LinkedIn or Out? 5 Helpful Hints to Optimize Your LinkedIn Presence

linkFacebook. Twitter.  LinkedIn.  Instagram.  Whether it’s trying to get your (photo) tags up at GTJ’s upcoming happy hour in October, or ‘gramming your favorite food dishes with the #instafood hashtag,  we are all opting in and tuning into social media channels these days.  Out of all these social media channels, which one do you think is the oldest?

Most people would intuitively think Facebook is the oldest because of its social dominance.  However, “most people” would be wrong.

In fact, LinkedIn precedes them all with its conception in December 2002, while Facebook was launched by Zuckerberg in February 2004.  That’s right; LinkedIn is the oldest of all the social media siblings (Facebook is now the legal guardian of Instagram after its acquisition in April 2012 for about $1 billion; Twitter has beef with Instagram after Facebook adopted it; and well, LinkedIn is that one sibling that keeps away from the family – you know the one who moved to NYC and has a hot-shot job).  Anyways, here are 5 helpful hints on the optimizing your presence on LinkedIn:

1. Connect with your contacts: Sounds easy enough, right?  Well, I always find it hard to remember to connect my real life to my digital one.  Rather than opting into your Gmail account from LinkedIn and inviting all of your contacts, especially those who you do not want to add, first add your mentors from school and past job/internships.  Yes, now that you are a washed-up graduate, it’s time to think back to your favorite professors in college and connect with them on LinkedIn if they have them.  After all, they can be a great resource.

2) Upload a headshot: LinkedIn users are 7 times more likely to be viewed by others when they added a profile picture.  So whether you have a iPhone or you are borrowing your friend’s SLR camera, get a headshot of yourself wearing a nice shirt…you don’t even have to be wearing pants.

3) Add a project/publication: This is my favorite feature of LinkedIn thus far.  There’s a lot of talk about creating a digital resume/infographics to stand out from other applicants, but who needs that when you can showcase your hard work in front of all your peers?  LinkedIn allows its users to insert a “Project URL” that links your work from previous experiences.  Don’t have it online?  Upload it to a public Google doc and insert that URL so all your contacts (and HR reps) can see.

4) Join groups in your industry: Similar to connecting with your contacts, pretty self-explanatory.  Do a simple search for groups in your specialize industry.  Make sure to find active ones that host happy hours and other networking events.

5) Endorse/Recommend your connections: Leaving a job on good terms?  Similar to the “Like” button on Facebook, you can publicly endorse your managers and colleagues with skills they have.  Don’t be creepy and endorse the VP’s skills unless you have experienced his or her skills first hand.  Also, instead of asking a letter recommendation at the end of a job or internship, ask them to write one for you on LinkedIn.  That way you don’t have to go through the trouble of finding it the next time you land an interview.

Zach Schoengold is a public relations consultant in DC, specializing in the evolving field of digital communications. A recent graduate of Univ. of Maryland, outside of work he enjoys writing, golfing and hanging out with friends. Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.


Bring Smiles and Supplies to the Homeless with Midnight Mitzvahs

Midnight MitzvahsHave you ever walked past a homeless person and thought, “I’m too busy right now” or “I wish I knew how to help.”  Well look no further!  Join Gather the Jews to kick off Midnight Mitzvahs on October 1st and we hit the streets to give out smiles and supplies to some of the 6,500 homeless people of DC.  We will start with a brief training and sandwich making session at GWU Hillel at 7:30 and will hit the streets by 8:15. Register here!

There is a $5 cost to participate. Your $5 will go towards purchasing the supplies we will hand out during the night.

Things we will be handing out (feel free to bring some to donate):

  • Cold Water
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Sunscreen
  • Socks (in the winter)
  • Feminine Hygiene Products
  • Homeless Resource Cards

Register Here!


ACCESS DC To Highlight Migration at 13th Annual Young Diplomats Reception

logo_ajcIlana Ron Levey is a Co-Chair of ACCESS DC, the young professionals initiative of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in the Washington D.C. area, and a member of the Global ACCESS Steering Committee (GASC).  

For over 100 years, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) has considered issues of immigration- particularly to the United States and to Israel- as part of its core mission. Virtually all American Jews today are intimately familiar with the immigration experience, and its positive prospects for new beginnings and social mobility and its negative challenges of dislocation. Today, the AJC is a leader amongst American Jewish organizations in advocating for a comprehensive immigration reform vision that supports American growth by welcoming skilled and talented foreigners to our shore, and protects the rights of individuals fleeing persecution and oppression.

Likewise, through the AJC and our young-generation program, ACCESS, we are deeply committed to engaging with diplomats across the world and to building enduring relationships borne out of mutual respect, common interest, and shared responsibility. Our annual ACCESS DC Young Diplomats event honors this commitment by bringing young diplomats from over 60 countries together with talented young Jewish leaders to connect over a topic of mutual interest and importance.

On October 10th, we will come together at our annual Young Diplomats Event to speak about the challenges and opportunities of international migration. While the United States remains the most popular destination for migrants worldwide, with more than 45 million of the 232 million people defined by the United Nations as living abroad, diverse countries such as Germany, France, England, China, and South Africa are also experiencing major waves of migration. The topic of international immigration also includes the challenges posed by forced migration of millions from war torn areas, including the more than two million recently forced out of Syria- more than 10 percent of the population.

We should ask ourselves important questions about migration and its impact. What attracts or repels people from one country or another? What are the challenges and opportunities afforded by immigrant populations? Do democratic nations have the moral obligation to take in refugees in times of crisis? What do global populations look like in the 21st century?

There is no doubt that long term migration can change societies and how countries interact with one another. For example, the largest source of foreign income for countries like Russia or Mexico today is from migrant remittances. Today, there are 37 million Americans of Irish descent- and just under four million Irishmen in Ireland. These migrants changed the face of our country in the past, just as the faces of other countries around the world are changing today.

Please join us on October 10th  at 1777 F Street to discuss this complex, timely, and important topic, together with young diplomats from around the world. We are honored to host three expert and diverse speakers, who approach this issue from the perspectives of American foreign policy, international advocacy, and trans-national policy. The panel will feature Manuel Orozco, Senior Associate at Inter-American Dialogue, Anne C. Richard, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration at U.S. Department of State and Michael Werz, Senior Fellow at Center for American Progress.

For more information and to purchase a ticket, please visit


Who Will Be Waiting In Line to Get the New iPhone on Release Day?

iphomOn Friday, September 20, Apple will be releasing an unprecedented two new iPhones— the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5C.   With pre-orders limited to only the 5C, experts predict massive lines outside Apple retail stores—with some lunatic Apple fans who have already been in line for weeks.

And due to massive supply shortages, many more would-be iPhone buyers will be getting in line in the wee hours of Thursday night and Friday morning to ensure they will have the device by the weekend.

At the same time, many Apple stalwarts will be refraining from waiting in line for the smartphone. We surveyed 1,000 people as to weather they will be waiting in line on the new iPhone release day, and here is what some had to say:

“I WILL wait on line for the new iPhone on release day because…”

  • …it will be a fun reunion for all the friends I made at the iPhone 5 release last year.”
  • “…I’ve been dying to take a fake-sick day.”
  • “…it will be the closest I will ever get to taking a camping trip.”
  • “…a gold iPhone will be the missing piece to the puzzle of losing my virginity by Friday.”
  • “…I have nothing better to do thanks to government furloughs.”
  • “…I have yet to reach my annual Apple spending quota of $1500 per year.”
  • “…sitting outside in the dark of night while playing with my electronics, what can possibly go wrong?”
  • “…I thoroughly enjoy complaining about how tired I am.”
  • “…with a fingerprint-scanner to unlock the thing, I no longer will have to worry about the cops snooping my text messages with my drug dealer.”

“I will NOT wait on line for the new iPhone on release day because…”

  • “…I will be spending my hard-earned $400 at the strip club, thank you very much.”
  • “…my carphone is still alive and kicking it.”
  • “…there’s a new iPhone coming out?  I bought an iPhone 5 yesterday.  Goddammit.”
  • “…I’m still a bit busy occupying Wall Street.”
  • “…I know I will just leave it in a cab like I did with the last one.”
  • “…I have a job, a life, and self-respect.”
  • “…I will probably lose my place in line when I make a dash to the nearest Starbucks bathroom at sunrise.”
  • “…hold on, I’m texting. Will tell you in uno…………..momento. So… What was the question?”

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


Masa Featured Internship: Organizational Development Associate, Beit Dror Temporary Home for GLBT Youth

As an Organizational Development Associate, you will work alongside the Beit Dror staff to ensure smooth daily functioning of the shelter. You will also help with fundraising and public relations in order to help build partnerships with organizations outside of Israel.

Beit Dror is the first therapeutic emergency center for GLBT youth in Israel“Dror” is a temporary shelter for adolescents, both male and female. Besides offering a safe home, a warm bed and meals, it also provides psychological and moral/social support, direction in finding long-term solutions, as well as enrichment and educational activities.


A Break with Tradition: Over 1,200 High Holiday Visitors Flood the Outdoor, Musical Worship Experience at Adas Israel

Kol Nidre at Adas IsraelOver 1,200 eager Jewish High Holiday visitors descended on the outdoor plaza at Adas Israel Congregation, the oldest and largest conservative synagogue in Washington, DC,  to experience an innovative and free Kol Nidre (Yom Kippur evening) service this past Friday. It was led entirely by Adas clergy-member Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt – an increasingly popular and dynamic young woman Rabbi. Accompanied by a professional live band, this unique High Holiday service boasted reflective eastern music, a pattern of dancing lights in the plaza trees, a fully-lit moon, and over a thousand voices singing and chanting reflectively in unison. This alternative Yom Kippur service drew both synagogue members and non-members alike, and was particularly well attended by DC area Young Professionals, as well as unaffiliated Jews seeking a “less conventional” worship experience for the Jewish High Holidays.

The service reflected a major break with the more traditional High Holiday services most have come to expect from the Conservative Jewish movement – which traditionally charges a great deal of money for High Holiday tickets and wouldn’t permit musical instruments to play on Sabbaths and Holidays. The many guest and visitors (which included Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, among others), as well as synagogue members described it as one of the most unique and powerful evenings in the life of the 144 year old synagogue.

Adas Israel Congregation, a historically traditional American synagogue, has just completed a major synagogue renovation and rejuvenation project known as the Vision of Renewal. This Renewal Initiative included the fifteen million dollar renovation of the synagogue’s building and facilities – the major premise of which was to change the “feeling” in the building by creating warm, welcoming, natural worship and gathering spaces flooded by natural light. The initiative also includes the creation of new and innovative programs and learning opportunities designed to meet the needs of an ever-evolving 21st century religious landscape.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASenior Rabbi Gil Steinlauf says “innovative new programs and worship experiences like this exciting new Kol Nidre service are exactly the tools we need to change the way we experience ‘synagogue.’ By meeting people right where they’re at spiritually, as well as creating an open-minded, non-judgmental atmosphere that is open to everyone, regardless of their relationship to God, we are confidently meeting an ongoing “Customer Service Problem” many American churches, synagogues and other religious institutions are facing today.”

Adas Israel billed this enormous outdoor worship gathering as “Return Again to Kol Nidre, and it was co-sponsored by the Jewish Mindfulness Center of Washington at Adas Israel, which offers programs and workshops designed to help deepen the Jewish experience of the “spiritual” through Jewish meditation, yoga, chanting, mindful learning, and spirited Shabbat & Holiday programs, all within a uniquely Jewish context. The synagogue also offered a more “traditional” Yom Kippur service inside its new newly renovated Charles E. Smith Sanctuary, which also drew close to 1500 members and families.

Shortly before the service began, Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt announced to the growing crowd as they eagerly anticipated the start of the music and chanting, “Let this be a sacred space, a safe space, a space of dynamism and welcome. Let this be a space where we can all raise our voices in prayer and song before the sky, before the earth, before God, and before each other.”

Despite uneasiness from the more traditional sects of Conservative Judaism, the clergy and leadership at Adas Israel are confident that these new approaches to Jewish life and ritual are exactly the ingredients needed to revitalize the increasingly dwindling movement. Through these renewal initiatives, Adas is betting future generations of Jews  – who aren’t Orthodox, and therefore not bound to show up at a synagogue  –  but are genuinely interested in embracing modern Judaism, are free to meet and explore their innermost beliefs and ideas.

Rabbi Steinlauf says, “Today’s Jews are looking to meet other like-minded people and find an authentic Jewish identity. They are open to sharing new ideas, and they want ‘the real thing.’”

This wildly successful, alternative High Holiday experience represents the next step in the ongoing evolution of this traditional American synagogue, which has played host to the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Israeli prime ministers, US presidents and vice-presidents, and more recently, the Dalai Lama.

Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt, creator of the “Return Again” service, says, “After experiencing this past Yom Kippur service, I don’t believe it’s an overstatement to say it may well represent the next step in reviving the Conservative movement of Judaism and synagogue life as a whole.”


Jerusalem next year? Israel entices today!


Hanging out with IDF stationed in Hebron’s Avinu Avraham neighborhood.

My heart trembled for a week in anticipation of Yom Kippur’s last shofar blast on Saturday night.  No, I didn’t fear being indicted as irredeemably wicked despite plenty of missteps in the past year.  My worry was that the “almost in Israel” feeling I had brought back to DC after Elul would disappear upon the shuttering of the high holy day gates.

Turns out my concerns were unwarranted as I spent the better part of Havdalah last night gushing over my recent backpacking trip with friends old and new at Mesorah DC which held services again this year at Sixth & I synagogue.

Indeed, I could barely eat as we broke the fast, thanking Rabbi Teitelbaum instead for invoking the moving image of Masada at daybreak in preparing the congregants to make our final Viduy.  It is, in fact, my most cherished memory from the first visit to our spiritual homeland I just completed.  My only regret at Masada being that I didn’t think to bring my Siddur as other pre-dawn hikers had done; instead, I prayed selfishly not to lose my footing during the steep climb along the Snake Trail and that I reach the summit before sunrise.

photo (1)

Pitbull concert at the fairgrounds across from Tel Aviv University

Thankfully, both of those pleas were amply answered, as well as the desire to increase my observance of mitzvot going forward.  While I don’t foresee becoming a perfect tzaddik after just 20 days trekking between hostels in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Tzfat and Haifa at roughly 90 shekels per night, the solo journey was as easy and inspiring to undertake as every insider whom I pestered in advance for advice had promised.

Besides the many souvenirs I mailed home to myself, some other keepsakes from my wanderings include: improving my fluency in Hebrew on the fly and habituating myself to incorporate more berachot throughout each day.  I also did some research afterward and secured a fellowship in Jerusalem next Spring, working to reverse the anti-Israel propaganda I witnessed on my stop in Hebron.

So, far from extinguished with last night’s final call to redemption for the new year, my newfound personal connection to Israel only promises to flourish with the ushering in of 5774. I wrote this post to urge you, too, reader, to listen to your heart and follow when it calls. Israel’s buses are easy, the food is delicious, and the people are warm, friendly, and helpful.  Don’t wait until next year to see Jerusalem!  If you haven’t already, you owe it to yourself to start saving and planning to embark on such a soul-transforming adventure today.

More pictures:


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The prayer I lodged at the kotel is the lavender scroll at the bottom center of the pack.

Lunch fresh from the Kinneret in Tiberias.

Lunch fresh from the Kinneret in Tiberias.

Roman ruins at Bet She'an.

Roman ruins at Bet She’an.

Havdalah on the rooftop of Ascent in Tzfat.

Havdalah on the rooftop of Ascent in Tzfat.

In the belly of a steel whale at Akko.

In the belly of a steel whale at Akko.

Toes in the surf after climbing Rosh Haniqra.

Toes in the surf after climbing Rosh Haniqra.

Lisette Garcia is earning a master’s degree in political management from The George Washington University.  She anticipates putting her additional skills as a Freedom of Information Act attorney to work for NGO Monitor in Jerusalem from May through July 2014.


Talk the Talk and Walk the Walk – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 74)

walkI still remember that in high school, when the entire calculus class looked clueless about the necessity of integrals in our lives, our teacher, Mr. Opre, told us to “talk the talk and walk the walk” until we started to actually understand how this newfangled way of calculating the area actually worked.  At first, I didn’t know what he was talking about, but what he meant was that we needed to go through the motions (as in, just follow the mathematical steps) until it started to feel like we actually knew what we were doing.  And slowly but surely, his advice worked, and I was calculating the area under a curve like it was my one job in life.

What does all of this have to do with dating?  Some of us are jaded by the dating process, and some of us are feeling insecure about getting back out there.  Some of us may feel like we lost a sense of ourselves in our last relationship, so we need to get back into the things we love to do… but what were they?  If anything here sounds like it might be true, then I’m going to give the same advice that the wise Mr. Opre once gave: Talk the talk and walk the walk.  Eventually, things will start to catch up with you.

There was an article in Scientific American in 2011 called, “Smile!  It Could Make You Happier.”  Doesn’t this seem counterintuitive?  Don’t you smile because you feel happy, and not the other way around?  Maybe not.  Psychologists at the University of Cardiff in Wales found that people whose ability to frown is diminished by cosmetic botox inject­ions are happier, on average, than people who can frown.  The researchers gave a questionnaire to 25 women, half of whom had received frown-inhibiting botox injections.  The botox recipients reported feeling happier; more importantly, they did not report feeling any more attractive, suggesting that the emotional effects were not driven by a psychological boost that could come from the treatment’s cosmetic nature.

So, if smiling can make you happier, can talking the talk and walking the walk make you more confident in your dating life?  I’d venture to say yes.  Most things in life are all about framing.  Let’s say someone asks, “What do you like to do for fun?”  You have two options: You could look down on yourself, saying something like, “Oh, I don’t know.  I guess I like to do my daily crossword puzzle and play Words with Friends.  That’s about all.”  Or, you could own it and talk the talk of confidence, even if you’re not feeling it quite yet.  “I’m trying to get into some new activities, but for now, I’ve rediscovered my love for crossword puzzles and word games.  I love challenging my brain!”  Which person would you rather date?

If you feel jaded or insecure, when you get to that date, it’s important that you exude some level of confidence.  Rather than the person across the table thinking, “Ugh – she really doesn’t think very highly of herself,” or, “She must have been on one too many bad dates recently,” he’ll instead think, “Wow – I can’t believe she made time for me tonight!”

So, talk the talk, walk the walk, and calculate some integrals.  (Ok, that last one is optional.)  Thanks, Mr. Opre!

Erika 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.


Georgetown Sukkah is an Architectural Wonder

sukkahThis article was originally published on the Georgetown University website.

Two award winning architects arrived on Georgetown’s campus before Sukkot to set up a sukkah, a temporary dwelling representing the shelters ancient Israelites used in the desert wilderness.

Architects Henry Grosman and Babak Bryan of BanG studio in Brooklyn, N.Y., who won an international design competition to reimagine the sukkah in 2010, set up the modern, collapsible sukkah on Healy Lawn on September 17th.

This year Sukkot, the harvest festival called “the season of joy,” starts at sundown on Sept. 18 and ends at sundown on Sept. 25.

The structure will be open night and day for students and other members of the Georgetown community to explore and sit in the sukkah to enjoy a meal or reflect throughout the holiday.

Share and Teach

“This is about creating a space for the Jewish community on campus to observe Sukkot, one of our most celebratory holidays,” says Georgetown’s Rabbi Rachel Gartner. “We thought this would be a great way to do that, and also provide an opportunity to teach about Sukkot to people of other traditions.”

During Sukkot, Jewish communities are meant to leave their homes and dwell in the sukkah, inviting ushpizin (guests) to join them. Some people sleep in the sukkah, while others just enjoy meals inside the structure.

“The sukkah is designed to force the inhabitant to reconsider the world in which he or she lives,” says Grosman, who says the Georgetown sukkah will fit about 10 people at a time. “It is a temporary place where one goes to consciously remove one’s self from daily life in order to reflect upon it and one’s place in the world.”

Various events are scheduled in and around the sukkah during the holiday, including an opening reception with the architects on Wed., Sept. 18 and a community-wide open house on Sept. 22 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

A shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath) service with music will be observed in front of the sukkah on the lawn at 6 p.m. on Sept. 20.

Jewish Roots

“The sukkah provides an opportunity for those who are not Jewish to learn about this Abrahamic faith tradition,” says Kevin O’Brien, vice president for mission and ministry. “For Christians in particular, visiting the sukkah and participating in some of the programming can help them understand more about Jesus’ Jewish roots, and how the rituals and commitments of Judaism inform Christian worship and values.”

Setting up the sukkah, whose walls comprise a series of seven portal frames made of cedar, will take about four to six hours, the architects say.

“The arms of the frames are connected by a series of strings woven through holes in the frame like a cat’s cradle,” Grosman explains. “The walls have been pre-woven in Brooklyn and rolled up for transport. At Georgetown, we will unroll the walls and bolt them into place.”

 Spiritual Blueprint

Gartner notes that Sukkot comes right after Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.

“We spend Yom Kippur inside the synagogue, thinking about things from a very spiritual plane, making a spiritual blueprint for the coming year of how we want to live our lives,” the rabbi explains. “The first thing we are meant to do at the end of Yom Kippur is to hammer the first nail into the sukkah. The lesson here is that we need to set our intentions and make plans, but then we need to act.”

She says Judaism is at its core about putting spiritual ideals and ethical visions into action.

Universally Human

The sukkah also will be available to people attending the third annual President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge conference at Georgetown on Sept. 23.

When Sukkot is over, the sukkah will be disassembled and put away until next year.

“Judaism is alive, vibrant, and evolving,” Gartner says. “It has a distinct voice of its own to contribute to interfaith dialog and interfaith searches for meaning. Judaism contributes to the conversation among traditions in ways that are both distinctly Jewish and universally human.”


Masa Israel Featured Internship: Social Work Internship, AMICHAI NPO

The intern at AMICHAI will run youth activities, help adults manage life within the community, and assist people with disabilities obtain employment.

AMICHAI is a non-profit organization, established in 1994, by a group of families of severely disabled children, with a primary objective to provide mentally disabled individuals opportunities to integrate into the larger society through creative housing, recreation and employment opportunities. AMICHAI believes and advocates that all individuals with cognitive, intellectual and developmental disabilities have the right to live in dignity, as equal members, within the greater community.


Going the Distance for PresenTense

andRunning is an entrepreneurial sport.  You do not need a whole lot to get started, basically a good pair of shoes and a desire to go the distance.  When you start your race, you cannot see the finish and often are not familiar with the course.  For entrepreneurs, it is not all that different.  They do not start with much more than an idea of where they will end up and the drive to see that idea launched.  There is no set formula to finish, other than stay the course and keep going until the finish line.

PresenTense is one organization that has successfully drawn out the course map for entrepreneurs to take their ideas and run with them.  PresenTense programs provide the framework for passionate people to address communal challenges.  Over 1000 people have been touched directly by the organization and the ventures started as a result have exponentially been able to reach thousands more.  PresenTense itself was just an idea several years ago, and today it is a start-up of good people helping to launch start-ups that do good things.  All the while, PresenTense continues to challenge the conversation around what it means to make social change in communities around the world.

That is why on October 13th, I am running the Chicago Marathon to benefit PresenTense (  I hope others will join me in supporting the organization.  This race is about raising resources and awareness that will allow PresenTense to continue to position itself as a premier organization for social entrepreneurship and organizational development.  I hope others are inspired, as I have been, to give to PresenTense by donating money, giving their time to support a local program or mustering up the courage to put their idea out there and apply to be a Fellow.

Over 400 innovators ( with ventures that benefit their local communities have been a part of a PresenTense Fellowship.  For example, Jill Zenoff of The Gan Project was a PresenTense Fellow in 2012, providing a source for sustainable agriculture in Chicago.  Elizabeth Weingarten from Washington, DC, launched Tribelle in 2013 to help female Israeli artisans gain access to a broader market for selling their Jewelry.  PresenTense has also provided direct support to organizations seeking to awaken the entrepreneurial spirit within their leaders, through consulting, training and partnership.

While working at The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, I coordinated the launch of the DC PresenTense Fellowship in 2012.  Currently I train new Fellows, as a PresenTense Social Start Trainer.  I have experienced first-hand how PresenTense programs empower individuals with new ideas for social change to make a difference in their local communities.  PresenTense invests in people: innovators, entrepreneurs, community leaders, educators, and thinkers.  They support and are supported by hundreds of volunteers and community members around the world, and they rely on donations to make those investments possible.

Running has become more than a hobby and piece of my identity. Similarly, PresenTense is more than a job for me.  It informs how I approach challenges in my life and community.  For me, being a runner is about taking steps to get farther and faster in life.  The blood, sweat and tears I put into the sport push me to accomplish more in my day to day life.  PresenTense is offering the same opportunity for passionate people with bright ideas for communal change, and I am willing to go the distance this fall to support it!

To donate to Andy”s Marathon to Benefit PresenTense join him for a Happy Hour at Thomas Foolery this Monday, September 16th from 5:30-8:30 (   You can also donate directly


Ryan Braun Needs a Ride to Synagogue for Yom Kippur After Playoff Game (ARCHIVE STORY-2011)

ryan braun jewish funny jews jewish jokes yom kippur jokes jewish baseball players ryan braun comedy news yom kippur jokes funny news funny news ryan braun sandy koufax baseball playoffs hank greenberg jewish milwaukee brewersBraun:  “Can I Bum a Ride to Shul, Anybody?”

MILWAUKEE, WI – (@TheComedyNews)– Milwaukee Brewers left-fielder Ryan Braun has more than just game 5 of the National League Divisional Series to attend tonight.

Immediately following the game, Braun intends to go to Yom Kippur services at a local Milwaukee synagogue.  However, the All-Star currently has no ride to get from Miller Park to a Temple to repent his sins.

“Can I bum a ride to shul, anybody?”  Called out Braun to tailgaters in the Miller Park parking lot this afternoon.  “Win or lose, I really need someone to drive me to a synagogue!  I really need to repent for my sins!”

The 27-year-old Braun, nicknamed “The Hebrew Hammer” for being both Jewish and one of the top sluggers in baseball, has been in a similar conundrum before.  “This is just like the time my Hebrew school carpool left without me when I was 12,” lamented Braun.  “I was so scared.  And my Mom freaked out and called the police.  I didn’t get home until almost 9:30 PM that night.”

Already wearing his suit and clutching a ‘Gates of Prayer’ book in hand, Braun seemed quite desperate to find a ride.

Braun explained that, in accordance with Jewish Law, he would not drive a car to get to a synagogue for Yom Kippur services.  He fears now that if the Brewers lose their playoff game, no limo driver, taxi driver, friend, or parent in Milwaukee will be happy enough to take the time to drive him to services.  And if the Brewers win, everyone in Milwaukee will be too drunk and slap-happy to get behind the wheel.

Braun is currently suspended from Major League Baseball. This year, Braun will get a ride to shul for Yom Kippur from his mom, Diane, who was recently spotted doing some Habitat for Humanity with her Jewish son.

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


Masa Featured Internship: Sports Photography Internship, Israel Football League

The Israeli Football League is looking for an intern interested in photography to photograph various aspects of the league, the teams and specific players of the League. The intern will travel to team practices, games and possibly meet with individual players and/or coaches to take photographs. The work the interns produce will be publicized on the league website, possibly team websites as well as other possible media channels.

The IFL began in 2007 and is now entering its seventh year of activity continuing to expand each year. The first year began with four teams, second year with five, third year with seven, continuing to currently eleven teams. The season takes place from beginning of November to the middle of April.


Jewish Comedian Spotlight: Sarah Silverman

Sarah_Silverman - 2 - Jesus_is_Magic

The term “Jewish comedian” sounds a bit redundant.  Or perhaps it just sounds unnecessary since so many members of the tribe have made a living being a lingual muse.

Either way, 42-year-old comedian Sarah Silverman is ambivalent when it comes to the “Jewish comedian” label.  And for good reason:    Her father was Jewish, her sister Susan is a rabbi, and her last name is SILVERMAN.  And in 2008, Silverman helped orchestrate “The Great Schlep”, which encouraged young Jewish voters to get their Jewish grandparents in South Florida to get off the golf course and vote in the Presidential election.

Still, in an interview with Movieline in 2011, Silverman says “I’m so associated with being Jewish — and I do it myself — but I have no religion. To me it’s cultural, it comes out of my pores. I can’t control it. I wasn’t raised with any religion, I have no religion, but it’s become such a part of me. ‘Jewish comedian Sarah Silverman!’ You know what I mean?”

The “comedian” label needs not much clarification.  A quick look through Silverman’s YouTube videosquotes, or book The Bedwetter, you will see that being a Jewish girl is just one of the countless topics Silverman touches with her pointed prose.

Along the way, Silverman has appeared on almost every late-night talk show since the late 1990s.  In 21 years on the comedy circuit, Silverman has had a part in so many television shows and films that she has proven to be a pretty reliable talent, always ready to work with her fellow comedian pals.

Silverman even had a cameo in the film adaptation of the musical Rent

Profane?  Yes.  Insightful?  Sure  Shocking?  No doubt.  “Jewish comedian”?  The label is distracting.  But Silverman is certainly bright and talented comedian—-a modern-day Lenny Bruce with her hint of Jewishness and hunk of obscenity.

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


Elise Feldman discusses her amazing journey on a Taglit-Birthright Israel: DC Community Trip and how to sign up for your own!


These were the words chanted together at Ben Gurion International Airport as 48 jet-lagged American Taglit-Birthright members met the seven Israeli participants and Israeli guide they would be traveling with for the next 10 days. The chant echoed through the airport as we all held each other and jumped around in a circle. I could feel all of our exhaustion from the flight fade quickly into excitement. We were ready to start our 10-day journey in Israel – little did we know that each day would bring a new understanding and emotion to the words, “Achim Simcha,” which means “Brotherhood and Happiness.”

That night, we each explained why we decided to embark on Birthright. Each of us came from a different Jewish background. Some formally practiced Judaism, others explained that while culturally Jewish, they did not celebrate the holidays or rituals, yet identified with being Jewish. These descriptions also applied when we learned more about the seven Israelis that were on the trip. All were young adults like us who had either finished serving in the IDF, or were still in the IDF.

We traveled to Jerusalem on Shabbat. Before we entered the passage to the Western Wall, our guide, Iftah, stated that some of us were probably the first in our families to reach the Wall. I am not religious, and I am fortunate to say that I did not lose any of my immediate family in the Holocaust. However, going to the Western Wall for the first time brought out emotions that I had no idea ever existed inside of me. As I stepped away from the wall with uncontrollable tears coming out of my eyes, my Israeli friend wrapped her arms around me and said, “You are home.”

Towards the end of our trip, we sat looking out at Har Herzl’s monument. Iftah said to us, “I know all of you have different ways of being Jewish. Some of you say you are ‘half Jewish’, culturally Jewish, you barely identify with being a Jew – but whatever ‘Jewish’ you are, hold on to it.”

After my Bat Mitzvah, I completely stopped practicing Judaism. I stopped going to services or celebrating the High Holidays. It wasn’t until this last year that I decided to reconnect with my Jewish roots and take this trip. I have never been more physically, emotionally or mentally challenged in my entire life than I was in Israel. I don’t think I have ever cried and laughed so much in 10 days.

Israel answered a lot of questions I had, but I left with three times as many. So, I am now excited to try and answer these questions. The trip made me think about my own country in a different way and appreciate some aspects a little more than I had before. It certainly made me appreciate Israel in ways that I never thought I could.

I now have a brand new family of 57 members, and we already have plans to celebrate Shabbat together soon. I also can’t wait to celebrate the High Holidays this year and feel the love and happiness that I remember feeling as a child. That is what Israel means to me. I will never be the same because of this trip.


Want to have an experience with peers from DC like Elise? Then sign up for the DC Community Trip!

This winter, travel to Israel FOR FREE with fellow Washingtonians on the DC Community Birthright Trip!

Am I eligible?

  • Age 22-26 at the time of application (If you’re under the age of 22, visit to find a trip that’s right for you!)
  • Have not previously participated in a peer-orientated Israel trip
  • Local or ties with the Greater Washington area

Important Dates:

There will be trips in November, January and February. Exact dates will be confirmed soon. Registration for the trip opens…

  • Monday, September 9 at noon for returning applicants
  • Tuesday, September 10 at 10:00 a.m. for new applicants

How do I register?
To register, please visit and choose the “DC Community trip.” From there, you will begin to prepare for an unforgettable experience.

Please know that the registration process can be very competitive and only remains open for about a week, so it’s very important to register on the opening date and pay your security deposit as soon as possible. Once Shorashim receives your application, they will move forward with processing it and scheduling an interview. Once this is complete, you will find out the dates of your trip and further details.

Have questions?
To find out more about the Taglit-Birthright Israel: DC Community Trip (sponsored by The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington), contact Sara Weiner at 301-230-7266 or


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