Kosher Halftime Show for Super Bowl XLVIII

Kosher Halftime Show for Super Bowl XLVIII

Kosher Halftime Show | Henry Isaacs | Jewish Marketing 101It seems there’s something Kosher for everyone at the Super Bowl. Or shall we say… for the halftime show. If Bruno Mars and Red Hot Chili Peppers aren’t enough to glue your eyes and ears to the screen, the Nachum Segal Network will be hosting a “Kosher Halftime Show”. For those 20 minutes that you aren’t watching the game, Lenny Solomon & friends will be performing Jewish music and creating a “family oriented vibe” during halftime.

With Super Bowl content, social media & advertising constantly being displayed on your TV, mobile device and tablets from kickoff and on – and did we mention Red Hot Chili Peppers? -, will Jewish listeners actually take the time to listen to live stream of Jewish music on the radio? Seems like a big stretch for a 20 minute window of airtime. Their aim for a “family oriented vibe” isn’t exactly a compelling reason either; some of the commercials are more risque than the halftime show! However in an age where anything could happen when it comes to live events & quickly go viral from there, the Nachum Segal Network & partners do get high marks for innovating a Super Bowl that takes place in the New York/New Jersey area, a heavily populated Jewish area!


Reposted from The Jewish Press

The Nachum Segal Network announced today that it will air its first-ever “Kosher Halftime Show” during Super Bowl XLVIII, the February 2 showdown between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. Sure to become a game day institution, the 20-minute online experience will feature a performance by the “King of Shlock” Lenny Solomon and a band assembled from the hottest musical talent on the Jewish music scene, including Avromie Weisberger, Jonathan Rimberg, Ari Boiangiu, and Ethan Bill.

“The halftime show is a key component of the big game, and the NFL consistently brings the biggest names in contemporary music to play on the main stage. The only issue is that those acts often don’t appeal to the Jewish crowd,” said Nachum Segal. “We are proud to be providing a quality, kosher alternative that will entertain Jewish audiences and maintain a family-oriented vibe even during halftime.” Sponsored by Cedar Market in Teaneck, NJ, Empire Kosher Party and Buffalo Wings and Chicken Nuggets, and the Orthodox Union, NSN’s “Kosher Halftime Show” will showcase Shlock Rock favorites and famous original Lenny Solomon songs handpicked by Nachum and Lenny.

“We chose the songs that we believed would make the greatest impact in the short amount of time we had to work with. We wanted to make sure that the positive energy and musical intensity that we felt in the studio would burst off the screen and right into your living room,” added Lenny Solomon. “Shlock Rock is honored to be the act kicking off this NSN tradition, and we are grateful for the opportunity to once again prove that there is no set time and place for Jewish pride – we should feel it at all times and should integrate into all ‘real world’ activities.” The program will also include a few surprises, including Nachum’s special take on Super Bowl commercials. On game day, the Nachum Segal Network will stream the “Kosher Halftime Show” directly from its website, http://www.nachumsegal.com.

Following the game, the program will be available on demand via the NSN website, YouTube channel (“NachumSegalNet”) and Facebook page (“Jewish Radio World with Nachum Segal”).


Henry Isaacs Marketing | Isaac Hyman, Founder

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Jewish & Kosher | What’s The Deal?

Jewish & Kosher | What’s The Deal?

Jewish & Kosher | What's The Deal?Sometimes the best way to describe Jewish and Kosher is through a presentation that covers some of the burning questions out there. So we created one that helps say exactly what people are thinking and wondering. Yes, it may be a bit self-serving (we are a business after all!) but some of the slides show how the Jewish and kosher market is a group you don’t want to overlook these days!


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Five PR Moves to Learn From Zomick’s Pest Problem

Five PR Moves to Learn From Zomick’s Pest Problem

Zomick's PR Problem
Zomick’s PR Problem

Shabbos hasn’t been the same in years recently. Zomick’s, the admired bakery for Shabbos challah, was recently torched by a pest scandal that described how Zomick’s hasn’t passed health inspections for years. Some of the inspection results have been disputed but the PR problem remains.

The news is particularly disturbing to Jewish customers that strictly adhere to high Kashrut standards. Bugs and vermin, aside from being totally unwelcome in diets, are also not Kosher. When it comes to Kosher issues, the Jewish community stands on alert. This crisis is reminiscent of the Monsey non-kosher meat scandal that surfaced years ago as well as Morrell Caterers kosher drama and  the Hebrew National kosher issue that occurred a few months ago. Bugs & rats are extremely bad; bugs, rats, and Kashrut issues are catastrophic.

When a revered brand like Zomick’s gets hit with such a bad report, it makes you wonder what major food manufacturers won’t be hit by a health scandal. Rest assured, though, the problem was more than just a health inspection. In our opinion, Zomick’s has a PR and communications issue that didn’t help them when the time was needed and, more importantly, before it all happened. So here’s five PR moves that Zomick’s did wrong (but could still do!) when averting a crisis that your business can learn from so you don’t suffer a similar bump in the road.

1) Communicate before, during, and after a crisis.

Many Jewish businesses recognize that they have a stable customer base: there’s Shabbat every week, large Jewish families are constantly growing, and there’s generally enough revenue to allow all competitors have a piece of the pie. So why invest in communications, marketing, and social media? This crisis is exactly why. Zomick’s has become a brand out of touch with the Jewish community. Currently, they don’t even have a full website with nutrition facts or product news nor a social presence to allow for customer feedback, comments, or discussions. Their health standards aren’t disclosed to the public and there’s no way for the public to be shown how they operate. The OK examined the Monsey meat scandal and determined that non-kosher meat may have been substituted for kosher meat for almost eight years! Unless there is transparency on food & health, there’s no guarantee that the problem hasn’t been ongoing for years nor that is is solved.

Businesses need to communicate with their customers instantly or they will lose the loyalty in a crisis. If Zomick’s had a Facebook page, they could have communicated directly to their customers the minute negative news hit. Instead news spread on Twitter and Facebook like wildfire about pests & Zomicks, without yielding a single social media objection instantly & directly from Zomick’s ownership. If Zomick’s had a customer email list that they had sent weekly emails to for news and products, families may not have reached for Beigel’s challah instead of Zomicks’ this past weekend. And now that the PR crisis is still on people’s minds, even in the Five Towns, their homebase, they need to start building a PR and marketing presence to let their customers know they actually care and aren’t merely trying to disprove the health department findings.

2) When it comes to food, bad PR is bad PR.

Look how quickly people turned on Paula Deen; she’s a fantastic cook and issue had nothing to do with her cooking (no matter how unhealthy it may be!). When it comes to food, bad PR can’t be turned in any direction these days. Doing a Google search on Zomick’s yields about 50% positive and 50% negative results; in customer’s eyes, that’s 100% bad. Just like sensationalist magazines and celebrity gossip, people are drawn to negative news and they hold onto it until they want to give it up or another hot negative item catches their attention. Anthony Weiner may have gotten a second chance but that was two years later… is Zomick’s willing to wait two years before they start getting good publicity from the public?

3) Being Kosher won’t save you.

Just because you are a kosher product, that doesn’t mean you’re healthy. Hebrew National learned that a while back. A Kosher product adheres to certain guidelines but is not a guarantee of healthy. Yes, green, natural, organic and kosher all tend to be lumped together positively but kosher doesn’t always oversee the manufacturing process of basic items like bread. When it comes to meat, Kashrut supervisors are extremely fastidious but challah is a simple item that doesn’t much oversight and Zomick’s reputation used to be stellar. Just because your product is kosher, it doesn’t mean you’re always answering to a “higher authority”.

4) Never take a holding pattern. Take an action pattern.

When it comes to customer loyalty, there’s no holding pattern to regain it. You need to prove you deserve it. Challah isn’t exactly a unique product – local bakers to supermarkets to moms make challah every week and this scandal is just another reason to stick with their local options. Zomick’s needs to show customers why they deserve a second chance and waiting out the bad publicity without action is just giving local bakeries a chance to gain more loyalty. In fact, numerous supermarkets, like Fairway Market, offer Zomick’s and their own baked goods so the choice between fresh and packaged is even simpler now for customers. Businesses lose loyalty all the time which is why they actively communicate through coupons, special offers, contests, and announcements. You can never wait for loyalty to return. Your business has to prove you deserve it.

5) Appeal to more than Jews.

The Jewish media was quick to pick up the news about Zomick’s. As a result, the Jewish community doesn’t exactly forgive when it comes to a doubt in Kashrut and sales & reputation will instantly fall. If you’re a brand that can sell to the American public, you have a market to fall back on when sales from your primary market take a hit. Hundreds of Jewish food companies rely solely on the Jewish community but understanding how American consumers think is vital to great success. Sabra is advertising their hummus products to the American mainstream even now. Think outside the box when it comes to your Kosher product and you’ll be prepared if your primary market starts to waver.

Zomick’s still has time to repair the damage but it involves more than simply disputing the charges. Zomick’s needs to become more upfront and communicative with their customers, establish a greater presence in food discussions, and create a social place for redemption. The Jewish community is quick to forgive but not so quick to forget. Challah is easy to find, bake or buy. Zomick’s needs to prove they’re worth the second chance.


Henry Isaacs Marketing | Isaac Hyman, Founder

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A $35,000 Knaidel Winner

A $35,000 Knaidel Winner

Arvind Mahankali Wins Scripps National Spelling Bee on the Word “Knaidel”. Talk about an achievement, not just for Arvind, but for Yiddish as well!

Reposted from JTA

How do you spell knaidel?

May 31, 2013 7:25am

Confetti falling over Arvind Mahankali of Bayside Hills, N.Y., after he won the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Md., May 30, 2013. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Confetti falling over Arvind Mahankali of Bayside Hills, N.Y., after he won the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Md., May 30, 2013. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

(JTA) — An Indian-American boy won a national spelling contest after correctly spelling a Yiddish-derived word.

Arvind Mahankali, 13, of Bayside Hills, N.Y., won the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday by spelling the word “knaidel,” a traditional Jewish dumpling. Mahankali beat out ten other finalists in the competition, held in Oxon Hill, Md.

He won $30,000 in cash, a $2,500 U.S. savings bond from Merriam-Webster and $2,000 worth of reference works from Encyclopedia Britannica, as well as a shiny engraved trophy and the title of “champion.”

German words have led Mahankali to his spelling bee demise for the past two years, when he twice placed third at the bee.

knaidel

knaidel

Vocabulary.com, which covered the bee, described knaidel as coming from “German-derived Yiddish.” It quoted Mahankali as telling ESPN, “the German curse has turned into the German blessing.”

The finals featured another word of Jewish origin. Hannah Citsay, a student at St. Anne Catholic School in Lancaster, Pa., correctly spelled “hesped,” the Hebrew word for eulogy, in the sixth round.

Despite correctly spelling “hesped,” Citsay was eliminated in a new portion of the contest, where contestants had to provide the definition of a word.

Read more: http://www.jta.org/2013/05/31/arts-entertainment/indian-american-boy-wins-national-spelling-bee-with-yiddish-word#ixzz2UtA2d1iJ


Henry Isaacs Marketing | Isaac Hyman, Founder

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Response to BuzzFeed: The 16 Most Annoying Things About Keeping Kosher

Response to BuzzFeed: The 16 Most Annoying Things About Keeping Kosher

Although Emily Orley does make some valid points about kosher, in reality, it’s not that hard to keep a kosher lifestyle in the tri-state area. Outside of a major metropolitan area or large Jewish communities however, keeping kosher can get extremely difficult or, for lack of better word relevant to the article, “annoying”.

Thanks to the impact of kashrut certification agencies as well as food & beverage companies increasingly looking for new ways to monetize stable product lines, more and more products are becoming kosher, like Newman’s Own Organic Chocolate Cups recently. Furthemore, kosher has become synonymous with “healthy” and “organic”, a title that bodes well for increased sales and allows for higher profit margins for the Coca-Cola’s and Nestle’s of the world. National grocery chains like SuperValu, Whole Foods, and Kroger’s now carry more and more kosher products every day.

Check out our posts on the “The Kosher Trend” or “Kosher vs. Kosher Style” to learn about why Kosher is stil going strong and not so annoying anymore.


Henry Isaacs Marketing | Isaac Hyman, Founder

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The 16 Most Annoying Things About Keeping Kosher

Oy vey, where do I begin?posted on February 25, 2013 at 5:15pm EST

Emily OrleyBuzzFeed Staff
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1. For starters, people have no idea what “keeping kosher” actually means.

For starters, people have no idea what "keeping kosher" actually means.

2. Explaining it takes forever and gets very complicated.

Explaining it takes forever and gets very complicated.

In simple terms, you can’t mix meat and dairy, you can’t eat anything from a pig (yes, that includes bacon), and you can’t eat any shellfish. There are some acceptable fish — any fish with both fins and scales. Eggs are OK and can be eaten with meat or dairy. Also, after eating meat or dairy, you have to wait a certain amount of time, depending on where your ancestors are from, before you can eat the other category. Any questions?

3. After that whole explanation, people assume that you’re super-religious.

After that whole explanation, people assume that you're super-religious.

Well, I’m not. I use electricity on Saturdays. My male family members don’t have “those weird curly sideburns.” I didn’t even attend a Jewish day school as a child.

4. And they think keeping kosher isn’t as “cool” as other diets.

When people act like it’s a second-class diet compared to eating vegan or gluten-free, I’m like…

The 16 Most Annoying Things About Keeping Kosher

5. But despite your best efforts, people can’t grasp the concept, especially waiters.

The 16 Most Annoying Things About Keeping Kosher

Source: www  /  via: Tumblr
For some reason, it’s impossible to explain the very basic rules of keeping kosher to a waiter. Ordering a Cobb salad can take 10 minutes because you need to hold the bacon, decide if you want turkey or cheese (you can’t have both), and change the dressing if you stick with the turkey. No big deal.But at this point the waiter is either is too confused or doesn’t care and will most likely bring out your order completely wrong.

6. And restaurants always serve you a cheeseburger instead of a hamburger.

And restaurants always serve you a cheeseburger instead of a hamburger.

Regardless of how hard I try, every time I order a PLAIN hamburger, it arrives with melted cheese all over it.ALERT: A hamburger isn’t supposed to have cheese on it. That’s why they created an entirely different name for burgers with cheese.

7. Or they refuse to cook your meat in oil instead of butter.

Or they refuse to cook your meat in oil instead of butter.

Most kosher meals cannot have butter, so it makes eating all the more difficult when restaurants (and everyone else) secretly put butter in everything.In the end, I usually just lie about having a butter allergy.

8. And you always have to ask the world’s most detailed questions about food.

The 16 Most Annoying Things About Keeping Kosher

Source: www  /  via: Tumblr
Asking “What’s the base of this soup made of?” makes you sound a little OCD. But knowing if that liquid is vegetable or chicken stock can make or break a meal.

9. Also, having dessert is extremely difficult.

Also, having dessert is extremely difficult.

In my family, you have to wait an hour after eating meat before you can have dairy. So that makes the whole dessert situation very complicated: If you want dessert that has any dairy in it, you have to make sure nothing in your meal is meat (and awkwardly ask for the dessert menu before the waiter can tell you the specials). I have, in fact, sat around for a full hour after I finished my entree because I just had to have dessert.

10. At home, you need to have two of everything.

At home, you need to have two of everything.

Kosher law requires you to have separate plates and dishwashers for your milk meals and your meat meals so that the two never, ever cross. This is not cheap or space-efficient, and it makes you feel like you have double vision.Also, if you ever mess up and put meat on a dairy plate or vice versa, you have to bury the plate in the earth for eight years. We did this once at my old house and moved three years later. We couldn’t take the plate with us.

11. And kosher meat is always double the price of regular meat.

The 16 Most Annoying Things About Keeping Kosher

Source: www  /  via: Tumblr
Seriously, this diet is so expensive.

12. Furthermore, when you try to adjust a recipe to be kosher-friendly, it doesn’t quite work.

Furthermore, when you try to adjust a recipe to be kosher-friendly, it doesn't quite work.

Apparently there’s no way to make a dairy-free cake taste decent.

13. Traveling, which is supposed to be relaxing, is always stressful because you’re starving the entire time.

Traveling, which is supposed to be relaxing, is always stressful because you're starving the entire time.

Cruises always have amazing buffets. Unfortunately, the only kosher item is usually the bread basket. Most trips, I just pack granola bars in my suitcase.

14. And you can never, ever eat the free lunch.

The 16 Most Annoying Things About Keeping Kosher

Source: www  /  via: Tumblr
Office catering? Event buffet? Just turn around and go back to your seat.Sometimes you can’t even eat kosher Jewish food ordered to your office. One time, a batch of hamantaschen arrived at the office right after I finished eating chicken noodle soup. By the time the hour had passed, everyone in the office had devoured the dessert. True story.

15. The most annoying thing of all: all the amazing-looking food that isn’t kosher.

The most annoying thing of all: all the amazing-looking food that isn't kosher.

Source: diamondcat

Like this:

Like this:

Sorry, have to pass.

And this:

And this:

Nope, ugh.

And this:

And this:

Fifty shades of not-kosher.

Source: gawker.com
Yes, I think this food looks delicious and it’s THE WORST that I can’t eat it.

16. In fact, not being able to eat bacon is enough for most people to question why you do this diet at all.

Bacon is pig, and pig is the treifest of treif (non-kosher). But people are in love with bacon. And people LOVE to feel dramatically terrible for you when they hear you can’t eat bacon. The pitying looks are almost as bad as sitting and watching someone eat a BLT.

In fact, not being able to eat bacon is enough for most people to question why you do this diet at all.

BUT! Here’s a little good news: lots of packaged goodies are actually kosher.

Like cookies.

Like cookies.

And some surprising chip flavors.

And some surprising chip flavors.

Artificial bacon ranch flavoring: It’s a mitzvah.

And most sugary candy.

And most sugary candy.

They may be terrible for you, but they fit the guidelines!

L’Chaim!
This post is specific to how I keep kosher and is not as strict as the practice of some orthodox Jews who, for instance, only eat meat slaughtered under Rabbinic supervision. There are many different levels based on how observant you are.
Jewish Advertising 101 – What Hebrew National Didn’t Mean To Say

Jewish Advertising 101 – What Hebrew National Didn’t Mean To Say

 

Hebrew Nations - Kosher or Not Kosher?
Hebrew NationalWhat Hebrew National Didn’t Mean To Say

In no surprising news to the mainstream Jewish market, Hebrew National has been sued over allegations that they aren’t officially considered kosher but rather are non-kosher. I’m not going to explain the lawsuit – you can find all the details about it here – but rather its important to focus on what Hebrew National is generally telling the world, the Jewish market, and kosher customers each time it says “We answer to a higher authority.”

Hebrew National’s claim to adhering to the highest Kosher standards available is quite puzzling and inaccurate to those who reside within the Kosher world. The Jewish market recognizes numerous Kosher certifications around the world – there are more than 1100 global and local certifiers – including the Orthodox Union, OK, Kof K, Tablet K, Scroll K, CRC, and more. The OK and Orthodox Union kashrut certifications make up the two largest agencies, represented by their OU and OK symbols. If Hebrew National was looking to adhere to an internationally recognized and respected kosher certification that was synonymous with quality and strict standards, the logical choice would be either the OU or OK symbols. By not using the brand that is recognized by all Jewish affiliations across the board, Hebrew National is not merely alienating an entire group of Jewish customers, they’re also creating a vocal protest against their claim of being kosher. Doesn’t seem like an effective marketing strategy – target a non-Jewish non-Kosher market while frustrating the Jewish & Kosher market.

Hebrew National’s use of the word “kosher” is merely a play on similar popular themes such as “going green”, “all-natural”, and “healthy”. Kosher, like Halal in some ways, has always been viewed as a preferred and healthier alternative to regular foods. The rigourous inspection and cleaning process, the supervision by Rabbi’s, and the use of only certain animals for consumption are all foundations of true Kosher processing. The controversy isn’t arising out of the kosher, but rather who the supervising agency is – in this case, Triangle K & Associates.

In many Orthodox Jewish circles, using Triangle K branded products has been frowned upon for MEAT & POULTRY items. Although many Orthodox Jews won’t eat any Triangle K branded products, meat and poultry is the main problem area that is cited for why Orthodox Jews shun the symbol. Hebrew National is not GLATT KOSHER, which is a red flag for many Orthodox Jews who swear by glatt kosher for all meats. Rabbi Jason Miller has a great blog post on the case and on Glatt Kosher . Furthermore, many Hebrew National products are sold in high traffic areas such as baseball games and theme parks and, while Triangle K may indeed be supervising the meat in-house, there is zero supervision over the cooking process, which is an entirely different set of kosher requirements. Triangle K knows this and by not taking steps to advise the final buyer (such as double bagging in a microwave) shows a lack of initiative in allaying any negative perceptions about their symbol. (Bear in mind, we’re ignoring the claim that AER employees have claimed certain procedures are rendering the meat entirely NOT Kosher; this blog isn’t qualified to rule on that at all!)

Overall, Hebrew National (well, really ConAgra) doesn’t quite understand that the best market for a truly kosher product is the Jewish kosher market; the fact that they nearly avoid marketing the brand to them, while also ignoring their shouts for change, should indeed raise a red flag about how Kosher they really are. A marketing strategy that consists of promoting a Kosher product to a prospective non-Jewish, non-Kosher marketplace while alienating and frustrating the actual Jewish, Kosher market seems to be a recipe for disaster. In an age of social networking and word of mouth, Hebrew National should start by getting the Jewish, Kosher market on their side before promoting to a non-Kosher (and potentially non-interested) market.

The saga reminds me of the parable of why a pig isn’t kosher even though it has split hooves (an animal needs to chew it’s cud as well, meaning chewed a second time). It’s like the pig is saying to laymen, “Look, I have split hooves, I’m kosher, trust me!”; it takes a full understanding of kosher to know that above the surface and below the surface are two entirely different things. Until Hebrew National starts understanding that their claims can be misleading, all they’re saying is “Look, we have the symbol, we’re kosher!” Maybe that will be the new slogan.

If Hebrew National wants to ensure a solid core market that is both Kosher and interested in Kosher/healthy products, they should reach out to a more comprehensive base of Kosher & Jewish consumers to see how to improve their marketing and product.


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Jewish Event Planning 101 – Kosher Caterers Under the Microscope of Jewish Event Planners

Jewish Event Planning 101 – Kosher Caterers Under the Microscope of Jewish Event Planners

 

The Ups and Downs of Morrell CaterersThe ups and downs for Morrell Caterers: Below you’ll find The Jewish Week article and further below, you’ll find the Vaad of Flatbush letter about Morrell Caterers current standing after the Vaad’s investigation.

——-

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Reposted from TheJewishWeek.com

The Jewish Week
Published on The Jewish Week (http://www.thejewishweek.com)
Home > Nassau DA Opens Criminal Probe In Kosher Catering Case

Nassau DA Opens Criminal Probe In Kosher Catering Case

Morrell Caterer’s former general manager Thomas Cataldo, left, and former executive chef Michael Savitsky.

Morrell Caterer’s former general manager Thomas Cataldo, left, and former executive chef Michael Savitsky.
Friday, February 10, 2012
Stewart Ain
Staff Writer

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice has opened a criminal investigation into allegations that Morrell Caterers of Woodbury, L.I., prepared shrimp, lobster, pork and other non-kosher food in the same kitchen as kosher food.

Chris Munzing, a spokesman for Rice, said the investigation started this week after it was reported that two of Morrell’s former employees filed a civil suit alleging that Morrell started a non-kosher business in the kitchen of Temple Beth Torah in Melville, L.I. They said it was begun in September 2010 in conjunction with a high-end event planning company, Pat Glenn Productions.

Munzing declined to characterize the nature of the investigation except to say that prosecutors are exploring “possible criminal activity.”

Included in the court suit was an affidavit from Pat Casarona, a co-founder of Pat Glenn Productions, who stated that Scott Morrell, president of the company that bears his name, “explained that the non-kosher food required for events produced by Pat Glenn could be prepared discreetly in the kitchen of Temple Beth Torah, which as a Reform synagogue did not impose the same stringent rabbinical supervision as Morrell Caterers’ other synagogue venues in Woodbury and Lawrence.”

Casarona added that Morrell brushed aside suggestions that a separate kitchen be used for the non-kosher operation “until it could be determined whether the venture was becoming sufficiently profitable to make investing in a separate facility cost-effective. Mr. Morrell did express great concern during these meetings that, as he put it, ‘there can be no way to trace it back to me.’ ”

At a press conference Wednesday, Morrell angrily denied the allegations, saying: “I stand here with my integrity intact. I never broke any kosher rules, ever.”

Asked specifically about the allegations, Morrell, with his mother, RoseLee, standing behind him, said: “I have no knowledge of that.”

Morrell Caterers has its offices at the Woodbury Jewish Center, where it operates a glatt kosher catering facility whose kosher supervision is provided by the Vaad Harabonim of Flatbush. Rabbi Raphael Adler, the congregation’s spiritual leader, called the allegations “troubling, of great concern and deeply offensive.”

“We have been flooded with calls from families that have booked parties,” he said. “There is angst and concern from families, who are paying top dollar [for a party]. These allegations have shaken the trust of myself, my congregation and the greater community because hundreds of thousands of people have patronized [this caterer] expecting the highest level of kashrut. We hope these allegations will be proven false.”

In the meantime, Rabbi Adler said, synagogue leaders have “been in close consultation with our legal counsel.”

Randy Zornberg, president of Temple Beth Torah, said that within hours after the news broke about the civil suit he had received “over 50 phone calls from people who have parties in the near future and in a couple of years.”

“If the facts of this case are true and he violated kosher laws, he would be in violation of their contracts,” he said. “But these are two disgruntled employees who have left. What their game could be I don’t know. … If [Morrell] has broken our trust by violating his contract, the contract will be terminated.”

Zornberg added that his congregation’s executive board would be meeting Sunday to further discuss the situation.

Rabbi Marc Gellman, spiritual leader of Temple Beth Torah, said told The Jewish Week: “If these allegations are true, it is a violation not only of the legal trust but also of a sacred trust.”

At the press conference, Morrell said he would “consult with my rabbinical supervisor” to decide what to do about the silverware, pots, dishes and cooking utensils that were allegedly used for both kosher and non-kosher affairs.

“I regard kosher supervision with the highest priority,” Morrell said.

The kosher supervisor, Rabbi Steven Moss, said he was “surprised” to learn of the allegations because “to the best of my knowledge everything they used for parties booked at Temple Beth Torah was used only for kosher items. I will look into this as soon as I can.”

“We have to make an assessment to determine the next step,” he added. “If there are utensils that have become ‘infected,’ they either have to get new ones or kasher them.”

Rabbi Moss, spiritual leader of B’nai Israel Reform Temple in Oakdale, L.I., stressed that he made regular spot inspections of the kitchens of Temple Beth Torah and Temple Israel in Lawrence, L.I., but was not employed to be there full-time.

Morrell’s lawyers, Steven Schlesinger and Ronald Rosenberg, claimed that the civil suit brought by the two former employees was part of a failed shakedown attempt to get Morrell to drop a $500,000 suit against Morrell’s former lawyer. They said the two former employees, Thomas Cataldo, the former general manager, and Michael Savitsky, the former executive chef, were paid by the former lawyer to make the allegations. Both men denied it.

Rosenberg insisted that Morrell never directed his staff to prepare non-kosher food in the kitchen of Temple Beth Torah. He said photos Cataldo and Savitsky showed of shrimp and other non-kosher food in the kitchen were “fabricated.”

And Rosenberg questioned why it took so long for the two men to come forward.

“Why did they find God now?” he asked. “There are some orders you don’t follow.”

Both Cataldo and Savitsky said they had complied with Morrell’s orders because they feared for their livelihood.

“He told me in no uncertain terms that this would continue,” Cataldo said when he protested what was happening.

He said that food for between 25 and 30 off-site non-kosher parties costing at least $200,000 were prepared in the Temple Beth Torah kitchen. He said that although the bills were processed through Morrell Caterers, they were concealed from the synagogue to avoid paying synagogue fees.

Savitsky said he recalled that on at least one occasion his staff was ordered to prepare both kosher and non-kosher food in the kitchen at the same time.

They said they acted to blow the whistle now because they could no longer stand the “guilt” of what they were doing.

“I finally decided I couldn’t do it anymore,” said Savitsky, who came to the press conference wearing a white chef’s shirt. “I just finally gave up.”

Cataldo said in an affidavit filed with the court that he and Savitsky each owned a 5 percent share of the business. And in a court affidavit, he said Morrell Caterers “has no cash, is struggling to make payroll” and owes a key supplier more than $250,000.

Cataldo said that although all of the non-kosher food preparation was done at Temple Beth Torah, utensils, pots and pans, plates, glassware, display pieces and other items were routinely taken to Temple Israel in Lawrence for use there.

“A white platter that was used to pass kosher Hors d’oeuvres there was also used to pass coconut shrimp,” he said. “And sometimes we would bring food back and forth.”

——

Vaad of Flatbush Letter about Morrell Caterers

Vaad of Flatbush Letter about Morrell Caterers


The strength behind Groupon? The Writers.

The strength behind Groupon? The Writers.

http://ping.fm/CR4sEGroupon writers

 

 

Funny or Die: Groupon’s Fate Hinges on Words

By

CHICAGO

RACHEL HANDLER is struggling to say something funny or perhaps amusing or at least clever about horses. Her mind is empty. She can’t recall the last time she was on a horse or even saw a horse. The minutes fly by. Horses are nothing to joke about.

Ms. Handler writes for Groupon, the e-mail marketer that was casually founded in the pit of the recession and almost immediately became a sensation worth billions. The musicians, poets, actors and comedians who fill its ranks are in a state of happy disbelief over the company’s success. In the age-old tradition of creative folk, they were just looking for a gig to support their art. Now stock options have made some of them seriously wealthy, at least on paper.

Poets who work here give away copies of their verse in the reception area. One poem begins like this:

closed my eyes and I was nothing

yeah, I was running

I was nothing

and then I was flying

That just about sums up Groupon’s brief history, which has been meteoric even by dot-com standards. Groupon, which is expected to go public within the next year, is either creating a new approach to commerce that will change the way we eat and shop and interact with the physical world, or it is a sure sign that Internet mania is once again skidding out of control. Or both.

The big Internet companies owe their dominance to something singular that shut out potential competitors. Google had secret algorithms that gave superior search results. Facebook provided a way to broadcast regular updates to friends and acquaintances that grew ever more compelling as more people signed up, which naturally caused more people to sign up. Twitter introduced a new tool to let people promote themselves.

Groupon has nothing so special. It offers discounts on products and services, something that Internet start-up companies have tried to develop as a business model many times before, with minimal success. Groupon’s breakthrough sprang not just from the deals but from an ingredient that was both unlikely and ephemeral: words.

Words are not much valued on the Internet, perhaps because it features so many of them. Newspapers and magazines might have gained vast new audiences online but still can’t recoup the costs from their Web operations of producing the material.

Groupon borrowed some tools and terms from journalism, softened the traditional heavy hand of advertising, added some banter and attitude and married the result to a discounted deal. It has managed, at least for the moment, to make words pay.

IN 177 North American cities and neighborhoods, 31 million people see one of the hundreds of daily deals that Ms. Handler and her colleagues write, and so many of them take the horseback ride or splurge on the spa or have dinner at the restaurant or sign up for the kayak tour that Groupon is raking in more than a billion dollars a year from these featured businesses and is already profitable.

There used to be a name for marketing things to clumps of people by blasting messages at them: spam. People despised it so much it nearly killed e-mail. The great achievement of Groupon — a blend of “group” and “coupon” — is to have reformulated spam into something benign, even ingratiating.

Ms. Handler is working on an offer for Pine River Stables in St. Clair, Mich., a place she has never been to. It is the stables’ first deal on Groupon: $18 for a one-hour ride for two people, half the regular price.

It takes Ms. Handler about 50 minutes to assemble the write-up, which is a few straightforward paragraphs explaining the details with the occasional gag as sweetener (The stables are closed “on Wednesdays, in the event of bad weather and on Horse Christmas.”) She puts off writing the first sentences, the ones that are supposed to seduce every Groupon subscriber in Detroit — either to go horseback riding or at least keep reading Groupon’s e-mails.

Still stumped, she browses an online thesaurus. She studies the Pine River Web site for the umpteenth time. She wishes she lived in a world without horses.

Her fingers flick on the keyboard. “Without horses,” she writes, “Polo shirts would be branded with monkeys and Paul Revere would have been forced to ride on a Segway. Celebrate our hoofed counterparts with today’s Groupon. …”

Good enough. She moves the copy along to the fact-checking department.

Like many others at Groupon, the 23-year-old Ms. Handler comes from an arts background. At the University of Michigan, she studied English and global media studies, wrote TV reviews for the student paper and short stories for fun.

Groupon shuns being thought of as a marketer or, worse, an ad agency, promoting cheap pizza or sushi for anyone who wants to hire it. The hope instead is that its users will eventually perceive it as an impartial guide to a city or a neighborhood, somewhat in the manner of the local paper’s weekend section. With more than 400 writers and editors, Groupon’s domestic editorial staff is on the verge of eclipsing the big name across the Chicago River, The Chicago Tribune.

Groupon just introduced a smartphone application for Chicago users called Groupon Now, which offers deals near where the person happens to be. The application has two buttons, one if you’re hungry, the other if you’re bored. Any publication, Web site or marketer that can control where people go when they ask themselves these questions on a dull Saturday night has a shot at dominance.

Aaron With is Groupon’s editor in chief. The 29-year-old Mr. With has no journalism or marketing background: he worked for a Chicago nonprofit and, more relevantly, was once in a band with Andrew Mason, Groupon’s chief executive.

“People have grown numb to the elements of advertising that pander to their fears and hopes, that insult their intelligence with safe, bland approaches at creativity,” says Mr. With, who at nights and on weekends is lead singer in the band Volcano. “We’re mixing business with art and creating our own voice.”

The Voice. This, Groupon says, is what subscribers respond to as much as the deal itself. “Thirty percent of our subscriber base makes over $100,000 a year,” says Mr. With. “They don’t need $20 off at a restaurant.”

Any Web site can offer a daily deal, and in the wake of Groupon’s success just about everyone is. There are hundreds of knock-offs and imitators, some of them trying to undercut the original by charging the merchant less than Groupon does. Others try to cater to specialized audiences (babies, gay people). Groupon’s closest competitor, Living Social, is backed by Amazon, the retailing giant that has a history of winning.

“We’re not at all concerned any competitor is going to come in and start writing like us,” says Mr. With. “They try but fall flat.” (Living Social declined to comment.) In other words, words will save Groupon. Many more words. Mere words.

CHICAGO has revolutionized retailing before. In 1872, a dry-goods salesman named Aaron Montgomery Ward wearied of visiting far-flung stores, so he mailed descriptions of goods directly to rural residents. The orders were sent by a new delivery system that wreaked havoc on traditional commerce: the railroad.

Ward’s innovation was as much of a cultural achievement as a merchandising one — farmers read his catalogues for pleasure, dreaming of a better world. They were the foundation of a retail empire that lasted more than a century until the management failed one time too often to anticipate a shift in consumer tastes. Ward’s went bust a decade ago.

Groupon’s corporate headquarters are in the old Montgomery Ward building, which should be reminder enough of the dangers of neglecting the customer’s desires. But Mr. Mason, the chief executive, sought to underline the point by putting on the wall certain business magazine covers. They celebrate tech start-ups — the social network Friendster, the music site MySpace — at the moment they seemed poised for greatness, before they irrevocably stumbled.

Since December, the editorial team has been housed in a nearby skyscraper, where they have yet another reminder that marketing cannot trump reality forever. The previous tenant was an investment firm that vacated the premises in such a hurry that half-eaten sandwiches were still on desks when Groupon showed up. The abrupt departure was apparently precipitated by a Securities and Exchange Commission court order freezing the firm’s assets because of allegations of fraud.

The spoiled sandwiches are gone, but the investment firm’s giant logo remains in the Groupon reception area, stacks of its literature are stuffed in a corner, and the principles of life as enumerated by John D. Rockefeller in 1937 are still bolted to the conference room wall. The fraud accusations have given the saying about the law — “I believe that the law was made for man and not man for the law” — a whole new meaning.

Much of the Groupon suite lacks finished ceilings or other signs of permanence. The occupants of offices are indicated not by plaques but slips of paper taped to the wall. Few of the cubicles have personal touches. Everything is anonymous and just about everyone is under 30.

“A lot of professional writers apply here. I’ve had applicants from Rolling Stone, The Wall Street Journal,” said Keith Griffith, director of recruiting. “But it’s really hard to get them to do what we’re looking for. It’s easier to teach people than unteach them.”

In the mythology of Silicon Valley, tech companies hire only the geekiest engineers, weeding out the pretenders with questions that ordinary mortals could never fathom, like this: How many golf balls does it take to fill a 747?

Groupon is trying to reach a different skill set. Here is one of the questions it asks prospective hires:

Q. Which is the most interesting way to describe a 4,700-pound chandelier?

A. Blinged out

B. More brilliant than a studious Christmas tree

C. A death trap

D. Really big and shiny

Not enough people pass the test — the correct answer is B — or ace the sample write-up. “My constant fear is that we’re going to run out of writers in Chicago,” said Mr. Griffith, 27, who in his spare time is a theater critic for The Chicago Reader, an alternative paper.

Another reason the employment skews young is because the pay for new writers is less than extravagant — about $37,000 a year. This is a touchy subject with Groupon management, which says it is offering the going rate for workers in their early twenties. Also, promotions are plentiful, even for new hires like Ms. Handler, who joined Groupon in January and is now an editor.

“If we ran an irresponsibly high overhead, it could jeopardize our ability to stay ahead in an unprecedentedly crowded space,” says Mr. With, the editor in chief.

Some of the earliest employees in every department have equity, but the company declines to say what, if anything, new writers get. Given the tremendous valuations being tossed around for Groupon, there is the potential for deep divisions between the haves and have-nots.

About two new editorial workers are being hired every weekday. It is the job of Whitney Holmes, a poet with a fine arts degree from the University of Alabama, to teach them the Voice.

Ms. Holmes began at Groupon last August as a writer, then became an editor, then senior editor. At 27, she says she feels kind of old compared to everyone else. She taught creative writing in Alabama, but the traditional assertion in classrooms that writers are born and not made is here reversed.

“Inspiration is a bunch of hooey,” Ms. Holmes says. “You can teach someone how to put together things that are funny.”

Addressing a new crop of writers at a training session, she seeks first to reassure. “Achieving Groupon Voice is not about being inherently funny. If it were, 93 percent of our writers would not have jobs,” she says.

The writers, who have been on the job less than two weeks, laugh uneasily. Ms. Holmes takes them on a brisk tour of the history and theory of humor. Much humor, she notes, is based on superiority — laughing at the well-deserved misfortune of idiots. Groupon doesn’t do this. Incongruity, however, is fine. Shock is not funny, but surprise is useful.

She gives them a pop quiz: The kitchen is statistically the most dangerous room in a home because it contains the highest concentration of knives, open flames and …

A. cereal killers

B. spoiled fruit

C. mothers-in-law

D. pots of semi-living lobsters

Nearly half the writers pick A, but the correct answer is D. Puns are not allowed, spoiled fruit isn’t even remotely funny, and defaming mothers-in-law could irk mothers-in-law.

Some other rules: The passive voice is to be avoided and pop culture references are verboten. A write-up for a teeth-whitening service said it was “equivalent to being punched by God twice.” Angry letters followed. The new edict is to substitute Zeus for God, Greek mythology being deemed suitably innocuous.

An example of a successful use of the Groupon Voice is long overdue. Here are two classics:

For a yoga and massage service:

“Today’s modern world, with its plethora of countries, panoply of waterways, and constantly changing laws about what is and what isn’t mail fraud, is as confusing as it is stressful. Get a clear definition of relaxation with today’s Groupon.”

For a dentist:

“The Tooth Fairy is a burglarizing fetishist specializing in black-market ivory trade, and she must be stopped. Today’s Groupon helps keep teeth in mouths and out of the hands of maniacal, winged phantasms.”

The writers in the class do exercises on hair salons and car washes. Excellence is rare. But they’ll get plenty of practice, doing as many as seven or eight write-ups a day.

“Every joke has a setup and a payoff,” Ms. Holmes says. “If the setup is confusing, the payoff will never land.”

Which is of course the primary threat to Groupon. It needs to expand while keeping subscribers engaged and those hair salons and car washes happy. Sometimes the payoff for the company offering the service disappears into the blur of words. Restaurants have been overwhelmed by too-successful Groupons where they are forced to sell many meals too cheaply. Some question whether any of these customers ever come back for a full-price meal.

At a forum on Groupon at the recent South by Southwest technology conference in Austin, a San Francisco entrepreneur called the Voice “incredibly powerful” but said the actual implementation of his company’s deal was fraught with missteps.

“All that great stuff you see on copywriting and marketing side, it’s completely disconnected from the operations side,” said Travis Kalanick, chief executive of Uber, a car hire service. “Maybe it’s because they’ve grown too fast.”

GROUPON was first noticed by people who do not use Groupon when Google tried to buy it in December for a reported $6 billion. It was an immense sum for a two-year-old company, but this was one deal that Groupon didn’t like.

Instead, it got the money — $950 million — to expand through another round of venture capital financing. The company celebrated with a self-mocking press release: “Groupon raises, like, a billion dollars.” It boasts that its editorial process is now eight stages long.

Remember the stable with the horse ride? After the initial write-up was complete, it went to Benno Nelson in fact-checking. Mr. Nelson, 25, has a passion for theater — he is an assistant director at an acting conservatory — but you have to eat, and this is much better than his previous day job of selling kosher pretzels to bars. “Groupon, like theater, is all about text and context,” he says.

Then it’s on to the Voice editor, Ben Kobold. In the tradition of editors everywhere, he glances at the copy, sighs and slumps down in his chair.

“Too much zaniness, no real logic,” said Mr. Kobold, 27, an alumnus of the Second City comedy troupe’s improvisation and writing programs. He keeps the first two words — “without horses” — as a springboard, and starts improvising.

“Without horses, salt licks would only dissolve during torrential downpours or the warm tongue of a weary traveler,” he writes, vividly if lacking a bit of grammar.

Eddie Schmid, an editor who shares Mr. Kobold’s cubicle, looks over. “That’s kind of gross,” he volunteers.

As with every deal, the stables write-up will be joined with a riff from one of the four Groupon humor writers. The more you can laugh with Groupon, the more you will like it. Or so the company hopes.

“With piano recital season coming up, faking one’s own death is becoming more and more popular,” was the beginning of one recent riff. Angry letters followed. Cullen Crawford, the writer, shakes his head. “Just because it had the word ‘death,’ ” he explains.

The humor writers share a corner office. Witty chitchat does not fill the air à la the Algonquin Roundtable. Mostly, they stare at their computers.

Sam Weiner is writing a mock future history, detailing offers and events to come:

2012: Rent a monkey for a week.

2014: Time machine back 6,000 years to witness creation of the Earth.

2025: Groupon switches to door-to-door exclusively.

Again with the monkeys! Mr. Weiner is amused, not so much by what he is writing as the fact that he is getting paid to do it. Before Groupon, he worked in a dog kennel, where one day a dog died right in front of him. Mr. Weiner was worried the owner would be heartbroken or furious, but it turned out she had planned it to happen this way. She didn’t want the mess of the pooch expiring at home.

“My dream,” says Mr. Weiner, 26, “was to get a job writing comedy and make more than minimum wage watching dogs die.”

Groupon seems likely to fulfill the grander dreams of its investors and early employees by going public. The initial public offering this month of LinkedIn, which is basically a bulletin board for millions of professionals to list their résumés, did much better than anyone expected, doubling on the first day. LinkedIn’s profits are negligible by comparison, but its valuation is now $8 billion.

Doubtless Groupon will present its I.P.O. in sprightly Groupon style, probably something like this: “Sometimes it’s not enough simply to appreciate e-mails from clever people. Sometimes you want to own them too.” The offering could value the company at $25 billion, which would top Google’s 2004 debut as the richest ever for an Internet company.

Perhaps that sum will seem in hindsight to be a great deal, as was true with Google itself. Or maybe it will be Groupon’s best joke ever.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: June 5, 2011

An article last Sunday about Groupon, the e-mail marketer, misidentified the heritage of Zeus, whose name the company’s writers invoke rather than mentioning God. He is part of Greek mythology, not Roman.

Readers are more likely to skim over articles on an iPad than in a newspaper

Readers are more likely to skim over articles on an iPad than in a newspaper

http://ping.fm/9Nccc

STUDY: iPad Readers Are Skimming And Can’t Remember What They’ve Read

STUDY: iPad Readers Are Skimming And Can’t Remember What They’ve Read

http://ping.fm/LiH80
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French consulting firm Miratech just published a research report claiming that users reading news on an iPad are less focused than when reading a newspaper.