Shabbat Surfing–Can I Get a Pizza Yet?

Answer: Not yet. Sunday night. But relax, it could be worse, you could be stuck in a city known for its amazing pastries during Passover. Perhaps we should consider making it shorter?

Tastes great with latkesWhile we’re on the topic, ever wonder which imaginary animals are kosher? Looking forward to a little Aigi Kampoi (fish-tailed goat) the next time the frum Dungeons and Dragons club gets together. Perhaps with a little mint jelly.

Are you running low on matzah? One blogger made a special appeal to those not commanded to eat the bread of affliction.

Not one, but two alternative seders organized by the Washington DCJCC are featured in a Washington Post article about the same. To see pictures from the GLOE Stonewall Seder, become a fan on Facebook.

There was a little kerfuffle (don’t you just love that word?) over Ami Eden’s post on his JTA blog about a Q&A feature that ran in the Boston Globe with a Jewish doctor who specializes in treating transgendered children. Cole Krawitz, blogging at JVoices objected to Eden’s inclusion of a response quote to the Q&A from an conservative activist which was pulled from a Christian news service and which he framed as a Jew vs. Jew conflict. Eden has also revised his post to clarify. My take? Krawitz may have come down a little hard on Eden’s post, which, as in all good news coverage, likes a good conflict. His larger point that the “Jewish angle” in this case creates a false parity of expertise between a medical professional and an anti-LGBT activist is well taken.


Jewish Ids in the News: Norman Mailer’s mistress has sold papers describing the graphic details of their sex life to, wait for it…Harvard University.


Chametz on Screen–Completely Kosher: Hit Israeli Film “Noodle”

We won’t go into the reasons here, but pasta is one of the foods commonly forbidden during Passover. However, as with so much else in Jewish culture, I will argue that these laws do not apply to Chinese food. Or Israeli movies. Or Israeli movies in which large quantities of Chinese food gets consumed.

In that spirit, don’t miss Noodle this Tuesday, April 22, 7:30pm at the Washington DCJCC. Please note, the following trailer is in Hebrew without English subtitles (but you get the point anyway) and is only kosher for Passover if you refrain from licking the screen.

Shabbat Surfing: Seder Edition

The blog is going to be a little quieter until next Tuesday. In the meantime enjoy your seder, and start planning what to do with all that leftover matzah….

A Seder For Everyone: The First Stonewall Seder in DC

by Justin Lerner and Yoni Bock

On March 30, GLOE (Kurlander Program for Gay & Lesbian Outreach and Engagement), the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the DC GLBT Community Center partnered for the first annual Stonewall Seder in Washington DC.  With a sold out crowd of over 60, Jews and non-Jews of all sexual orientations and gender identities came together to celebrate the universal principles of liberty and freedom.  From several people sharing their personal stories about the closet, AIDS, workplace discrimination and family strife, we were reminded that LGBT people are still routinely denied basic freedoms and rights.

Rebecca Levinn and Sharon Groves washing hands as part of the Seder ritual

The seder’s name commemorates the 1969 Stonewall riots in which LGBT people fought back at New York City’s Stonewall Inn against brutal and violent police raids.  This moment in our history was a turning point in which people that did not fit into the mainstream sexual culture stood up and said that they would remain silent no longer.  The seder provided just that experience- an opportunity for everyone to express their opinions, feelings, and voices.

Rabbi Joel Alter leads the Stonewall Seder

While the seder was based on the traditional Jewish rituals, the seder had relevance beyond the Jewish community.  It took a very Jewish model and turned it into a venue for broader issues focused on justice for all people. With the success of this year’s sold out seder, GLOE will be partnering again with HRC and the DC GLBT Community Center for a second annual Stonewall Seder.  And with next year being the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the possibilities for another commemorative and unique experience are endless.

Truly a seder for everyone

This Week at the 16th Street J

A flurry of activity just prior to the holiday of Passover which begins this Saturday…

Monday, April 14

A Hebrew LessonThe Screening Room Presents: A Hebrew Lesson with director David Ofek–Meet the director of the acclaimed Israeli documentary No. 17. While that film examined Israeli society through the prism of a terrorist attack and one of its unidentified victims, his latest film tackles a similar topic through the experiences of those trying to adjust to Israeli society in an ulpan–an intensive Hebrew-language school.

Tuesday-Friday, April 15-18

The Price by Arthur Miller – Final Performances Before Passover. The holiday means this is your last chance to catch the Prosky family in Theater J’s acclaimed production. In addition to evening performances Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; there are matinees both Wednesday and Sunday at noon.

Thursday, April 17

JewfaceNextbook Presents: Jody Rosen at Busboys & Poets–Rosen is the curator of the new CD Jewface, a remarkable collection of popular “ethnic” songs from the 1905-1922. The songs were often gross caricatures of Jewish stereotypes: big nosed, greedy businessmen, nebishy immigrants or romantic weaklings. There’s a catch though, the songs were mostly written, produced and performed by Jews for a largely Jewish audience. Among them were some of the Jewish legends of Tin Pan Alley including Irving Berlin, Eddie Cantor and Fanny Brice (one can even hear the opening bars of Berlin’s God Bless America in the cringe-inducingly titled When Mose With His Nose Leads the Band). These songs, recovered off of 78rpm discs and wax cylinders, are of course first-cousins to other “race” songs of the period, most notoriously, minstrel songs. Rosen, the author of White Christmas: The Story of an American Song unpacks the cultural history of the songs and interprets their modern significance.

Sunday, April 20

Annual Second Night Community Seder–Come celebrate the second night of Passover with new and old friends at the Washington DCJCC. Our welcoming seder will be lead again by Cantor Maurice Singer and is open (with pre-registration) to anyone who wishes to attend. Next year in Jerusalem, but this year at 16th and Q.

Shabbat Surfing: Oranges and Ativan

Pardon the irregularity of posting this week. It has been a crazy technology week at the 16th Street J, but one that we’ll no doubt emerge from stronger for the experience. Now for the links…

In the last weeks the 16th Street J has sponsored both the Miriam’s Seder and the Stonewall Seder–both of which feature an orange on the seder plate. In a moving post, The Stirrup Queen–who writes mostly on infertility, unpacks the history of the orange on the plate, and relates it to the media attention surrounding Thomas Beatie, the transgendered pregnant man.

Welcome back to the airwaves, DC political maven and friend of the 16th Street J, Mark Plotkin who returned from a 3-month health sabbatical today on WTOP.

Donna Migliaccio, currently rehearsing Theater J’s world premiere musical David In Shadow and Light writes beautifully about the different experience of working at the J as compared to other theatres:

Little bitty kids are always around since there is a daycare center in the building; good smells come from the first floor cafe throughout the day; folks come in after business hours with their workout gear to utilize the very nice gym facilities; there’s an art gallery and a library and classrooms, all of which are always in use – in short, there is a sense of thriving community. Most of the time we theatricals work in a fairly rarefied, sterile atmosphere, cut off from the world swirling around us and often, the people for whom we will perform. Not at the J – the theatre there is as much a part of the everyday world as the kids in the daycare, the mah-jongg players in the lobby, the scholars in the library and the sweating runners on the treadmills.

Via WaPo’s Post Mortem blog I learned about the passing of Eddie Willner, a Shoah survivor who escaped a Nazi concentration camp in the closing days of the war and found an American artillery unit. Willner ended up moving to the States and serving in the US Army for 21 years and retired with the rank of Major. May his memory be as a blessing.

Finally, you know a Jewish holiday must be close if the internet is beginning to buzz with video send-ups of that favorite stereotype…the Jewish mother. Please direct any offended sensibilities here.

This Week at the 16th Street J

Some highlights from the coming week of programming at the Washington DCJCC.

Monday, April 7

  • The Women Who Kept the Songs: From India to Israel — The Musical Heritage of Cochin. A unique partnership between the Embassies of Israel and India provides the rare opportunity to hear the songs of traditional Jewish communities from India’s Malabar Coast. Members of the Nirit Singers from Israel will perform songs in Malayam, recovered through a unique collaboration between the Cochin Jews and dedicated anthropologists and musicologists

Tuesday, April 8

  • Passover Wine Tasting with Jay Caplan. Each Seder calls for four cups of wine (and potentially more than that depending on how close you are with your family). Gone are the days when you needed to choke down sickly-sweet Concord grape, choose from Cabernets, Merlots, Chardonnays, Rieslings, and then if you must have sweet wine, try some specially vinted for dessert.
  • Israeli Rock Singer Etti Ankiri– A Spiritual Songstress. Combining a rare combination of spirituality, feminism and Israeli rock ‘n roll chops, Etti’s music is reminiscent of the Idan Raichel Project, with a Kabbalistic twist.

Wednesday, April 9

  • Seven Strategies for a Succesful Seder with Sarah Gershman. We’re not talking about how to respond when your Aunt Selma asks why you’re not pregnant yet. Rather, come learn how to make your seder experience more meaningful, with special readings, games, songs and my favorite: props! As for Aunt Selma, see Passover Wine Tasting (above).

Thursday, April 10

  • Jewish Flavors From the Silk Road with Susan Barocas. There’s more to Jewish food than gefilte fish. In fact, there’s a whole culinary tradition beyond the shtetl that encompasses Jewish communities from Rome to Tehran to Tashkent, Bombay and beyond.

Sunday, April 13

  • Spring Into Action–Day of Environmental Community Service at Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens. Spend the day outdoors helping to beautify one of the District’s hidden gems along the Anacostia River. There are tasks appropriate for the whole family from litter collection, to non-native plant removal, to a flotilla of kayaks and canoes cleaning trash from the river

Spring Into Action

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