Celebrate Purim in 5777!

Esther scroll / photo courtesy of wikipedia

Esther scroll / photo courtesy of wikipedia

Purim starts on March 11, 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 until the 14th of Adar to dress up as your favorite Biblical character, or at least to get down. Enjoy these local offerings of Purim-related festivities leading up to and encompassing this holiday weekend!

Wednesday, March 8
Young Adults Pre-Purim Happy Hour
https://youngleadership.wufoo.com/forms/rzxnq4b09q133o/

The Max Ticktin Annual Latke-Hamentaschen Debate
jconnect

Purim Weekend
Washington Hebrew Congregation’s Purim at the Oscars, Purim Lock-In, Purim Carnival
http://www.whctemple.org/purim

Adas Israel’s The World Upside Down Purim, Purim Pajama Party, Breakfast Reception and Rooftop Party, Sing-Along, Costume Parade and Carnival
http://adasisrael.org/purim/

Tikvat Israel’s Purim Celebration, Nosh ‘n’ Spiel, On the Persian Carpet: A Purim Broadway Revue, Puppet Production Family Celebration
http://tikvatisrael.org/events/purim-services-maariv-megillah/

Friday, March 10
Tot Purim @ Temple Shalom
jconnect

Saturday, March 11
Pride of Purim: A Queer Masquerade
http://thejdc.convio.net/site/Calendar/1601753210?view=Detail&id=153143

Grogger and Glow: A Purim Celebration
https://www.sixthandi.org/event/grogger-glow-purim-celebration/

Bethesda Jewish Congregation’s Purim Spiel: Thank God I’m a Country Jew
http://bethesdajewish.org/event/adult-purim-spiel/

Congregation Har Tzeon-Agudath Achim’s Purim Pajama Jam
https://www.htaa.org/event/purim-pajama-jam.html

Sunday, March 12
EDCCJCC Purim Carnival
http://thejdc.convio.net/site/Calendar/1601753210?view=Detail&id=153100

Temple Shalom’s Purim Puppet Show and Carnival
jconnect

Bender JCC Purim Party
http://www.benderjccgw.org/event/purim-party-2/

Adat Shalom’s Purim Palooza
jconnect

PJ Library and various sponsors present sensory friendly Purim celebrations
https://youngleadership.wufoo.com/forms/r1n1dtzs0s44me6/

Commemorate MLK Weekend and Tu B’Shevat 5777 in DC!

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel with Martin Luther King, Jr in 1965 / photo courtesy of wikipedia

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel with Martin Luther King, Jr in 1965 / photo courtesy of wikipedia

Happy 2017! As this is my first post of the year, I thought I’d share a few stats from 2016. According to WordPress, JewishDC got 1,901 views and 1,356 visitors, with the largest numbers coming from the US, Brazil, Russia and India. Wow! My most popular post of the year was Black Jews Documentary and More at the Washington, DC Jewish Film Festival.

Thanks so much for your support, everyone, and I look forward to a fruitful new secular year! Let’s get into some holidays and community service.

As we enter the second half of January and the first half of February, one secular and one religious holiday crop up on the horizon. The long weekend set aside for commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. starts Saturday, Jan. 14, and Tu B’Shevat commences on Feb.10. Check out ways to get involved with the local community! Note: some events may be sold out.

Please feel free to add more events in the comments.

MLK Weekend

  • Sixth & I’s Visions of Freedom and Justice. In conjunction with Turner Memorial AME church and featuring their two choirs. Also focusing on the work of Civil Rights activist Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.
  • Washington Hebrew Congregation’s MLK Shabbat Dinner. Hosting partner churches and mosques, with special guest Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II. Rev. Dr. Barber was the architect of the North Carolina-based Forward Together Moral Movement and was a keynote speaker at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, amongst other things. Followed by Shabbat service.
  • Adas Israel’s Weekend of Tikkun Olam. Featuring a Friday night Return Again Shabbat service, dinner, and a Saturday morning service with guest speakers. On Sunday, a service at the Peoples Congregational United Church of Christ with guest speaker Charles Cobb, former activist, senior analyst at allAfrica.com, and more.
  • Also check out Monday days of service with WHC and the EDCJCC (links courtesy of GatherTheJews.com).

Tu B’Shevat

Chag Sameach!

DC Chanukah Happenings 5777!

Graphic courtesy of Webweavers

Graphic courtesy of Webweavers

The multi-holiday season is upon us; weather is occasionally fluctuating towards the cold, and people are counting the days, if they’re not there already, until they get a little time off from work or school. It’s time to fry those latkes and kindle the Chanukah lights! Local Jewish groups are rolling out the red carpet for this well-known Jewish holiday, which will take place this year from sundown Dec. 24 to sundown Jan. 1. Check these out! Feel free to add more in the comments, and chag sameach.

Hanukkah Happy Hour on the Hill
Annual young adult shindig sponsored by several Jewish organizations. Bring warm clothing for collection boxes headed to DC homeless community, sponsored by the EDCJCC.
Tuesday, Dec. 20, 6 pm, Capitol Lounge and Hawk N’ Dove

Chanukah at the Ellipse
American Friends of Lubavitch starts off the holiday season with this annual ceremony on the White House lawn.
Sunday, Dec. 25, 4 pm, the Ellipse

Community Chanukah Lighting
Family friendly inclusion & disabilities programming event, featuring lighting the menorah, eating Chanukah foods, spinning the dreidel, and more!
Wednesday, Dec. 28, 6:30 pm, EDCJCC

Hanukkah’s Extra Flame
Adas Israel, the EDJCC and other organizations team up with Sephardic Heritage in DC to provide a holiday concert, featuring internationally recognized Syrian opera singer, Lubana Al Quantar. The event will also center around relief efforts.
Wednesday, Dec. 28, 7 pm, Adas Israel

Adas Israel Hanukkah Events
Featuring info about observance, themed community events and more.

Check out more events for young professionals provided by Gather The Jews here!

A Belated Ringing In of 5777!

5777 break fast at Adas Israel / photo taken by Rachel Mauro

5777 break fast at Adas Israel / photo taken by Rachel Mauro

We may be most of the way through Sukkot now, but g’mar chatimah tova anyway. 😛 Hope you had a meaningful High Holiday season. Here are a couple of my highlights from Adas Israel:

  • I joined Adas Israel’s flash choir on Rosh Hashanah day 2 to sing a pretty, Hebrew, SATB-harmonized version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Hoping to do that again next year!
  • The “Return Again” Kol Nidre service was held in the parking lot rather than in front of the synagogue, to accommodate larger crowds. I found it a little more difficult to hear, but Rabbi Holtzblatt gave a good sermon about harnessing the evil inclination, yetzer hara and living with the good inclination, yetzer hatov.
  • Israeli settler Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger and and Palestinian Ali Abu Awwad returned to Adas for the Yom Kippur afternoon talk to plug the Roots Project, an inter-communal nonviolence initiative in the West Bank/Judea and Samaria. Here at home, this program heralded in the iEngage Series, a set of Sunday classes concerning narratives about Israel, which will be led by Rabbi Steinlauf. The first event is on Oct. 30.

The EDCJCC has shifted its schedule a bit, and the 18th Washington Jewish Music Festival starts on the 26th. I’m excited, but guys…you’ll be rescheduling the Literary Festival (traditionally held around now) sometime soon, right? *puppy dog eyes* Ah well. At least I can always hole up in my sukkah with a good book. 😛

Simchat Torah begins on Monday evening! Check out what local synagogues might be doing by clicking here.

Commemorate MLK Weekend and Tu B’Shevat 5776 in DC!

Traditional Tu B’Shevat bounty / photo courtesy of wikipedia

Happy 2016! As we enter the second half of January, one secular and one religious holiday crop up on the horizon. The long weekend set aside for commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. starts tomorrow, Jan. 16, and Tu B’Shevat commences on Jan. 24. Check out ways to get involved with the local community! Note: some events may be sold out.

Please feel free to add more events in the comments.

MLK Weekend

  • Sixth & I’s MLK Shabbat: Visions of Freedom and Justice. In conjunction with Turner Memorial AME church and featuring their two choirs.
  • Washington Hebrew Congregation’s MLK Shabbat Dinner. Hosting partner churches and mosques, with special guest William Jelani Cobb. Professor Cobb is director of the University of Connecticut’s Africana Studies Institute, amongst other things. Followed by Shabbat service.
  • Adas Israel’s Weekend of Tikkun Olam. This weekend of learning features a such guests as Imam Talib M. Shareef of Masjid Muhammad, the Nation’s Mosque; and Jared Jackson of Jews in All Hues. (I attended one of their programs a few years ago and wrote about it here.) Also a joint service at the Peoples Congregational United Church of Christ, and more!
  • Gather the Jews compiled a list of links to sign up for various days of service this Monday.

Tu B’Shevat

Chag sameach!

Jews Ring in 5776 Amidst DC Excitement!

Traditional high holidays regalia / photo courtesy of middlebury.edu

Shana tova and g’mar chatima tova! These last few days might go down in local history as the first visit by Pope Francis, but the 10th of Tishrei is always the holiest day of the year for us Jews. 😛 Hope you had a meaningful fast, and a good Rosh Hashanah as well.

Here are some of my highlights:

  • I went to Adas Israel as usual, and got to see new clergy member, Rabbi Aaron Alexander, in action. He gave a moving sermon on Rosh Hashanah about ways, concerning Gd and humanity, that we can stop “being serious about taking ourselves seriously” and actually take ourselves seriously.
  • The “Return Again” Kol Nidre service, which attracts thousands of people to pray on the steps of the synagogue, wasn’t rained out or prey to technical difficulties! 😛 We also sang “Adon Olam” to the tune of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer.”
  • Supreme Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke with Judge David Tatel for the Yom Kippur afternoon discussion. I really appreciated her measured, researched answers to the questions he posed; she didn’t seem like she just liked to hear herself talk, and she had a sense of humor, too. Kind of hearkens back to the first point. 😛

Next week, the autumn Jewish holidays-palooza continues on with Sukkot and Simchat Torah. Check out the GatherTheJews calendar for some events!

The DCJCC Jewish Literary Festival is scheduled this year for October 18-28. It features famous worldwide Jewish writers such as Etgar Keret, Alan Dershowitz and Shalom Auslander, to a local writers fair. Personally, I have my eye on two panels–Eastern Europeans and women writing in the 21st century. Hope to see you there!

Kol HaOlam A Cappella Contest Enters Its Fifth Year

Queens College’s Tizmoret performs at the 2015 Kol HaOlam National Collegiate A Cappella Competition at Adas Israel / photo taken by Rachel Mauro

Seats were packed at Adas Israel Saturday night for the fifth annual Kol HaOlam National Collegiate Jewish A Cappella Competition. Eight competing groups, from as far as Wisconsin and as close as College Park, competed for best in show and other honors.

The two hours flew by in a haze of choreographed dance moves, religious, classical and pop songs, plus parodies; my personal favorite had to be Jewop’s Les Mis-meets-Passover medley, “One Plague More.” Cheers and hollers erupted from the audience of college supporters. The groups competing included Mezumenet and Rak Shalom from the University of Maryland, Shireinu from Northwestern University, Jewop from the University of Wisconsin, Kol Hakavod from the University of Michigan, Rhythm & Jews from the University of Chicago, Tizmoret from Queens College and Jewkebox from Temple University.

Although I hadn’t attended in a few years, I found the event to carry some déjà vu, with Tizmoret winning first place from the judges, and Jewop winning audience favorite. Shireinu and Jewkebox came in second and third places, respectively, with Shireinu also picking up an award for best arrangement for their soulful version of “Yerushalayim Shel Zachav.” The judges also awarded some individual honors.

The judges included Cantor Arianne Brown of Adas, Cantor Matt Klein of Congregation Beth El in Bethesda, Md., Ben Olinsky of the vocal groups 18th Street Singers and PhilHarmonica, and Hannah Needleman formerly member and music director for the Barnard College group Pizmon. Reigning champions from the last two years, Indiana University’s Hooshir, sang several songs as the judges tallied up votes, and when they needed more time, several beatboxers took the stage for an impromptu jam session. I’d just been starting to think that they were underrepresented this year! 😛

Kol HaOlam was co-chaired by Geoffrey Berman and Julia Gordon; the MC this year was Laura Meckler, political reporter for the Wall Street Journal. To hear Tizmoret’s encore performance after claiming their victory, click here!