Wrapping up on Chanukah and looking forward to upcoming events in 2015

Regarding current events, this certainly wasn’t the way that I had hoped to start off the secular new year. So before we get into that, allow me to recap on Chanukah 5775.

The Chanukah candles burn low and this printout explains Chag HaBanot / photo taken by Rachel Mauro

I spent a fair bit of the holiday at home, as I was slowly unpacking my new condo. But I did make it out to two larger events in the Jewish community—a celebration with the Sixth & I’s Not Your Bubbe’s Sisterhood and a lighting/civil rights vigil at Adas Israel.

The Sisterhood event, as led by Rabbi Sarah Tasman, chronicled Chag HaBanot, the Festival of Daughters, which was celebrated in North African countries on the seventh night of Chanukah. It’s also a commemoration of the story of Judith, who through subterfuge killed a general in an enemy army. A similar concept to the story of the Maccabees, which is the story of Chanukah proper.

Although we had our event on the second night of Chanukah, traditionally it’s celebrated on the seventh. As a group we lit our entire menorahs, stopping at each candle to reflect on various women—teachers, leaders, family members. There were around 20-30 women in attendance and it was such a nice environment of camaraderie. I look forward to attending more Sisterhood events in the future!

Congregants stand vigil for the Adas Israel civil rights solidarity Chanukah lighting / photo taken by Rachel Mauro

On the next night of Chanukah I was on the steps of Adas Israel for Light Up the Darkness! A Chanukah Solidarity Gathering for Civil Rights and Human Life. As led by Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt, we sang Hebrew prayers and “This Little Light Of Mine,” specifically invoking the protests in Ferguson and the recent deaths of unarmed Black men. After the candle lighting, some members of the community took signs and stood on the sidewalk near the synagogue for a short vigil.

Disregard for human life, unfortunately, is a global issue, as recent events in Paris have shown. The deadly attack on the Charlie Hedbo newspaper, presumably over the publication of offensive images of the Prophet Muhammad, culminated in the murder of four Jewish men on the eve of Shabbat at a Kosher market, baruch dayan emet. As the French Jewish community and the one worldwide react to this news, some organizations in DC are organizing community events to commemorate this tragedy. Please feel free to comment with those not listed here!

Tuesday, January 13
Adas Israel and American Jewish Committee’s Gathering of Solidarity and Remembrance, 7:30 pm.

Wednesday, January 14
Sixth & I’s Solidarity Minyan in the Face of Anti-Semitism and Extremism, 6:45 pm.

And coming up after is Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend! Check out these events:

Friday, January 16
Sixth & I and Turner Memorial AME Church’s MLK Shabbat, 7 pm.

Washington Hebrew Congregation’s MLK Service with the President and CEO of the NAACP, 7:30 pm.

Monday, January 19
DCJCC’s Day of Service, 10 am.

Washington Hebrew Congregation’s Day of Service, 10 am.

Tuesday, January 20
DCJCC’s Joachim Prinz: I Shall Not be Silent, 7:30 pm.

Adas Israel’s MLK Weekend:
Friday, January 16: Shabbat Services with Hilary O. Shelton, Director of NAACP’s Washington Bureau
Saturday, January 17: Shabbat sermon by Avis Buchanan, Director of the Public Defender Service, followed by a panel discussion
Sunday, January 18: Service at the People Congregation United Church of Christ

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The Afro-Semitic Experience group plays fusion jazz for charity at Adas Israel

The Afro-Semitic Experience performs enthusiastically at Adas Israel/ photo taken by Rachel Mauro

Happy MLK weekend! How have you been celebrating the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?

I’ve been very fortunate—Sunday afternoon I attended a concert by the The Afro-Semitic Experience. They were an ethnically diverse group of musicians sponsored by religiously diverse institutions—Adas Israel and the People’s United Church of Christ. All proceeds from the concert went to the local interfaith charity, So Others Might Eat (SOME).

The seats on the first level of the Charles E. Smith Sanctuary filled up as people listened to a large variety of songs—ranging from middle-century jazz adaptations to soulful church inspired music to frenetic klezmer. My favorite might have been the spirited rendition of a Passover favorite, Eliahu, when Jews call for the prophet, Elijah, to join the seder for some wine. At one point in the hour and a half-long concert, we even got up, joined hands and danced around the synagogue.

One thing that really stuck out to me was how so many of these songs were imbued with the belief in a higher purpose, as personified by “the Creator.” It was a very uplifting and powerful message, both about how to come out of the other side of suffering and have faith in your life’s path. It was equally as moving to come together as peoples from different belief systems and realize that we hold a lot of universal truths in common.

The Afro-Semitic Experience concert followed a sermon Sunday morning at the People’s United Church of Christ, and a Saturday afternoon panel on hunger at Adas Israel. Speakers included Father John Adams of SOME, Alexandra Ashbrook of D.C. Hunger Solutions and Debi Wilogren of The Washington Post.

Although most communal MLK charity events for tomorrow are sold out, including at the DCJCC and Yachad, if you’re still looking for a way to give back, check out Sixth & I, which will be serving breakfast at SOME this Thursday!

Thanksgiving 2011: Events around Jewish DC

Graphic courtesy of Weavers Free Clip Art

Graphic courtesy of Weaver's Clip Art

It’s that time of year again, when red and brown leaves fall from trees, friends and relatives make plans for road trips or plane rides, and Turkey, rolls and cranberry sauce are suddenly in short supply at the grocery store. Thanksgiving is less than a week away!

Though primarily a family holiday, there’s plenty of ways that the community can come together to commemorate the spirit of this American tradition. Check out what the DC Jewish community is up to!

Wednesday, November 23

A Holiday Meal for the Occupy Washington Movement
New York Ave. Presbyterian Church, 2 pm
Join this interfaith movement to support the Occupy movement and an American holiday.

Everything But the Turkey
DCJCC, 6:30 pm
Hope you got your tickets for this annual DC Jewish tradition to volunteer to make Thanksgiving more homey for those in need!

And an added bonus:

For Thanksgiving books with a Jewish twist, try the Adas Israel library! / photo taken by Rachel Mauro

Gobble, gobble! 😛

Third Annual Jewish Community Hero Award Features Local Jewish Leaders

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Graphic courtesy of Discovery Education

Who do you know who should be honored as a Jewish communal leader? The Jewish Federations of North America ask this question for a third year with their Jewish Community Heroes project. Individuals were allowed to nominate their mentors until late September. Official public voting wraps up the night of Nov. 10, then a panel of varied judges (including our own Rick Recht!) will choose five finalists from 20 semifinalists in the A small team will choose from 20 semifinalists from professional and volunteers categories. The overall winner will be announced in December.

Now’s your chance to stand up for Jewish heroes in the DC area! Close to home, several inspiring leaders have already been recognized for their contributions to the Jewish world. Learn more about them here, and click on their profile pages for more info!

    • Daniel Ratner, Rockville, Md. AishDC board member and Shabbat hoster.
    • Judy Lowitz, Rockville, Md. Pediatric nurse, community/Israel volunteer, kidney donor.
    • Rabbi Reeve Brenner, Rockville, Md. Founder of Inclusionary Sports for kids with special physical needs.
    • Dr. Erica Brown, Silver Spring, Md. Washington-area adult classes teacher on Jewish subjects.

A hearty mazel tov to all of these amazing leaders…and it’s just the tip of the iceberg here, folks. Check out the full nominees page for much more!

Read years’ past coverage here and here.

MLK 2011 for DC Jews!

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (second from right) Marching on Washington with MLK / image courtesy of Wikipedia

This weekend commences with the celebration of a national hero, Martin Luther King, Jr., and as usual, he is honored with a three-day weekend, sleeping in, and of course, volunteering!

Jewish DC is taking part in several activities; look below for info!

MLK Shabbat: Visions of Justice and Freedom
Jan. 14
Sixth & I and former building tenants, the Turner Memorial A.M.E. Church, are joining forces again to celebrate both Dr. King and his Jewish friend and advocate, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. Featuring a dinner and reception, and musical accompaniment by Turner Memorial Choir and Rak Shalom of the University of Maryland.

Adas Israel’s Tikkun Olam Weekend
Jan. 14-17
In the spirit of inclusion, Adas Israel scheduled a weekend that starts with a Shabbat service and ends at the Peoples Congregational United Church of Christ for an MLK service on Sunday. Also features a discussion with DC Mayor Vincent Gray on Saturday, and volunteering for all age groups on Monday!

We The People—MLK Day
Jan. 17
One of Yachad’s semi-annual days of service, this MLK Day features painting and handyman work for the STRIVE DC headquarters, an organization that helps the unemployed gain the skills they need for a job.

WHC Day of Service
Jan. 17
Join Washington Hebrew Congregation in helping the homeless. Kids and adults of all ages will have something to do, from preparing food to sorting clothes and accessories. Non-perishable food donations are requested.

MLK Day of Service
Jan. 17
People really got in the spirit for this one—they’ve officially run out of space for volunteers! DCJCC is joining Behrend Builders and students of Spingarn STAY High School to help repaint the building. Also joining them are affiliates of J-Fed and Sixth & I!

December 25 for DC Jews!

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

It’s that time of year again, when many of our compatriots are nestled under a fireplace with stockings and a big pine tree. But how can a Jew in DC spend Christmas? By eating Chinese food? (Actually, you can! ) Check out those, and other events below.

Friday, December 24

D24 Day of Service
All day event, DCJCC
Join over 1,000 volunteers in making Christmas a little bit brighter for those in need. Sign up for various projects, from delivering meals to wrapping gifts, and even donating blood. Come spread the holiday cheer.

Downtown Shabbat with Larry Paul and Robyn Helzner
6 pm, Sixth & I, $6
It may be the eve of the birth of Jesus for Christians, but for us it’s the holiest night of the week—Shabbat! Welcome in the Sabbath Queen with this popular DC service, followed by a Chinese food dinner. 😛

Matzoball 2010
9 pm, Eden and Café Asia, $25
Now at two locations, this hot dance party features various different types of dancing from hip hop to international, top 40 to retro, and a special ident has you hopping from one party to the other. One of the biggest nights of the season; thousands of people expected to celebrate!

Saturday, December 25

Christmas Day Chinese Feast and Movie
5:30 pm, Tony Cheng’s Mongolian Restaurant, $45
Indulge in the classic Jewish Christmas feast with fellow young professionals. Then head to the movies—this year, you have a choice between “Little Fockers” and “True Grit”! Optional after-party to follow.

17th Annual Gefilte Fish Gala Charity Fundraiser
8 pm, Muse Lounge, $5
Another Passover-themed event, join over 1,000 people at this split 20s/30s and 35-plus party to drink, socialize and give to charity, like the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation! You can also win door prizes and drop off food for people in need.

Read last year’s entry here.

Note: This blog will be on hiatus for the next week, as I will be visiting family. Hope everyone celebrating has happy holidays!

Thanksgiving 2010: Events Around Jewish DC

Graphic courtesy of Weavers Free Clip Art

Graphic courtesy of Weaver's Clip Art

It’s that time of year again, when red and brown leaves fall from trees, friends and relatives make plans for road trips or plane rides, and Turkey, rolls and cranberry sauce are suddenly in short supply at the grocery store. Thanksgiving is less than a week away!

Though primarily a family holiday, there’s plenty of ways that the community can come together to commemorate the spirit of this American tradition. Check out what the DC Jewish community is up to!

YP@AI Bakes for Thanksgiving
Sunday, November 21, 2 pm
A baking pro offers tips to make three Thanksgiving-friendly dessert recipes!

Everything but the Turkey (1 and 2)
Monday, November 22 and Wednesday, November 24, 6:30 pm
The DCJCC’s annual event to prepare and serve food to DC’s homeless community.

Gobble, gobble! 😛