The Super Bowl and SodaStream Ad

sodaConversion Rate:  A Monthly Column from a DC Young Professional on the Israeli Economy (and other Misc thoughts…)

It has been a couple years since I was a finalist for GTJ’s Jewish Guy of the Year.  Although my rap skills haven’t improved much since then, I’ve definitely explored a lot of what the DC Jewish community has to offer.  I’ve been to many young pro trivia nights at Sixth & I.  I’ve networked at Jewish Federation of Greater Washington programs.  I’ve visited countless embassies and the United Nations through B’nai B’rith to advocate on behalf of the global Jewish community.  I helped the DCJCC host a great Hanukkah on the Hill and was a part of the team that raised $20k at the Falafel Frenzy to fight hunger in DC.  I’ve begun to make a direct investment in the Jewish State’s future – and my own – through purchasing Israel Bonds. I’ve lobbied on behalf of Israel through AIPAC. And I adopted a dog and renamed him Shekels.

Last Sunday I watched the Super Bowl with Shekels. Our first together.  Seattle’s defense was simply impressive.  I watched a lot of Seahawks games throughout the season as I had Marshawn Lynch on my fantasy team. Beast Mode helped me get to the finals, but I didn’t win.  I also watched a lot of Broncos games because Peyton’s season was historic.  What I picked up from the Seahawks season and their Super Bowl performance was that sometimes a good defense is a good offense. Richard Sherman.

So as I’m watching the Super Bowl and anticipating the SodaStream commercial with Scarlett Johansson, I was wondering what all of the hype was about… I had streamed — no pun intended — the banned commercial ahead of the game, which now has nearly 12 million views on SodaStream’s YouTube Channel.  And I had been keeping myself up-to-date on Johansson’s comments against BDS and the decision that she made to step down as an Oxfam Ambassador for their hard-line stance.  But what was all of the hype about???

Johannson describes SodaStream as, “a company that is not only committed to the environment but to building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine, supporting neighbors working alongside each other, receiving equal pay, equal benefits and equal rights.”

I was at a loss – like my fantasy football team and the Denver Broncos.  How was Scarlett Johannson put on the defense for supporting an Israeli company, competing in the global market, providing jobs to Palestinians?  The company’s Super Bowl commercial was not political at all.  And if it was, the political statement would be a positive one of equality and opportunity.

Controversy sells though.  And all of the added hype has given SodaStream considerable free earned media – on top of their Super Bowl ad time.  And to add to my earlier list of DC Jewish accomplishments that I’m proud of, these commercials and Scarlett Johansson’s pretty face has also created one more sale of SodaStream.  They’re now on the offense because I am looking forward to support a local small business in DC and an Israeli company as I head to Eastern Market to pick up a SodaStream at Hill’s Kitchen this weekend.  Who’s with me?


The V-Day Shuffle – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 83)

cupidAh, Valentine’s Day.  Depending on where you are in a relationship (or where you’re not), it can be a day of roses and chocolates, love letters and hearts, uncertainty and stomach pangs, or leftover Pad Thai and a whole bottle of wine to drink solo.  Whatever your situation this Valentine’s Day, I want to provide some date ideas for any stage in a relationship:

Couples in very long-term relationships (including marriage):

At this stage, you may have already exhausted your cute and romantic ideas when you were trying to woo each other at the earlier stages of your relationship.  (If you still have a few tricks up your sleeve, good for you!)  Something as simple as a romantic dinner out (especially if you have kids) to spend some quality time together will still be a great date idea.  Oftentimes, once people enter long-term, committed relationships, they forget that the “dating” part is not over.  (I personally think it should never be over.)  And a well-thought card expressing your love for each other goes a long way.  Don’t take this stage for granted.

Couples in new relationships:

This is probably the most fun place to be for Valentine’s Day.  You likely get butterflies just thinking about spending your first V-Day together.  If you want to buy into the holiday (and I do partially mean literally, with the cards, flowers, and chocolate), then go for it!  Why not?  Go for a romantic dinner, take a weekend trip, feed each other chocolates.  And if that’s not your style, then go crazy watching (or making fun of?) other people doing this stuff!  Or just keep it low key if that’s more your thing, and declare it your own celebration.  Maybe you’ll go ice skating or to see a movie, but you’re still doing something to acknowledge the day.  Just have some fun – there’s nothing to lose!

People who just started seeing each other and aren’t sure where it’s going:

This is where things may get a bit hairy.  I’ve had clients ask me, after having gone on one or two successful dates, “What do I do for Valentine’s Day?  Do I make a big deal of it?  Do I even acknowledge it?  Do I buy something?”  This holiday adds so much undue pressure on things, pressure that is not necessary.  I would treat your next date like any other second or third date, without the “V-Day pressure” creeping in.  Maybe you’ll go to a comedy show, or maybe you’ll go play Connect Four at a bar.  If you want to go out with someone on Friday, great!  If not, great!  I wouldn’t buy into the hype when things are so fresh.  The best thing you can do, whether you go out on V-Day or not, is to simply say, “I’m really excited to see where things go.”  It’s honest, sweet, and simple.

Single people:

Do not fret!  Some people think that being single on Valentine’s Day is the kiss (or lack thereof, as the case may be) of death.  It’s not.  Do you know why?  You don’t have to pay a fortune for these fixed-priced menus, you won’t gain weight from eating the entire heart-shaped box of pecan clusters in one night, and you don’t have to read through all of the sappy Hallmark cards at CVS to try to pick just the right one.  This holiday can be what you make of it, and I encourage you not to make a big deal of it.  It’s just a day after all.  Go out like you normally would on a Friday night.  Have a ladies’ night or a guys’ night.  No need to make faces at all of the people in couples.  Instead, remember all of the blessings you have in your life… most importantly right now, your freedom.

Whatever you decide to do this Friday, stay true to yourself, and don’t let the pressure get the best of you.  If you’re with the right person, have a ball, and if you’re not, well, have a ball, too.  It’s Friday night, after all.  (Plus, for anyone who knows me, while I’m both a dating coach and a sucker for romance, my favorite 14th is actually in March.  I love Pi Day!  Any excuse to let my inner nerdom come out is okay with me!)

websize (5 of 6)TinyErika 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.







Masa Israel Featured Internship: Teaching Internship, College for All

As an intern at College for All you will have the opportunity to teach kids and teenagers (ranging from the 3rd grade until graduation) from impoverished neighborhoods, to assist them in reaching their goals and providing the extra help necessary to fulfill their potential.

College for All will guide interns in the special educational methods they use in helping the youths of their organization.

College for All was established so as to provide equal educational opportunities for all children, while narrowing social gaps within Israeli society. The founders of College for All realized that motivated and talented children from economically distressed neighborhoods rarely receive appropriate support and encouragement and often fail to complete their education. A large percentage of pupils from impoverished neighborhoods identified as high achievers in elementary school have to deal with economic adversity, family hardships and social difficulties and do not receive appropriate support and encouragement. Many end up without a high school diploma and do not continue towards a higher education.


Letter to WSJ Editor Compares American Politics to Nazi Germany

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

As it turns out, having a sense of anthropological, historical, and even sometimes anecdotal context can be useful in the field of journalism.

To frame Tom Perkins as senescent and ill-spoken barely helps to defend his recent comments in which he compared President Obama’s economic policies to the Holocaust in a letter to the Wall Street Journal titled: “Progressive Kristallnacht Coming?” (Jan. 24, 2014).  Following that day’s print, the Journal received comments that “drop(ped) anvils on Tom Perkins” for writing what the Journal’s editorial board described as the most-read letter to the editor in the paper’s history.

While many assiduous Journal readers in this country and across the world might expect a respectable publication to properly address such excoriating backlash from its readership, the Journal threw us a curveball by devoting an entire editorial to defending Perkins.  If Paul Gigot, Editor of the Editorial page, planned to ease us in to the controversial waters his steering produced, the title failed to deliver: “Perkinshacht: Liberal Vituperation makes our letter writer’s point.”  The pique continues: “The irony is that the vituperation is making our friend’s point about liberal intolerance—maybe better than he did.”

Perhaps now a reference to the importance of cyber security, and a reminder to change your work computer password each week?  Lest we think the United States’ most widely-circulated newspaper is defending the words of a man who seems to have slipped into a state of confusion (or delusion), we learn this was no hack:

“I perceive a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent,” wrote the legendary venture capitalist … Mr. Perkins called it “a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendant ‘progressive’ radicalism unthinkable now?… Maybe the critics are afraid that Mr. Perkins is onto something about the left’s political method.”

The comparison is unfortunate, as the editorial ultimately admits. If this brand of journalism constitutes business news, then comedy has been relegated to tragedy.  And there was no shortage of laughs in the Review section that day.  The most painfully funny item was the grand finale: “Mr. Obama doesn’t merely want to raise taxes on the rich to finance the government.  He says “millionaires and billionaires” simply make too much money and deserve to be punished.”

Jonathan Chait, writing for, says it best: “One good clue that somebody is mischaracterizing a source’s words is if they omit important context from the quote.  Here the Journal hasn’t merely omitted context, they’ve omitted the entire quote.  Or, rather, they quote three words — “millionaires and billionaires” — and then simply assert the parts about Obama thinking the rich make too much money and need punishment.  They truncated the entire quote.”

The Journal’s defense strategy is borderline genius, but it is more so a sad explanation for printing and then defending a blatant affront to Jews, Americans, the literate population, or any human that has any sense of historical context.

Just last week, my friend Aaron Qayumi and I wrote a piece describing how our recent Birthright trip to Israel reignited our intellectual curiosity surrounding our culture, others’ histories and cultures, and most importantly, how different cultures mesh, interact with each other, and collaborate to create a functioning society.

Maybe Mr. Perkins needs to get out more.

Brian Block is a Penn State graduate with a passion for Italian food and his hometown, Philadelphia, most specifically the Phillies. Following campaign stints in New York, Pennsylvania, and Arizona, he’s lived in DC for nearly two years working in government relations and financial services.


Rabbi Deborah Reichmann

IMG_5225Name: Rabbi Deborah Reichmann

What people call you: Rabbi Debbie

Congregation: none

Location: DC Metro area (technically Rockville, MD)

Denomination: post-denominational/Jewish universal

Ordained from: Jewish Spiritual Leaders Institute (JSLI)

Programs/Services you run/offer: Weddings and premarital counseling (Jewish, Interfaith and same-sex), Bar/Bat mitzvah training and services, baby namings, funerals and memorials, lectures and discussion leading

Hobbies: Stone carving

Fun fact about you: was a health policy attorney for 10 years (JD, MPH), and now working on a doctorate

Contact information:,, (202) 302-3137

Anything else we should know? Licensed to perform weddings in DC & VA (and Maryland)


Meet the Moishe House Arlington!

970712_161666084029515_1838975323_nMoishe House Arlington has some great programming coming up this month including Love, Pizza, Judaism, and You, Bottomless Mimosa Brunch, and Game Night @ Moishe House Arlington ft. Masa Israel.

Rachel: So who lives in the Arlington Moishe House?
Will: Avi F., Orly H., and Will C.

Rachel: How long has the MH Arlington existed?
Will: September.  February is our 6th month.
Orly: It feels like three years already.

Rachel: Did you know each other before?
Orly: Avi and I knew each other, but Will was set up with us through the application process.  That sealed the deal because he makes amazing pizza, which is all a roommate could ask for.
Avi: That and baked goods.

Rachel: Is it true you planted etrogs in your backyard?
Will: We haven’t planted them… yet.  But out house is full of etrog saplings.  If you came to our Tu B’Shevat seder you might have even took one home!
Orly: Hopefully they’ll be fruiting in 3-4 years – selling etrogs is our back-up retirement plan.

Rachel: What is the funniest thing that’s happened since you guys have moved in?
Orly: We have a neighbor with a chihuahua who likes to party.  Her name is Coco Chanel.  Anytime Coco comes over things get pretty hilarious.
Avi: That and our Murder Mystery Shabbat.  Watching a bunch of Jews play 20’s mobsters is not a site you see often.

Rachel: What events are you most excited to plan/have already planned?
Orly: We did a gleaning in the fall that was a lot of fun, and we’ve made some really good beer.  But we’ve got a volunteer program we’re starting to do on a monthly basis that I’m excited for!
Avi: We had a showing of The Hebrew Hammer, along with 5 different homemade popcorn flavors, which was a blast.  That movie just cuts to the core of what it means to be an Ashkenazi Jew.  We also had a discussion of Jews and Tattoos over homemade pizza that was really awesome.

Rachel: What would you say the vibe of the house is?
Orly: We’re very relaxed.  We like to see our friends, and we like to meet new people.  We like to feed people, and we like beer and whiskey.  When there’s no one else here, sometimes Avi does yoga with me in the living room while Will laughs.  Will laughs a lot.


Catfish Isn’t Just What You Ate For Dinner – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 83)

fishWhen people hear the term “online dating,” they don’t always know what it means.  Here’s what it doesn’t mean:

  • Having a virtual girlfriend or boyfriend
  • Dating in your pajamas for the rest of eternity while eating a pint of Chunky Monkey
  • Sitting behind your computer and assuming that you just had a “hot date”

In many ways, “online dating” is a misnomer.  It could instead be called “online introductions” because the actual “dating” part should still be in person.  Period.

It’s easy to fall in love with someone’s online dating profile, isn’t it?  In fact, a client who lives in MD just told me this morning that she “really likes everything about” this guy in NY based on his JDate profile.  I reminded her that this person is not real until she’s had a face-to-face interaction with him.  It’s just words on a page and a picture until then.

People join online dating sites for many reasons: To find an activity partner, a friend, a date, a one-night stand, a long-term relationship, or marriage. All it takes is the click of a button to list what we’d like to find in our online dating adventure.  Curiously enough, “pen pal” is not an option.  Why?  Because people do not join online dating sites to simply email back and forth with no end in sight.  People are looking to form a real relationship, not an “e-lationship.”

It’s not too forward to ask someone out for a drink or coffee after one or two emails back and forth.  (And I generally recommend that the guy does the asking.)  If a woman responds to your email or reaches out to you on her own (which I strongly encourage women to do), she’s probably interested enough to meet in person.

Of course, some people don’t know when it’s appropriate to move from the email to the date and err on the side of caution (aka waiting too long), so in this case, I recommend saying something like, “I’m really enjoying these emails.  Should we meet for a drink next week?  I’m free Monday or Wednesday if either works for you.”  If they take the bait or suggest a different day, then that’s great!  If the answer is simply no (or there’s no answer), then it’s time to move on.  If someone is perpetually busy, either he or she is secretly the President of the Universe or is trying to get out of meeting in person for some reason.  Don’t dwell on it.  It wasn’t meant to be.

If meeting in person is not feasible for some reason (perhaps you don’t live close enough to meet in a timely fashion), then the best thing to do is to suggest that you Skype or FaceTime.  It takes just as long to dial someone’s number and chat for a few minutes as it does to sit down and email each other, so if someone declines this offer, that is a major red flag.

My advice?  Meet offline as soon as you can.  If you like each other, you’ll be glad you didn’t waste all that time emailing.  And if you don’t, you can move on and also be glad you didn’t waste all that time emailing.  Win-win!  Don’t be the next story on Catfish: The TV Show.

erika ettin-49381 Cropped (1)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.




Masa Israel Featured Internship: Researcher and Sales Intern, Roomixer

Responsibilities include: promoting and selling Roomixer’s marketplace in the Tel Aviv office located onthe Google Campus; researching Israeli users based on lean methods; developing a complete understanding and capability to explain the Roomixer concept and its services; building a sales network and handling the entire sales process including generating leads, negotiating and finalizing contracts and identifying potential new partners/clients; organizing Roomixer events; handling public relations for the Tel Aviv Roomixer platform; and determining and reaching sales goals.

Candidates should have relevant research abilities, some sales experience, the desire to work at an innovative startup company, ability to network, and the motivation to sell. They should be flexible, decisive, motivated, reliable and creative, taking initiative and demonstrating self-confidence and enthusiasm. They should be able to work under pressure and unconventional hours. Candidates should be able to create and maintain mutually beneficial relationships with customers/key figures in Tel Aviv vacation rental properties.

Roomixer is an online marketplace for guest referrals, generating revenue and extending additional courtesy to guests. Roomixer provides hotels and vacation rentals a place to refer additional guests to, as well as fill rooms when necessary. By allowing them to buy and sell their turned away guests, accommodations can now generate an entirely new income stream.


DC’s Adam Segal, founder of cove, tells GTJ about its newest location and launch party

Adam imageAdam Segal is the founder of cove.  cove is an alternative to working from home, coffee shops, or even the office.  Locations offer all the tools you need to be productive: unlimited printing, scanning, fast WiFi and free coffee.  The launch party for cove’s new 14th street location is Wednesday, January29th.

Rachel: Hi Adam, how are you today?
Adam: Excited for the cove community and beyond to check out cove 14th at the launch of the second space, @coveDC #meetcove!  Our first location is in Dupont Circle.

Rachel: So tell me, what is cove?
Adam: cove is a network of neighborhood productive spaces, with a community when you want it.  As a cove member, you are not tied to a single space in the network.  Think productive coffee shop where we give you the coffee and the productive.

Rachel: Why should I pay for space at cove when I could just sit at a coffee shop?
Adam: Great question; it all depends on the person – a coffee shop can be a great place to work as well as the couch at home.  cove, however, is intended to be part of your schedule – to help you step outside the living room and noisy coffee shop and be really productive.  cove has all the productive tools you could need that come with your membership – color printer, scanner, multiple wifis, coffee, drinks (San Pellegrino is a member favorite) – all for less than the price of a latte for the afternoon.

cove focusedRachel: How exactly does it work?  Do I have to reserve a desk?
Adam: We always suggest you become a trial member for a day to see if cove is right for you.  Just sign up on the website,, with your email.  We will send you a free trial membership QR code – then just come on in!  If you decide you like the experience, select a monthly productive plan with no commitment.  For the planner in you, you can always reserve a spot in advance – including one of many conference rooms – from the phone or desktop.

Rachel: What gave you the idea to open cove?
Adam: Well I worked from home and from a big corporate office with cubicles, and to be honest I was not particularly good at either.  cove really came out of a personal need for a place to be productive, with a community and company when you want it.

Rachel: Does Judaism impact your business practices at all?  Has it guided you in any way?
Adam: cove has a strong community component; I think Judaism, like other non-secular and secular groups, emphasize community.  With community, you feel a part of something bigger than just the day’s tasks.

cove windowRachel: Does cove have a focus on sustainability?
Adam: We do!  Daniel from a local startup, Green Impact Campaign, was nice enough to provide a sustainability analysis of our locations.  He provided in depth sustainability feedback (we’re doing pretty good actually!) as well as suggestions – for example our goal is to have all LED and high-efficiency lighting from his analysis.  As cove expands, we would like to make this a big component – and having the support of local startups like Daniel’s has made it really easy for us.

Rachel: You’re opening a new location on 14th street and there’s a launch party.  Can you give us more info?
Adam: Sure – starts tonight at 6:30pm; we have a jazz band, neighborhood giveaways, food from our friends at Barcelona and Glen’s Market, among a bunch of other fun stuff.  It will be a good time for our community to meet the neighborhood and introduce cove to 14th St!

Rachel: That sounds awesome!  One last question (it’s a GTJ classic)- finish the sentence, “When the Jews gather…”
Adam: …at cove, they are clearly super productive.


Aaron and Brian share about their experience on the DC Community Birthright Trip…and how you can go too!

Shorashim Bus 153 January 2014 091The second to last night of our Birthright trip, 40 of our new best friends were packed into a tiny hotel room in Jerusalem, reminiscing about everything we had done in the past 24 hours: all sleeping under the same Bedouin tent, riding camels through the Negev desert, floating in the Dead Sea, and fine-tuning our impersonations of our Israeli tour guide. We never expected to feel so close with people with whom only 10 days ago we were playing the name game.

Immediately upon landing in Ben Gurion airport when our trip began, we were greeted by our seven new Israeli friends who would accompany us for all 10 days of our trip. Though we were all exhausted from traveling, we immediately boarded the bus we would call home for the next 10 days and headed north for the Golan Heights. The next 10 days took us to places we’d dreamed of visiting: the Western Wall, Independence Hall, Yav Veshem, Tel Aviv,  and Masada. The days brought us experiences we never could have anticipated: being welcomed into Israeli homes and temples,  volunteering in Washington DC’s partnership city – Beit Shemesh, hiking through a desert canyon,  experiencing Israeli live comedy theater, and even meeting the Prime Minister of the country.

Shorashim Bus 153 January 2014 055We experienced the wonders of Israel as a group, and we also took time to reflect and discuss our feelings on what those experiences meant to us personally. Facilitated by our skilled and knowledgeable tour guide, Tzach, our group engaged in meaningful and personal discussions on what we were seeing, and how these experiences affected our spiritual and cultural identities. One of our favorite discussions asked us to select the most personally important aspects of what it means to be a Jew. Coming up with our answers, and hearing the perspectives of our American and Israeli friends made us more confident in our own Jewish identity, and reignited our intellectual curiosity around the Jewish faith and culture.

Going on a Taglit Birthright trip revitalized our passion for living a Jewish life. After being challenged physically, mentally, and emotionally during the trip, we feel a deeper bond with our culture and with each other. As we  look back on our Birthright experience, we realize that choosing Shorashim and the DC Community Trip has given us a continuing community in which we can grow and flourish. We feel a renewed pride in Jewish culture, and we strongly encourage our peers in the DC area to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to discover a deep, meaningful connection to Israel and the Jewish community.

Want to have an experience like Aaron and Brian’s? Birthright has expanded eligibility! Learn more about the DC trip by visiting Returning applicants are able to apply on February 18th  and new applicants on February 19th here.  Please contact Sara Weiner at or (301) 230-7266 with questions.


Jews United for Justice’s Community Meeting is this Sunday

jufj new color_logoMy deepest connection to the Jewish tradition is through its rich history of involvement in social justice causes. I have found a community of like minded people in Jews United for Justice (JUFJ), a group that organizes progressive Jews in the D.C. area to work on local issues of social and economic justice.

This Sunday, January 26th, I’m attending Jews United for Justice’s Community Meeting—a sort of family reunion, introduction to the organization, and activist training all rolled into one. Community meetings provide a great introduction to JUFJ. There will be plenty of time to meet people, get a sense of what JUFJ is all about and plug into campaigns. Also, if you are interested in learning more about the upcoming elections in D.C., this will be a great opportunity to do so.

JUFJ gives me a chance to learn more about a city I only recently moved to, engage with it on a deeper level, and take action to make the conditions here accord more with my values. If this sounds meaningful to you, then you should definitely come to the community meeting on Sunday.


Masa Israel Featured Internship: SEO Start-up internship, TinyTap

Interns for TinyTap will gain experience with SEO, while completing admin type work. Examples include uploading screenshots, doing QA for their apps, etc.

TinyTap is an application which allows users to create, share, and play educational games for kids. It is a simple platform for game creation where anyone, regardless of age, can create interactive activities and share them with their community of thousands of users.


The Only Person Judging You is You – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 82)

geek-heartI was really hungry for dinner the other night, so when I met up with some friends at 8:00, I decided to order a flatbread pizza.  I didn’t realize they had all eaten dinner already, so I was the only one ordering food.

Choice 1: Forget about ordering.  No one wants to be the only one eating.  There must be some frozen bagels in the fridge at home.
Choice 2: Order the pizza but feel self-conscious the whole time for eating all alone.
Choice 3: Order the pizza and eat it in all its deliciousness.

I really love my apartment building, so I decided to buy the five people who work in the leasing office holiday gifts.  I bought them all a pretty coffee mug (each got a different color) with some candy in it.  But when it was time to give them their gifts, the fancy green cellophane wrapping paper I had ordered online hadn’t arrived yet.

Choice 1: Give them the gifts late, only after the wrapping paper came.
Choice 2: Give them the gifts on time, but apologize for not having wrapped them.
Choice 3: Give them the gifts sans wrapping paper but with a big smile because you know they’ll appreciate the gesture.

We all feel self-conscious about things sometimes – our bodies, our intelligence, our relationship history, our job, anything.  When talking about these topics that surely cause some inner angst, remember that no one knows how you feel about anything until you tell them.  Oftentimes, the person judging you isn’t your friend and isn’t your colleague… it’s you.  Let’s look at how this relates to dating.

A client of mine had been married for 16 years.  He’s only 42 and is now getting back into the dating world again for the first time since he met his ex-wife.  He feels self-conscious because he thinks women will wonder why he was married for so long.  Whenever someone asks him how long he was married, he gets anxious, and shyly says in an embarrassed tone, “I was married for 16 years.  We tried to work it out, but unfortunately, we couldn’t.”   This leads his dates to then question what kind of relationship he had and whether he’s still pining for her.  As this client said to me on the phone today, by working together, we’ve shined him up a bit.  We practiced his response when future dates ask this inevitable question.  I told him that by framing it in such a melancholy way, no one has any choice but to feel badly for him.  He could instead say, with a smile on his face, “You know, I was married for 16 years.  I obviously never thought I’d be dating again!”  Then, when he’s ready, and only then, does he need to share with anyone the details.  If he doesn’t make a big deal out of it, then neither will his dates.  He had to learn that the only person judging him was himself.

Let’s say someone asks you on a date what your hobbies are, and you want to tell this person that you enjoy painting, making pottery, playing cards, and doing the daily Sudoku in the Express.

Choice 1: “I have some kind of dorky hobbies like painting, making pottery, playing cards, and doing the daily Sudoku in the Express.  I know they’re not that exciting.”
Choice 2: “I have a few hobbies that I like.”  And then change the topic.
Choice 3: “I love painting and making pottery, but I also love playing cards and doing the daily Sudoku in the Express.  I find them all so relaxing in their own way!”

The choice is simple in all scenarios: #3.  So get out there, be yourself, and remember that the only person judging you is you.

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.





Masa Israel Featured Internship: Public Health Intern

Bishvilayich is looking for an intern with experience and background in health research in order to assist in the development of mental and physical health.

Bishvilayich is a non-profit organization for women’s health in Israel. Their programs focus on providing underprivileged women and girls with the confidence and skills to become active participants in their health, rather than accepting the traditional paternalistic approach to health care.


Come Blow Your Horn

Come-Blow-Your-Horn-300x199Cue the trumpets: GW has just launched a brand new MA program in Experiential Education and Jewish Cultural Arts. A sibling to the MA program in Jewish Cultural Arts, which made its shining debut just a few short months ago, it will supplement that initiative through its attentiveness to the ways in which the practices and pedagogy of experiential or informal education enhance Jewish culture — and the other way around.

The wonderful details — of which there are many — can be found on the respective websites of each program: Master of Arts in Jewish Cultural Arts and Experiential Education and Jewish Cultural Arts.

What I want to herald here, within the context of the blog, is the broad communal significance of these two undertakings. At a time when the American Jewish community is feeling rather beleaguered and perhaps even unloved and under-appreciated, GW’s decision to throw its weight behind the formation of not one, but two, programs devoted through and through to the critical study, promotion and dissemination of Jewish culture is something to cheer about.

What’s more, that the Jim Joseph Foundation, one of the Jewish community’s most far-sighted and imaginative philanthropies, saw fit to make the MA in Experiential Education and Jewish Cultural Arts possible through its generous support and thoughtful stewardship, should encourage us to cheer more loudly still.

Jewish culture, as growing numbers of people have come to understand, isn’t just a tool of engagement or an alternative form of commitment. Yes, it contains all those possibilities. But what truly renders Jewish culture such a vital and generative phenomenon — let’s call it a life force — is its status as a gift. From one generation to another and from one iteration to another, Jewish culture gives us license to be creative.

Want more information?

MA in Jewish Cultural Arts:

MA in Experiential Education and Jewish Cultural Arts:

This article was also published on From Under the Fig Tree.

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