We are tickled to announce that our friends at G-dcast have just released a series of adorable new animated shorts all about Jewish lifecycle events, from weddings to baby namings to funerals. You’ll find them all around our site, starting right here on this page. We hope you enjoy these as much as we do!
1. Why We Break the Glass at Jewish Weddings:
2. What is a Huppah All About?
3. All about the Ketubah, the Jewish Marriage Contract:
4. How to Dance a Hora:
5. Read about the Gomel, the blessing for new moms:
6. How to help a friend in mourning:
We have good news to share! We just learned that the Slingshot Fund has selected MyJewishLearning and Kveller as being among North America’s most innovative Jewish organizations.
In Slingshot’s words, “MyJewishLearning.com and Kveller.com are unique in their ability to host Jewish content in an agenda-free space.” We love being in a pluralistic community with readers as diverse and curious as you, and we value your engagement, whether you’re a first-time reader or a regular visitor.
We are so honored to be featured for the sixth year in a row and, as always, to be in such good company. See here for the complete list of this year’s most innovative Jewish organizations.
Thank you, readers, and thank you, Slingshot!
The High Holidays—like many Jewish holidays—are a foodie’s delight. Whether we’re feasting on Rosh Hashanah or abstaining—and then feasting—on Yom Kippur, it’s safe to say that many people’s experience of the holiday season is replete with delicious nosh. And the foods are rich with symbolic meaning.
With the holidays approaching, you might be wondering what kinds of gifts are appropriate to give to family members, friends, and dinner hosts. Since everyone loves a gift they can eat, we’ve pulled together this gift-giving FAQ with help from our friends at Kosher Gift Box.
What are some basic gift items you recommend?
Since we’re talking edible gifts here, we dig Kosher Gift Basket’s Rosh Hashanah Traditions Basket and their Sweet New Year Basket. If you’re looking for a gift appropriate for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot, we recommend this delicious apple cake or traditional round challahs (perhaps paired with a delicious assortment of honey).
Is it appropriate to give a Rosh Hashanah gift to clients and customers?
Gift-giving is not a traditional part of the High Holidays as it is with Hanukkah, but we’ve never known of anyone to protest. And it can make good business sense. Some popular corporate choices are Shana Tova Wine Duo or Rosh Hashanah Elegance Basket.
What should I give my Jewish boss or coworker for Rosh Hashanah?
The best gifts for work-related recipients are probably non-personal items such as a gift basket that reflects Jewish tradition. Popular choices are our 5775 Breakfast Basket or a Honey Server and Dish Set with honey.
What do you recommend for a college student?
No better way to nudge college kids to mark the Jewish holidays than to lure them with delicious traditional foods. Our Rosh Hashanah Traditions Basket includes challah, babka, and rugelach—or you could send our holiday challah set. These gifts reflect holiday traditions and are great for sharing with roommates.
Does my gift need to be kosher?
Unless you know for a fact that your recipient does not keep kosher, providing certified kosher food ensures that everyone can enjoy the gift. All items at Kosher Gift Box are certified kosher.
We are going to our neighbors’ for Yom Kippur break-fast. What should I bring?
After fasting on Yom Kippur, a typical menu for break-fast is a dairy meal: lox and bagels, sweet kugel (noodle pudding), assorted cheeses, blintzes and fresh fruit. For dessert, our Sweet New Year Rugelach Collection, apple cake, or our Holiday Lox and Bagel Basket.
What is an appropriate gift to bring to dinner in the Sukkah?
Because Sukkot celebrates the harvest, gifts that reflect this are optimal. A dried fruit platter or fresh fruit basket make excellent choices.
As we announced a few months ago, MyJewishLearning, Inc. and JTA are merging. Now we’re looking to hire a marketing professional to join our team as Director of Audience Development for JTA to join us in our New York City office.
We’re a small organization that has a big impact in the Jewish world, but we need help growing even bigger.If Facebook, emails and search engines optimization make you happy, this might be the right fit for you. We are looking for a strategic, hands-on, metrics-driven person to manage and execute online audience growth and engagement initiatives. In addition to working on JTA.org, you’ll oversee audience development for our partner sites Kveller.com and MyJewishLearning.com as well as help launch other new endeavors.
The Director of Audience Development will oversee it all: SEO, SEM, email newsletter, social media, partnerships, and site recirculation. You should be an expert at understanding our users’ behavior and enhancing their interaction with our sites . The best candidates are those who can big pictures but also enjoy jumping into day-to-day operations.
- Strategy. Build and execute marketing programs focused on generating unique visitors and increasing engagement. Test, evaluate, revise and repeat.
- Analytics & Reporting. Use Google Analytics, email analytics and other tools to interpret data about our users and translate into action-oriented recommendations all of our staff and stakeholders can understand.
- Email. Find and implement opportunities to growth the email newsletter subscription base and optimize performance of current products.
- Social Media. Develop social media strategy. Supervise and contribute to the company’s Facebook, Twitter, and other social media presences with assigned editors.
- Page Optimization. Influence conversion through messaging, promotion, and landing page optimization.
- Search Engine Optimization. Serve as our resident SEO expert and continually deploy best practices in to grow organic search traffic.
- Online Marketing. Work with outside consultants to manage organization’s Google Adwords grant, paid SEM, and other marketing to drive highly qualified visitors to the site.
- Partnerships. Identify, negotiate and implement traffic-building partnerships with other digital media organizations.
Salary commensurate with experience. This is a full-time, salaried position with paid vacation, health benefits, pension plan, and federal and Jewish holidays off.
Desired Skills and Experience:
- 3-5 years of experience in consumer-facing online marketing roles, particularly with a content-based organization. Demonstrated track record of developing diversified digital marketing programs that drive sustained audience growth.
- Deep understanding of the digital media space and broad understanding of digital strategies and best practices.
- Excellent analytical skills and experience working with Google Analytics and Excel.
- Familiarity with Photoshop and HTML a plus.
- Self-starter who enjoys balancing multiple projects and priorities with varying deadlines.
- Strong interpersonal skills – the ability to work closely with creative teams and to influence and educate on digital marketing principles..
- Excellent communication skills and ability to write effective marketing copy.
- Knowing about online fundraising, working in an editorial organization and enthusiasm for Jewish topics are all plusses.
- Bachelor’s Degree required
Please send resume, cover letter and the following items to email@example.com:
- Description of something you’ve recently promoted (e.g. brand, event, or product) and the steps you took to boost your audience.
- Writing sample (e.g. blog entry, e-newsletter, press release, pitch letter) from a job or initiative with a similar capacity.
The recent Kveller post by Benay Josselson on her son’s positive and enriching experience at Rockland Jewish Academy made me hopeful about the prospect of a full, participatory Jewish day school education for special-needs children. Her tone, which greatly contrasted with her blog post from one year earlier when she assumed it would be tough to find a Jewish day school that would be able to work with her son who had been diagnosed with autism, reflects the steps the day school field has taken to make inclusion an educational priority. It also reflects more specifically the community that is being created at Rockland Jewish Academy under the leadership of Nellie Harris. (Full disclosure: Nellie is a Fellow in RAVSAK, the Jewish Community Day School Network’s, inaugural Head of School Professional Educational Program, which mentors exceptional new heads in the first years of their headship).
We already know Jewish day schools play a crucial role in helping develop the next generation of Jewish leaders, but now we see schools of all sizes taking a closer look at their policies on special needs students. As an organization committed to advocating the myriad benefits of Jewish day schools, this is an issue I have seen start with rudimentary programs and expand into mission-driven work, with full support from leadership and the community, at a growing number of schools. Overall, this is a huge positive for families of all types.
In the past, day schools have struggled to meet the educational needs of students with a variety of learning disabilities and other social, emotional, behavioral or health challenges. Today, great strides have been made, and more and more schools are working on identifying opportunities to increase access and developing an inclusive process for teaching students with far-ranging capabilities.
The ultimate goal is for children to become integrated into and embraced by the Jewish community, regardless of need. That’s what parents want, what the kids want, what everyone wants — to be full members of the community. Truly, a day school community can only call itself that when it reflects the make-up of the entire community from which it sources its members.
At the recent RAVSAK/PARDES Jewish Day School Leadership Conference, we dedicated an entire learning track to “Special Needs and the Diverse Classroom” to better educate those within our network and help them develop plans and strategies to become truly welcoming and inclusive institutions. Many attendees noted that it was an eye-opening experience that allowed them to gain a deeper understanding of the range of students characterized as special needs and learn new approaches to special needs inclusion.
All students benefit socially, emotionally and intellectually when children with special needs are educated alongside their classmates. With February designated as Jewish Disability Awareness Month, it is important to raise awareness not only about the psycho-social needs of students but the expanding response of the larger Jewish day school community and their ongoing commitment to make Jewish day school education a gift that all can share.
Certainly, this work is far from over; there are too many students for whom day school is not yet an option due to their specific challenges. But we have to recognize the small steps with which we begin a long journey, as it is by following the footsteps of others that change can gain momentum.
It is with great sadness that MyJewishLearning, Inc. notes the passing of our founder Edgar M. Bronfman, Sr. He was a giant among Jewish leaders, a legendary visionary, and a mentor and friend to all who knew him. We at MJL would not exist without his tireless work, forward-thinking vision, and continued support of our work.
Below is the official obituary from the Samuel Bronfman Foundation, where he was the president.
Zichrono livracha–May his memory be for a blessing.
Edgar M. Bronfman, Sr., the son of legendary Canadian liquor magnate Sam Bronfman, who expanded Seagram Ltd. internationally and transformed the World Jewish Congress into a prestigious global advocacy force while separately fostering educational and social programs designed to promote a “Jewish renaissance,” died peacefully today at his home in New York surrounded by family. He was 84.
At the time of his death Mr. Bronfman was president of The Samuel Bronfman Foundation. With offices in the landmark Seagram Building that his family built on Manhattan’s Park Avenue, the foundation’s mission is to “inspire a renaissance in Jewish life” through programs Mr. Bronfman described as designed to cultivate “a Jewish community that is knowledgeable, proud and welcoming, where everyone is invited to learn and grow.” Mr. Bronfman personally exemplified this mission by turning the foundation’s offices into a hub of study groups, seminars and special gatherings to promote Jewish learning, discussion and innovation.
Foremost among the initiatives he supported are Hillel: The Foundation for Campus Jewish Life, the Bronfman Youth Fellowships, and MyJewishLearning.com.
Mr. Bronfman was instrumental in reviving Hillel’s campus presence and leading its international expansion. He visited more than 130 college campuses on five continents and met regularly with students.
He was especially proud of the Bronfman Youth Fellowships, a network of more than 1,000 young Jews from Israel and North America that includes some of today’s most inspiring writers, thinkers and leaders. The fellowships program, which Mr. Bronfman founded in 1987, engages future leaders at a formative point in their lives – after their junior year in high school – and immerses them in an intensive exploration of Judaism, including textual study and the examination of ideas about the Jewish experience, pluralism and social responsibility. The fellows and alumni embody Mr. Bronfman’s vision that young people who are enriched and energized by their Judaism are poised to contribute not only to Jewish life, but to the world at large.
In 2002, Mr. Bronfman launched MyJewishLearning.com as a way to connect Jews around the world with Jewish knowledge and tradition. More than a decade ago, Mr. Bronfman recognized that Jews increasingly would rely on the Internet to find answers to basic questions about Judaism. Today, with more than 650,000 visitors a month, MyJewishLearning, Inc utilizes the latest in technology to spread knowledge of Jewish religion, history, values, traditions, and culture to people around the world.
A prolific speaker and author, Mr. Bronfman described his work at the foundation as “finding new ways to teach young Jewish people the stories and ethics our ancestors have handed down, and to nurture in them a pride in our common history.”
Judaism became important to Mr. Bronfman late in life after he had built a career at Seagram and raised a family. As recounted in “The Making of a Jew,” one of four autobiographical books, the turning point was a trip to the Soviet Union in 1970 as part of a delegation to lobby the Russian government to allow greater freedom for Soviet Jews. As he later recounted, “It was on those trips to Russia that my curiosity was piqued. What is it about Judaism, I asked myself, that has kept it alive through so much adversity while so many other traditions have disappeared? Curiosity soon turned into something more, and that ‘something more’ has since turned into a lifelong passion.”
The 1970 trip to Russia also marked the beginning of Mr. Bronfman’s three-decade long association with the World Jewish Congress and his emergence on the world diplomatic scene as an effective advocate for the Jewish people. On becoming president of the World Jewish Congress in 1981, Mr. Bronfman initiated a campaign to bolster its operations in Jewish communities around the world and engage in forceful diplomacy on behalf of the Jewish people.
Working directly with government leaders in foreign capitals, Mr. Bronfman achieved a series of diplomatic victories. Chief among them were agreements forged with the Soviet Union leading to the release of Jewish prisoners of conscience and to greater freedom of religious practice and emigration among Russia’s Jewish population. In 1986, Mr. Bronfman exposed the Nazi past of Austrian President Kurt Waldheim. He broke new ground in improving Jewish relations with the Vatican, including securing the removal in 1993 of a convent that had been built at Auschwitz by Carmelite nuns. While on a visit to a Tropicana Orange Juice plant in Florida in 1991, Mr. Bronfman persuaded President George H. W. Bush to secure the rescission of United Nations Resolution 3379, which equated Zionism with racism. In the later years of his WJC leadership, Mr. Bronfman fought for justice on behalf of Holocaust victims and their heirs, winning financial restitution for thousands of survivors and their families and forging a historic agreement with the Swiss banks over Holocaust era assets. In 1998, Mr. Bronfman was selected by President Clinton to chair the Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets.
Mr. Bronfman’s skills as a negotiator and chief executive were developed during his career at Seagram Ltd., the world’s largest distiller of alcohol beverages, under the tutelage of his father Samuel Bronfman, known as “Mr. Sam.” Edgar Bronfman started his Seagram career as an apprentice taster in Montreal. In 1957, he was named CEO of Joseph E. Seagram and Sons, Inc., the company’s U.S. subsidiary. In 1971, he was named Chairman and CEO of the Seagram Company Ltd.
In the early 1960s Edgar worked closely with Mr. Sam to refine the branding and marketing of Seagram’s flagship premium aged and blended whisky, Chivas Regal, making it the premier whisky in its class. The campaign, conceived and spearheaded by Edgar, was celebrated for its innovative use of advertising created by Madison Avenue legend Bill Bernbach, whom Edgar had recruited to the Chivas account. Subsequently, Edgar Bronfman led the company’s purchase of Scotland’s prestigious Glenlivet Distillery, adding one of the world’s great single malt whiskies to the Seagram collection of brands and leading the way in meeting growing consumer interest in high-end single malts.
Under Mr. Bronfman’s direction, Seagram extended its line of premium whiskies and expanded into fine wines through its Chateau & Estates division. The company acquired Martell Cognac, Perrier-Jouet Champagne, and the distribution rights to Absolut Vodka along with other premium alcohol beverage brands, cementing its position as the global leader in luxury alcohol beverages.
Seeking to branch into other fields, under Mr. Bronfman the company also purchased Tropicana Orange Juice and orange groves throughout the world, including China.
In 1966, Mr. Bronfman bought a controlling stake in the movie studio MGM, which was later acquired by Kirk Kerkorian. In 1975, Mr. Bronfman formed Sagittarius Productions, which produced several hit Broadway shows and movies including 1776, a film version of Jane Eyre and the animated movieCharlotte’s Web. His most successful diversification venture was gaining a major stake in DuPont in 1981. Under Mr. Bronfman, Seagram sought to acquire 51% of the oil company Conoco in a bidding war with DuPont. Although DuPont was ultimately successful in the acquisition, Seagram’s Conoco shares were turned into a 25% ownership of the combined DuPont-Conoco entity, with Seagram wining 25% of the seats on DuPont’s board of directors.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Mr. Bronfman positioned Seagram Company Ltd. as a major champion of the alcohol beverage industry’s efforts to achieve equitable tax and regulatory treatment as compared to beer and wine. Notable on this front was the drinks “equivalency” campaign which successfully demonstrated that the amount of alcohol in a typical drink is the same whether whisky, wine or beer and that, therefore, all alcohol beverages should be taxed and regulated in the same manner.
During this time Mr. Bronfman discovered his true life’s calling in Jewish advocacy, devoting increasing energy to his work as president of the World Jewish Congress, leading Hillel’s resurgence, and forging a renaissance in Jewish life for the next generation.
In 1994, Mr. Bronfman retired as chairman and CEO of the Seagram Company. Upon its sale to Vivendi in 2000, he reconstituted The Samuel Bronfman Foundation, named for his father, as the institutional home of his activities centered on Jewish learning and education. In 2007, he stepped down from the World Jewish Congress to dedicate his time exclusively to the foundation.
Edgar Miles Bronfman was born in 1929 in Montreal, Canada. He was the third child of Samuel and Saidye Rosner Bronfman, and brother to three siblings, Minda, Phyllis and Charles. He graduated from Trinity College School in Port Hope, Ontario, attended Williams College and received a B.A. from McGill University in 1951. He moved to New York City in 1955 and became an American citizen in 1959.
Among numerous honors conferred and leadership positions earned over the course of his life, Mr. Bronfman received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Clinton; the Chevalier de La Legion d’Honneur from the government of France; the Justice Louis D. Brandeis Award from the Zionist Organization of America; and honorary doctoral degrees from Williams College, McGill University, Tel Aviv University, New York University and Hebrew University, among others. He served as the founding chairman of the International Board of Governors of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life and chairman of the World Jewish Restitution Organization. He authored five books: The Making of A Jew, 1996; Good Spirits, 1998; The Third Act: Reinventing Yourself, 2002; Hope Not Fear: A Path to Jewish Renaissance, 2008; and The Bronfman Haggadah, 2013.
Mr. Bronfman married Ann Loeb in 1953 and together they had five children, Sam, Edgar, Jr., Matthew, Holly and Adam. They were divorced in 1973. With his wife Georgiana Webb, he had two daughters, Sara and Clare. In 1994, he married the artist Jan Aronson. In addition to Jan Aronson, he is survived by four sons and three daughters: Samuel Bronfman II, Edgar Bronfman, Jr., Matthew Bronfman, Holly Bronfman Lev, Adam Bronfman, Sara Igtet and Clare Bronfman. His brother Charles Bronfman, his sister Phyllis Lambert, 24 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren also survive him.
Hanukkah’s almost here, so let us make the gift-giving easy! Send any these delicious, festive and seasonal kosher gift baskets or other goodies to your friends and loved ones (or yourself – we won’t tell anyone!). Until November 27th, save 10% by using our discount code MJLEM1.
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Hanukkah is less than 2 weeks away! We’ve got a huge selection of Judaica and Hanukkah gifts, all direct from Israel. So whether you need to stock up on candles or you’re looking for a menorah, jewelry, or home decor, we’ve got all your Thanksgivukkah needs covered. And until November 27th, we’re offering 10% off everything in our online store with coupon code: HANUKKAHMJL
Hanukkah’s on the horizon. Got your menorah? Candles? Gelt? Check out our snazzy picks for holidays basics, and be prepared when the sun goes down on Wednesday, November, 27.
And now, for the basics:
This colorful Israeli menorah ($95) makes a unique and beautiful gift, and would look gorgeous glowing in the window.
These Handcrafted, dripless Hanukkah candles ($14.50) from Safed, Israel come in blue, orange, and red, and will burn without a trace.
And now, candles crafted for the eco-conscious family. These Hand-Dipped Beeswax Chanukah Candles ($16.99) are made from renewable resources and packaged with recycled materials— can’t go wrong with these!
Everybody loves gelt on Hanukkah and we all usually consume LOTS of it. That’s why we found the cheapest option with the most gelt with these Milk Chocolate Gelt Coins. 24-pack! ($10.19).
Hanukkah ain’t complete without a game or two of dreidel. This package of Large, Natural Wood Dreidels ($8.95) will do the trick!
Ok, but nu, have you eaten? Inspire your own Thanksgivukkah latkes, or to inspire someone else’s? Check out one of our favorite cookbook pics of the season, The New Jewish Table ($22.99). We get hungry just looking at the photos!
Here is the ultimate gift for faraway family and friends — or for yourself if you’re tired of cooking! This Hanukkah Pure Essentials ($94.99) gift basket includes: fresh baked challah, babka, rugelach, California dried fruit (plums, apricot, peaches, pears), and 1 large wooden dreidel. And until 11/24 you can save 10% on all Kosher Gift Box orders with code MJLEM1!
Hope these picks help get your Hanukkah planning underway—Thanksgivukkah planning, that is!
Soo looks like I will never again be perusing LivingSocial for a teeth-whitening deal ever again. The popular flash-sale website made a major mistake, and not one easily forgivable–seeing as though there was pre-planning involved.
The company, based in Washington D.C. threw a 7 Deadly Sins-themed Halloween Party last weekend, and the party’s “greed” room was crudely decorated with gold and silver decorations and filled with dreidels and gold coins.
Their publicity department admitted there were, in fact, dreidels in the “greed” room, described as a place to “get greedy challenging friends to a plethora of games,” and put up this apology:
“We have looked into it and determined that the inclusion of dreidels with the other games in the gaming room was not a smart choice, and we are very sorry to have upset anyone,” Nolan told The Washington Jewish Week. “Certainly this behavior does not reflect who we are as a company.”
It doesn’t reflect who they are as a company? Oh, please. Whoever works for a company reflects the behavior of the company—and whoever planned this offensive and ignorant idea had to have talked about it with others who probably got a good laugh out of the thought of it.
It’s amazing because a “greed” room can be filled with any number of things that represent decadence and abundance, yet of all items, they chose dreidels? For a company that offers myriad deals in so many diverse arenas; from aquarium outings to apple picking to dinner for two—they couldn’t have drawn from any other resource for creative inspiration besides somebody’s sinister humor and prejudice?
Did LivingSocial not take into consideration that at least one Jew in Washington D.C. would walk into the party and take offense to their blatant anti-Semitism? Do Jews work at LivingSocial? I’m sure there must be some—and it’s even possible that Jews who work there contributed to the “Jewy” decorations in bad taste. If so, I’d like to hear from you!
“Think Jews, Think Greed,” was the message they spread—and it’s all around lame and disappointing. Way to lose a bunch of great customers LivingSocial. You know how much we like deals.