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Gleaning Optimism and Agility from Pop Culture, Academic Theory and Jewish Practice

Posted on Wednesday, January 09, 2019 by Mark S. Young

I am an idealist, my Wexner class knows this. I prefer to identify hope and opportunity even during difficult times. Yet, I am not always the optimistic person I appear to be. I, perhaps like you, have moments my Mom would call, “the pits,” when life is bringing me down and all I want to do is pity myself and shut off the world.  It is then when I turn to the years of my adolescence and emerging adulthood, the 1990’s and early 2000’s. For in the pop culture of a gen…


WIF Alumni and WSL Network Members Explore Aliyah Experiences of Russian-speaking Israelis

Posted on Tuesday, January 08, 2019 by Keren Zefania

We held our winter alumni "Four Tribes Gathering" this week at the Jaffa Theater with nearly 50 people attending. The event had two parts: the first was a lecture and the second a performance, called Tusovka night, a blend of poetry, music and spoken word. We collaborated with the Cultural Brigade, an organization of young artists who made Aliyah with their families from the former Soviet Union at a young age.  Members of the Brigade call themselves the "1.5 generation" as they still live …


Optimism, Leadership and the Order of the Teaspoon

Posted on Monday, January 07, 2019 by Or Mars

A poll published in July in The New York Times found that close to 40% of young adults surveyed said they are choosing not have children (or to have fewer) due to their fears about global instability. What a statistic of despair! Getting our daily overdose of grim news can cause one to wonder if bringing more human beings into the world – especially those that we will love and care about – might be a bad idea. Is it better to spare our un-conceived from a future fraught with stress a…


Passover, Pancreatic Cancer and Finding Miracles

Posted on Sunday, January 06, 2019 by Paula Mack Drill

I wrote in my journal on December 31st with a grand flourish: “Good-bye 2018. Hello 2019.”  For good measure, I added, “And good riddance to 2018!” Before I put the journal away, on a sudden impulse, I flipped back to the first entry, March 19, 2018. I had just returned from a three-month sabbatical and wrote with excitement about plans to bring all I had just learned to my work as a synagogue rabbi. And I was already complaining in a good-natured way about preparati…


Jewish Optimism - Overpowering Despair in 2019

Posted on Friday, January 04, 2019 by Erica Brown

During these past weeks, as we ripped the calendar pages to 2019 and ordered new planners, I heard a disturbing and unsettling refrain, “Let’s hope 2019 is way better than 2018.” Even comedian Dave Barry began his annual “Year in Review” article with the same sentiment: “Is there anything good we can say about 2018? Only this: It got us out of 2017. But even that didn’t work out as we hoped.” He then catalogues the bad news: “What made this …


Online Zohar Course

Posted on Thursday, December 27, 2018 by Daniel Matt

As many of you know, several years ago I completed my annotated translation of the Zohar (The Zohar: Pritzker Edition). Now I am starting to teach Zohar online. Beginning January 16, 2019 (through February 20), I am offering a 6-session course on Wednesday evenings, from 6 pm – 7:15 pm, Pacific time, via Zoom. After this initial course, we will continue with additional courses.   We will be exploring Volume 1 of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition. The course is open to anyone who is intere…


Wexner Gathering at Hillel International General Assembly

Posted on Thursday, December 20, 2018 by Becca Thomas

"I think this was the first time that we gathered as a group of Wexners at HIGA. We had a very boisterous and friendly breakfast with some fun inter-class rivalry about who has the best class and whose class has become the most famous. For me as a Class 10 alum, it was also great to meet some of the newer Wexners serving in the Hillel world. Looking at this picture, I smile as I see many of the people I often seek out for conversation and advice - and know the others pictured will also soon be o…


Turning Blockbuster Synagogues into Netflix Synagogues

Posted on Tuesday, December 18, 2018 by Wes Gardenswartz

The leadership team of Blockbuster was in the throes of a principled disagreement. Some believed that the wave of the future was to promote streaming and subscription-based DVD rentals. Others believed that the company needed to double down on what it had always been, a video rental company where a customer picked up the video from a store and paid laid fees if the video were returned late. The side that said double down on videos, stores and late fees won that battle but lost the war. Blockbust…


Bridging the Divide Between Continents...over Brunch

Posted on Monday, December 17, 2018 by Goni Duchin

Recently three friends of mine – Ruth Kaplan, Elana Markovitz and Lorri Owades –came over for brunch. We crowded in my tiny kitchen and enjoyed shakshuka, pitas with za'atar and Israeli salad. We chatted about life, our families, and kids – all the usual stuff. After a while, as always with them, we turned to discussing the best ways to connect the American Jewish community and Israelis, how to get the two communities to know and enjoy each other as friends, person to person. …


Spending Hanukkah Sharing Gratitude

Posted on Friday, December 14, 2018 by Jessie Goldberg

On Sunday, December 2, we met up at the Family Mentor Foundation to organize and pack Buddy Boxes for children in need. We split up into teams and created an assembly line to make the process smooth and efficient. We assembled, packed and checked the boxes to make sure they had the correct number of items in each box.   The first round of food was sponsored by Kroger, as part of Kroger’s Zero Hunger, Zero Waste program in partnership with the Family Mentor Foundation. When we finish…


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