While taking lunch with colleagues at a kosher restaurant in DC a few weeks ago, my Israeli co-worker Yoni ran into his friend, Hillary, who was hard at work planning an event in conjunction with the local Jewish Community Center. The event, a romantic nighttime boat cruise along the Potomac River that costs merely $15, is a creative way to mark the upcoming Tu B’Av holiday in a fashion that appeals to uppity young Jewish Washingtonians.
Tu B’Av, the Jewish day of love, marked the beginning of the grape harvest during the era of the Temple in Jerusalem. Unmarried Jerusalemite women would mark the day by wearing white garments and dancing in the vineyards. In modern Israel, females still mark the holiday by wearing white garments and being romanced.
Soon after running into Hillary, I told my girlfriend, Rachel, about the upcoming boat cruise. She insisted that we order tickets before they sold out and bought a white dress for the event. It was wonderful to see Rachel so jazzed up about a holiday to which she did not grow up giving much thought.
Just two days after that event, Yoni will be hosting an Israeli-themed party at a DC nightclub. As the party’s DJ, he will play Israeli and American songs as partygoers attempt to replicate the experience of Tel Aviv’s legendary nightlife. His upcoming party has generated a lot of excitement, and a similar party held last November drew 200 people.
These two events are only some of the countless examples showing that life for young professionals in the Diaspora is thriving. Young Jewish professionals are finding ways to make Judaism and Zionism fun, accessible and relevant to Jewish Americans who would otherwise be unaffiliated.
I urge those who will spend this weekend in America’s capital to check one or both of these events out. And I hope that other cities in the Diaspora will follow DC’s lead and forge a hip and thriving Jewish life.