Esther Kustanowitz - Consulting & Freelancing Whether you need a content plan, communications strategies, or a social media orientation, I can help you. Reasonable rates available - contact me at esther.kustanowitz at gmail.com.
Famous restaurant Barney Greengrass recently celebrated its 100th birthday, and the owners and some of their celebrity friends came out to celebrate. Regular Upper West Sider Alec Baldwin was there to pose, schmooze and schmear with the owners, and agreed to talk to The Jewish Channel about his connections to the Greengrass "mishpocha" and his favorite Jewish holiday. Wait for it.
If you've ever watched "Sex and the City" and thought, "I relate because I'm single, but none of them go to shul or make Shabbat dinner," you'll want to check out Serugim, a drama about religious single thirtysomethings in Jerusalem. (For the page about the series, click here.)
Originally, this show came to my attention because a new friend of mine, Shira, plays "neighbor Stacey" in this episode (and because I read about it on Israluv's blog). But I watched the whole thing and found it interesting, resonant, funny and disturbingly familiar (even though the post-denominationalist in me wouldn't define my affiliation as Orthodox).
Many of the same dating/relationship issues that New Yorkers deal with, religious Jerusalemites deal with: feeling like you already know everyone from youth movement, parents who sign you up for speed dating, meeting a potential and then having to compete with other single women for his attention, differences in interpreting the roles of men and women in religious Judaism, the dramatic role of Shabbat dinners, friends who tell you what you want to hear to spare your feelings...it's all in there. As the site notes:
בשכונות רחביה, קטמון, הנחלאות והמושבה הגרמנית התהוותה לה "הביצה הירושלמית",
שכבה חברתית חדשה של רווקים ורווקות בסביבות גיל ה-30, חלקם הגדול משכילים
ואינטליגנטים מאוד, שאינם מוצאים את מקומם במסגרות הדתיות הקיימות. הם גרים בדירות
שכורות הפזורות ברחבי העיר, חלקם סטודנטים, חלקם כבר עובדים במשרות מכובדות וכמעט
כולם מחפשים אהבה ומוצא מהמצב שאליו נקלעו – מצב המתנה זמני ("עד החתונה") שהפך
להיות מצב קבוע
[Rough translation: In Rehavia, Katamon, Nahlaot and the German Colony is "the Jerusalem Swamp," a new social segment of single men and women in their 30s, most of them educated and very intelligent, who don't find their place in the existing religious frameworkd. They live in rented apartments throughout the city, many of them students, others already working in prestigious roles and almost all of them looking for love and finding that the situation they're in--a constant state of waiting "until the wedding"--has become a more permanent situation.]
The longer you spend in the Jewish non-profit/Jewish communal world, the harder it becomes to be able to answer the question. Except for certain people, whom you've known your whole life, or others, whose arrival in your life comes with a story you'll never forget.
Since arriving here in Jerusalem, Lindsay and I have had more random meetings and weird connections than you'd ever believe could happen in one place. True, we just encountered 120 Jewish innovators from around the world, but that's not random. Finding Twitter buds at Shabbat picnics in the park are a little random, but somehow not altogether unexpected. But what's interesting about Jewish geography in general, and in Jerusalem especially, is how closely people are linked--people you never thought could ever co-exist on the same plane.
Esther here, barely even able to type as I ache, exhausted after the ROI Summit. The experience was truly amazing and energizing, despite the fact that my energy's flagging tonight...
But I wanted to call your attention to this post over at ROI120.com, where we've been posting pieces by myself and others during, and now after, the Summit. The Summit featured an "Open Space" session, which is always really interesting, as it gives the controls over topics of discussion to the participants, and reveals what people are really thinking about. Some of the topics included Aliyah, How the Media Portrays Jews and Israel, Judaism and the Body, and others...but it will surprise none of you that I ended up attending three groups merged into one with the mega-topic, “Should I Marry a Jewish Partner?”
If you’re looking for the answer to the subject’s question, you won’t find it in this post, because as I've said before, there is no one answer. But if what you’re looking for are sound bytes and subtopics, check it out here.
I'm going deep undercover for ROI. If you want to keep up with the action, I'll be blogging at ROI120.com, and here when I can, but no promises. (Clearly, considering my absence of posts over the last week.)
It's less than 24 hours before Shavuot, and I still haven't decided where I'm going to learn tomorrow night. The idea is to stay up all night learning in preparation for receiving the Torah all over again. But since the idea is also to understand the learning, I think I'm best off trying to find something that's mostly in English. Also, would like to join the hordes walking to the Kotel after the learning at 4AM, so I don't want anything too far in the other direction.
So I'm doing some internet searching...and thought I'd share with you, in case others in Jerusalem need similar help...
The Hartman Institute: Not far from the German Colony's main drag. A few early sessions in English, but most in Hebrew. The sessions aren't grabbing me, either. Merkaz Hamagshimim: Also in the German Colony, so it's close. Some English, some body movement, separate for men and women. Interesting...but I'd have to be in the right mood for it. The Fuchsberg Center for Conservative Judaism (at Moreshet Yisrael Synagogue, 4 Agron Street): A bit more of a walk, but on the way to the Kotel. All in English, but mostly male lecturers. Would have liked to see more women lecturing in the Conservative Center... Pardes: A walk, in the opposite direction of the Kotel and also in the opposite direction of where my family is (where my dinner was supposed to be). I don't mind the walk, but don't want to miss dinner or the lecture. Pardes snagged one of the biggest headliners, Avivah Zornberg, for their Tikkun. Here's their whole program (beginning with Zornberg's class): 11:00PM, "The Unknown Woman: Becoming Ruth;" 12:45 AM David Levin-Kruss "The 10
Commandments Revisited;" 1:45 AM Jon Kelson and Yaffa Epstein "A
Compelling Torah: Theological and Halakhic Perspectives;" 3 to 4:15 AM
Daniel Landes "Can Conversions be Revoked?"
A Facebook friend sent me a link to this list, which gives programs not just in Jerusalem but in surrounding areas like Efrat and Bat Ayin.
It's great that there are so many choices. But I wish that my peers--so busy with Jewish leadership programs, conference planning and, some of them, wedding plans--had managed to pull together some more peer-level learning. I always enjoy that so much more than listening to rabbis and PhDs.
OK. Will sleep on it and make a decision. Chag sameach from Jerusalem...
I love the blending of old and new, the updating of a classic, the homage to the original artist and their impact on the face of contemporary culture...and that's one of the reasons I was delighted to find out that one of my favorite musical hooks from the entire set of songs from the TACT Family is catchy and timeless sounding for a reason...because it's actually from another era.
Awesome bad 70s dancing, right? That was "Rakdan Haautomati" -- "Automatic Dancer" -- by renowned Israeli singer Tzvika Pick. He wrote "Diva," the Dana International song that won the Eurovision contest in 1998. He was a judge on "Kohav Nolad" (A Star is Born, the Israeli version of "American Idol.") And he was once in the show "Hair." (This fact to be important in the next paragraph.)
And now, the "making of" video for Booskills' "Rakdan Haautomati," complete with a skimpy, 70s fashion infused set of backup dancers. And Tzvika Pick is in the video, Michael Bolton hair and all.
There's no fighting your past, people. You might as well embrace it.
Shabbat shalom from Jerusalem, where I saw Israeli kids breakdancing today. But that's another post for another blog. (Can't wait? Check out http://blog.beliefnet.com/idolchatter, where the post should be available shortly.)
Today, in New York, is the Salute to Israel Parade, known in the vernacular as the "Israeli Day Parade." Schools march, and organizations parade down Fifth Avenue, but the real parade is on the sidewalks, as Jews from the tri-state area run into friends from camp, frenemies from high school, and blind dates who never called back. If they're lucky, they spy a hot Jew or Jewess and make awkward conversation, hoping it will turn into something that the NY Times Style Section might find newsworthy.
Today, in Israel, is the Taglit-Birthright Israel Mega-Event at Latrun, known in the vernacular as "the Mega." All Birthright participants in the country gather to celebrate Israel and spy friends from university, camp and youth group across a crowded whatever, peering at peers from many countries, and listening to musical entertainment and inspiring speeches by Israel's leaders and Birthright Israel alumni-turned-Jewish-poster-children.
Not exactly the same. Still, the gathering, the Jews, the celebration of Israel. There's something to this umbilical cord, connecting two nations across an ocean. Perhaps it could best be expressed in dance.