The “One and Only” Jonathan Horowitz – Now Published

GTJ’s very own sports columnist, Jonathan Horowitz, is now a published author!  The set of sports trivia cards he’s been writing, entitled The One and Only: A Sports Quiz Deck of Definitive Games, Teams, Players, and Events, has been released by Pomegranate Communications, Inc.  Click here to check them out.

The collection lists 48 teams, games, plays, and players so amazing that they’ve earned unique labels by sports enthusiasts. Each card challenges users to name the person, place, or moment that is the “One and Only.” In addition to the answers, the backs of the cards provide fun facts about why these monikers have survived years of debate among fans.

Sample questions include:

  • What was the Shot Heard ‘Round the World?
  • What Was the Battle of the Sexes?
  • Who was The Great One?

Gather the Jews member Jonathan Horowitz ( is the horse race announcer at Arapahoe Park and host of the show “A Day at the Races” on Altitude Sports TV in Denver. He also has authored The ONE and ONLY: A Sports Quiz Deck of Definitive Games, Teams, Players, and Events that will be published by Pomegranate Publishers in January 2012. If you would like to purchase a personal copy ($9.95), please contact him at for details.


Transcending Our Limitations

This week we read Parshat Vaeira, the Torah portion in which the Egyptians are struck by the first seven of the ten plagues recalled each year during the Passover Seder. Each plague could be discussed at length and in great detail and perhaps we will take a closer look at them during Passover. However, for now, we will look at how this week’s Torah portion teaches us to break free from our own individual ‘Egypt.’

At the beginning of Parshat Veira, G-d replies to a question Moshe (Moses) raised at the end of last week’s parsha. Last week after Pharaoh increased the manual labor of his Hebrew slaves, Moshe confronted G-d asking: “Why have you mistreated this people?” (Shemot 5:22). In our Torah portion G-d replies to Moshe by saying to him: “I am G-d. I revealed Myself to Avraham, to Yitzchak, and to Yaakov with the name Almighty G-d (Kel Shadai), but with My name “Havayeh” [the name for G-d spelled yud, hey, vav, hey, which is not pronounced], I did not become known to them.”

The first thing that must be addressed is Moshe’s question. Chassidut (the esoteric secrets of Torah) explains that the question Moshe asked of G-d was not inappropriate or disrespectful. Moshe sought to understand G-d’s actions, because he served G-d primarily through his intellect. This is why the Torah – the wisdom of G-d – was transmitted through him. By contrast, the patriarchs (Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov) served G-d primarily through emotion, intuiting G-d’s will before the Torah was given. Since the primary emphasis of the Divine service of the patriarchs was not intellectual, they never questioned G-d or challenged Him for an explanation of His actions. Only Moshe did this, asking G-d, “Why have you mistreated this people?” In light of our understanding that Moshe primarily served G-d through intellect, it is easy to see that Moshe was not being insolent in asking this question. By asking this question, Moshe sought to come closer to G-d and to forge a stronger bond between himself and the Creator. Lacking understanding of G-d’s actions weakened Moshe’s intellectual bond with G-d and by asking this question he attempted to strengthen it.[1]

G-d responded to Moshe by saying that He never revealed Himself to the patriarchs by His name, ‘Havayeh’ (His true name). This name for G-d denotes transcending limitations. In essence, G-d was telling Moshe not to serve Him through intellect alone. By combining his service of G-d through intellect with that of the patriarchs – emotion and faith – Moshe would be able to serve G-d without limitation.[2]

The intellect can enable a person to understand Torah and to appreciate the greatness and majesty of G-d. It can also help a person recognize the Creator. However, the intellect on its own is cold and lifeless. G-d must also be served through the heart. A Jew must serve G-d even when he/she does not understand G-d’s actions and a Jew must serve G-d with joy, gladness, and passion. No matter how much one may think one understands G-d’s Torah, a person must realize that he/she is a fallible human being with a limited intellect. Compared to G-d “the wise [are] as if without knowledge and the men of understanding [are] as if [they are] without knowledge.”[3] It may seem counterintuitive, but by recognizing our own smallness we can connect with the Infinite and transcend the limitations of own shortcomings.

In connection to this week’s parsha and its message of transcending limitations, the Rebbe Rayatz (1880-1950) said in the name of his father, the Rebbe Rashab (1860-1920) that “the exodus from Egypt foreshadows every individual’s personal departure from limits and boundaries…Undergoing a personal spiritual ‘exodus from Egypt’ involves liberating oneself from the limits and boundaries of the world, while remaining in the world. In other words, while being involved in the world, one ought to constantly aspire to be outside its bounds. One must remove the confinements and perceive the truth – that the world itself is in fact good, for after all, this is what G-d willed.”[4]

[1] The Gutnik Edition Chumash. 33

[2] Ibid.

[3] Siddur Tehillat Hashem Morning Prayer

[4] HaYom Yom 25 Teves


Blacks and Jews: Best friends forever?

The following post reflects only the opinion of Stephen Richer.


Like Jason, I went to Sixth & I’s MLK Shabbat on Friday, January 14.

Like Jason, I enjoyed the event – you can’t go wrong with singing and dancing (Step Up 3 and Stomp The Yard are two of my favorite movies).  I also got to sit next to a whole bunch of high schoolers from BBYO.  Win!

Perhaps unlike Jason, however, I questioned the kumbaya nature of the event.  It seemed to suggest that American blacks and Jews are best friends, and that the only problems we have to deal with are external. I don’t think that’s true.  Perhaps even the opposite.  This skepticism doesn’t stem from a personal experience, but simply from a few statistics and a few lessons in recent American Jewish history that I have a hard time overlooking.

I’m not going out on a limb here.  The decline of black-Jewish relations is the subject of many books.  Time Magazine ran a cover story on the topic as far back as 1969, and in 2008, President Obama addressed black anti-Semitism in a speech on MLK day.  (Huffington Post)  If you want book suggestions, just let me know, but here’s just a quick sample of what I’m talking about:

General anti-Semitism / anti-Israel:

  • In a 2002 study, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) found that 35% of blacks are “strongly anti-Semitic.”  This same study found the national rate to be 17%.
  • In 2009 and 2011, the ADL estimated black anti-Semitism to be at 28% and 29%, compared to 12% and 15% nationally.  (Page 32 of ADL study)
  • Black Americans are far more likely to side with Palestinians over Israelis than the average American.

Physical strife

  • 1991 Crown Heights Riot.  A Lubavitch Jew accidentally spun his car out of control and killed one black child and injured another.  Angry black residents beat the driver.  A group of 10 to 15 black teens stabbed and killed an Orthodox Jew.  “For three days Jewish resident of Crown Heights and reporters were beaten, cars overturned and set afire, and stores looted and firebombed by angered black residents.”  (PBS)
  • 1968 Ocean-Hill/Brownsville teachers’ strike placed black community activists against the heavily Jewish teachers’ union.

Black leaders

  • In the 1990s, Professor Leonard Jeffries – a leading black academic – falsely advanced the idea that the Jews were responsible for the slave trade.
  • Reverend Jesse Jackson – calling New York City “Hymie-town” and supporting Yasser Arafat. (WND)
  • Al Sharpton accusing American Jews of all being diamond merchants that benefitted from the blood of blacks.

Etc., etc.

It’s of course sad.  It’s not how it used to be.  In 1964, northern whites went to Mississippi to help register blacks to vote.  Three-quarter of the helpers were Jewish.  At Sixth & I we heard much about Rabbi Abraham Heschel who marched next to Martin Luther King at Selma.  That pairing was fairly representative of the solidarity between blacks and Jews in the civil rights movement.

But that is no longer.  There is real tension.  We should of course continue to hold events like the one hosted by Sixth & I on Friday, but at these gatherings, there should be fewer fanciful proclamations about our amazing friendship and more assessments of why roughly 30% of black Americans are “strongly anti-Semitic.”


*Note:  I realize that black and Jewish are not mutually exclusive (I’ve seen this video).  But it’s a very small group.


Fight Piracy, Not Internet Users: Stop the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)

One of the oldest jokes about Jews is if you ask three of us a question, you may get seven different answers. The discussion of ideas, the interpretation of laws and values is a central tenet to Judaism. It is also a fundamental part of why this blog, and countless blogs on other topics across the country, are successful. But what if the ability to freely share ideas were taken away? Normally this question would be followed by comments about the latest crackdown on citizens in Iran, Syria or North Korea. Unfortunately, this time a piece of US legislation is the culprit.

There is legislation pending in congress, called the Stop Online Piracy Act, and sister legislation in the Senate called the Protect IP Act, which both implement draconian measures to attempt to reduce piracy on the Internet.  The side effects of even attempting to reduce piracy via this legislation would come at tremendous cost. The legislation in its initial form breaks the internet, restricts free speech, threatens cute kittens, and violates due process.  Regardless of whether you are a Republican, a Democrat, an Independent, or someone who just wants to be left alone, below are the reasons to be alarmed by SOPA.

In its original form, SOPA literally breaks the internet. The website names in the address bar are translated to numbers through a process called DNS.  Mainly because it’s a lot easier to remember than its IP address of  SOPA wants to block US internet providers from forwarding on to sites associated with piracy. The problem is that any attempts to redirect traffic to anywhere other than the requested destination is treated by both software and hardware as an attack. There is no way to teach our computers the difference between a good redirection and a bad one. Worse, the bill wants to ban a new technology created by the US government called DNSSEC, which was developed specifically to prevent DNS redirections. The bottom line is that the internet would be considerably less safe, and everything from businesses to national security would be affected.

 Note: SOPA and its sister act PIPA are currently undergoing major review in this capacity, with a promise from the House, Senate, and White House that they will not break the internet to try to block piracy. However Congress has reserved the right to add this back in after “further investigation.”

Due process for sites accused of piracy is ignored. Currently blogs, and other content providers, as well as search engines are protected from what users post by what is called the “Safe Harbor” Clause in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Basically if a user posts a copyrighted video in the comments section of the blog, the owner of that copyright has to file a formal complaint, and then the website owner is required to research the request and take any appropriate action. The owner of the website can only be sued if they are negligent in responding to the request. However, under SOPA, these protections are abandoned. Worse, there is no real burden of proof to sue the website and the original version of the bill allowed ex parte proceedings, which according to an article in the Stanford Law Review means that “only one side (the prosecutor or even a private plaintiff) need present evidence and the operator of the allegedly infringing site need not be present nor even made aware that the action was pending against his or her “property.” The bottom line is those accused could be found guilty of copyright infringement for actions they were not responsible for and without an opportunity to even defend themselves.

It hurts social media and job growth. Because the law does not clearly define what copyright infringement is, people could potentially be fined or thrown in jail for a traditionally acceptable action, for example lip syncing a song on Youtube. Forbes recently quoted a venture capitalist saying that  they would no longer fund social media startups (one of the fastest growing areas of the tech world and the economy in general) if this new legislation happened, because of the massive risk from lawsuits.

Numerous sites have also correctly claimed that SOPA & PIPA would infringe on our country’s rich history of freedom of speech.

SOPA is an extremely damaging piece of legislation. It rocks the very core of American society, decreasing our security, changing the burden of proof onto the accused, and hurting our economy.

Opposition to this bill has been overwhelming and bipartisan. Republican Senators Charles Grassley, Orrin Hatch, Jeff Sessions, John Cornyn, Mike Lee, and Tom Coburn have signed a letter against PIPA. Across the aisle, Democratic Senators Ron Wyden and Maria Cantwell (who are co-sponsors of alternate anti-piracy legislation, along with Republican Jerry Moran) have also opposed the bill, as has Ben Cardin. In the House, Darren Issa, Nancy Pelosi, and Paul Ryan are leading the anti-SOPA efforts. Even members of the Obama administration have emphasized that they “ will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.”

In the private sector, the opposition has been even more overwhelming. The Net Coalition, which represents leading global Internet and technology companies, including Google, Yahoo!,, eBay, and Wikipedia, to name a few, has undertaken a number of civil and lobbying efforts to block the legislation (see a statement here).

Google has launched a petition on its website. Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales, went so far as to have a 24-hour blackout of his website on January 18, in protest of the legislation.

But this preliminary opposition, while important, is not enough. More individual voters need to get involved, too. Remember, there are hundreds of ways that SOPA could affect you daily. So read up on the legislation and, even better, contact your elected representative about this issue and let them know you will not see the internet ruined in your name.  Copyright owners have a right to protect their content, but not at the costs society would pay from either SOPA or PIPA.

Hopefully the OPEN Act, a recently proposed bipartisan alternative to SOPA/PIPA, will allow copyright owner to be protect without ruining the internet.

Thank you,

Jon Halperin


Bicontinental Sephardic Shabbat

DC Jews keeping up with news from the Holy Land may have heard about the Israeli town of Beit Shemesh in recent weeks. This suburb of Jerusalem was in the news after acts of religious extremism triggered widespread national protests.  These events, which sparked debates about the meaning of Jewish faith and practice across Israel, also provoked discussions in Jewish communities in DC (see, for example, here.)

This weekend, local Jews will have an opportunity to explore a new angle of Beit Shemesh, when YAD-MD hosts a diverse group of Beit Shemesh residents at a two-night Celebration of Middle Eastern Food & Music at the Magen David Sephardic Synagogue in Rockville, MD.

Friday, January 20th: Shabbat Services and Dinner

Saturday night, January 21st: Hafla. Celebrate the Sephardi cultural traditions of Israel in a night of music and culinary tastings presented by a delegation of Israeli musicians and cooks from Mateh Yehuda-Beit Shemesh. You will enjoy sampling appetizers and desserts, with a musical program that includes a mix of modern, ethnic, and traditional Israeli music. Open Wine Bar included.

Address: 11215 Woodglen Dr, Rockville, MD

Sponsored by MDSC and the Jewish Federation’s Partnership2Gether project of the Jewish Agency



Corn Chowder

When the weather is cold like this, nothing quite hits the spot like a bowl of thick, creamy soup.  But most of the chowders out there are either shellfish or chicken based.  Since the soups are milk-based, neither one of those works so well for a kosher meal.  So, here’s a corn chowder recipe guaranteed to warm you up even when the temperature gets below the freezing mark.

© Courtney Weiner.  All Rights Reserved.

Total time: 40 min.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Level: Easy


  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped celery
  • 1 small can green chiles
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 15 oz. can corn
  • 2 15 oz. cans cream style corn
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh or ¼ tsp dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ¼ tsp salt, plus more to taste


Melt butter in a heavy pot over medium heat.  Add onion, celery, and chiles.  Cook for 3 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.  Add flour.  Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.   Bring to a boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until thick.  (The cooking time will be at the shorter end for higher-fat milk, longer for skim milk.)


Reflections on The MLK Shabbat – Visions of Freedom and Justice

Today is Martin Luther King Jr Day.  It is a crisp 40-degrees outside.  There are tourists — bundled up in winter coats — visiting his new memorial, which overlooks the Tidal Basin in Southwest DC.

The History Channel is on my TV.  Tom Brokaw is narrating “King,” a special dedicated to the Civil Rights leader.

Many local residents, including myself, are home from work reflecting on the change that this man delivered (and relaxing after four incredible NFL playoff games this weekend).

Many local residents, including myself, on Friday attended the 8th Annual MLK Shabbat, Visions of Freedom and Justice, hosted by the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue and Turner Memorial AME Church.  My first in the annual series, but one of many visits to Sixth & I and Rabbi Shira’s services.

Going into the event I had a basic understanding of the connection between Dr. King and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heshel.  Leaving, I had a finer appreciation.  Cantor Larry Paul spoke the words of Rabbi Heshel.  Borrowing the words from Heshel’s No Religion is an Island, the Cantor said “There is no monopoly on holiness…God is near to all who call upon him in truth.”  These words resonated with me, especially as they came a week after the passing of Jerzy Kluger, the childhood best friend of Pope John Paul II, who helped to establish diplomatic relations between The State of Israel and The Vatican.

Pastor William H. Lamar IV, of Turner Memorial, provided a rousing keynote speech.  Why?  The history of Sixth & I dates back to 1908 when Adas Israel Congregation dedicated the building.  As Adas moved to a new, larger, home in Cleveland Park, Turner Memorial acquired the building in 1951.  In 2002, when the building I sat in on Friday almost became a nightclub, it was saved by three developers and rededicated in 2004 as the pluralistic home for religion, culture, and community that it stands today.

The Pastor’s powerful words spoke of how he was torn.  How he saw King’s memorial and was neither hot nor cold about it.  He told us about how he personally connected with Dr. King and how he, as a child, aspired to follow his footsteps.  But he also spoke about the role of King.  How if he he was not shot down in 1968 and if he lived today, what would he think and say about the current state of affairs of this country and its people.  Would he sit idle as racism, intolerance, and the socio-economic disparities amongst minorities continued?  As the middle class shrinks and as politics, perhaps, plays a greater role than policy to some in power in this town?  He would not.

Like many services at Sixth & I, music followed spoken word and prayer.  But instead of singing along to Rick Recht, the Howard University Gospel Choir’s song reverberated off of the star-filled dome.

Like many services at Sixth & I, dance flowed from spoken word and prayer.  But instead of doing the hora to Salaam (od yavo shalom aleinu), the Agape Liturgical Dancers from Turner Memorial filled the space in front of the stage.

For those that have not been to MLK Shabbat, I’d encourage you to next year.  It is an experience.

For those that have not been to Sixth & I, I’d encourage you to visit regularly.  It is a place that would welcome you.

And for all, I hope you take this day and reflect on who Dr. King was.  And what he means to you.  And what he means to the Jewish people.  And what it means to have forests dedicated in southern and northern Israel based on the Kings.


Advance Screening: In Darkness

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum‘s Washington Next Generation Board of the Wings of Memory Society will host a private advance screening of In Darkness, a film by acclaimed director, Agnieszka Holland.

In Darkness depicts the true story of Leopold Socha, a sewer worker and petty thief in Lvov, a Nazi-occupied city in Poland, who encounters a group of Jews trying to escape the liquidation of the ghetto and hides them. The film has been selected as the Polish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 84th Academy Awards.

The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Ms. Holland, who also directed the 1990 German-language film, Europa, Europa.

WHEN: Wednesday, January 18, 6:30pm

WHERE: Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Theater, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 100 15th Street Southwest

There is no charge to attend this event. Please respond by Tuesday, January 17 at, or by contacting Taylor Lescallette at 202.314.7877 or For questions, please contact Michael Greenwald.


The Heroines of the Exodus

This week we began the second book of the Torah known as Shemot or Exodus.[1] Everyone is familiar with the hero of this story, Moshe (Moses) and his brother Aharon. Sadly many are unaware of the instrumental role Jewish women played in the redemption of the Jewish people from Egypt.

The Torah tells us that Pharaoh issued a cruel edict to the Hebrew midwives that they must murder every male child born to the Hebrew women. However, in one of the earliest recordings of civil disobedience, we see that the Hebrew midwives, Shifrah and Puah, disobeyed the royal decree. The Torah tells us that “the midwives feared G-d and they did not do as the king of Egypt spoke to them, and they caused the boys to live” (Shemot 1:17).  Rabbi Joseph Telushkin points out that one who fears G-d fears no one else – not even powerful people like Pharaoh – and one who fears G-d has the courage to do the right thing even in extraordinary circumstances.

The famous medieval commentator, Rashi (1040-1105), writes that Shifrah was in fact, Yocheved, the mother of Moshe, and Puah was Miryam, Moshe’s sister. He explains that Yocheved was called Shifrah (beautiful), because she used to beautify the infants and smooth their limbs. Miryam was called Puah (a word that denotes calling out) because she cooed and whispered to the infants.

Rabbi Yissochar Frand asks why the Torah chooses to call these two women by names that memorialize the care they showed the infants. These women saved lives! Shouldn’t they have been given names that memorialize their heroic rescue of Jewish children? Rabbi Frand answers that true greatness is measured by the little things we do and the good deeds we perform when no one is watching. It’s the small acts of kindness that reveal the depth of our character. Many ordinary people can occasionally have a moment of heroism by performing an act of greatness. However, after the headlines are made and the cameras have stopped flashing, the person goes right back to being an average person. Such greatness is superficial. After such an achievement, a person can pat themselves on the back for a deed well-done and carry on with the rest of their lives as if nothing had happened. Rather, it is small but extraordinary deeds that reveal one’s greatness. Shifrah and Puah were bravely saving lives yet they still had the sensitivity and thoughtfulness to care for the babies by beautifying and soothing them.[2]

The Talmud tells us that during the time of Pharaoh’s decree against the baby boys, the Jewish men decided to stop having children altogether. The men reasoned that there was no point in having children if the children were destined to be killed. It was the righteous Jewish women of that generation who convinced their husbands otherwise by beautifying themselves and seducing them into having relations. While the men despaired, the women remained cognizant that their sole obligation was to follow G-d’s commandments and trust that G-d would take care of the rest. They decided to continue following the commandment of bringing children into the world all the while trusting that G-d would soon mete out punishment to the Egyptians and redeem the Jewish people.[3] It is for this reason that the Talmud teaches: “In the merit of the righteous women of that generation, our forefathers were redeemed from Egypt” (Sotah 11b).

[1] The word, “Shemot” bears no similarity in translation to the English word, “Exodus.” In English ‘shemot’ means ‘names.’

[2] Rabbi Frand on the Parshah. Artscroll Series, 87-88



Enjoying Israel in DC

Bringing a bit of Israel to DC

I’ve been bitten by the bug prematurely. That is, the Israel bug. This week I’ll be fortunate enough to go to Israel (shout out to the SH-25-79 crew), and could not be more grateful for the chance. Being in DC has tremendously helped pave the way for the opportunity to go at last. If you haven’t gone yet, take the time while you’re in DC to find a participating group. There are plenty here, and you won’t be sorry.

In the meanwhile, I’m counting down the days, not being efficient at work anymore, stocking up on SPF 100 [Editor's note: Rachel is a ginger. Others should feel free to use lower SPF sun protection] and starting a movie marathon of films that feature Israel and similarly arid destinations. If you’re also in need of an Israel fix, there are several DC area events in the upcoming weeks that might hit the spot.

The Washington DCJCC has a new exhibit opening Jan. 19 that runs through April 6. The exhibition, called “Walking Tel Aviv: Photographs by David Bergholz” features snippets and images of the city often not seen by tourists. The opening reception at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 19 will feature Bergholz himself as he talks about the series. Check out the JCC’s website  for details.

If you’re looking for a night of good music, Israeli guitarist Mia Pomerantz and her husband Jorge Amaral will be performing in Bethesda at the Westmoreland Congregational Church as part of the Marlow Guitar Series. Music starts at 8 p.m. on Jan. 21.

The Avalon Theatre is showing “Salsa Tel Aviv” on Jan. 25, as part of the Embassy of Israel’s ReelIsraelDC monthly film series. The movie is a romantic comedy about a single mom/salsa dancer who flies to Israel disguised as a nun to work.  Sounds slightly “Dirty Dancing”-esque, which could be amusing. Check out the trailer and details here.

Listen to the songs of two popular Israeli singers, Arik Einstein and Shalom Chanoch, as sung by the Israeli Scouts of Rockville on Jan. 28. The performance will be held at the JCC of Greater Washington in Rockville from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., and tickets are $10. See details here.

Enjoy, and see you on the other side of the two-week stint in the Holy Land. Unless the bug totally consumes me. Then the next post will be from Israel.


A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (week 25)

Don't overdo it

A picture’s worth a thousand words… but 10 pictures are a waste of time.  Now that Facebook has taken over the world, when it comes to online dating profiles, people often confuse the concept of posting just a few flattering pictures with posting a whole album.  I have no doubt that your pictures from your trip to Greece with you standing on the Acropolis are amazing… just remember, there’s a time and a place for them, and that place is not JDate.

When choosing which photos to put in your online dating profile, use these five rules of thumb:

  1. Less is more

JDate allows 12 pictures, and allows a whopping 26!  When I used JDate in the olden days (aka before the recent format change), only four pictures were allowed.  I believe this was for the better.  Let’s say I have eight photos of myself on JDate.  In four of them, I look really cute; in two, I look just ok; and in the remaining two, for one reason or another, I just don’t look as good.  My potential suitor may think I’m the gal for him based on the first couple of pictures alone, but by the time he gets to #8, he’s already dismissed me, thinking that those two bad pictures reflect what I actually look like.

Two great photos win over four or more mediocre photos any day.  People will look for the one bad one and decide not to e-mail you because of it.

  1. Have at least one clear “face” photo

If you don’t have at least one clear face photo as your main profile picture, your profile will scream, “Hiding something!” or “What – this person can’t even have a friend snap a good picture?”  You really don’t want someone not to click on you because he or she can’t see what you look like.

Blurry photos don’t help anyone, and they do hurt you.

  1. Be by yourself in the shot

A client recently told me that someone e-mailed her on asking if he could have her friend’s information.  She was confused for a moment and then realized that he had looked at her pictures, one of which included some friends, and concluded that her friend would be the woman of his dreams.

You’re already being compared to others on the site, so do not give someone the chance to compare you to the other people in your own profile.  If you’re trying to show that you have friends or are social, just say so. 

Two caveats: Children – only if they are your own, and pets – but again, don’t borrow Fido from your neighbor.  The children/pet rule can backfire if they are not yours.  For example, for a woman in her 30s, a picture of a child makes it look like she wants kids ASAP.

  1. Have one photo where you are doing something interesting

I had a photo of myself singing the National Anthem in my online dating profile.  I got daily e-mails asking where I was singing and how I got the gig.  It gave people the “in” they needed to strike up a conversation.

Many people have no idea what to say in the initial e-mail, so give them something easy to comment about, or “e-mail bait.”

  1. Be accurate

It happens all the time where you go on a date, and the person looks nothing like his or her photos and profile had indicated.  Don’t lie about your looks… enough said.

It’s better to have someone meet you in person and think, “He/she is much better-looking than the photos,” not, “Wow – those photos were a lie… or taken five years ago!” 

And the biggest photo myth: Professional photos are frowned upon.  Wrong!  (Just make sure they are in a natural setting.)  If you look good, no one will care who took the pictures or whether you paid for them.  They’ll just be happy they found someone as good-looking as you are.

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.

This article was also posted in JMag, the online magazine for


Service Opportunities on MLK Day

1) MLK Day of Service

When: Mon, January 16, 9:30am – 2:00pm

Where: Meet at Tikvat Israel, 2200 Baltimore Road, Rockville, MD 20851 (map)

Description:  Join the Joint Youth Department of Tikvat Israel and Shaare Tefila for a Day of Service. We will be working off-site at the Interfaith Clothing Closet and Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary, as well as on a variety of projects in the Tikvat Israel building.

Cost: $5 per person or $15 per family Wear old clothes, work shoes, and bring work gloves for off site programs Donate your old denim jeans – they will be used as insulation by Habitat for Humanity Bring used blankets and towels for the Montgomery County Animal Shelter Adult drivers are needed.

Call Lynn Berk at 301.762.7338 if you can drive RSVP by Jan 11

2) Volunteer at Yachad

 When: Mon, January 16, 10am – 4pm

Where: TBD (a project in DC) (map)

Description:  Truly celebrate MLK Day by volunteering at Yachad’s We the People program. Yachad is the affordable housing and community development nonprofit of DC. Every federal holiday we have an open volunteer project for individuals interested in working side-by-side with other volunteers and those being served to repair the home or community center of low-income residents. Must register to participate. Spaces are limited.

Work 10-1, 1-4 or all day (10-4). Suggested $25 donation for participation (tax-deductible). Celebrate with us at a local bar after the project. Hope to see you there!

3) MLK Service Day Volunteering

When: Mon, January 16, 10am – 3pm

Where: 800 Eighth Street NW Washington, DC

Description: MLK Service Day Volunteering Monday, January 16, 2012 10am-3pm (food will be served) What are you doing on MLK Day? At the Schusterman Family Foundation, we are making MLK Day a day on, not a day off – and we hope you will join us! We’ll be partnering with DC-based Teach for America corps members to create supportive, fully stocked learning environments for their students. Let them know if you can make it by responding directly to

4) MLK Day of Service with Moishe House

When: Mon, January 16, 1pm – 4pm

Where: The Marriott Conference Center at 5701 Marinelli Road, North Bethesda (map)

Description: Moishe House will join with thousands of Americans across the country who will celebrate the national holiday honoring the life and work of Dr. King by doing service in their communities by volunteering at the local MLK day of service, organized by the Montgomery County Volunteer Center. Projects include: Decorating cards for veterans, assembling PB&J sandwiches with Whole Foods for local shelters, constructing fleece blankets for Montgomery Hospice, packing Snow Day boxes for Meals on Wheels. Check out what the day will look like here.



Aaron Wolff Time (cue MC Hammer music)

Image Aaron used for Connect Gens picture.

Some of you know him as “the tall guy with the hat.”  Others know him as “The WOLFf.”  And still others refer to him as “The Gather the Jews guy.”

Aaron Wolff — co-founder of Gather the Jews — has as many talents as he does names.  And this week, some people make special mention of his talents.

  1. Last week the Washington Jewish Week featured The WOLFf (I fall in the second camp) as an interesting, up-and-coming, and talented young Jewish adult who is making a difference in the community.  You can click here for his interview with the WJW, but you can only read the first paragraph — you have to subscribe for the rest of the article.
  2. The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington recently named Aaron as one of the 2012 Connect Gens Fellows.  As part of this program, Aaron will take a number of classes on Jewish social entrepreneurship, and he will be partnered with mentors in the entrepreneurial world.  Former Jewish Girls of the Week Stacy M. and Ricki M. also became Connect Gens fellows, as did our good friend at the JCC, Ilana W.   You can meet all 10 fellows and read about their projects here

Original image... Apparently I'm not cool enough to make "the cut."


















Go To Israel!

Our friends from The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington passed these opportunities on to us:

June 2012 Birthright Israel NEXT DC Alumni Leadership Mission (June 18-25, 2012) – Apply beginning Monday, Jan. 23 @ 10:00am
A unique opportunity for Birthright Israel alumni to travel to Israel once again, but focus this time on leadership development and training. Participants will spend a week in Israel and have the opportunity to learn and experience how young people are re-shaping Israel’s business and technological climate, make global connections, and experience firsthand how The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington supports communities abroad. Learn more at

FREE 10-day Taglit-Birthright Israel: DC Community Trip this SUMMER!

Are you a Jewish young professional or graduate student, ages 22 to 26, living in the Greater Washington area who has never been to Israel on an organized trip before? This trip is for you! With trip provider Shorashim, you will travel for 10 days this summer with Israelis who will share the beauty, excitement, and complexities of their country with you. Experience the history and challenges of modern Israel while building a community of fellow Washingtonians. Returning applicants are able to apply on February 14th at noon and new applicants on February 15th at 10am. For more information, please visit and select the “DC Community Trip”.  The trip fills up fast, so get on the bus and join us on an amazing 10-day adventure! Please contact Sarah Arenstein at or (301) 230-7277 with questions.





Schnitzel: Fried, Cheap, and Easy

Happy New Year! I took a brief hiatus over the holidays to overindulge in good food and drink, but I am back and ready to cook! All the new year’s resolutions to eat healthier are getting trite, so I decided to buck the trend and start 2012 by coating chicken breasts in bread crumbs and frying them in oil, aka schnitzel. The recipe is available here.

Schnitzel was a staple at my house growing up, and I have learned that I’m not alone. Almost every country offers some variety of schnitzel, whether it be veal, pork, or chicken. My vegetarian friends have scared me away from veal and I don’t eat pork, so chicken schnitzel it is! I loved this recipe for a few reasons: 1) it was delicious, and 2) it required forming a short assembly line and this girl loves process! I ended up with a lot of unused flour and bread crumbs, so I would recommend cutting down on those ingredients. I also would recommend donning an apron because all the dipping, flouring, and breading can get messy.

So how does the whole experience rank? On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “bad” and 5 being “good”

Prep time: 5

Prep time totaled about 15 minutes. I decided to reduce the thickness of some chicken breasts I already had instead of buying new ones, so I had to slice the cutlets in half horizontally before tenderizing. The final step was setting up the dunking stations: flour, eggs, and the bread crumbs and paprika mixture.

Overall ease: 5

This recipe is super easy. Cooking it also reminded me why it’s such a great family recipe; what kid doesn’t love assembly lines?!

Cook time: 5

Once you ease the cutlets into the hot oil, it only takes about 2 minutes per side for the chicken to cook through. This is a great recipe if you have limited time but still want a savory dish.

Cost: 5

This is a very low-cost recipe, especially if you already have chicken handy.

Taste: 5

This dish was savory and delicious. The paprika was a critical addition and really enhanced the taste. The breading was crispy and golden brown, and the chicken was very tender. All around yummy.

Chicken Schnitzel

  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (4 large breasts)
  • 1 cup flour for dredging
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs or matzo meal
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Oil for frying
  • Fresh lemon wedges for garnish
  1. Lay down a 2-foot long strip of plastic wrap on your kitchen counter top. Place chicken breasts on the plastic, leaving a 2-inch space between each breast. Cover the breasts with another strip of plastic, so the meat is sandwiched between two layers of plastic. Use a mallet to pound the breasts until they are a little less than ¼ inch thick.
  2. Set up three wide, shallow bowls and a large plate on your counter top. In your first bowl, put the flour. In your second bowl, beat the eggs. In your third bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs, paprika, 1 tsp salt and sesame seeds (optional) till well blended. Leave an empty plate nearby where you will place your coated schnitzels.
  3. Pour oil into a skillet until it’s deep enough for frying (about ½ inch). Heat the oil slowly over medium. While oil is heating, dip each breast one by one into your breading bowls—first coat with flour, then with egg, then with breadcrumb mixture.
  4. The ideal temperature to fry schnitzel is around 375 degrees F. When the oil is hot (but not smoking or splattering), fry the coated breasts in single-layer batches until they are golden brown on both sides. If your oil is at the right temperature, it should take about 3-4 minutes per side. Don’t fry more than two breasts at a time in a regular sized skillet, or the oil temperature will drop and the schnitzels will become greasy.
  5. After frying, set the schnitzels on a paper towel and pat them dry to soak off excess oil.
  6. Sprinkle the schnitzels with salt to taste. Serve hot garnished with lemon wedges and your favorite condiment.


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