Andy Kirschner 3
Andy Kirschner, contributing blogger

Originally from Detroit, Andy Kirschner lived in Chicago for about 10 years after college and currently finds himself just outside Washington, D.C. He has had several job titles throughout his career, including knife seller, recruiting manager, bagel-maker, life coach, tour guide, career counselor, Birthright Fellow, trade officer and PresenTense Coordinator. Currently, he combines all of those skills at 100 Reasons to Win, where he coaches and trains professionals to replace excuses to fail with reasons to succeed.  He also works part time to facilitate Weight Watchers meetings, though the views expressed in his articles do not reflect the views of the company.

Andy spends his free time running distance races, running back to the Midwest to visit family and friends and running out of time to make an Oy! deadline. After all that, he runs home to his wife and baby boy to apologize for being so busy. He is passionate about his involvement as a volunteer in the Jewish community! He is also getting better at spending more time with his wife and baby.

100 Reasons to Live photo_th

Remember Super Size Me—you know, the movie about the man who ate McDonald’s every day, three meals a day, for 30 days straight?  And after you saw it, you were sure to say “I’m never going to be able to eat at a fast food restaurant again!”

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Thanksgiving kicks off the season of family gatherings, holiday parties with friends and outings to the mall and Michigan Ave. for shopping, food and fun.  To borrow a quip from our Christmas-celebrating friends, “ ‘Tis the season for peace, love, and joy!”  But what about the over 10% of Americans on the unemployment roles or the estimated 10% more who are either underemployed or out of work for so long, they are no longer eligible to get help?  ‘Tis it really the season for them?

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For many of us that were born and raised in America, particularly in areas that have significant Jewish populations, we aren’t readily faced with overt, in-your-face anti-Semitism. So you can imagine how taken aback I was the other day when the following took place:

2010 the New Year for Netw-OY-rking! photo_th

I run a job strategy and networking group for young Jewish professionals.  At our last meeting, I found out that most of the group had made New Year’s Resolutions to do more networking.  It is a great idea, as over half of jobs out there seem to be coming through networking.  Most studies show that less than 10% come from sitting at home and applying online.  But hold on employed readers, this article is still relevant for you.  Any accomplished professional will tell you it is a good idea to keep your network going while you still have a job, because quite frankly you never know.

2010 the New Year for Netw-OY-rking! photo_th

Last month I posted an article on Oy! that convinced you that Networking is essential to a young professional’s career.  Hopefully, it left you hungry for more details on how exactly you go about building a network.  Think of this article as Networking 201.  (If you are not already open to the idea of networking, I suggest you go back and read last month’s installment before going forward.)

To my brother photo_th

On February 22nd, 2010 Operation Enduring Freedom, the current U.S. war in Afghanistan, surpassed the Revolutionary War as the longest war in American history.  I am sure those who read the articles marking the occasion found it to be a sobering reminder that our troops have been in harms way for over eight years.

How a Meeting of Three Became an Event for 250 photo_th

I’ve now written a couple of blog posts about the virtues, the benefits, and the "how-to’s" of networking.  These were a few of the thousands of blog posts out there from experts, professionals, and aficionados on the subject.  However, I still meet with many people who do not take advantage of this tool to improve their professional, personal, or employment standing.

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Not long after I had moved back to Chicago, my boss approached me with an idea. Business was going well at the sales company where I worked at the time. We were the #1 division in the company for sales that year and he wanted to acknowledge the key role I had played as a part of the division staff by offering to pay for me to see a life coach.

Breakdancing in Kiryat Gat photo_th

I was lucky enough to be one of the group leaders on a recent Shorashim Birthright Israel trip.  We had an amazing 10 days in Israel with all the necessary highlights—the climb up Masada, the dunk in the Dead Sea, the beach in Tel Aviv, the Wall in Jerusalem and more.  But what surprised me most wasn’t a tourist attraction at all.

Rosh Hashanah dinner for two photo_th

Shana Tova!  Like many of you, I have been reflecting on this past year, 5770, and looking ahead to the next, 5771.  Over the past year I have transitioned from one full-time job to another, completed a part-time fellowship, staffed a Birthright-Shorashim trip to Israel, and proposed, planned a wedding, and married the woman of my dreams…just to name a few of the events that kept me busy last year.

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I have been performing most of my life.  There are few things I won’t do to get a chance at holding the microphone and having a moment in the spotlight.  For the last four years I have been a part of an Improv Comedy Team in Chicago.  A group of us put together a team as we were finishing classes together at IO Chicago.

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Happy Chanukah, Oy! Readers!  For me, this marks my 12th Oy post and first anniversary Blogging for Oy!Chicago.  It has been great being an Oy! blogger, a website made possible by the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.  This post is dedicated to the good folks who fundraise to make possible Oy!Chicago and a whole lot more.

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L’Shana (secular) Tova, Oy! readers!  I have the distinguished honor of posting the very first Oy! blog post of the year. I have the tough task of bringing the first bit of inspiration in 2011.

The Honeymooners photo_th

I just returned from one of the most amazing trips I have ever taken.  The best part—it was my honeymoon!  Remember that day you were all left in Chicago with below zero wind-chills?  I was on a beach in Aruba...

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Early in March, I was speaking with my mom on the phone to let her know we had cleared a Sunday in our schedule to celebrate her birthday together.

The last run down the lake photo_th

I was running down the lakefront path. To my right, LSD and the whirl of buses and cars rushing up and down the highway. Just beyond that was the parking lot and main entrance to the Lincoln Park Zoo.

My Facebook confessions photo_th

 Facebook—some of us curse its very existence, while some of us let it consume us. Oh, I LIKE your last status about going to the post office. Yes, I am a FAN of my high school and I WILL ATTEND your birthday happy hour next weekend.


After two weeks at my new job at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, I was sent to Israel for a training conference, but was lucky enough to get a few extra days to tour around on my own. I have always been infatuated with the beauty of Israel and the rich connection of the land and people to the history of the Jews.

There’s no time like the PresenTense photo_th

This past week, PresenTense announced that it will launch 13 social entrepreneur fellowships in 10 cities around the world. Some of the fellowships are with existing partnerships and others are brand new. By next summer, dozens of new social ventures will launch in Chicago, Washington DC, Cleveland, Kansas City, Jerusalem, Moscow, Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

DC vs. Chicago photo_th

Earlier this year, my wife got a “too good to pass up” job offer outside of our nation’s capital. She arrived in April to start work, and I figured it would be reasonably good form for our new marriage if we lived together, so I quit my job in Chicago and headed for the East Coast. Now that I have been living here for six months, I thought I would do a head-to-head comparison.

DC vs. Chicago photo_th

Those of you that tuned in to my post last month were treated to an un-OY-fficial match up of DC vs. Chicago. In a tight race, I graciously called it a draw between the Gem of the Midwest and the Jewel of the Mid-Atlantic. Stephen Richer of Gather the Jews, a DC based website, brought on a full challenge to my results, claiming DC as the definitive winner to this civic battle.


Over the last year, I have lost over 50 pounds. Around 10 more pounds from here, and I will be within the recommended range for Body Mass Index of 25. I will have made the journey from just over 300 pounds in 2004, to just over 160, eight years later.

Runner’s high photo_th

I had actually planned to sleep in last Thursday, but after lying in bed for over an hour, unable to get back to sleep, I decided to put my energy to good use, lace up my sneakers and log a few training miles.

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Over St. Patrick’s Day weekend, while many flocked to the streets to enjoy the parades and then to the bars to enjoy a fresh pint of Guinness, I ran my first marathon. I crossed the finish line after four hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds of beating up my body.

Tuesdays with Toolie photo_th

The other day, I was lying on the couch catching up on some reading and Toolie jumped up on my chest to see what was going on. Then she started licking my face. Eventually, I got her to settle down and just lie on my stomach for a while.

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I recently traveled a ways to make it to my youngest sister's graduation from Berea College in Berea, Kentucky. We listened to the commencement speaker give a rather frank assessment of what lay before these young, ambitious rookies to the American workforce.

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I am on the road, headed back to Washington from a long road trip to a wedding in Illinois. I put off submitting my post this month, thinking that the time in the car would leave me ample space and inspiration to craft a masterful piece for Oy! readers.

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I was in synagogue recently and inserted into the service was the special blessing for the Hebrew month of ElulElul is the last month of the Hebrew calendar which means it's only a matter of another lunar cycle before we kick off the Jewish New Year with Rosh Hashanah and deny ourselves 25 hours' worth of food and drink on Yom Kippur.

JUF gets Wind of Hurricane Sandy and Sends Relief photo_th

Every water bottle, pitcher or jug we owned was filled with water. A pyramid of canned beans, corn and tuna were stacked neatly atop the counter. The pantry was full of stove-top friendly fare, such as rice and quinoa. The freezer was packed with extra ice, so that it would hold its contents better— in case we lost power.

Reflections on my ann-Oy-Versary photo_th

I am proud to say that I am celebrating my three year ann-OY-versary! I wrote my first post in November 2009. Do you remember way back then? Obama was President, gas was only $3.44 per gallon and the biggest issue facing our nation was the economy. It's amazing how much can change in just three short years- Obama is still president, gas was $3.44 per gallon on 11/12/12, and the economy is filling the headlines. Hmmm, so I guess the big stuff has stayed the same.

Jewish enough for ya? photo_th

What makes something Jewish? Who owns the labeling rights to call something Jewish enough? If I go to a service, how do I know if I am experiencing something authentically Jewish? It’s a question that I grapple with. I have a non-Jewish spouse, and when we have kids, we have committed that together we will raise them Jewish. It’s important to me that they are raised “Jewish enough.”

V’Nahafoch Hu photo_th

This past weekend we celebrated the Jewish Holiday of Purim. Purim celebrates the story from the Book of Esther and one of the major themes discussed around the holiday is the concept of nahafoch hu. This is Hebrew for turning something around or flipping something upside down. The Esther story is full of characters that turn things around and plot twists that seem to turn the story upside down.

What a Difference a Decade Makes photo_th

Several months ago, after a three-and-a-half-year hiatus, I decided that I was officially returning to a career in life coaching. It helped that two individuals had already reached out to me and asked if I would coach them. I had the start of a business and the desire to pursue it.

Hallelujah photo_th

The message came over Facebook late Monday night. “I just heard from his cousin. Josh took his own life last night. I am in shock. So sad.”

Turn Your To Do List into a Must Do List and Get #$%^ Done! photo_th

Let’s take a moment to pay homage to the almighty To Do List. It is the quintessential organizational mechanism in the How-to-Get-#$%^-Done tool kit. I know people that live and die by the list. You know them too. They get a high from checking off the boxes; they add things to the list they just completed so they can have the thrill and satisfaction of crossing them off.

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I am running the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 13 to benefit an amazing organization called PresenTense. That is 26.2 miles through the streets of my kind of town, sweet home Chicago! PresenTense is where community and entrepreneurship meet.

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On Wednesday morning of Erev Rosh Hashanah, I found myself overwhelmed with the thought that it was the start of the Jewish New Year. Soon I would be sitting in synagogue pondering transgression, judgment and forgiveness. I felt a pit in my stomach because the notion was so final.

Going the Distance in Chicago photo_th

The fact that I just ran the Chicago Marathon for charity is a lie. Don't get me wrong – I believe in the cause and I still have every intention of hitting my goal of raising $2500 to benefit PresenTense. It's just that the whole charity piece is really an excuse to do what I really want, which is run – run really far.

Do More Than Change Your Facebook Status photo_th

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website, Veterans Day is a "celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good."


Tonight and tomorrow, Jews will descend on Chinese restaurants across the United States to honor the annual tradition of eating Chinese food on Christmas (most likely followed by a movie).

Braiding True Love photo_th

I always thought that I would marry someone Jewish. It seemed like a given; USY and Hebrew school classes were sometimes dedicated to teaching us about the challenges of marrying outside the faith. I was on board, and my beshert would surely be Jewish. My true love would naturally have an affinity for my first love, Judaism.

Shabbat as a Choice photo_th

Several years ago, I was privileged to staff a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip for Shorashim. From the moment I found out I’d be going, I was really looking forward to celebrating Shabbat in Israel again.

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Passover has now ended and with it some of the most widely observed traditions in Judaism.

On the Cusp of Jewish Parenthood photo_th

I was squirming a bit in my seat and not exactly breathing regularly, yet Rose seemed relaxed. Her smile was gentle, even as she explained the less glamorous moments for women in their first trimester.

Five Aspects of Parenthood I Didn’t See Coming photo_th

Becoming a new parent comes with a whole list of new challenges and experiences. Leading up to the birth of our son, John, my wife, Rose, and I tried to prepare as much as we could. We read books, downloaded apps and watched videos to make sure we had all the right skills and had purchased all the right supplies.

Let Them in Your Personal Space photo_th

The High Holidays are around the corner, and with them comes an opportunity to share many meals with friends and family.

A Daddy at Mommy and Me Yoga photo_th

I was already sweating when we walked into the yoga studio. We had been running late, as usual, and I had double-timed it from the car to the building. Just before walking in, I remember hesitating. Did I really want to go to Mommy and Me Yoga?

What Would You Do If You Could Not Fail? photo_th

I was sitting in my career coach’s office, constantly adjusting from side to side. If I stopped shifting for even just a moment, my right foot began to furiously tap on the floor. I couldn’t make up my mind as to where I wanted my hands to go: in my lap, on the arm rest, on my chin. I kept switching positions without finding comfort in any of them.

Knowledge, Gratitude and the Philtrum photo_th

The groove in the middle of a human’s upper lip is called the infranasal depression, or a philtrum. There is a Jewish myth, stemming from the Talmud (Niddah 30B) that explains the infranasal depression’s origin.

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From what I gather, Johnny’s bedtime ritual is pretty typical: change diaper, wrestle to put on PJs, nurse on the couch while reading stories and singing lullabies before drifting off to sleep.

Never Stop Running photo_th

It was one of those spring days in Chicago that reminds you why you put up with so much winter for so very long. It was that first day after the snow had completely melted away. The sun was shining over the lake, and the lakefront path was packed with runners. I was in my car on my way home from work and all I wanted to do was pull over, abandon my car, and start down the path on foot. That was the moment I realized I was becoming a runner.

Three tips for managing and prioritizing your time each day photo_th

When I share with people how much I am doing, they often ask how I get it all done.

Three Ways to Improve Your Relationships Right Now photo_th

One of my goals at 100 Reasons to Win is to help professionals improve their relationships. Some of my clients are looking for true love; some have found it and want to work better with their partners; and others are just looking to navigate the tough conversations that they engage in with family, friends, and colleagues.

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The rabbis at Sixth and I Historic Synagogue sent out a message acknowledging how the world can be a challenging place to live, and this week was far from an exception.

New Daddy Truths photo_th

When my 1-year-old son, Johnny, was born I remember lifting him out of the basinet at the hospital for the first time. Completely swaddled in a hospital blanket, he was a fussy 8-pound burrito. I was in love with and in awe of him. We all had high hopes for him and our newly started family.

Bring Change to the Diaper Changer! photo_th

We were just wrapping up dinner at a new restaurant enjoying a lovely family evening together. My 1-year-old son, John, had eaten well and managed to get most of the food we offered into his mouth, avoiding the floor. My wife and I managed to complete at least half of a decent conversation. Nobody was screaming yet.

The Confession photo_th

Yom Kippur is "Judgment Day," and there is a prayer that repeats over and over again throughout the many services of the holiday called Vidui, or "The Confession." Every year when I go to shul for Yom Kippur, my heart beats a little faster when the Vidui comes up in the liturgy.

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At the time, it seemed like a no-brainer. I could easily give up Sunday morning and Thursday evenings. I would be with an experienced co-teacher who could help me with the lesson plans. I had a curriculum and some general support from the administration. Best of all, I got paid. Teaching Hebrew school seemed like a great way to make some easy money.

oy toddler lessons

It’s true what they say about our kids: we learn more from them than we will ever teach them. Every day that I spend with my 18-month-old son is not only a lesson on how I can be a better parent, but how I can just be a better person.

Johnny and Grandma

Sometimes the journey makes you appreciate the destination that much more. I know many of us have received this advice, and it applies to so many situations: Becoming a bar/bat mitzvah, graduating college, navigating your first “real job” and things like what I experienced just last month -- traveling from Washington, D.C. to central Illinois with an 18-month-old.

When Parenting Begins photo_th

“How about that,” remarked my friend Sharon to Rose and I as we were heading out the door, balancing a toddler, diaper bag and empty serving bowl, “I think we managed to have some sort of an adult conversation today.”

What Are We Losing For? photo _th

A big loser reacts to the ‘Biggest Loser’ study



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