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Why I hate Jewish happy hours

I work for a Jewish nonprofit that is perhaps best known in some circles for our happy hours that “Gather the Jews” of DC together at trendy bars throughout the city every month.

These happy hours have been gracing our Jewish community since the good ole days of 2010. Over the past nine years, these monthly gatherings have helped thousands of young DC-area Jews with diverse interests, backgrounds, levels of religiosity, professions, and relationship statuses make their bubbies proud.

And yet, if I earned a shekel for every time someone in the community has said “I hate those Jewish happy hours”, I’d be floating on a blow-up unicorn in my private infinity pool full of hummus right about now. #lifegoals

But, I digress.

The fact of the matter is that there seems to be a large percentage of the young Jewish DC community that feels happy hours, well, kind of suck. As the person who does the marketing for these happy hours, and as a regular attendee myself, I decided it might be a really good idea to compile a list of reasons why.

1. You have to make painfully awkward small talk with strangers.

Yes. I feel this one. I mean, how many times are people going to ask “What do you do?” Seriously? Even though I spend 60% of my waking hours at my job, it’s such a random question! Plus, small talk is boring and leads to nowhere.

And yes, maybe it was small talk at GatherDC happy hours that led me to meet the woman who became my boss, the people who became some of my closest friends in DC, and the man who became my husband. But really – enough with the small talk.

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2. You have to pay $5 to get into the happy hour and don’t even get a free drink!

Look, it’s not like I can’t afford the $5, it’s the principle of it! Why should I have to put $5 of my hard-earned money toward an entry fee to these happy hours? It would be one thing if that money was supporting something important, like a local Jewish nonprofit organization that is a pretty big part of my life in DC. But I have no idea where that money is going.

Ugh, I’ll just head home. Hold on though, let me stop by Sweetgreen to get a $14 salad.

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3. You’re peer-pressured into wearing a name-tag.

It’s awful. I hate having to go through the effort of taking 12 seconds to write my name on a sticker. Also, sticking the sticker to my beautiful outfit totally ruins the look I was going for. Everyone at these fashion-forward happy hours really cares what I’m wearing.

I would much rather have people ask me 17 times to repeat my name because they have trouble remembering.

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4. You have to be happy for a full hour – or more!

What if I had a bad day at work and am feeling stressed out? What if my mom just called nagging me and I’m super annoyed? What if I just ate three slices of cheese pizza but I’m lactose intolerant so I’m feeling extremely bloated? The pressure to be forced into happiness for an extended period of time is almost too much for me to handle.

What’s that you say? GatherDC’s Rabbi Aaron Potek already made it clear that all emotions are welcome at Jewish happy hours? So, I can come as my real, authentic self even if that means I’m full of annoyance or exhaustion or sadness? Alright then, I’m going to show up to the next happy hour with a big pouty face on. Just you wait.

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5. There’s way better things I could be doing with my night.

I work hard during the day and when the clock strikes 6pm, the night is my oyster (#notkosher). Why spend it in a bar full of potential new friends? My Netflix app gets mad at me when I don’t binge watch “The Office” for the eighth time.

Yeah, meeting awesome young adults and finding connection to Jewish DC life is definitely not how I want to spend an hour of my night.

 

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In sum, it seems that these Jewish happy hours we love to hate are the same places that we can find our future community, roommates, soulmates, friends, and colleagues. They have the potential to connect us to one another, and help us find one of our places in the Jewish community. It’s these very happy hours that, while at times awkward, might just be the starting point to living your very best Jewish life. And hey, if they suck – you can always go home to spend the rest of the night with Dwight Schrute and your Sweetgreen salad.

P.S. Our next happy hour is May 22nd at Takoda. See you there?


P.P.S. We fully understand that happy hours just might not be your scene. Some people don’t like spending time in bars or feel uncomfortable in large groups of people. Our only goal at GatherDC is to help you find your fit in Jewish DC life – however that works best for you. If happy hours aren’t for you, there is zero pressure to attend. We have tons of other ways for you to connect to Jewish life! We can connect you to intimate cohort experiences, Jewish learning, volunteer opportunities, and a huge calendar with amazing events around the city. If you’re not sure where to begin, let’s grab coffee (our treat!) so we can help you find your people and place in this community. No happy hour attendance required. 

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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 People of the YEAR Celebration!

GatherDC is throwing down to celebrate the extraordinary humans featured as Jewish Person of the Week from 2017-2018, and everyone who makes our Jewish community so friggin’ awesome (that’s YOU)! 

RSVP NOW

DON’T MISS OUT on this festive opportunity to:

  • Cheers to the Jewish People of the Week over drinks, games, prizes, & fried foods
  • Sip on specialty cocktails like the “Jewish Drink of the Week” and “Gather the Booze”
  • Take photo-booth pics with incredible, diverse young adults from across the DMV
  • Win awesome raffle prizes from Hill Country BBQ, One Eight Distilling, Pleasant Pops, and more!

Date: Thursday, May 10 from 6-9pm

Location: The Loft at 4935 – 4935 Cordell Avenue, Bethesda MD
7 min walk from Bethesda Metro, parking garage next door, 20 min Uber ride from DC, or contact allisonf@gatherdc.org to arrange a carpool.

Cost: $15 in-advance/ $20 at-door*
Includes 1 drink ticket, 2 raffle tickets, appetizers, photo-booth, and more (NOTE: Drink ticket is ONLY included if you register in advance.)

Raffle Prizes: $100 to Hill Country BBQOne Eight Distilling Tour & Tasting, 2 Tickets to Signature Theatre, 1 Year of Adas Israel Shir Delight Shabbat Dinners, 1 Year of 2239 Metro Minyan Shabbat Dinners, 1 Year of GatherDC Happy Hours, Baked by Yael Gift Certificate, Pleasant Pops Gift Certificate, A Case of Sip City‘s Switchel,  Masa Israel Shirt + Tote Gift Set, & more!

Jewish People of the Year Celebration Host Committee: Ally Sherman, Eric Schwartz, Jodie Singer, Melanie Fineman, Monica Arkin

Click HERE to register – or fill out the form below.

 

Thank you so much for your interest in GatherDC's Jewish People of the YEAR Celebration! Online registration is now closed. Walk-ins are welcome at the event for $20 (cash or Venmo accepted), and we hope you will join us at The Loft 4935 on May 10th from 6-9pm.

Get all the event details here.

GTJ Events… A new approach

For months, hundreds (average attendance: 250) of you have enjoyed (or not enjoyed, but you came anyway) the monthly (ish) Gather the Jews Happy Hours.  Perhaps we shouldn’t mess with a working formula, but we… Because we want to keep improving.  So here’s the new deal regarding GTJ events:

Happy Hour Months:

We will now host our GTJ Happy Hours on the second week (Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday) of every other month.  For each of these happy hours we will feature a local DC Jewish organization — doing our best to make you aware of the impressively wide array of Jewish activities that this city offers.  For the August GTJ Happy Hour (Tuesday, Aug. 14), we’ll present Sixth & I Synagogue — the organization that many call “The Heart of Jewish DC.”

Non-Happy Hour Months:

We won’t be hiding during the non-Happy Hour months.  Just mixing it up.  Right now we have two types of events on the docket for these months:

  1. Community service event.  We’ve done our best to listen to what you, the DC Jewish community, want and community service opportunities seem to be very high on the wish list.  Accordingly, starting September, we’ll do our best to provide once-every-two-months a big opportunity to serve the DC community (Jewish some months, gentile others).  We’ll likely partner with another Jewish organization to make this happen.  Suggestions?  Ideas?  Email Jodi (jodi@gatherdc.org) and/or Sara (sara@gatherdc.org)

 

  1. Young Adult Speaker Series.  Also in the works is a Thirst DC-style speaking series that will take place every two or four months.  Here’s the basic idea:  Four speakers from our young adult Jewish community will give 10 minute speeches about topics relating to Judaism that are both educational and fun.  I, for one, will strongly petition the chance to speak on “Harry Potter and Judaism,” and I’m sure I we’ll be able to get Jonathan Horowitz to talk about “Famous Jews in Sports.”  If you have any ideas for how to make this speaking series a success, please let me know (stephen@gatherdc.org).

In the meantime, see you on Tuesday!!!

 

Sorry AIPAC!

Image from Graphics Hunt

As noted in a recent post to this blog, AIPAC host its first Summer Seminar this Thursday, June 30.

Unfortunately, the GTJ Giant Summer Happy Hour is also this Thursday.

How did this happen?  Didn’t we recently complain about too little summer Jewish programming?  Now there are two awesome events on one night?!

It’s our (GTJ) fault.  When we first learned of the AIPAC event, we understood it to be only for interns, so we thought we were free to schedule a happy hour on the same day.  We were wrong.  The AIPAC event is for both interns and young professionals.

We assure you we did this with the best intentions, but sometimes the best intentions pave the road to hell…   Also, despite the fact that I studied in the department of John Mearsheimer, rest assured that this the GTJ happy hour is not a secret plot to sabotage AIPAC – we certainly don’t have that type of power, and we definitely respect AIPAC as a valuable contributor to Jewish programming.

Fortunately for you the Jewish audience, this only represents an increase in consumer choice.  Think iPhone and Droid – two phenomenal brands that offer fairly similar products.  At both events you will get to meet fellow young Jewish professionals, and at both events you can probably strike up an informed conversation about Israel.

So which one should you go to?  GTJ obviously, but if I had a time machine, I would definitely go to both!

Sorry AIPAC!

Stephen is a co-founder and director of Gather the Jews.