Monthly Archives: March 2012

MJL is Hiring!

Calling all smart, talented, writerly, computer-savvy, and unemployed people! MyJewishLearning.com is on the hunt for an Editorial Assistant to join our team. Besides working with an awesome crew (seriously, we’re great, and we’ll get you donuts for your birthday), you’d be working in a lovely, casual Manhattan office and getting hands on with everything that goes into running a Jewish website, which is actually quite a lot.

Here’s the official job description:

MyJewishLearning.com. is seeking a full-time Editorial Assistant to join its dynamic team.

Tasks for this entry-level job will include researching editorial and visual content, loading and updating content to the website, creating e-newsletters, responding to inquiries, as well as supporting the general projects and needs of the editorial team.

Qualified candidates should have an interest in working in web publishing and have a strong knowledge of Jewish life and traditions. We’re looking for someone who can manage multiple tasks at one time, has an eye for detail, and brings energy and creativity to his or her job. Previous experience writing, working with content management systems, and Photoshop are a plus.

Benefits include health, dental, and vision insurance, retirement plans, and an allotment for professional development.

Preferred Experience: 0-2 Years

To apply for this position please submit a resume, cover letter, and writing sample to jobs@myjewishlearning.com

About MyJewishLearning.com

MyJewishLearning.com is the leading transdenominational website of Jewish information and education. Offering articles and resources on all aspects of Judaism and Jewish life, the site is geared toward adults of all ages and backgrounds, from the casual reader looking for interesting insights, to non-Jews searching for a better understanding of Jewish culture, to experienced learners wishing to delve deeper into specific topic areas.

 

Posted on March 28, 2012

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Showdown at the Co-Op

This entry was posted in Israel on by .

So, um, yeah. The Co-op last night. Utter craziness.

First, a recap from the Daily Show:

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Co-Occupation
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

The Story

Last night, the Park Slope Food Co-op had a special election, deciding whether to boycott all Israeli-made products. Because we are the Co-op and are totally masturbatory overprocessing Brooklynites, it wasn’t actually a vote — it was a vote about whether or not we should have a vote.

Anyway. This international BDS movement (I keep wanting to say “BSDM movement,” and really meant to slip up accidentally-on-purpose on stage last night, but forgot to) has been trying to infiltrate the Co-op for the past few years. It always comes up, but last night was the real boiling point. Two thousand people packed into an auditorium. Supposedly it cost over $10,000. The election would’ve cost another $20,000. The entire assembly was people speaking for one or two minutes. It was a LOT of people.


What I Said


I’m a walker, and I’ve gotten into some of the best fights of my life at the Co-Op. We’re all different. We have nothing in common except for the fact that we like really good food. And that’s the way it should be. I’m a vegetarian. I totally think the Co-op shouldn’t sell meat. I also really hate lima beans, and I’d encourage everyone not to buy them. But I don’t think it’s right to ban other people from buying them. Keep listening to each other, people, and please, keep the arguments alive. Don’t just ban them.

The Aftermath

* Got home. Our boarders were like, “you’re Internet-famous.” Went through the Twitters, and there were a ton of references to “the hyper Hasid” and “this surfer with payos.” Hey, I even got my own Twitter hashtag, which is super awesome and flattering, if ephemeral. Amy Sohn said “a star is born” about me! My friend Liz wrote, “Highlight 4 me was @matthue on his hatred of lima beans.” P.S.
my mom is so gonna kill me.
* There were a lot of BDS people at the vote last night. A lot of them weren’t actually Co-op members; they were just there to protest. I asked them, and they were really forthcoming about it. Totally fine for them to be there. On the other hand, they were the only ones not waiting to be admitted, which meant that the reporters got to speak to a lot more of them than anyone else–say, for instance, actual Co-op members. I’d call it “infiltration,” but then again, I watched every episode of the X-Files (not an exaggeration) and love conspiracy theories.
* I was one of the last people to speak. Itta said the people around us (big BDS shippers) didn’t understand what I was saying — granted, I’m not entirely coherent; I talk really fast and get bubbly, and the mic was really loud. On the other hand, I got stopped by a ton of people on the way out complimenting me. Granted, they were mostly old Crown Heights Hasidic ladies, but they were still awesome.
* I still want someone to ask if I’m in favor of the BDSM movement so I can just say, heck yeah!

Posted on March 28, 2012

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Breaking Bad Habits

“It is too late to prepare when temptation is actually at hand.”
Rabbi Yitzchak Meir of Ger

Sometimes you find yourself dangerously close to a piece of cheesecake. It inches even closer to you, begging to be eaten. “I can’t help myself,” you find yourself saying, as if an extra-terrestrial being has taken hold of you and forced down the cake. This reminds me of a trouble-maker I went to school with whose yearbook quote read: “Lead us not into temptation. Just leave us alone. We’ll find it.” Kicking the cheesecake habit is hard. But it is not impossible if you will it.

Even though they say that bad habits are hard to break, Charles Duhigg, in his recent book The Power of Habit, argues that the more we know about how we form our habits, the easier they are to change. He amasses scientific evidence to show that difficult tasks repeated multiple times become rote. We may barely think about what we do when we shoot a basket, drive a car or take a shower because we go into automatic pilot. We’ve done things so many times that our bodies engage even if our minds are coasting. David Brooks, writing on Duhigg, claims that, “Your willpower is not like a dam that can block the torrent of self-indulgence. It’s more like a muscle, which tires easily.” It needs to be fortified.

If repetition is the key to habit then recalibrating behaviors and doing them again and again differently becomes one critical way that we break bad habits and willfully choose new ones. When we learn new routines and practice them repeatedly we “teach” ourselves how to adopt best practices. It is awkward at first but still do-able. Research done at Duke University shows that 40% of our behaviors are made through habit rather than intentional decisions. With a little concerted mental effort, we can reshape old habits.

Rabbi Yitzchak Meir (1798-1866) was a Talmudic scholar and the first Gerer Rebbe, a Hasidic sect popular in Poland. Many stories and legends have evolved about the Rebbe’s piety and knowledge. Martin Buber, in Tales of the Hasidim, shares a well-known story about the Rebbe. When his mother died, he followed her bier, begging for forgiveness. He spoke to his mother’s coffin, “In this world, I am a man who is much honored and many call me rabbi. But now you will enter the world of truth and see that it is not as they think. So forgive me and do not bear me a grudge. What can I do, if people are mistaken in me?” Perhaps he understood that those who came to her funeral were doing so out of honor for him, taking away from his mother’s honor. He apologized.

Rabbi Yitzchak Meir did not posses any research from Duke University, but he did spend a lot of time contemplating the battle of good over evil. He warned his followers: “There will be many and grave temptations, and he who has not prepared himself for them will be lost.” You cannot prepare yourself for temptation when you are standing in front of it. You will not have had time or forethought to form the good habits you need to overcome desire. Imagine going to Siberia in the winter. Only when getting there do you realize that you need a coat. Ill-prepared, you cannot stay. But this would never happen because we check the weather before we travel. We can also check ourselves before we enter a situation which we suspect will present a test of our willpower. Temptation according to the Gerer Rebbe is something we prepare for precisely because he believed that temptation is a test: “it shows what within you is dross and what is true metal.” When your temptation level feels like jello, it’s time to remember Rabbi Yitzchak Meir and remind yourself that you’ve got nerves of steel.

Temptation is overcome by forming good habits and repeating them. That’s true when it comes to speaking well of others, praying, giving charity, studying, exercising, visiting the sick, and spending time with our families. We know where temptation lives, but research now helps us understand that we can knock on another door.

Posted on March 24, 2012

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Stereo Sinai Learn to Skate

This entry was posted in Culture on by .

Our friends Stereo Sinai — who we’ve gushed about on Jewniverse, and who you can pick up a free mp3 by here — have just posted a new video. It’s a love story about a pair of skates. It’s a really clever video. At first you think it’s just a random slideshow of beautiful Instagrams, but then it starts to surprise you.

Posted on March 22, 2012

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Shabbat: A Cure for Busyness

This entry was posted in Beliefs, Holidays on by .

As I write this, I am simultaneously:

1. Compulsively checking my email, Twitter, and Facebook.
2. Waiting for an “important” text message to determine my weekend plans
3. IMing with several co-workers
4. Flipping through Internet radio to find the perfect balance of “listenable, without requiring too much thought” music

birthright shabbatI have, it seems, a fantasy of reaching some sort of technological nirvana – by hitting “refresh”one more time I’ll suddenly become “one with the universe” (or at least the Twitterverse.)  I may consciously know that Facebook would be fine and hum along without me, but – what if I miss a funny picture of a cat??   I’m a classic case of being desperately in need of an opportunity to disconnect.

Shabbat is a great opportunity to hit the technology “off” switch (in my case, more of a dimmer switch).   NEXT: A Division of Birthright Israel Foundation has partnered with Reboot for NEXT Shabbat 360, as part of Reboot’s National Day of Unplugging to help slow down lives in an increasingly hectic world.   They must have had me in mind.

For 24 hours beginning the evening of Friday, March 23rd , thousands of people around the country will “unplug.”  NEXT Shabbat will help cover the cost of 360 Shabbat meals that weekend.  For those of you who have been on a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip, Shabbat 360 is a great way to unplug –  electronically, mentally, physically, whatever! – by bringing together friends for a Shabbat meal, your way.  From chicken in Chatanooga to jachnun in Jackson Hole, there’s no wrong way to celebrate Shabbat – especially when you’re celebrating alongside 359 other NEXT Shabbat meals that same weekend.

So?  Sign up here! Celebrate!  Unplug!   A one-day detox from my TV, phone, iPad and “teh interwebz” is exactly what I need.

Now, if you’ll excuse me – I have to post this on Twitter.

Posted on March 21, 2012

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Harry Potter Talks Jewish Day Schools

This entry was posted in General on by .

This is hilarious: Imagine there’s a Jewish day school called Chagwartz. And imagine that their biggest donor, Lucius Malfoyberg, suddenly withdraws his support. What will the headmaster, Rabbi Dumbledore, do??

Here’s a brilliant take on it:

GoAnimate.com: Chaim Potter by PEJEjds

Our friend (and sometimes hilarious columnist) (sometimes-columnist, not sometimes-hilarious) Ken Gordon made this video. (And, for another take on the Harry Potter legend, check out this article I wrote about an eon ago: Chaim Potterovich and the Sorcerer’s Kiddish. Wherein I debate the real relationship between Kiddish and Quidditch, naturally…

Posted on March 5, 2012

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

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