What’s Next On The (Ice) Bucket List?

By Naomi Korb Weiss It's amazing what some buckets, ice and a little adrenaline can create in this world: over $30 million in donations and hundreds of thousands of new donors supporting treatment and prevention for a degenerative disease. Everyone from children to politicians to celebrities is jumping in to support the cause. This video alone will make you cry, and at the very least, millions more now know of the foundation’s existence. But I also feel some internal tension about this wildly successful campaign, dubbed the Ice Bucket Challenge. (And it’s not just my fear of freezing cold water). While there are varied stories about the origins of the challenge, it seems there was a large amount of luck at play with the extent of its viral success. Reports point to a golfer and a baseball … [Read more...]

Growing Jewish Identity on the Platforms the World is Moving Onto

Mordechai0001

By Abigail Pickus When Mordechai Lightstone attended the South by Southwest Interactive Festival (SXSW) in 2010 to speak about ‘Judaism 2.0,’ he packed a little something else in his suitcase besides his clothes. “We bought kosher meat in New York and brought it with us,” said the 29-year-old social media director for Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters who, with his wife, Chana, traveled to Austin from their home in Brooklyn with the plan of throwing a one-off kosher bbq. Little did they know that their bbq, which they initially tweeted as an open invitation for one and all, would soon become a SXSW tradition. Today, #openShabbat, which bills itself as an “unplugged Sabbath,” now attracts upwards of 150 people - many of whom are participants in the popular conference on emerging technology. … [Read more...]

Reflections on Life in Israel

NFTY-EIE High School in Israel summer 2014; courtesy NFTY.

Throughout their struggle, the citizens of Israel have formed a unique identity of national pride of which I, as an American, am jealous. By Gabi Aklepi I just returned from an incredible summer on the Union for Reform Judaism’s NFTY-EIE High School in Israel Summer Session. Being in Israel during the war with Hamas had an unusual effect on me. I thought I’d be afraid, but truthfully, I had never felt safer. Beyond feeling safe, I felt proud to be in Israel. In fact, I’ve never before felt more connected to Jewish history or the Jewish people. I have never been very patriotic. In fact, very few of my peers show any affection for America. In America, citizens may fly flags on a few national holidays, but in general, outward patriotism isn’t the mainstream - amongst my friends, disliking … [Read more...]

Finding a New Homeland

Kyle Price is third from the left. His friend, Jacob Herstein, is on the far right; courtesy BBYO.

By Kyle Price When someone asks me where I live, I immediately respond, “Scarsdale, New York.” One month ago, if someone had asked me where my home was, the answer would have been the same. Now I hesitate when asked this question. What does this person mean by “home?” Is home where my house is? If so, my home is Scarsdale. But what if the person were to ask where I feel most comfortable and secure? In that case, my home is Israel. At the end of July I returned to New York from a three-week BBYO Summer Experience in Israel called International Leadership Seminar in Israel (ILSI). This marked my seventh trip to Israel. I already knew that I loved the land and connected to it deeply, so I didn’t expect a life-changing experience. Then again, I also didn’t expect a war to break out while I was … [Read more...]

Where Do We Go From Here? A Post-War Assessment

The events covering this past month have left the Israel/Jewish political roadmap in a fundamentally different place. By Steven Windmueller, Ph.D. Operation Protective Edge signals a new stage for Israel in the world. This one month campaign has unleashed a host of geo-political changes within the region, triggered a new internal debate over the character and substance of the Jewish State, created a second front targeting Jews within Europe and beyond, and raised new challenges for the pro-Israel community on America’s college campuses, among other transformative political outcomes. Politics within the Middle East: New alliances within the Middle East region are being constructed as a result of this conflict, as the traditional leadership within the Region, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan … [Read more...]

My Trip to Israel: Conflicted During the Conflict

Whether Jews in the Diaspora personally agree or disagree with what Israel does or does not do, it is a fact that Israel was, is, and always will be a home for all Jews. By Margalit Rosenthal Thursday night. I’m out in Jerusalem on Ben Yehuda Street. My Birthright Israel LA Way group is busy dancing and unwinding at Tza’atzua (Toy Bar), purposely led there because it essentially also functions as a bomb shelter - safety is our number one priority. But I head off on my own for a bit, determined to do some personal shopping at my favorite store Mishkan and have my semi-annual mix-in frozen yogurt at Katzefet. But Mishkan is closed. There are more police than usual. There are batches of armed, active-duty soldiers. This doesn’t feel like last summer. This feels like the Israel I knew in summer … [Read more...]

Szarvas @ 25: A Jewish Camp, Fueling Europe’s Jewish Engine

I Love Szarvas

By Diego Ornique For Europe’s Jewish communities, facing rising anti-Semitism and economic decline, the last three decades of achievement in rebuilding Jewish life could be easily forgotten. But in rural Hungary, more than 1,300 young Jews from twenty plus countries are enthusiastically exploring Jewish culture, customs, and history all while playing sports, gathering around bonfires, and raiding the canteen for candy and ice cream. This seeming oasis - business as usual during the 25th anniversary summer session of the JDC-Lauder International Jewish Summer Camp at Szarvas - stands in the face of those who doubt a Jewish future in Europe. So what is it about the Szarvas experience that is emblematic of the revival of Jewish life in Central and Eastern Europe, especially after the decimation … [Read more...]

Sarah Schonberg’s Passion: Helping Others Achieve Their Goals

Sarah Schonberg

By Abigail Pickus Sometimes life’s biggest opportunities happen in the most unlikely of places. For Sarah Schonberg, it was at Reagan Washington National Airport. There she was, on her way to spend Rosh Hashannah with her family in Michigan, when she happened to meet a woman who changed the course of her life. “I was standing in line talking to this woman who told me they were hiring at BBYO for this new position,” recalled Schonberg. At the time, Schonberg was looking for a change from the arts organization in D.C. where she worked - but she wasn’t exactly looking to work for the Jewish community. Having grown up in the suburbs of Detroit, Schonberg attended Michigan State University and then headed off to Guatemala as a Peace Corps Volunteer. While Jewishly connected, in … [Read more...]