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Call for nominations for the 2015 Chicago Jewish 36 under 36 list

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Call for nominations for the 2015 Chicago Jewish 36 under 36 list photo

Who is an extraordinary Jew you know? We are looking for the young leaders, humanitarians, educators, social activists and movers and shakers of Chicago to be part of Double Chai in the Chi: Chicago's annual Jewish 36 under 36 list.

Presented by YLD and Oy!Chicago, Double Chai in the Chi shines a spotlight on the faces of Chicago's Jewish future and recognizes the amazing contributions of our generation. (Check out last year's list for reference.)

What we're looking for:

People who are making a difference through their work, who give back in their free time, who innovate and inspire, who are leaders in their communities and the Jewish community or are simply Jews we should know.

How to nominate:

Got someone in mind? Fill out this form before May 21. You will receive an email confirming your nomination. 

When will the list be announced?

The 36 honorees will be announced and profiled on Oy!Chicago on July 21 and recognized at YLD's WYLD party on Aug. 13. To be the first to know, like Oy!Chicago and YLD on Facebook.

An interview with Ivanka Trump

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An interview with Ivanka Trump photo

The name 'Trump' has been a household name for decades. But lately Donald is sharing the spotlight with the younger generation of Trumps—his sons and his daughter, Ivanka.

Ivanka, who has a business degree from Wharton, is charged with the domestic and global expansion of her dad's company's real estate interests and she's the founder of Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry and Ivanka Trump Footwear. She has launched #WomenWhoWork, which celebrates the multidimensional lives of modern women. After meeting her husband, who is Jewish, Ivanka converted to Judaism, and the couple has a young daughter and son.

Ivanka, who will speak at JUF’s Women’s Division’s Spring Event on May 12, recently conducted an email interview with Oy!Chicago, where she talked about her entrepreneurial pursuits, the balancing act of the modern woman, and who she admires most.

Oy!Chicago: You do so much professionally—in the Trump Organization, in real estate and hotel management, in jewelry, in your lifestyle collection. What are you most passionate about in the professional world?
Ivanka Trump: Real estate has always been my passion. I grew up touring construction sites, visiting our properties and hotels with my father and could not get enough… I ingested everything I could get my hands on, observed my peers and supervisors, and experienced as much as possible. I always felt l had something to prove and, in some ways, I guess I did. Eventually I started making my own deals and managing my own team and projects. 

I'm an entrepreneur at heart, and I saw a great opportunity to dress young, professional women in a stylish yet attainable way and decided to enter the marketplace with accessories... Our brand is targeted to millennials in the early stages of their careers. [Our customer] is a woman who leads with smarts, but is able to transition quickly between her various roles in professional and personal capacities. 

What are the challenges that come with having such a famous father, when you're trying to make your own way in the world?
I'm incredibly grateful for my family and both of my parents. I think time has debunked some of the criticisms that people might throw at me. There will always be those who will say I wouldn't be in this position if not for my father and they very well may be right, but I also know I work very hard and have a lot to be proud of. One thing that I know for sure is that I could have chosen to do far less!

My brothers and I are so incredibly fortunate to work alongside our father and it has been an amazing experience, especially in these early stages of our careers. Family businesses tend to be very binary; they are either a total disaster or incredibly successful. Thankfully we represent the latter and that is due, in part, to how well we work as a collective and separately, but regardless we are always working towards a common goal. 

Who are your biggest role models?
My mother has always been a great source of inspiration for me. She is incredibly smart, passionate and wickedly funny. I'm also inspired by the young women today who are working to build lives that they want to live. My father has also had an enormous impact on me. I certainly learned a lot about deal making, building, developing—generally he's taught me what it means to be a great leader and a great parent. Both of my parents were the biggest influence on me and I'm so fortunate to work alongside my father and continue to learn from him every day. 

Studies continue to show that women still earn less money than their male counterparts doing the same work. How can we encourage women to keep "leaning in" and be confident and brave at work?
It's a proven fact that having women in the boardroom is an asset and I think companies are beginning to recognize the value of this more and more. It's amazing to see women holding the high level positions once reserved for men. 

Do you think a lot of these challenges will be gone by the time your daughter enters the workforce?
I tend to think stereotypes and assumptions are growing increasingly irrelevant—in fact, shedding light on what it actually looks like to be a professional woman was one of our goals in originally launching the #WomenWhoWork initiative on my website IvankaTrump.com.

How do you define modern women today?
Women today are working hard at all aspects of their lives…[They] embody the realities of life and works at everything [they] do: being a mother, nurturing her career, her marriage, or relationships. They are smart, ambitious and passionate about their careers—but not defined by them. These women, myself included, are multidimensional. We are doing work we love, work that inspires us, and we're also pursuing our personal passions and making them priorities. There really aren't many accurate depictions of working women today in advertisements and pop culture. Companies are still featuring these one-dimensional caricatures of women, usually outfitted in boring pant suits, striding up 5th Avenue. It's comical. I wanted to illustrate what women who work really look like and create a platform from which to tell their stories.

As a successful young woman in business and as a mother of two, what is your advice to other young women trying to pursue their dreams in life—both personal and professional?
Seek out opportunities you are truly passionate about, work extremely hard, and never stop evolving and improving. 

For more information on the Spring Event 2015, contact the Women's Division Office at (312) 357-4821 or WomensDiv@juf.org.

8 Questions for Yuri Lane: Beatboxer, hip-hop performer and YouTube sensation

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8 Questions for Yuri Lane photo

I first saw Yuri Lane doing a beatbox workshop at JCC Apachi summer camp. I was immediately taken with his combination of beatbox and harmonica. I had never seen anything like it. I got to know him and started following his work and have since brought Yuri in to teach beatbox/acting/movement workshops with my classes at Columbia College Chicago.

A couple weeks ago, I chatted with Yuri on my new podcast, Under the Lights (listen to the episode here), which highlights the work of Chicago artists — actors, directors, writers, musicians, improvisers, performance artists, casting directors, and others. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes for free or listen to/download individual episodes at underthelights.libsyn.com. You can also connect with us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/utlpodcast and on Twitter: @UTLPodcast.

Yuri has long made Chicago his home but has toured the country with his hip-hop show “From Tel Aviv to Ramallah: A beatbox journey.” He is also a YouTube sensation, with one of his videos eclipsing 10 million views. For more information on this Jew You Should Know, along with music and videos, visit yurilane.com

1. What was your first exposure to live performance and what impact did it have on you?

My first live performance was seeing my Mom playing violin for the San Jose symphony.

2. What inspired you to develop “From Tel Aviv to Ramallah?”

The inspiration behind “From Tel Aviv to Ramallah” is based on a trip I took with my wife Rachel Havrelock (playwright, director of show) in ‘98. We travelled from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to Ramallah during the course of a week. Each day I would rewind each experience with a beatbox. 

3. Which performers do you look up to?

I look up to performers who have inspired and taught me about mirroring the world with art. I had the chance to see and perform with Robin Williams, the master of improv. Peter Sellers always made me laugh and seeing him in Being There made me even more of a fan. Lily Tomlin is another one of my favorites. Crazy story is my father-in-law was Lily's boyfriend in college. I met her and she is a humble amazing person and an incredible live performer!

4. What collaborations have made the biggest impact on you?

The biggest collaboration I've done is with my wife Rachel and partner Sharif Ezzat on the show “From Tel Aviv to Ramallah,” a beatbox journey. This collaboration has taken this show all over the U.S. and beyond bringing humanity and the hip-hop theater perspective to the Middle East conflict.

5. How did you discover and begin to use beatbox as a pathway to storytelling?

I was rehearsing a play in San Francisco and had a small part. It left me time to develop my solo show. I had a moment where I started beatboxing, dancing and doing mime at the same time and said to myself “this is what I'm going to do!” Combine all the techniques to create the genre of beatbox theater!

6. What role does hip-hip play in our society today?

I teach hip-hop and theater to kids of all ages. Hip-hop can be a wonderful reflection and collage of art and culture. I'm all about teaching kids about the roots of hip-hop. Afrika bambatta said the true message of hip-hop is PEACE, LOVE, UNITY and having fun.

7. How does Judaism inspire and inform your work as an artist?

The social justice part of Judaism is important to me. I feel the most connected to G-D when I'm on stage, but the Jewish rituals and holidays bring an awareness as a human being and citizen of this planet Earth. 

8. What goals do you have for yourself as an artist and/or teacher?

I want to continue to explore my solo beatbox work and practicing my art ‘til the day I leave this earth! I want to start a beatbox and performance movement in Chicago for generations to come!    

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