L’Shana Tova 5769!

Courtesy of Crystal Cloud Graphics

Courtesy of Crystal Cloud Graphics

I have been the lucky recipient of several Jewish organizational e-mail cards, and though I fear my graphic skillz can’t live up to that, I’ll do my best. 😛

Shana Tova! Happy new year, and happy 5769. Enjoy lots of apples and honey, and revel in the shofar’s call.

I want to thank everyone who has taken a look at my blog over the past few months. It’s meant a lot to me to have you watch my baby steps; now, sit back and enjoy what’s in store for this next year! As always, please feel free to e-mail me or get in contact concerning what you’d like me to cover about Jewish DC. I’m doing this for you as much as I am for me!

L’shana tova tikvatenu. May you have a blessed Rosh Hashanah, and be inscribed in the book of life.

Upcoming Events: September 28-October 4

Shavua Tov! Below, I’ve compiled a list of Jewish events I’ve found to be going on next week. Hope you had a nice Shabbat. Please feel free to comment with any others, and I will add them. See you around town!

Sunday, September 28

10k, 5k and fun run to support the Charles E. Smith Life Communities and the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=15977

Annual High Holidays Memorial Service
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=16461

The Struggle for Workers’ Rights in the U.S.
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=194562

Jewish Singles 35 Plus
http://www.jewishsocials.com/index.cfm?CityId=1&action=events&event_id=6070#Event6070

11th Congressional District Debate
http://www.jcouncil.org/site/Calendar/1446484501?view=Detail&id=101861

Wine Tasting in McLean, VA
http://geshercity.org/c/portal/layout?p_l_id=PUB.1080.4&p_p_id=8&p_p_action=0&p_p_state=maximized&p_p_col_id=column-1&p_p_col_pos=1&p_p_col_count=2&_8_struts_action=%2Fcalendar%2Fview_event&_8_eventId=3068

Monday, September 29-Wednesday, October 1—Rosh Hashanah!

See a list of synagogues offering tickets here:
https://jewishdc.wordpress.com/2008/08/19/dc-high-holiday-tickets-5769/

Thursday, October 2

JewishPro VP Debate Party. Biden vs. Palin on the Big Screen TVs
http://www.jewishpro.com/eventdetail.php?id=84

YPK Debate Watching
http://www.jewishfriends.org/calendar.html#1002

Jenny Lewis Concert Sold Out
http://www.sixthandi.org/Events.htm#Jennylewis

Yardena in Concert
http://thejdc.convio.net/site/Calendar?view=Detail&id=101121

Friday, October 3

MesorahDC Shabbat Services
http://www.mesorahdc.org/scripts/webapp.py?f=shabbat

Samplings from the DCJCC Jewish Literary Festival

Eileen Pollack reads from her short story, "The Bris" / photo taken by Rachel Mauro

Eileen Pollack reads from her short story, "The Bris" / photo taken by Rachel Mauro

The Hyman S. & Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival is mere days away from finishing its run, but I can finally say that I attended a few events! A small few (or rather, two,) but both had to do with fiction, so they made me happy. 😀

The two authors whom I sat in on, Elisa Albert and Eileen Pollack, came from different sides of the fiction spectrum—Albert was reading from her debut novel, “The Life of Dahlia,” while Pollack, a veteran, shared from her short story, “The Bris,” part of the anthology, “In the Mouth.” But both women confront the idea of mortality in the family—using a mix of humor and heart-warming realism to spin their stories.

I particularly wanted to hear Elisa Albert speak on Sunday afternoon because she is editor to two of my favorite Jewish websites—Nextbook and Jewcy.com. At 30-years-old, Albert is already accomplished in life with this and a book of short stories under her belt, quite unlike the protagonist of her novel, just a year younger, whose life seems to begin when she is diagnosed with brain cancer.

Elisa Albert reads from her debut novel, "The Book of Dahlia" / photo taken by Rachel Mauro

Elisa Albert reads from her debut novel, "The Book of Dahlia" / photo taken by Rachel Mauro

After reading us the first chapter, Albert explained that she wanted to analyze the “death culture” of self-help books, which, especially with cancer, seem to play “blame the victim.” They assert that if you have a good enough attitude in life, you can beat the disease, she said.

Albert, who lost a positive-attitude brother to cancer, decided to attack the problem from the opposite end—enter Dahlia, a 29-year-old pot-smoking couch potato who can’t get over her familial issues long enough to actually procure a job or income of her own. Her story doesn’t end tied up with a neat little bow of lessons learned—instead, Albert takes a grittier approach, which leaves critics (and many in the room) applauding her realism and originality.

Eileen Pollack came to us on Monday evening with short stories, a novel, and creative nonfiction under her belt.

She read from two sections of “The Bris,” which has been selected for “The Best American Short Stories 2008.” She described the story as a “fairy tale”—a middle-aged man must seek out three Jews to ask an unusual favor—to perform a bris on his dying father. Several of Pollack’s other stories deal with the relationships between senior fathers and their daughters but in this case, she thought that a son would be the better alternative. 😛

I left these two events feeling invigorated as a female, Jewish fiction writer myself. Thank you to these and other authors at the festival for sharing a bit of their creative processes. I look forward to reading their works, and in attending the literary festival next year. Kudos to all of the staff and volunteers at the DCJCC!

Upcoming Events: September 21-27

Shavua Tov! Below, I’ve compiled a list of Jewish events I’ve found to be going on next week. Hope you had a nice Shabbat. Please feel free to comment with any others, and I will add them. See you around town!

Sunday, September 21

Jewish Literary Festival:
Andrea Askowitz: http://geshercity.org/c/portal/layout?p_l_id=PUB.1080.4&p_p_id=8&p_p_action=0&p_p_state=maximized&p_p_col_id=column-1&p_p_col_pos=1&p_p_col_count=2&_8_struts_action=%2Fcalendar%2Fview_event&_8_eventId=2856
Elisa Albert: http://geshercity.org/c/portal/layout?p_l_id=PUB.1080.4&p_p_id=8&p_p_action=0&p_p_state=maximized&p_p_col_id=column-1&p_p_col_pos=1&p_p_col_count=2&_8_struts_action=%2Fcalendar%2Fview_event&_8_eventId=2857
Darin Straus: http://geshercity.org/c/portal/layout?p_l_id=PUB.1080.4&p_p_id=8&p_p_action=0&p_p_state=maximized&p_p_col_id=column-1&p_p_col_pos=1&p_p_col_count=2&_8_struts_action=%2Fcalendar%2Fview_event&_8_eventId=2858

Opening of Exhibit: What Candidates are Really Made of and Other Famous Faces
http://www.sixthandi.org/Events.htm#Candidates

Young Professionals Walking Tour
http://www.jhsgw.org/programs/walking.php

Hebrew in a Flash
http://www.sixthandi.org/Classes.htm#HebFlash

Olam Tikvah New Members Brunch
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=181306

Training Wheelers Program Through Hadassah
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=187832

Celebration of Jewish Campus Life
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=179324

Olam Tikvah’s ABBA Kickball
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=181307

McCain Fundraiser Kosher Dinner
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=181438

JCCNV Country Steppers Dance Team
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=176723

PJLL: Leon Weiseltier: The Strange Silence of American Jewry
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=165509

Michael Oren Lecture at Kesher Israel
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=187524

Young Professional Kesher General Meeting/Calendar Meeting
http://www.jewishfriends.org/calendar.html#0921

Monday, September 22

Jewish Literary Festival:
Eileen Pollack: http://geshercity.org/c/portal/layout?p_l_id=PUB.1080.4&p_p_id=8&p_p_action=0&p_p_state=maximized&p_p_col_id=column-1&p_p_col_pos=1&p_p_col_count=2&_8_struts_action=%2Fcalendar%2Fview_event&_8_eventId=2860
Amos Oz: http://geshercity.org/c/portal/layout?p_l_id=PUB.1080.4&p_p_id=8&p_p_action=0&p_p_state=maximized&p_p_col_id=column-1&p_p_col_pos=1&p_p_col_count=2&_8_struts_action=%2Fcalendar%2Fview_event&_8_eventId=2859

Rally Against Iran
http://www.jcouncil.org/site/Calendar/1230766403?view=Detail&id=102003

Let’s Talk About It: Jewish Literature at American University
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=156785

Café Night
http://www.sixthandi.org/Classes.htm#Cafe

Jewish Think Tank
http://www.sixthandi.org/Classes.htm#Thinktank

Tuesday, September 23

Jewish Literary Festival:
Hip Kosher: http://geshercity.org/c/portal/layout?p_l_id=PUB.1080.4&p_p_id=8&p_p_action=0&p_p_state=maximized&p_p_col_id=column-1&p_p_col_pos=1&p_p_col_count=2&_8_struts_action=%2Fcalendar%2Fview_event&_8_eventId=2861
Ariel Sabar: http://geshercity.org/c/portal/layout?p_l_id=PUB.1080.4&p_p_id=8&p_p_action=0&p_p_state=maximized&p_p_col_id=column-1&p_p_col_pos=1&p_p_col_count=2&_8_struts_action=%2Fcalendar%2Fview_event&_8_eventId=2862

JCC of GW Focus on Vision
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=186144

Jewish Stories for Younger Children
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=127533

Jewish Ethics in the Modern World
http://www.sixthandi.org/Classes.htm#Ethics

Tom Friedman on U.S. Politics
http://www.sixthandi.org/Events.htm#Friedman

Wednesday, September 24

Holiday Highlights: High Holiday Class
http://www.birthrightisrael.com/site/Calendar?view=Detail&id=118561&whence=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.birthrightisrael.com%2Fsite%2FPageServer%3Fpagename%3Dnext_local_dc_announce

AIPAC Washington Club Briefing
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=174056

Thursday, September 25

Twenties and Thirties Mixer
http://www.jewishsocials.com/index.cfm?action=events#Event6071

Four Approaches to Studying the Torah: Rashi, Ba’al Ha’Turim, Malbim, and Aviva Zornberg
http://www.sixthandi.org/Classes.htm#FourApproaches

JFGW Lawyers Lunch and Learn: Presidential Lecture Debate
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=179312

Friday, September 26

Presidential Debate Party: Obama vs McCain on the big screen
http://www.jewishpro.com/eventdetail.php?id=83

Friday, September 26-Saturday September 27

Kidding Around Film Festival
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=189345

Local Book Publication: Inspired Jewish Leadership

Graphic courtesy of Jewish Lights Publishing

Graphic courtesy of Jewish Lights Publishing


OK, so I’ve been a bad girl, and not made it to the Jewish Lit Festival yet this season (though I’m on my way to buying some tix. :D) But while we’re on the subject of books…

…allow me to pimp this one; Inspired Jewish Leadership: Practical Approaches to Building Strong Communities, just published by PJLL director of adult education and J-Fed scholar in residence, Dr. Erica Brown.

Before I get to my own thoughts, here’s a quote from the introduction…

“Great Jewish leadership has helped us survive slavery, guided us to the Promised Land, given us hope through exile and oppression, helped us enjoy membership in a nation of overachievers, and given birth to the State of Israel. Great Jewish leadership generates vision and, as a result, followers. It inspires us and helps us to stretch higher, see farther, and reach deeper.”

I’ve been fortunate enough to attend a handful of Dr. Brown’s lectures, and I’ve always left them feeling both impressed and connected to the subject at hand. She has a way of encouraging casual dialogue about Bible stories, Jewish history, whatever, and even if you’re not relatively well-versed, you don’t sit there feeling dumb. Her lessons weave into life’s meaning in the here and now, not just stuffy rabbinic rhetoric, and they certainly play into the idea of Jewish community. Which is what, after all, Jewish leadership strives for.

Dr. Brown will be lecturing in several locations around the D.C. area for the next several months. In particular, allow me to point out the NeXus program, which is aimed towards connecting young professionals with the local Jewish community. The six classes range from the personal journey to Israel and beyond, and take place, one per month, from October to March. Space is limited, so sign up now!

Inspired Jewish Leadership can also be purchased through Barnes and Noble, amazon.com, and hopefully many more venues as well!

Upcoming Events: September 15–20

Shavua Tov! Below, I’ve compiled a list of Jewish events I’ve found to be going on next week. Hope you had a nice Shabbat. Please feel free to comment with any others, and I will add them. See you around town!

Monday, September 15
Café Night
http://www.sixthandi.org/Classes.htm#Cafe

Jewish Think Tank
http://www.sixthandi.org/Classes.htm#Thinktank

Renew Your Life at the Jewish New Year
http://www.jewishstudycenter.org/classes/index.htm#1

High Holidays Meditation and Yoga
http://www.jewishstudycenter.org/classes/index.htm#2

The Alphabet of Sins
http://www.jewishstudycenter.org/classes/index.htm#3

DCJCC Jewish Literary Festival: Beth Kaplan
http://geshercity.org/c/portal/layout?p_l_id=PUB.1080.4&p_p_id=8&p_p_action=0&p_p_state=maximized&p_p_col_id=column-1&p_p_col_pos=1&p_p_col_count=2&_8_struts_action=%2Fcalendar%2Fview_event&_8_eventId=2855

DCJCC Jewish Literary Festival: Adam Langer
http://geshercity.org/c/portal/layout?p_l_id=PUB.1080.4&p_p_id=8&p_p_action=0&p_p_state=maximized&p_p_col_id=column-1&p_p_col_pos=1&p_p_col_count=2&_8_struts_action=%2Fcalendar%2Fview_event&_8_eventId=2838

Tuesday, September 16

Doing the Right Thing: Jewish Ethics in the Modern World
http://www.sixthandi.org/Classes.htm#Ethics

Edgar M. Bronfman’s “Hope, Not Fear: A Path to Jewish Renaissance”
http://www.birthrightisrael.com/site/Calendar?view=Detail&id=118941&whence=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.birthrightisrael.com%2Fsite%2FPageServer%3Fpagename%3Dnext_local_dc_announce

Grandma’s Favorites: Challah
http://www.jewishstudycenter.org/classes/index.htm#5

Wednesday, September 17

Forgiveness Book Club: The Sunflower
http://www.jewishstudycenter.org/classes/index.htm#6

Roadmap to the High Holidays
http://www.jewishstudycenter.org/classes/index.htm#7

Rabbi David Wolpe’s response to New Atheism
http://www.sixthandi.org/Events.htm#Wolpe

Wine Tasting Kick-Off at VisArts, Rockville
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=16483

Olam Tikvah Book Discussion
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=181304

Balkan Beat Box
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=186443

JCCGW Archaeology Lecture
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=183688

RNC Roundtable Discussion
http://geshercity.org/c/portal/layout?p_l_id=PUB.1080.4&p_p_id=8&p_p_action=0&p_p_state=maximized&p_p_col_id=column-1&p_p_col_pos=1&p_p_col_count=2&_8_struts_action=%2Fcalendar%2Fview_event&_8_eventId=2937

DCJCC Jewish Literary Festival: Illan Stavans
http://geshercity.org/c/portal/layout?p_l_id=PUB.1080.4&p_p_id=8&p_p_action=0&p_p_state=maximized&p_p_col_id=column-1&p_p_col_pos=1&p_p_col_count=2&_8_struts_action=%2Fcalendar%2Fview_event&_8_eventId=2839

DCJCC Jewish Literary Festival: Camp Camp
http://geshercity.org/c/portal/layout?p_l_id=PUB.1080.4&p_p_id=8&p_p_action=0&p_p_state=maximized&p_p_col_id=column-1&p_p_col_pos=1&p_p_col_count=2&_8_struts_action=%2Fcalendar%2Fview_event&_8_eventId=2815

Thursday, September 18

Four Approaches to Interpreting Torah: Rashi, Ba’al Ha’turim, Malbim and Aviva Zornberg
http://www.sixthandi.org/Classes.htm#FourApproaches

An Introduction to Islam for Jews
http://www.sixthandi.org/Events.htm#INtroIsland

Fall Kick Off For Jewish Professionals at Current
http://www.jewishpro.com/eventdetail.php?id=34

UJEF Legacy Society Event
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=16260

Technion—Today’s Innovations and Tomorrow’s Breakthroughs
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=147567

Gil Shohat and Bavat Marom Music Performance
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=187383

B’nai Tzedek High Holiday Workshop
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=179591

JCCGW Israel Lecture
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=183795

DCJCC Jewish Literary Festival: Identical Strangers
http://geshercity.org/c/portal/layout?p_l_id=PUB.1080.4&p_p_id=8&p_p_action=0&p_p_state=maximized&p_p_col_id=column-1&p_p_col_pos=1&p_p_col_count=2&_8_struts_action=%2Fcalendar%2Fview_event&_8_eventId=2842

DCJCC Jewish Literary Festival: Peter Manseau and Janet Kirchheimer
http://geshercity.org/c/portal/layout?p_l_id=PUB.1080.4&p_p_id=8&p_p_action=0&p_p_state=maximized&p_p_col_id=column-1&p_p_col_pos=1&p_p_col_count=2&_8_struts_action=%2Fcalendar%2Fview_event&_8_eventId=2844

Friday, September 19

MesorahDC Shabbat Service at Sixth & I
http://www.mesorahdc.org/scripts/webapp.py?f=shabbat

JCA: Sam Gorlitz Kensington Club Dedication and Ribbon Cutting
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=123542

Shabbat Service and Shalom Yoga
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=170625

Temple B’nai Shalom Shabbat Service with Rick Recht
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=185389

DCJCC Jewish Literary Festival: Thumpin It
http://geshercity.org/c/portal/layout?p_l_id=PUB.1080.4&p_p_id=8&p_p_action=0&p_p_state=maximized&p_p_col_id=column-1&p_p_col_pos=1&p_p_col_count=2&_8_struts_action=%2Fcalendar%2Fview_event&_8_eventId=2845

Congregation Adat Reyim Wine and Cheese Social
http://geshercity.org/c/portal/layout?p_l_id=PUB.1080.4&p_p_id=8&p_p_action=0&p_p_state=maximized&p_p_col_id=column-1&p_p_col_pos=1&p_p_col_count=2&_8_struts_action=%2Fcalendar%2Fview_event&_8_eventId=2901

Saturday, September 20

Young Professionals Kesher Mini-Golf/Dinner
http://www.jewishfriends.org/calendar.html#0920

Olam Tikvah New/Prospective Member Shabbat
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=181303

Congregation Sha’are Shalom Kiddush Luncheon for Prospective Members
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=183020

Itzhak Perlman & Pinchas Zuckerman Music Performance
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=186445

Olam Tikvah Selichot: Abayudaya – The Jews of Uganda
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=181305

Selichot at Adas Israel: Community Welcome of Rabbi Gil Steinlauf, New Senior Rabbi: and Joseph & Mollie Muchnick Selichot Lecture
http://www.shalomdc.org/calendar/index.aspx?id=75&eventid=180834

Dinner and a Movie Cluster: The Dutchess and Bar Louie
http://geshercity.org/c/portal/layout?p_l_id=PUB.1080.4&p_p_id=8&p_p_action=0&p_p_state=maximized&p_p_col_id=column-1&p_p_col_pos=1&p_p_col_count=2&_8_struts_action=%2Fcalendar%2Fview_event&_8_eventId=3081

Jewish Literary Festival: Bernard Henri Levy
http://geshercity.org/c/portal/layout?p_l_id=PUB.1080.4&p_p_id=8&p_p_action=0&p_p_state=maximized&p_p_col_id=column-1&p_p_col_pos=1&p_p_col_count=2&_8_struts_action=%2Fcalendar%2Fview_event&_8_eventId=2854

Reverse Mifgash Weekend Retreat

The Israeli Birthright alums who made the weekend retreat possible for the rest of us / photo taken by Rachel Mauro

The Israeli Birthright alums who made the weekend retreat possible for the rest of us / photo taken by Rachel Mauro

Perhaps slightly more tired and bug-ridden than usual, a group of 75 D.C. Birthright alums and Israeli peers just returned from Capital Camps in Pennsylvania Sunday evening after spending two days and nights on a Jewish retreat.

This so called “reverse mifgash” programming was suggested by a recent Birthright participant who wanted to provide a similar opportunity for Israelis to experience Jewish culture and peers abroad. The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington helped to raise $18,000 to bring a group of 10 to the D.C. area for cultural touring, meetings with Congressmen, and finally, a weekend on this beautiful campus to contemplate Judaism and its many facets with the rest of us.

Another Federation Leadership retreat was going on at the same time, and we got to share programming with those people, including some meals, Shabbat services, and a lecture on Judaism by Rabbi Dr. Lawrence Hoffman.

Jewish musician Rick Recht performs at the campire / photo taken by Rachel Mauro

Jewish musician Rick Recht performs at the campire / photo taken by Rachel Mauro

On our own, we listened to performances by racy comedian Dan Ahdoot, religious musician Rick Recht, and provocative actor Robbie Gringras. Though it rained pretty frequently, we also got to get a leg up on outdoor activities like swimming, basketball, and braving rope courses and zip lines. Nighttime was filled with enthusiastic bentsching, singing, dancing, bonfires and karaoke. And just in case you think we had too much free time on our hands, we also talked about the meaning of Jewish community with J-Fed’s scholar-in-residence Dr. Erica Brown, and EVP/CEO Dr. Misha Galperin. 😉

I can’t write a sentence further without taking the time to give props to the amazing young leadership staff who made sure that the rest of us got as much out of this weekend as possible. Their dedication is a true mitzvah.

Young Professionals stayed in these bunks reminiscent of summer camp experiences / photo taken by Rachel Mauro

Young Professionals stayed in these bunks reminiscent of summer camp experiences / photo taken by Rachel Mauro


One of the main themes that came out of our retreat was thinking of ways to “pay it forward” with perpetrating our Jewish community and pride. It got me to thinking about this blog—how I started it because I love to write and I love these events, but more than that, to show my appreciation for Jewish communal workers and to provide a resource for interested Jews in the D.C. area. As I come back from my retreat, feeling refreshed through my fatigue, I am committed to continuing with and hopefully expanding this progress. Please, to anyone reading this, let me know if there’s anything in the D.C. Jewish community that you’d like me to write about!

In the meantime, enjoy the rest of my Reverse Mifgash pictures here. For more information, we have a Facebook group here, and additional social networking tools should be on their way in the near future to keep us connected to this amazing experience.

To get involved with the D.C. Birthright chapter either as an alum or a prospective participant, send an email over to dc@birthrightisrael.com. Next year, this retreat can be part yours as well!