The New Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Faces of Tech & Mobile

The New Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Faces of Tech & Mobile

The Israel AppWhen most people think of the Israel tech industry, they tend to envision modern, new-age cerebral types from Tel Aviv and Haifa. Which is why media tends to notice when an innovative Ultra-Orthodox Jewish tech startup & mobile app developer like Jew IQ comes along.

Joel Padowitz is one of those Ultra-Orthodox Israeli tech pioneers. Heading a team of Ultra-Orthodox digital & mobile techies through his company, Jew IQ, Joel created The Israel App, a unique GPS-based tour guide & travel companion app for iOS & Android devices. Not only is The Israel App one of the most popular travel apps for Israel tourists – both Jewish and Christian alike – it was created by a group of Jewish entrepreneurs that many consider to have shunned the internet & digital age.

Coming up on two years since the large Ultra-Orthodox Internet-shunning Asifa gathering in Citi Field, the digital & tech field has, ironically, been a draw for many Ultra-Orthodox entrepreneurs. With strong education & well-developed analytical skills, Jewish entrepreneurs are starting to dip into the tech field. Many see tech as one of the last untapped areas and Jew IQ has indeed recognized the industry as wide open for innovation. And innovation that can be used for good.

Here’s a brief bio on the Ultra-Orthodox creators of The Israel App.

Joel Padowitz – CEO

Joel Padowitz is a successful entrepreneur who has been involved adult Jewish education for nearly 20 years, specializing in the interface between traditional Judaism & modernity. In 2004 he founded New York-based investment bank Palladium Capital Advisors, which is one of the top-25 most active placement agents in the USA. In 2009 he founded Jew IQ which develops mobile applications, content, and curricula for Jewish education and travel.. Rabbi Padowitz gives regular classes in Jewish thought law, and previously served as a rabbi in London. He is an award-winning speaker and writer whose articles have been published widely in mainstream Jewish media. He is also the author of Triumph and Tragedy: Journeying through 1000 Years of Jewish Life in Poland. Aside from rabbinic ordination, he received his MBA from Bar Ilan University where he finished first in his class, holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, and was honored at the White House by President George H.W. Bush for outstanding achievements in science.

Yaakov Lehman – Project Manager

Yaakov Lehman earned a B.A. in Global Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara where he founded an annual 3,000 person music and arts festival. He went on to earn an M.A. in Global History from the London School of Economics and an M.A. in Global Studies from the University of Vienna, where he specialized in East Asia; Yaakov is proficient in Mandarin Chinese. He is Founder and Director of DAJUS (‘Da Jews’), an organization dedicated to publicizing the Torah values of Diversity Awareness Justice Understanding and Sustainability through creative media. He is the recipient of several prestigious awards including the European Union Erasmus Mundus Scholarship, the Dorot Israel Fellowship, and the Threshold Jewish Educational Entrepreneurship.  He is a certified Tai-Qi teacher, whose classes feature a unique integration of ancient Chinese body movements, Jewish mystical teachings, and group reflection on technology’s impact upon ourselves, our relationships, and our society at large.


Yosef Adest – Media

Yosef Adest is a Tel Aviv-based photographer/video producer entrepreneur, who runs various creative and educational photography projects around the world. You can view more of his work at

Dub Method – Graphics & Branding

Dub Method, a high-end creative agency, specializes in developing brand strategies, and applying them to marketing and communication components across a variety of media.  Their team is comprised of Yoel Bender and Eli Clevs, both American Olim to Israel.

Concept Creative – Programming

Concept Creative is the Web and Mobile division of  NetSource, an Israeli IT company.  Located in Beit Shemesh, their staff is comprised of 80% Hareidi female programmers.

Rabbi Ken Spiro – Primary Historian & Guide

Rabbi Ken Spiro, originally from New Rochelle, NY, graduated from Vassar College with a BA in Russian Language and Literature and did graduate studies at the Pushkin Institute in Moscow. He has rabbinic ordination from Aish Jerusalem and a Masters Degree in History from Vermont College of Norwich University. Rabbi Spiro is also a licensed tour guide by the Israel Ministry of Tourism. He has appeared on numerous radio and TV programs such as BBC, National Geographic Channel and The History Channel. He lives near Jerusalem with his wife and five children, where he works as a senior lecturer for Aish Jerusalem.


Henry Isaacs Marketing | Isaac Hyman, Founder | | 646.833.8604

7 Trends in Jewish Marketing & Communications

7 Trends in Jewish Marketing & Communications

2014 TrendsIt’s 2014. And that means it’s time to re-evaluate your marketing & communications plan. Your focused on ensuring your business or non-profit is at the forefront of people’s minds in print, digital & social media channels. So here’s 7 marketing & communication trends relevant to the Jewish community you should be aware for 2014.

7 Trends in Jewish Marketing & Communications


With printing costs at all-time lows & growing populations within Orthodox Jewish communities, niche newspapers and penny savers keep popping up in Five Towns, Bergen County, Queens and Brooklyn. Hyperlocal email lists focused on communities and regions, such as eBergen BlastTeaneck Blast & eFiver (Five Towns) are adding a hyperlocal digital & social media option for advertisers as well. The end result is low cost, targeted advertising options (the trade-off is that these media options have questionable circulation & readership numbers). When creating a marketing campaign, enlist the help of an expert media buyer who understand the nuances of each media option & is able to determine what will work for you and what is a drag on your budget. (Learn More About Hyperlocal…)


All you need to start a business these days is a business card, mobile device, social media page & a handshake. We’ve always known that the Jewish market was full of entrepreneurial souls but these days, with iPhones & Android devices becoming the office of choice, Jewish entrepreneurs can launch a business in days instead of months. Apps can replace office services, such as faxing, office reception & scanning, and can also conduct business, including mobile banking & credit card processing.

Numerous Jewish startups will rely on image & visibility to sell, which increases their need for marketing, PR & branding. A co-op marketing strategy with an established complementary business – such as a startup interior designer teaming with a real estate management company – is a smart option for 2014. It mimics the trend of digital companies teaming up with brick & mortar stores to gain offline customers. (How To Market Your Startup…)


We’ve all seen articles on BuzzFeed such as “10 Reasons to Celebrate Denver’s Playoff Berth” and “9 Ways to Protect Yourself In The Event Of An Alien Invasion” that may sound ridiculous. In reality, content marketing- or branded content – is highly contagious within social media. Essentially, the goal is to create content that is not only useful but interesting; similar to a business blog but without the formalities. For established businesses & non-profits, content marketing can help make your brand more approachable to the 18-32 year old demographic. Here’s how we used Content Marketing in our favor.

When creating content for the Jewish market, you’ll need to take their location, language, habits, denomination & standards before creating the content otherwise your content will be lost in translation. Relevant content marketing is a delicate balance between what you want to say and what customers want to read.   (See how you can create content marketing…)


You used to have to pitch an article to the press in order to get it published. In these recessionary times, though, all you need to do is be an advertiser. Similar to the trend of content marketing, advertorial options & blurbs have become part of an advertising media buy – with a paid ad, newspapers & websites will throw in a free mention in their briefs or an article in their paper.

Reputable newspapers & websites will limit these articles to certain sections or online only while other media outlets will publish material all the time.  The advantage isn’t just getting free content; it’s about creating content that is worth reading. Jewish media buyers know which publications will provide free content but connect with content creators (see below) that will make your content compelling & optimized for SEO purposes (Start media buying…)


With sales edging higher & e-commerce websites creating more demand, Israeli companies and startups are starting to look towards the American market in more ways than just print advertising. Israel-based companies have started to sponsor events & create “satellite” offices in the U.S. as a way to attract the Jewish customer more often than just Passover or Sukkot vacation. Google Voice and Skype allows Israel entrepreneurs to create video & chat meetings with American customers, selling items from jewelry to travel services to real estate all online. As a result, more Israel companies will be looking to target Americans through more than just media buys in print. They’ll be looking for events, branding & direct sales. (Learn more…)


Just like cops moonlight as security guards, writers are using their talents for marketing purposes. As the newspaper industry staggers in the digital age, seasoned writers & editors are using their talents in the copywriting & branded content arena. Blogs, content marketing, advertising & press releases are all areas where an experienced writer comes in handy. Jewish writers in particular have a loyal established following that can come in handy when targeting the Jewish market through content.


The days of merely posting up a Facebook & Twitter page are over. At the same time, joining every single social media service in existence is a huge timesink & dilutes your core network. What worked for the nascent social media audience in 2006 won’t work for a 2014 audience (Facebook turns 10 years old this year, did you know that?). Mobile devices allow customers to get content quickly and on time. News breaks in minutes and goes viral in seconds. Push notifications provide app alerts, breaking news and social media messages. Focusing social media efforts on the strongest ones for your business is the key to a successful social media strategy. Posting consistent and timely messages, video’s and content on your best networks is smarter than having one or two pieces of content on every social network.

However, employees sitting on Vine, Pinterest or GoFundMe all day long could make for highly distracted workers that are out of touch with the end goal, which is sales & marketing.In a 2012 Intuit survey, one third of business owners said they want to spend less time on social media though they know it’s valuable. The 2013 solution has been outsourcing social media; specifically, companies are outsourcing social media design, content creation and analytics. From a cost-benefit analysis, outsourcing quality social media control is a better method than hiring full-time employees or college kids. (Read more about social media…)


Redesigning your website, brochures & advertising to suit the needs of digital customers that browse with tablets, mobile devices & iOS 7 is the first step towards a successful 2014 marketing campaign. Responsive web design with swipe navigation or one-page navigation has become the best way to reach customers on iPhone’s and iPad’s. Creating interactive brochures and business “storybooks” that resemble a magazine is a hot feature on Flipboard. Focusing on pictures & video for your marketing is more important than a PowerPoint.

Overall, it’s important to ensure your brand’s image & logo looks as relevant for 2014 as it did in 2005. Creating a badge, Favicon and Icon for your company is an important branding technique for being seen in browser windows & in social media; a badge is just as important as a logo! Designing social media components that are consistent with your advertising, brochures & website are often overlooked areas of design. With social media threatening to replace traditional websites, remaking your look for the digital age should be on your marketing budget for 2014. (Learn about a brand makeover…)

Henry Isaacs Marketing | Isaac Hyman, Founder | | 646.833.8604

Jewish Marketing 101 – American Express Small Business Forum – 6 Tasks You Could Be Outsourcing

Jewish Marketing 101 – American Express Small Business Forum – 6 Tasks You Could Be Outsourcing

6 Business Task You Could Be Outsourcing




6 Business Tasks You Could Be Outsourcing

Royale Scuderi Freelance Writer and Life Fulfillment Expert

April 3, 2012

Some businesses can handle normal daily activities but need outside help to take on new projects that don’t justify another employee. Other businesses are just struggling to manage day-to-day business. Still others are seeking ways to get more done or cut expenses in this challenging economy.

There are many valid reasons to consider outsourcing, but here are some of the most compelling.

  • Focus on core business activities. For many businesses, the primary motivation to outsource is that it frees owners, managers and employees to spend their time on income generating activities.
  • Improve opportunities for growth. Frequently opportunities for company growth and a desire to expand business operations exist, but resources to make it happen are lacking.
  • Increase efficiency and effectiveness. In many cases, outsourcing allows access to expert talent. Outsource service firms can offer innovative approaches, the latest technology, and creative, cutting-edge solutions that otherwise aren’t available.
  • Improve your bottom line by decreasing your expenses. A skilled contractor or firm can generally perform work less expensively than a full-time employee can, and the costs of hiring, training, and maintaining employees are eliminated, as are taxes and benefits.

Here’s what you can, and should, be outsourcing.

1. Administrative tasks. Scheduling, travel arrangements, data entry, typing and other administrative tasks can usually be handled by a virtual assistant or administrative service. While these tasks are crucial to the proper functioning of any business, they are not usually core business activities.

Where to find help: Assistant MatchAssistU and IVAA help match businesses with screened administrative service providers and offer directories of professionally trained virtual assistants.

2. Lead generation and customer service. Sales calls are often a matter of numbers; more calls equal more sales and leads. Once the initial outreach has been made, closing the sale can be handled by the internal sales force. A talented salesperson’s skills can be better utilized to close sales and handle clients, rather than make cold calls. It can also be a great deal more efficient to outsource customer support than it is to maintain a qualified support staff, especially for product-based companies.

Where to find help: Global Response and The Connection are recognized sales and customer service providers to many of the world’s top brands. Resource Nation allows companies to get quotes from pre-screened business solution sources.

3. Accounting and financial duties. Accounting firms or individuals can help with many financial services including bookkeeping, invoicing and accounts payable and receivable, as well as financial reporting, analysis and planning. Outsourcing payroll processing alone can save considerable hours, headaches and dollars. Many financial contractors will bundle these tasks for even greater savings.

Where to find help: BookkeepingHelp is a popular source of experienced financial professionals. This is one area to be very careful when outsourcing. It’s a good idea to check with certifying organizations, such as the American Institute of CPAs or American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers.

4. Marketing. Effective marketing determines how both brand and company reputation are perceived in the marketplace. A marketing firm or consultant can often provide an outside perspective that an internal marketing staff cannot. Professional freelance writers can develop higher-quality, polished content that will improve marketing efforts. Website design, brand development, press releases and online marketing duties such as social media, blogging and search engine optimization are good candidates for outsourcing as well.

Where to find help: Guru and Elance are two of the best-known sources of freelance contractors. They cover many areas of outsourcing, but excel in the areas of writing and design.

5. IT operations. It can be extremely expensive to handle IT operations in-house. The average business has limited ability and knowledge to manage all of its IT needs. Unless you’re an IT company, IT is a maintenance and repair function, not a core business activity. The potential advantages of outsourcing IT tasks are enormous.

Where to find help: CrossLoop and Tech Guru both offer access to full spectrum of IT remote services.

6. Human resources. Employee acquisition and human resource functions can easily be administered by an outside agency. Outside firms are more skilled at advertising, screening suitable applicants and checking references. Using an HR or employment service to manage employee benefits can also be wise, since they must stay up to date on the latest employment laws and standards.

Where to find help: Ceridian and Trinet are both well-known HR service providers offering a wide range of resources from recruitment to payroll to benefits administration.

Final word

Often, the best way to locate high-quality outsourcing prospects is through recommendations from your professional network. A referral from someone you know and trust is a much more reliable gauge of quality and is usually based on the level of skill and not simply the cheapest cost. Professional groups or associations and LinkedIn can also be great sources.

Royale Scuderi is a freelance writer and success coach. She is the founder of Productive Life Concepts and has been featured on top rated blogs such as Stepcase Lifehack and The Huffington Post. You can also find her musings on life and business at

Photo credit: iStockphoto

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Jewish Marketing 101 – Choosing between Print or Online Marketing to the Jewish Market

Jewish Marketing 101 – Choosing between Print or Online Marketing to the Jewish Market

Reaching the Jewish marketing in print and online

Reaching the Jewish customer used to much easier. You put an ad in the paper and usually you had success. That way of thinking has gone the way of  The New York Sun print edition – it’s become outdated, unnoticed, and simply unnecessary. But don’t think print marketing isn’t still valuable; on the contrary, for the Jewish market, print may still be the strongest option for getting Jewish clients. Here’s a marketing and Jewish market exploration into Why Print and Why Not Print?

Why Print?

The Jewish market will always have Sabbath (Shabbos/Shabbat). The fastest growing denomination of Jewry is the Orthodox market (link) and this is a market that turns off all iPads, iPhones, TV’s and computers in favor of relaxation and reading. Print advertising is the top method for reaching a market with complete attention span for a dedicated amount of time. There are currently more than three dozen print media outlets (both newspapers and pennysavers) that serve the Greater New York Jewish community, a well above average number (and overly disproportionate to the size of the New York Jewish community) and testament to the vitality of print media to the Jewish community. Furthermore, the Ultra-Orthodox market has recently protested overuse of the internet due to morality standards so print marketing is generally the best and only way to promote successfully to their market.

The original social network: Synagogue – Jews are no strangers to social networks. For thousands of years, Jewry has been a close knit, often “clique-ish” and isolated community that relied on their networks to do business, buy goods, and create opportunities – they had their own social network for generations. The synagogue is the original hub for Jewish social networking – simply look at each community’s Yahoo “shul group” membership and responses rate to see how important – and as such, anything that was discussed in person, with an offline component such as a newspaper clipping, flyer, coupon, or ad, was of great value. Although the Jewish market is constantly involved in web, digital, and mobile applications, there’s always an inherent return to the old ways of doing business by word of mouth and through Jewish social networking. Although online and social marketing is a valuable supplement, print advertising and offline marketing is one of the most basic tools that the Jewish community has always been attracted to.

Why Not Print?

We’re All Connected. Finally. – The Jewish market has never been slow to change and adapt. Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Yahoo have all been embraced for their speed, connectivity, and usefulness in connecting Jewish ideas to new Jewish markets. Although the Orthodox market is the fastest growing, the non-religious and unaffiliated Jewis market still remains the largest (Facebook and Google were both founded by Jewish but non-affiliated innovators). Since the Jewish market is extremely small, connecting to Jewish communities and people in diverse regions of the world make online marketing and presence extremely important. Measureable – Online media is much more measurable than print media and, without question, is growing faster than print marketing. In fact, print media responses requires a conscious, purposeful “next step” such as calling the number, visiting the store, arranging a consultation, etc., let alone an actual purchase. Online marketing only needs a “click” to be redirected to all the information, feedback, price, and benefits one can need before buying, which is much easier than other ways. Furthermore, not only is the chance of purchase much higher, the advertiser now has a nice amount of information on his customer and his marketing – depending on privacy settings, they know age range, geographical location, where they browsed, when and where they clicked, and how long they spent deciding on a purchase or not. Remember the line from John Wanamaker, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”? Through online marketing, you can finally see what you’re wasting.

Instant Response by Email –Be it a Groupon daily offer, breaking news e-mail, or a dedicated stand alone email blast, email marketing offers the opportunity to reach your market instantly and on your schedule. Although the Jewish market is reached no differently by email than American consumers, they do have a dedicated Jewish email marketplace (Negev Direct has a Jewish philanthropic postal mail marketplace as well). Starting with Groupon-style Jewish/Kosher daily deal options,, Jewpon, Kosher Kouponz, and Yipit are some of the top Jewish daily deal sites with large email lists. Axiom33 and Sephardic Daily Blast are two dedicated email marketing options that target specific ethnic groups, such as Jewish women and Sephardic Jews respectively. And, of course, the top Jewish news outlets in the nation, such as The Jewish Week, The Daily Forward, and Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, all have dedicated email lists of their readers as well as print, web, and social media components all tied into one. There are instant ways to reach the Jewish market – choosing the right one requires an expert in the Jewish segmenting, though.

Overall, the best solution when deciding between online and offline/traditional forms of marketing to the Jewish market is to obtain an expert in the Jewish market and in marketing/social media. By navigating your choices better, you’ll see more success no matter which direction you head in!

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Jewish Marketing 101 – Does Jewish Non-Profit Direct Mail Work Anymore?

Jewish Marketing 101 – Does Jewish Non-Profit Direct Mail Work Anymore?

Jewish Direct Mail for Non-Profits

When it comes to sending direct mail to potential donors, attendee’s, and prospects, are you getting the best return on your investement these days? With numerous email, insert, and direct marketing tools targeting the Jewish market, perhaps it pays to take another look at direct mailings for targeting the Jewish market.

(We’ll get into the intricacies of the Jewish market receiving mail on Shabbat as well, a big issue to consider)

Well, let’s go to the direct mail stats to start. According to the Direct Marketing Association‘s recent findings:

  • Response rates for Direct Mail have held steady over the past four years.  Letter-sized envelopes, for instance, had a response rate this year of 3.42 percent for a house list and 1.38 percent for a prospect list. 
  • Catalogs had the lowest cost per lead/order of $47.61, just ahead of inserts at $47.69, email at $53.85, and postcards $75.32. 

Overall, what this translates into is that Jewish non-profits sending direct mail to your list, in house or purchased lists, has an extremely low rate of return – less than 4%. Even less when prospecting. That doesn’t sound too successful. I think of it not just as succeeding 4% of the time but also as striking out 96% of the time. That’s after spending a nice amount of money on printing costs, collating, postage, and follow up. Note also that many Jewish organizations DON’T do follow up, perhaps one of the most important parts in fundraising and business development. Shelling out thousands of dollars on a mailing, a few thousand more on a prospect list, and sending without follow through just doesn’t seem like a prudent choice of marketing these days.

But what’s the alternatives here? For the Jewish market, there are plenty. First, let’s examine another interesting find by the DMA:

  • Email to a house list averaged:  a 19.47 percent open rate; a 6.64 percent click-through rate; a 1.73 percent conversion rate; with a bounce-back rate of 3.72 percent and an unsubscribe rate of 0.77 percent. 


If you have a choice between sending a large direct mail campaign and large email campaign, the choice is obvious – go for email. Email is instant, measurable, quantifiable, and can result in social sharing and instant results. Repeat – instant results.

These days, not many people will simply receive a snail mail piece, read it, pick up the phone/go to their computer, find your site, and make a donation. However, sending an email with a “DONATE NOW” link or even a “TEXT to DONATE” option will lead to instant results. The key word here is INSTANT. The second key word is measurable. Going further, for the Jewish market, imagine getting the piece of mail on Shabbat – because many Jews aren’t using electronics, they lose the passion or focus of the mailing’s message as the day goes on (that’s even if they open mail, which many do not on Shabbat). And what’s the first thing they do when Shabbat ends? They check their email. Skip the mailing, go for the emailing lists.


One of the mainstays of the Jewish market will be their Jewish newspaper. Contrary to popular belief, ethnic and local community publications are alive and well in terms of audience and reach. Find a nicely circulated subscription-based paper and consider doing an insert instead of a mailing.

Jewish newspapers always have the advantage that they will be read every Sabbath weekend cover to cover. It will never change. Ads within are good, but if you want to tell more about your mission, go for an insert. Let’s compare the pricing – many newspapers have a rate between $80-$115 per thousand inserts (depending on weight). Even if you received a highly discounted postage rate of $.10 per letter, which will be quite rare with the USPS increasing non-profit postage rates, you’ll still pay less to do an insert. And the beauty of a Jewish newspaper is that you can target certain demographics – for example, The Jewish Press targets an Orthodox market, The Jewish Week targets an affluent Modern Orthodox market, The Jewish Standard targets Northern New Jersey, etc. You can target your message to the best prospects that can donate and spread the word. All at a price that beats postage costs.


I heard from a colleage I do business with that they decided to try a Jewish deal site to spread the word about their fundraising event. He expected a few extra responses to augment his attendance – instead he received 200 responses! Luckily, he had room at the event.

With a unique pricing plan that allows for zero upfront costs, Jewish deal sites are a very lucrative option for spreading the word about your mission, increasing attendance, building your social media, and obtaining donations. You’ll have to split the earnings from the Jewish deal sites, such as Jdeal, Kosher Kouponz, Jewpon, etc, but you’re still making money from the new donors at no upfront costs. One drawback is that previous donors/participants  may purchase a discounted deal in lieu of a full price donation/attendance fee but we think it’s stil a shot worth taking a few times, especially for innovative events with high ticket costs.

Especially now, since social media allows you to share your deal or email, these options are even more lucrative. Having a well-functioning Jewish social media page will do wonders for supplementing your online direct marketing efforts. You don’t have that with direct mail. Again, I have to go to the computer, and sign in, and etc etc etc.

Apps: This is a fourth option to consider if you have the budget for it. An app is a great instant way to increase donations instantly. Having anyone with a smartphone, which is probably everyone in the Greater New York area, download your App online will lead to instant communication and instant donations. This option requires more research on your target market and what works for them.

Don’t get me wrong.

If Jewish direct mail works for you, go with it. But don’t let anyone tell you that a 3% success rate on direct mail is valuable. We sure won’t! Especially when you can have a 19% success rate on an email. So for those organizations striking out in their direct mail, and many of them are indeed striking out, put your direct marketing dollars to work in other more cost-effective ways. The younger generation  of donors is demanding it!

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Top 10 Jewish Apps for Iphone

Top 10 Jewish Apps for Iphone

Jewish iPhone and Android appsIs your Yiddish rusty? Want to whip up a kosher culinary masterpiece? Trying to remember which prayer to say as you cast off your sins on Rosh Hashanah? Don’t worry—there’s an app for it!


Ever wonder when it’s okay to toss out an “oy”? The opportunities, it seems, are endless. The Oy! app for iPhones and iPads provides five recorded variations on the go-to favorite for moments when no other expression of dismay will work. Does the situation call for a full-blown “oy gevalt”? Done. Need a classic “oy vey”? No problem. The app even covers that perennial favorite, “oy yoy yoy.”

Jewish Mother

The makers of Jewish Mother have remedied the logistical difficulties of constant maternal accomp-animent: In lieu of an actual mother, a virtual version programmed with more than 100 phrases follows users. “Happy Hanukkah, bubbeleh,” she might say. “Of course, I’d be happier if you had kids.” The digi-mom even spouts out different phrases based on gender and marital status.

Gematria Calculator

Gematria, part of Kabbalistic thought, assigns a numerical value to each of the Hebrew alphabet’s 22 letters, used to decode deeper meanings in Hebrew words and phrases. For those unable to perform such complex calculations in their heads, the Gematria Calculator determines the numerical values of phrases in Jewish texts, making the trajectory to spiritual reward a little less mathematically onerous.

Jewish Temple Jigsaw

Re-jigger this app’s puzzle pieces to form the Holy Temple, known in Hebrew as Beit HaMikdash. Those who solve the puzzle are rewarded—the screen flashes: “You built a Beis Hamikdash!” Not even King David could say that.


Tashlich, the Rosh Hashanah ceremony in which pieces of bread symbolizing sins are cast into a body of running water, has gone high-tech. This handy app explains the ritual and provides audio of the main prayer in both English and Hebrew, as well as the Hebrew text of the three primary blessings. It also prompts reflection on possible modern sins, such as, “Have you used other people’s unsecured wireless Internet?”

Jew Booth

Sure, that photo of you at cousin Jake’s wedding looks nice, but does it need a little Jewish je ne sais quoi? Jew Booth is here to help. Take any photo and make it distinctly Jewish by adding a kippah, a Star of David necklace or other Jewish accoutrements. Your Facebook friends will think you’ve undergone a religious transformation when they see photos of you wearing a black fedora; whether or not you clue them in to Jew Booth’s photographic trickery is up to you.

Yiddish Slang Dictionary

The next time you’re at a party and someone calls you a shlemiel when you spill your soda, whip out the Yiddish Slang Dictionary on your smartphone for an appropriate retort. Thanks to this app, Yiddish experts and neophytes alike can parse the language’s rich rhetorical epithets. The dictionary includes common words (schlep, mensch) along with more obscure bon mots such as tummler and schmutter.

The Amazing Jewish-Fact-a-Day Calendar

Can you name the play into which Shakespeare slipped some Hebrew? What do you know about the Talmud’s seemingly prophetic stance on airplanes? This app winforms users about important historical events that occurred on that date, fascinating religious practices and famous figures. Learn about everything from Louis Armstrong’s early job working for a Jewish family to historic disagreements between Hillel and Shammai.

Going Paprikash

Before World War II, as many as 250,000 Jews lived in Budapest, filling the Hungarian capital’s 125 synagogues. When they weren’t praying, they were cooking up a treasure trove of culinary treats, such as rakott krumpli (potato casserole), paprikas csirke (chicken paprikas) and gomboc (dumplings). Those longing for a taste of Hungary’s Jewish heritage can download this app, which features 120 kosher Hungarian recipes and the tales of how they came to be.


Thumb-twiddlers on subways and in office meetings can now brush up on their Jewish symbols while passing the time: A new version of the popular logic game Sudoku, usually played with numbers, features images such as the shofar, the Star of David and Hebrew letters. Just make sure to follow the cardinal rule of the game: no more than one menorah in each three-by-three box.

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Online Jewish Synagogue for the Holidays

Online Jewish Synagogue for the Holidays

Online Synagogue for Rosh HashanaLast year 14,000 computers were logged in to celebrate the Jewish High Holidays with the first and largest contemporary online synagogue, For the upcoming holidays this year, (Rosh Hashanah Sept. 28-29, Yom Kippur Oct. 7-8), thousands more are expected.

For the first time ever, the online congregation will also tweet the High Holiday services. Hundreds of tweets will be sent out from the Twitter accounts of the online congregation (@JewsOnline) and one of its rabbis, Laura Baum (@rabbi), during the evening and morning services. The tweets come from the liturgy that is used during the services, which can also be downloaded as a PDF in its complete form. is a global outreach initiative of Congregation Beth Adam in Cincinnati, Ohio. Over its 30 year history, Beth Adam has written liturgy for the Jewish holidays that expresses a contemporary and modern Jewish experience. The liturgy gives voice to Judaism’s ever-unfolding religious experience and promotes the values of intellectual honesty, open inquiry, and human responsibility. Rabbi Baum expressed, “Our liturgy is meant to be thought-provoking and accessible. What could make it more accessible than tweeting it?”

Thousands of computers and mobile devices (iPhones, iPads, Blackberries, Droids) will log in to services. Rabbi Robert Barr, one of the rabbis of, said “We know that people often can’t go to a local synagogue for any one of several reasons. They may be geographically isolated, not able to afford synagogue membership, or unable to leave work or other responsibilities to go to services. Or they may find their local synagogue is more traditional than they would like. What we do is bring contemporary Judaism to people wherever they are.” During those services, which are videostreamed live and archived through Livestream, participants are encouraged to use the Facebook, Twitter, and Livestream chat features on the side of the screen to engage in conversation with each other.

Rabbi Laura Baum explained “We’re rabbis who actually encourage people to talk during our sermons. We want those attending our services online to chat with each other using social media. It’s great to see people engaging in conversation and sharing their own ideas.”, founded by Rabbi Robert Barr and Rabbi Laura Baum, will be video-streaming two Rosh Hashanah and two Yom Kippur services live. In addition, there are holiday services for children; those will be pre-recorded and include stories and age-appropriate background about the holidays. There will also be a pre-recorded Memorial Service featuring photos that the web site’s members’ submit of deceased family members that they are remembering. All of the services will also be archived for future viewing on the computer (although archives are not available on mobile devices).

The services will be live-streamed at addition to at with Facebook and Twitter chats. Mobile devices can access the live services at or through the Livestream app for iPhones.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011 at 8:15 PM ET (Rosh Hashanah Evening)
Thursday, September 29, 2011 at 10:30 AM ET (Rosh Hashanah Morning)
Thursday, September 29, 2011 at 1:30 PM ET (Rosh Hashanah Children’s)

Friday, October 7, 2011 at 8:15 PM ET (Yom Kippur Evening)
Saturday, October 8, 2011 at 10:30 AM ET (Yom Kippur Morning)
Saturday, October 8, 2011 at 1:30 PM ET (Yom Kippur Children’s)
Saturday, October 8, 2011 at 4:00 PM ET (Yom Kippur Memorial) also streams a weekly Shabbat service and offers several other features: blogs, podcasts, video-casts, educational materials, holiday cards, access to rabbis, recipes, conversations, and more. Many people see as their synagogue and Rabbis Barr and Baum as their rabbis.

To join the free community and view any of the services, visit or

About is the world’s first progressive online synagogue. Launched on September 1, 2008, has reached more than 200,000 individuals in all 50 states in the U.S. and in more than 150 countries. The online community features blogs, audio podcasts through iTunes, video podcasts through YouTube, streaming holiday services, discussion boards, holiday eCards, recipes, educational materials for all ages, and more. We have more than 3,000 followers on Twitter ( and and has over 8,000 Facebook fans (

Laura Baum, Rabbi,
As the Founding Rabbi of, Rabbi Laura Baum works to engage Jews through social media and other technology. Baum was named one of the 50 most influential female rabbis by the Jewish Forward and has been featured in the New York Times,, and the Jerusalem Post. “Baum’s Blog” is a central feature of as are Rabbi Baum’s YouTube podcasts. An expert on social media and the changing needs of the Jewish community, Rabbi Baum has created a new model for engaging those seeking a new way to connect to Judaism.

Rabbi Baum was ordained by Hebrew Union College in 2008 and is now an adjunct instructor there. She graduated from Yale University in 2001 Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and with distinction in the Psychology major. She will receive an M.B.A. from Xavier University this spring.

Robert B. Barr, Rabbi,
Rabbi Robert B. Barr, ordained by Hebrew Union College in 1981, is the Founding Rabbi of Congregation Beth Adam in Cincinnati, Ohio. Under his leadership for the last 30 years, Beth Adam has grown from 6 members to over 300. The congregation has a significant voice and is a resource for liberal Jews worldwide. Rabbi Barr first imagined the online congregation and has played a continuing role in its development, including his weekly podcasts (“Barr’s Banter”) which are available on iTunes.

Rabbi Barr is active in the leadership of many Jewish organizations and has twice served as president of the Greater Cincinnati Board of Rabbis. Recognized by his peers as a leader in the evolution of modern, liberal Judaism, his writings have been published in journals, books, and web sites around the world.

High Resolution Photos available at:

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A Million Dollar Bat Mitzvah – Dr. Phil’s Radical Parenting Episode

A Million Dollar Bat Mitzvah – Dr. Phil’s Radical Parenting Episode


Radical Parenting & Million Dollar Bat Mitzvah

Radical Parenting

Dr. Phil talks to three families about their unconventional parenting styles. Are they too radical, or is there a rationale to their extremes?

Parenting with a Price?




Lana admits she motivates her 13-year-old daughter, Lizzie, and 18-year-old son, Lawrence, to get better grades with extravagant gifts including a $10,000 painting, trips to Europe and bat mitzvah that cost nearly one million dollars.

“My parenting style can best be described as loving and effective,” Lana says. “I believe in motivating my children by providing them with a very lavish lifestyle. If they do well in school, if they do their chores, then they can have a trip to Africa. They can go to Paris.”

But Lana’s sister, Natalya, says she contests the ritzy reinforcements. “My sister, Lana, super spoils her children to the point of no return,” Natalya says. “I call my sister a ‘mommy tampon’ because she tends to shove herself into every nook, cranny and orifice of her children’s lives.”

Lawrence, who recently started his first year in college, lives in a dorm, but also has his own penthouse two miles from campus and full-time access to a private pilot. In addition to his $2,000 monthly allowance, he and his sister have 24-hour bodyguards. Lawrence and Lizzie’s pet monkey, Mikey, also has his own bodyguard, butler, jewelry collection and trust fund.

“I think I’m a great parent,” Lana says. “If someone wants to know why I spend money, it’s because I can.”

Now seated with both women, Dr. Phil gets to the root of their disagreement.

“Mommy tampon?” he asks Natalya. “I’ve never heard those two words together in a sentence.”

Smiling, Natalya replies, “And I don’t know whether to be proud or ashamed because I have no idea where that [term] came from, but it is so the truth. She uses mind control, an extreme amount of money and bodyguards to just shove herself into every aspect of their lives.”

“Are you a helicopter mom? Are you really all over the place as she suggests?” Dr. Phil asks Lana.

“I’m not really a helicopter mom, but I think that in today’s toxic society, we should be aware of what our kids are doing and stay on top of them, and be aware of the social temptations that are out there. So, maybe I’m borderline helicopter mom.”

Dr. Phil quizzes Lana about her children’s bodyguards. “Are these bodyguards or spies?” he asks.

“I like to think of them as chaperones,” Lana explains, adding that even her college-aged son occasionally needs adults to help him make mature decisions.

“So you don’t have a lot of confidence in your children?” Dr. Phil asks.

“I have a lot of confidence in myself and my children,” Lana clarifies. “It’s the rest of the world that I don’t have confidence in.”

Lana also says she makes her children take assessment tests to evaluate their life progress and goals. She claims the tests teach her “the true nature” of her children.

“Do you need a test to know the true nature of your child?” Dr. Phil asks.

“Well, I know my children, but I can tell you that some parents see their children the way they’d like to see them and not for who they really are,” Lana says.

The millionaire mom also asserts that her sister, Natalya, is an out-of-control middle child who secretly envies her lavish lifestyle.

“You said, ‘My sister is a mess. She parties late at night and dresses like a slut,'” Dr. Phil says, recounting a comment Lana made about Natalya. “She’s always doing the wrong things with the wrong guys, and looking for herself in the wrong places.”

Natalya flashes her sister a coy smile and responds, “Here’s what I think: Don’t hate me because you ain’t me! I’m younger and I don’t have a husband. I have two wonderful young kids. So if I can party all week and make it to work, [then OK].”

“I told Mom and Dad you should have been an abortion. I didn’t even want siblings.”

The two sisters continue to argue until Dr. Phil stops them and they return to the topic of Lana’s parenting.

Dr. Phil tells Lana that her over-the-top rewards may rob her kids of genuine motivation to succeed. “If you pay your children or give them massive rewards for performance, that’s what we call external or extrinsic motivation. The higher the extrinsic motivation, the less the internal or intrinsic motivation. A child is not going to develop a thirst for knowledge if his only motivation is to [gain material things]. And when that goes away, there’s no internal motivation. That’s a real problem with indulged children. Do you worry about that?”

“I disagree,” Lana says, explaining that her children are well-behaved and excel in school, so she feels confident in her parenting.

Dr. Phil leaves the mother with one cautionary thought, “OK, you disagree, but I really want you to consider what I’m saying because the research on this is pretty overwhelming.”

Lana stands her ground. “[My children] do what they’re supposed to,” she says. “And I really have no reason to think they’re going to grow up to be anything other than what they are right now.”

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Subway – Eat Fresh! Not a Hit With Kosher Customers

Subway – Eat Fresh! Not a Hit With Kosher Customers

Kosher Subway Not a HitSubway – Eat Fresh! Not a Hit With Kosher Customers

Local franchises of sandwich chain were touted as next big kosher thing. What happened?

Amy Spiro
Special to the Jewish Week

Less than 1 percent of all new Subway restaurants fail, according to statements from the popular sandwich chain. But in the New York area all five kosher Subway outposts — once described as the next big fad in kosher dining — have closed in the last few years, leading many to wonder if what was once the largest U.S. kosher restaurant chain was just a passing fad.

In 2008, a kosher Subway store opened on Water Street in Lower Manhattan. Six months later, it closed, and reopened as a non-kosher Subway. Locations in Westchester, Brooklyn, Long Island and, most recently, on Jewel Avenue in Kew Gardens Hills, Queens, suffered a similar fate. A storefront in Livingston, N.J., closed after 15 months of operation. Locations planned for the Upper West Side and Teaneck, N.J., never came to fruition. At their peak, 12 kosher Subway locations were open in the U.S.; today only five remain.

Owners at several of the closed locations said that operating a kosher establishment within the Subway parameters proved frustrating and that added expenses made it difficult to turn a profit.

Liron Shamsiav, former owner of the Queens location, said “a combination of factors” led to his store’s closing several months ago.

In addition to other fees, franchisees pay 4.5 percent of their sales to headquarters for advertising, but “you don’t get anything from it [in] the Jewish area and the Jewish crowd,” Shamsiav said, since many of the traditional promotions (like the $5 foot-long sandwich) and menu items are not available in kosher stores.

“We had to add more advertising from our own budget,” he said, which cut in to profits already weakened by the high cost of kosher meat and New York City rent. Shamsiav said that while initially Subway headquarters were more flexible and willing to aid the kosher franchisees, they became more difficult and uncompromising as time went on.

Even outside New York, Joan Fogel had great difficulties managing her kosher Subway outpost in a suburb of Kansas City, Kan., and ultimately sold it at the end of 2010, when it reopened as a non-kosher establishment.

“We were invisible to HQ,” she wrote in an e-mail to The Jewish Week. “We were never able to get Subway to do any advertising or marketing for us, even though we paid in to the fund monthly,” she said.

Fogel, who owned and managed the restaurant with her husband Roger, said that Subway did not allow them to serve any specialty items — unlike many New York stores, which offered shwarma or other dishes not found on the traditional Subway menu. They also suffered from difficulties in acquiring kosher meat, and wildly fluctuating prices for supplies.

“We had ongoing supply problems and had no purchasing power through Subway, which we were told we would have,” said Fogel. Ultimately, though their franchise was the only kosher restaurant in the area, the couple “got tired of the uphill battles and the lack of support from Subway.”
The Chicago kosher location announced on Sept. 1 that it too was closing its doors.

“Unfortunately, Walgreens bought the strip mall where we were located,” the restaurant posted on its Facebook page. “We considered moving locations, but it took us two years to find this location and we did not want to go through the process again.” The restaurant stated that a non-kosher franchise will replace it.

Though none of the New York locations remain open, along with the Chicago and Kansas City ones, the kosher Subway experiment appears to be working in some places. Locations in Cleveland, Miami, Los Angeles and two stores in Maryland have thrived in their communities.
After watching the five New York locations come and go, Dani Klein, editor and founder of, has his own theory on what doomed the metro area’s restaurants.

“It’s not just one reason; I think it probably has to do with multiple factors,” said Klein, whose website compiles kosher travel information from around the globe.

“New York has a plethora of kosher options; it takes a lot to keep a kosher establishment in business,” he said, citing three main reasons for struggles of the locations there. First, a disconnect for consumers between Subway’s national advertising versus the higher prices in kosher franchises; second, the excitement wearing off after the initial thrill of being able to eat there; and third, the fact “New York Jews know deli,” and the Subway chains pale in comparison.

Klein has eaten in the former Manhattan location and the Los Angeles store, which remains open, and said he “didn’t really see the appeal to why it was so exciting … it was OK.”

Explaining why kosher Subways are difficult to maintain, owners cite the higher cost of kosher ingredients and kosher supervision, the inability to remain open on Saturdays and the alienating of some non-kosher customers who prefer the original menu and prices.

Many of the surviving kosher locations avoid unsatisfied non-kosher consumers, since they are housed in Jewish community centers. The Cleveland, Miami and Rockville, Md., franchises all opened inside existing JCCs, guaranteeing them a steady stream of kosher-observant customers and a smaller chance of irate lunchers looking for a ham and cheese sandwich.

Housed in the Mandel JCC, in the suburb of Beachwood, business is good at the Cleveland location — the first kosher Subway in the nation.
“We get a lot of traffic from both the Jewish community and also members who are here to use the gym facilities and the pool,” said Joe Faddoul, manager of the store. “We have a lot of repeat customers, a lot of people that we see on a daily basis.”

While Faddoul was “surprised to hear” that so many stores in New York had closed, he recognizes that “there is a lot more competition there as far as kosher restaurants go.” In the Cleveland community, “there is just a handful” of kosher restaurants, he said, and several have closed over the past couple years.

A representative for Subway refused to speak to The Jewish Week about anything concerning the kosher stores, citing an ongoing lawsuit that he declined to name.

Last year, Les Winograd, a spokesman for Subway, told this reporter that while many of the kosher locations have opened and closed, each one shuts down for individual reasons, without an overarching trend. In addition, he said “we try to get [the owners] to understand that you might see a huge boost in business when you open,” he said, “but once the novelty dies away things are going to level out.”

The Jewish Week
Published on The Jewish Week (

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Jewish Non-Profit aims to “Be Like Mike”

Jewish Non-Profit aims to “Be Like Mike”