Alicia Post, aka The “Connector”

sizzler me

By Abigail Pickus It’s not everyone who has a Facebook page dedicated to their powers as a connector. But then again, Alicia Post is not everyone. “I’m a self-proclaimed ‘Jewlebrity,” said the 36-year-old New Yorker with a laugh. After all, because of her prowess as a networker, connector and general helper of all Jews interested in doing good in the Jewish world, a friend set up a Facebook page in her honor called, "Six degrees of Alicia Post." "I am convinced that every Jew in the world, or at least NYC, can be connected within 6 degrees to the awesome amazing Alicia Post. She's the Kevin Bacon of Jews!” writes Adam Broidy, her friend who started the group. “Please join the group if you are Jewish, or not Jewish, know Alicia, or don't. Just join regardless!” So far, the page boasts … [Read more...]

The Museumification of Jewish Life in Europe

The Libeskind-designed Jewish Museum Berlin, to the left of the old Kollegienhaus (before 2005); photo Wikipedia.

By Liam Hoare There is no bigger event this month - indeed, this year - in terms of Jewish life in Europe than the unveiling of the $55 million core exhibition of the History of the Museum of Polish Jews in Warsaw today (October 28). The culmination of almost twenty years of work - the project having its origins in the early 1990s - the exhibit will convey a thousand years of Jewish life in Poland, interactively, within a 43,000-square-foot space. It will after its opening become, as I have previously written, a point of light, wisdom, and reflection in a country that will forever be associated with the midnight of the twentieth century and the great catastrophe of Jewish history. For that reason, the museum is significant in and of itself. But far more interesting, perhaps, is not what it … [Read more...]

8 Cities, 11 Flights, 4 Questions

By Robbie Gringras I have recently returned from an 8 city, 11 flight, 2 weeks’ tour of campuses in North America - with 4 questions. I was one of the Jewish Agency’s Makom team running full-day workshops on “Gaza, Israel, and the Jews” for the staff of thirty Hillels. Our aim was to empower Hillel and campus leaders to frame constructive conversations about the Gaza Conflict by identifying pertinent questions (rather than institutional answers), and by defining a successful conversation as one that leads to a second conversation… As always happens in a workshop that is a combination of frontal teaching and dialogical interaction, the entire tour was as illuminating for me as one hopes it was for the participants. Apart from learning that DC taxi drivers are the most interesting in the … [Read more...]

On Community Building: What Can Be Learned from the Hong Kong Protests

copyright Erica Lyons

By Erica Lyons In the Jewish communal world, we spend a great deal of time analysing community. We engage in community building workshops and we attend conferences designed to build community. We speak broadly of the Jewish community and we allocate generous periods of time dedicated to how we can expand our definition of community and make our communities more inclusive, more pluralistic. I have spent a considerable part of the past three weeks, chagim aside, observing students of Hong Kong engaged in protests. As I walk the streets and watch their actions, I am certain that I must have run into them somewhere - ROI? WJC? AJC? Somewhere else on the Jewish conference circuit? And though it is highly doubtful that they have been to one of these conferences (or that they are able to … [Read more...]

Holy Texting! Does New App Make Smartphone Use Permissible on Shabbat?

A sample screen of the Shabbos App; via Shabbos App Facebook page.

By Maayan Jaffe Teens love texting. Cell phones don’t jive with Shabbat. A new app seeks to address this uniquely Jewish case of “unstoppable force meets immovable object.” In 2012, teens were sending an average of 60 texts per day, according to a report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. That number was up from 50 in 2009, so it is likely even higher in 2014. Orthodox teens are no exception. In 2011, an article published in The New York Jewish Week drew attention to the high percentage of modern Orthodox teens for whom “half Shabbos” is a way of life. Half Shabbos is when one refrains from all of the 39 Shabbat prohibitions except when it comes to texting, which falls under the prohibition of using electricity in non-emergency situations. Yossi Goldstein and a … [Read more...]

Got God? Thoughts on God from a Sometimes-theist (as inspired by ELI on Air)

By Esther D. Kustanowitz The High Holidays are over, and for many, so is our most immersive “God language” experience of the Jewish calendar year. Over the course of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we read of God’s many roles: God is the supreme sovereign. God commanded us to bring sacrifices. God commanded Abraham to bring his son as sacrifice and then issued a reprieve at the last minute. God granted Hannah a child. God is the shepherd who looks at us individually as we pass under God’s staff. God searches out our innermost kishkes and discerns our heart’s intentions. God has a “naughty-and-nice” list (in the High Holidays context, it’s called the Book of Life). I’m a graduate of yeshiva day schools; I grew up with liturgy. I know that, according to Jewish texts, God has different names, going … [Read more...]

Going Global, The Shabbos Project Hits Europe

The Shabbos Project

By Liam Hoare “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is a Sabbath unto the Lord thy God.” The Torah gives two reasons for the need to keep Shabbat holy. In Exodus 20:10, it is said that having created the earth and sea, the Lord “rested on the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” But in Deuteronomy 5:14, one is commanded to keep Shabbat: “And ... remember that thou was a servant in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God brought thee out ... by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day.” In Europe, in modern times religious reasoning was superseded by or merged with secular demands from the international left and … [Read more...]

Tevel b’Tzedek Helps Survivors of the Nepal Trekking Disaster

By Rabbi Micha Odenheimer Last week tragedy hit Nepal when a freak snowstorm trapped hundreds of trekkers, including tens of Israelis, in the mountain pass of the popular Annapurna range. The death toll is now over 40, including 3 young Israelis, and many more trekkers were airlifted out suffering from hypothermia, frostbite and other injuries. Read more. The Tevel staff and volunteers were among the first in the field to offer assistance. I spent Simchat Torah and Shabbat at the hospital with our staff members and fellows from our year-long program, the Tevel Fellowship, supporting the survivors, several of whom were suffering from post-trauma. We distributed warm meals, blankets, SIM cards and lots of hugs and encouragement. We helped the victims of severe frostbite get the medical attention … [Read more...]