The Oldest New Way to Do Friday Night in DC

OneTablephotox1My partner and I applied to be OneTable hosts in New York when they were first arriving on the scene; we love hosting our friends for dinners and both find that hosting in our home is the most fulfilling way to celebrate Shabbat. Going to a synagogue where we don’t know anyone and leaving immediately after services can feel cold, uninviting, and distant. A home-cooked meal feels like the Shabbats we both knew growing up, however cost and time are both factors that keep us from hosting more often.

After applying to be hosts, we were contacted by Rabbi Jess Minnen to set up an appointment.  We grabbed coffee in midtown and talked about the kind of atmosphere we hoped to create at our first dinner.  We talked about our commitment to ethically-sourced ingredients and intentional conversation.  We don’t serve kosher food or follow observant laws on Shabbat, but we try to bring the intention of mindful food choices and a present attitude to our Fridays.  Jess was very supportive of any way we wanted to observe Shabbat, and told us she was our personal on-call Rabbi if we had any questions! I must admit, the online platform where hosts posted their meals was intimidating at first; I was afraid random New Yorkers would show up at our apartment!  So we decided to attend a few programs and meals before posting out first Shabbat.

We attended a mixology workshop just for hosts where we learned how to make three fun cocktails and discussed the Jewish value of welcoming guests into our home. We also delved into the meaning behind L’Chayim, and spent the night making many toasts. There were great people there who had hosted OneTable Shabbats all over the city.  We talked about how to select attendees, whether to post an event as open, open but password protected, or invite only, and all our fears were alleviated.  We ended up going to a Shabbat at the home of an amazing couple that we met at the mixology event.  Kate and Jason’s Shabbat confirmed that OneTable was right for us.  It felt unlike any awkward Jewish singles mixer I’d been dragged to in the past.  People were there to enjoy the company, appreciate the food and have an engaging Shabbat experience.

We hosted several Shabbats after that, inviting other guests and hosts we had met through the OneTable network along with our friends and family.  I even incorporated values-driven discussions from our OneTable workshops into our events. The “nourishment options” are unlike any of the Shabbat reimbursement programs I’ve used before.  Instead of creating more work for the host by requiring receipts and follow-up reports, OneTable offers a variety of accessible delivery options for busy millennials.  Having groceries or alcohol delivered on my schedule helped alleviate the cost of hosting a large group and at the same time checked one task off my list for the event.  The options OneTable has include apps like Drizzly, Etsy, and Seamless.  It honestly couldn’t be easier to be a Shabbat host.

As newcomers to DC, we’re so happy to introduce OneTable to this community! OneTable has stepped into the home-hosted DIY Shabbat scene in thoughtful ways, effectively creating small communities within big cities. For young Jews who want an in-home Shabbat experience that is DIY and tailored to your taste, OneTable is it.  I especially love that OneTable collaborated with the JCC and Repair the World in New York.  It’s incredible that these organizations are working together to make points of access for everyone’s preference.  I can’t wait until the OneTable community in DC is up and thriving the way it is in New York. I loved scrolling through my list of options for Friday night, and feeling connected to the other hosts in my community every week.  Sign up to host a OneTable Shabbat today, or come to our next meal–we’d love to have you.


Shabbat Guide

Something really incredible happened in DC. At some point in the history of Jewish DC, three major organizations in the city who are the primary providers of Shabbat experiences got together. They came up with a Shabbat schedule that does not overlap, allowing young adults to attend the different options in a month without having to choose one over the other. Not only is this an amazing model of Jewish organizational partnership and collaboration (one that doesn’t exist in many other cities), but it also encourages us to experience a different kind of Shabbat each week.

These are four distinct Shabbat experiences, across denominations, in different parts of the city, with different styles of prayers, but all with some social component to help you meet new people. Maybe this month you want to hit up all four, or you are deciding where to spend your first Shabbat in DC. Below we have compiled a run down of these four Shabbat options. They are based on subjective experiences that community members have had at these places and we hope they paint a bit of a picture of what to expect there. (Full disclosure, we know some people enjoy Shabbat services and for others, it’s just not your thing. That is so totally ok and there are lots of other ways to do Shabbat or to do Jewish. We hope the GatherDC website and newsletter can connect you to the full range of Jewish options in the city.) But if you are looking for a Shabbat service and meal option, here is a little guide that can get you started…

shir-delight-newFirst Friday of the Month: Adas YP’s Shir Delight

Where: Adas Israel Congregation in Cleveland Park

On the First Friday of each month, hundreds of Jews gather in Cleveland Park for drinks and services – and it’s not at the Quebec House, an apartment building near Adas Israel that somehow manages to maintain a 50% Jewish population of residents! It is for Shir Delight, Adas Israel’s young professional Shabbat. This predominantly lay-led (no Rabbi’s in the house till the sermon, although recently they’re experimenting with using their awesome rabbis to lead) Conservative service is kicked off with just the thing to loosen you up to a night of praying and eating: a happy hour. With a great selection of beer, wine, hard cider and hors d’oeuvres, you can mingle and make friends or just try to get as much of the crudité on your plate as you can. The service, usually led by one or two of your peers as you journey through Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv, flows from one prayer to the other with the only interruption being someone calling out the page numbers to keep everyone on track. After services everyone (all 200+ people) shuffles into dinner where you take your seat and meet your new 8-10 best friends to share a yummy kosher meal. The room is usually still packed with people when they start ushering people out at the end of the night. And for many people, the night doesn’t end once Adas locks the doors; many continue the festivities informally at a local bar in Cleveland Park.

6thintheCityShabbatWEB59-300x215Second Friday of the Month: 6th in the City Shabbat

Location: Sixth & I in Gallery Place

Rabbi Shira Stutman’s 6th in the City Shabbat begins Sixth & I’s consecutive weekend YP Shabbat circuit. Like all of the Shabbat options, we warm up with a drink downstairs where you can leave your jacket and bag because this is also the place you will be having dinner. Also for the yogis out there, you can start your night with Shabbasana™: Pre-Shabbat Yoga that often links the weeks Torah portion to your movements. Your dreams may come true if you happen to be there when Rick Recht is performing Cantor duties. If you haven’t been to this Shabbat yet make sure that you bring a friend who went to a Jewish summer camp that Recht played at and you can see your friend literally lose their mind with excitement during the service. (This is not an actual prerequisite to attend.) Make sure to get up and dance during the Lecha Dodi and always try to go for a spot on the bimah (stage), because some of us haven’t been there since our Bar or Bat Mitzvah. This is an accessible Shabbat experience where Rabbi Shira guides everyone through the evening. After the meal, you can join your fellow congregants downstairs for a meal and some more prayers.

GoodSoulLogoSLIDERThird Friday of the Month: Good Soul Shabbat

Location: Sixth & I in Gallery Place

We have now hit the third Friday of the month and that means jamming in a spiritual sojourn lead by the brave and fearless Rabbi Scott Perlo and the great guy killing it on the drums. This journey also includes a “choose-your-own-adventure” element. You can start your night with either 45 minutes of meditation or a happy hour, whichever will get you in the right spiritual headspace for Shabbat. In this service, they really aren’t kidding with the name. Throughout the service Rabbi Scott continually calls attention to the meaning of the prayers that you might have just been going through the motions of without his guidance. He is usually accompanied by several musicians, which makes this one of the most musically focused of the Shabbat options. And once you are done singing your heart out, you, of course, eat dinner and you can join the jam session if you are so inclined.

2239s-Metro-Minyan---goldFourth Friday of the Month: Metro Minyan hosted by 2239

Location: Calvary Baptist Church in Gallery Place

If you live in Gallery Place, you are in a solid spot for the final Shabbat of the month. Rabbi Aaron Miller leads Metro Minyan (named so because this service takes place off-site of Washington Hebrew Congregation and brings it to a much more metro accessible location). Make sure to get there early for Shot of Torah (named such since there are drinks available) – an interactive round-table discussion in English about the Torah portion of the week, led by the fabulous and enthusiastic Rabbi Miller. You then transition to the service that makes those of you who grew up in Reform temples, summer camps, or youth groups feel right at home – with a guitar, Debbie Friedman tunes, and a Reform prayerbook. In addition to the Shot of Torah before services, two things really make this service special, especially for newbies. Rabbi Aaron asks people to stand up and introduce themselves if you’re attending Metro Minyan for the first time. If you are really shy, there’s no pressure, but it is an opportunity for you to be welcomed by the community. Speaking of first-timers, if you showed up with no one, no problem! At the end of the service, you can find someone on the welcoming committee to sit with and introduce you around. Another great part of the service is the chance to share your Simchas (literally means celebrations, your good news from the last month) and accomplishments with the community. Whether it be big or small this is your chance to share what you have been excited about.

So there you have it – here are four great options for spending your Friday night with the Tribe. It is, after all, the holiest day of the week for our people. I haven’t lived in other major cities but DC seems to have a pretty special and amazing Shabbat culture. And remember, there are many wonderful ways to spend your Shabbat praying or not praying if that’s not how you roll. The four Shabbats mentioned tend to be large (between 100 – 300 people) but there are many smaller scale Shabbat options, independent Shabbat options, pluralistic, vegetarian… the list goes on!

Check out our Shabbat page to learn more.

What are other ways you connect on Friday nights? Share in the comments below!


If Traditional Shabbat Just Isn’t Your Thing…


If a more formal Shabbat experience or service just isn’t your thing but you still want to do something to mark the day, here are some ideas to get you started…

5 alternative approaches to doing Shabbat:

1) Mark the day. The name for each day of the week in Judaism is in relation to Shabbat. Sunday is day one, Monday day two, etc., all the way until day 7 which is just called Shabbat. Shabbat is how Jews mark linear time. Days, weeks and months can all blend together without a regular break. By stopping to acknowledge the passing of a week, we are able to consistently assess our growth. I’ve found that a ritual is the easiest way to do this – whether it’s lighting the candles on Friday night, starting one’s Friday night meal with a blessing over wine, or wearing a different style of clothing. Do something unique at some point during the day to make it distinct.

2) Loosen the reigns. “Life goes wrong when the control of space becomes our sole concern”, writes Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. Shabbat is a time to let go and put our illusion of control into perspective. There is a lot of brokenness in ourselves and in the world that needs repair, but stepping back from the role of “fixer” allows us to appreciate the world as it is and to acknowledge the aspects of our lives that are out of our control.

3) Reflect. We’re always busy, especially here in DC – too busy to think and reflect. Shabbat can and should be a time to pull ourselves out of the day-to-day and ask ourselves the bigger questions. It’s a time to focus on what’s important, not what’s urgent. Whether you prefer meditating, journaling, or going on a walk, find 30-45 minutes at some point during the day to set aside the checklist and turn inward.

4) Rest from work. Rabbinic Judaism defines work as any creative act, but feel free to define work in a way that is meaningful to you. It could be the thing you are paid to do, it could be the things that make you stressed out, it could be the things that distract you, etc. Once you have your definition, though, try to commit to refraining from those activities for the full day, or even for a few hours. See what enters your mind when you free it from those concerns.

5) Connect to others. Shabbat is also about being present with others. Many of the laws of Shabbat restrict mobility to keep you close to the people in your community (back then, and for some today, community was mostly determined by geography). Have a real, face-to-face conversation with someone. This could be over a meal, over tea, or just on a couch. It could be a group or just one-on-one. But allow yourself the pleasure of seeing and being seen.

Do you have other ideas or suggestions for how to do Shabbat outside of formal options? Please share them in the comments below!

Shabbat Clusters Revamped: Bonding Over A Friday Night Meal

4385237204_8961b01dca_zA few weeks ago my friend (and neighbor) texted me on Friday and said she wanted to host Shabbat dinner. We decided I would bring the veggies and she would make the main dish and then I got to messaging people to join us. I had to think carefully about who to invite because at the time, Snowzilla was gearing up to take over Arlington and I was not quite sure how people would be able to get to us. I messaged two friends who lived in Clarendon and Ballston, my Jewish and non-Jewish roommate, and an acquaintance who wanted to get involved in the community. After everyone had dusted off their snow boots and sat down at the table, my acquaintance became oh-so-curious as to how everyone knew me, the only common denominator in the room.

We laughed as everyone shared their stories of how we met. One guy friend explained how he thought he was going on a “date” with our mutual friend but wound up crashing my huge Shabbat dinner party. My roommate talked about how she came out to Lox Meets Bagel, a dating event I hosted, looking for a guy and I wound up “picking her up” as she needed to find a place to live and I had a spot open in my apartment. Another guy friend teased me about how we met six years ago at a speed dating event and have kept the friendship going ever since (Anyone else noticing a theme here?)

Was it a little uncomfortable mixing my friend groups and bringing together a room full of strangers? Yes. There were moments of awkward silence, but we quickly bonded over our love of the same TV shows and that most of us did not know the blessing for hand-washing that our host graciously printed out and placed near her bathroom sink. (Wait, there is a hand-washing blessing?) Overall the night was a success- people became friends on Facebook and one person even wanted do a set-up between one of my guests and one of their friends. Snowzilla Shabbat brought this motley crew together for a meal and it got me thinking about the concept of Shabbat Clusters, the program I am currently revamping for work and participated in off and on for the past eight years.

Shabbat Clusters is a program the DCJCC runs twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. Each session 150-200 young professionals sign up to be placed in a “Shabbat Cluster,” a group of 10-14 people that come together for monthly potluck style Shabbat dinners. Groups are for singles and couples and are formed based on location, age, and sometimes observance level and interests.

Sometimes the groups became BFFs and other times the groups fizzled after meeting twice. I wondered, did everyone in the room get along at Snowzilla Shabbat because I held the group together? Was it because we had similar interests or knowledge of Shabbat rituals? Maybe because we all lived in the same general neighborhood? Would anyone from the dinner organize a second Shabbat meal without me taking the lead?

One addition to the program this season is a Shabbat Cluster Committee. Each committee member will lead a cluster and help members decide when and where monthly dinners take place. They will make sure the group gels, and help guide dinner conversations when needed. I asked some of our new committee members to tell me more about their experiences with Shabbat Clusters and their thoughts regarding how the Shabbat Clusters program will be different this season.

Stacy: How long have you been involved with Shabbat clusters and why have you continued joining a cluster?

Geno: I’ve honestly lost track of how many clusters I’ve attended.  I think it’s in the 6-7 range.  I mostly keep going because they are fun, a good way to meet new people and make friends.  I’m not very plugged into the Jewish community, so this is a great way to get a foot in that door without a huge commitment.  I’m also single, and Clusters are great ways to meet other Jewish singles without the pressure of being at a dating/singles event.  They are best when you go with a friend, having a wingman never hurts. I am looking forward to being on the committee. In college I was very involved in Hillel, student government, a business fraternity, etc, but since I’ve moved to DC, I haven’t really given much of my time back.  I want to help the program succeed and grow since it’s been a big part of my Jewish identity here in DC.

Stacy: Josh, at the Mid-Season Shabbat Cluster Mixer we talked about your love of biking and you were excited when I told you we were going to be adding interest specific  Shabbat Clusters to our program this year. What aspect of the updated Shabbat Cluster program appeals to you the most?

Josh: I’ve always loved the idea of the Shabbat Clusters program, but none of my clusters have ever really worked out. It seems everyone has their own motivations for joining a Shabbat Cluster. If the cluster itself ceases to align with those expectations or motivations, participants abandon the group rather than attempt to find common ground. In some ways, I believe this is a reflection on the local culture here in Washington, DC. Stereotypically, we are ambitious, outspoken, highly motivated, moderately conceited, and extremely busy, which is a terrible recipe for encouraging any degree of flexibility in a social setting. Introducing very specific “Interest Clusters” is a pragmatic step toward resolving this problem because it establishes a meaningful common ground between the members of each cluster before they even meet for the first time. For example, a Shabbat Cluster catered toward outdoor enthusiasts could include hikers, climbers, cyclists, urban explorers, skiers/snowboarders, laser tag enthusiasts, etc., which means the members have activities they can always fall back on. Perhaps more importantly, hobbies like these are usually indicative of significant lifestyle choices and personality types, which are also likely to improve the chances of creating a meaningful and lasting rapport between participants. Interest Clusters are also then enabled to vary their gatherings and include activities other than or in addition to the actual Shabbat meal.

Stacy: Rachel, we recently met for the first time. I was so impressed with your friendly demeanor and willingness to get involved with the community that I invited you to be a part of not one, but two EntryPointDC programs (Rachel and other comedians with perform stand-up and improv at our Kiss and Kvell comedy show)  Why did you want to sign up for Shabbat Clusters program and join the Shabbat Cluster committee?

Rachel: I believe there is no better way to get to know people than over food! I grew up with weekly Shabbat dinners, and can’t wait to share this tradition with new friends.  I’m looking forward to meeting people I otherwise wouldn’t and I can’t wait to learn more about the DC Jewish Community since I recently graduated from school.

Stacy: Sarah, an option for Shabbat Clusters is to be part of a singles or couples cluster.  This year you signed up for clusters with your boyfriend. Tell me about why you wanted him to be involved in the program with you.

Sarah: My boyfriend and I signed up together so we can participate in an activity we can share. It’s always awesome when we find something we both want to do. Who doesn’t like potlucks and schmoozing?  Also, we will both be meeting new couples through the cluster, which is great. I’m looking forward to being on the committee and hoping I can help to keep our cluster motivated and active for the whole session.

You can learn more about Shabbat Clusters on the EntryPointDC website and register. Registration closes March 4th. The cluster season begins with a Kick-off Shabbat Dinner for all participants on Friday, March 11th at the DCJCC.

Featured image and article image taken from flikr.

30 in the City- February Event Guide

30 in the City (1)

Hillah is your guide to being 30 in the City. It is a new month and that means she is here to talk you through some of the amazing events coming up this month. Read below for her recommendations and look out for her at some of these events!

kiss and kvllKiss & Kvell: Interactive Comedy About Love

When: Wednesday, February 10, 7:30 PM

Where: The Bier Baron Tavers (1523 22nd Street NW, Washington, 20037)

What the organizers have to say about the event:

Jswipe date night? Jewesses night out? Nice Jewish Bromance hang? Kiss & Kvell is a comedy show for people searching for love, already under love’s spell, or who want to LOL at love. 100% Jewish mother approved, the night will feature interactive improv games and stand-up comedy and the audience will have the opportunity to share their dating and relationship stories and see them acted out in real time on stage.

What makes this event cool?

It’s definitely not as easy to find your b’shert. We have all been there, told our friends about it, even listened to our coworkers talk about their conquests and date night fails. Let’s take B’shert 2.0 to the next level and enjoy the conversations and have caused us to shed a tear in laught or in Argggg “why did that happen?”

Who should go?

You like using dating, listening to dating stories, want to give your partner a good laugh. JSwipe and Tinder is wearing out your eyes and you want to focus on actually three dimentional people.

Cost: $10

Want to volunteer and attend for free? Email Stacy!



Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 2.56.29 PMTrue Stories

When: Sunday, February 21, 4:30 PM

Where: Tikvat Israel Congregation (2200 Baltimore Road, Rockville, MD 20851)

What the organizers have to say about the event:

Don’t miss the third annual “True Stories.” February’s program will again showcase some of the best storytellers in the Washington area and beyond. “True Stories,” Tikvat Israel’s program featuring true and humorous stories told by comedians, speaking champions, authors, local TV personalities and an Emmy-winning actress: Adam Ruben, Melissa Leebaert, Mike Bareuther, Kylie Jia, and John Melmed.

What makes this event cool?

You just survived Valentines day and now need a good laugh. This is a great opportunity to cut loose, laugh a little (or a lot), and have an up-close and personal seat with some of DC’s premier Jewish comedic storytellers.

Who should go?

Because laughing soooooooooooooo hard that you sometime just pee your pants just a little bit, but not so people see it, is how you roll.

Cost: $18 advance/$20 at the door

Register: here


57-atmdMoving On Up: How to Benefit from Mentorship

When: Monday, February 22nd, at 7:00 PM

Where: 6th & I Historical Synagogue (600 I Street NW, Washington, DC)

What the organizers have to say about the event:

You have big ideas and big dreams and you’re fired up to lean in. But how do you make the most of the potential you have and the contributions you’d like to make in your field? Sometimes you need a little help to put those big dreams into action.

A strong mentor can offer a wealth of knowledge and experience to guide you on your career path. Lisa Eisen, Vice President of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and director of its DC office, will discuss how to find a mentor, the types of realistic expectations bring to the relationship, and how best to maintain it – specifically as it relates to women.

Eisen is a nationally recognized leader and presenter in the fields of philanthropy, Jewish service, Israel education and advocacy, and professional development.

What makes this event cool?

Our parents, peers, professors, friends, and even employers encourage us to find mentors. Mentors are especially key in navigating life and helping us choose the right paths, but we don’t always choose the right mentor for us or we just take which ever mentor is assigned to us by our civic group or job. This is an opportunity to figure out what type of a mentorship is right (like finding the right size shoe) and pursuing that person.

Who should go?

You are female! This event is actually geared towards women. Believe in mentorship or want to try it on. You are looking for that next step in your career and needs some fresh eyes.

Cost: $12

Register: here


Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 2.59.12 PMBabka Bake by the JWI Young Women’s Leadership Network

When: Monday, February 29th, 6:00 PM

Where: 3010 Ordway Street NW, Washington, 20008

What the organizers have to say about the event:

Come out and learn to bake Babka with chef Paula Shoyer, author of The Kosher Baker and other best-selling cookbooks.

What makes this event cool?

Think you ate to much baked goods over Valentines day, no one cares. Eat more and prep your baking skills for Purim.

Let’s think about it:

  • Learn to bake a tradition dish? Check!
  • Put a smile on your parents face, because you finally put your oven to good use? Check!
  • Mix and mingle with some powerful young professional women? Check! Check! Check!

You can never go wrong with an event that brings baked goods and power-house women together into one room.

Who should go?

Ladies who enjoy baking, learning to bake, discussing food and being around like minded people.

 Cost: $10 for members/$12 for non-members (can we say bargain!)

Register: here


Want more? Check Out:

Get your house in order with Building a Jewish Home at Sixth & I Historical Synagogue.

You like comedy and giving to a cause, so join Jewish Foundation for Group Homes at their MC Live! A Special Evening of Comedy.

How much do you remember from your Birthright trip to Israel with Think & Drink: Israel Trivia brought to you by the J and NOVA Tribe.

Catch up with old and new friends at Adas Israel Second Annual Tu B’Shevat Community Sedar.


Jewish Legislative Assistant of the Week – Joe!

1This week I got the chance to interview one of our community members working on the Hill Joe! We talked about his work, what lead him here and why his summer camp experience still matters to him. If you know someone who should be featured as the Jew of the week email me to nominate them!

Jackie: You are from Louisiana originally and went to Tulane. What do you miss most about New Orleans?

Joe: Definitely the food. The crawfish, the gumbo, the pork jambalaya, it’s all so delicious.


New Orleans is one of those rare cities that really has a personality. It’s a city that loves to fun, but above all it’s a city where there is a pervasive sense that we’re all in this together; that we have our neighbors’ backs. It’s that sense of community that I miss most.

Jackie: What brought you to DC?

Joe: I’ve known for a long time that I wanted to work public service and government, and DC is the place to be. Immediately after college, I spent the summer as a Rosh Eidah at Ramah Darom, and after that I moved to DC and started searching for jobs.

What is the most exciting part of your job, working for Congressman Cedric Richmond?

Joe: The narrative about Congress is that we don’t get anything done, and it’s certainly true that Congress has been unwilling or unable to tackle head on many of the most important problems we face. And as members of the minority party, we’re even more limited in our ability to affect the agenda. Once in a while though, we’re able to make small changes that really make our constituents better off. Whether it’s tacking on an amendment to a larger bill or passing a bill of our own, those are the most satisfying moments.

Jackie: You lived through Hurricane Katrina, did that experience influence the career path you chose?

Joe: Absolutely. Government at every level – local, state, and federal – failed before, during,  and after the storm. One of the greatest myths about what happened to New Orleans is that it was a completely natural disaster; that it was not preventable. Hurricane Katrina was a natural disaster, but the flooding of the city and the devastation that followed a government-made disaster. As I kid, I was always interested in politics, but Katrina was the first time I witnessed firsthand what happens that the government fails. It motivated me to want to help make sure that government works for the people.

3Jackie: Where is your favorite place to spend time in DC?

Joe: Wherever my friends are. I’m lucky to have some great friends in the city, and wherever they’re hanging out is where I’ll be.

Jackie: You are a Ramah Darom alumni, why is that experience still important to you?

Joe: My time as a counselor and a Rosh Eidah at Ramah was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. To watch the kids have the best time of their lives, and to know you helped make that happen, is really special.

Jackie: Who is your favorite Jew?

Joe: I’ve always been enamored with Mordechai Anielewicz. His courage in the face of unspeakable evil is inspiring.

Finish the Sentence: When the Jews gather… Nobody can dance… So everybody can dance!

Check Yourself, Don’t Wreck Yourself: Thoughts on Self-Care for the New Year

If you’ve been following my ongoing series on Mussar, you might have noticed that I’ve spent a fair amount of time thinking about self-compassion and self-care. We can only be our best selves if we are kind to ourselves. It sounds obvious and easy, but I think many of us know that it can be difficult to set our own well-being above all the other commitments in our lives. To that end, I’ve compiled some thoughts and resources that I’ve found valuable.

  1. Saying no

It might be nice to live in a world where we are able to do all things we would like to and all the things everyone else asks of us. But alas, we live a world of limited time, and so we owe it to ourselves to prioritize our different engagements and activities and be able to nicely and/or considerately decline those we can’t accommodate. It could require some soul searching about taking on fewer commitments or changing how you handle those commits, but may be as simple as holding yourself to leaving the office on time.

  1. Simplifying

We often make our lives more complicated than they need to be, and the extra hassle isn’t always worth the extra benefit. An example: I’ve spent years struggling with what to eat for breakfast, looking up different recipes, spending valuable weekend time preparing different concoctions for the week. But then I recently was craving bananas and began a personal bananas (with Nutella) for breakfast campaign, and I’ve found myself happy at breakfast and with a lot more weekend time on my hands. Some people have taken the concept further, abiding by meal schedules or uniforms.

  1. Taking time out during the day, before getting exhausted

This is one that I struggle with on a daily basis – I get so involved on a project I’m working on that I don’t want to stop, but by then end of the day, I am completely wrecked. I’m trying to be better about putting breaks on my calendar and calling on friends and coworkers for reinforcement. To that end, try eating lunch away from your desk, and even better, with a buddy.

  1. Getting enough sleep

Not getting enough sleep means I wake up feeling resentful and am more likely to burn out and be less than my best. So I’m working on enforcing mandatory bed times, as Gretchen Rubin suggests in The Happiness Project. I’ve also heard that snoozing is a no-no, but I haven’t yet rallied to give up my daily 3+ snoozes habit.

  1. Dance more

Whether it’s around my room or with someone else, I bet you’ll feel better when you’re dancing.

For a longer list of self-care dimensions and to assess your own level of self care, check out this great checklist.

2015/5776 High Holiday Guide

This is the guide from 2015! Be sure to check out the one from 2017 here.

The coconut provides a nutritious source (2)

Erev Rosh Hashana—Sunday, September 13

Rosh Hashana (1st Day)—Monday, September 14

Rosh Hashana (2nd Day)—Tuesday, September 15

Kol Nidre—Tuesday, September 22

Yom Kippur—Wednesday, September 23

Other Resources:

  • High Holiday ticket exchange! Have high holiday tickets that you are not using? Enter them here and check out what tickets are available here!
  • EntryPointDC High Holiday Tickets – Many of the congregations in the area sell their tickets through EntryPointDC, get your tickets today!
  • 10Q – 10 Days. 10 Questions.
  • Jewels of Elul – Daily inspiration every day of the Jewish month of Rosh Hashanah (Elul)
  • Educational materials – from AJWS
  • My Bubby – offering a 20% discount off their honey card of the month. Just enter the code “sweetrosh” upon checkout by August 31.
  • JSSA – Support JSSA volunteers as they deliver baskets of traditional holiday items and food to Jewish families and individuals who are unable to afford these items on their own.
  • Jewish Food Experience – Top 10 Recipes for a Scrumptious Year

Missing Opportunities in the DC Jewish Community

KevinGather’s former Jewish Guy of the Year, Kevin Lieberman discusses the missing opportunities for lay leadership in DC’s young adult community – with a great shout out to Gather the Jews and the Open Doors Fellowship. He sites a lack of opportunities for individuals to bring their ideas to the table and get more active in what their community looks like. 

Community building is the primary mission of Gather the Jews. How do we use our communal resources to create the Jewish experiences we are seeking as individuals? Sometimes we don’t have the answers, mostly because that answer needs to come from you. Gather searches to empower individuals and small groups to find what they are looking for amongst the diverse offerings in Jewish DC. Kevin explores the idea of how to empower individuals to help fill the gaps they see in their community and identifies a disconnect that may occur in a top down programming model. 

What do you think our community needs to help young professionals more actively shape our Jewish experiences? And what do you see as your role in that work? 

You can read his full article on eJewish Philanthropy here.

A Day of Remembrance

Today marks the anniversary of a day that none of us will ever forget.  Eleven years ago today, our country stood in stunned horror as attacks were carried out on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  Today is officially commemorated as Patriot Day in honor of the 2,977 killed on September 11, 2001.  American flags are to be flown at half mast, and a moment of silence is to be observed at 8:46 am, the time at which the first plane struck the North Tower.  In addition, remembrance and memorial services are held throughout the country. Below are some of the events taking place in DC today:

  • The Pentagon – An American flag will be draped over the Pentagon from sunrise to sunset.  This morning a Wreath laying ceremony was attended by the President and the First Lady.
  • Arlington National Cemetery – The cemetery hosted a Naval Intelligence 9-11 Ceremony, and the city of Arlington has hung flags from overpasses and buildings for “Flags Across Arlington.”
  • 9/11 Heroes Run – A 5K hosted by The Travis Manion Foundation which is a  non-profit organization that directly supports veterans, their families, and families of fallen service members.