember to embrace the many good things you’ve done and the parts of you that you absolutely cherish. It is by recognizing and accepting who we are fully, that we can take steps to become more whole, more loving, and more effective in this work of soul-accounting and in our lives.


 

ilanaAbout the author: Rabbi Ilana Zietman is GatherDC’s Community Rabbi. She loves meeting new people and exploring Jewish ideas that are relevant and alive for people in their 20’s and 30’s. When Rabbi Ilana isn’t officially Gathering, she can be found cooking in her kitchen, practicing yoga, going on hikes, desperately searching for good pizza in DC (seriously, help her find some!) and watching a lot of tv.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

GatherDC’s Alternative Yom Kippur 2018

alt yk

GatherDC invites Jewish and Jew-curious 20s + 30s across DC to celebrate Yom Kippur together. We’re hosting a range of alternative Yom Kippur experiences in non-traditional spaces to make it easy for Jewish young adults to reflect and observe this holiday in a fun and meaningful way. 

We invite you to choose one – or all – of the following programs to take part in this Yom Kippur.

Alternative Yom Kippur Experience

For many American Jews, the three words most associated with Yom Kippur are: synagogue, prayer, and fasting… but that’s actually not what Yom Kippur is about. It’s about reflecting on your relationships, confronting the fact that your time on earth is limited, and asking yourself – how do I want to live my life? Come to GatherDC’s second annual Alternative Yom Kippur experience. We’ll try to connect to the major themes of the day through thought-provoking talks, small-group discussions, personal reflection, and music. Not in a synagogue. No liturgical prayer. No denominations. No knowledge of anything Jewish required.

  • When? Wednesday, September 19th from 9:30am – 12:00pm
  • Where? Franklin Hall (1348 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC)
  • How much? $18
  • Questions? Email Jackie at jackiez@gatherdc.org
  • Who is it for? Post-college and pre-family, 20s and 30s who are Jewish or Jew-curious. Come with a partner, friends, or by yourself!
  • Sign Up Here

“Lunch Time” Meditation and Journaling

Yom Kippur is our chance to take a step back from the craziness of our daily lives and spend some time reflecting on who we are, who we’ve been, and who we want to be. Join other 20s+30s at GatherDC’s townhouse as we pause to do just this – through mindful meditation and journaling. No meditation experience needed. Just a desire to learn, connect, and grow.

  • When? Wednesday, September 19th from 12:30pm – 2:00pm (Your “lunch break”)
  • Where? GatherDC’s Townhouse, 1817 M Street NW
  • How much? Suggested $5 donation
  • Questions? Email Julie at juliet@gatherdc.org
  • Who is it for? Jewish and Jew-curious 20 and 30 somethings in the DC-area.
  • Sign Up HereSpace is limited to the first 30 people who register.

Service Project at DC Central Kitchen: THIS EVENT IS NOW FULL

This Yom Kippur, join us as we take part in a meaningful service project to help combat hunger. Prepare the afternoon meal at DC Central Kitchen that will be distributed to nearby homeless shelters, transitional homes, and nonprofit organizations.

NOTE: We’re excited to host a service project to switch up the Yom Kippur paradigm from focusing on fasting to focusing on helping those in need. If you plan on fasting, please use discretion if you feel that you cannot be around or prepare food. Out of respect for those who are fasting, we ask everyone to refrain from eating on site.

  • When? Wednesday, September 19th from 12:45pm – 3:00pm
  • Where? DC Central Kitchen
  • How much? Free
  • Questions? Email Mollie at mollies@gatherdc.org
  • Who is it for? Jewish and Jew-curious 20s and 30s in the DC-area with a passion for giving back.
  • This event is full. Registration for this event is now closed. If you’d like to attend future service projects, click here.

Gather the Food: A Potluck Style Break FastTHIS EVENT IS NOW FULL

WE CAN EAT! Let’s celebrate with good friends and great food. We’re ordering a huge bagel spread, stocking up on drinks, and opening up our townhouse to our amazing Jewish DC community. We can’t wait to break the fast with you and whatever delicious dish you choose to bring along. Space is limited so sign up ASAP.

  • When? Wednesday, September 19th at 6:30pm
  • Where? GatherDC’s Townhouse, 1817 M Street NW
  • How much? Free. Please bring a vegetarian food or drink to share.
  • Questions? Email Rachel at racheln@gatherdc.org
  • Who is it for? Jewish and Jew-curious 20s and 30s in the DC-area.
  • This event is full. Registration is now closed. Please check out our High Holiday Guide for other Break Fast experiences.
yom kippur

Last year’s Alternative Yom Kippur Experience

For a full list of Jewish High Holiday offerings across DC, check out our 2018 High Holiday Guide.

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GatherDC welcomes the participation of interfaith individuals of all abilities and background. GatherDC fosters inclusive communities and strives to accommodate all needs whenever possible. If you require special accommodations, please contact us in advance of the event at (202) 656-0743, and we will make every effort to meet your needs. By attending, you understand that photographs and/or video may be taken at this event, and your picture may appear on the GatherDCwebsite, publications, or other media.

 

Ways to Give Back this High Holiday Season

Hi! I’m Mollie. I’m new-ish to the GatherDC staff and my job here is to make it as easy as possible for you to live your best volunteering life in Jewish DC. We just entered Elul, the Jewish month of soul- searching leading up to the High Holidays. Right now is the perfect time to reflect on how you can volunteer in DC with other 20s + 30s, and make this a meaningful part of your life.

GatherDC’s Giving Circle

Two months ago, I co-facilitated a Giving Circle with my colleague Jackie Zais. We brought a group of young adults together to explore Jewish values of philanthropy and tzedakah, and choose a nonprofit to whom we’d donate our collective money. At the conclusion of the Giving Circle, the 12 members each donated $100 and voted to give our collective $1,205 to the Human Trafficking Legal Center, an organization comprised of a group of lawyers who fight for the rights of victims of human trafficking. 

giving circle

We were fortunate that Sarah Fredrick, one of our Giving Circle participants who works at the center, helped us organize a meaningful event with this organization (pictured above). During this event, we met with a labor trafficking survivor, Fainess Lipenga. Fainess shared her powerful story with us, and she repeated – over and over again – how invisible she felt to everyone around her during her struggle. In the middle of the night and in the cold of winter, Fainess would go outside of the home where she was being trafficked and shovel snow. She did not even have a winter coat. Fainess was out there nightly, just hoping someone would notice. Nobody did.

Weeks later, this story is still sticking with me. Now, as we prepare for the high holidays, a time of reflection and taking stock of our lives and our actions, I would like to offer different ways to support those who may be invisible to us.

Ways to Volunteer

I am therefore excited to help Jewish 20’s and 30’s find the right volunteer opportunities for them and to create a community around the value of tikkun olam – repairing the world. As a part of this, we have a new ‘Volunteer in DC’ page on GatherDC’s website that will be regularly updated with volunteer opportunities across Jewish DC. If you know of any upcoming volunteer events not on Gather’s calendar, please add them.

To make it extra easy for you, here are some upcoming ways to volunteer in DC during this High Holiday season.

Hands-On Service Opportunities

  • August 17th – August 31st: GatherDC School Supplies Drive for A Wider Circle. Remember how much fun back-to school shopping was? Well, many children and teachers start the year without the essentials they need for a successful year of learning and teaching. A Wider Circle is currently collecting supplies for local schools. To help, GatherDC is organizing donations from our community.
    • Ways to donate: 1) Drop off any of the following items to the GatherDC townhouse (1817 M Street NW) between the hours of 9:00 am – 6:00 pm from August 17th- August 31st.  Please email juliet@gatherdc.org or call (202) 656-0743 if you are planning on dropping off. 2) Ship the items directly to A Wider Circle through this Amazon Wishlist.
    • What to donate: Backpacks, Composition notebooks, Binders, Glue Sticks, Large Pink erasers, Boxes of #2 Pencils, Pens (black or blue ink), Crayons, Washable Markers, Colored Pencils, Safety scissors, 3×5 index cards, Pocket folders, Dry erase markers (low oder preferred), Zipper pouches or boxes for school supplies, Wide-ruled spiral notebooks, Wide-ruled loose leaf paper, Basic calculators, Compasses, Protractors, Basic calculators, Compasses, Protractors, Boxes of tissues
  • September 2nd: Hunger Action at DC Central Kitchen with EDCJCC – Volunteer at DC Central Kitchen. Tasks include chopping vegetables, sorting fresh produce, mixing salads, portioning meals, and preparing and cooking food to be distributed to local homeless shelters.
  • September 3rd: So Others Might Eat (SOME) Adas Israel Provide-A-Meal Volunteers – Join us as we work with SOME to serve a hot meal to men and women facing hunger and homelessness. NOTE: Adas Israel has many recurring volunteer opportunities geared towards 20’s and 30’s. Check out their website for more details.
  • September 16thHandmade for the Homeless at the EDCJCC – Join fellow knitters and crocheters to make handmade goodies for a great cause. All levels of knitters and crocheters are welcome. Don’t know about to knit or crochet? We’ll teach you!
  • September 19th: GatherDC’s Yom Kippur Service Project – As part of GatherDC’s Alternative Yom Kippur Experience, you’re invited to join us for a service project to help combat hunger. We’ll be preparing a meal at DC Central Kitchen. DC Central Kitchen transforms donated food into 5,000 meals. These meals are distributed to 80 nearby homeless shelters, transitional homes, and nonprofit organizations. We will be preparing the afternoon meal at DC Central Kitchen at 12:45 pm. Spots are limited, please RSVP ASAP.

Here are some other people who have also volunteered here.

President Barack Obama talks with daughter Sasha, as they along with First Lady Michelle Obama, and daughter Malia prepare burritos while volunteering at the DC Central Kitchen in Washington, D.C., on Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 20, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama talks with daughter Sasha, as they along with First Lady Michelle Obama, and daughter Malia prepare burritos while volunteering at the DC Central Kitchen in Washington, D.C., on Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 20, 2014.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • October 7th: Doing Good with Federation’s Jewish Food Experience at N Street Village – Federation’s Jewish Food Experience is teaming up with one N Street Village – a shelter and community kitchen –  to make a difference for low-income women in DC. Prepare and serve breakfast and lunch to homeless women seeking shelter and recovery at N Street Village.
  • October 16thDoing Good with Federation’s Mitzvah Mavens – Mitzvah Mavens is a part of The Jewish Federation’s Doing Good social action initiative. Mitzvah Mavens invites women of all ages with a passion for tikkun olam (repairing the world) to take part in year-round service projects with partner agencies and local organizations committed to making a positive difference for our community by helping those in need.
  • October 16th: Fall Blood Drive with the EDCJCC at Adas Israel – Every 17 seconds, someone in the DC metro area needs a blood donation. One out of every 10 people will need a blood donation before the age of 70. Help us replenish the quickly-diminishing blood reserve in the DC metro area.

Advocacy Opportunities

  • Volunteer directly with individuals seeking asylum with HIAS – The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) provides legal assistance to asylum seekers. The majority of these asylum seekers are Central American women and children fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries. HIAS also works to address the non-legal and psycho-social needs of their clients. Participants can directly support HIAS’ clients who have had to flee their homes. Positions include mentorship and on-call assistance roles. Click here to learn more.
  • Sign up for HIAS-FFI’s Letter Writing Program – HIAS hosts a monthly letter writing program. At this program, you can offer compassion and solidarity to asylum seekers in detention. HIAS partners with Freedom for Immigrants (formerly CIVIC), an organization committed to ending isolation and abuse in US Immigration Detention Facilities. Volunteers write handwritten letters and participate in a short learning session to reflect on refugee and asylum issues through a Jewish lens. To RSVP, create an account here and click the “opportunities” tab.
  • Join HIAS Action DC – HIAS Action DC is a network of folks in their 20s and 30s in the DC area who are committed to standing up and speaking out for refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants. If you’re interested in getting involved in the network, email joshua.kurtz@hias.org or call (301) 844-7921.
  • Host a Shabbat dinner – One concrete way to bring our friends and family into conversation about the global refugee crisis is to host a dinner on Shabbat where we can learn about, support, and speak out for refugees. Sign up here or check out this Shabbat dinner guide.
  • Rally to Reunite Families – Every Friday from 4:00-6:00 pm you can join Keep Families Together for a protest outside the Department of Homeland Security until the government reunites all families that have been separated. For more info, email triduncano5@gmail.com.

Happy Volunteering!

To sum up, I hope this list provides a good starting point for you to begin to help those who feel invisible in our community find much needed support.

May this High Holiday season be meaningful, reflective, and filled with connection and lots of volunteering!

P.S. If you would like to grab coffee and talk about how to live your best volunteer life in Jewish DC, please reach out at mollies@gatherdc.org.

 

 

mollieAbout the Author: Mollie is an experiential Jewish educator and facilitator who is committed to creating empowering and dynamic learning spaces, and motivating you to dream BIG about what is possible for you on your Jewish journey. Throughout her career, she has created vibrant Jewish experiences for all types of Jewish communities, and led Muslim-Jewish Dialogues across the globe – including Winnipeg, Berlin, Salzburg, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and Sarajevo! Mollie is looking forward to building community with you through volunteer work, Jewish identity exploration, and dynamic discussions. When she’s not working, Mollie loves to travel and actually spent the past three years living in Israel! Fun fact: Mollie is a part of Hazon’s JOFEE Fellowship, which seeks to invigorate the Jewish educational landscape by seeding Jewish communities with outstanding professional educators. Get in touch with Mollie Sharfman if you’d like to volunteer, but aren’t sure where to start.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Spotted in Jewish DC: Alex Levin’s Rosh Hashanah Pop-Up Bakeshop!

We’ve smelled, er spotted, something delicious baking in Jewish DC. It’s a pop-up bakeshop for Rosh Hashanah complete with things like hazelnut chocolate rugelach, caramelized apple pie, whipped ricotta cheesecake, honey challah with raisins.

Your stomach grumbling yet?

The man behind the pastries, Chef Alex Levin, took a quick break from the kitchen to chat with us about the best things to order from this bakeshop, his New Year resolutions, and where he eats when he’s not working.

P.S. GatherDC-ers can get their hands on these baked goods for 10% off with code GatherDC at checkout.

chef levin

Allie: What number pop-up bakeshop is this for you?

Chef Alex: This is the 3rd Annual Rosh Hashanah Pop-Up Bakeshop. Each year, the interest and popularity of this grows exponentially. We have increased our production potential to make sure we have challah and desserts for everyone who is interested. I’ve also done pop-ups in the past for Thanksgiving and other holidays. This year, we’re considering extending the pop-up to offer some items for Yom Kippur too. Stay tuned!

Allie: What item(s) are you most excited about whipping up for the public to nosh on?

Chef Alex: When the Rosh Hashanah meal starts off with an fabulous challah, the year begins on a high note. My challah recipe started with my beloved grandmother. Then, it got a “pastry chef” upgrade after I learned how to make bread professionally. The bread is rich in flavor with a dark, golden crust. We use honey, wheat flour, raisins for those who wish, and shape the bread in the traditional circle.

I love rugelach.  So does everyone else! We have the very popular Hazelnut Chocolate Crunch Rugelach available.

We also organized “The Ultimate Rosh Hashanah Spread” which gives you one of everything. 

challah

Allie: How can GatherDC readers can their hands on these goodies?

Chef Alex: Click here or click on the link in my Instagram profile @chefalexlevin and enter promo code GatherDC for 10% off your order. You can have everything delivered to your home or pickup your order in person from a couple of central locations in the city. If you have any special requests,or if price is an issue for anyone, reach out to me on Instagram. I will make it work for you.

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

Chef Alex: I love spending the holiday with my family. Right after the last delivery is made from the pop-up, I hop on a quick flight to New York to spend two days with them. My parents host a large gathering on the second day of Rosh Hashanah for lunch and I usually have the privilege of baking challah and desserts for that.

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

Chef Alex: To host Shabbat dinners on a regular basis. 

Allie: What’s your favorite restaurant in DC…that you don’t work at/for?

Chef Alex: Little Serow. When you walk in the front door, the team gives the warmest greeting. And of course the food is delicious – full of heat, bright flavors, and always changing.

Allie: Do you have any other plans to curate Jewish holiday related menus throughout the year?

Chef Alex: For Hanukkah, I have a big party planned at Casolare Ristorante + Bar for all of the synagogues in the city to come together and celebrate the holiday with all the staples (e.g. crispy latkes, sufganiyot). Alta Strada will host a Hanukkah dinner that Michael Schlow, Matt Adler, and I will cook for. For Passover, we will have a Passover Seder Feast at Riggsby and Alta Strada. Also, anyone that ever wants a special holiday meal in their home or a shabbat dinner in their home, just reach out to me.

Allie: I heard you traveled to Israel this year, how did that trip inspire you and your role as a chef in the city?

Chef Alex: The trip was called REALITY Taste and organized by the Schusterman Foundation. While it’s impossible to properly answer this question in any short way, what I can say is that the trip imparted a warrior-level need to impart the value of tikkun olam (repairing the world) into all of my activities as a human being, and my duty as a leader in the community. So, this pop-up bakeshop – in this context – is an opportunity to bring a delicious and sweet Jewish New Year to anyone that is interested. 

dessert

Allie: What are you most excited for in the year ahead?

Chef Alex: This past year has been a hugely foundational moment of time. I just moved into a new condo in Bloomingdale, have been lucky to become super close with family and friends and have had the exciting pleasure of becoming an uncle. This year I am looking forward to settling down even more, getting involved in the board of a nonprofit here in the city and of course baking my head off for everyone that I can find!

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challahYou can place an order from Chef Alex Levin’s Rosh Hashanah Pop-Up Bakeshop here. Delivery and pickup options available on Saturday, 9/8 and Sunday, 9/9. For questions, email alevin@schlowrg.com.

*Use promo code GatherDC for 10% off.*

 

 

 

 

 

 


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.