Party for Purim 5769!

Graphic Courtesy of Crystal Cloud Graphics

Graphic Courtesy of Crystal Cloud Graphics

We’re 15 days away from Purim, a festive holiday of rejoicing, yet again, in the fact that we (the Jews) have survived an attempt at persecution. Though not as noticeable to the outside world as, say, Chanukah, it is definitely as fun—allowing people of all ages to dress up, eat special sweets, and wave noisemakers called groggers as the Megillah (book of Esther) is read out enthusiastically.

…but you don’t have to wait til March 9/14 Adar to dress up as your favorite Biblical character (or maybe you do :P) But in the meantime, enjoy these local offerings of Purim-related festivities to get you in the mood!

Holiday Highlights: Purim Class
Thursday, February 26, 7 p.m., Sixth & I

Brush up on your Purim basics at this young professional event (free with food! :P) Co-sponsored by The Jewish Federation’s NextGen and the DC Chapter of Taglit-Birthright Israel NEXT.

Pre-Purim Holiday Classics
Tuesday, March 3, 7 p.m., Sixth & I

Like with Queen Esther/Hadassah of Persia, sometimes, the Jewish connection is hard to find. 😛 Which is why this Jewish Study Center class will focus on comedy TV from the ’50s and ’60s and ask the question, Where’s the Jewiness here?

Latke/Hamentaschen Debate
Wednesday, March 4, 7 p.m., The Jewish Study Center

Two ethnically Jewish foods. Only one can be favorite! Which do you think it will be? Stay tuned to this lively debate.

Return of Masquerade and Mischief Purim Party
Saturday, March 7, 9 p.m., DCJCC’s GLOE

Enjoy a “gender-bending” masquerade with frivolity, flirting, and fun!

LGBT Family Purim Brunch
Sunday, March 8, 10 a.m., DCJCC’s GLOE

…or, for the more family-oriented, enjoy an earlier meal with costumes and other kid-friendly festivities to follow.

Purim Party with Hamentaschen at Champions Nightclub

Sunday, March 8, 7 p.m. Jewish Professionals Network

The best holidays herald in the parties, and JPN promises a slew of young professionals to meet, greet, and celebrate with.

Wine and Cheesentaschen
Monday, March 9, 6:30 p.m., YP@AI

Perhaps the most famous of YP@AI’s annual events—stop on by before the Megillah Reading(s)!

Purim Unplugged: Megillah Reading, Spiel, and Festivities!
Monday, March 9, 7 p.m., Sixth & I

It’s the whole Megillah—costumes, celebration, and recounting the tale of this festive holiday! Children encouraged. Co-sponsored with DC Minyan.

Purim Party!
Sunday, March 15, 2 pm, Young Professionals Kesher

Perhaps a little behind the curb, but in case you’re not sick of costumes and hamentaschen (and something’s wrong with you if you are) stop on by this final party!

Crossposted in part to The Examiner

Upcoming Events: February 22-28

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

Sunday, February 22

JSC Gives Back—A Day of Community Service

Soup for the Soupless

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington Super Sunday

Poetry Reading at Tikvat Israel

Mind, Body and Soul Day of Learning for Women

Israeli Wine Tasting and Sale

B’nai Shalom Film Festival

Monday, February 23

Dr. Yoram Peri Lecture

Novelist Sara Houghteling Talk

Screening Room Presents: Lansky

Tuesday, February 24

Grandma’s Favorites: Then and Now

Wednesday, February 25

Navigating Through Troubled Financial Times


Israel Opportunities Fair

YPK Happy Hour

Thursday, February 26-Saturday, February 28

Gil Shaham Plays Stravinsky

Thursday, February 26

Holiday Highlights: Purim Class

An Exploration of the Sacred in Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Friday, February 27-Sunday, March 1

Terumah: A Jewish Women’s Retreat

Friday, February 27

Cantor Larry Paul and Robyn Helzner Shabbat

Temple Emanuel Volunteering at SOME

Saturday, February 28

Israeli Arts and Crafts Fair

Temple Emmanuel’s Passover Cookoff

JCCNV Teen Theatre Production

Blessing the Sun with the Jewish Study Center

Graphic Courtesy of Designed to a T

Graphic Courtesy of Designed to a T

I pride myself on at least being able to name the majority of Jewish holidays, but this one completely escaped me. Birkat HaHammah, the blessing of the sun, occurs once every 28 years… the next celebration will happen at the beginning of Passover.

So this Wednesday night, I joined five others in learning more about it, as well as more about the Hebrew calendar in total, in a Jewish Study Center class led by Jonina Ducker.

We learned that Rabbis over the Babylonian Talmud discerned that the sun must have been created on the 3rd day of Nissan (always a Tuesday) at 6 pm. Due to these specific criterion, the sun will only be in the exact same place on 3 Nissan at 6 pm every 28 years. Hence the long lapse between blessing it!

Birkat HaHammah has always been observed by the Orthodox community but this year, several liberal Jews are catching on as well. In Safed, Israel, a place where haredim and hippies mix, the latter is having a Sun Blessing Festival— in April, on the Gregorian calendar.

One might wonder what D.C.’s sister city, Beit Shemesh (house of the sun) is doing to mark the occasion? 😛

Beyond learning to how to praise the sun, (find some more resources here,) Jonina also taught us about the seven species of Israel, various food products that could be culled from the Biblical land of Israel.

In modern times, Neot Kedumim strives to take a strip of land between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and restore it to its biblical landscape. Check them out!

The Jewish Study Center, a non-profit, independent organization, which offers a variety of classes every year, now has its own Facebook page! Be sure you friend them, so you can stay in the loop.

Upcoming Events: February 15-21

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

Sunday, February 15

Silver Garburg Duo

JCCGW Café Secret

Arusi Persian Wedding

Monday, February 16

Let’s Talk About It: Jewish Literature

Tuesday, February 17

Revisiting Memory: Facts and Myths about Jews in Poland and Russia

Northwestern Financial Investment Seminar

The Heat Is On: Energy Forum

Wednesday, February 18

JCCGW Author Lunch and Lecture

Rain for Your Land in Season

Nextbook DC Presents Ron Arons

Real Machers Gallery Opening Reception

Thursday, February 19

Jews United for Justice Labor Seder

Friday, February 20-Sunday, February 22

Musical Pathways to Spirituality

Friday, February 20

Tikkun Leil Shabbat

Saturday, February 21

Yachad Hadassah Beer and Bongo: Benefit with young professionals and gift raffle

Israeli Ambassador to Speak at B’nai Tzedek

Shaare Tefila talk on Asberger’s Syndrome

Jewish Arbor Day a call for “Going Green” in the 21st century

Pita, chickpeas, fruit and wine were on my menu for the Tu BShevat seder. / photo by Rachel Mauro

Pita, chickpeas, fruit and wine were on my menu for the Tu B'Shevat seder. / photo by Rachel Mauro

The Christians may be gearing up for St. Valentine (and everyone else for candy hearts and store-bought cards) but Jews get to settle down for our own holiday! Starting last sunset and going til the next one, we’re in the midst of Tu B’Shevat.

Tu B’Shevat has its origins in biblical Israel; it signaled the tax season through looking at the aging of trees. It is not mentioned in the Torah and is certainly not one of the bigger holidays within the religion.

But in this day and age of growing concern for environmental issues, some Jews have revamped Tu B’shevat to speak to “going green.” So on Monday night, I attended my first Tu B’Shevat seder, sponsored in part by Shomrei Adamah of Greater Washington, local ecological advocacy group.

The two-hour seder featured music, fruit (much of it from modern-day Israel), wine, and information. We heard from a Jewish organic farmer living in Prince George’s County. We watched a clip from a Faith in Place documentary about a Chicago Muslim community reaching out to sustainable farmers.

I also picked up Shomrei Adamah’s “Green and Just” guidebook with sustainable living tips for DC-area Jewish families, a ditto of pro-nature blessings and religious quotes from Orthodox group Canfei Nesharim, and parsley seeds for planting that, if properly cared for, will be grown in time for our next seder.

Other co-sponsors of the Tu B’Shevat seder were Israeli Harvest, Greater Washington Interfaith Power and Light, Teva Learning Center, Moishe House in Silver Spring, Birthright Israel NEXT, The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, Jews United for Justice, and AVODAH: Jewish Service Corps.

The event was held at Sixth & I (which by the way, has a twitter account now! Check them out!) Several dozen people attended.

Crossposted to The Examiner

Upcoming Events: February 8-14

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

Sunday, February 8-Thursday, February 12

Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia Book Festival

Sunday, February 8

Professionals Singles Dinner at the Royal Dragon

Torah School of Greater Washington Chinese Auction

Afternoon Tea with Madeleine M. Kunin

Potluck Kabbalistic Tu B’Shevat Seder

Monday, February 9: Tu B’Shevat!

Tu B’Shevat Seder

Tuesday, February 10

Jewish Seated Four-Minute Dating

Barbara Cook: Conversations with Legends

Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School Dial-Athon

The Israel Lobby

The Joseph Saga: Introduction to Bibliodrama

Wednesday, February 11

Challenging Conversations with Dr. Erica Brown (postponed from last week)

From 2008 to 2008 BCE: McCain, Obama & Clinton vs. David, Moses & Deborah – The Development of Leadership As We Know It

Hidden in Plain Sight: The Jewish Nature in Handel’s “Messiah”

Thursday, February 12

YPK Cluster Game Night

Friday, February 13

Opening of Jewish Life in Mr. Lincoln’s City

Shabbat Hoppin with Rick Recht

“Zrubavel,” first fully Ethiopian-Israeli feature, depicts immigrant life

Filmmaker Shmuel Beru and artist/singer Meskie Shirbru-Sivan answer questions about Ethiopian-Israeli life. / photo by Rachel Mauro

Filmmaker Shmuel Beru and artist/singer Meskie Shirbru-Sivan answer questions about Ethiopian-Israeli life. / photo by Rachel Mauro

Ethiopian food, traditional coffee services, and cultural offerings adorned DCJCC’s Ethiopian Experience: Spices, Songs and Cinema.

Ethiopian Ambassador Dr. Samuel Assefa and Israeli Deputy Jeremy Isaacharoff were in attendance Monday night at the screening of “Zrubavel,” Israel’s first feature film created by a team of Ethiopian-Israelis and first prize winner, drama, in the Haifa International Film Festival of 2008. Dozens of people filed into the Aaron & Cecile Goldman Theater to watch the movie, followed by discussion with filmmaker Shmuel Beru and performance by vocalist/actress Meskie Shibru-Sivan.

The film of “Zrubavel” centered around an Ethiopian-Israeli family struggling with immigration, assimilation, and the general pangs of family. I appreciated the fact that this movie introduced me to a side of Israel that I have never seen before. The characters were well drawn out, intriguing, heart-breaking, and quite often downright funny.

This evening was sponsored in part by B’nai B’rith International’s The Center for Jewish Culture, The American Sephardi Federation/Sephardi House, The Israeli Embassy, and The Ethiopian Embassy.

For more information on the DCJCC’s Film Series, click here.

Upcoming Events: February 1-7

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

Sunday, February 1

SUPERBOWL of Superbowl Parties

YPK Superbowl Event

Jewish Heritage Program

The Insider’s Briefing in Fredericksburg

Monday, February 2

Basic Judaism for Jews and Non-Jews Alike

Maryland Advocacy Day

Let’s Talk About It: Jewish Literature

An Ethiopian/Israeli Experience: Spices, Songs and Cinema

Tuesday, February 3

What We Talk About When We Talk About Israel

Jewish Stories for Younger Children

A Cappella Concert

Moses Mendelssohn: A Man of Letters

Nextbook DC Presents: Janice Erlbaum

Wednesday, February 4

Dealing with Difficult People

Challenging Conversations with Dr. Erica Brown

Sixth & I / B’nai B’rith Trivia Night

Virginia Advocacy Day

Lawyers Lunch and Learn Program

The Matriarchs in a Tough Economy

Thursday, February 5

The Rule of Law in the Books of Esther and Ruth

JCC of GW Israel Lecture

Friday, February 6

Finding the Right One

Saturday, February 7

Dating and Relationship Scenarios

Jewish Music and All That Jazz

Neil Lazarus: Israel and Hamas, Obama and America

YPK Comedy Night at JCC of NoVa