Thanksgivukkah Events Around the District

A candelabra cross between a menorah and a turkey, available for sale at

Thanksgivukkah, eg the cross between the American Thanksgiving and Jewish Chanukah holidays, comes once every 70,000-plus years, but 5774/2013 happens to be one of those times. Predominately celebrated at home, no doubt, with creative mashup recipes, the local community has also found ways to celebrate this double-heritage miracle publicly. Check it out!

  • This Monday, join NoVa Tribe for a Thanksgivukkah cooking class featuring potato latkes with cranberry applesauce and sour cream, pumpkin gelt trifle, and sweet potato pie sufganiyot donuts. Yum!
  • The DCJCC is hosting a contest for best Thanksgivukkah centerpiece as contributed by members of our community; check out the facebook page to vote for a People’s Choice. Winners of the contest and the people’s choice will be featured in the Washington Jewish Week and in an art exhibition at the Distrikt Bistro Café.
  • Gather The Jews published a list of top Thanksgivukkah videos. Revel in the comedy and wisdom of these two stories being brought together.

Gobble sameach! 😛

Jewish American Heritage Month Enters Sixth Year

Following on the tail of Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day,) I’m expecting U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.)’s annual press release for the stateside Jews any day now! Meanwhile, I’ve gone digging myself through my grad school’s digital archive to contribute a little something—an image of the yearbook page from the first anum where Hillel was a club at the University of Maryland College Park (1940. Hillel itself came into existence in 1923 in Champaign, Ill. Click here to read a booklet on Hillel’s history, including rare documents and photos from the archive. B’nai B’rith International, which Hillel was part of until the end of the last century, published a list of 31 days of Jewish facts and firsts to coincide with the heritage month. And click here to view the UMD 1940 yearbook in full.)

The Jewish American Heritage Website has been updated with events and exhibits taking place around the Washington, D.C. area. Also check out JAHM sites at the National Endowment for the Humanities, The National Park Service and The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

And in local fare, a look at what’s coming up at The Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington:

May 3: Book Reading: When General Grant Expelled the Jews, in partnership with the National Archives, co-sponsored by the DCJCC, National Museum of American Jewish Military History, Jewish War Veterans, Jewish Community Relations Council, Foundation for Jewish Studies and Washington Jewish Week

May 6: Walking Tour, Arlington National Cemetery

May 8: Exhibition Lecture: Jewish Washington: Scrapbook of an American Community,, hosted at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library

(2011 coverage)
(2010 coverage)
(2009 coverage)

Local DC Shots for Purim 5772!

Happy belated Purim! Wasn’t able to get out much, unfortunately, due to school, so I decided to show a more unique side to the local offerings for Purim. Photos include from Adas Israel’s Rose Ruth Freudberg Memorial Sisterhood Library, GatherTheJews, Washington Jewish Week, and The Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington. Hope you enjoy!

Also available on Facebook; click here to see.

Simchat Torah in the District for 5772!

Graphic courtesy of Phillip Martin Bible Clip Art

Graphic courtesy of Phillip Martin Bible Clip Art

As our autumn Jewish holidays continue to roll along we stop to commemorate Simchat Torah, a celebratory day that immediately proceeds Sukkot. This holiday traditionally details the receiving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, leaving descendants for many years to come to celebrate the Jewish way…late night study parties!! Oh yeah! Today, festivities are more varied, but no less joyous, in the District. Look below for what’s happening tomorrow night!

Young Family Simchat Torah Service with Lisa Baydush
B’nai Tzedek, 5:30 pm

YP@AI Three Martinis New Year’s Celebration
Adas Israel, 6:30 pm

Simchat Torah: Celebrating Justice!
Church of the Pilgrims Building, 6:45 pm

Dancin’ in the Streets: A Simchat Torah Celebration
Sixth & I, 7:30 pm

Please feel free to add any others in the comments section!

In related news, the return of Gilad Shalit to his home in Israel after living the last five years as a Hamas hostage has caused a stir around the Jewish world at large. With a print subscription, you can access the Washington Jewish Week’s coverage from a local angle. GatherTheJews also features two intriguing opinion pieces on the subject—the pros and cons of the prisoner swap, and the implications for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership.

Chag sameach!

L’Shanah Tova 5772!

Graphic courtesy of

I feel like I’ve already said this a few times but now it’s a new Jewish year and a new secular month, so L’shanah tova!Hope everyone had a sweet new year filled with apples and honey and the rest of it. 😛

If you want to keep up on your local Jewish news for the year 5772, I hope you have access to a September 22 edition of The Washington Jewish Week! In it you’ll find a special coupon for $10 off the newsstand subscription price for the paper (going from $52 to $42 a year.) The media outlet is currently expanding to include blogs, an e-newsletter, Jewish Singles and more. Check out their website and subscription page for more.

In the meantime, I hope you are having a fruitful Ten Days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. G’mar chatimah tova; may we all be inscribed in the Book of Life.

DC, MD and VA JCCs Celebrate Israel with Day-Long Programming

Israel@63 decor decor at the Washington, DC Jewish Community Center / photo taken by Rachel Mauro

No matter where you live in the Greater Washington area, you were probably close to an “Israel@63” Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration last Sunday, which happened to be Lag B’Omer.

Three JCCs—the Washington, DC Jewish Community Center, the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington, and the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia worked in conjunction last Sunday to provide various programming to all age groups, including a recreation of an Israeli shuk; showings of Shalom Sesame, modeled after Sesame Street; food and wine tastings; Israeli dance; the musical stylings of groups such as UMD’s all-female a capella Mezumenet and the hip hop/reggae duo from Israel, Axum; and more!

It was truly a community event; not only a place for people to schmooze, but local organizations like PJLL and HIAS had booths, and JNF was on call to advocate for Israeli environmentalism and the economy. Washington Jewish Week offered discounted subscriptions.

So more than just a celebration about Israel, last Sunday was a celebration about Jewish life. There’s something special about the idea that these JCCs and partner orgs banded together of a sorts; you could drive (or metro) from one place to the other and get swept up in the party anew. Two states and the District of Columbia fused into one. I hope this tradition continues for years to come!  Check out the Federation write-up of this multi-faceted event here.

Washington Jewish Week Changes Ownership Hands–And Editors

Earlier this week, Debra Rubin, the long-time editor of The Washington Jewish Week, was let go from her position when the paper changed business hands from Florida-based HarborPoint Media to local businessmen with considerable ties to the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. Sources suggest that she may have lost her job due to negative coverage she gave J-Fed.

As a former journalism student, this story is both fascinating and wearying to me. According to a December 2009 blog entry by eJewish Philanthropy, about half of the Jewish papers affiliated with the American Jewish Press Association are Federation-owned. This begs the question…are these newspapers doing the honest work of journalism, that is, telling stories from the outside, without one particular bias, trying to get at “the truth”? Or are they just sounding boards for the folks in charge?

Let me just cover my bases and say that I love J-Fed–I’ve even been a donor myself, though certainly not a macher. 😛 And this blog is certainly not a “real” journalism enterprise. I rarely say anything negative about the events I review, and this post contains the most outside research I’ve done in a long time. But when the new owners make a statement such as making the paper “a tool for increasing the number of people involved in the Jewish community,” according to this Forward blog, which covers WJW’s recent news in more detail, I have to wonder personally if that is more a job that should be filled directly by the Federation, rather than by an independent media source.

I am excited for this alleged new focus on the local community–I do love news pertaining to Jewish DC! But in the meantime, I wish Debra Rubin a fond farewell and best wishes for the future. I’ve always been a fan of WJW under her editorial direction.