Nineteen-year-old Highland Park native Jason Brown is an Olympian. Brown earned a spot with a second-place finish at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston on Jan. 12. His “Riverdance” program won the crowd over, dazzled the judges, and has garnered more than 2.7 million views on YouTube.
For the third year in a row, JCC Chicago is providing an avenue for social justice activism interpreted through a Jewish perspective. JCC PresenTense Chicago, a largely volunteer-run, vibrant grassroots community of entrepreneurs, mentors and volunteers, invests talent and energy to foster innovation and revitalize our community.
Last spring, I attended a Havdalah service in Rabat, Morocco. The synagogue, tucked away in the second floor of a business building, was completely hidden from any and all passersby and, on the night I went, had more empty seats than occupied ones.
AJ Kirsch is on the upward swing of his career. You might remember him from WWE's Tough Enough with Stone Cold Steve Austin. He was also a candidate for TNA's Gut Check. Kirsch is an independent wrestler and promotes Hoodslam Wrestling. Although he did not grow up strictly Jewish per se, his father's whole family is Jewish and he was just interviewed by Larry King (so that's cool).
As a devoted “How I Met Your Mother” fan, I was super excited to learn that Josh Radnor would be visiting Chicago in April to speak to Fiedler Hillel at Northwestern University students. Since 2005, Radnor has been most widely known for his role as Ted Mosby on the popular, Emmy-nominated CBS sitcom, which recently announced that its upcoming ninth season will be its last.
The 68th annual Holocaust Memorial Service, held Sunday, April 7, in Skokie, certainly was about remembrance and the past. But it also was about the future - about whether the messages of the Holocaust would survive once the survivors are gone. About who, when no one remains to offer first-hand testimony, would remind the world what hate can do when even the most modern, most civilized, most educated societies do nothing to stop it.
One day, Chicago entrepreneur Adam Hyman was looking at the entangled wire hangers stacked perilously high on his shelf closet and decided it was time to dispose of them. Moments later, they were a jumbled mess on his floor. Wanting to do the environmentally responsible thing and recycle them, Hyman couldn’t find a metal recycling container and ended up taking them back to the dry cleaners.
"Giving back to the community through volunteer work is not a noble deed," said Eryn Bizar, a site leader for YLD and TOV's Feed Chicago, "it is just simply the right thing to do." Eryn's words were put into action on Sunday, March 3, when more than 130 young adults volunteered throughout the Chicago area. In just one day, more than 15 projects were completed at 13 different organizations and hundreds of lives were touched.
While he was growing up in Glenview, Judaism and Israel remained two separate conversations for 26-year-old Scott Frankel. "Israel was intimidating for me, primarily because I hadn't yet had an understanding or relationship with Israel. Then in college I saw a study that concluded that as each new generation of American Jews continues to pass, there's a greater disconnect with Israel. When I saw this, I realized it was time for me to begin to understand what my Jewish identity consists of, and Israel's place within that."
Ofer Bavly, director general of JUF's Israel office, just returned from Ethiopia, the source of a modern-day exodus of impoverished Jews seeking a better life by making aliyah. There he and the group he travelled with – which included several Chicagoans – were immersed in the people, their stories, and the work of JUF's partner, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), which is aiding the immigrants at every stage of their journey.
It’s amazing the changes one goes through over the course of a lifetime. For example, I am now never without a book, however when growing up you couldn’t pay me to read for pleasure. I was also never very devoted to academics and yet recently I willingly enrolled myself in grad school.
The Great Chicago Fire of 1871, though horribly tragic, ushered in an era of architectural innovation and creation, responsible for the acclaimed skyline Chicago has today. In homage to that remarkable moment in history—when talented individuals seized a moment and rebuilt a city—space 1871, which opened last May in the Merchandise Mart, was created to provide local startups with an affordable workspace, access to mentors, educational programs and like-minded thinkers.
Let’s face it. You meet a guy or a girl at a bar. What do you really know about them? They like to drink. That’s about it. But you meet a fellow counselor at a Jewish day camp and before they say hello, you know you’ve met a kindred spirit.
For some Russian-speaking Jews in Chicago, this New Year's was special. Besides traditional salad 'Olivie' and a champagne toast at midnight they also performed a mitzvah. Russian Jewish Division helped to engage close to 40 volunteers who packed and delivered 400 gift packages to the Russian-speaking WWII veterans several days before the New Year.
For the fifth year in a row, Young Leadership Division's (YLD) Big Event was the place to be for young Jewish adults in Chicago this past Saturday night. A whopping 2,400 young Jews came together to support the Chicago Jewish community and the Jewish United Fund, celebrate Chanukah together, and watch entertainment by standup comedian and Parks and Recreation star Aziz Ansari as well as young local Jewish singer, Edon Pinchot. YLD's Big Event, held at the Sheraton Chicago, kicked off YLD's 2013 Annual Campaign.
Chicago’s Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation stands in solidarity with the people of Israel, especially the residents of Southern Israel, who have suffered hundreds of rocket attacks within the past four days, the latest salvo in a decade during which Islamist terrorists have launched some 10,000 missiles and rockets.
The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago is accepting donations to help those impacted by the devastation of Hurricane Sandy and its related storms along the Eastern seaboard. Chicagoans may contribute online at www.juf.org/relief, by calling (312) 444-2869, or by sending a check to the Jewish Federation Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund, Room 3022, 30 S. Wells St., Chicago, IL 60606.
It’s lunch time in the Loop and you’re a fashionista looking for a great deal, where do you go? State Street? Nope. Michigan Avenue? No. These days, those in-the-know make sure to stay right at their desks. Because every day at noon, daily deal site Gilt blasts out an email packed with amazing designer finds at great prices that sell out within minutes of going up.
They came to Chicago from diverse nations with hope for freedom, new lives and dreams of success. They were Jews like Abraham Kohn, who left Bavaria at age 23 to sail to America in 1842. Within two years, he and his brothers, Julius and Meier, worked their way to Chicago by buying and selling goods and then established Kohn Brothers, a clothing store on Lake Street.
Alison Levine has made it to the top, both literally and figuratively. Born with a life-threatening heart condition, Wolf-Parkinson-White Syndrome, that prevented her from driving a car or walking up a flight of stairs, today Levine climbs mountains and the corporate ladder. Thirteen years after her initial diagnosis, Levine had surgery that changed her life. As one of the most experienced female mountaineers in the country, she has climbed peaks on every continent. In 2010, with her successful expedition to the top of Mount Everest, she became one of the few climbers to complete the Adventure Grand Slam—claiming the Seven Summits and skiing to both Poles.
It's another Saturday night in the city. You've got plenty of friends to hang out with-but no date, with no particular prospects on the horizon. So, what's a nice, single Chicago Jew to do? You're mother constantly nags you about the grandchildren she claims she will never see, while you'd just like to find another nice, Jewish single with whom you connect-enough so that maybe, someday, the two of you will smash the glass beneath a chuppah, dance the hora, and start your life together.
In 1987, Ronald Reagan authorized a Presidential Proclamation, designating March as "Developmental Disabilities Awareness" month. In light of the former president's national initiative, the Jewish community is now taking the lead in realizing a vision of heightened sensibility toward those with mental and physical disabilities.
Presenting Chicago's first ever Jewish 36 under 36 list! From innovative rabbis, to cancer survivors now helping others cope, to restaurant owners striving to make Chicago healthier, this city is full of young Jewish leaders, humanitarians, educators and social activists striving to make the world a better place each in their own unique way. Take a look at the list!
Two years ago, Tziporah Gelman weighed almost 300 pounds and knew she needed to make a change, so she stepped into her first Zumba class at her local gym. Today, Gelman is a Zumba instructor, in great shape and changing the lives of Jewish women in the community for the better. It was love at first dance move, when Gelman took her first Zumba class.
There is no doubt about it— for decades we have seen a slide in Jewish engagement in America, particularly among young adults. Sociologist Steven M. Cohen remarks, "Fewer and fewer Jews see themselves as obligated to support the collective interests of the Jewish people, to feel attached to Israel, or even to relate personally to the very notion of the Jewish people at all."
We want YOU, the young leaders, humanitarians, educators, social activists, and movers and shakers of Chicago to be part of Double Chai in the Chi: Chicago's first ever Jewish 36 under 36 list. Presented by YLD and Oy!Chicago, this venture will shed light on the faces of Chicago's Jewish future and recognize the amazing contributions of our generation.
You might call Jason Alexander a modern-day Renaissance Man. Whether it is television, the big screen, or the live stage, he has tackled it. In addition to acting, Alexander has also taught, produced, and directed. Oh, and along the years, he has managed to nab a Tony Award, as well as a handful of Emmy and Golden Globe nominations.
For more than 30 years, JUF has hosted Israel Solidarity Day, Chicago's largest community-wide event celebrating Yom HaAtzma'ut, Israel's Independence Day. This year, the annual festivities are being transformed into iDays—more than a dozen different events, geared to a variety of interests and geographic areas, from April 26 through May 14. The change gives more people more ways to celebrate Israel.
Let's say the world was your (Jewish) oyster…where in the world would you like to travel to—Israel, the Galapagos Islands, Wilmette? We posed that question to Jewish Chicagoans with the travel bug.
You all know Jeremy Fine as The Great Rabbino— updating us on all the latest Jewish sports news and interviewing our favorite athletes— but did you also know that he is a soon-to-be rabbi? Recently, Oy!Chicago decided to turn the tables on Jeremy and interview him about his Jewish upbringing, why he became a rabbi and as a fellow 20-30something, what he thinks about the future of synagogues and Judaism for our generation.
Eric Holt makes his living enhancing and perfecting peoples' appearances. As a makeup artist, he knows that when people like how they look, they can't help but feel uplifted emotionally as well. Last week, in the spirit of the holiday season, Holt wanted to volunteer his services to women he felt could use an emotional boost-cancer patients.
Jimmy Fallon's everywhere these days. In the last week alone, you may have seen him interviewed on a talk show; caught him on a commercial; eaten his Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor; heard him deejay the top 40 countdown on the radio; and—oh yeah—watched him host his own late night talk show five nights a week. And next weekend, Fallon returns to his comedy alma mater Saturday Night Live to host the show's big holiday episode. But this past Saturday night, Dec. 10, Fallon hung out only with us.
Have you ever seen the YouTube clip of late night talk show host Jimmy Fallon impersonating singer Neil Young—with Bruce Springsteen as himself—singing a duet of Willow Smith’s Whip My Hair? If you haven’t, this article can wait. Go watch it and then come back…
On a chilly October night, 100 women from JUF’s Young Women’s City Council (YWC) got the inside scoop from four women who are living their dream: working for Oprah Winfrey. On Oct. 18 at the Hotel Palomar Chicago, YWC offered the opportunity to spend an evening with four producers.
Utilizing her business skills as a former recruiter aka career matchmaker, Bari made the leap to “dating for marriage evangelist,” created the Meet to Marry program and published her first book by the same name. Recently, I sat down with Bari for a phone interview to discuss her dating program and new book and to get advice from an expert.
Had her life gone the way she had expected it to, you would never have known Valerie Plame Wilson’s name. But on July 14, 2003, her identity as a covert CIA agent was revealed by Washington Post columnist Robert Novak in an article about her husband, former U.S. diplomat Joseph Wilson. More shocking than seeing her name in print was the sense of betrayal she felt—her name had supposedly been leaked by Bush administration officials as retaliation for her husband’s op-ed in the New York Times called “What I Didn’t Find in Africa.”
The Samuel A. Goldsmith Award, now in its 24th year, is awarded annually to exceptional young professionals who have shown outstanding performance in their work at a Jewish agency in the Chicago area. This year's award was presented at the 2011 Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago to Becky Adelberg, Executive Director of Chicago's American Zionist Movement, and to Caryn Peretz, for her work as Director of the JUF's Young Leadership Division.
We’ve all heard the stereotype that Jews just aren’t that good at sports—particularly a sport like football, where size and aggression matter. But two Jewish players—Gabe Carimi and Adam Podlesh—have joined the Chicago Bears this season and three Jewish college students from Chicago’s North Shore will be playing on Ivy League football teams this year. Take that, stereotype!
Like many women, Robin Gelfenbien experienced bullying during her younger years. But Gelfenbien found redemption in the most unconventional of places: behind the steering wheel of Oscar Meyer’s Wienermobile.
A few years ago, Lisa Lubin made a radical change. She quit her cushy TV producing job at ABC7 Chicago, sold her car and belongings, broke up with her boyfriend, and left the United States behind to travel around the world solo for 'one' year.
The mood in Chicago's Daley Plaza was bittersweet June 23, as some 500 Chicagoans gathered to show support for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The crowd was somber, noting Shalit's years in captivity, but also prayerful for his safe return to his family.
There’s a new Bear in town—and he’s Jewish! Gabe Carimi, former co-captain and star offensive lineman of the Big Ten champion Wisconsin Badgers was the Chicago Bears’ number one draft pick in 2011.
Is he or she “the one?” If you’re, well, human, you’ve probably asked that question about a past or present mate at some point in your courtship. What if you could conduct a scientific experiment to test the answer to that universal question? In the new quirky romantic comedy film, Losing Control, (A PhD Production)—which premieres in Chicago in June—Samantha Bazarick (played by Miranda Kent of TV’s Campus Ladies) tests just that.
When Jewish author Bruce Feiler was five years old, he was struck by a car while riding his Schwinn bike, breaking his left femur. More than 30 years later, he was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in that same femur. Whether the accident and his illness were related or mere coincidence, he will never know.
You might say Shalom Klein was born to schmooze. In fact, within hours of our interview, I already had several emails from Klein connecting me to people I should know. It’s this passion for networking and entrepreneurial spirit that makes Klein so successful at what he does.
While applying for a doctorate in clinical psychology, I decided to head to Israel. I had just spent the year working as an Early Intervention Specialist for toddlers who demonstrated signs of autism or other pervasive developmental disorders. Yet, I knew that I still needed something else to set me apart from other applicants.
While talking with 20-year-old Yali Derman, I wondered how it was possible that someone so full of life has had to fight so hard to survive. A two-time cancer survivor, Yali spoke with poise, elegance and maturity beyond her years about her time at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago and how she used her creative talents to help her combat illness and now is helping other children do the same through her handbag collection.
Siblings Brad and Danielle Weisberg were checking out a dating website one day last year. When Brad left to run errands, their mother, Barbara, also in the room at the time, asked if she could sift through profiles for him in his absence. By the time he returned a couple hours later, Barbara had jotted down a list of 10 Jewish women’s screen names for him to contact.
The event was typical Gabrielle Giffords: no barriers, all comers -- Democrats, Republicans and independents welcome to talk about what was on their minds and in their hearts. While she was deep in a conversation with an older couple about health care -- the issue for which she was willing to risk her career -- a gunman strode up to the Arizona congresswoman and shot her point blank in the head.
A few weeks ago, a friend sent me the link to a really amazing website that combines two of my favorite things—fashion and reality TV. Started by local stay-at-home-mom Dana Weiss, the site—which tells readers where to find clothes like those worn on their favorite TV shows—was just meant for Dana and her friends. But when fashion meets TV, it turns out the fans just can’t keep away.
We’ve all been there before: you want to go out, have a good night, hang with friends, and potentially meet that special someone. So where do you do that? Go to a bar? A friend’s party? Sure you end up meeting a bunch of new people, but how can you meet new, Jewish people? One way is through JUF’s Young Leadership Division, which holds many great events throughout the year. Another place to meet fellow MOTs is parties hosted by Afterlight Events.
The first thing that struck me upon meeting Ari Engel was just how, well, normal he looks (and, I should add, is). Standing there in jeans, t-shirt and wearing a kippah upstairs in the Venetian Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, I easily could have mistaken him for any guy in town for a bachelor party, who had probably just lost his last $100 on a badly played hand of Blackjack.
Question: What little girl grows up without owning even one Barbie doll?
I was just never that into her— American Girl dolls were always more my thing. (Mom and Dad, I’m still waiting for that American Girl doll you promised me oh, 20 years ago…) So I surprised even myself when I offered to interview author (and full disclosure, Stef’s aunt) Tanya Lee Stone about her new book the Good, the Bad and the Barbie.
What happens at the Big Event stays at the Big Event. To invoke an overused, yet fitting phrase in this case, those words came to mind while watching comedian/writer/actress Sarah Silverman perform her funny, crass, and sometimes controversial stand-up act on Saturday night at the JUF’s Young Leadership Division’s (YLD) third annual Big Event, held at the Sheraton Chicago.
Jay Leno needs no introduction. After years of working his way up in the standup scene, the comedian became a household name when he took the reins of NBC’s The Tonight Show in 1992. This March marked the beginning of his 18th season as host of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
When Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah was a child growing up in Ghana, the other kids wouldn’t play with him because he had a deformed leg. But Yeboah wouldn’t let them burst his spirit. The boy, who came from a destitute family, got a part-time job shining shoes and earned enough money to buy a soccer ball to loan out to the other kids, also too poor to afford one. Yeboah told them they could use the ball on one condition—that they let him play soccer with them.
As someone who is constantly (and mostly unsuccessfully) trying to set up her single friends, I was excited to meet Barbie Adler, a real, live matchmaker. As I toured her office, where words like LOVE, AMOR, and KISS ME are literally written on the walls in big wooden letters, it became clear that Barbie is not your traditional yenta.
Emily Briskman sits down the hall from me at work. Like me, she has Cheerios every day for breakfast and unlike me, she is always cheerful, stylish and put together. For these reasons alone, Emily is my hero…and others agree. Emily was recently nominated as a Jewish community hero in the Jewish Federations of North America’s (JFNA) Second Annual Jewish Community Hero’s event.
Are you going to college for the first time this fall? Are you a parent of an incoming college freshman? If so, it’s a pretty safe assumption that you have questions…a LOT of them! So where can you turn to get some much needed answers?
There are so many social media sites these days you can’t even count them all—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Digg—not to mention the never-ending amount of blogs ranging from personal to business to completely random. With all that out there on the internet, it’s pretty easy to get confused and lose sight of why many go online in the first place: to publish opinions, and to make voices heard. The solution to this modern-day dilemma? Pandalous.com.
The mood in Chicago’s Federal Plaza was bittersweet last night, as more than 500 Chicagoans gathered to show support for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The crowd was somber, noting Shalit’s years in captivity, but also hopeful and prayerful for his safe return to his family.
While her friends are going to college orientations and packing up for a year, Jacquie Zaluda is packing for the rest of her life. Her life—18 years so far—has to fit into two suitcases. In about three weeks Zaluda, a 2010 graduate of the Chicagoland Jewish High School, will board a flight to cross the Atlantic Ocean and start a new life in Israel.
Last year, I won a dress in a raffle. The gown happened to be designed by my favorite designer, one that I don’t typically buy from because… well…her clothing costs almost as much as my monthly rent. As I approached the auctioneer to claim my winnings, I contemplated the perfect occasion to wear the dress. But as I looked at my prize up close, I saw the dress wasn’t my size. So I tucked it away in my closet and let it gather dust.
Chicagoans are well-represented in Washington, D.C. these days. Last week, Chicago’s Jewish community was no exception, as 36 members of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago’s Government Affairs Committee (GAC) made their voices heard in the capitol—and I got to tag along.
After the success of last year’s Job Fair, the Jewish United Fund (JUF) and Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) will host their second annual Job Fair for young Jewish professionals on Friday, April 16. Designed for entry- to mid-level professionals, the job fair will take place at the Standard Club (320 S. Plymouth Court) from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Nothing brings religion more prominently to the forefront in a relationship than milestones like marriage and having a baby. The scenario becomes, perhaps, more interesting or complex in a situation of mixed marriage—or so goes the Jewish, parental parable I’ve heard since my emergence from the womb.
March not only brought the hope of spring, but, less welcoming, “Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW).” IAW has developed into an annual, two-week hate fest (March 1-14) of coordinated anti-Israel events such as lectures, films, and “street theatre” activities held in cities and campuses worldwide.
You might already know that getting involved in JUF-sponsored programs and activities is a great way to give back, volunteer and get connected to Chicago’s Jewish community—but did you know these programs are also great places to find love? I know from firsthand experience—my fiancé Mike and I met while both working at JUF. Here are three couples—one dating, one engaged and one married—who met their besherts (destined) while participating in three different JUF-sponsored programs.
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.)
Many Jewish kids have Hebrew school teachers who make Israel come alive inside their classrooms. Joel Chasnoff, originally from Evanston and now a Jewish comedian, was one such Jewish student. At Solomon Schechter Jewish Day School, back in the second grade, his Israeli teacher, Ruti, helped forge Chasnoff’s early connection to Israel.
In the wake of the catastrophic earthquake that has devastated Haiti, the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago has opened an emergency mailbox to funnel humanitarian aid to the impoverished island nation. Individuals can contribute online, by phone at 312.444.2869, or by mail: Jewish Federation Haitian Earthquake Relief Fund, c/o Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, 30 S. Wells St., Room 3023, Chicago, IL 60606.
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.
It’s almost time to watch the candles burning bright in the menorah, but it’s more important than ever that Chanukah doesn’t burn a hole in our pockets. If you’re looking to do something meaningful (and cheap) for your family and friends this Chanukah, take a look at some of these great ideas and volunteer opportunities...
My sister, Katie, is 26 years old and has been through more in the past year and a half than anyone should have to endure in a lifetime. In spring of 2008, one week after her 25th birthday, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
So here’s a question for you. Cancer: good or bad? You’re a little perplexed that I’ve framed the debate this way, aren’t you? The answer couldn’t be more obvious if it was written in big lights up and down the skyline. Cancer is horrible, and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t been affected by it somehow.
Starting at age 8, Andy Samberg used to sneak out of his bedroom late on Saturday nights to watch WWF wrestling. But wrestling was only on once a month, so most Saturday nights he would watch “Saturday Night Live” (SNL). “I became obsessed with SNL and fell in love with it,” Samberg recalled. “From that point on, I wanted to figure out how to craft my life to lead me to [a career] at SNL.”
This Wednesday night (Nov. 4) Chicagoans will have the rare opportunity to get a glimpse into Israeli culture—free of charge! Three former contestants of “Kochav Nolad/A Star is Born” Israel's version of "American Idol" will perform “Israel: Sing it!!! A Concert Honoring Yitzhak Rabin's Legacy of Peace and Tolerance.”
Around the time that Jewish writer Jillian Straus turned 30, she noticed a lot of her friends complaining to her about their relationship troubles for hours over the phone. Like her friends, Straus says she, too, didn’t have a clue how to find love, despite her parents’ 40-plus years of being happily married. She felt that her busy career and social life entertained her for much of the time, and yet she felt lonely. “The girls on “Sex and the City” would sneer at me if they knew,” she writes in her book. “The feminist in me did not want to let myself fall prey to the specious belief that I couldn’t be happy without a man in my life.”
Since I was 14 years old, I've wanted to adopt. I remember being in my room, listening to the radio. They were doing a story on the crisis with China's children and I was dumb-founded. In that moment, my dream of adoption began.
For generations Jews celebrated the storied baseball careers of Sandy Koufax and Hank Greenberg. Since then Jews have longed for more Jewish athletes. And in 2009 we look around the MLB, NFL, and NBA and see several Jews atop their sports. In Boston, Kevin Youkilis trots the bases after each home run; Jordan Farmar of the Los Angeles Lakers hoisted the NBA Championship trophy; and Igor Olshansky makes bone-crushing sacks for the Dallas Cowboys.
Up until a few years ago, Arik Luck had been living the typical life of a struggling actor in New York City, working in shows off-off Broadway, singing in musicals, acting in indie films, and waiting tables. But, then, after a lot of soul-searching, he made the tough choice to switch career tracks, and blend his performance talents with a new line of work.
This summer, JVibe, the magazine for Jewish teens, gave out its first-ever “18 under 18” awards honoring extraordinary teens, and two of those special teens hail from the Chicago area—not too shabby! Oy! caught up with one of the local award-winners, 18-year-old Ethan Barhydt, recognized for his work as an advocate for the people of Darfur, before he begins a whirlwind year of internships and travel to East Africa.
In this season of reflection, as we look back on the past and look forward to a fresh start in the Jewish New Year, Cindy Sher offers first date tips to guys. Then, Jewish Chicago single guy David Cohen responds with a few dos and don’ts of his own for the ladies.
Hollywood likes to portray people living the double life. Usually the hero has an average job by day and is a crime fighter by night. Too bad no one told Tinseltown about Alan Veingrad. In one life, Alan spent seven years as an offensive lineman for the Green Bay Packers and Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys. His alter ego, Shlomo, is a 46-year-old family man who happens to be a devoted Orthodox Jew.
By day they are your average teachers, social workers, attorneys, bartenders, photographers, nurses, government workers, businesswomen, authors, or personal trainers, but when they put on their skates and don amusingly fierce names like Athena DeCrime and Hoosier Mama, they become the women of the roller derby.
Years after Joe lost his wife—Marc’s grandmother—of 54 years, Joe came to his grandson for advice on how to start dating again. Both men were living in Chicago at the time, Marc in Lincoln Park and his grandfather in a nearby retirement community. They would hang out with the ladies at Joe’s complex and Marc would offer his grandpa pointers.
The thing is, I’ve only just begun to review my choices. The cart is filled with so many boxes; I can’t even be sure what’s in each of them. Do I want the school that’s having a special on foreign study, or the one with the mouth-watering choir that caught my eye?
We are born with secrets. And our bodies are very effective at hiding them from us for generations. Until April, my body had secrets, too. But thanks to four blood samples, I now know much more about my genes than I ever dreamed about. Ashkenazi Jews like me might carry genetic mutations that cause everything from Tay-Sachs to cystic fibrosis to the funny-sounding maple syrup urine disease. The fact that no one in my family has manifested any symptoms doesn’t mean that they aren’t carriers.
Cindy Russo, age 16, attends ORT’s Belgrano campus, one of the two ORT technical high schools in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Students choose a concentration after three years of school, with choices from mass media to electronics to music. Russo--one of more than 4,000 students who attend the schools--has selected the management track and is interested in furthering her studies in business when she graduates next year.
David Telias was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, but has traveled back and forth between Israel and Uruguay his whole life. At age 10, he made aliyah with his family for one year. “In those days, I did not understand why we did this, but I never could get it out of my mind,” he said. “It was the first time I asked myself what it means to be Jewish.” From that day forward, Telias felt a deep connection to Israel. His story is a familiar one within the Jewish community of Uruguay, a person with allegiance to Uruguay, but a strong tie to the Jewish homeland as well.
A poll* finds that 78 percent of people surveyed, between ages 20 and 39, know the name of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’s daughter, but only 45 percent of those same people know the interest rates on all their credit cards. Young people need to learn to be more financially literate, according to Beth Kobliner, a Jewish personal financial expert living in New York City and a former staff writer for Money Magazine.
Much has been written and said about the embattled, former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich over the past few months. And yet in this very blog, it is my pleasure to report some brand new, breaking news you might not have known about Blago: He’s been paying my mortgage since February.
When comedy takes center stage in Chicago from June 17-21 for TBS Presents A “Very Funny” Festival: Just for Laughs Chicago, Jewish Chicago comedian Susan Messing will be at the ready with her unique brand of uncensored improv comedy.
Chicago Jewish filmmaker Harold Ramis’s filmography reads like an encyclopedia of great comic movies of the last 30 years. He is the brains—either writer/director or both—behind some of the most often quoted and referred-to film comedies of recent decades like “Animal House,” “Meatballs,” “Caddyshack,” “Stripes,” “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” “Ghostbusters,” Groundhog Day,” and “Analyze This.” A Chicago native and a Chicago’s “Second City” alum, Ramis returned to the Windy City years ago from Hollywood to live closer to his parents, and now lives in Glencoe.
I stumbled upon Elisa Albert’s The Book of Dahlia at Borders one day, looking for some light reading to bring on a girls’ weekend to Vegas. And while I didn’t get light reading by any stretch of the imagination, I did get hooked–on Albert’s dark, witty prose and the bizarre way she managed to turn life—and death—on its head. The book’s main character, Dahlia, is a brash, uninspired, bitter, underachieving 29-year-old when she finds out she has terminal brain cancer. As I read, following Dahlia as she hurled toward death, I found myself snickering at parts—it seemed at once both the wrong and right thing to do—and crying at others.
Let’s face it—Jewish mothers can sometimes be a royal pain in the ass. But despite their neurotic, overprotective, passive aggressive tendencies, they are also the most loving, supportive and accomplished women around. So, in honor of Mother’s Day, some of us here at Oy! wanted to share our thoughts, experiences and memories about our real life Jewish moms.
Here are some of the photos from the 38th Annual Israel Solidarity Day celebrations which took place at seven locations throughout the city on Sunday, May 3. The events highlighted Chicago’s support for Israel and its citizens and celebrated the nation’s 61st anniversary. Area-wide, some 9,000 people joined the festivities, which included entertainment, food, and Walks suitable for all ages.
As part of our new, “See yourself in Oy!Chicago” campaign, some of the Oy! team spent time goofing off and taking pictures at the Bean last week. Look out for the ad in the coming weeks and watch for a whole new Oy! coming out May 12. But for now, enjoy some outtakes from the photo shoot!
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield are probably best known for creating ice cream flavors with tastes and names like no others—favorites like Phish Food, Chunky Monkey and Cherry Garcia, to name a few. But what you might not know about these two longtime friends and business partners is that since co-founding Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream in 1978, they have created a company with a long history of social activism and a community-oriented approach to business to back up their sweet, rich and tasty ice cream.
As the Consumer Smarts correspondent for NBC’s “Today Show” and former host of the consumer affairs show “Steals and Deals” on CNBC, Janice Lieberman had been living an exciting life with a successful career. Yet, she was missing a loving husband to share it all with, which made the rest of her life seem a little less fabulous. “I was single for way too long and I was going nowhere with my dating life,” she said. “I had the perfect job and the perfect everything, but when you come home to an empty house, the job doesn’t seem so exciting.”
Every day, there is more bad news about the lousy economy—the slump, the downturn, the recession. The steep drop in retail sales reflects our new reality. But, just take a stroll to your neighborhood cosmetics counter and you may be surprised to see things are still buzzing along. This is the “lipstick indicator” in action.
So here’s something they probably don’t teach you in Hebrew school: According to Judaism, sex (of all shapes, sizes and positions) between a husband and wife is not only kosher, it’s a mitzvah!
My day starts at 5:30 a.m., sipping a much-needed cup of coffee while putting on my hand wraps and waiting for my personal trainer to arrive for my daily kickboxing lesson. After an hour workout, I watch the news over a leisurely breakfast, take a hot shower and get ready for work. After a short walk in the blazing sun, I greet the security guard, turn on the computers, and read the paper for an hour before the others arrive. Another perfect morning in Uganda, unlike any back home in Chicago.
Aaron Nunez-Gross is a Jewish Mexican-American man; he’s a city boy, yet was raised in the country too. He’s a about to graduate college, still finding his way in the world, but he’s also a guardian to his 17-year-old younger brother and a role model to other young people. He dances Flamenco and listens to Sephardic music; and he’s passionate about so much—about science, theology, politics, and peace in Israel.
What makes us Jews? Whether it’s blood, belief or cultural bonds, it can be hard to define exactly what makes us “Members of the Tribe.” The identity question is especially challenging to one subset of the American Jewish Tribe: the Russian-speaking Jews. Officially, more than 30,000 Jews from the former Soviet Union have resettled in Chicago in the past 15 years alone. Many more probably immigrated under the radar. In total, almost one million Russian-speaking Jews live throughout North America.
Aaron Freeman recently added another line to his already lengthy resume: Torah maven, the traditional storyteller who translated the Hebrew Torah into local language. The comedian, radio personality and author says his latest professional incarnation is a natural progression of his love for all things Jewish. He wants to tell great stories, and there isn’t a better story than Torah, he says.
Once upon a time in a land called Chicago, a mutual friend fixed Brooke and Sean up on a blind date. While the two did not fall in love, they became dear friends. Years later, Brooke fixed Sean up with a woman named Cynthia. They fell in love and married. Meanwhile, Brooke met another man named Mike. They, too, fell in love and got married this past summer. And, everyone lived happily ever after.
I literally fell off my chair one day while playing duets with my friend and fellow cellist, Elliot Mandel. The floor was slippery; my chair slid back, my bum hit the floor all in a split second. But I saved my cello – held high above my head – my instincts kicked in and I saved my baby. Elliot was very gracious about it, laughing along with me while I giggled hysterically on the floor. But this story isn’t about my life long love affair with my cello (though it kind of is), this is about Elliot, his cello and the Oakley Street Cello Ensemble.
It’s easy to look in the mirror and see your aunt Sophie’s hair or your uncle Archie’s nose. But there are other traits you could have inherited from your family that may not be so obvious — luckily, there’s lots of information available about Jewish genetic disorders and tests to help you figure out what you might be dealing with. Getting tested is an important part of taking care of your health.
Of 761 things to do in Denver last Friday night, Josephine and the Mousepeople’s live show at the Lion’s Lair was the Editor’s Choice on Metromix. But long before this electro-pop duo was creating a buzz on the Denver music scene, they were two kids finding their voices in the Chicago Orthodox community. Back then on Friday nights, Avi Sherbill and Danny Shyman were not performing She Needs Fire – they were chanting the kiddush.
I invited Libby, Stef and the rest of the Oy! team to my band’s CD release show this coming weekend and the next thing I knew they wanted me to write a story about releasing a record. Well, see the thing is…it is not really a CD release, at least not by traditional standards: we haven’t signed a record deal, we’re not on a major — or any — label.
Growing up in a Yiddish-speaking community in Mexico City, Ilan Stavans experienced a variety of linguistic conundrums. As a child, each language was assigned a role – Spanish for public life, Yiddish for private, Hebrew for religious – those distinctions left an indelible mark on the author, linguist and lexicographer Stavans would become.
During the fall of 1999, I made an effort to see every sunset on the beach in Ashkelon until the air and water finally began to make my teeth chatter. Our beach trips were a highlight of my days volunteering in Ashkelon, but they weren't all postcard perfect experiences. Some of my companions got toppled by the large surfable waves or stung by the numerous jellyfish that swarmed the Mediterranean waters.
My friend Naomi is intimidated by chicken soup. Another friend recently tackled a fear of Thanksgiving turkey. For most of my adult life, I have resisted noodle kugel. These dishes have been cooked for countless holidays by our mothers and grandmothers. The familiar aromas wafting through our kitchens inspire feelings of comfort and familiarity, and evoke memories of less complicated times. These dishes hold such esteem in our minds – and our bellies – that we angst over the prospect of cooking them ourselves.
Hamantash fans scoff at the latke: “It’s just potatoes,” they say. And latke aficionados can’t find much to be excited about in the hamantash. The debate about the favorite Jewish holiday food has raged for so long that it spawned an institutional response: the annual Latke-Hamantash Debate at the University of Chicago. The 62-year-old tradition has spread to campuses nationwide for a humorous academic discussion about the relative merits of the two iconic Jewish foods.
For the CheekyChicago.com founders, it was food at first sight. Erica Bethe Levin and Jessica Zweig had become fast friends after bonding over their shared love for food. In March, Zweig had dined at a new Chicago restaurant the night before and was gabbing to her friend and co-worker, Levin, all about it the next day on the job at the gym where they worked.
If you’ve ever seen the movie “Mean Girls” with Lindsay Lohan, you know it’s not easy being a teenage girl these days. On top of the social pressure to look a certain way, there’s the desire to hang out with the right crowd, find the right boyfriend and get good enough grades to get into the right college. And, between ages 9 and 16, girls start to mature both physically and emotionally--much earlier than their male counterparts.
It’s impossible to turn on the TV or open a magazine without hearing about going green, sustainability, hybrid cars and other issues related to the environment. Today, it’s easy to find organic produce and green cleaning products at most grocery stores and there are entire stores that only sell items made from recycled or repurposed materials. With all the hype, it might be tempting to buy new counter cleaner and call it a day.
Whether you’re discussing politics on line at Starbucks or surfing headlines online at your desk, you’re sure to encounter the names Barack Obama, John McCain, Joe Biden, and Sarah Palin hundreds of times between now and next Tuesday. But understanding the presidential election in a Jewish context is harder to come by and not something that you can learn about from the mainstream media.
Yael Naim isn’t upset about being known as, “the chick that sings the song in the Apple commercial.” Instead, the Israeli-raised, Paris-dwelling singer/songwriter is grateful. “You can’t be unhappy if people know only one song, I’m so happy and I’m thankful for every good thing that has happened,” Naim says.
A nice Jewish boy from Philly playing a tough Italian boy from Jersey might not be such a big stretch when you consider that both chose their careers early in life. Sure, Jarrod Spector started out as a toddler with a performance of “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and went on to get professional training while Frankie Valli was inspired by seeing Frank Sinatra perform live—and by his desire not to end up in the trunk of a car or in jail like many of the other kids in his neighborhood.
“That was the summer of 1963 when everybody called me Baby and it didn’t occur to me to mind. That was before President Kennedy was shot, before The Beatles came, when I couldn’t wait to joint the Peace Corps, and I thought I’d never find a guy as great as my dad. That was the summer we went to Kellerman’s.”
These are the opening lines of the film “Dirty Dancing,” in which Frances “Baby” Houseman—a 17-year-old Jewish idealist—vacations with her family at a resort in the Catskill Mountains, where she discovers standing up for what she believes, the healing power of dance, and love.
It took 21 volunteers two full days to “muck out” just one of the 5,000 homes in Cedar Rapids affected by the severe flooding that has decimated parts of Iowa since May 25. The floods forced more than 40,000 Iowans from their homes and 86 counties are still considered disaster areas. When I was asked to participate in this two-day mission to Cedar Rapids, sponsored by JUF’s TOV Volunteer Network in partnership with Nechama - Jewish Response to Disaster, I gladly said yes.
Seven cities. Seven days. Fifty people. In a nutshell, that’s the recent Jewish heritage adventure in which 36 Russian-speaking Jewish young professionals from Chicago, six peers from Kyiv, Ukraine, and eight staff members explored Spain, Gibraltar and Morocco from Aug. 17 to 25. The trip is the brainchild of Nadya Strizhevskaya, U.S. project manager for the Genesis Philanthropy Group, which sponsored the adventure.
It’s a rare thing to be able to use your job skills to help people—especially when you’re a professional drink-slinger. So when I heard about an opportunity to participate in Taste of the Nation, the nation’s premier culinary benefit dedicated to ending childhood hunger in America, I could not resist. I was eager not only to showcase my mixology skills and rub shoulders with some of the top mixologists in the city, but also to be part of a great cause.
We’ve all met Jews with tattoos—people of the Hebrew persuasion who see no conflict between their heritage and their body art. But how about Jews who consider their tattoos to be an expression of their Judaism? Meet Josh Rosenberg, a 28-year-old union pipefitter who wears his heart on his sleeve and his religion just underneath it.
Last year, Ted Perlstein was having drinks with friends, a couple who had recently tied the knot. While sipping beer, the newlyweds griped about the chore of writing their wedding thank-you notes. Hearing his friends’ post-nuptial grievances got Perlstein, a Jewish Chicago-based entrepreneur, thinking about the act of sending greeting cards. “This process should be something that you look forward to,” he thought. “It should be fun.”
For the Cohen family of Buffalo Grove, athletic ability of Olympic proportions runs in the family. Aaron Cohen, first alternate on this year’s Olympic Judo team set to compete in Beijing this month, follows in the footsteps of his father, Irwin Cohen, who competed in Judo in the 1972 Olympics, and his uncle, Steve Cohen who competed in the 1988 Games.
About a month ago, I joined Twitter and became addicted to sending out “tweets” to my friends. I’ve gone beyond using the mainstream social networking sites like Facebook, My Space, and Youtube, and have begun experimenting with Flickr, del.icio.us LinkedIn, Jewcy, Second Life and Tumblr. I know I have a “problem,” but I’m not alone. Social networking sites have been growing at an astounding rate.
As I write this, Leah Jones is in San Francisco—and pictures from the trip are available now on her Flickr page. She’s enjoying herself, but she’s feeling out of sorts because, though she shared a three bedroom in the city’s Mission neighborhood during the summer of 1996, nothing looks familiar. She hasn’t told me any of this personally. In fact the last time (and first time) we talked was the Friday before her trip to California. The truth is, I don’t know Leah.
Hello Oy!sters! It’s your friendly neighborhood Jewish bartender, back again with some exciting things to tell you. To me, Chicago summers mean wonderful weather and sizzling hot spots, overflowing with some of the best cocktails to cool you down or pick you up.
In true Jewish geography fashion, my mom’s best friend Linda introduced me to her other best friend Roberta, who then introduced me to her son, Matt. And though Matt and I never had the chance meet in person, his story—as told through his mother and his own writing—will remain close to my heart forever.
Prayer helped U.S. Army Armor Company Commander Johnie Bath through tough times in the Iraqi war zone. Though limited food options made it hard for him to keep kosher and he wasn’t able to practice the Hebrew that he had been learning back home, he often chanted prayers, particularly the Shema, a Jewish prayer pledging allegiance to God.
Jonny Imerman was your typical college graduate. By day he worked in commercial real estate and at night attended classes for his M.B.A. In his free time, Jonny played basketball, went to the gym and hung out with friends.
And then his life changed. At 26, Jonny was diagnosed with testicular cancer requiring surgery and 5 months of chemotherapy treatments. But, Jonny says, he was lucky, because he had his family and friends to support him through the treatments.
As of last Sunday*, the Chicago Cubs have the best record in baseball. We’ve heard that a lot this week, but somehow it never gets old. Last Friday morning, in the midst of the team’s seven-game stomping of the Colorado Rockies, I arrived at Wrigley Field to talk to Jason Marquis.
The night before, Marquis had pitched. Coincidently, I’d been there with friends sitting behind the much-loathed pole in section 228. The next morning, I had a better view waiting in the dugout for Marquis to arrive.
The majority of Jewish Americans entering their 20s rarely contemplate taking the opportunity to defend their country and serve in the military. Not so for Jewish Israelis, who are required to serve between two and three years in the Israel Defense Forces once they’ve turned 18. For these Chicago Jews, the idea of serving in the IDF was so meaningful that they each found their own unique way of defending the Jewish State.
After the dot-com bubble burst in 2001, it became clear that the companies that survived had something in common: websites that were more interactive, collaborative and dynamic than the ones that had collapsed. This survival of the fittest was dubbed Web 2.0. Meet two local Jews, part of the 2.0 explosion, who are finding better ways to work the web.
Going into business for yourself takes chutzpah. This week, in the first of a two-part series, meet two local Jews—Michael Farah and Jeremy Bloom—who found the inspiration, money and guts to take their big ideas and run with them.
The face of American Jewry is changing, thanks in large part to the efforts of this country’s younger members of the tribe, who are finding new ways of expressing their Judaism that don’t always line up with the traditional values of existing Jewish institutions.
Boy meets girl. Boy asks girl to send in video describing herself. Boy dates girl on YouTube, where he has the viewing public vote to decide whether boy and girl should continue dating.
In Russia, New Year's Eve is as big as Christmas is in the states. Christmas, and God forbid Chanukah, cannot be found on any calendar. Instead, New Year's Eve is lavishly celebrated.
She’s a straight-talking, 4’7’’ superhero. An international treasure with a joie de vivre. A household name whose mention brings a smile to people’s face. She’s the people’s sexpert before the phrase “sexpert” was coined. She put the candid discussion of sex on the map—and we haven’t shut up about it since.
TribeFest is an entertaining, interactive and educational celebration that will draw over 1,500 Jewish young adults (ages 22-45) from across North America. TribeFest will reflect the vibrant setting of its host city, New Orleans, offering meaningful, fun, and top-quality content. Through presentations by dynamic leaders in politics, entertainment, music, art, food, religion and other aspects of Jewish life, TribeFest will offer attendees many ways to connect to their own Judaism and how they see themselves as part of the community.
Learn more about TribeFest and traveling to New Orleans at www.tribefest.org.
"What’s in Your Toolbox?"
Being successful in your job search isn’t luck or magic. Whether you are an administrative assistant or a senior level manager, the skills needed to land a job are the same. In today’s economic climate the competition is fierce, and having the tools necessary for a modern and relevant search takes work and knowledge. Topics range from resume and cover letter writing to finding a career identity.
To register for of Career Moves events and workshops, please visit jvschicago.org/workshops-and-events. For more information call 847-745-5482.