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Sharna Marcus, past contributing blogger

Articles by this author
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It seems like the Pope just can't get favorable coverage in the Holy Land, no matter what he does. Read More

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The 20 and 30 something liberal Jews of today partake in Jewish practice to whatever degree it suits their needs. Be it dating, eating, drinking, traveling to Israel for free, the overwhelming sentiment is “What can Judaism do for me?” Read More

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Last month, the Oy! team wrote about our loving, Jewish mothers– well, now it’s Dad’s turn. In honor of Dad’s Day, here are some tales of fatherly love. Read More

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The Jewish world has successfully (and sometimes unsuccessfully) launched projects in the virtual universe to capture the attention and hearts of the next generations of cyberJews. One such application was recently introduced by (disclaimer: I know him) Ron Gejman and his partner at Lost Tribe App, Jacob Andreas. It allows you to search for more than 5,000 synagogues in case you need one in a pinch. Read More

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You know how every job has its busy times and slow times? After Labor Day, one of Shorashim’s two busiest times of the year begins. Our phones ring off the hook and our necks stiffen as we answer them. We swim through our inboxes racing to answer emails. Our fingers sprint to chat with 18 to 26 year olds across the country (and their parents). Why the communication overload? Shorashim runs Taglit-Birthright Israel trips. Read More

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Are you going out Saturday night – during the 10 Days of Awe? You wouldn’t believe how many sins you commit just at a bar on a weekend night. Luckily for you, Yom Kippur begins Sunday night, so there’s still time! If you’re having trouble relating to the Machzor, print this out and carry it with you to services. (Disclaimer: This prayer was not sanctioned by a Rabbi or God.) Read More

Fourteen years later photo_th
I had a conversation with my coworkers Gabe Axler and Shahar Gal the other day who were preparing for Shorashim’s High School Excursion Day. They asked me to provide an American perspective in addition to an Israeli one at a session talking about “Where I was” the day Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated, November 4, 1995. Read More

Interview with the writer and producer for TV show Being Erica photo 2_th
Have you ever not watched a television show because you identified too much with it? When I watched Sex and the City in my 20s, I really enjoyed storylines of older single women in the dating scene. Now that I’m the same age as Sarah Jessica Parker when the series started, I no longer find it (as) funny and kind of depressing. Read More

Forget Mark McGwire. Miep Gies is a real hero. photo
I woke up on Tuesday, turned on the Today Show, and heard Mark McGwire’s pitiful confession of steroid use. As my eyes were still rolling, the news mentioned that Miep Gies had passed away at the age of 100. Read More

Next year in Jerusalem? Why wait? photo_th
The other night I was out and someone said to me, “Hey, you’re the Birthright girl.” So I started talking to him and it turns out he went on a Shorashim trip a couple of years ago. His friend though, hadn’t participated yet. I asked him if he was applying for this summer and he said, “No, this isn’t a good time for me. I need to do an internship and take some classes.” Read More

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Have you ever read an article that just sticks with you? I did a couple of weeks ago: Depression’s Upside by Jonah Lehrer in the New York Times. The article evaluates the theory of psychiatrist Andy Thomson and psychologist Paul Andrews that a “depressive disorder came with a net mental benefit.” I’ve been thinking about this idea for a while: why would we suffer from anything unless there was a purpose or benefit to it? Read More

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From our health to childbearing to careers, being a woman today is confusing. With so many conflicting messages, the path of womanhood is foggy, even for a feminist like me. Read More

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Less than a year ago, Josh Orenstein was living the life that is familiar to so many of us in our 30s. He worked hard as an attorney downtown, commuted on a CTA bus, frequented a bar now and again with buddies, dined out with a great girlfriend, hit the gym a few times a week, and uploaded a picture or two to Facebook. Read More

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For the past month I have been in Israel working for Shorashim and meeting with all of our Chicago community groups who have spent 10 awesome days seeing Israel with Israelis. The past several hours I have been sitting in my friend's apartment in downtown Tel Aviv preparing Shabbat materials for a special Taglit-Birthright Israel: Shorashim trip called The Israel Challenge. Read More

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I was born in 1976, the year of the bicentennial, two weeks before July 4. My grandmother crocheted me a gigantic red-white-and-blue blanket, the size of a comforter. I thought of that blanket a couple of days ago when my great uncle passed away. Read More

My take on “This is Where I Leave You” photo_th
In my line of work, I deal with helping people find their Jewish identity all of the time. In my personal life I struggle with finding "the one." It's no wonder that "This is Where I Leave You" stayed on my brain for several weeks. Plus, I was lucky enough to meet the author, Jonathan Tropper, at a reading of the paperback in Chicago. Read More

Advice for college photo_th
I have three cousins and 30 former students who are going to be freshmen in college next month. If they were to ask me for advice, this is what I would tell them. Read More

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Last night acclaimed author and director Etgar Keret offered to transform into a parrot who sits on my shoulder to bear witness to my daily insanities. I didn’t take him up on his offer during the question and answer period after a reading of his short stories at the School of the Art Institute, mostly because I don’t like birds and am not sure that they are allowed by my condo association. Read More

Twitter 101 photo_th
You’ve probably heard about Twitter, but may be afraid to ask exactly what it is and why anyone would use it. True, tweeting is in some ways just another internet vehicle to waste an inordinate amount of time, but it’s also a way to be more engaged in the Jewish community without leaving your laptop. (But don’t be a loser, leave your laptop). Read More

Bullies photo_th
After the tragic suicide of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers student whose sexual encounter with another male student was filmed and broadcast without his knowledge, the public wanted the heads of the roommate who recorded Clementi, and the roommate’s friend who was perceived as an accomplice of some sort. Read More

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As a former Hebrew school teacher myself, it seems to me that the survival of the Jewish community is dependent on synagogues modernizing and incorporating technology into the study of Hebrew and Jewish Studies. Read More

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This week you received a lot of publicity for smoking something from a bong. You are trying to get out of your Disney contract. Your photo shoots are getting more and more provocative. Pundits are already putting you in a triple suite at a Malibu rehabilitation center with Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears. Read More

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It was 1997, my senior year of college, one of the scariest times in my life. I felt like I was supposed to suddenly become someone successful. My brothers had graduated several years before me; one went on to work at a big accounting firm, the other to medical school. Read More

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This week Shorashim will speak to thousands of applicants for Taglit-Birthright Israel trips. They will have many questions about Israel, about the Israelis who are on the 10 day trip, the accommodations, and what clothes to bring. They also will ask about the food. Read More

My Council of Moms photo_th
Last night I heard Bruce Feiler speak at the annual JUF Non-Profit dinner about his latest book, The Council of Dads. The book has a beautiful premise; when Feiler was unsure about the future of his health, he called upon friends to serve as part of a “council” to mentor his young daughters in case of his death. Read More

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Today marks seven years since I was given a new lease on life. It also coincides with one of the worst and saddest days I've ever experienced. However, sometimes the worst personal calamities in the long term become life's biggest gifts. Read More

Israel education 2.0 photo_th
One of the reasons I love working at Shorashim is that I get to work on cool projects in addition to Taglit-Birthright Israel. One of them is called Classroom to Classroom: an initiative to help Hebrew high school classrooms and religious schools make their Israel curriculums more innovative using social media. Read More

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In the next month or so, I will have a “roommate.” And although I have had roommates before, I haven’t had one in seven years and never one of this sort. Read More

Finding Lauren Spierer photo_th
Every day I come home from work and one of the first things I do is check Twitter or Facebook to see if she has been found. Lauren Spierer has been missing since the early morning hours of June third from Bloomington, Indiana. She is 4’11, 95 pounds, blonde hair, and blue eyes. Read More

21st century mourning photo_th
I received the text while I was at the gym, “Amy Winehouse died.” During the 20 minute walk from my gym to my home I thought about Amy’s music, how short her life was, how I had dressed up as her for Halloween a few years ago (as did a million other people), how sad it was that she never overcame her addiction and then tried to estimate the number of times I had listened to really her only album “Back to Black.” I’d guess 180 times in one year. Read More

Answering the question, “How was it?” photo_th
One of the most difficult questions to answer is one of the simplest: How was it? How was school? How was your date? How was your trip? How was the movie? “It was great!” “It was ok.” “It was awesome” “I liked it.” Those answers don’t tell you much, but everyone uses them! Read More

An Israeli wedding photo_th
Despite being in Israel more times than I can count, I had never been to an Israeli wedding until this past week when my boyfriend’s best friend was married. There isn’t one typical kind of wedding in Israel—every wedding reflects the couple’s religious values and familial influences. And this one was different than any of the 53 (I’m serious) other weddings that I have been to. Read More

Are Americans over medicated photo_th
One of my favorite shows on TV is House, MD. I find entertainment and comfort in its formulaic medical mystery plot which includes a side story that reveals a personal side to one or more of the characters. My boyfriend ridicules the show and says that anyone could make five guesses as how to treat someone medically, and eventually get it right. Read More

Top 10 reasons Matisyahu shaved his beard photo_th
10. He wants to be in Old Spice commercials for the Super Bowl.9. Waxing hurts.8. He had a bet with Mitt Romney that the Bears would win on Sunday. Read More

What do you do after the wedding? photo_th
So I’m engaged, and I’m getting all sorts of advice about the wedding. The advice includes: the food is most important, the band or D.J. has to be excellent, don’t feel like you need to invite anyone you don’t want to be there, and much, much more. Read More

Before you register for birthright... photo_th
During the last three years, Shorashim, in partnership with JUF, has expanded its regular Israel trip programming reach to young adults with special needs. Read More

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I remember as a kid, when someone had an illness it was talked about in hushed tones. I'm not sure why words like cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimer's were not discussed, but that was the whispering culture that has ended in during the last decade or so. Read More

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A couple of weeks ago the blogosphere, twitterverse and day time TV world went ballistic over an article written by Dara-Lynn Weiss in the April issue of Vogue Magazine about how she had put her seven year old daughter on a diet and her strict methods of enforcing the diet's rules. Read More

Snacks on a plane photo_th
The air travel industry is not popular with consumers. Or rather, it is popular, because people want and need to travel. However, from buying tickets at outlandish prices to long lines at security, followed by the security x-ray and partial pat down, one can get a little cranky. Read More

Cate Edwards photo_th
I have been following former U.S. Senator, Vice Presidential nominee and presidential hopeful John Edwards’ trial until its conclusion on May 31 when he was found not guilty of one charge and the jury deadlocked on the other five. Edwards’ charges were based on his alleged misuse of campaign dollars. Read More


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