Best of Queer DC: GLOE!(?) (Or, And the sparkly pony goes to…)

GLOE is nominated as Best Community Org!I have the sparkliest spot in the GLOE office picked out.

If we were to win Best Community Organization in the Brightest Young Gays 2011 round-up of the Best of Queer DC, then clearly we’d need an appropriately sparkly place of honor.

Yes, you’ve guessed it: GLOE was nominated for a Ponies Choice Award.

We were a bit shocked to see our name next to some really excellent (and much bigger!) organizations, and in all seriousness, are quite honored to be considered among them. GLOE is very proud to be part of our DC, Jewish and LGBTQ communities, and we work everyday to engage queer Jews and our friends in social justice; in arts and culture programs; and in creating community.

GLOE's Masquerade & Mischief Purim PartyAnd we throw a great party. We’ve been doing all of it for five years now, and I hope we’ll be doing it for at least 50 more.

We know and work with folks at almost all these other places nominated, so believe me when I say they all deserve sparkly ponies.

Because the ballot doesn’t tell you about them, I wanted to:

Food & Friends gets food and nutritional counseling to people with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Whitman-Walker Clinic takes care of the health of the LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS communities. DC Trans Coalition fights for the trans and gender-diverse community of DC. GLOV works to reduce violence again LGBT people and support survivors. SMYAL supports our LGBTQ youth through programs, counseling and education.

There are obviously more local groups who should be on this list. Plus, DC is lucky to have so many organizations that I think of as local, but are actually national, and just happen to be in the neighborhood.

Even if some of the categories are slightly less… wholesome… than others, shall we say, this is still a great reminder of why we do what we do.

Even in DC, even in 2011, I still have people who tell me things along the lines of, “After I came out, I really stopped being Jewish (/Catholic/Muslim) because I didn’t think you could really be both, and with GLOE, I love that I can have those sides together again.”

If you love that, too, we’d love it if you would vote for GLOE.

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Adam Sandler at the DCJCC! (sort of)

So ever since we wrote this description for our Chanukah Carnival, I’ve had Adam Sandler’s “Chanukah Song” in my head.

See, this is what I wrote:

Grab your socks and your yarmulke, it’s time to bounce for Chanukah. 

This year’s rockin’ Chanukah party will feature a moon bounce, games, crafts, treats and plenty of fun for the whole family.

Clever, but now it’s stuck.  So in the interest of fairness, I thought it was only right to share his song with you:

Why does this happen?  Apparently, it’s an earworm (I thought I just made that up, but it’s real, from the translation of the German Ohrwurm), and apparently women, musicians and people who are neurotic, tired or stressed are most susceptible.  It hardly seems fair.  I can’t help being female, And if you’re tired or stressed, it just seems cruel to add this.  (I can’t play an instrument, and I like to think I’m no more neurotic than the next person…)

So I suppose I’m stuck with this on my own until Chanukah actually starts on Tuesday, December 20.  For eight nights after that, the rest of the Jewish population can join me.  It’s a good song, no?

And if you want to know what started it all, join us this Sunday morning—yarmulkes not required.

Cherry Blossoms and Jewish Advocacy

With the Cherry Blossom Festival commencing and the flowers out in full force, it’s no longer doubtful (despite the recent weather) that Spring is officially here. Author Rob Sachs posted an article, “An Afternoon of Cherry Blossoms and Swastikas,” on The Huffington Post about his unique experience at the annual festival this past weekend.

He discusses his weekend jaunt through the Tidal Basin and then, unexpectedly, into the adjacent United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Sachs juxtaposes the joyful nature of the annual Cherry Blossom Festival to the pain and suffering on display within the neighboring museum and draws a comparison to the Jewish tradition of stepping on a glass; he attributes this tradition, as do many, to the call from the Jewish community to remember the pain of the past even in the most joyous moments of our lives.

To that end, springtime – for Jews – is all about celebration and juxtaposition.

During Purim, for example, we are literally commanded to eat, drink, and throw raucous parties, while simultaneously crying out the name of our enemies and exterminators over and over until we’re numb to the sound.

Likewise, Passover, which is right around the corner, requires us to eat and drink like Kings and Queens. However, we still must dip our greens in the tears of our ancestors and spread the bitter pain of the Jews of yesteryear all over our matzot.

While these are the traditions many of us grew up with, maybe it’s time to consider adding some new traditions to our beloved springtime regiment of Food with Reflection. Bad things happened in the past, and it’s important to remember them, nevertheless it’s also important to reflect and act upon the struggles our communities face today.

There’s no better time than Spring – the season of renewal and hope – to get involved.

This April, for example, consider coming out to volunteer with the DCJCC’s Spring into Action program on April 10th (or other new volunteer opportunities). This annual event raises awareness about local environmental issues while providing opportunities for the community to engage with each other and work hand-in-hand towards a solution.

This year, our 2011 theme is around urban agriculture, community gardening, and park restoration. With oil prices, obesity rates, and unemployment all on the rise, it’s important to remember that our food system isn’t just about food; the way we grow our food impacts the environment, our health, and the economic and employment stability of our communities.

Local and sustainable agriculture is a great source of fair employment, healthy food, and community-building throughout the greater Washington DC area – it’s a great chance to meet some local farmers, advocates, and other families in your own neighborhoods. And bring the kids! This year, Spring into Action falls at the same time as Earth Day and Global Youth Action Day, to get all ages involved in sewing some seeds of change.

If you’re looking for a new, conscientious twist on Passover, also consider heading over to the National Rainbow Seder with DCJCC’s GLOE, or the Labor Seder with Jews United for Justice. Both of these seders are fun, meaningful ways to explore some of the most important social issues of our time – this year focusing on the rights and freedoms of the LGBTQ international community, and the struggle to find – and keep – good jobs.

(And there’s nothing like Jewish guilt and copious amounts of food to drive a movement, so don’t wait to jump on board: both of these events tend to sell out every year.)

At the end of Sachs’s article, he pondered that maybe his detour into the museum wasn’t so random after all; as Jews, we are inexplicably tied to a history of people that have sought justice for themselves and their communities for millennia.

No matter what your favorite part of Springtime is – the eating, the socializing, or the reflecting – take a break from the normal routine and make this holiday intentional by exploring not just the issues of the past, but those pertinent to our communities today.

And don’t forget to stop and smell the blossoms! Spring is as fleeting as it is special. Take advantage of it.

By the DCJCC’s Behrend Builders coordinator, Michal Rosenoer. Contact her with comments, concerns, or for more information at behrendbuilders@washingtondcjcc.org.

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