Thursday, January 28, 2010

PechaKucha; Signs Of Life

Amongst our list of things to do this week was a little something called PechaKucha, in which people present ideas across 20 slides of 20 seconds each. Turns out, it's pretty damn cool.

It had the possibility to be totally weird. But the attraction of meeting interesting people and hearing new ideas was too much.

We showed up to the new space, the basement of a historic building right next to left bank books downtown. It was just 7, and the place was packed, a few hundred young adults, some in business attire, some more artsy and laid back, even a few past the 'target demographic'.

We heard from artists who had created non profits to help restore furniture and rehabilitate inmates, from entrepreneurs looking to light up bridges, broadcast films on the sides of buildings, and create blacksmith programs. We learned about a company that helps workers in the corporate world have fun with Montessori-like training methods, and heard from Miss Metrolink herself, Liz Kramer. WeAreSTL made an appearance to talk about their upcoming film festival (and will be holding a subsequent meeting at Next Dor). There was even a woman who started a jewelry business talking about her wares.

So what?

So we'll tell you what. . . There was an amazing energy in that room as young adults, all interesting in their own right, came to learn about the ideas and projects of others, and connect with each other. It just felt legit. Sure, the format has its drawbacks, as some slides seemed to last forever with little commentary, while others seemed to fly by without sufficient explanation, but the fact that so many people came together in order to promote innovation and progress in St. Louis (and not just promote, these people are actually doing something about it), was quite positive.

To see some of the slides and learn more about the event, check out the site here
Read More......

Monday, January 25, 2010

Upcoming Events!

PechaKucha Night A Tu Bishvat Seder, YPD Happy hour, an interesting new exhibit at the History Museum and so much more are going down, so let the St. Lou Jew be your guide for a good time.

Starting from the most imminent event, Wednesday night, Jan. 27th, from 7pm-8:30pm, Science on Tap will be going down at the Schlafly Bottleworks, Crown Room, in Maplewood at 7260 Southwest Ave. and will feature Professor William Wallace who will speak on: Michelangelo: Artist, Aristocrat and Engineer.

Michelangelo is universally recognized as one of the greatest artists of all time. Professor Wallace, an internationally recognized expert on Michelangelo, will speak about the challenges and excitement of writing a modern biography of the famous Renaissance artist. Dr. Wallace offers a substantially new view of Michelangelo, who was not only a great sculptor, painter, architect, engineer and poet, but also an aristocrat who believed in the ancient and noble origins of his family. Much of his new biography is written from the words of Michelangelo and his contemporaries, giving insight into his ability to befriend and influence others--even saying "no" to popes and kings--as well as the culture and society of Renaissance Florence and Rome.

Carpools from the Next Dor house at 6:45 PM

If you'd rather be speaking Hebrew than learning about Michaelangelo, come check out Shulchan Ivrit at the Next Dor house around 7:30 for an informal way to listen to and speak the Mother Tongue of the Tribe.

Thursday night, St. Louis hosts its first PechaKucha night. What is PechaKucha? PechaKucha Nights are informal and fun gatherings where creative people get together and share their ideas, works, thoughts, holiday snaps - just about anything really, in the PechaKucha 20x20 format. (PechaKucha 20x20 is a simple presentation format where you show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. The images forward automatically and you talk along to the images.) For more backstory, hit up the site For more info about the STL PechaKucha night, go here

This Saturday, a Tu Bishvat Seder will be held at Next Dor. Tu Bishvat is like the Jewish Arbor day, and has taken on a lot of Jewish environmental associations. This will not be a seder in the traditional sense, so much as an opportunity to enjoy really good natural foods and discuss Jewish environmental values. To find out more and to RSVP, click here.

Next Wednesday, YPD (the Young Professionals Division of the Federation) is hosting a happy hour at Boogaloo, a great bar and restaurant in Webster Groves. If you haven't sat at the bar swings, you really should. RSVP here.

History Museum is hosting a new exhibit called Race: Are we all so different? The exhibit has been gaining accolades for its deconstruction of ideas of race and should be "the talk of the town" according to a Post-Dispatch article. For more info, click here.

Did we miss something?

Email us at thestloujew at gmail dot com.
Read More......

Friday, January 22, 2010

St. Louis Jewish Entrepreneurs: Jason Jacobs and Dipity Dough To GO

Imagine, it's getting late on a Saturday night and you feel an irresistible urge to eat cookies. Are you going to go mix up a batch? Go to the store and buy the instant dough? Now, thanks to Jason Jacobs and his start up, Dipity Dough To Go, you can just pick up the phone and have cookies delivered to you.

Jacobs, whose parents own Serendipity, an Ice Cream shop, had the idea to create fresh baked cookie delivery service similar to, "a pizza delivery place, however Dipity Dough To Go will deliver Serendipity Ice Cream, Milk, and Warm Cookies." The idea, while not new to students of Indiana University or Wisconsin University, marks a first for St. Louis, a city known to be unfriendly to late night snackers.

I have to admit, in a City like St. Louis, I wasn't sure what to think of DDTG. Would people respond to the convenience of cookies delivered to their doorstep, or would they just give up, eat raw tollhouse dough out of a tub, or worse, get their fourth meal on at Taco Bell?

So last night, with a team of intrepid explorers, we went to check out the secret baking facility where the magic happens. It was a pretty unassuming building, you might miss it (which we did), if not for Jacobs' excellent directions ("no, behind the soccer arena").

We were able to see the whole operation in the works, answering phone calls, baking cookies, packing them up for delivery, and the best part, we got to try some of the wares.

I must say, the cookies are rich enough that it is worth taking advantage of the free drink they are throwing in this opening weekend

Currently, Dipity Dough To Go delivers Thursday to Sunday 7pm to 1am but Jacobs says he has plans to adjust his hours based on demand. As a flyer points out, "the later you order, the later we bake."

For more information about how to support this young entrepreneur (by eating cookies), check out the website or call them tonight at 314-918-TOGO(8646) and tell them you heard about them from the St. Lou Jew. They might even hook you up!
Read More......

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Maya Escobar On Display!

The St. Lou Jew's favorite Guatemalan-Jewish Artist, Maya Escobar is on display!

Frida Kahlo played with the identity that she wanted to project and the identity that was placed on her by others. Kahlo used her clothing, political affiliations, sexual escapades, and personal traumas, to create a character that informed her body of work. She inscribed her identity, painting her image over and over, constructing a mythology around her persona.

In el es frida kahlo artist Maya Escobar confronts the ambivalence she experiences as a result of her simultaneous obsession with Frida Kahlo and weariness towards her commodification. Viewed from a tiny pinhole, Escobar, dressed as Kahlo stands before a reproduction of one of her self portraits. With a mixture of rage, anxiety, and complete fear, she chants “el es Frida Kahlo, ella es Frida Kahlo, el es Frida Kahlo, yo soy, yo soy, yo soy Frida Kahlo,” he is Frida Kahlo, she is Frida Kahlo, I am, I am, I am Frida Kahlo. As Escobar yells, the painting behind her begins to fall. She violently tears down her braids and smudge off her makeup while continuing to yell “I am Frida Kahlo, I am Frida Kahlo, yo soy Frida Kahlo!”

el es frida kahlo will be on view at the Bruno David Gallery in St. Louis, MO from 1/22-3/6. Read More......

Monday, January 18, 2010

“Hops for Haiti”, held at Next Dor, Raises Over $620 for Haiti Earthquake Relief

Saturday night, January 16th, the place to be was Next Dor, the house dedicated to creating community for Jewish young adults, as over sixty people gathered to have a good time and raise money to help people in Haiti after last Tuesday’s devastating earthquake.

Organized by Roland Roth and Next Dor STL (now incorporated as a Missouri non-Profit), the “Hops for Haiti” program was conceived just 30 hours before as two young community leaders sat drinking hot chocolate at Scape Bistro in the Central West End. Both wanted to do something for those struggling in Haiti but didn’t know what to do. Roth’s father was born and raised in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, and knew that many family and friends were either missing or presumed dead.

It was suggested that an event could be hosted at Next Dor to raise money and awareness, and “Hops for Haiti” was born. “It is important that Next Dor promote social action and a sense of collective responsibility through accessible and fun communal events,” said Yoni Sarason, Program Director for Next Dor, “and judging by the response we received, it is important to our peers as well.”

Within 30 hours Schlafly Brewing Company had given two kegs at employee pricing, donations by Miller and Magic Hat Brewing Companies came in, cups and Sharpies had been purchased, a Facebook Event Page had been started, and the text message/email/cell phone machine had been activated.

Neither expected to raise over $620 in one night, much less with one day’s notice, but that’s exactly what happened.

Roth was surprised that so many people came not because they got the Facebook invite or because they were associated with Next Dor but rather that they “heard about it from somebody who heard about it from somebody else.”

“One lady came in and said she was there for the ‘Haiti Hop’ and I said ‘Close enough’”, Roth laughs. “That this devastation in Haiti could cause so many people to give to great charities in so many ways and in so many methods, including text messages, is very cool.”

Aware that the money is needed immediately, as fresh water and food is becoming scarcer and the outlook increasingly bleak by the day, Roth and Sarason agreed that 100% of the proceeds would be given to American Jewish World Service’s Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund.

AJWS created this fund to put particular focus “on aiding populations in the crisis zone that have not already been targeted for large-scale relief, such as poor and rural areas outside Port-au-Prince.” ( AJWS's long-standing partnerships in the region have enabled them to send funding directly to their grantees in hard-hit areas on the ground who have the knowledge and capacity to spend the money effectively where it is most immediately needed.

All money in this fund will:

Support search and rescue efforts by community volunteers
Provide food and shelter for survivors
Provide emergency health services and education to help reduce the second wave of casualties due to wounds, contamination from corpses and human waste
Clear roadways to facilitate rescue and distribution of emergency supplies
Provide emergency psychosocial support to survivors
Fund humanitarian aid being sent from the Haitian-Dominican community in the Dominican Republic that includes two mobile clinics, medical supplies, donations and volunteers
Support longer-term recovery (in the months following the earthquake) including rebuilding of community centers, clinics and schools; replanting of crops and farms to reestablish the local food supply and provide a source of income; and support to community-based organizations’ efforts to rebuild civil society.
Read More......

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Chase Community Giving Challenge, Help the Friendship Circle

Want to help an important cause without having to spend any money? The Chase Community Giving Challenge is making it easy.

The first round of the contest started with 500,000 charities trying to get the most votes, and now, in the second round the top 100 charities are competing for the most votes in order to win $1 million. The only Jewish organization left in the contest is the Friendship Circle.

Through the Friendship Circle, teen volunteers pair up with children and teens with special needs for fun, life-skill-building activities at its LifeTown Building. The Friendship Circle also provides support for families of children with special needs and raises awareness and acceptance within the community. The organization was started by Chabad Lubavitch of Michigan in 1994 and has since grown to include 80 locations and over 11,000 weekly volunteers worldwide.

The contest runs though next Friday the 22nd. Each person on Facebook can only vote once per charity, and it only takes a few seconds. The easiest way is to vote is to go to and then follow the links from there.
Read More......

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Second City In St. Louis!

Second City, the famous comedy act from Chicago, with so many famous alumni it has its own Wikipedia page, will be performing in St. Louis. You should probably be there.

The troupe is performing a show called Jewsical the Musical at the opening of the new JCC arts and education building.

Last night John Karney of KMOX had Knute Horwitz (Jewsical cast member) on his show. The interview is online here

Tickets are $25, which is a whole lot cheaper than trekking up to Chicago to see them.

For more information, check out the facebook page Read More......

Friday, January 8, 2010

Crazy Next Dor Press!

This week has been huge in the press department for Next Dor. Two local papers have published stories, and the community feedback has been incredibly positive!

Shortly after Jewish In St. Louis published their piece about us a few weeks ago, we spoke with a writer for the Jewish Light. That story appears in the most recent copy of the Light (see below for the story)

Shortly thereafter, we were contacted by a writer from the Saint Louis Beacon who had heard about the project through the Light and wanted to know more. You can read his story here

Here is the story from the Light:

Next Dor STL in the Saint Louis Jewish Light
Read More......

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What Is At The Center Of Judaism Today?

I remember having a conversation about six months ago with a friend who had become religious. He asked me what was at the center of everything we are doing in our Jewish community organizing, in our blogging, and our actions.

It isn't an easy question to answer. Why are we trying to bring people together? To promote a certain culture, belief system, and lifestyle? What is at the core?

For him, the answer was simple. Literally, it was one word, "Torah". Seriously, he said that ultimately, everything that we as Jews do, has to revolve around the Torah. I bring it up now after a conversation I had yesterday with the Rabbi of the Traditional Congregation.

Tuesday, Next Dor hosted a meeting of the Rabbinical Association of St. Louis, to which most if not all congregational Rabbis, plus a few organizational (JCC) and chaplain Rabbis belong.

It was an opportunity to showcase the progress made on the house and to show the reality of what Next Dor STL is doing. I had the opportunity to present and also was able to speak one-on-one with a few of the Rabbis after their meeting.

This particular Rabbi posed an interesting challenge to our model, explaining that it is not enough to 'just have Jewish people doing things together'. He asked, more directly, where is the 'Jewish' part of it.

This isn't the first time the question has been posed, and it is an interesting question, which puts a certain marker upon the interrogator. You see, Judaism is a religion, but Jews are far more than practitioners or believers of this religion. We have grown from a small tribe into various ethnic and cultural offshoots, with varying degrees of traditions, rituals, and beliefs.

To illustrate this Rabbi's perspective a bit better, when I told him that our board, having held a meeting on a Saturday night, spontaneously decided to have Havdalah, he responded that while he found it a positive that we 'chose' to hold the ritual, for him it is not a matter of wanting, but of being commanded.

Are a secular Jewish world view and a religious Jewish world view incompatible? Are they inconsistent? If nothing else, this exchange opens the doors to some interesting dialogue, would you show up if we hosted this Rabbi to discuss and debate his views?

Read More......

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year, New Landscape

2009 aka 2000 and grind is out, taking with it the decade known in the UK as the 'naughties'. What is in is twenty-ten, the worst of the recession might be behind us, and this year, we make history.

It is pretty amazing to note just how far things have come in a year. Not much more than 12 months ago, we started talking about how to change the social landscape for Jewish young adults in St. Louis. With little more than half a year of Moishe House living under our belts, we set out to redefine our experience.

Now here we are with a house dedicated to Next Dor. There have been several stories written, some currently in the presses, and others in process of being written about our efforts and a growing base of interested peers who want to connect with the community we are building.

And that's just the beginning.

So now that our foundation is laid, how will you get the most from it? How are you going to become a part of defining your future and the direction of young Jewish culture for the city?

The doors are wide open at Next Dor
Read More......