DC synagogue and cultural institution watches the election together

There had been talk in the lead up that the state has a chance to turn blue, but no one could confidently predict an outcome in this year’s unprecedented election.

November 9, 2016 04:52
2 minute read.
United States Capitol building in Washington, DC

United States Capitol building in Washington, DC.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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WASHINGTON – The anxiety that has filled the streets of the capital this past month slowly has turned into hopeful buzz inside a cultural institution in downtown DC, at Sixth & I Synagogue.

The main big screen TV showed CNN’s coverage of the pending results in Texas, a Republican stronghold, still up for grabs, with early polls showing the race at a tie. The crowd of around 200, and mostly Jewish, cheered. There had been talk in the lead up that the state has a chance to turn blue, but no one could confidently predict an outcome in this year’s unprecedented election.

What followed were more results from Florida – a battleground state that has routinely been an instrumental fulcrum to the road for the American presidency. The state was at a dead heat and the anxiety filled the room once again.

To calm the nerves, refreshments are served, including two specialty cocktails: ‘The Bad Hombré’ with vodka, cranberry juice, Sprite and lime and ‘The Nasty Woman’ with champagne and blue lemonade.

Others headed to the selfie station with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump cut-outs. While others sat down away from the crowd showing the right-leaning Fox News and the left-leaning MSNBC. As a whole though, the crowd is fairly liberal.

But this isn't Sixth & I’s first rodeo.

The historic building, which first was a conservative synagogue in 1908, has been the home for secular Jewish life since 2004. In 2008 they hosted their first watch party, in the battle between Barack Obama and John McCain.

“It was a way for us to reach out on an occasion that everyone wants a place to be,” Associate Director Jackie Leventhal said, who helped organize the 2008 and 2016 events. 2012 she said was a little less climactic.

A chance to host a watch party was important for the synagogue. The staff thought about hosting debate watch parties, but decided on the election night event.

“We just knew that being in the heart in DC, this is what everybody has been thinking about,” Executive Director Heather Moran said.

She echoed what many DC residents have been saying over the past month, from Uber drivers to bar keepers, a level of anxiety unlike in prior elections has swept the city.

“We are a DC organization, so inherently we feel what DC feels,” Moran said.

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