Friday, March 26, 2010

STL Represents at SXSW

We hear a lot from people who don't think there is much going on in the music scene in St. Louis. Eleven Magazine would like a few words with those individuals. The magazine was started by Wash U students and within the last year has become the source for music information locally. Jonathan Fritz, one of the founders of the magazine, MOT, and all around power-entrepreneur took the time to write a quick update about his recent trip to Austin for South By Southwest (SXSW). Read on for More!

Last week, the entire nation’s media consciousness was focused on Austin for SXSW 2010, a massive conference/festival showcasing the hottest new music, multimedia, and film. All of the “next big things” that will surface throughout the rest of the year in these fields were found somewhere in one of SXSW’s numerous panels, showcases, trade shows, and screenings. Eleven was invited to cover the music portion of the festival, and obviously I jumped at the chance to lead an expedition from STL down south to report on the scene and the hundreds of bands playing sets during the second half of the week.

Calling SXSW a madhouse is an understatement – with a new band beginning a set every forty-five minutes in the seventy venues in a 7x7 block area, downtown Austin was flipped upside down. And considering this onslaught began each day at noon and lasted until 2 AM, there was no shortage daytime parties, nighttime events, and, of course, trouble to get into. My favorite sets of the weekend were buzz-band Local Natives, hip-hop upstart Fashawn, indie mainstays The Walkmen, and rampant party-starter Andrew W.K. For Eleven’s daily SXSW coverage, be sure to check out And, hopefully you’ll make the trek with us down to Austin next year!
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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Jewish Professional Leadership Series and Social Entrepreneurship

I can easily say that one of the huge perks of working at a Jewish institution has to be the Jewish Professional Leadership Series led by Mindee Fredman -- and I'm not just saying that because this blog appears on the website ( - check it out!) that I work for...

I was skeptical of the program at first. The series falls under the umbrella of the Jewish Federation-run Professional Excellence program, which " builds the capacity of the St. Louis Jewish community to recruit, train and retain high quality professionals who will lead and deliver services of excellence."

Needless to say excellence is a high priority - which is why I was recruited to be a part of this new group. Just kidding! Kind of. But for real.

To return to the point, I was skeptical at first. I was unsure about this new program that catered toward a small group of young adults that worked in Jewish professions - I mean, I work with Jews all day; I work out with them after 5pm at the J; and I live in a super Jewish hood (U City).

But after I heard the list of other participants, and the topics that would be covered (i.e., 'work-life balance,' 'fundraising,' 'career planning,' to name a few) I figured I would give it a try.

The meetings take place in a different Jewish location each session, so that we become more familiar with the institutions here in St. Louis, on a more personal level. We've met at Bais Abraham, Temple Emanuel, St. Louis Hillel, and Next Dor, just to name a few.

Essentially, the series centers around a certain theme, and an experienced Jewish professional who has knowledge of that theme speaks, or provides an interactive exercise.

A perfect example would be last week's theme: Social entrepreneurship.

Social Entrepreneurship was one of those things that really ticked me off, because it was one of those buzz words you hear, and you kinda understand... but in reality not at all (damn you, Twitter generation!)

After one hour with energetic expert speaker Barb Levin, I had resolved to become the next great entrepreneur. Well not entirely, but at least I understood what it was: someone who makes a change - cultural, emotional, thoughtful- in society. And I learned how change could look in our own Jewish community... and a little on how to go about it.

Of course, our venue, Next Dor, was the perfect example. One of the main cogs in creating and running Next Dor (who will remain nameless because he gets waaaay too much press) saw a gap in Jewish St. Louis society: post-college kids were moving away from St. Louis because they could not find the type of Jewish community they were seeking - a cultural and social approach to religion. Now the Next Dor house is bursting at the seams with programming, ideas, and especially people. Art, yoga, gardening, business, networking, and of course food (helloooo Jews) are all found at Next Dor.

Like Next Dor, the Jewish Professional Leadership Series has easily exceeded (my) expectations. I am so thankful to be a part of an intelligent, funny, motivated group of my peers, and to listen to seasoned (read: old ... JUST KIDDING) professionals whose advice and teachings are certainly taken to heart. The lessons we learn will prove to be priceless, and one day, the basis for leadership and change in our community.

--This piece was writted by P.J. Edelman, Content Manager for . The St. Lou Jew is always interested in getting new perspectives (aka having other people write for us) so if you have an idea for a story or an opinion you'd like shared, email us at thestloujew at gmail dot com.
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Monday, March 22, 2010

The Shifting Reality of a Job

With the passage of the healthcare bill, many people are saying that Obama has, for better or worse, created the defining moment in his administration.

For many of us, the defining moment of our generation was created for us, with the near collapse of the financial industry, housing market, and the subsequent economic recession. With capital and jobs drying up, seeing many of our parents face the specter of and unfunded early retirement, many of us have totally lost faith in the corporate promise of 40 plus years of work in exchange for comfortable golden years.

This reality, is forcing huge numbers of newly minted graduates to move back home, seek employment at much lower wages doing far more menial tasks, and reconsider whether the American Dream is still within our reach.

We are likely to be the first generation that is less well off than our parents. Our education degrees from prestigious universities are in fields that give us little to no hard skills or marketable knowledge and because our friends don't have jobs either, the networking potential of our degrees just plummeted as well.

But is everything really so bleak? Or must a system begin to collapse before a new one can arise? Many people, threatened at the prospect of losing high stress-high paying jobs are finally taking time with their families they should have taken years ago. Fear forces us to focus on what is truly important in the present, not some vague plan for the future. While I'm not advocating a wholesale flight from a culture of disciplined spending, it seems silly to save and save for some deferred life plan, when things seem as though they are collapsing around us. Better to spend the dollar today when it might be enjoyed to the fullest than to have $5 when you are 65 and finally ready to enjoy the golf course with your bad hip.

As our culture shifts, from office workers chained to cubicles from 9-5 (or 8:30-5:30), regardless of whether they were effective between those hours, to a culture in which performance is valued over specific locations or hours, I hope to see people able to refocus their time around people instead of things, the production of experience rather than the consumption of product.

At this fork in the road, as the gatekeepers are being shaken to their core, we have an obligation as a generation to set a new way forward. To offer a new vision of the American Dream. To find jobs that add to our world instead of detract from it. Jobs that encourage us to gain new knowledge, skills, and understanding of the world around us, instead of crushing us down into interchangeable machines.

Perhaps we can finally ascribe a value to our time and our interactions with others, instead of the wealth we can command but don't have the time to enjoy. A crisis presents danger alongside opportunity, and as the defining crisis of our generation, it is essential that we uncover the opportunity.

Click here to read some stories of St. Louis Jewish young adults and how they are adapting to the new reality
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Friday, March 19, 2010


Next Dor Jewish Light Story 3/18/2010 Read More......

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sprinting Towards Pesach: What's up this week

Ok, maybe it is lame and reflects a certain laziness (or lack of time) on the part of yours truly to just tell you what is happening this week instead of writing a dense and thought provoking post. Still, there is a lot happening and you probably want to know about it.

Starting this very evening, Ecstatic Yoga will help you get centered and relaxed. From beginners to experienced yogis, all are welcome to join this free class offered by Shlomo.

Tomorrow is already St. Patrick's day and in honor of the Robert Briscoe, the first Jewish mayor of Dublin, you might want to celebrate the culture of the other group of gingies.

Thursday, Jewish Family and Children's Services needs volunteers for CANstruction at the MO History Museum. Details on how to help out here.

Friday marks the return of 3rd Friday's to Next Dor. Last month, somewhere around 70 people dropped in, ate some good food, met some good people, and seemed to have a good time (I had to leave early to catch the Pinstripes play). Be sure to RSVP so that there is enough food.

Next Wednesday, SLIC's Israeli movie series comes back to Next Dor with 'HaBuah' aka The Bubble. Click the button to add to your Gcalendar! .

Next Thursday, come to Next Dor for Kosher for Passover Wine Tasting! If you gotta drink four cups, you may as well enjoy them.

As always, if you want to host an event at Next Dor, email info at nextdorstl dot org
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Friday, March 12, 2010

A Life Well Lived

Some people are born manic depressive, for me, going from the activity of Birthright Israel Next's conference in New Orleans to Cincinnati for the funerals of two relatives has provided a pretty good case study.

It wasn't even a question as to whether or not I'd go back to Cincinnati for the funeral. Everything else was put on hold.

What is interesting though, is that Jewish funeral rituals focus little on the 'afterlife', instead noting the impact of the individual's life, particularly on family and friends. It is as if we are saying that even in the death of this person, they continue to bring us together. Most of the prayers don't speak about death, but of life and of comfort.

When my cousin spoke to eulogize his father, his point was that it had been a life well lived. That he had impacted others positively, left an impact, and brought fullness to his time among us.

One quote used in the funeral really struck me as central to the underlying philosophy of the funeral ritual in Jewish culture, "let it not be said that life was good to us, but that we were good to life."

Our time is finite, but our potential is limitless.
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Monday, March 8, 2010

Kings of Schlock: Jewish Hip Hop Hilarity Strikes Again

Yea, you probably know about all of the Jewish influence in Hip Hop, from the Ron Rubin to the Beastie Boys, Scott Storch to a lot of the early investors.

Just in time to be late for Purim, we present to you, via St. Louis' own DJ Trackstar (who moved away like everyone else), Kings of Schlock, The #Jewishrapnames Mixtape.

The idea spawned from a Twitter trend in which people were creating fake Jewish rap names, which caught the attention of DJ Trackstar, who is half-Jewish, all Hip Hop.

He sent out a few emails asking for input and the results are below:

The original piece on it is here.

Learn more about DJ Trackstar at

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Friday, March 5, 2010

The Rest of the Story

At college campuses around the world this week, Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) is taking place. The one thing you can count on from this movement is a whitewashing of the facts.

I heard from an IAW participant earlier this week that Israel “built walls around all of the water sources and controls the water flow to the West Bank.” He presented this as straight fact and used it to illustrate his claim that “Israel is trying to annihilate the Palestinian people over a prolonged period.”

The facts of the water issue are, among many, that this is an issue that the two sides are working in tandem on, and while Israel does have walls around some (definitely not all) Palestinian water sources, they are often erected at the request of the Palestinian Authority, who also requests Israeli security assistance to protect said water sources for Hamas attacks. So while Israel has built walls around Palestinian water sources and guards them with soldiers and weapons, they do this not entirely for the reasons that the IAW people would like you to believe.

Sure to be front and center at IAW demonstrations, events, and literature is Israel’s Security Barrier. Like the water issue, sure not to be mentioned are the facts.

In 2002, it is estimated that 410 Israelis were killed in attacks emanating from the West Bank. In 2009, the figure was 5. Security experts and the Israeli military attribute the bulk of this decline to the success of the Barrier. This monumental reduction has given Israel the confidence to remove two-thirds of the West Bank security checkpoints, which has opened up freedom of movement and commerce, resulting in an estimated 7-8% economic growth over the past two years in the West Bank during a time of general worldwide recession. Further, in response to Palestinian complaints, Israel has begun moving parts of the Barrier, allowing Palestinians in effected areas to reclaim lost land and familial/local connections.

The reduction in violence created by the success of the Barrier has allowed Israel to take more risks than it has in the past to benefit the Palestinians. Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has, for the first time in his career, acknowledged the right of the Palestinians to their own nation. In so doing, he has emphasized economic development in the West Bank, such as the removal of travel checkpoints and easing of Israel-West Bank travel restrictions. From the Palestinian side, PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad have created a antiviolence tone. Fayyad, in particular, has latched onto the importance of economy-building, just as Netanyahu has embraced.

Fayyad’s embrace is nothing short of a fundamental shift in the Palestinian nationalist movement. His predecessor, Yasser Arafat, built the Palestinian narrative on revolutionary tenets of violent resistance and victimhood. Fayyad has instead decided to inspire a sense of individual and group empowerment and independence as practiced peacefully by most of the world.

Here are some specific examples of benefits derived by the Palestinians from the Barrier:
-Approximately 2,000 new businesses in the West Bank registered with the Palestinian Authority since 2008, including a second mobile phone service provider that is expected to inject $700 million into the West Bank economy and generate $354 million in revenue for the Palestinian Authority
-In Bethlehem, the rise in tourism has led to 6,000 new jobs

The IAW movement, along with its various cohorts, has been and will be preaching that Israel is trying to strangle the Palestinians with its Security Barrier. The notorious “10 word answer” is a concept that in 10 words you can articulate an argument more persuasively than you can in 100 because, in having to keep it simple and to the point, you find the 10 most powerful words. The Security Barrier is not an issue that lends itself to the 10 word answer. So far I have used 645 words to make the case for the Barrier, and in doing so have painted a more complete picture. If you should run into someone participating in IAW, and they give you the 10 word statement, as them for the next 650 words.
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Monday, March 1, 2010

Purim Party Bus Might Have Become the First Annual

After an epic night of shenanigans, tomfoolery, Megillah mashups, Hamantashen, Temples, costumes, and drinks (oh my!) the results are in, the Purim Party Crawl was a success.

The bus, which made stops at Central Reform, Shaare Emeth, B'nai Amoonah, Bais Abe, Sub Zero and the Next Dor house, ferried more than 25 young adults in elementary school style... that is if your elementary school allowed beer on the bus.

The Party Crawl didn't just get everyone shikkured, in addition to seeing a few of the area's Synagogues and meeting members at each, the event also gathered some much needed toiletries for Jewish Family & Children's Services.

You can check out the pictures here and read the press release here
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