Meet Sarah: Jewish Singer of the Week!

Singer and songwriter in local band Secret Beach, Sarah Diamond is one of the coolest DC Jews we’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Get to know her…


Allie: What brought you to DC?

Sarah: I’m originally from California, but I was born in India, and lived in Ghana in high school. When it came time to go to college, I wanted to live in an international city and study international relations. I went to American University and was planning to go back to California, but ended up getting an internship in DC at NPR and decided to stay here.

Allie: Describe your dream day in DC from start to finish (assuming money is no object).

Sarah: OH my goodness. Are we allowed outside the official DC borders? Hypotheticals are hard! I’d wake up, go for a bike ride to the Takoma Farmer’s Market, and get a bunch of fresh ingredients for brunch. Then, I’d hire a private chef at an outdoor kitchen to help my friends and me cook up a big brunch, and then we’d all eat together. After that, I’d sunbathe and read a good book.

In the evening, we’d put on an intimate, outdoor, backyard, concert with my favorite bands. My band would play as well, and it would be catered by Timber Pizza. We’d dance all night and stargaze through a telescope brought to the event by a member of the DC Astrological Society (not sure this exists) so they can explain all things celestial.  

Allie: I hear you perform with a local acapella group. Has music always been a big part of your life?

Sarah: I grew up playing music. My dad was my music and drama teacher in school, and I would play and listen to music with him a lot. That was our bonding thing. I was also the only Jewish kid in my choir growing up, so I had to sing the token Hanukkah songs by myself at holiday time. It was mortifying.


Allie: What is the acapella group that you’re part of in DC?

Sarah: It’s called Makela and is really fun! I also sing in a band and write music, so [acapella] really helps me improve my voice and think about cool and different arrangements for songs. [Editor’s note: Check out Makela on YouTube!]

Allie: Ohh…tell me about this band.

Sarah: We’re called Secret Beach. I’m the singer and guitarist, so acapella is really helpful for keeping my voice fit and ready to perform.

Allie: What kind of music do you play?

Sarah: We play 50% originals and 50% covers. Our repertoire includes everything from Joni Mitchell and Norah Jones, to Aerosmith, Billie Eilish, and Yebba. We like to genre-bend and put our own spin on covers. We’re playing June 2nd at Velvet Lounge, come dance with us!

Allie: Do you have a favorite type of music you like to sing?

Sarah: I like jazz and folk singing. I especially like jazz because it’s challenging and vocally, goes places you don’t expect. Female jazz singers are badass and my inspirations.

Allie: I heard that you recently went on GatherDC’s Beyond the Tent retreat. What was that like?

Sarah: Beyond the Tent was really eye-opening. It gives you a different way of thinking about Judaism. I still think about it and talk about it.

Allie: What was your favorite memory from Beyond the Tent?

Sarah: Playing music. A bunch of us just got together to play, and at the time I thought we sounded really good. We were very enthusiastic.

Allie: If you could invite three people to your Shabbat dinner, who would you invite and why?

Sarah: Dead or alive? Do they have to come if I invite them? Important stipulations. Regardless, I would invite my mom, dad, and sister because I really really like them.

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

Sarah: They play Jewish jeopardy and ultimately have at least one friend in common.


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 Marc: Jewish Skydiver of the Week!

He’s jumped out of 200 planes, makes bagels from scratch, is a fencing coach, avid hiker, handyman, and nailed the best surprise proposal ever. Oh, and this is all outside of his full-time government job. Yes, this is a real human and not a Westworld robot.

Meet Marc Meyer!


Allie: How did you wind up in DC?

Marc: I grew up just north of Chicago. I went to school in Seattle, then worked for the Seahawks doing field security, and then went to Georgetown and studied security studies for my masters. I focused on non-Jihadist extremism in the U.S.: hate-speech, KKK, militia movements, left-wing anarchists, and others. After school I started working for the GAO (Government Accountability Office) and met my fiancé there!

Allie: What led you to study non-Jihadist extremism?

Marc: In undergrad I majored in law, societies and justice where we explored how law interacts with people. Part of that was an internship at the U.S. Marshals Service in judicial security and intelligence. I got more involved with learning about far alt-right extremism. As a Jew, a Freemason, and coming from a family of federal employees; this was something I felt like I needed to do to give back to the communities I am a part of.

Allie: Does studying this make you more or less afraid for our country?

Marc: I think a healthy enough worry to be conscious is necessary, but to overwhelm yourself with fear is to give them credit they don’t deserve. Give them enough seriousness to stamp them down, but not enough to give them power. A lot of people are just keyboard warriors.

Allie: What can we do on an individual level to help combat extremism and hate?

Marc: I’m all about Jews being in places where you wouldn’t expect them to be: whether that’s farming, the military, construction, or law-enforcement. It’s important for Jewish people to get out into the community in unconventional spaces to help other groups recognize that we are no different from themselves or any other people.

Allie: Alright, on to lighter topics…I notice that you’re wearing a bow-tie, tell me about that.

Marc: I wear a bow-tie almost every day to work. It’s an identifier that is a way for me to connect with people. They’re fun and help to put people at ease. I see it as an approachability thing and a way for me to express my personality.


Allie: What is your favorite bow-tie?

Marc: A burnt-orange bow tie that is the first one I bought with my fiancé when we were on a road-trip down in South Carolina. It was a time when I was owning who I was and that means a lot to me. Another one that I enjoy wearing  is a wooden one that has the skyline of Chicago etched into it.

Allie: Describe your dream day in the DMV.

Marc: I’d start the morning hiking Old Rag. That’s actually where I proposed to my fiancé, at the peak.

Allie: Please tell this proposal story.

Marc: We were planning to hike Old Rag with a friend, and I told her I was refereeing a fencing tournament that day because I also help coach the Georgetown fencing team. I actually went with one of my best friends and hiked Old Rag at the crack of dawn so I could be up there when she got there. When she got to the top, I proposed. She was totally surprised.


Allie: Alright, now continue with your perfect day.

Marc: Okay, so after Old Rag, I’d get some BBQ. I’m a huge fan of BBQ shacks at the side of the road. In terms of established places, Monks, BBQ Exchange, District BBQ are all really good. After I’d get back to the city, I’ll go to a museum. One of my favorites is The National Portrait Gallery – which combines history and art and shows what makes America unique. At night, I’d bike the monuments.

Allie: I hear that you volunteer at Yachad, how did you get

Marc: I’ve been volunteering with Yachad for about a year and a half now. They’re like Habitat for Humanity but instead of building new homes, they repair and preserve affordable homes. We make sure everything is up to code. A lot of times we work on multi-generational households that have people with limited incomes living there and the house hasn’t been so well maintained  and as part of our projects, we teach and empower homeowners to do more of the continuing maintenance themselves. I’m part of the Handymensch program which is a group of semi-skilled workers who go out a couple times quarterly to tackle vital home repairs. As part of that, I get to learn skills and help others at the same time. Everyone wins. If you’re interested, you can sign up to volunteer here.

Allie: What’s your favorite way to relax at the end of a long work week?

Marc: I’m a hobby baker. I love to bake things and going through the whole process and then having something at the end that you can give to people and spread happiness. I’ve learned how to make my own bagels that I think are pretty good.

Allie: What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?

Marc: I used to be a competitive sky-diver. I’ve done over 200 sky-dives. It’s the closest to nirvana I’ve ever felt. When you go up, you feel so nervous, and when you jump you have that moment of overwhelming fear. But, once you realize you’re “floating“, you realize everything is okay. Then you open the canopy, you can relax and enjoy. Everyone should do it once.

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

Marc: It feels a little more like home.




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: Radical Jewish Rabbi of the Week!

Think you know what a rabbi does with their free time? Think again. Stephanie Crawley is a turtle-owner, Queer Eye fan, Purim hater, and Temple Micah’s new(ish) rabbi!

Meet this radical rabbi taking DC by storm.


Allie: How did you wind up living in DC as a rabbi?

Stephanie: I knew I wanted to be a rabbi since I was maybe 12 years old. I also knew that I didn’t want to go straight from college to rabbinical school. After graduating from undergrad in Cleveland, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do in that time period before rabbinical school, and decided to move to DC and do Jewish work. I wound up working at Temple Micah.

I really loved, and love, how Temple Micah is a place that challenges itself to think differently about what Judaism can look like. Its full of people who are simultaneously brilliant and super humble, and are all very invested in their Jewish life.

After working at Temple Micah for three years, I left to go to rabbinical school. When I was leaving, I worried that I would never find another synagogue that I love as much as I love Temple Micah. But, miraculously, in my fifth year of rabbinical school the Assistant Rabbi position at Temple Micah opened up and I was able to find my way back there.

Allie: Hold on, you wanted to be a rabbi from the time you were 12?!

Stephanie: When I was younger, I knew I liked the idea of doing social work, I liked acting, public speaking, and social justice. A rabbi seemed like it combined all of those things. I knew that becoming a rabbi was the only thing I wanted to do in the world.

Allie: What do you enjoy most about being a rabbi?

Stephanie: I think Judaism gives us such a good answer for how to live our lives with meaning. Particularly right now, it feels like Judaism is everything I need. Judaism reminds me that when it feels like everything is go-go-go, Judaism says stop. When I feel like I’m prioritizing the new, Judaism reminds that what is ancient has real validity. Bringing that countercultural voice to people is something that I really enjoy.


Allie: What has been the most meaningful experience you’ve had as a rabbi thus far?

Stephanie: I used to work in a Jewish addiction and rehab facility called Beit T’Shuvah. While I was there I really saw Judaism save lives. From that, I’ve thought a lot about what we want to save and reclaim in all of our lives, and how can Judaism help with that.

Allie: What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Stephanie: There’s so much that I want to do, and learning what my capacity is has been a journey. Also, to be really frank, holding half an hour conversations with 12 year-olds.

Allie: As a rabbi, how do you cope with the rising threat of anti-Semitism we are feeling right now in America?

Stephanie: I do feel a real sense of purpose to figure out how and when to appropriately call out anti-Semitism without alienating Jews. You can’t just publish an op-ed every time there’s anti-Semitism, sometimes you really have to sit with the person who is saying these [anti-Semitic] things and talk to them.

There is a Jewish philosopher Simon Rawidowicz who has an essay called “The Ever Dying People” and I like to keep in mind that every generation has thought they were the last generation of Jews, and they’re not.

Allie: On to lighter things. What is your favorite Jewish holiday?

Stephanie: It’s not Purim. I loathe Purim. One Rabbi once said to me you’re either a Yom Kippur Rabbi or a Purim rabbi. I’m definitely a Yom Kippur rabbi. I like this little bubble we create to focus on our community on Yom Kippur, and the catharsis that comes when we’ve done the whole thing together. I think the metaphors are really powerful, and appreciate the concept of t’shuvah (repentance).

I also love Passover. I like that the meal is such a good way of teaching Judaism and encourages children to ask questions. I like that women play an important role in the narrative, and that its one of the Jewish rituals that we’ve found a way to modernize and speak for different movements.

rabbi stephanie

Allie: What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?

Stephanie: I have a pet turtle who, for a long time, we thought was a girl turtle named Slowla. We recently found out the turtle is a boy and his new name is Mr. Slow. I think of turtles as puppies with armor.

Allie: What are your favorite ways to relax when you’re not at work?

Stephanie: Normal Netflix and chill, or right now Queer Eye and cry is my new hobby. I also love running and yoga, guitar, singing, and reading.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Stephanie: We make our city stronger, and highlight the beauty of the diversity of the Jewish world.



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 Josh: Jewish Wikipedia Editor of the Week

When he’s not working at innovative digital art space ARTECHOUSE, creating DC-themed pins, or eating avocado BLT bagels, you might find Josh hanging out with his sister who may or may not have invented the flat iron. You’ll just have to find out…


Allie: What brought you to our great nation’s capital?

Josh: I grew up in Rockville and have basically spent much of my life in the DC area. I spent four years in Hartford for undergraduate before I wound up back in DC. Coming back to DC was kind of a scheme planned by my friend Marc Friend [Editor’s note: Yes, that’s his real last name!].

Allie: How did you wind up working at ARTECHOUSE?

Josh: I took my wife to an ARTECHOUSE exhibit last year for her birthday and fell in love with it. I just started working there last August. It’s a very cool space that bridges the gap between art and science technology through immersive installations. We’re doing a cherry blossom exhibit right now. I can give GatherDC readers a discount on tickets! [Editor’s note: He’s not lying! Use code GatherDC for 10% off from 4/8-4/14, excluding Saturdays. Max 2 tickets per household.]


Allie: Describe your dream day in DC.

Josh: I’d wake up and get a Bethesda Bagel, an avocado BLT on a salted bagel. I know it’s not kosher. Then, I’d go to the farmer’s market and one of the record stores in the area. Then, I’d grab lunch. I’m a big fan of BIBIBOP in Dupont. I’m also a big fan of board games or having Netflix marathons with friends. In the evening, I’d grab at a cocktail at El Techo in Shaw.

Allie: I also hear you are lowkey a famous Wikipedia editor. Tell me about that.

Josh: Okay, so when my sister was in high school she was trying to cite Wikipedia for a paper. I was trying to show her that Wikipedia was not a credible source. To prove this point, I purposely edited the Wikipedia page about the flat iron and listed her as the inventor.

Today, it is an international conspiracy that my sister, Erica Feldman, invented the flat iron in the 1800s. If you Google “who invented the flat iron?”, her name will come up. She has been listed as the inventor of the flat iron by Conair, in books, tons of websites, and weird magazines even have odd conspiracy theories about it.

Allie: Are there any other strange facts people might be surprised to know about you?

Josh: I was partially responsible for changing the birthday song at Buca di Beppo. I went to school for art’s management, where a huge piece of my education was learning copyright law. I had just written a paper about the copyrights surrounding the Happy Birthday song when my family and I went to celebrate my dad’s birthday at Buca di Beppo. At the end of the meal, the waiters came over and sang the “Happy Birthday” song to us. Since I had just written this paper, I decided to go up to the manager and tell him that he should know they shouldn’t be singing that song. Flash forward to a week later, I was in touch with the Buca di Beppo corporate lawyer and I sent them proof and evidence about it. I didn’t hear anything back, but then a few weeks later I saw this YouTube campaign came out about Buca di Beppo’s new birthday song.

Allie: What are you favorite hobbies outside of copyright law and Wikipedia editing?

Josh: I collect pins, I think it’s a fun way to show a piece of your personality. I actually co-own a pin company with my wife and two of our friends called Federal Pins. It’s all DC-influenced things that a local would connect to. 


Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Josh: Latkes with applesauce. I don’t like sour cream.

Allie: What’s a piece of wisdom that inspires you?

Josh: My grandfather always taught me to soak it up and never take anything for granted.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Josh: Hilarity ensues.

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 Emily: Jewish Arlingtonian of the Week!

I met Emily Mathae back when I worked at The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. Since then, I’ve been blown away by how her presence has brought so much sunshine to Jewish DC and Northern Virginia. Besides making our bellies happy with her incredible talent for whipping up Jewish baked goods, she also makes our community happy with her warm smile and contagious kindness. Although Emily is soon moving out of the Moishe House Northern Virginia (MoHo NoVA), she’s not going far. So if you don’t know her yet, now is your chance!

P.S. If you’re interested in taking Emily’s spot in Moishe House NoVA, let them know!


Allie: What brought you to Arlington?

Emily: I was born and raised in Arlington; I’m what you call an Arlington native through and through.

Allie: I hear you’re soon moving out of in Moishe House NoVA! What’s been the best part about being a Moishe House resident?

Emily: I’ve been living there for almost two years and it’s been amazing. It’s been a life-changing experience. I get to create really meaningful relationships with community members and put on programs that I’m personally excited about.

Allie: What programs have you hosted at Moishe House that you’re most proud of?

Emily: I love to bake, so it’s been incredible to host programs related to that. I’ve hosted a round challah bake for Rosh Hashanah, babka-making, sufganiyot, hamantaschen, and traditional challah baking events.

I also love Rosh Chodesh and celebrating Jewish women and our lives together as a community. We’ve been doing Rosh Chodesh events since last July. It’s a very strong group of women who are very supportive of one another. I’m curious to see how things will turn out when I move out, but I’m hoping to continue to do the Rosh Chodesh events with Moishe House Without Walls (MHWOW).


Allie: What’s your perfect DC – or Arlington – day from start to finish?

Emily: It would be April 25th; not too hot, and not too cold. All you need is a light jacket! Yeah, hopefully it would be a beautiful day outside, but not too much sun because I get sunburnt very easily. I would go out to Leesburg and visit a couple of wineries and just relax. Maybe I’d go for a long walk or hike. If my favorite band Judah and the Lion was in town I would go see them. That’s one of the bands I will never get tired of.

Allie: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

Emily: I had struggled with my faith for a long time. I was very active in my former faith community, but started questioning some of the things that were told to me and asked some really deep questions that they just didn’t have the answers to. It felt like destiny that I wound up doing my study abroad in Israel where I studied conflict analysis and resolution. While there, I also worked at BINA and loved it so much.

When I returned home, I wrote my senior thesis on young American Jews and their relationship with Israel. This was so impactful for me that I wound up applying to work at some Jewish nonprofits after graduating. At that point, I was halfway through my conversion process. I got the job [that I currently have] at The Jewish Federation and have constantly worked to become a leader in the Jewish community since then. By working at Federation and living in the Moishe House, I feel like I’ve found my place.

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Emily: I have a fabulous challah recipe that I stole from the Mega Challah Bake I went to in NoVA. I also love bagels.

Allie: What’s your perfect bagel?

Emily: An everything bagel with vegetable cream cheese, with onion, cucumber, and tomatoes. Please don’t hate me for not liking lox…

Allie: Favorite Jewish holiday?

Emily: Shavuot. I love dairy and because of the story of Ruth. It connects back to my own Jewish journey and I feel like I’m Ruth in a way.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Emily: They have a grand old time.


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 Therapist of the Week: Naomi!

At the risk of sounding incredibly basic and maybe even a little creepy, I have a major friend crush on Naomi LeVine (pronounced Lah-vIne). *Hi Naomi!* I met her on the Jewish Spirituality Camping Trip this past fall (planned by GatherDC’s Jewish Outdoorsman of the Week – Daniel, Jewish Camper of the Week – Mark, and the phenomenal Natalie Birnbaum who has not yet been featured, but not to fret – her day will soon come).

I was immediately drawn to her positive spirit, laid-back energy, and heavenly singing voice. After guiding us through hours of ukulele filled jam sessions around the campfire, I knew she had to become the Jewish Person of the Week. Lucky for me – and now YOU – we have an exclusive 1:1 interview with Naomi right here.


Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Naomi: I moved here in 2016 to start my master’s in Couple and Family Therapy at University of Maryland.

Allie: Why did you decide to become a couple and family therapist?

Naomi: I had been doing a lot of work with kids, and realized that while that work was really incredible, those kids would then go home and see things that would reinforce negative patterns. So, that shifted my interest into working with families and couples. I feel like that’s where I can make the most lasting change.

Allie: What inspired you to become a therapist in the first place?

Naomi: The passion to make changes at the root of the cause coupled with the importance of individualized work and being able to talk about issues in a personal way.

Allie: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Naomi: When I see or hear about a positive interaction that somebody had that feels different than an interaction that they’ve had before. I get to see that something is different and that the work we’ve been doing is worth it.

Allie: What is one quick tip you would give to help couples who might be reading this interview?

Naomi: Don’t lose sight of why you like each other. You have to be friends first. You’re going to have moments of conflict and moments when you disagree, but try to keep that base level of respect for the other person and understand their perspective – even if you don’t agree with it.


Allie: Outside of work, I hear that you’re currently a part of GatherDC’s Open Doors Fellowship. Tell me about that!

Naomi: It’s a fellowship where DC Jewish young adults come together to learn how to form intentional, one-on-one relationships with Jewish 20s and 30s across the DC-area. I believe in personal relationship-building being the key way we can make our Jewish community feel smaller and more welcoming. So if anyone wants to grab coffee, let me know! It’s on Gather.

Allie: What would be your dream free day in DC?

Naomi: I would wander around Eastern Market for a bit, and then head over to the American Art Museum. If it’s nice out I would spend time reading outside on the Mall. Then, I’d grab some dairy-free ice cream at Jeni’s on my way home!

Allie: What are your go-to ways to relax?

Naomi: I love playing music. If I have a long day, I pick up a guitar and play or write something. I also love reading, and doing yoga or going to spin class at Zengo. And a good, long shower.


Allie: Tell me more about your guitar playing/songwriting!

Naomi: I come from a very musical family, both of my parents play a wide variety of instruments. They had me in piano lessons when I was little, but after a few years I quit because I hated it. In eighth grade, I picked up my dad’s guitar and he showed me how to play. That rekindled my interest in playing instruments. So, now I play guitar, ukulele, and tried to pick piano back up. I love to sing.

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?

Naomi: Tu B’shvat. My family went all out for Tu B’shvat. We had a huge seder with all different kinds of fruit and vegetarian food. There’s singing, reading, it’s so much fun, and everything is very intentional about it.

Allie: With Purim coming up, do you have a favorite hamantaschen flavor?

Naomi: The only time I ever bake is for Purim. I love baking hamantaschen! Last year I made a cookies & cream hamantaschen and a matcha white chocolate hamantaschen. I also made a samoa one that had the coconut caramel filling and then dipped in chocolate. This year, I’m going to do a fruity pebbles hamantaschen. I love experimenting with different fillings.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Naomi: We play a wild game of Jewish geography!


Homemade by Naomi


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 Jake: Jewish Dancer of the Week


Allie: What brought you to DC?

Jake: I was born in Los Angeles, and then my family moved to Potomac, Maryland for a few years before we relocated to Boston. I went to college in Minnesota and majored in political science. I knew I wanted to do something around government and politics, so I decided to move to DC when I graduated. I flew out here for a job interview about a week after graduating. I didn’t get that job, but still moved to DC full time. That was almost five years ago.

Allie: Describe your perfect DC day.

Jake: Honestly, I have not had a free weekend in a long time, because outside of my job I’m also in graduate school. But if I had the time, I would start my day with a cup of coffee and then go for a nice bike ride somewhere. Maybe I’d hit Rock Creek Park. Then I’d go for brunch with a few friends at Medium Rare.

After brunch, I’d like to go see something new in DC. When I first moved here and was unemployed, I made a habit out of finding obscure monuments and markers in DC. I’ve seen all sorts of random memorials in the city. So after brunch, I’d like to go to one of those with my friends. After that, I would go to my favorite Chinese restaurant Peter Chang’s out in Rockville and then magically get back to DC in time to go out salsa dancing.

Allie: Tell me more about your salsa dancing!

Jake: I first started dancing in third or fourth grade. I took after school lessons. Then, I took some dance classes in college for credit – they had salsa and swing dancing. I think you can’t spend time in the midwest without learning about agriculture and swing dancing. I tried to go out dancing in DC with mixed success, it wasn’t that fun to go alone. At the advice of a friend, I joined the Georgetown Ballroom Dance Team. Now, I’m learning actual ballroom dances to compete with. Like “Dancing with the Stars”, but less flash. I’ve learned foxtrot, waltz, quickstep, tango, samba, cha-cha, jive, and rumba.

Allie: “Roomba” – like the vacuum cleaning robot?

Jake: Um, I think of it more like rum the drink, which can be good to have before dancing.

Allie: What’s your favorite style of dance?

Jake: My favorite dances are the Latin dances like chacha, rumba, salsa, and jive. They’re fun to do and lighthearted. My instructor said they allegedly originated in brothels as a way to flirt.

Allie: What do you enjoy most about dancing?

Jake: I’ve always enjoyed dancing. I enjoy learning new routines. It’s healthy, a productive use of my time, and I’m learning a skill that I can show off when I go to weddings.


Allie: What are your goals for your future in dancing?

Jake: Getting better. I’ve been competing for a couple of years now and would like to place in a competition.

Allie: Outside of dance, what are your favorite ways to relax?

Jake: Going for a bike ride, cooking, and baking. This past weekend I made brownies with a graham cracker crust and caramel ganache on top!

Allie: Since Purim is coming up, have you thought about baking hamantaschen?

Jake: I have not, but probably should.

Allie: What are your favorite flavors of hamantaschen?

Jake: Raspberry, strawberry and apricot preserves, and chocolate.

Allie: What is on your life bucket list?

Jake: I’d like to go to New Orleans, and explore the U.S. more in general. I’m not a big solo traveler, so I haven’t traveled as much as I would like to. I really want to go back to Yosemite – I tried last year but there was a big wildfire and I had to cancel my plans to go to the park. I have a tent if anyone wants to go with me! [Editor’s note: Seriously, leave a comment below if interested….]

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Jake: They laugh!




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 Amanda: Jewish Backpacker of the Week!


Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Amanda: I ended up back here to live near family as I’m originally from the area. I went away for college in Ohio and after graduating, backpacked in South America. Once I had been bitten by the travel bug, I decided to live in South Korea for a year. Eventually, it was time to come home.

Allie: What led you to live in South Korea for a year?

Amanda: In high school I was very interested in anime, which was a gateway for me into Korean dramas and music. After college, I was interested in moving abroad to teach. South Korea stood out to me because of my interest in Korean culture and language. After living in South Korea, I continued traveling and went backpacking throughout Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, and Myanmar. I’m very lucky that I was able to do this. I really miss traveling.

Allie: What are some of your favorite memories from traveling and living abroad?

Amanda: In South America, the salt flats in Bolivia (Salar de Uyuni) were so breathtakingly beautiful. In South Korea, teaching every day was so much fun. I taught English to children through a program with the Korean government called EPIK.

Allie: Is there anything left on your travel bucket list?

Amanda: I haven’t been able to explore the African continent, and would love to go pretty much anywhere there. I’d also like to go to Russia and Germany. I made friends from both countries while I was abroad and would love to visit them.

Allie: What life lessons have you learned from all of your traveling?

Amanda: Always keep an open mind, whether that is in response to food, cultural norms, the language, exploring a new city, or meeting people with different opinions.


Allie: What do you do to relax at the end of a long work week?

Amanda: I love playing with my guinea pigs (named Chips and Salsa), watching TV with my roommates, or grabbing a drink with friends. I try to fill up my weekend with as many friend playdates as possible.

Allie: If you could be famous for anything, what would you want to be famous for?

Amanda: I’d like to be famous for being a philanthropist. I’d love to be a crazy rich person who gives tons of money to struggling causes.

Allie: What is your favorite Jewish holiday and how do you like to celebrate?

Amanda: I guess Hanukkah! I usually have parties for both sides of my family, and we all dress in Hanukkah sweaters and eat lots of latkes and light candles. I’m lucky I have a lot of family in the area and everyone stays really connected.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Amanda: They play a very easy game of Jew-ography. Everyone knows each other here.



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 Jillian: Newest Jew of the Week!


Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Jill: When I graduated from college, I was looking for a job in DC, which made sense because I’m originally from Virginia. I got a job working for a luxury lifestyle magazine in DC and then switched directions. I’ve been working for an IP software company for the past four years.

Allie: Describe your perfect Sunday in DC?

Jill: I would wake up and have coffee at A Baked Joint. Then, I’d go to Solidcore and eat a fabulous meal at Fancy Radish. I love that place because I’m a vegetarian and can eat everything on the menu! Even my boyfriend Joel, who is an avid meat eater, loves it. At night, I’d want to see a movie and then go to Timber Pizza (Editor’s note: Timber is owned by the Jewish Deli Owner of the Week!). Also, I’d definitely want to scooter around the city.

Scootering is my secret obsession. It’s so fun, I highly recommend it.

Allie: I hear you recently converted to Judaism. What was the best and toughest part of that process?

Jill: I’m still in the process of converting. I did my conversion class at Temple Sinai, and am doing my conversion with Rabbi Evan Krame who runs The Jewish Studio. The conversion process can be very intimidating. Not being Jewish, I was scared about fitting in and being accepted. Going through this process for the past 9 months, the Jewish community has been so welcoming and taken me under their wing. They’ve always been open to my questions and have helped me be involved.

Allie: What motivated you to convert to Judaism?

Jill: As Joel and I plan for our future together, I want to make sure that we are a united front when it comes to religion and how we want to raise our future family.

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday and how do you celebrate it?

Jill: Hanukkah! As part of my celebration I will be eating my weight in latkes.

Allie: What’s your favorite way to relax at the end of a long work week?

Jill: Cooking and baking. I like to know what is going into my food so when I can, I cook. Now that it’s fall, I like making pumpkin bread, apple pies, and different fall desserts.

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

Jill: In the U.S., I want to go to Seattle, which I’m doing for Thanksgiving. I want to go to Austin, Santa Fe, Jackson Hole, and Maine. Abroad, I’d love to do Brazil, Croatia, and Ireland.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Jill: There’s never a shortage of food.

Special note from Jillian: If you or anyone you know is under the age of 50 and wants to play Canasta or Mahjong, comment below!

jill joel



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.