Posts

GTJ Events… A new approach

For months, hundreds (average attendance: 250) of you have enjoyed (or not enjoyed, but you came anyway) the monthly (ish) Gather the Jews Happy Hours.  Perhaps we shouldn’t mess with a working formula, but we… Because we want to keep improving.  So here’s the new deal regarding GTJ events:

Happy Hour Months:

We will now host our GTJ Happy Hours on the second week (Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday) of every other month.  For each of these happy hours we will feature a local DC Jewish organization — doing our best to make you aware of the impressively wide array of Jewish activities that this city offers.  For the August GTJ Happy Hour (Tuesday, Aug. 14), we’ll present Sixth & I Synagogue — the organization that many call “The Heart of Jewish DC.”

Non-Happy Hour Months:

We won’t be hiding during the non-Happy Hour months.  Just mixing it up.  Right now we have two types of events on the docket for these months:

  1. Community service event.  We’ve done our best to listen to what you, the DC Jewish community, want and community service opportunities seem to be very high on the wish list.  Accordingly, starting September, we’ll do our best to provide once-every-two-months a big opportunity to serve the DC community (Jewish some months, gentile others).  We’ll likely partner with another Jewish organization to make this happen.  Suggestions?  Ideas?  Email Jodi (jodi@gatherdc.org) and/or Sara (sara@gatherdc.org)

 

  1. Young Adult Speaker Series.  Also in the works is a Thirst DC-style speaking series that will take place every two or four months.  Here’s the basic idea:  Four speakers from our young adult Jewish community will give 10 minute speeches about topics relating to Judaism that are both educational and fun.  I, for one, will strongly petition the chance to speak on “Harry Potter and Judaism,” and I’m sure I we’ll be able to get Jonathan Horowitz to talk about “Famous Jews in Sports.”  If you have any ideas for how to make this speaking series a success, please let me know (stephen@gatherdc.org).

In the meantime, see you on Tuesday!!!

 

What is “Yalla Yalla”?

At 9:30 pm on Saturday night Expo Bar will be temporarily transformed into a Tel Aviv nighclub for “Yalla, Yalla Part Deux.”  In case missed Part Un and don’t know what to expect, here’s a brief sketch of the night provided by one of the event’s co-hosts Jen N.

SR:  What does “Yalla Yalla” mean?
JN:  Colloquially, it’s used as “Come on, let’s go!”  So, in this case, you should all listen to us and come to the party!

SR:  What’s going down on Saturday night?
JN:  Well, we think that DC is seriously lacking in good Israeli pop music (by seriously lacking, we mean that there is none at all.)  So, we’re having an awesome Tel Avivdance party on U Street, to remind everyone of their fun nights out in Tel Aviv.  Our goal is both to put on an amazing party for everyone who wishes to experience Tel Aviv for a night, and at the same time to contribute the funds we earn to an Israeli organization that does meaningful and effective community service.

SR:  How is this related the previous “Yalla Yalla” party held in dc?
JN:  The first Yalla Yalla party back in November was a huge success, and we’re hoping that this second one will be the start of a continuing tradition. This party should offer the same vibe as the one in November — same location, same DC, same music, but this time we’re donating the proceeds to a different charity (Shalva, see below).  We’re hoping to continue these parties once or twice a year, bringing the Tel Aviv spirit to DC and helping some worthy organizations at the same time.

SR:  Do you feel likeyou’re cheating on Moshe I. by having this party without him?
JN:  Moshe cheated on us first by moving away!!  Just kidding — we have an open relationship with him, it’s cool.  But seriously, Moshe will definitely be there in spirit and hopes everyone has the best night ever.

SR:  What are you doing to add Israeli flavor to the party?
JN:  The music will be Israeli, the DJ is Israeli, we invited some of our Israeli friends, and the proceeds are all going to an Israeli community service organization.  It’s safe to say that everyone at the party has some connection to Israel.

SR:  What gives the three co-hosts Israeli street cred?
JN:  Well, Yoni is actually from the hood (Tel Aviv style), and he eats hummus by the spoonful, literally.  I (Jen) run on Israeli time, and Hillary just looks really Israeli.  But actually, all three of us are very connected to Israel and have spent a significant amount of time living there.

SR:  Will American Top 40 make an appearance? That’s how I get my dance on…
JN:  Of course!  They play American jams in Israel too!  It will be a perfect blend of Israeli and American top hits.

SR:  It says it’s $5 atthe door and all proceeds go to shalva.  That sounds good, but what’s Shalva?
JN:  Shalva is an amazing organization that offers individualized therapy to specials needs children in Israel, at no cost to the families. The therapies are tailored to each specific child, helping each one reach their full potential. To learn more visit Shalva.org.

On this fateful day in history…

The one, the only, the WOLFF… … Photo courtesy of … Aaron Wolff’s camera.

On this fateful day in history…

No.  We’re not talking about Tisha B’Av.

We’re talking about one of DC Jewry’s finest who turned 28 today.

Some of you know him as “the man with the hat.”  Some of you know him as “The WOLFF.”  And some of you know him as the far most handsome of the Gather the Jews cofounders (true).  A quaint few know him as Aaron.

But even if you don’t know him that well, know that Aaron works tirelessly to make the Jewish community of Washington, DC a better place.  Seriously.  Aaron has a very full time job, but in addition to this, he puts in loads of hours into to the GTJ project for zero financial gain.

To thank him for his hundreds of hours of community service, I suggested that we all pitch in and buy him his finest fedora yet.

But he told him he would prefer thanks be given to him through Gather the Jews.  So if you want to show Aaron a little bit of love, either:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AARON!!!!!

 

 

Hire me maybe? — Résumé advice from Dan P.

This column is part of the advice series that GTJ recently launched with the Ask Ashley column.  Ashley, Dan, and others will take turns offering their thoughts on how to navigate different dimensions of Washington, DC life.

……

I just met you. This is crazy.  But here’s my resume. Hire me, maybe? (GTJ Call Me Maybe article)

The resume is your key to unlock future opportunities.  You may be looking for your first job after college or grad school, or you may be looking to leap from one job to another.  The resume won’t guarantee entry into every organization, but it’s a necessary step.

Think of the resume as a “first impression”.  If you have a polished resume that tells a clear story, the employer will want to get to the “second date” (read – “interview”).

Here’s a brief list of the key considerations to write an effective resume:

1. Keep it simple, keep it brief.  You can’t explain everything you did for your last job in a few bullet points.  So don’t try.  Your future employer won’t care about all the nuances.  Choose two to three tasks/accomplishments from each job/position.  Can you include more than three?  Sure… Just make sure that they’re important.  Don’t add fluff just to cover white space.

Also, don’t use words that are too fancy.  The resume must focus on brief descriptions of what you did in a particular role.  This closely ties to #2.

2. WWGS?  What Would Grandma Say?  Or your mom?  They would brag about everything you’ve done.  The resume isn’t the time to be modest.  If you did something cool/important/legend…wait for it…dary, include it!

3. So what?? Use the PAR model as much as possible.

  • Problem (what was the challenge?)
  • Action (what did you do?)
  • Result (what was the result of your efforts?).

The resume isn’t a list of everything you’ve done. You need to describe the impact, and you should quantify it as much as possible.

Examples of your efforts (in a list format):

  • “Organized 15 charity fundraising events”
  • “Led 25 little Napoleans through the 4th grade curriculum”
  • “Managed two teams that effectively led clients through annual strategy revision”

What’s missing?  You organized 15 charity fundraising events to raise $300,000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF).  Or, you led fourth graders through a rigorous curriculum that effectively prepared them for their annual exams with a 100% passing rate.  Or, you managed two teams of six personnel each that facilitated working group sessions with senior leadership from two firms to revise their strategies to meet new customer demands.

Those are hypothetical examples.  But, the point is to stick with PAR.  Sometimes it’s a “silent P”, meaning that the problem is implied.  If you didn’t organize the fundraising events, the LAF would still exist, but clearly your contributions moved them in the right direction.

4. It’s all about the verbs.  Each position will have two or more bullets under it.  Each of those bullets should start with a verb (“Led”, “Organized”, “Maintained”, etc).  You can Google “resume verbs by category” to find a list of suggested verbs for your resume.  Click here for an example.  Note – the verbs are all past tense unless you are currently doing that particular role.

Two hints… First, the past tense of “Lead” is “Led”.  Second, instead of using “led” (or other verbs) multiple times throughout the resume, consider synonyms (“Managed”, “Directed”, etc) or simply focusing on a different action for that description (“Planned”, “Facilitated”, “Implemented”, etc).

5.  Lost in translation.  You know at least two languages – English and some cool jargon you picked up at your current job.  You have acronyms for positions and reports, and wardrobe malfunctions.  Unfortunately, your future employer doesn’t speak that language, and they aren’t going to find an interpreter.  That means you
have to work a little harder.  Make sure that you adapt the translations to the job and role that you’re applying for.

6.  Help me help you.  The resume isn’t simply a way to showcase all that you’ve done.  The company posted that job for a reason – They need help solving a problem.  Study the job description and write your resume to show how you can help (This bullet was almost titled, “If there was a problem, yo I’ll solve it”, but the 10% of the readers who get the current reference may have been lost on that one).

If you’re going to a job fair online or in person, you may not know specific positions available, but you can study the companies that will attend and create resumes that generally match a company’s strategy.

7.  When you’re not at work you… Watch the entire season of Game of Thrones in a weekend?  Please tell me you do more with your free time.  You volunteer with GTJ, or the Federation, etc.  You play kickball (leave out the “NAKID” and “Collegiate-level binge drinking” aspects), or softball. Maybe you play piano, or you hiked Mt. Kilimanjaro.  List a few of these activities in the “Additional Information” section.

Things to leave out:

  • “Proficient with Microsoft Office Suite” (thanks to modern technology every
    human on earth, to include those in the womb, are proficient with this).
  • “Avid reader” unless you’re like John Travolta in Phenomenon (obscure
    reference – “You learned the Portuguese language in 20 minutes?”)
  • “Test the search engine capabilities of JDate.”

Here’s a simple test – Would you talk about these activities at a family dinner?

8.  Contact info.  Of course you’re going to survive the zombie apocalypse, but please keep your personal email professional.  If your email is Zombiekiller@gmail.com, make a new one. Consider firstname.lastname@gmail.com, or something similar.

9. Triple check.  Even then… you’re not done.  You want to ensure that the resume reads correctly.  Check the spelling. Read it out loud.  Ask people outside your family to read it.  You want critical feedback and you should expect some criticism.  Do they understand all of the terms?  Do they think it highlights your greatest skills?

Stay tuned for another post with career advice and a catchy title from a pop song.

Dan Pick is a member of the DC Jewish Communiny.  He was an officer in US Navy after he graduated from Penn State. Now, he’s a consultant saving the world one powerpoint at a time. He’s currently an MBA candidate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and recently created a blog with a veteran classmate to help military veterans transition (Switch). Dan enjoys traveling, running, triathlons, playing guitar, and volunteering in the community. All at the same time.

Survivor Initiative launch raises $14k.

Yael E. is a community member and was a co-host of this event.

Upon learning that nationally, approximately half of all Holocaust survivors are living below the national poverty line—including over 200 in the Washington, DC area—and that many are facing an even more dire situation with funding and assistance shortfalls this year, a small group of Jewish professionals in Washington, DC decided to do something about it. They launched The Survivor Initiative to raise funds and awareness in the community and to help the Jewish Social Service Agency (JSSA) continue its critical 20-year old Holocaust Survivor Program. The Initiative held its inaugural event on July 5th, raising $14,000. The 170 attendees heard a survivor speak of her family’s escape from Germany after the infamous Kristallnacht of 1938 and her journey to a life as a refugee in Kenya. The community was educated about JSSA’s ongoing programs and the different ways to become personally involved beyond financial contributions.

Until now, critical social services for Holocaust survivors in need in the Washington area have been funded by grants from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, matching JSSA funds, and donations.  Recently, a decrease in funding from many of these traditional revenue sources combined with a substantial increase in aging survivors applying for more intensive services has placed JSSA’s Holocaust Survivor Program in jeopardy. Due to unprecedented increases in survivor applications for services as this population nears the last few years of their life, their growing needs for basic safety net services including personal care, homemaker, health, social services, and financial assistance are currently outpacing available funding. Changing demographics, increasing frailty, the downturn in the economy, and changes in eligibility criteria for Claims Conference funding have contributed to this dire situation. This year alone, JSSA is facing a $200,000 shortfall, and this deficit is expected to grow annually for at least another 10 years.

The Survivor Initiative’s inaugural event was one of a number of community outreach efforts  in what will be a continuing campaign to ensure that every Holocaust survivor in need will be afforded the necessary care. While fundraising will remain the Initiative’s top priority, the group also strives to educate and inspire the community to become personally involved through a variety of volunteering opportunities, including:

  • JSSA’s Holocaust Survivor Volunteer Visitor Program: Volunteers bring a warm and engaging presence into the homes of survivors who are unable to leave or travel distances from their residence. Together, survivors and volunteers can discuss photographs, music, art, books, memories from the past, family stories, hobbies, interests – and more. Training will be held on Wednesday, July 25 from 6 – 8 pm at the Embassy Suites in Chevy Chase. Interested participants can contact Marissa Neuman at mneuman@jssa.org or 301-610-8345.
  • Pro Bono Legal Assistance: JSSA currently has generous legal assistance to help local survivors with documents for restitution payments made directly by the German Government.
  • Interpreters: JSSA needs help translating German-language legal documents. JSSA is also looking for Russian speakers to translate for Russian-speaking survivors at JSSA events or during additional activities.
  • Corporate Letter Writing Team: The Survivor Initiative will form a team to seek corporate donations of both money and necessary personal items, such as financial assistance for prescription glasses and dental hygiene needs.
  • Rosh Hashana Fundraising “wish” through causes.com: Through this website, individuals can create a fundraising wish, posted through Facebook, to ask friends and family for donations to help ensure a sweet, dignified new year for survivors in need.

More information about the program and how to donate or volunteer can be found at JSSA’s website, http://www.jssa.org/holocaust-survivor-program.

 The importance of JSSA’s work stretches far beyond any one segment of our community. As voiced by one recent donor: “I am glad to donate to this worthy cause.  I am Armenian, and I know how important it is to help those who survived such horrific experiences. This is in memory of my grandparents who survived the Armenian Genocide. Keep up the good work!”

 

 

 

FIDF packs Public in inaugural event

On Thursday of last week, more than 200 DC Jews packed Public Bar to attend the inaugural event of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) — Young Leadership, Washington DC division.    Lots of people left with FIDF hats and pins, but in case you didn’t leave with all of your questions answered, here’s a brief interview with Andrew Friedson (AF), one of the event’s co-hosts:

SR:  What is FIDF Young Leadership?
AF:  Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) was established in 1981 by a group of Holocaust survivors to support the men and women who serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as well as the families of fallen soldiers.  FIDF is committed to supporting and caring for IDF soldiers as a way to ease the incredible burden they carry on behalf of Israel and the global Jewish community.  The Young Leadership Division (YL) of FIDF engages individuals in their 20s to 40s in the organization’s work while providing social and networking opportunities.  It’s a fun and meaningful way to get involved, support Israel, and look out for IDF soldiers.

A packed Public Bar. My iPhone.

SR:  Why did you just decide to open in DC?
AF:  The DC area has an incredibly active, engaged and diverse Jewish community with so many young professionals who have been to Israel, befriended IDF soldiers and who are passionate about Israel and Jewish causes.  Combined with the fact that Washington, DC plays such a central role in the Israel-US relationship, it was only natural to have a strong presence here in the Nation’s Capital.  We’re fortunate to have the Embassy of Israel here, providing increased opportunities to interact with current and former Israeli soldiers and officials.

SR:  What was your role in Thursday’s event?
AF:  I was one of the hosts for the happy hour.  Along with our committee — Jeremy Alexander, Netaly Masica, Alex Langer, Lee Genish, Karen Reiner, and Eric Langer — we were responsible for planning the event and inviting everyone, with the help of FIDF DC Director, Stephanie Friedman.

SR:  What types of stuff will you be doing in the future?
AF: 
 This was just the first of many more events we will be having in the future.  In fact, we’re having a dinner coming up on August 6, when we’ll be joined by a female lone combat soldier who is visiting from Israel, who will share her experiences at an intimate dinner, followed by a happy hour.  Stay tuned for details of these and other events by liking our FIDF-YL DC Facebook Page and feel free to email DCYL@fidf.org or call 301-960-3531 if you’re interested in joining us on August 6th!

SR:  How on earth did you get over 200 people to RSVP to your event over Facebook? Are we just obsessed with Israeli soldiers?  Or are the co-hosts especially popular?
AF:  We’d love to take credit for just being that cool! In fact, we had more people show up than the 200+ who RSVP’ed on Facebook.  But the huge turnout and success of the event was a testament to the incredible things that FIDF does, the passion in the community to look after those who look after Israel, and the start of a really special organization with a big presence here in DC. FIDF is meant to be in DC, and we are looking forward to building the organization here.

SR:  How did people help the FIDF cause on Thursday night?
AF:  The purpose of the event was to introduce FIDF to young professionals in DC.  It was more like a grand entrance!  The voluntary contributions and the percentage of proceeds from everyone’s “liquid generosity” will go directly towards FIDF’s mission: supporting educational, social, cultural, and recreational programs and facilities.  Beyond that, we received messages from current and former soldiers from around the world who expressed how much it meant to them that young people in the United States recognize their sacrifice.

SR:  Did you have any Israeli soldiers at the event?
AF:  Yes, we sure did!  Capt. Meir Rozalis actually spoke at the event and talked about what FIDF meant to him.  We also had a former IDF soldier, Tomer Chutman, who was very active in the organization in Israel and now lives nearby, along with several other former and active duty soldiers.

SR:  I walked away with a pin and a hat.  What other schwag do you have, and how can we get it?
AF:  There’s more where that came from!  But you’ll have to come to the next event to see for yourself…so hope to see you on August 6th!

 

For more pictures, go to FIDF’s Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How I Won the Pickle Eating Contest — by Max Bluestein

The Champ. Max Bluestein

Tonight is the Fifth Annual Sixth & I Pickle Eating Contest.  Check back next week to see the report.  In the meantime, here’s a description of the event from last year’s winner Max Bluestein.

…………………..

I showed up for trivia at Sixth & I last Thursday and 4 beers and 15 botched history questions later, I found myself in front of 100 people and a 5 pound bowl of dill pickles.

Go!

The dozen competitors across the long table gorged the pickles with me as the crowd roared.  However, what we competitors thought were “oos” and “ahs” were probably more like “eeew”s and “that’s absolutely disgusting”s.

I was determined to win this thing. The pickles, provided by the corned beef purveying food truck Sixth and Rye, were delicious, but unfortunately the 5 minute contest didn’t allow time to appreciate the taste.

I glanced up and down the battlefield at the bowls of my enemies. My left flank was faltering and the right side had completely given in. Cowards. The only competition remaining was the man in the blue shirt next to me. He was technical, dedicated,and intense. I only knew him from the chants emanating from the blood-thirsty crowd… “Alex! Alex! Alex!”

His methods were calculated and deliberate. The systematic delivery method, the corn on the cobb bite-and-turn, the strategic water dunks. By comparison, all I had was the brute force of my lower jaw and the matter obliterating blades twisting in my stomach.

But I am Max Bluestein. The Max Bluestein that can go through an entire herd of cattle in a single sitting at Fogo de Chao. My very name sends chills down the spine of restaurateurs daring enough to offer a buffet in the tri-state area.

The battle raged.

Style vs. stamina, intensity vs. insatiability, technique vs. freakish monster stomach.

Time!

3 pounds of pickles in 5 minutes yielded me free movie tickets, gift cards, tickets to see Bobby Flay, and my name on a plaque (alias included).

Oh, and eternal glory.

Thank you Sixth & I for launching my competitive eating career. You’re next, Kobayashi.

DC Jewish blog round up

Iranian delinquents. Picture from The Jewish Policy Center

In case you weren’t able to read the other local Jewish blogs this week, here’s a few of my favorite articles:

Shalomnova.org:

  • No Plus One on Tu B’Av:  Samantha continues to bemoan her status as a single female Jew in DC, stating that “a person without a plus one feels like it adds up to zero.” (Carrie Bradshaw).  Sorry Samantha!  Hope you find Mr. Jewish Charming soon.  I recommend the Gather the Jews Happy Hour this Thursday – bound to be some single guys there.
  • 50 days until Rosh Hashanah: It’s Shul Shopping Season!:  Jen reminds us that Rosh Hashanah is on the way, and she has some tips on how to select the perfect shul for High Holidays.   50 days away…  Yes, yes, Gather the Jews will soon be putting together a guide to High Holiday options.

The Blog at 16th and Q:

InTheMoment (Moment Magazine):

  • The AJC, the Supreme Court, and Jennifer Rubin:  Theodore Samets assesses whether the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin is right to be mad at the American Jewish Committee’s “refusal to join eleven other Jewish organizations in an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of M.B.Z. v. Clinton.”

M.B.Z. v. Clinton is the case that the Supreme Court will hear this fall brought by Naomi and Ari Zivotofsky, American citizens who wants their young son’s U.S. passport to list his place of birth as ‘Jerusalem, Israel,’ instead of simply ‘Jerusalem.’”

Jewish Policy Center:

  • Iran: Where a Water Fight is Illegal: Samara Greenberg points out the latest bit of evidence that Iran is a freedom-loving country:  In response to a water fight in which Iranian “boys and girls [were] drenched in water and girls with their madatory hijabs coming off … the police arrested ten youths and officials criticized the event as inappropriate.”

 

Want to recommend a DC Jewish blog that we should be reading?  Email Stephen.richer@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

Shakespeare on inter-religious marriages

As I noted two weeks ago, the Washington Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) recently wrapped up its performance of Merchant of Venice – the only Shakespeare play to prominently feature a Jewish character (Shylock).

I’d seen this play twice before, and I’d performed in it once (as Portia), but in none of these performances could my Jewish identification could considered above “moderate.”  Now, as a very proud and active Jew, I wanted to see if I would respond differently.

My experience did change.  I found myself rooting for Shylock more than ever, wincing at the derogatory statements made against Jews, bemoaning Shylock’s portrayal of some not-so-nice Jewish stereotypes, gripping the edge of my chair when Shylock’s kippah is stolen and mockingly thrown, truly feeling pain when Shylock is forced to convert as the last measure of his punishment, and (unfairly?) resenting Shylock for converting to save his life.

But the most interesting dimension that previously escaped my assessment was the commentary on inter-religious marriage.  Shylock’s daughter Jessica runs off with the Christian Lorenzo.  I remembered this, but I had forgotten that Jessica and Lorenzo are already quarreling by the end of the play.  Rabbi Teitelbaum might use this scene to point to one his favorite books – Why Marry Jewish? – and remind us that inter-religious marriages fail at much higher rates.  Did Shakespeare intuit this fact 400 years in advance?

The argument between Jessica and Lorenzo also evinces the collapse of support staffs in an inter-religious relationship.  Lorenzo doesn’t turn to his friends because they wouldn’t understand;  they’re useless in Jessica-related matters.  When Lorenzo does mention Jessica, his friends usually laugh and say something about her being the daughter of a mad, money-loving Jew.  Jessica, meanwhile, is estranged from her father and friends and  has nobody to turn to.  Compare this to the play’s parallel Christian weddings (Bassanio/Portia and Gratiano/Nerissa), all of whom have a ready friend who is experiencing the same challenges.

Finally, the play also points out the sense of abandonment that comes from inter-religious marriage.  The audience should presumably leave the theater happy – Antonio is saved; they’re all rich; and there’s a bunch of marriages.  But in this rendition, the director concludes by showing Jessica sitting alone, then briefly looking back to see – just for a flash – Shylock standing behind her.  The lights are killed, the play ends, and we’re filled with sadness.  Clearly, according to the director, not all is well with Jessica.  She regrets leaving her father behind, and with him, her family’s faith and history.

All told, it’s still an excellent play despite forcing me into deeper thought (something I normally avoid).  I am glad, however, that I took former Jewish Guy of the Week Eric as my date and not one of the two Christian girls that I had first asked.

 

***  The next show at the Shakespeare Theatre Company is Julias Caesar, and it’s FREE!  For all other plays at the STC, you can get young professional tickets the day of the performance for $15.00.

 

 

Q&A on Google + with Jon Halperin

Google + logo from Mashable.com

Q: Is it a good that Google has created a competitor to Facebook (Google +)?
A: It’s great!

Q: Why is Google + exclusive through its invite-only joining mechanism?
A: Well obviously that makes it cooler, so now you really want to join.

Q: Is it difficult to be invited to Google +?
A: The user base has jumped up to over 10 Million users, so it’s pretty easy to get an invite. Anyone with an account can invite you, and people get approximately 500 invites to distribute after they sign up.

Q: Now that I’m on Google +, what the heck do I do with it?
A: That’s the real question…

Think about how everyone communicates on a daily basis.  You don’t announce everything to everyone at once.  Generally you engage in conversations aimed at specific groups of people. There are two main reasons for this: 1) Not everyone cares about the topic at hand, and 2) If it is something of a personal nature, you may not want everyone to know.  As the number of people that we can stay in touch with continues to grow dramatically through social media, it would be crazy to think that we have the same type of relationship with each person.

Facebook fails in this respect – it forces users to share everything or nothing with a person.  But this is where Google + shines.  It allows the use to control how information is shared with specific people.  When you first sign up for Google +, you place your contacts in different circles, such as “friends,” “coworkers,” “journalist/newsmakers,” or even “people who scare me but I feel bad defriending them” (thanks for the guilty conscience mom).    Then you use these circles to have targeted and meaningful conversations with the people in these circles without flooding your other friends.  For example, what if you want to share that you’re going to JewnityDC on July 31st at Public Bar? Most of your non-Jewish friends probably don’t care about the event, so don’t flood them with the information.  Just click on the circle (or circles) of friends you want to include, add any extra users, and click post. If there are additional people that you would like to email who don’t do Google + yet, you can have the post delivered as an email.

Targeting posts to specific users also allows you greater privacy, thereby addressing one of the main complaints about Facebook. No longer does a post about how your boss is being unreasonable have to go out to all your “friends” – which may include some coworkers – and end up getting you in trouble. Just as in real life, you get to choose who finds out about a change in your job or how your date was last night.

Google + may not be for everyone. It’s not for playing games and its not currently meant for businesses (at least not yet). It’s for sharing targeted information among multiple groups. The initial analysis also shows that Google + has a greater respect for user’s privacy through better default settings and by allowing greater customization of who can view your posts. It’s a technically superior product if you are willing to invest the small amount of time it takes to set up your circles.

Q: Final question:  Will people use Google +, or is everyone already content and invested in Facebook?
A: For Google + to be successful it needs to achieve a critical mass of not just users who sign up, but who also post as well.  Considering the advantages it provides, it would be a shame if people don’t join on.

Jon Halperin is the chair of JNetVA and a member of the Jewish Federation’s Young Leadership Board.