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Masa Israel Featured Internship: Emergency Medical Services Internship

Interns will treat patients in all types of emergency situations and receive full intensive training in order to do so. Interns will become first responders on ambulances and mobile intensive care units, under the supervision of senior medics and paramedics.

Magen David Adom provides emergency medical and ambulance services throughout Israel. http://www.interninisrael.org/emergency-medical-services-internship-magen-david-adom/

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Tips for Dating Bliss in 2014 – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 81)

snow heartTime sure does fly, doesn’t it?  It’s a new year, and with that comes a new outlook, maybe some new clothes, and, of course, some new people on all of the online dating sites.  (And don’t forget about all of the new single people after the turkey drop and holiday season break-ups.)

As we enter a new year of dating, with first dates abounding, it’s important to remember some helpful tips for achieving dating bliss in 2014:

1. Remain optimistic and happy.

Have you ever been on a date where your date walks in, and he or she just looks miserable?  Or maybe you were the one on your fourth JDate in a week, and you’re just jaded by the whole process.  That aura of negativity really sucks the life out of a date.  If you’re not ready to be dating, say after a break-up, that’s A-ok.  But when you are ready, it’s best to go in with a smile.

2. Focus on the big picture, not the small stuff.

Your date tells you that he’s into some obscure indie band that you heard once and hated.  Is your potential relationship doomed?  Of course not, but sadly, a lot of people take tastes and hobbies more into account than what’s really important – values.  I’d rather know whether someone is close to his family than whether he reads only historical fiction.  It’s obviously nice to have hobbies in common (though I’m glad no one I ever dated played Mahjong like I do!), but in the end, small differences in tastes likely don’t amount to the demise of a relationship.

3. Ask questions.

No one wants to go on a date where one person is talking the entire time.  In order to encourage a healthy back-and-forth, the best thing you can do is to ask your date some questions.  (Hopefully he or she will do the same in return and not take that as a cue to ramble on for an hour straight!)  The questions that have the most luck require more than a simple one-word answer.  You want to get the person thinking.  For example, rather than asking, “What do you do?” (perhaps the most boring question in the book), you could ask, “What made you decide to get into medicine?” or “How do you enjoy your job as a pediatrician?  I imagine it must be very rewarding.”  The first question allows your date to simply say, “I’m a doctor,” but the other two require a bit of introspection, leading to a more thoughtful conversation… and perhaps a second date.

4. Have confidence.

A little confidence goes a long way.  Be decisive, be proud of who you are, have the courage of your convictions, and tell someone how you feel.  These pointers can carry over into other aspects of life as well.  Sometimes you have to talk the talk and walk the walk of confidence for a while, but eventually it’ll catch up to you.

So go out there and have some fun in 2014, and remember these pointers to give your dating life a boost.  Happy New Year!

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.

 

 

 

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The Special Relationship: Why the Iran deal makes me miss my father-in-law

Jerusalem-Day-celebrating-Kotel-13The opinions reflected in this article are that of the author and do not represent the views of Gather the Jews or its staff.

There are plenty of questions to ask about the temporary nuclear agreement with Iran, but the one dominating my thoughts is personal: What would my father-in-law say?

He would be troubled, I’m sure — possibly even furious — though he would maintain his outward cool.  Almost certainly, I would receive an email encouraging me to read an article, probably including a note to establish the author’s credentials.  Sorting through the first wave of reactions, I wondered which article he would choose.  Maybe “Iran’s Nuclear Program Is Still Growing, and America’s Fist Is Shrinking,” by the Washington Institute’s Robert Satloff, whom he admired.  Or the Wall Street Journal editorial headlined “Iran’s Nuclear Triumph.”  I’m only guessing, but former UN Ambassador John Bolton’s column bemoaning the “Abject Surrender by the United States” in The Weekly Standard probably would be too hysterical.

I would see the email and my heart would start pounding before I even opened it.  It would take me a few moments to overcome the initial panic, and then I would read carefully and consider my response.  “Thanks for sending,” I might write and leave it there.  Maybe I would share a less negative assessment from a pro-Israel writer, such as Jeffrey Goldberg, and say I am inclined to agree.  And then I would be distracted and anxious for the rest of the day.

In March 2012, he sent me a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Bret Stephens titled “The ‘Jewish’ President” (subhead: “Don’t believe Obama when he says he has Israel’s back”) and asked for my thoughts.  The title referred to a chapter in The Crisis of Zionism, the controversial book by Peter Beinart, whose evolution from hawkish editor of The New Republic to vocal critic of Israeli policies had caused an uproar in the Jewish community.  In the book, Beinart explored how President Obama’s views about Israel and the Middle East were influenced by the circle of Jewish friends he made in Chicago.  To Beinart, those relationships proved that Obama understood Jewish attitudes.  To Stephens, those friends’ associations with dovish groups such as J Street and New Israel Fund made them radicals — and, if he really developed his views about Israel by talking to them, then clearly Obama was, too.

My impression of Stephens was formed about a year earlier, in the wake of a foreign policy speech in which Obama declared that “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.”  I had watched the speech at my desk and followed the reactions online, which initially included a surprising amount of gloating from conservatives saying that Obama was shifting toward their worldview.  On Twitter, Emergency Committee for Israel executive director Noah Pollak said, “I don’t think there’s anything in this speech that [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu will find surprising or even disagreeable.”  But the narrative quickly changed; Obama had “thrown Israel under the bus” by endorsing a return to the 1967 lines, or “Auschwitz borders.”  The part about “mutually agreed swaps” all but disappeared.

I was confused and angry, so I called my father-in-law at work.  He had not yet watched the speech, but he had received several emails and calls about it.  He said that Obama’s statement, if it included the key words about land swaps, did not represent a meaningful policy shift, though he questioned the wisdom of saying anything at all.  I hung up feeling both reassured about Obama’s position and dismayed by the narrative taking hold.  That weekend, I sat beside my father-in-law at the AIPAC Policy Conference as Obama recited the steps his administration had taken to bolster Israel’s security and delivered an unqualified defense, with more than a hint of condescension, of “what I said — not what I was reported to have said” on the subject of borders.  Immediately following the speech, Stephens took the stage for a panel discussion with former Ambassador Martin Indyk and dismissed Obama’s entire case.  Despite pushback from Indyk, Stephens insisted that Obama’s comments represented a “sea change” in U.S. policy.  Two days later, he published a scathing op-ed titled “An Anti-Israel President.”

It was still relatively early in my education on the issue, but I was becoming deeply dispirited by the way we talk about Israel, even within much of the Jewish community.  In the following months, the progressive advocacy organization where I worked, along with one at which I previously interned, would be accused of anti-Semitism for criticizing Israeli policies.  Although the attacks were directed at a small handful of individuals, the entire organizations became targets, and there were calls for Jewish donors to stop supporting them.  I had colleagues who did not understand the Jewish experience or grasp what Israel means to an overwhelming number of Jews, but they were far from anti-Semites and did not work on issues related to Israel anyway.  Still, the idea that I could be associated with anything anti-Semitic, even wrongly, was painful and terrifying.

With all of this in mind, I crafted my response to the email, focusing on why I did not believe Stephens was arguing in good faith.  I reminded him of the performance at AIPAC, which he had acknowledged disagreeing with, and of the subsequent op-ed.  “I know he’s not stupid,” I wrote, “so I concluded that he was being purposefully dishonest.”  I danced around the substance of the column, saying I was less interested in Obama’s friends than his record and argued that the president’s public clashes with the Israeli prime minister had been unfairly exaggerated by people who were “trying to turn Israel into a political wedge issue.”  The next morning, I received an email thanking me for my “thoughtful and purposeful response” and revisiting certain details of Obama’s earlier speech — namely that it did not rule out a Palestinian right of return, an objection that was largely ignored in all the outrage over “Auschwitz borders.”

By the time that email arrived, however, I was putting the finishing touches on a follow-up elaborating on what I really thought.  My problem with the column was not that I believed Obama’s friends were irrelevant; rather, I was offended by the notion that holding dovish views somehow disqualified them from representing Jewish thinking.  “On a personal level,” I admitted, “I always feel more anxious than I let on about being at AIPAC because I feel like the questions and doubts I have are not welcome — though I appreciate that you always treat them as legitimate,” which he did.  “That doesn’t mean I agree with those other organizations,” I added, “but the campaign to delegitimize opposing points of view, instead of engaging with them, is a powerful turn-off.”

Finally, I let it all out: “I strongly identify as Jewish and care deeply about Israel’s future — I hope you don’t doubt either of those things.  Unfortunately, I suspect that Stephens would lump me in with Beinart as a ‘liberal scourge of present-day Israel and mainstream Zionism.’  Others, like those at the Emergency Committee for Israel, would outright label me ‘anti-Israel,’ maybe even a ‘self-hating Jew.’  And that’s what is really so troubling to me: Many of the people who claim to be arbiters of what is really ‘pro-Israel’ are telling me that I’m not, and encouraging me to stop caring or risk being labeled an outcast.”

Hitting the send button was cathartic, but I worried about what he would think, so I gave him a call.  He told me that he appreciated my honesty and hoped that I never felt pressured by him.  He also reminded me of what he said at my wedding — that when I married his daughter I became his son — and that nothing I believed would ever change how much he loved me.  And he said that he wanted to discuss it further and better understand my views, but that we should do it in person when he was feeling better.

We never had that conversation.  I was riding the Metro to work one morning in June when my wife called and told me to get on the first plane to Chicago.  The next few hours were a blur.  When I arrived at the hospital, I made a beeline for my wife and hugged her for I don’t how long before I even noticed the rest of the room.  Her mom and sister were sitting next to the bed, where her dad was lying unconscious.  We waited for hours, as a parade of extended family members broke down and said their goodbyes.  It took a while, but I found the nerve to say mine, too.  I threw up twice.  His best friend — who was also his doctor and one of the few people to know he was battling cancer for twenty years — came in around midnight and whispered something to the nurse.  A few minutes later, he was breathing, and then he stopped.

People called him a hero.  He was intensely committed to the causes he believed in and the people he loved, unfailingly generous with his time and energy.  As the rabbi told me before our wedding, he was the “moral compass” of his community.  On the day of his funeral, the synagogue was overflowing with people who came to pay their respects, including two members of Congress, one of whom later memorialized him on the House floor.  Everybody had a story of how he had helped them. “If there was a God in my life,” one of his nephews said, “it was him.”

For a son-in-law — or a son — the universal reverence could be uncomfortable, especially because we often disagreed.  But it was those disagreements that truly made him a hero, at least to me.  Not because he was right, but because he wanted to understand why I thought he might be wrong.  Because even though most people deferred to his judgment, and even though he spent years immersed in issues I was just beginning to study, he was open to the possibility that he could learn from me — that learning from each other could make both of us better.  Because people listened to him, and he was interested in listening to me.

Bret Stephens says the Iran deal is “worse than Munich.”  I have some thoughts about that, but mostly I just miss my father-in-law.

Matt Finkelstein works for a political organization in Washington, DC. His writing has appeared in the Huffington Post, Esquire, Inc.com, and several other outlets. He is a native of Baltimore, MD.

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Midnight Mitzvahs on January 7th!

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Parshat Shmos (in a Mesorah Minute!)

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Masa Israel Featured Internship: Events Management Internship

The International Convention Center is looking for an intern to assist with all aspects of planning and executing events that take place at the facility. Events range in size and purpose, from family gatherings, to product launchesm to fashion fairs, as well as international conferences and art exhibitions.

The International Convention Center, commonly known as Binyenei Ha’Uma, is the largest convention center and concert hall in the Middle East. http://www.interninisrael.org/events-management-intern-international-convention-center-binyaney-hauma/

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When caring puts a child at risk

josia-cotto

Josia Cotto very likely died from the high sodium in Antineoplaston Therapy.

Snake Oil Ad

In 1915, Clark Stanley was fined $20 under U.S. law for peddling an ineffectual concoction.

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I Give A Spit

JScreenLogo_VertOnce upon an apartment, I sliced my toe open while trying to piece together an Ikea dresser.  The next day, I had swollen lymph nodes and, despite my recent furniture-induced trauma (thanks a lot, Sweden), WebMD had me convinced I had developed Hodgkin’s Disease.  Forget the mangled limb.

We’ve all experienced the pangs of the typical cold or cough and then raced into the depths of the internet to eventually (and falsely) discover we’re suffering from an illness that hasn’t existed since Constantinople was a thing.

We fight the good fight to stay healthy.  We can work out, take our vitamins, and self-diagnose all day long to become pinnacles of well-being, but 1 in 4 Ashkenazi Jews carry at least 1 of 19 different genes for diseases like cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs disease, Gaucher disease, and Bloom syndrome.  Although being a carrier for one of these diseases means you don’t actually have the disease and its symptoms, it becomes a concern when the time comes to make some additions to your family (read: bubelehs).

The parents of a child that has one of these diseases are both healthy “carriers” of the same disease gene.  Their children receive a double dose of the gene and may actually have the disease.  Enter JScreen.  Based out of Emory University’s Department of Human Genetics in Atlanta, JScreen was created as a nationwide, community-based public health initiative dedicated to preventing Jewish genetic diseases.

The test analyzes genetic markers for up to 80 different diseases, 19+ of which are predominant in the Jewish community.

It’s actually a really simple process and only takes a few minutes once you receive your kit.  All you do is head to the JScreen website (http://www.jscreen.com) to request an at-home saliva test that is sent right to your door.  Then, you spit into the tube, seal it up, and mail off your sample.  After it’s processed by a CLIAA-certified laboratory, you’ll be contacted with your results.  If a person or couple’s risk is elevated, licensed genetic counselors address their results, options, and resources to help ensure a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby.  JScreen is especially accurate as well, detecting nearly two times as many carriers in people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent compared with the general population. Even more, the screening usually doesn’t exceed $99 for people with medical insurance and, in some cases, is even less.

In the age of WebMD, we’re hyper responsible about our health and well-being—especially when we’re trying to get pregnant. So, in the midst of prepping for pregnancy with prenatal yoga, giant vitamins and drinking ground-up lawn, perhaps we should consider taking a quick spit to see if we’ll be passing on more than our beautiful faces to our children. Roughly one percent of couples find out they are both carriers for the same gene and at a “high risk” of having a child affected by a genetic disease. Considering everything else we do to prep for our future families, keep ourselves healthy and ensure the health of our offspring, isn’t this worth giving a spit?

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DC Winter Date Ideas That Won’t Break the Bank – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 80)

i-give-you-my-heart-winter-wallpaperCatch Erika tonight at Adas Israel! Finding Your Beshert… Online Dating with founder of “A Little Nudge,” Erika Ettin

We’re in the thick of the holiday season.  There are Christmas trees adorning pretty much every office building in town, too many excuses to eat that extra slice of cake at the holiday party (dark chocolate is healthy, right?), and threats of snow that finally came to fruition this past weekend.

But the holiday season also brings with it a strain on our wallets.  We took advantage of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals (I was way too excited about the 50% off at Wet Seal that I got!), and now we’ll likely do the same with the day-after-Christmas sales.  How about all the presents we have to get for our co-workers, family, and friends?  And then there are these prix fixe menus at many restaurants on major holidays.  And don’t forget all the gas money you’ll be spending if you’re driving out of town and the exorbitant flight prices at this time of year.

My goal here is certainly not to get you depressed.  It’s instead to share some cost-effective (and often free!) date ideas in the DC area that won’t break the bank this holiday season.

For the Dorothy Hamill or Brian Boitano types:
Take your date ice skating.  There are more ice skating rinks in the area than you would have guessed, including the ones at the Sculpture Garden, the Georgetown Waterfront, Pentagon City, Navy Yard, and Shaw, which I believe is opening later this month.  More information can be found here: http://redtri.com/ice-skating-rinks-in-dc/.

For the Padma Lakshmi or Tom Sietsema types:
One food-centric idea that one of my clients recently did with her new boyfriend (yay) was to go to the supermarket with only $20 in an attempt to make the best gourmet meal on a budget.  (They did a surprisingly good job!)  You could also enjoy a winter drink to keep you warm, like the salted caramel hot chocolate at Co Co. Sala in Chinatown.  Even better, if you’re a bourbon drinker like I am, they have a drink called the Wild Winter that has bourbon and spiked apple cider in it.  Yum.  (Maybe it’s a little more expensive, but I think it’s worth it.)  Poste also has a special winter cocktail menu that you can ask for at the bar.  Or, if you’re feeling like Derek Brown, one of DC’s best mixologists, then you can attempt to make some of these winter cocktail recipes together.  Even if they don’t come out as planned, at least you’ll have fun making them… or you’ll be too drunk to notice.

For the Angelina Jolie or George Clooney types:
No, I’m not telling you to write and direct your own screenplay!  I’m talking about volunteering together.  Many organizations have volunteer activities in the winter to help people in need, such as throwing holiday parties, wrapping gifts, or packing meals.  The DC JCC is a great place to start.  You can show each other your caring side.

For the Bill Nye or Bob Ross types:
We are so lucky to live in a place where so many museums are free.  Explore the planets at the Air & Space Museum, walk through the live butterfly room at the Museum of Natural History, or check out some work by the photographer Charles Marville at the National Gallery of Art.  (The National Gallery has a surprisingly nice food court, too.)  To make it even more exciting, you could design your own scavenger hunt before heading to the museum and then do it together.  I even found an app that thinks of the challenges for you!

For the Steve Urkel or Ben Stein types:
Go to Board Room or Thomas Foolery and get to know each other over a game of Don’t Break the Ice (remember that one?) or Battleship.  Go to Continental in Rosslyn and play a game of pool or their giant version of Connect Four.  Challenge each other to a game of ping pong at Comet in Van Ness.  Attend a trivia night to show off your Jeopardy-esque prowess.

For the Shaun White or Indiana Jones types:
While I’m not necessarily one to spend too much time out in the cold, I know there there are people who are, so I want to make sure we cover all of our bases.  You could take a walk along the Mall to see the monuments all lit up, go hiking in Great Falls, walk to a dog park and pet some of the pups, or take a ride out to Gravelly Point Park, bring a blanket and a picnic lunch, and watch the planes take off and land.  While you don’t necessarily have to spend any time outside for this one, take a drive (or a walk) through different neighborhoods to find the best, worst, and gaudiest Christmas lights/decorations.  Don’t forget to take pictures!

Just because you can’t bask in the sun at a Nats game or sit on the roof of El Centro, it doesn’t mean you can’t go out and have fun with your date… winter style.  Plus, who doesn’t like a pair of tall boots, right?  Enjoy… and button up.

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.

 

 

 

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Masa Israel Featured Internship: Strategic Planning Software, Strategic Intelligence and Analysis Internship

Wikistrat leverages a global network of subject-matter experts via a patent pending crowdsourcing methodology to provide insights unavailable anywhere else. This online network offers a uniquely powerful and unprecedented strategic consulting service: the internet’s only central intelligence exchange for strategic analysis and forecasting. These ideas and insights are delivered, for the first time, on a real-time, interactive platform. Wikistrat has a network of hundreds of experts follows our scenario-driven crowdsourced policy planning methodology to generate unique intelligence products. http://www.interninisrael.org/strategic-planning-software-strategic-intelligence-analysis-internship-wikistrat/

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Come to the December Midnight Mitzvahs!

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Masa Israel Featured Internship: Financial Assistant, The Digital House

The Digital House is looking for someone who can help with the financial side of the business by helping process invoices for the applications that have shops, manage the company budgets, as well provide over all support to the financial director.

The Digital House is a start-up that designs, creates, markets and distributes smart apps for iPhone and Android. The company tests the success of the application in Israel before going on to launch it in the UK, Canada and the US. http://www.interninisrael.org/financial-assistant-digital-house/

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Asking the Right Questions

Question_mark_(black_on_white)When I tell people I run a project called Gather the Jews, they usually have very strong feelings about the name.  About half of the people love it, and when they see me at Jewish events exclaim, “Rachel, you’ve ‘gathered’ the Jews!”  The second reaction is not so fun.  After telling her the name of the project, a friend’s mom said, “You know, we were gathered once before, and it didn’t end so well for us.”

So why did GTJ choose such a controversial name?  Founded just before Purim in 2010, our name comes from the Megillat Esther. In Chapter 4, Verse 16, Esther tells Mordechai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Shushan, and fast for me.”  When Esther uttered these words, the Jewish nation was in trouble, under siege from its enemies who wished to annihilate our people.  The Jews of Shushan gathered, and Esther convinced the king to save us.

According to the recent Pew study, the Jewish people are still in danger.  There are still those in the world who wish us harm, but the Pew study speaks of a different kind of danger: the danger of assimilation.  But is this true?  Or did Pew ask the wrong questions?

As the director of Gather the Jews, an organization that seeks to bridge the gap between Jews in their 20s & 30s and the DC Jewish community, I ask a lot of questions.  What makes young Jews want to connect to the community?  How do they explore their Jewish identity?  What about Judaism inspires them?

The answers to these questions are different for every single Jew, and that is where the Pew study erred. The questions the Pew study asked focused on Jews connecting to Judaism through religious observance, which is only one way that Jews define themselves.  When I ask Jews in their 20s & 30s how they relate to Judaism, I hear about a diverse and multifaceted Judaism.  I hear about tikkun olam projects.  I hear about Shabbat dinners with friends.  I hear about trips to Israel. I hear about Jewish happy hours.  I hear about a thriving DC Jewish community.

And that is the lens that Gather the Jews chooses to view Judaism through.  We have become the number one resource for young Jews in DC and a clearinghouse for Jewish young professional events with the goal that individuals will connect to Judaism on their own terms.

Judaism values questions.  Now we need to be asking the right questions.

Rachel Giattino is the Director of Gather the Jews.  This article originally appeared in the Washington Jewish Week.

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In Defense of Thanksgivukkah

facepalm

By this point everyone knows that Thanksgivukkah is occurring this Thursday.  By some accounts, this is the greatest culinary event in history; by other accounts, it’s a horrible occurrence that needs to be ignored.  Almost every possible article has been written about it, even The 8 rules of Thanksgivingukkah Sex (just click on it now, we know you’re going to. We can wait ..questionable content for work).  While there are some valid reasons to want to separate the two holidays, many of the arguments, such as those presented by Allison Benedikt, are overblown.

First, let’s get the obvious out of the way. When dealing with any event that is several centuries or even millennia old, certain liberties are going to be taken with the story. Much like a plot twist in Homeland or 24, facts can get in the way of a good story.  Historical purists would probably take umbrage with the way both stories are told in elementary schools. However, the underlying principles of the holidays are both commendable. Personally, Thanksgiving is about gratitude and being thankful for what we have. Hanukkah is about overcoming adversity against challenging odds, it’s not about presents.

But Allison Benedikt’s complaints go far beyond historical critique, and her article needs a response because there are not enough face palms in the world to express my disdain for it. Why Slate chose to publish this is beyond me, because she is someone who appears to have a very limited understanding of Judaism as a whole and whose love of Judaism is itself questionable as shown in her own writings. Let’s proceed:

I don’t want my kids to think Thanksgiving is a “present holiday.”

This shows a complete lack of understanding about Hanukkah. If you think Hanukkah is a presents holiday, you are doing it wrong. This woman has completely secularized and commercialized Hanukah so, to her, it has little value beyond a night to give kids gifts and maybe eat fried foods. She has already lost the true meaning of Hanukkah, the continued struggle of the Jewish people against unmistakable odds and violent attacks that was overcome by our community’s famous strong will. It’s true that with the recent exception of Black Friday hysteria, Thanksgiving has largely escaped the commercialism that plagues so many other holidays.  She should try to keep Hanukkah free of commercialism as well.  Also, her failure to teach her kids about the story behind Hanukkah, rather than just presents, demonstrates her own misunderstanding of Hanukkah and deficiency as a parent.

Combining the Holiday foods is an awful idea.

First, if you don’t think sweet potato latkes sound amazing or think pastrami with Brussel Sprouts (since bacon is out of the question) is awesome, I can’t help you. More amazing Jewish fusion food for me! Due to Hanukkah’s connection with oil, basically anything imaginable on the Thanksgiving menu can now be justifiably deep fried like a state fair. Fried foods are better than their regular counterparts; this is an inarguable fact of life. Anyone who disagrees should probably just pack up and move to North Korea. . Our food is one of the things that bind us as not just a religion, but as a culture, and we should embrace the culinary hybrid of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah.

Jews should not feel ashamed to be different.

I spoke with two individuals whose parents were intermarried and they mentioned they liked Thanksgiving because it didn’t highlight the differences in the two sides of their family.   Those of us from dual Jewish parent homes can still relate to the awkwardness of the holiday season. As Jews we often can feel like outsiders and Thanksgiving is a bonding time where regardless of our religious differences we are like everyone else in the Country. These differences are most obvious during the Christmas season.  There are holiday parties which are, to be honest, Christmas parties at work and with our friends. Our desire to socialize and celebrate with friends and coworkers can often be in conflict with our religious roots.  As the incomparable Kyle Broflovski says, “It’s hard to be a Jew on Christmas”, but on Thanksgiving it doesn’t matter.

Hanukkah’s rise and specifically its association with gifts is at least partially related to our exclusion from Christmas activities. In the realm of religiously important holidays, it’s not particularly high.   We spend our holy days not eating, while others get a Federal holiday to celebrate their biggest religious occasion.   However in our desire to fit in, we shouldn’t ever be afraid to embrace who we are and the addition of latkes to the thanksgiving table shouldn’t alarm anyone. We can still appreciate Thanksgiving as a secular American holiday even if we happen to give it a Jewish twist this year.

This is the only chance in our lifetime where the first day of Hanukkah will occur on Thanksgiving. Something fun and unique is happening in the Jewish world, and we should embrace it.

Happy Thanksgivukkah,

Jon Halperin

The opinions reflected in this article are that of the author and do not represent the views of Gather the Jews or its staff.

 

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Masa Israel Featured Internship: Special Education & Occupational – Physical Therapy Assistant

Special Education & Occupational – Physical Therapy assistant, Gan Eliya Israel Association for the Advancement of Blind and Visually Impaired Children

As an intern your responsibilities will be to assist the staff in caring for the blind and seeing-impaired babies and toddlers.

Gan Eliya is considered a world leader in specialist programs that meet the needs of blind and visually-impaired children. Treatment includes hydrotherapy and therapeutic horseback riding. http://www.interninisrael.org/special-education-occupational-physical-therapy-assistant-gan-eliya-israel-association-advancement-blind-visually-impaired-children/

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