Community Gatherings: Gifts & Giving


Arq’s community gatherings are beautiful, inviting, personally enriching experiences inspired by Jewish life, rituals, and people. We provide guided get-to-know-yous, a special guest who leads a short and meaningful activity, demos by creators of cool Jew-ish products, and tasty snacks & drinks.

EVERYONE is welcome.

The global theme for our December gatherings was: Gifts & Giving.

Thanks to the Christmas effect, Hanukkah has become a time of major gift giving in America. Along with this consumerist tradition can come stress and anxiety about picking the right gift to give, and, even, financial hardship.

At our most recent community gatherings, we flipped this custom on its head and asked: What are our individual gifts? What gifts of service could we give to each other and to our community at this time of year?

At our gathering in LA, we met in a private home in Boyle Heights, the heart of the city’s Jewish community in the 20’s, now a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood with a mix of art galleries, colorful murals, and mariachi bands.

As we noshed on crispy homemade latkes, Ari Herstand, a DIY musician and best-selling author who has bravely, persistently, and successfully tapped into his own gifts, from his looping skills to his business smarts, shared his story and tunes.

Special thanks to NuRoots for their support of this gathering!

On the colder coast, Katie Tilson, Arq’s NYC host, invited Shannon Sarna to be our special guest, and not just because we knew she’d bake pizza rugelach.

Shannon, a master Jewish baker, #1 bestselling cookbook author, multi-tasking mom, and rescue dog obsessive, talked about her Italian-Catholic-Jewish upbringing, how she’s raising her own daughters, and the confidence she has in her own gifts and how she has pursued her professional dream.

Ariane van Dievoet, the founder of Avandi, joined us with the most perfect menorah in hand, which we lit up completely for the last night of Hanukkah.

About our meaningful event theme eschewing materialism…we had a Hanukkah raffle at our gatherings! #itscomplicated

In addition to new friends and spiritual insights, our guests also got to take home holiday-appropriate goodies from On Rye, NY SHUK, Parallel Paper, Ariel Tidhar, Jewish Book Council, and Shalom Clothing.

Do it yourself!

This holiday season, we encourage you to find some time to ask yourself and others:

– Which passions or talents of yours want to be expressed but you’re avoiding or toning down? What are the gifts within those passions or talents? Was there a time when someone made you feel pain or shame around those core gifts?

– When do you feel like the best version of yourself? Share a time when you felt your core gifts were being validated and encouraged.

– What gifts of service could you give to your community at this time of year?

Share your responses with the Arq community by tagging @thisisarqco on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter or emailing

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