Shul Lists: The Original Jewish Social Media Influencers

Shul Lists: The Original Jewish Social Media Influencers

Shul Lists & Jewish Social Media | Henry Isaacs | New YorkThe community Shul list – such as the Yahoo Groups entitled TeaneckShuls, FiveTownsShuls & BrooklynShuls – are essentially the Jewish social media versions of Craigslist, Facebook, Etsy, Twitter, and Patch combined into one email. And, as a community resource, guide & bulletin board, it seems to be working very nicely for the Jewish community. Here’s a sample of what we mean:

Jewish social media | Shul List | Henry Isaacs | New York

Often the most overlooked division of any Jewish marketing campaign, these Yahoo Groups provide a great source of hyperlocal marketing options to individual communities. At Henry Isaacs Marketing – a digital marketing, social media & design company – we tend to put a big emphasis on hyperlocal Jewish marketing via Shuls Lists… or as we term it, Jewish Social Media. With Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and other social media taking the spotlight when it comes to social media strategy, many companies looking to target the Jewish community overlook or underestimate the Shul List. Bad move.

How did the Shul list come to be? Great question and we have no clue. What we do know is that each community tends to have at least one group that they use for all notices. And the real question should be: how can I use this information to my benefit? That we can help you with. Whether you’re a Jewish business or Jewish non-profit, here’s some ideas & strategies for using Jewish social media aka the Shul email groups to benefit your bottom line.

Know which lists allow advertising. 

Because these shul lists can be inundated with community notices & postings, there’s even less time to post the advertisements. So many shuls lists ban advertising messages entirely except for sponsored posts & pre-holiday open posting days. So unless you have something else to say besides an ad, you may not get posted at all. Know which lists allow for advertising, which don’t, and which allow on certain days of the week. If you really have a lot to say & looking to spend smartly, use hyperlocal email marketing lists such as eBergen Blast & eFiver (see below) that allow complete email marketing options to large Jewish communities.

Ask questions. Trust me. 

You’d be surprised at the response you get from recipients to any question. We once inquired about any music recommendations for a High Style Events client; we got about 21 recommendations. And that was from just one or two community email groups (we’re in about 30+ groups). Just like you need to be conversational on Twitter & Facebook (yes, you need to be social on social media, yes!) to increase social interaction, you should be asking questions, getting advice & offering feedback as well. If you’re a Jewish non-profit and want advice on a Super Bowl event or fundraisers, send a question out such as “Any Super Bowl events this weekend?”The feedback will give you some solid market research and enable you to plan your event or campaign better.

Track it well. 

Use Bitly to track your links so you can see how well your post is being viewed. We blasted out a campaign for the Israel Forever Foundation and received over 200 click throughs. Because the Shul lists are closely moderated, text-based messages (meaning not very pretty!) and may include 8-15 messages per email (meaning every word counts!), the best way to measure the impact is through a trackable link that provides stats on the location. Once you have that information, you can take the next step and increase your social marketing to your best communities.

Know how big your community list is & how often they send emails. 

If you’re looking to have your message read at a certain time of day, plan out when each list will get your message. FiveTownsShuls & TeaneckShuls each send out about 5-8 emails a day (each with about 15 messages) so if you send them something in the morning, expect it to be emailed out by the evening at the earliest. A list like TenaflyShuls, however, may send an email out an hour after you post one. Some lists don’t send out for days. The moderators all have jobs doing something other than vetting your postings, so the bigger the volume, the less chance of having your message seen earlier.

Use hyperlocal email marketing lists as well. 

eBergen Blast & eFiver are both email groups that offer hyperlocal email marketing to the Jewish communities of Bergen County & Five Towns, respectively. Building on the desire for advertising via shul lists, businesses & non-profits can now target Jewish recipients through email lists similar to the Shul lists.

Overall…

These are some tips that should help you get a good start on hyperlocal email marketing via Jewish social media. There are many more nuances to it, though, including how to word your subject line, scheduling smart posts & sponsorships & creating content, as well as integrating these with your Facebook, Twitter & other accounts, so you’ll need to engage a Jewish social media experts (ahem, that’s us!) that can incorporate a smart Jewish social strategy into your overall Jewish marketing & communications campaign.  For those looking to go it alone, the key is to recognize your best markets & find the lists that work for them!


Henry Isaacs Marketing | Isaac Hyman, Founder

 www.henryisaacs.net | info@henryisaacs.net | 646.833.8604


Booker Taps Ties to Jewish Community in Senate Race (WSJ)

Booker Taps Ties to Jewish Community in Senate Race (WSJ)

Cory Booker Jewish MayorAs you saw in our previous post for the New York mayoral election and courting Jewish votes, the Jewish community may be small in numbers but don’t disregard their influence. Looking to take over the late Frank Lautenberg, Cory Booker, a popular name in Jewish circles, has become a strong candidate for the New Jersey Senate seat. Who does he turn to for the votes? The Jewish community.  As his go to source for all-things-Jewish, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the type of Rabbi that is political, closely tied to the modern Jewish community, and nationally recognized for his popular (and controversial) opinions on sex, religion, and lifestyle. Sounds like a perfect candidate to take Cory Booker to the next level. 

Booker Taps Ties to Jewish Community in Senate Race

Newark Mayor’ Draws on Longtime Connections in Bid for Lautenberg Seat

By HEATHER HADDON

He regularly reads verses from the Torah. He once addressed 700 congregants at a friend’s bar mitzvah. In 2011, he took his parents to Israel for a “trip of a lifetime.” And he is a staple at seder meals during Passover.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker

He is Cory Booker, the African-American, Christian mayor of Newark.

The U.S. Senate candidate has immersed himself in Jewish culture and serious Judaic study for two decades, ever since he had an accidental meeting with an ultraorthodox Chabad-Lubavitch rabbi. And now, Mr. Booker has tapped those Jewish connections in his campaign to fill the seat of the late U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who was Jewish and helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars for Jewish causes—and with a cancer-research center in Jerusalem bearing his name.

Mr. Booker, 44 years old, has received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from prominent New Jersey Jewish leaders, and nearly $120,000 from the pro-Israel NORPAC political-action committee since January, campaign filings show.

Many Jews familiar with Mr. Booker are impressed with his knowledge of their faith.

“He could put many of us to shame,” said Lori Klinghoffer, a New Jersey Jewish philanthropist and president of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.

The three other Democrats running in the Aug. 13 primary also count ties to the Jewish community. Most notably, the widow and children of Mr. Lautenberg—who sponsored a 1989 amendment that helped hundreds of thousands of Jews in Soviet countries flee persecution to the U.S.—have endorsed Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone.

[image]Peter J. Smith for The Wall Street Journal | Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

The Lautenberg family members are vocal critics of Mr. Booker’s candidacy—including his outreach to Jews.

“With Cory Booker, he’s a very good speaker and a very good salesman,” said Josh Lautenberg, the late senator’s son. “I don’t feel like Cory Booker is authentic in what he’s selling.”

A spokesman for the Booker campaign—who declined to address Mr. Lautenberg’s son’s claims—said the candidate’s Jewish studies have enriched his Christian faith and “reinforced his belief that there is much more that connects us than divides us.”

Jewish elders in New Jersey believe Mr. Booker is sincere.

“I have had ample opportunity to gauge the depth of his Jewish knowledge, and it is genuine,” said Rabbi Clifford Kulwin, who leads the 3,000-member Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston, N.J. He has known Mr. Booker for years.

Newark was once home to a large Jewish population, with tens of thousands living there in the early 20th century. But Newark’s Jewish population dwindled significantly after the city’s 1967 riots.

Throughout New Jersey, roughly 397,400 people, or 6% of the population, identify as Jewish, tied with New York state for the highest percentage in the country, according to a 2007 study by the Pew Forum. New Jersey is home to growing Orthodox communities in Teaneck, Passaic, Lakewood and Linden, along with Reform Jews throughout the northern and central parts of the state.

It is a significant section of voters and donors—especially in a race that will likely see low voter turnout—that Mr. Booker’s three Democratic rivals aren’t discounting.

State Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, one of the Democratic candidates, grew up as one of the few African-Americans living in Newark’s Weequahic neighborhood, a South Ward section that was predominantly Jewish.

“I definitely have excellent relationships with the Jewish community,” she said.

All the Democrats in the race have reached out to Jewish groups, said Ben Dworkin, director of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University. Mr. Pallone and Rep. Rush Holt, another candidate, have strong records on Israel, and Ms. Oliver is well-known, he said.

Mr. Booker’s Jewish knowledge has proved particularly intriguing, Mr. Dworkin said.

Mr. Booker was raised in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and now belongs to Metropolitan Baptist Church in Newark.

Mr. Booker stumbled into his Jewish studies when he was at Oxford, when he attended a 1992 Torah celebration thrown by the L’Chaim Society student organization.

He began studying Judaism with the group’s Hasidic rabbi, Shmuley Boteach, and Mr. Booker later became the organization’s president at Oxford.

They continued their Jewish studies together after both men moved to New Jersey.

“We’ve studied thousands of hours together,” said Rabbi Boteach, an Englewood resident who said he advised Michael Jackson on spirituality and is the author of unconventional books such as “Kosher Sex.”

As mayor, Mr. Booker keeps a Torah on his desk, among other religious books. He can read some Hebrew, but isn’t conversant. He will often use Jewish parables when talking about political struggles.

“At the end of the day, I am a man who loves faith,” said Mr. Booker, during a speech before Mercer County Democrats last year, where he discussed bringing his parents to Israel in 2011.

Mr. Booker has spoken to dozens of Jewish groups, including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a strong pro-Israel lobbying group.

NORPAC has hosted several fundraisers for his campaign—and more may be on the way, said Rabbi Menachem Genack, NORPAC founder and chief executive of the Orthodox Union’s Kosher Division.

NORPAC also has supported Mr. Pallone with $10,000 in contributions this year, according to campaign filings.

But Mr. Booker is the candidate that many Jewish voters have embraced, said Richard Gordon, an attorney from New Jersey and past president of the American Jewish Congress.

“Cory Booker is someone we have watched grow up,” Mr. Gordon said. “There was a tremendous amount of pent up excitement about what his future was going to be.”

Write to Heather Haddon at heather.haddon@wsj.com

A version of this article appeared July 29, 2013, on page A15 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Booker Taps Jewish Ties In Senate Race.


Henry Isaacs Marketing | Isaac Hyman, Founder

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Want Jewish votes? Head to the Hampton Synagogue (New York Times)

Want Jewish votes? Head to the Hampton Synagogue (New York Times)

Rabbi Schneier's voters.
Rabbi Schneier’s voters.

The Jewish community may be small in numbers but don’t disregard their influence. With mayoral candidates jockeying for favor among the Jewish community to try and succeed Mayor Michael Bloomberg, himself Jewish, there’s a few Jewish “influencers” and communities in New York that you’ll have to charm. One is certainly Rabbi Marc Schneier’s following in the Hamptons (as the article shows) that receives a primarily modern & traditional Jewish audience every weekend. 

Head to the Orthodox Union for the Orthodox vote. Their members hold sway over some of the more Yeshivish and Modern Orthodox voters that may prove unreachable via usual marketing channels on TV and print. Agudath Israel does have the ear of the Ultra-Orthodox but politicians need to go straight to the head Rabbi’s in the Williamsburg and Borough Park communities that directly influence thousands of their followers. The Hampton Synagogue has the most celebrated visitors but the Ultra-Orthodox has some of the highest potential voter numbers among the Jewish community. 

nytlogo379x64

Following the Powerful to Their Vacation Spot

Reposted from The New York Times
By 

To mayoral candidates on the prowl for New York City voters, Westhampton Beach, N.Y., is pretty far out of the way.

But almost all of them have pledged to make the trek east, all in search of support from the wealthy and influential worshipers at a single Jewish congregation, the Hampton Synagogue.

Like the large African-American churches that dot the city’s boroughs, the synagogue has become a mandatory pilgrimage site on the campaign trail. Two candidates for mayor have already visited. Five more are booked, including two Democrats and one Republican who — they may or may not know — are splitting next weekend.

“Truth be told, we have a pageantry of all the candidates here,” said Rabbi Marc Schneier, who founded the modern Orthodox synagogue in 1990, after a career that included a four-year stint in real estate.

“They all reach out to me,” he said. “This is considered a very important stop on the Hamptons circuit.”

His congregation is not large — the synagogue’s membership roll lists only 500 families. But with a steady stream of drop-ins including Ronald O. Perelman, Ronald S. Lauder, Russell Simmons and Steven Spielberg; a speaker series that features a variety of notables as varied as Hillary Rodham Clinton and Glenn Beck; cantorial music on a par with Carnegie Hall; and other summer fare like this weekend’s kosher gospel concert, the pews are generally packed.

“When you’re speaking at a gathering of 200 people on a Saturday evening, it’s not just your — what’s the word I’m looking for — and it’s not your average Jewish family,” Rabbi Schneier said. “I’ve often said, this is all chiefs and no braves. This is Scarsdale, the Upper West Side, Teaneck. It’s a community of communities.”

Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker and a Democratic mayoral candidate, took no chances and pressed for an invitation back in April, when she ran into Rabbi Schneier at an event in Manhattan. She and the rabbi’s close friend, Ken Sunshine, a publicist, were both receiving Bella Fella awards, which are named after Bella Abzug. The rabbi was there as a guest speaker.

Ms. Quinn volunteered to the rabbi, he recalled, that she would “love to come to the Hampton Synagogue” once his followers decamped from their usual abodes in the city to the Hamptons for their summer getaways.

Her invitation arrived without ado, and on July 12 she was wooing worshipers, dressed in conservative Sabbath attire, at Friday night dinner after attending a Kabbalat Shabbat service.

John A. Catsimatidis, a Republican candidate and grocery store billionaire, beat her to the scene by a few days with an appearance at Sunday breakfast on July 7.

So eager was he to make a good impression with the influential crowd that, after his own speech, Mr. Catsimatidis accompanied the rabbi to another session where Israeli bonds were being pitched to 25 or so prospective buyers. That group of high rollers ended up ordering $9 million worth of the securities, including $1 million purchased by a first-time buyer: Mr. Catsimatidis.

William C. Thompson Jr., a Democratic candidate and former city comptroller who came close to unseating Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2009, is expected to visit the synagogue on Saturday, Aug. 10. Rabbi Schneier said that Mr. Thompson, an Episcopalian who speaks some Yiddish and who has said that he was the first city comptroller to invest city money in Israeli bonds, was quite at home among New York’s Jewish communities.

The synagogue, in fact, owes much to Mr. Thompson’s father, a former Appellate Court judge, because it was he who ruled in the synagogue’s favor, back in its embryonic days, after the Village of Westhampton Beach obtained a Supreme Court injunction that would have barred the rabbi from holding services with as few as 10 people in his home. “If it wasn’t for Bill Thompson’s father,” the rabbi recalled, “I wouldn’t have had a synagogue here.”

Bill de Blasio, another Democratic candidate and the city’s public advocate, has a personal connection, too: he brought Mrs. Clinton to the synagogue when she was running for Senate and he was managing her campaign. He is in discussions with the synagogue but does not yet have an appointment.

Adolfo Carrión Jr., the Independence Party candidate and former Bronx borough president, has one of the last Saturday time slots of the season, Aug. 17.

This campaign stop might also be one of the few times when Sal F. Albanese, a Democrat and a former city councilman, might wish that he was an unknown in the race, rather than someone who will have to make amends with the congregation before he can make headway.

On July 6, Mr. Albanese kept nearly 200 congregants waiting when he failed to show up, according to the rabbi. Mr. Albanese went to a temple in East Hampton, thinking the event would be there; finding no one there, the candidate eventually left, the rabbi reported.

But Rabbi Schneier is inclined to forgive. Mr. Albanese will get his second chance on Sunday, capping a weekend when the synagogue is already juggling two other candidates — Joseph J. Lhota, a Republican, on Friday and John C. Liu, a Democrat and the city’s comptroller, on Saturday.

“This seems to be a mayoral campaign of second chances,” he said wryly.


Henry Isaacs Marketing | Isaac Hyman, Founder

 www.henryisaacs.net | info@henryisaacs.net | 646.833.8604


Jewish PR 101 – El Al’s Ticket Mistake and Stellar Recovery

Jewish PR 101 – El Al’s Ticket Mistake and Stellar Recovery

El Al Discount TicketsEl Al’s newest ticket pricing issues doesn’t come from high fuel prices. A daily deal site offered bargain basement rates on flights to Israel from the U.S. Over 5,000 tickets were sold in a matter of hours before the price was corrected. Maybe this is the year of the technology glitches (see NASDAQ’s Facebook IPO glitch and Knight Capital’s $400 million software error). Perhaps this is a major flaw in the “daily deals” business model; perhaps this mistake was plain old human error. From a marketing perspective, this is an example of how social media can distribute one’s marketing message in one arena and have it spread virally in a matter of moments. Although social media is great for it’s virality, it’s extremely hard to recuperate after letting negative or wrong information go viral. No matter who’s to blame, the bottom line is that El Al has planes full of passengers paying extremely little.

Those rare companies that disregard the last three words of that sentence and instead focus on “planes full of passengers” is a company that deserves praise and loyalty. El Al opted to go “cup half full” and see past their lack of profit, focusing instead on the thousands of new passengers they’ve obtained and honoring all tickets purchased at the discounted rate. For most companies, quarterly bottom lines and stock prices dictate the basics of business; El Al is a company focused on profits like any other, but they’ve elected to ignore the bottom line for now and accentuate the positives: thousands of happy and overjoyed passengers that get to take an El Al flight to Israel.

Which exemplifies how valuable good old customer service can be for even the occasional Jewish customer. El Al did the absolute best thing by honoring the ticket sales, no matter what the cost to their bottom line or lack of profits. Perhaps this deal glitch was even a daring marketing tactic for the slow winter months, when packed El Al flights are few and far between – offer extremely reduced rates and fill your flights (you’re flying half empty planes anyway; why not try to fill it by offering remnant prices?) Currently, El Al is even offering stopover ticketed passengers an upgrade to non-stop flights which will enable El Al to gain some additional revenue per passenger.

Beleaguered on all fronts by high gas prices, stiff competition, and the constant fear of a potential war in the Middle East, as well as the lingering resentment by Ultra-Orthodox flyers over meat meals during the Nine Days and flights on Sabbath, El Al has struggled mightily in the past decade. Many Jewish passengers today feel little loyalty to an “Official Airline of Israel” (not to compare at all, but it’s reminiscent of how the Jewish community, over time, doesn’t mind driving Mercedes Benz’s or BMW’s in the 21st century when just twenty years ago it was highly taboo to drive a “German car”.  With this daily deal snafu, El Al may have finally gotten a chance to show their passengers what makes their flights and service special as the official airline of Israel. Back to basics, in a way. El Al needs to take this opportunity to charm the hell out of their riders – great attendants, warm smiles, excellent food, little delays, and stocked cupboards – and ensure passengers remember the value of a dedicated Israeli airline. El Al has the attention of their passengers and a great marketing and PR strategy on board is extremely important.

An airline is only as good as it’s last flight. El Al has already done a great job ensuring the ticket buyers are happy with their purchases. Now, bring the satisfied experience full circle with a flight to remember by the official airline of Israel.


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Jewish Social Media 101 – Jewish Non-Profits and Social Media: Do They Get It?

Jewish Social Media 101 – Jewish Non-Profits and Social Media: Do They Get It?

Jewish bloggerHere’s an excellent blog post from Rabbi Jason Miller that illustrates the need for Synagogues and Jewish non-profits to do more than take the easy way out of performing social media. Key line regarding volunteers: “you get what you pay for.” And if you’re not paying, you’re probably not getting the best Jewish social media experience possible.
The Jewish Week
Published on The Jewish Week (http://www.thejewishweek.com)

Jewish Non-Profits and Social Media – Do They Get It?

By Rabbi Jason Miller

Are Jewish Non-Profits adding social media to their arsenal of marketing tools?

Are Jewish Non-Profits adding social media to their arsenal of marketing tools?

Cross-posted to Blog.RabbiJason.comAs a rabbi who is a social mediaologist, I find myself consulting a lot of synagogues and Jewish nonprofits on their social media strategy. The leaders of these institutions all recognize that they require a social media strategy, but the plan for how it will be implemented varies greatly.Many synagogues in 2012 have yet to budget for social media marketing so they look for the quickest and cheapest solution. In most cases this comprises of identifying a volunteer lay person or existing staff member who is willing and able to set up the congregation’s social media presence across the major networks. In some instances this is a teen who claims to be a Facebook wiz and over-promises and under-delivers. With many volunteers, congregations often get what they pay for.

Jewish organizations seem to be a little further ahead than synagogues in the social media department. Third party retailers like Target and Home Depot have forced nonprofit institutions to get on the social media bandwagon quickly because of their online contests in which the retailer partners with nonprofits for fundraising prizes. These crowd-raising initiatives have required nonprofits to bolster their social identity online to compete in the contests.

While businesses in the for-profit world have allocated serious funds to their online marketing initiative, the nonprofit world is still light-years behind. That should be no surprise because nonprofits often take a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to change.

Robert Evans and Avrum Lapin recently wrote on the eJewishPhilanthropy blog about an unofficial survey they conducted to investigate how Jewish nonprofits are “utilizing social media and how it enables them to meet the demands that they and their leaders are facing.” From the outset, they assert that the picture is not entirely positive and quote a synagogue software system developer lamenting that “most of the Jewish world seems frozen in the 20th century when it comes to being technologically advanced.”

Our recent survey demonstrated a significant lack of human or dollar resources invested by Jewish groups into Facebook and Twitter. Very few synagogues even seem to have any presence on Facebook or Twitter, although they all have websites, many of which are reasonably interactive. Robyn Cimbol, director of development at New York City’s Temple Emanu-El, noted that her congregation was probably the first Jewish congregation to have a website but today they have no specific plans to foster Facebook or Twitter activities, citing other pressing priorities and no apparent demands from their 2,800 member households. “We have limited staff resources and capabilities for this,” she noted, “but we are gearing up ultimately to recognize social media as one communications opportunity,” she told us. She did emphasize that “a number of staff members do use Face Book [sic]… to communicate with specific constituents but it is not used Temple-wide.”

Facebook reports that 89% of 1.3 million U.S. nonprofit organizations boast a social networking presence, offering opportunities potentially for fundraising. However, fundraising on Facebook is still a “minority effort,” despite recent gains.

The authors of the study recognize that the Jewish nonprofits that have succeeded the most in social media marketing have been those that have participated in social fundraisers with third parties, such as mega-retailers or major foundations. Many organizations that find themselves competing in these online social fundraisers have allocated staff time or in some cases hired dedicated part-time staff to manage these initiatives (if they win there is a good return on investment).

The Jewish Education Project and JESNA’s Lippman Kanfer Institute (in partnership with UJA Federation of New York) have launched the Jewish Futures Competition, which will dole out $1,800 prizes for Jewish nonprofits to advance their social media identities. As more synagogues and Jewish nonprofits become more focused on bolstering their social media exposure (moving from building their fan base on a Facebook page to increasing their brand amplification through likes, comments and shares), they will integrate their email marketing (Constant Contact, MailChimp, etc.) and online fundraising (Razoo, CauseCast, DonorPages, etc.) into their social networking.

Evans and Lapin’s study demonstrates that nonprofits do understand the value in using social networks for fundraising. “According to this year’s Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report, four out of five nonprofit organizations find social networks a ‘valuable’ fundraising option.” However, these same nonprofits aren’t able to quantify why that is. It is important to remember that social media is still in its infancy. As it grows (and its exponential growth doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon), more synagogues and nonprofits will get on board by allocating the necessary resources to its success.

As they say, the “proof is in the pudding” and the ROI will be noticeable for the synagogues and Jewish nonprofits who dedicate the necessary time and resources to building their brand/mission exposure through social media. Change is never easy and the nonprofit world is more risk averse when it comes to technological innovation. At least the conversations about social media integration are taking place in the Jewish nonprofit world, and the studies are showing that a realization exists that this is a necessary form of communication, marketing and fundraising in the 21st century.

Rabbi Jason Miller is an entrepreneurial rabbi and technologist. He is president of Access Computer Technology in Michigan and blogs regularly at Blog.RabbiJason.com. Follow him on Twitter @rabbijason.


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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!


Oy!

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.

iTashlich

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.

Judoku

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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Jewish Marketing 101 – Why Non-Profits Should Consider Outsourcing

Jewish Marketing 101 – Why Non-Profits Should Consider Outsourcing

Jewish social media outsourcing
Reposted from Third Sector Magazine

Why Not-For Profit’s should consider outsourcing

Wed, 12 October 2011

Outsourcing is becoming increasingly popular in the not-for-profit sector as it allows associations, charities and other not-for-profit organisations to benefit from the expertise of specialists when they need them and at rates they can afford.

Outsourcing refers to contracting the skills of a company to fulfil an organisation’s needs and allows them to take advantage of experts that they do not have, or cannot afford, internally. This may include marketing, graphic design, organising conferences and events, secretariat services, publishing, marketing or finance.

Outsourcing is a cost-effective way for not-for-profit (NFP) organisations to achieve their organisation’s goals and keep within their budget.

Findings from The Outsourcing Institute’s most recent study, which surveyed 1,410 members, found that reducing and controlling costs is the most common reason organisations choose to outsource. With a limited budget NFPs often can’t afford five or more employees to fulfil their organisation’s marketing, graphic design, editorial, secretariat and event needs; and it’s difficult to find one person with skills in all of these areas. However, outsourcing allows NFPs to draw on the skills of specialist departments with differing areas of expertise for often less than the cost of hiring one internal employee. Depending on a NFPs needs outsourcing can be the equivalent of employing ten specialists for less than the price of one.

Not only is outsourcing more cost effective than hiring staff internally, it can also result in a great level of efficiency. With access to teams of experts in a range of fields, organisations can enjoy a more professional standard of work, which can improve efficiency, the image and reputation of the organisation, and increase member/donor support.

CEO of The Institute of Hospital Engineers Australia Greg Bondar outsources their member magazine to Third Sector Services. He says “I am of the view that specialisation is the key to productivity and effective cost management, hence why do what others do better?”

The Australian Counselling Association (ACA) CEO Philip Armstrong also outsources their magazine to Third Sector Services and says “The journal in its ten year history had reached its optimum in relation to delivering a peer reviewed journal to members that was produced internally by the association. To go to the next level and compete internationally in design, content and layout with other similar journals it needed the expertise of professional publishers as this was not and is not the expected strength of ACA. Therefore an external publisher was sought to take the journal to the next level.”

The Outsourcing Institute’s research shows that the second most common reason organisations outsource is that it allows them to focus on their key objectives, which can increase their effectiveness and improve member/donor satisfaction.

Outsourcing allows an organisation to focus on what is most important to the running of their association, society, institute or charity – whether it is advocacy, governance, pleasing members or fundraising.

Additionally, outsourcing allows NFPs flexibility which is not achievable when hiring someone internally. Outsourcing allows organisations to access professionals when and only for as long as an organisation needs them.

“Without sounding gratuitous, the services provided Third Sector Services are both professional and friendly, and very flexible,” admits Bondar.

By decreasing costs, improving the quality of an organisation’s offerings and allowing NFPs to focus on their core objectives, outsourcing is expected to continue to rise in popularity as the smarter choice for NFPs.


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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,OurJewishCommunity.org. 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.

OurJewishCommunity.org 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 OurJewishCommunity.org, 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.”

OurJewishCommunity.org, 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 www.Facebook.com/OurJewishCommunityin addition to at http://www.OurJewishCommunity.org with Facebook and Twitter chats. Mobile devices can access the live services at www.MobileJudaism.com or through the Livestream app for iPhones.

Dates/Times:
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)

OurJewishCommunity.org 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 OurJewishCommunity.org as their synagogue and Rabbis Barr and Baum as their rabbis.

To join the free community and view any of the services, visit http://www.OurJewishCommunity.org or http://www.Facebook.com/OurJewishCommunity.

About OurJewishCommunity.org
OurJewishCommunity.org is the world’s first progressive online synagogue. Launched on September 1, 2008, OurJewishCommunity.org 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 (www.twitter.com/JewsOnline and http://www.twitter.com/Rabbi) and OurJewishCommunity.org has over 8,000 Facebook fans (www.facebook.com/ourjewishcommunity).

Laura Baum, Rabbi, OurJewishCommunity.org
As the Founding Rabbi of OurJewishCommunity.org, 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, CNN.com, and the Jerusalem Post. “Baum’s Blog” is a central feature of OurJewishCommunity.org 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, OurJewishCommunity.org
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: http://bit.ly/ojcpress

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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

Lawrence

Lizzie

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 YeahThatsKosher.com, 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 (http://www.thejewishweek.com)

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