Masa Israel Featured Internship: Research Internship and Legal Internship, Kan-Tor & Acco

As the Research Intern you will be responsible for identifying regulations and policies affecting U.S. Immigration Law today using databases and web searches. In addition you will research current laws and regulations on a per client basis. The Legal Writing intern’s responsibilities will include researching and writing articles for publication, and preparing thorough, well-written research reports on a series of issues, including (but not limited to): relocation matters, international regulations, etc.

Kan-Tor & Acco is a global relocation law firm comprised of three inter-related practice areas: Israel-bound relocation, U.S.-bound relocation & global relocation. The firm strives to contribute added value to the practice of immigration law through publications on a wide variety of international regulations and relocation matters. The attorneys have authored books on relocation-related issues, published in English, German and Hebrew, as well as a series of Client Guides on specific visa types. http://www.interninisrael.org/kan-tor-acco/

Thanksgivukkah Hybrid Foods to Consider

b-thanksgivukkah-102313With Thanksgiving and Chanukkah combining forces for the first time ever this November, many American Jews are considering modifications to their traditional thanksgiving dinners.

So here are a few ideas for combining almost 400 years of Thanksgiving deliciousness with 5,000 years of Jewish culinary tradition:

APPETIZERS
Sweet potato ball soup
Parsley and Horseradish salad

MAIN COURSE
Beef brisket-stuffed Turkey
Venison Bagels with Cottage Cheese

SIDES
Brussels Sprouts-wrapped Hamentaschen
Gefiltefish Stuffing

DESSERT
Pumpkin Knishes
Potato Latke-Crusted Apple Pie
Pecan-Kugel Pie

DRINKS
Manischevitz cranberry wine
Lox Cider

Remember to save some room for wontons and egg rolls on December 25.  And don’t forget to celebrate Thanksgivukkah early with the GTJ November Happy Hour! (RSVP on Facebook to be entered into a raffle for two Matisyahu concert tickets!)

Brian Fishbach is a writer and comedian.  You can read Brian’s weekly satire news articles at http://www.TheComedyNews.com, and enjoy his late-night jokes at http://www.BrianFishbach.com. Join The Comedy News’ Facebook page for updates.

Jewish Girl of the Week – Allison

164020_996793835102_1159402_nWant to recommend an outstanding leader to be featured on GTJ? Nominate him/her at info@gatherdc.org.

Rachel: What brought you to DC?
Allison: Growing up a political junkie, I always knew I wanted to live in DC at some point.  After graduating from the University of Arizona, I spent a year not doing much of anything.  I want to go to grad school and had to decide between DC and New York.  I ended up choosing GW and fell in love with the city and the people here.  I think I might be a lifer.

Rachel: You work at The Israel Project.  What kinds of things does The Israel Project do?
Allison: The Israel Project’s tag line is “facts for a better future”.  We make sure the media, policy makers, and the public know what is going on in Israel and the Middle East, so that Israel has a future.  Shameless plug, check out TheTower.org to see the great work TIP is doing.  I work in the fundraising department which isn’t super glamourous, but I love it.

680569_10101491903580162_378792321_oRachel: What’s your favorite way to spend Shabbat?
Allison: Now, I am usually exhausted from the work week, but spending time with friends is a typical shabbat for me.  Growing up, I, like most Jewish kids I know, went to summer camp (Woo! Camp Barney Medintz).  Shabbat there was the best.  It was a day of relaxing and doing what you loved to do.  If you wanted to go swimming, that’s what you did.  I kind of take that mentality into my shabbats now.  Just try to spend it doing what I love to do with the people I love.

Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish holiday?
Allison: I love Sukkot.  Growing up we (my parents) would build a sukkah and my sister and I would decorate it.  I just remember eating outside with friends and family.  Now that I live in the city it’s a little harder to celebrate, but I still love eating outside.

Rachel: Who is the coolest Jew?
Allison: Well I can’t narrow it down to one so here is a short list:  Jon Stewart, Michael Oren, Joshua Malina and my grandparents.

Rachel: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…
Allison: There better be enough food… or else!

The Art of Setting Yourself Apart – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 77)

jdateLet’s say we’re in a room full of 100 people.  Say, a GTJ happy hour… except that’s more like 300 people!  We look around, and everyone seems fairly different, right?  But before knowing a thing about anyone else, we are all basically the same… just people in a room together.  Now, what if we try to segment the 100 people into categories?  For example, we might ask the question, “Who likes to cook?”  Let’s say that 25 people raise their hands.  Now these 25 people are different from the other 75 who would rather be jumping into a pool of crocodiles than trying to decipher a recipe in “How to Cook Everything.”  Those 25 people, though, are now all the same – they like to cook.  So let’s delve a bit further by asking around to see what specific dishes these people like to cook:

Erika – “I love making my grandma’s kugel recipe with apricots and raisins.”
Betsy – “I make a flourless chocolate cake for Passover that people really like.”
Jonah – “I make one thing and one thing only – eggplant parm.”
Conner – “All I know how to make is a tuna melt.  But it’s a good tuna melt, if I do say so myself!”
Maxine – “I’m no gourmet chef or anything, but I love making summer salads with chick peas and beans.  I also make my own salad dressing.”

The five of us have now differentiated ourselves, first from the larger group because we each like to cook, and now from the 25-person subset because we have shared specifically what we enjoy cooking.  Who would you rather go on a date with: Someone who says he likes to cook, or someone who says he makes the best apple pie on this side of the Mississippi?  I’d venture to say the latter.

In your online dating profile, it’s very important to differentiate yourself to the point where people can see you for you and not assume you’re just like everyone else.  Let’s look at these two profile excerpts:

I love to laugh and have fun.  My family and friends are so important to me, and I always try to be there for them when I can.  I love to cook, run, and play with my dog.  

When I’m not chasing my dog all the way to the dog park every morning (trust me – he’s fast!), I love hosting family and friends for dinner.  It gives me great pride to make my late grandma’s kugel recipe for every Jewish holiday.  The best advice she ever gave to me was to use a whole stick of butter every time.  Maybe it’s a good thing I get my exercise by running every morning… even if I can never catch Scruffy!

The first profile doesn’t tell us much.  It lists a few hobbies, but on the whole, it’s pretty nondescript.  The second profile, however, really gives us a sense of who this person is – someone silly and family-loving who loves to cook and who has an abnormally fast dog.  That’s someone people want to meet!

So look around the room, and if you think you might be writing the same profile as the person next to you, it’s time to get more specific.  There’s an art to setting yourself apart, and now you’re well-equipped with the skills to do it.

erika ettin-49334smallErika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people stand out from the online dating crowd and have a rewarding experience. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.

This article also appeared on JDate.

 

 

Jewish Girl of the Week – Jennifer

431899_10152856624900623_659240889_nWant to recommend an outstanding leader to be featured on GTJ? Nominate him/her at info@gatherdc.org.

Rachel: What brought you to DC?
Jennifer: I originally moved to DC for graduate school in the fall of 2007 and completed a degree in International Relations at American University.  Ever since I moved here, I fell in love with the city.

Rachel: You recently began blogging for Jewelry Judaica. Could you tell us more about that?
JenniferJewelry Judaica allows me to merge two big passions of mine – my love for writing and Jewish-themed jewelry.  When I was living in Los Angeles after finishing my undergraduate degree at UCLA, I worked for the directors of Jewelry Judaica as an administrative assistant and simply loved the warm working environment.  The business is family-owned, and over the years they have become like second family to me.  I was impressed by their high quality Jewelry, their commitment and loyalty to customers, and the enthusiasm and kindness always exhibited towards me.  They played a major role in motivating me in my personal endeavors as well, including pursuing my career dreams in DC.  And of course, I love the jewelry!  All of the jewelry is either made in Israel or Los Angeles.  Now I am enjoying partnering with Jewelry Judaica again by writing on topics including Jewish symbols and holidays. The DC Jewish community can receive 25% off of all orders placed by 12/31/13 with the coupon code GTJ25.

Rachel: What’s your favorite way to spend Shabbat?
Jennifer: I enjoy attending many of the wonderful community Shabbat dinners offered to Young Professionals in DC – including Mesorah DC and Chabad Shabbats.  But my favorite way to spend Shabbat is typically to be with friends, and meet new ones. It’s always fulfilling to share the spirit and holiness of the day with those I am close to, and with new faces as well.

K-630 a-1Rachel: What is your favorite Jewish holiday?
Jennifer: This is a tough question, but if I had to pick one, it would be Sukkot.  The theme of Sukkot is happiness; on Sukkot it is a mitzvah to increase our joy before G-D.  We remember G-D’s kindness and reaffirm our faith in him, as symbolized by living in the sukkah.  G-D wants us to be happy by drawing close to him and trusting in him.  And, if you haven’t done it before, I recommend helping to either build or decorate a sukkah next year; it happens to be a lot of fun!

Rachel: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…
Jennifer: …the world is the limit.  When Jews come together, we can accomplish anything we put our minds to, and everything is possible, as long as we are united.  What I hope and pray for is that we can all focus on “Ahavat Yisrael” (love for one’s fellow Jew).  We are all one, one single soul connected to G-D, regardless of race, gender, Jewish affiliation, practice, and any other difference that may exist between each of us.  While each of us plays a unique role in this world, I believe we should strive to also recognize our commonalities, give to one another, and literally view each other family.

Activities Instructor, Etgarim

As an Activities Instructor, you will be responsible for teaching classes, running rehabilitation programs, encouraging activities with families, and providing an environment in which students can achieve and strengthen their abilities while providing them with skills to help with their integration into the community and society. Opportunities may also be available in fundraising and public relations.

Etgarim was founded in 1995 with the purpose of bringing outdoor athletic activities to people with special needs. Their goal is to promote outdoor activities and educational programs with special emphasis on socializing and communication. http://www.interninisrael.org/activities-instructor-etgarim/

Statue of Liberty Celebrates 114th Anniversary of her Bat Mitzvah

stateNEW YORK HARBOR – (@The Comedy News) – Today, the Statue of Liberty will celebrate the 114th anniversary of her Bat Mitzvah.

On Saturday, October 28, 1899, the Statue of Liberty turned 13 years old.  On that day, she read from the Torah as a Jewish rite of passage in front of her family and close friends.

In attendance at Lady Liberty’s Bat Mitzvah was The Great Sphinx traveling from Egypt, Christ the Redeemer from Brazil, Moai from Easter Island, and the entire population of New York City, which around 1900 was 3,437,202 people.    Her first dance at her party after the ceremony was with Michelangelo’s David, who dressed in only a kippah.

Brian Fishbach is a writer and comedian.  You can read Brian’s weekly satire news articles at http://www.TheComedyNews.com, and enjoy his late-night jokes at http://www.BrianFishbach.com. Join The Comedy News’ Facebook page for updates.

Getting Productive…Some of our Favorite Tools

ringFeeling overwhelmed???  Who isn’t—especially this time of year.  As we head into November, our “to do” lists are suddenly packed with holiday planning and end-of-year work projects.  At Ringya, we are all about productivity and collaboration. So we thought we’d share some of the tools we use to stay organized, manage our lives, and stay all around sane.  We’ve also included a couple of new ones that we haven’t test driven yet but sounded cool.

Ringya – Ringya is the first communication solution especially created for groups like work teams, class lists, sports clubs and community organizations.  Ringya lets users easily create mobile groups (or “Rings”) and conveniently communicate with group members via text messaging, group chat, message boards, calls or email

Pocket – How many times have you come across an interesting article but didn’t have time to read it just then? With a click of a button, Pocket saves articles for you so you can read them later…on any device where you load a Pocket account.  Ringya staffers use Pocket to read on their smartphones, tablets, and eBook readers.

Remember the Milk – At Ringya, we believe in putting an end to paper lists.  With Ringya, we helped get your contact lists onto your phone so we were excited to hear about a digital task list that lets you scrap your paper to do and grocery lists. This cross platform app lets you access your to do list on your phone or desk top, sync it with your Google calendar and much more!

Of course, we couldn’t possibly neglect to mention Evernote! We LOVE it! All your notes – work, personal – saved digitally and totally searchable.

Asana – Collaborating on projects can lead to confusion. Time to get coordinated! Asana helps you work together allowing everyone on the team to connect, share priorities, and see who owns what. (We admit, it’s a bit confusing at the outset…but many on the Ringya team swear by it!)

Circa – Now that the daily paper is becoming a thing of the past, it’s hard to determine whether you’re catching the most important headlines. Recently launched by a group of editors, Circa provides headlines and stories chosen for relevance and importance.

TripIt – Going on a business trip? Planning a reunion or holiday vacation? We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the AWESOME TripIt. A great collaborative travel organizational tool. By the way, if you follow @tripit on Twitter, you’ll find some great travel tips. So start packing!

Hipmunk – Let’s you search and book plane tickets, hotels and restaurants. Find flights according to different parameters; see where hotels are located relative to landmarks and tourist attractions; find out what restaurants are nearby.

Lifting Sanctions on Iran Would Threaten Our Security

iran_sm_2013The following is an opinion piece, and it should not be construed to reflect the ideas or position of GTJ as an organization.

The Obama Administration’s ill-advised rush to soften the U.S. stance towards Iran threatens our security along with the very existence of Israel, one of our closest allies. Talks regarding Iran’s nuclear weapons development program are underway between Iran, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, and Germany. And the administration indicated this week its openness to “quickly” lift these sanctions depending “on what they put on the table.” In fact, according to The Hill, an administration official is “open to Iran’s ideas about how to proceed forward.”

Many within the general public and within the Obama administration appear to be have been lulled to a false sense of ease with the newly elected Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani. Although presented as a “moderate” by the general media, his record is that of a dangerous radical. True, Rouhani’s pleasant Rosh Hashanah greeting via Twitter pleased the ears. But the world should recall that he played a leading role in a 1994 attack on the bombing of an Argentine Jewish community center. The blood of the 85 people murdered remains on his hands.

Rouhani is far better skilled at improving public opinion through pleasantries than his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. However, this likely serves only as a means of securing the regime’s goal of regional domination and nuclear weapons development. And make no mistake; Rouhani has faithfully served the brutal Iranian regime for decades, and was rewarded with the post of “representative of His Highness” to the Supreme National Security Council beginning in 1989.

Sadly, President Obama has shown a tendency to fail to communicate the threat extremist jihadist ideology poses peaceful co-existence. This administration chose to label the Fort Hood massacre as “workplace violence” rather than an act of Islamist extremism and initiallyrefused to admit that jihadists orchestrated the attack on our nation’s representatives in Bengazi. And in the wake of the Arab Spring, the Obama administration funneled billions of dollars of aid to the Muslim Brotherhood — an organization known for its past nurturing of terrorist leaders and engaging in terrorist activity.

The most recent blow to the Obama administration’s foreign policy credibility occurred this past summer when chemical weapons were used in the Syrian civil war. In August, 2012, the president declared that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would be “a red line for us.” After chemical weapons were used, the president scrambled to enlist global and domestic support for a military response to these attacks. He failed on both fronts. Obama’s “red line” was breached, but in the end the administration chose to back down.

Regardless of whether or not U.S. military intervention would have been prudent, the stark contrast between the president’s warning to Syria in 2012 and the inaction following the use of chemical weapons this summer stokes doubt over this administration’s commitment to halting Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Of course, this concern over the president’s approach to Iran existed even prior to this summer’s foreign policy debacles. In a rare, unanimous bipartisan vote, the Senate approved new sanctions against Iran in November 2012. The administration opposed these sanctions. Yes, Obama opposed every Democratic senator in his party on sanctions designed to inhibit Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons capabilities.

Now, once again, both Democrats and Republicans in Congress who understand the Iranian threat are attempting to counter the administration’s seeming desire to lift sanctions without fully accomplishing the task at hand. And Israeli leadership is warning the administration that the talks in Geneva could result in another Munich 1938. After the “peace” achieved in Munich, Hitler proceeded to extinguish the lives of millions and embroil the world in war.

Sanctions on Iran must only be lifted if Iran completely complies with demands to abandon its quest for nuclear weapons capability. Nuclear weapons in the hands of the Iranian regime threaten our own security, threaten Israel’s very existence, and threaten to condemn millions of innocent Iranian citizens to further subjugation. Now is the time for the United States to oppose today’s evil with resolve.

 

 

The Future of American Jewry

pewJudaism has thrived in the United States for centuries, which makes A Portrait of Jewish Americans, the newly published Pew Research study on American Jewry, unexpectedly grim.  Ten years of data tells us that the future for American Judaism is more unstable than we thought.  Today’s Jewish institutions will shape the Jewish future, and if the Pew study says nothing else, it is time for a new set of tactics.

The Pew study concludes that one of every five Jews today identifies as having “no religion.”  When we look more closely at Jewish millennials, this number shoots up to one in three.  Congregations of all stripes have responded by offering some version of “Judaism lite.”  As a millennial and a rabbi, I think this mostly makes things worse.  Young Jewish adults are exploring their Jewish identities every bit as seriously as their parents’ and grandparents’ generations, and when Jewish programming stops at happy hours and kickball teams, it is no surprise that 20s and 30s might walk away saying, “This Judaism does not speak to me.”  Jewish experiences for any age can and should be content-rich.  They should challenge and inspire.  They should breathe life into the Jewish soul, and if they don’t, then they have fallen short.

To stem the tide of Jewish dissolution, every stream of Judaism now plays a pivotal role.  Orthodox Judaism, with its cutting-edge millennial outreach initiatives, will always be an answer for some.  For most Jews who are drifting from Judaism, however, Orthodoxy is not a realistic or accessible option.  This means that Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Renewal, and thoughtful non-mainstream institutions have a greater role to play than they ever did before.  Ninety percent of the American Jewish community is at stake.

To strengthen the 90 percent, Jewish communities need to serve and energize the Jews in the pews while reaching out to those who are not.  Gone are the days when Jews joined a congregation simply because it was there.  As bonds to organizational Judaism continue to fray, congregations will need to spark Jewish interest before ever suggesting membership.  We have to reach people where they are, and increasingly, this is behind a computer screen.  Jewish institutions typically do an amateur job marketing themselves and the Judaism they espouse, and until we do, we can no longer expect people to walk through our doors.

For some Jews, especially the intermarried, our synagogue doors seem forever closed.  Encouraging Jews to date and marry Jews is and will always be an indispensable part of Jewish continuity, but according to the Pew study, 58 percent of Jews (71 percent of non-Orthodox Jews) now intermarry.  Intermarriage is an American reality, and the future of American Jewry depends on how well we address it.  The numbers are telling us a truth we need to hear.  If we are concerned for the Jewish future, it is time for rabbis and congregations to value and honor our core members while embracing intermarried couples and inspiring them to raise Jewish children.  If we don’t provide interfaith families with the warm community, the rabbinic embrace, and the Jewish passion they deserve, Jews will leave us for their loved ones and intermarriage will continue to unravel the Jewish community.  We have not yet wrapped our heads around a Jewish future where interfaith marriage is normal, and in turning away those who love non-Jews, today’s standard-bearers are a part of the problem.  It cannot be this way.

I am a rabbi, a millennial, and an optimist at heart, and I don’t think this means some inevitable end of American Judaism.  Two statistics tell me that, if we’re smart, we’re going to be just fine.  Seventy-five percent of Jews in America report “a strong sense of belonging to the Jewish people,” and more significantly, nearly 100 percent are proud to be Jewish.  That is the most important number of them all.  Some Jews might not know how to express these overwhelmingly positive Jewish sentiments.  Many lack both the vocabulary to give their Judaism a voice and the rabbis, congregations, and, communities to animate their Jewish souls.  This can change, and when it does, I believe that American Judaism will change along with it.

There are two futures facing America’s Jewry.  If all remains the same, America’s Jewry will be anemic, stale and dwindling to an ever-shrinking core.  But nothing in Judaism has ever remained the same, and the Pew study tells us loud and clear that staying the same is not an option.  The other future for American Judaism is one that is vibrant, alive, and expanding in ways that have only recently seemed possible.  The end is not near.  Not even close.  We are a generation of Jews who, like every generation before us, has paved the road for the next.  If the generation ahead of us does its job, and if we do ours, ani m’amin b’emmuna sh’leima, I believe in perfect faith, that the next generation will do the same.

This article was originally featured in the Washington Jewish Week.

Rabbi Aaron Miller is assistant rabbi at Washington Hebrew Congregation.