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Meet Eli: Jewish Article Lover of the Week!

Next week, Eli Feldman is launching our community’s first-ever Jewish Monthly Article Club, AKA: JMAC. This week, we give you the chance to get to know the fascinating man behind the club. Spoiler: He really likes articles.


eli

Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Eli: Two years ago, I was living back home in the Bay Area in California, and was applying to jobs. I only applied to one job outside of California – which is where I am now (the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, AKA: FIRE).

Allie: How is DC different from the Bay Area in Cali?

Eli: 1) The weather. There is basically no winter in California.

2) The speciality of what organizations are here. The Bay Area is dominated by startups and private tech companies, whereas DC has a big non-profit presence.

3) The Cali stereotype is that everyone is laid back and relaxed. I actually think DC is more similar to this than other places across the Northeast, like New Jersey and New York. But, DC is certainly much more fast-paced than where I’m from.

Allie: Describe your perfect day in DC.

Eli: I’d wake up, eat breakfast, and do a little email or planning for the week. Then, I would get brunch at The Diner in Adams Morgan with some of my friends. After that, I’d go work at a coffee shop, work out, and go out to dinner at somewhere like Beau Thai in Mt Pleasant or SEI. After dinner, I’d host game night for some of my friends. And I’d be in bed before midnight!

Allie: I hear you are about to launch something called the Jewish Monthly Article Club (JMAC). How did you decide to start this?

Eli: I’ve been wanting to host an article club since I moved to DC. I felt like I didn’t have a group to be a part of where we could have long-form, organized discussion about important topics. I had this in college, and I missed it. Nearing the end of my time in GatherDC’s Open Doors Fellowship, I realized this was a niche that I could help fill in DC.

Allie: What do you hope people get out of being a part of JMAC?

Eli: I hope that people get to explore a topic they might not have had an opinion on before, and can learn from other people’s perspectives. I hope it can be a somewhat consistent group so we can develop a close-knit community. I hope it becomes something people look forward to, and that we can engage in lively, but respectful discussions.

Allie: Speaking of respectful discussion, what is one thing you would change about the way people in the U.S. talk about politics?

Eli: When people hear something they disagree with, I wish instead of jumping off and hurling an insult, they would say, “That’s so interesting, what makes you feel that way?” This is totally disarming to people and could instantly change the national dialogue dramatically.

Also, intellectual humility is important. No matter how much you know about a topic or how strong your views are, it is so important to know that you could always be wrong and someone else could always be right. Also, even if you hear an argument and 100% still disagree with it, the ability to say, “Okay. That perspective doesn’t make me good and you bad, or me right and you wrong. We just disagree and it’s good to know where the areas are that we disagree.”

newseum

Allie: What kinds of topics do you want to discuss in JMAC?

Eli: I want to cover topics that are not the standard political moral or battle points. I don’t want to talk about gun rights, abortion, or taxes. I’d like the articles we read to focus on niche topics that matter like privacy protections or the style of voting in our society.

Allie: How will you make sure this is a safe space for people who have different political views or perspectives than most of their friends in DC?

Eli: I will be moderating the discussion, and will try to guide it in a respectful way. I led discussions in college for a mental health awareness group, and I know how to get people to think broadly about topics without letting my opinions be known.

Allie: Have you embarked on any fun travel adventures this summer?

Eli: I just got back from a cruise to the Norwegian Fjords with my parents and three out of my four siblings. It was a total blast, and provided much needed respite from the day-to-day grind of DC.

Allie: What’s on your travel bucket list?

Eli: I want to do more domestic travel. I’d like to take a trip to Seattle and Chicago, I’ve never really been to the midwest.

Allie: Who is the coolest Jew you know?

Eli: Josh Neirman. He is a past GatherDC Open Doors Fellow. He takes everyone under his wing. He has such a warm, kind presence. I would be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t have a glowing view of Josh’s personality.

Allie: What is your guilty pleasure?

Eli: I’m not guilty about it, but I’ll say reading comic books. I started getting into the Marvel movies in college, so I thought I’d pick up the comic books and give it a try. Now I have a massive stack of comics on my shelf.

Allie: What’s something that people may not know about you?

Eli: I taught myself how to code by taking a couple of online courses my senior year of college.

Allie: When are you the happiest?

Eli: When I’m hanging out with my friends at a brunch or game night, or when I’m in the middle of my work out at the gym and my heart is pumping and I’m totally forgetting what’s happening in the outside world.

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

Eli: They schmooze.

eli feldman

 

Want to nominate your amazing Jewish friend to be featured on GatherDC? Send his/her name, brief blurb, and contact info to info@gatherdc.org.

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.

Meet Aaron: Jewish Bagel Lover of the Week!

Want to nominate your amazing Jewish friend to be featured on GatherDC? Send his/her name, brief blurb, and contact info to info@gatherdc.org.

In case you’ve been wondering how – and from where – to order the perfect bagel, look no further. Aaron Browner has your answer.

collage

Allie: What brought you to DC?

Aaron: I’ve been in the DC area my whole life. I grew up in Rockville and then went to Towson University. After graduating, I moved back home, then moved out to Bethesda on Battery Lane. Since I loved DC so much, I finally decided to move into the District in December 2017. I moved to the wonderful West End neighborhood. I’m in sales for CEB, now Gartner, which is a best practice and research advisory firm in Rosslyn.

Allie: Describe your perfect day in DC.

Aaron: I wake up and make a smoothie using my Vitamix – I make a green smoothie with chocolate almond milk, plant-based protein powder, spinach, kale, banana, avocado. Then, I’ll go to the gym at Equinox where I’ll either take a yoga class or swim. After that, it’s off to the Dupont Farmers Market where I’ll meet up with friends, walk around and sample all the freebies I can get my hands on. A perfect day has to include working on my tan by hanging out at my rooftop pool then top things off at night, by meeting up with friends at dinner – my favorite place is Gringos & Mariachis – a Mexican joint in Bethesda!

Allie: Do you have a favorite Jewish food?

Aaron: I can’t just pick one. But, I am a self-proclaimed bagel snob. At the Dupont Circle Farmers Market I’ve found a place called Call Your Mother – that’s the best bagel I’ve had in DC. I also run a club called Bagel Friday at my office.

Allie: A bagel club? That sounds amazing! Go on…

Aaron: Yeah, there’s about 40 members in the group. Every Friday morning, two people are assigned to bring bagels and cream cheese from a real bagel place like Bethesda Bagels or Brooklyn Bagel Bakery. It can’t just be Cosi or Panera. People get really excited about it.

Allie: Which bagels do the bagel club members like best?

Aaron: Brooklyn Bagel Bakery in Arlington is really popular and Bethesda Bagel in Dupont is a close second amongst the group. I hosted a bagel brunch on my rooftop a few weeks ago where we brought in bagels from different places around the city, with a spread of whitefish and salmon salad, lox, eggs, veggies, and all different types of shmear. Call Your Mother was the fan favorite there. Right now, they are only available on Sunday at the Dupont Farmers Market, and they sell out quick. They are worth it. Looking forward to when they open up a store later this summer!

aaron person of the week

Allie: What is your favorite bagel place?

Aaron: My favorite place is Absolute Bagels in NYC. They’re always served fresh, right out of oven. They’re the perfect combination of being crunchy on outside, and soft on the inside. My parents are I have been going there for years with my cousin and friends and now call it “the Bagel Tour” when we visit NYC. After we get bagels, we head to Silver Moon Bakery for fresh challah, and then down the street to Nussbaum & Wu’s for classic black and white cookies.

Allie: What is your perfect bagel?

Aaron:  A sesame seed bagel, hot out of the oven, and topped with creamy whitefish salad.

Allie: What is a skill you want to learn this year?

Aaron: I want to take a cooking class. I’m really into cooking but have never taken an actual class. Learning how to make fresh and handmade pasta is at the top of the list.  

Allie: What do you like to cook?

Aaron: Crispy chicken cutlets topped with marinara sauce, and a salmon dish on my cast iron with honey garlic sauce. Lamb meatballs, turkey quinoa meatballs with spinach and basil, and Greek meatballs with spicy marinara are some of my go-to recipes.

Allie: What’s your favorite way to relax after a long day in the office?

Aaron: Yoga. After a yoga class is the time when I feel like I’m most relaxed and at peace.

Allie: Who is the coolest Jew that you know?

Aaron: I’m a huge Billy Joel fan. I’ve seen him in concert a number of times. He still puts on a great show at almost 70 years of age. I’ve always dreamed of being a rock star, but unfortunately I’m an awful singer (so I’ve been told).

Allie: Do you have a favorite smell?

Aaron: Lavender essential oil. I’m really big into scents. Even when I was a kid, I was really into fragrances and scents. Embarrassingly, I would carry a bar of soap around the house as a toy when I was five years old.

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

Aaron: They will be schvitzing due to the DC heat.

 

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.

Meet Stephanie: Jewish Social Media Rockstar of the Week!

Stephanie Arbetter is a DC social(media)ite with a whole lot of Southwestern flair. Hailing from Dallas, Texas, this quick-witted, outgoing, cocktail loving lady is one you should definitely get to know. Lucky for you, we got the exclusive 1:1 right here.

Oh, and after you read this, you should check out Stephanie’s secondary persona TipsyTipsDC. Because, well, she has a lot of tips on getting tipsy in DC.

stephanie with popsicle

Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Stephanie: I’m originally from Dallas, Texas. I moved to DC because I wanted to get involved in the travel and tourism industry, and there are a lot of opportunities for that in DC.

Allie: Is DC a lot different from Dallas?

Stephanie: Everybody in DC has come here because they are very passionate about something. They are very driven and dedicated to their jobs, and they are interested and focused on personal development. I really like how worldly and cultured DC is.

Allie: What is your favorite social media platform and why?

Stephanie: Twitter. I’m obsessed with Twitter. That’s primarily where I get my news. I think people are more raw and unfiltered on it; you get a sense for what people are really thinking. Instagram is a little more fake. But I love Instagram stories. I stopped doing SnapChat. Facebook is a little too public, so I keep my content closer to my vest on Facebook. It’s great for big news that you want everyone to see.steph with friends

Allie: What’s the secret to a great Instagram post?

Stephanie: The people who stand out are the ones who are most authentic. People have a really good sense of knowing what’s fake and who’s trying too hard. Also, if you have to ask if this is too much or if this is oversharing, it probably is.

Allie: How do you balance living in the present and being on social media?

Stephanie: Take one or two pictures, and then put your phone away and enjoy the moment. Do not take pictures throughout your meal or your trip. Do not have your phone out with you when you’re trying to experience a hike, or a waterfall, or a sunset. It sucks when you have your phone and you’re just waiting for that perfect moment, so you can’t enjoy it.

Allie: What are you doing for the 4th of July?

Stephanie: I am going to my friend’s pool party, and then I am hosting a few friends on my rooftop because I live near the National Mall. You can see the fireworks from my rooftop. I love the Fourth of July. I love that everyone just takes a break and enjoys themselves.

Allie: If you could have 3 celebs in your entourage, who would they be and why?

Stephanie: Mindy Kaling, because she’s super funny and I feel like we’d be best friends. Lin-Manuel Miranda, because I’d be entertained all the time. Malcolm Gladwell, because he’s so smart and would keep me thinking and guessing all the time.

Allie: Do you have any goals for your year ahead?

Stephanie: There is something in DC for anything you are interested in, but it’s really on you to take advantage on that. I want to better take advantage of DC and get involved in different nonprofit and Jewish organizations this year.

Allie: What is your favorite Jewish holiday and why?

Stephanie: Yom Kippur. I love that everyone just disconnects, and at the end everyone comes together. While it’s really serious, it’s also really festive and full of traditions. Break the Fast is one of my favorite things every year. I love that on Yom Kippur you can take a day to be for yourself.

Allie: Who is the coolest Jew you know?

Stephanie: Josh Malina, he’s just awesome.

Allie: If you could eat at only 3 DC restaurants forever, what would they be?

Stephanie: Rasika. I love their Chicken tikka masala. Zaytinya. Le Diplomate, they have the best burger and fries. I’m a major foodie, and I also love cocktail bars like The Gibson and Morris Bar. I have a cocktail Instagram account called TipsyTipsDC.

steph with drink

Allie: What are you most excited about this summer?

Stephanie: Fun travel plans. I’m going to Vermont, Dallas, and Chicago. And this winter I’m going on a volunteer trip with JNF to Israel!

Allie: Complete this sentence, when Jews of DC Gather…

Stephanie: Someone always starts Jewish geography.

 

volunteering

 

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 Salsa Dancer of the Week: Abby!

Jewish community professional by day, salsa dancer by night. Get to know this aspiring meditation guru and BBQ loving foodie. She’s pretty cool.

abbyAllie: How did you decide to become a Jewish community professional?

Abby: I went to college thinking I was going to the best physical therapist ever, and then realized science was not my thing. Then, I went on a Birthright Israel trip and it changed my life. It made me realize that I’m passionate about the history of Judaism and what it means for the rest of the world. After that, I declared Jewish Studies as my major. (Working at The Jewish Federation,) I love getting people passionate about something bigger than themselves. If you love what you do and you get paid for it, it’s a win-win.

Allie: I hear you were a part of an a capella group at college…tell me about that.

Abby: I’ve always been into the performing arts. I did show choir in high school, and musicals have been a passion of mine. At college, I auditioned for the Jewish a capella group on (Ohio State’s) campus MeshugaNotes, and I was in that for all of college. It was nice to do something that I loved and sing in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish. We got to travel, and it was a great group of people to be with.

Allie: What kinds of hobbies do you do today?

Abby: I was a very hyperactive child, I played lots of sports, I did dancing, musicals, pianos, all of the things. I wasn’t trained in Latin dance, but we had a family friend from Mexico and when they would have parties that would turn into a dance fest. I love watching dancing shows, and I pick up (dancing) pretty easily. I tried to seek out (places to go dancing) in DC. There is salsa dancing somewhere every single day of the week. My favorite place to go is this place called Bachata Brunch. I love it. I go as much as I can. And it’s free, there’s no cover. Since I’m surrounded by the Jewish community all the time, sometimes it’s nice to have another community I can go to.

dancingAllie: What do you like most about salsa dancing?

Abby: It’s so freeing. It’s a workout so I don’t have to run on the treadmill and be bored. There’s loud music, and it’s fun – you can just get lost in it. It makes me feel fun and empowered.

Allie: Describe your dream DC day…

Abby: I still have so much of DC I have to explore. So I would want to find a brunch place I’ve never been to before, then go to a museum I’ve never been to before, you can see a pattern. I like having adventures and trying new things. My ideal day would be to have someone take me to places I’ve never been to before for an entire day so I could get a feel for new things.

Allie: What’s on your travel bucket list?

Abby: Oh yeah. I want to hit all 7 continents and all 50 states in my lifetime. I want to get to Antarctica by the time I’m 30 because it’s a really hard trip to do and you need a lot of energy for it.

Allie: What are you most excited about this summer?

Abby: I’m excited to staff another Birthright Israel bus. And I’m looking forward to getting a new Young Leadership Board at Federation.

Allie: What is your favorite smell?

Abby: I really like warm, woody smells like teak and mahogany. Any candles that smell like men’s deodorant is a really soothing smell for me. It’s a mellow, relaxing vibe.

Allie: Do you have a favorite dating app?

Abby: Funny story, my sophomore year of college they did a pilot program for Birthright Israel ambassadors, and the marketing agency overseeing the program was the same one David Yarus (the JSwipe Founder) was working at. He posted in our Facebook group “Hey guys, I’m launching this new dating app, tell me what you think.” I’ve actually used JSwipe a lot, because it kind of works. But I’m sort of taking a dating hiatus right now.

birthright bus

Allie: What’s your favorite way to celebrate Shabbat?

Abby: I turn off my phone and computer on Shabbat. It’s a hard thing to do when you’re constantly busy, but I’ve been doing this for almost two years now. It’s a really good mental break during the week. Everyone is so plugged in now, and there is this instant gratification when you get a message that is very anxiety driven.

So, I don’t have a designated place I go to on Shabbat, but turning off my phone is something I do every week.

Allie: How do you like to relax?

Abby: Realistically, I play a couple puzzle games on my phone, and watch some random videos on YouTube. Ideally, I love meditation. For me, it’s really easy to get caught up in what I’m doing. So anything that I can do to take a step back, take a deep breath, and be present. Like listening to music, or going to sit at a park overlooking the water. Something that is not me having to engage, where I can just be.

Allie: If you could eat 3 foods for the rest of your life what would they be?

Abby: Oh, this is hard because I’m such a foodie. I’ll say pulled BBQ meat, coleslaw, and blueberries. Or anything my mom cooks.

Allie: Any fun facts people may not know about you?

Abby: I just got accepted to a grad program at GW! The iCenter in Chicago is partnering with GW for the inaugural academic certificate program in Israel education. I just found out about this.

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

Abby: Miracles happen.

abby drinking coffee

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 Politician of the Week: Andrew!

Want to nominate your amazing Jewish friend to be featured on GatherDC? Send his/her name, brief blurb, and contact info to info@gatherdc.org.

Get to know Mr. Andrew Friedson, AKA: beloved Uncle Drew, diehard Caps fan, DC-area native, and future county council member? Only the votes will tell.

andrew friedson

Allie: Is this the first time you’ve run for political office?

Andrew: If you don’t count student government! I was SGA Treasurer, Vice President and then President of Hoover Middle School, and then student body president of Churchill High School and University of Maryland.

Allie: Where does your passion for politics come from?

Andrew: I view public service not as a career choice, but as a calling.

When I was in 5th grade at Wayside Elementary School, I saw an issue with the bus route where there was a blindspot on one of the turns. I tried to tell the school principal, but she wouldn’t meet with me. So, I stopped her  in the hallway and explained it to her on a note pad. She said, “Andrew, the Montgomery County Board of Transportation made these bus routes, and I think they are up to par.” A week later there was a major bus crash at that turn.

An article about this crash was published in the Potomac Almanac. I cut it out and pinned it to my cork-board in my bedroom, and had it there my entire childhood. It became my north star. If you see something, you should say something. If there’s a wrong, you should try to right it. This sense of obligation drove me then, and does still.

friedson and his bro at good deeds day

My brother (and new dad!) Matthew and I at The Jewish Federation’s Good Deeds Day

Allie: What celebrity would you most want to be your campaign manager?

Andrew: Natalie Portman! She’s awesome.

Allie: Did the 2016 presidential election motivate you to run?

Andrew: I have the same frustration, anger, and disgust as many do about some of the things that are happening as a result of the last presidential election, but I didn’t need Trump to get elected for me to get involved in politics. That election has helped galvanize people to get involved in politics who were not engaged before, and who now finally see just how important it is. Unfortunately, there is a saying in politics that there are two motivators – ambition and fear. We hope we have leaders that are playing more to people’s ambitions for a better world than to people’s fears. But, when there is a fear of our values being threatened, it’s encouraging to know that people are willing to stand up for them.

Allie: What would be your ultimate dream job?

Andrew: When I was little I wanted to be a pediatric oncologist. I realize this is not a totally normal thing for a kid to want to do. It turned out I wasn’t that good at science and wasn’t interested in being in school for that long. But, I was able to speak at the groundbreaking for the Shady Grove Adventist Aquilino Cancer Center. I felt like this was the closest I would ever come to realizing my dream.

I was actually at Shady Grove Medical Center Shady Grove just yesterday because my sister-in-law was having a baby (MAZEL!), and passed by the cancer center.

Right now though, my dream job is to be the Montgomery County Council Member.

Also, in a fantasy world, I’d love to be the General Manager of the Caps, and on Facebook, sometimes I pretend that I am!

Allie: Has your Jewish identity shaped your platform at all?

Andrew: From the time I was really young, I’ve felt a strong obligation to help community. This is a value I learned from my parents growing up in a Jewish household. My focus on making sure we don’t leave anybody behind and having a high quality of education are core Jewish values. I’ve also always had this burning desire to improve the world – tikkun olam. I used to think of this in a much more global sense, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve started to view it in a more Jewish context, that saving just one person is like saving the whole world. That’s why I love state and local politics, where you have the chance to change the world one person, one community, one specific problem at a time.

Allie: Do you have a favorite memory from the campaign trail?

Andrew: I was canvassing, going door-to-door in a neighborhood, and It was really hot. I decided to walk into a nearby market to grab a cold drink. When I was walking in, I saw a piece of campaign literature with my name and face taped to the window, and saw one of my yard signs out front. All of a sudden the store owner looked up at me and he looked at the picture and shouted, “You’re my guy!” His name is Weldon, and I had never met him before that.

taste of bethesda

On the campaign trail

Allie: What are the biggest issues you want to help out with as County Council Member?

Andrew: I’m most focused on education, transportation, and economic development. If we can get these three things right, they’ll have the biggest impact on improving people’s lives.

Allie: What’s the best and worst thing about campaigning?

Andrew: Running a campaign is basically like running a small business that all coalesces on one day, so there is definitely pressure. But, I love campaigning. I enjoy getting up in the morning often, and not going to bed at night. I get energy from meeting people, learning what they care about, and discussing how how address the challenges we face.

Allie: Do you have a favorite quote you like to live by?

Andrew: I have two:

  1. “If I am not for myself, then who will be or me? If I am for myself only, then what am I? And if not now, when?” – Rabbi Hillel
  2. “It always seems impossible until it’s done” – Nelson Mandela

Allie: It seems like you keep yourself  VERY busy. When (and if) you have free moments, how do you like to spend them?

Being Uncle Drew

Andrew: I love spending time with my nieces and nephews as their Uncle Drew. I have 8, which includes one who was just born, and they all live in this area.

Allie: Are there any interesting facts that people may not know about you?

Andrew: I cracked my head open twice as a kid when I was asleep, I just rolled over and hit the nightstand! 

Allie: If you had 3 wishes, what would they be?

Andrew: 1) Good health for my family. 2) Every student in Montgomery County is able to show up to kindergarten ready to learn, so they’re not left behind before they even have a chance to start. 3) Every young person who goes to school feels and is safe.

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

Andrew: Exciting things happen.

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.

Meet Jeremy: Jewish Canadian of the Week

Want to nominate your amazing Jewish friend to be featured on GatherDC? Send his/her name, brief blurb, and contact info to info@gatherdc.org.

hanging at a sports gameAllie: What brought you to DC?

Jeremy: Like most people, it was happenstance of the job. I went to school in St. Louis, and am from Toronto originally, so I didn’t have ties to any cities in the US. I’d always heard that DC was a cool city to live, and filled with a lot of young people. After 3 years here, I’m so happy I made that decision.

Allie: How did you decide to move to America after growing up in Canada?

Jeremy: Canada’s university system takes a very European approach to education. When you apply to college out of high school, you apply directly to a specific program, like pre-med. In the US, it’s a lot more liberal. You don’t need to pick your major until the second year, there’s a lot more flexibility. Also, I had the same group of friends since middle school, and they were all going to go to the same college, so it was good for me to expand.

Allie: What do you think are the biggest differences between America and Canada?

Jeremy: 1) The cities in the US. have a much more diverse group of people. In Canada, people are either from Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver. In the US, you have people from the middle of Iowa and people from New York who are now living in the same city.

2)  In the US, there is a lot more homegrown, original stuff that goes on in the cities. Toronto is a big city, but if you look at the entertainment options there, most shows and art didn’t originate in Toronto, they started in New York or L.A.

3) There are a lot more all-you-can-eat buffets in the US.

4) Canada just got its first Cheesecake Factory six months ago. Since then, there have been non-stop lines at the restaurant, and Canadian food bloggers are writing food blogs about it. People can’t even get reservations.

Allie: What are you most excited about for the summertime?

Jeremy: It’s my dad’s 60th birthday this summer, so my family rented a house in Puglia, Italy and are going to go at the end of summer. Apparently, there’s a wood-burning pizza oven in the backyard of the house, and it’s near wineries. I’m excited to drink wine, eat pizza, and it’s only 20 minutes from the beach and some old Italian cities.

Allie: If you had an entirely free day to do whatever you want in D.C., how would you spend it?

Jeremy:  I’d probably sleep in, go to Bethesda Bagels, and ideally there wouldn’t be a line. Then, I’d head towards the monuments. I’ve always wanted to go up the Washington Monument, even though the elevators have been broken for so long. In my ideal day, the elevators would be working. I’ve really wanted to go to the African American Museum, so I’d go there, and then  grab lunch somewhere downtown. I’d go to Mini Bar for dinner, and then to a speakeasy – the one behind Jack Rose called Dram and Grain DC. I’ve never been, but apparently they have really good bourbon drinks. Oh, also, I love going to see movies at the Air and Space Museum.

Jewish friends in DC

Allie: What’s your favorite smell and why?

Jeremy: Vanilla, Cinnabon, and the smell of a flower shop.

Allie: What’s your favorite way to relax and destress?

Jeremy: I try and go for a run every so often, and read. I tried to meditate for a week, and I wish I could do that longer, maybe that’s something I can learn this year.

Allie: If you could eat 3 foods for the rest of your life what would they be?

Jeremy: Bagel/lox/cream cheese, steak with a side of parmesan truffle fries, and any veggie pizza.

Allie: What’s at the top of your bucket list?

Jeremy: I want to see the Northern Lights. I want to go skydiving, but I’m terrified of heights. And I want to go scuba diving more often.

Allie: Are there any Canadian terms for things that you wish people knew?

Jeremy: My favorite word you guys don’t have here is a garburator – it’s a garbage disposal.

Allie: Hobbies or skills you want to do or learn this year?

I want to do more snowboarding and ice hockey. I’d like to go on a snowboarding trip to Vail or Big White in Canada for hockey and snowboarding.

Allie: Do you have any interesting facts that people may not know about you?

Jeremy: I have slept in an igloo, and have been dog sledding before.

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

Jeremy: They argue whose mom makes the best matzo ball soup (mine does).

Jewish guy of the week and girlfriend

 

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.

Meet Danna: Jewish Spin Lover of the Week

Fact: Danna Koren used to get in trouble for sniffing magazines in the grocery store. Learn more about this phenomenal Hebrew speaking, spin loving human in our exclusive 1:1 interview!

jewish girl of week on bikeAllie: What brought you to DC?

Danna: After college, I moved home to Philly – go Eagles! – to work as a fundraiser for a local gubernatorial campaign. I went to University of Maryland for undergrad and loved being in this area, so I moved back to DC to continue working in politics before eventually landing at The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington as an event planner.

Allie: If you had an entirely free day to do whatever you wanted in DC, how would you spend it?

Danna: First, I’d go to a spin class at Cycle Bar. Then, I’d probably go to Union Market for brunch and have a bloody mary or two – I love Buffalo & Bergen. I also like to take really long walks around the city, and love outdoor biking – as well as indoor. I’d love to bike all the way across town and along the river, and see the monuments. At night, I’d read a book on my balcony.

danna and her boyfriendAllie: What’s your favorite smell and why?

Danna: Fresh new books and magazines. I love cracking open a new book. As a kid I would sniff magazines in the grocery store, and would get in trouble for it.

Allie: If you could eat at one restaurant forever, which one would it be?

Danna: I love Indigo DC, which is in my neighborhood. I could eat their butter chicken, rice, and chickpeas every single day. Make sure not to skip their mango chutney. And no, they did not pay me to say this.

Allie: What is a skill you want to learn this year?

Danna: I’ve always wanted to be an indoor spin instructor. It’s a really long and difficult process, and I’m still getting over a lifelong stage fright. My goal is to get myself ready to try out within the next year.

Allie: What are you looking forward to most about summertime?

Danna: I love playing kickball with my DC Fray team, this is a highlight of the week for me in the summertime. Also, I’ve been working on this Israel@70 Celebration with Federation that I’m really excited for. It’s going to be a musical birthday celebration for Israel with some amazing musical talent, including the singer of “Golden Boy” (Nadav Guedj). 

jewish girl of week at sukkah with friendAllie: What makes you so excited about this event?

Danna: I am actually a dual citizen of Israel and the US. I grew up with Israeli parents. A lot of my childhood memories are in Israel, even though I’ve never technically lived there. Growing up, I spent every summer in Israel since all of my extended family are there. We spoke Hebrew at home – and still do. I actually didn’t learn English until I went to school. So for me, it really is a privilege getting to be a part of this Israel@70 Celebration.

Allie: Wow! Do you have other Hebrew speaking friends in the area?

Danna: I’m part of Hebrew speaking club, called the “Hebrew Club”. We meet once a month for happy hours and other events where we just speak Hebrew with one another.

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

Danna: They’re bound to have 25 mutual friends.

 

Want to nominate your amazing Jewish friend to be featured on GatherDC? Send his/her name, brief blurb, and contact info to info@gatherdc.org.

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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.

Meet Sam: Jewish Twin of the Week!

Want to nominate your amazing Jewish friend to be featured on GatherDC? Send his/her name, brief blurb, and contact info to info@gatherdc.org.

Sam and his twin sister, Hannah

Allie: What brought you to DC?

Sam: When I graduated, I got a job in DC doing higher education research with EAB. I grew up in Westchester, New York – and found DC to be a lot more diverse and fun than I expected!

Allie: What does higher education research entail?

Sam: EAB does education and technology research and provides services to make academic institutions more financially sustainable. It might sound a little boring, but one of the cool things about it is that most finance people are not going to work at a university if they’re in it for the money. Finance officers at colleges are there because they value the importance of higher education. So, when we talk to them, we talk about finance as a means to provide more education to more students in a more sustainable way.

Allie: Awesome. Okay, new topic – what’s your favorite smell and why?

Sam: Vanilla. It brings back memories of baking in my kitchen with my family. I personally love baking – making pies, cakes, and cookies. My twin sister is also a pastry chef, and I’m often told that I’m not allowed to bake because it’s her thing. She is pretty legit, she went to culinary school and got a degree in baking and pastry arts.

Allie: What is it like being a twin?

Sam: I loved being a twin up until teenage angst happened. [When we were teens], both of us were not the biggest fans of each other. It often felt uncomfortable in high school because the other person was always there. My twin sister and I have become a lot closer over the last five or six years, and it’s great having someone my age to talk to about the issues we both deal with.

Sam on Beyond the Tent

Allie: In other news, I heard you went GatherDC’s last Beyond the Tent retreat. What was that like?

Sam: A friend of mind from college (and previous Jewish Person of the Week Margaret), went on Beyond the Tent with GatherDC and had a great experience. Because of her, I met a bunch of people who also went on Beyond the Tent, and they convinced me to go. In college, I spent a lot of time doing dialogue intensive programs with race groups, and was missing the opportunity to develop strong relationships through dialogue experiences.

I really didn’t know what to expect from Beyond the Tent. Immediately, when I arrived, Rabbi Aaron started to facilitate an intensive ice breaker experience. I was hooked on trying to unpack my own experiences, and prior understanding of what my personal American Jewish identity was. This was something that fascinated me, and I was really eager to get into it. I’ve never taken the time to unpack what Jewish culture, tradition, and morality meant to me. It was really great to have the opportunity to do so in an environment where I was pushed to think about those ideas.

[Editor’s Note: Applications for the next Beyond the Tent are now open. You can apply to be a part of Beyond the Tent this July]

Photo Credit: Skidmore Women in Business

Allie: If you had an entirely free day to do whatever you wanted in DC, how would you spend it?

Sam: I would start by kayaking on the Potomac River and then have brunch at “Farmers, Fishers, Bakers” in Georgetown. Then, I would walk along the National Mall and play frisbee with some folks. After that, I would go back somewhere and play board games for a little while, and then see where the night takes us.

Allie: Do you have any favorite board games?

Sam: Right now, I’m in the middle of Season Two of Pandemic Legacy. I’m playing it with three good friends. 

Allie: What 3 celebrities would you most want to have as a part of your entourage?

Sam: Anna Kendrick. Chris Pratt. Lin-Manuel Miranda. That would be a weird and fun group of people to hang out with. My sisters and I were very into the show “Everwood”, and there is an amazing scene of Chris Pratt doing karaoke in one episode, so I imagine he could join in with any random singing that may break out and be fine.

Allie: What is a skill you want to learn this year?

Sam: I grew up going to a lot of improv and comedy shows in New York City, and when I got to DC I decided it was something I wanted to learn. I started doing improv with the Washington Improv Theater, and want to spend more time working on that this year.

Allie: What’s at the top of your life bucket list?

Sam: I want to move to London.

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

Sam: We go deep

 

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.

 

Meet Alissa: Jewish Sports Fan of the Week!

Want to nominate your amazing Jewish friend to be featured with GatherDC? Send his/her name, brief blurb, and contact info to info@gatherdc.org.

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

Allie: How did you wind up in DC?

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

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

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

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

Allie: What do you do at AJC?

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

Allie: What are your favorite sports?

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

Allie: Do you play any sports yourself?

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

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

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

Allie: Where did your love of baseball come from?

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

Allie: What are you most excited about summertime?

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

Allie: What’s your favorite smell and why?

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

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

Alissa: I love singing opera style –  in German.

Allie: Is there a quote that inspires you?

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

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

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

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

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

Allie: What do you find funny?

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

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

Alissa: We play Jewish Geography.

 

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

Meet Alyssa: Jewish Moishe House Resident of the Week

Want to nominate your amazing Jewish friend to be featured on GatherDC? Send his/her name, brief blurb, and contact info to info@gatherdc.org.

Alyssa Silva is a woman of many talents. She can plan a 300 person Jewish event, sell kosher meats to farmer’s market samplers, and dominate on the softball field. This is why we’re pretty bummed she’s leaving us this summer 🙁 Before she goes, we wanted to make sure all of our readers have the chance to get to know her, and both meet and say goodbye in person at her going away party this coming Sunday. Alyssa – thanks for all you have done and continue to do to make Jewish DC so incredible! We will miss you.

Allie: What brought you to DC?

Alyssa: I was coming from Tucson, Arizona. When I decided I wanted to move to DC, I reached out to my friend Tiffany Harris  – who I met at a Moishe House retreat in Arizona – to see if she knew of any housing or job opportunities. She told me there was a resident opening at Moishe House Columbia Heights. One thing led to another, and I moved into that house with Tiffany soon after!

When the Moishe House Columbia Heights accepted me, I drove cross-country to move into the house and figured I would find a job later.

Allie: What is it like living in a Moishe House?

Alyssa: It’s been a whirlwind. I’ve lived here for two years and have seen four different people move in and out as residents. I’ve seen our community change a lot in two years, everything from people who just want to party and meet Jewish singles, to people who want to pursue Jewish learning. I’ve hosted over 168 programs since being here! Overall, I’ve made some really good friends, and met hundreds of people who I’ve connected with in some way.

Allie: What Moishe House program stands out the most?

Alyssa: The Syrian Sweets Soiree. This event went viral. We released the event and overnight there were over 3,000 people said they were interested on Facebook. The event tickets were donation-based and would go to the Syrian American Council, and we had a speaker who was speaking about Syrian refugees and the crisis there. We had sold over 500 tickets and raised over $5,000 to help Syrian families trying to resettle in the U.S. Since we couldn’t fit 500 people in the Moishe House, we held it at Hawthorne, which gave us their rooftop space for free.

Allie: I hear that you’re soon going to be leaving us to live in Israel. Tell me about that!

Alyssa: I’ve decided that it’s time to continue my education and am going to be doing a Jewish Experiential Educators program at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem! I’ll be moving out of Moishe House at the end of May, and you’re all invited to my going away party this coming Sunday!

Allie: What’s your favorite way to spend Shabbat?

Alyssa: With people that I love, having a beautiful song-led Kabbalat Shabbat where everyone is singing followed by a delicious dinner with lots of wine and talking.

Allie: I hear you keep pretty busy in DC, tell me about that.

Alyssa: I have four jobs! My main job is at Maryland Hillel where i am the Programming and Operations Associate. I’m also a peer-led retreat mentor with Moishe House, and a Moishe House resident so I plan programs programs [as a part of this role]. I also work at the Bethesda Central Farm Market for a kosher meat distributor called CWS where I help him sell kosher sandwiches and ribs.

Allie: Wow! How did wind up working at the Bethesda Central Farm Market?

Alyssa: I was on JSwipe one day and swiped right on a guy named Hillel. He then messaged me and asked if I wanted to help him sell meat on Sundays. I didn’t totally get what he meant, but he explained that his brother owns a meat business and wanted someone to help with sales. This was before I found my job at Maryland Hillel, so I said “sure”! It was a way I could make some easy cash on Sundays. It’s super fun and the guys are awesome.

Allie: What’s your favorite way to de-stress?

Alyssa: I play softball every week with DC Fray (just like Alissa!). Finding this team was one of the first things I did when I moved to DC. I played softball in high school, it’s one of my favorite things to do. I didn’t know anyone on the team, and now I’ve been on the same team for two years! I also wind down by being a the farmer’s market on Sundays. It’s super calm and just fun. I’m your typical extrovert – so sitting in my room not talking to anyone would make me stressed out.

Allie: Who is your Jewish role model and why?

Alyssa: My mom. Growing up, it was really important to my mom that I learn about my Jewish heritage, because she didn’t grow up with that. My mom and I learned about Judaism together. When I was in middle school, my mom taught a class called Social Action Sunday at my Hebrew School. Instead of sitting in a classroom, she had us go to a men or women’s shelter or animal rescue and actually do tikkun olam together. My mom has always pushed me to be the ultimate kind person and be a Jewish role model to my peers.

Allie: What’s at the top of your bucket list?

Alyssa: Portugal. My last name is Portuguese, and there’s all of this history we don’t know about my father’s side of the family. I’d love to do some digging on that.

Allie: if you could eat only 3 foods for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?

Alyssa: Sushi, specifically salmon sashimi. Gefilte fish. And brisket.

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

Alyssa: We make noise.

 

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.