Shutdown leaves time for lunch

People talk during a lunch for furloughed employees at GatherDC’s headquarters. Photo by Samantha Cooper

In a Dupont Circle townhouse on Tuesday, 30 people in their 20s and 30s ate a free lunch of vegetarian Chinese food and bagels. They talked about their jobs, at the FDA or the EPA, and what they were doing to stave off boredom in the third week of the government shutdown. A few rumors swirled about when the shutdown would end, but there was no confirmation.

Here at the headquarters of GatherDC, which stages events for young Jewish adults, an ice breaking game didn’t last very long.

“We made [this lunch] because GatherDC wants to help Jewish 20- and 30-[year-olds] find community and feel connected and supported no matter what is going on in their life,” Allison Friedman, the organization’s communications director, said. “Having the government shut down for 18-plus days is obviously a huge challenge and struggle that a lot of people in our community have been dealing with.

“It was like, we might as well gather them together,” Friedman added. “We thought it would be nice to help them commiserate together, connect with a new friend and just have a space that’s non-partisan and judgement free.”

The lunch was a last-minute effort. Invitations had been emailed only the day before. Friedman said she and GatherDC’s rabbi, Aaron Potek, had thought about staging an after-work happy hour.

“We realized that [the workers] don’t have anything to do during the day,” she said.”We figured a lunch might be really fun and then they could meet somebody to do fun activities with the rest of the week.”

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