OyChicago articles

Looking for a job?

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Job Fair for Jewish young professionals scheduled for April 16
04/01/2010

Second JUF/JVS Job Fair photo

After the success of last year’s Job Fair, the Jewish United Fund (JUF) and Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) will host their second annual Job Fair for young Jewish professionals on Friday, April 16. Designed for entry- to mid-level professionals, the job fair will take place at the Standard Club (320 S. Plymouth Court) from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Last year’s Job Fair attracted some 300 job seekers and 40 prospective employers. Ron Dulin was one of these attendees. “I spent most of my life as a musician and, in more recent years, was in banking. After being laid off from banking, I went back to school to finish my MBA,” said Dulin. “I heard about the Job Fair from a friend and decided to go.”

Dulin met with Steven Slivnick, director of Operations for the Government of Israel Economic Mission, who was looking for a new Director of Business Development. “When we started posting the job opening we couldn’t find enough qualified applicants,” Slivnick said. “We were really struggling to even find [appropriate] places to post the listing. The Job Fair solved our problem. We found several qualified applicants, interviewed quite a few of them and hired Ron.”

Gail Silver, vice president and director of human resources for JMB Insurance, was surprised by the number of high-level professionals who attended the first fair.

“We were delighted to meet a candidate who turned out to be one of our eventual hires and is currently in our Producer Development Program,” Silver said.

“We absolutely would attend another fair,” said Stefanie Pessis Weil, principal at Giving Tree Associates. “There was definitely a high caliber of candidates coming through. We were looking for something very specific with people just out of school who could start a long-term career with us and we found two great additions to our company.”

“Three hundred people walked through the door and several of them got jobs, but even more made solid connections and got good information to make it worth everyone’s time,” said Andy Kirschner, a career services representative with JVS and one of the fair organizers.

In addition to face-to-face contact with hiring firms, job seekers can participate in several career workshops and receive career counseling and resumé help at a Job Search Strategy Resource Table. A Job Fair preparation workshop will also be held from 9-10 a.m. This year’s fair promises to be even larger that the first. “We are planning to improve and expand every aspect of [the fair] — it can only get better from here,” said Kirschner.

To register online visit  www.yldchicago.org/jobfair . For more information job seekers should contact Ariel Zipkin at (312) 357-4880 or  yld@juf.org and employers interested in participating should contact Lainie Kaufman at (312) 444-2826 or  LainieKaufman@juf.org .

‘Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough’

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Why ‘Mr. Good Enough’ may just turn out to be the man of your dreams 
03/23/2010

‘Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough’ photo 1

Jewish author and dating veteran Lori Gottlieb is telling single women everywhere to “break up with the list.” You know what the list is...That running checklist of attributes in your head that your future mate must possess and don’t ask you to settle for less.

But Gottlieb, who is in her early 40s, says maybe settling for less isn’t such a bad thing. As a single mother—who at age 37 decided to have a baby on her own—she’s come to realize that perhaps she’s had unrealistic expectations of what the man of her dreams should be like.

In her new book “Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough,” (Dutton Books), Gottlieb, a Los Angeleno, outlines her case for she and other single women to stop searching for a fictional Prince Charming and, instead, to look for Mr. Good Enough, who could turn out to be a great guy, even “the one,” if given the chance. She examines the Catch-22 that women face: how to reconcile the desire for a husband and family with such a long list of must-haves that potential men who could make wonderful life partners are rejected right off the bat.

The book comes two years after her controversial article on the same subject ran in “The Atlantic.” In her book, Gottlieb interviews marital researchers, matchmakers, dating coaches, couples therapists, and clergy, plus hundreds of single and married men and women.

Recently, Gottlieb sat down for a phone interview with Oy!Chicago about why the number 80% may be a better percentage than we thought, the differences in dating deal breakers for men versus women, and why we should give guys who do “Austin Powers” impersonations a second chance:

Oy!Chicago: Why did you write this book?
Lori Gottlieb: Like a lot of women, I was wondering why I hadn’t found the right guy. As I got older, when I would listen to my married friends talk about what they really love about their husbands and what was making them happy in their marriages, it had nothing to do with the things that my friends and I who were single and out there dating still would talk about when we were talking about the guys we were dating. [My married friends] would say things like, ‘Oh, he made me tea,’ and ‘he programmed the Tivo.’ And we [single women] would be like ‘Oh my god, did you see the way he buttered his bread on the date.’ It was like these completely unrelated worlds and yet the whole point for us, because we happen to want to be married, of dating was to find the person that we wanted to spend our lives with. Yet, we were looking for things that had nothing to do with whether we were going to be happy in marriage with these people.

‘Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough’ photo 2

What are the important commonalities to look for when dating?
One question I always asked married women was is your spouse like the person you thought you were going to marry. And so many times, they’d say, ‘Not at all. I thought I was going to marry someone who is like this, this, and this. But in the core things that I wanted, yes.’ It wasn’t like they had the same taste in music necessarily or they both loved hiking and sushi or whatever. If they do, great, but it was more that they were similar in the way they viewed the world—they had similar values, they liked and disliked the same people, they wanted the same things in life, they had similar ideas about what would make them happy in life, they were both flexible and able to compromise, and [shared] basic things like kindness and humor.

In the book, describe the difference in deal breakers between men and women in dating. 
There was a survey where men and women were asked what would be a deal breaker for going on a second date.  Men named three things that I thought were very legitimate—she has to be cute enough, she has to be warm and kind, and she has to be interesting to talk to. Women named 300 things that would rule out a guy for a second date. They were things that, again, had nothing to do with whether you’re going to be happy in a marriage with that person. So why not go on a second date? This is given that they were attracted to the guy, they thought that he was cute, they thought that he was smart, they thought he was personable, and they had a decent time. Some of the deal breakers were, ‘Oh, he did that Austin Powers impression, forget it,’ or ‘He’s not stylish, no thanks.’

You say women are storytellers. Can you explain what that means?
Women tend to make these judgments so quickly about a guy because women are more natural storytellers and we do want to know how the story will end or at least progress. We’re sitting there across from someone on a first date and we’re thinking is this somebody I can imagine myself in a relationship with as opposed to is this someone I can imagine myself having another two-hour dinner with and there’s a big difference. Some women say that’s smart because I don’t want to waste my time with someone that I’m not going to end up in a relationship with. But you have no idea who you’re going to end up in a relationship with. We get ahead of ourselves. Because the bar is so much higher for that relationship question than the second date question, we’re using the relationship criteria to decide whether we want to go on a second date with him, but really we need to use the second date criteria.

Your dating coach in the book tried to get you to “break up with the list” and be more open to different types of guys.  Have you changed your dating ways since writing the book?
It was very hard for me in the beginning. It’s hard to adjust our perceptions a little bit and be a little more open to the idea that what we think of as our type might not actually be the kind of guy who will make us happy…There was a woman I talked to who is engaged to a guy she met on Match.com because she didn’t notice the guy checked the “has kids” box. She said she never would have gone out with him if she had noticed that he had kids because she didn’t want to get into a relationship with somebody who already had kids.

Why do many women have “the list” in the first place and unrealistic expectations of men?
We don’t realize that we do this. I didn’t realize I was picky. I think a lot of women have the same attitude as I did and thought, ‘I’m not picky, I just know what I want and I have high standards.’ I’m not saying to anybody to lower your standards. I’m just saying have high standards about what really matters in terms of making you happy...It’s not about looking for the perfect person, it’s about looking for the perfect partner for you. Who do you want to go through life with?

You say in the book that men have more realistic expectations in dating than women. Why?
…Men are much better able to compartmentalize. Women think that the guy that they find has to be everything. Men think, ‘I have to be in love with her, but she doesn’t have to be everything.’

Your book has sparked a lot of controversy. Why do you think this book strikes such a chord and, sometimes a nerve, with people? 
I got two really mean letters. One said that the reason you are still single is that you are ugly. Hooray for feminism, right? The other one said that I was a sorry excuse for a human being or something like that. It is striking a chord or nerve, but most of the mail that I get, other than those two, has been extremely positive. The bloggers are the ones who are saying, ‘I’ve never read this book, I’m not going to read it, but I hate it anyway.’ It’s kind of like reviewing a movie based on the movie poster. The irony of that kind of thinking is that they’re doing the same things in their dating life. They’re judging the book by its cover and that’s the same thing as looking at a guy on a first date and saying, ‘He’s wearing a brown belt with black shoes. I know I don’t like him.’

Where does the provocative title come from?
The title is based on a survey in the book where men and women were asked if you got 80% of all of the ideal qualities you want in a partner, would you be happy? Ninety-three of women said, no that is settling, I’d be very unhappy with just 80%. And most of the men, said 80%? Yeah, I’d be thrilled—that’s a catch. The question is can we be happy with less than everything? And [the answer is] not only can we be happy, but the people who aren’t looking for everything, the people who are looking for that 80% are the people who are happiest in life and in their relationships.

Explain the “Mr. Good Enough” part. 
What it means in the title is we’re all Mr. and Ms. Good Enough. Evan, my dating coach, told me to forget, for a second, about what I was looking for. He asked me to write down a list of all the things that a guy would have to put up with to spend his life with me. It never crosses our mind that someone else is going to have to compromise because we’re all [taught] that we’re such a catch and every guy would be lucky to have us and you go, Girl. But, we’re less than ideal in some ways to whoever picks us even if he’s totally in love with us. We’re all imperfect, we’re all good enough. But once you fall in love with someone, they’re Mr. and Ms. Right. It’s not about some mythical Prince Charming. It’s about finding the guy that you’re totally in love with and the guy is going to be this good enough guy who happens to rock your world.

You say good first daters don’t necessarily make good husbands. What do you mean?
Just because a guy isn’t the smoothest first dater doesn’t mean that he’s not going to be the husband you’re going to fall in love with and spend your life with. And just because a guy is really smooth and charming on that first date doesn’t mean he’s going to be a great husband.

How is dating a better experience for you now than before you went through this journey? 
I’m so much happier now in terms of my dating life than when I was doing it the other way. Dating used to feel very out of control in the sense that one day destiny will bring him and [until then], you feel helpless. When am I going to meet the guy that I’m going to connect with? I was making it so much harder on myself by restricting myself to all of these little things that would disqualify a guy early on. Now, the glass half full: I really like all of these things about this person and then you can see if there’s chemistry. And, people are more attracted to you as a person because you’re much more appealing when you’re more open-minded, less rigid, more flexible, and less judgmental.

Will you ‘Be the Match’?

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03/16/2010

Will you ‘Be the Match’? photo 1

Signing up for the marrow registry

We first heard Katie Meacham’s story back in December. Her sister, Lori Rosen, wrote of how in spring of 2008, one week after her 25th birthday, Katie was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and today she is searching for a match.

Doctors have said her best chance at long-term recovery and survival is for her to undergo an Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplant, meaning now she needs blood stem cells from a matching donor since her own blood stem cells didn’t keep the cancer away.

On March 4, nearly 200 Jewish young professionals came together for “Be the Match” bar night at Enclave Night Club for a marrow registry drive. The event—sponsored by Oy!Chicago, JUF’s Young Leadership Division, TIP Young Professional Groups, Chicago Center for Jewish Genetic Disorders, Birthright Israel NEXT, and Be The Match—resulted in 136 people signing up for the registry.

“I can't thank you enough for not only taking the time to come out but also for your support of my sister and family,” said Lori. “I told Katie all about the drive and she was so grateful to hear all the people that were there supporting her and all the others in need of a transplant.”

Among the volunteers at the event was Justin Brown, 34, who knows firsthand what it’s like to Be the Match.

Justin first signed up for the marrow registry about four years ago when a high school friend needed a transplant. About a year later he got a call that he had potentially matched with a 10-year-old boy in Italy. Further testing determined it was a perfect match.

Will you ‘Be the Match’? photo 2

A note and a picture from the boy Justin saved

“[The procedure I had was] very non-invasive,” Justin said. “It’s pretty much like giving blood, but it takes a little longer.” There are two methods of donation: peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC), which Justin had, and marrow. He said the procedure was done within several hours and he was back at work the next day. He later received a deeply moving letter from the young boy and though he’ll never know his name, Justin was able to connect with the boy whose life he saved.

“My parents say that you with the physicians have provided to our family the willingness to look at the future…,” the boy wrote. “Your stem cells are a real bomb, they immediately began to work…Thanks to you I will be able to live again, to play football with my friends, to attend again school.”

“I would do it again without hesitation,” Justin said. “It’s hard to believe that you actually saved someone’s life and gave them an opportunity to live, especially someone so young. It’s probably the most important thing I’ll ever do aside from having children of my own.”

Of the 14 million people currently registered to donate, not a single one is a match for Katie or the 6,000 others who are looking for a match every day. Registering involves answering a brief set of medical history questions, then swabbing your cheek with special Q-tips—it is free and painless. To register or to learn more about Be the Match, visit BeTheMatch.org.

Inter-married couple explores religion together

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03/11/2010

Inter-married couple explores religion together photo

Nothing brings religion more prominently to the forefront in a relationship than milestones like marriage and having a baby.

The scenario becomes, perhaps, more interesting or complex in a situation of mixed marriage—or so goes the Jewish, parental parable I’ve heard since my emergence from the womb. 

But it is the wondrous, child-like innocence my Catholic co-worker at TribLocal exudes when talking about Judaism that really has me questioning things.

My co-worker and friend, Melissa Riske and her husband Jason, who is Jewish, agreed upon a mixed union with a Jewish household three years ago when they got married. Now, they are expecting a baby boy.

While Melissa has not made the decision to convert, she’s an eager pupil in the field of Judaism, particularly because she and her husband decided to raise their children Jewish.

I’ve listened with curious fascination over the past few months as I’ve gotten to know Melissa and heard her tales of exploring Judaism, holiday by holiday.  She’s told me about her mother-in-law’s brisket on Rosh Hashanah and having to drag her Jewish husband to synagogue on Purim.

I love the stories—particularly, because it’s fun to hear about rituals that are otherwise commonplace for me through someone else’s fresh perspective.

Melissa’s latest challenge has been planning for a bris—one of many Jewish rituals she’s had to study up on quickly after a lifetime of Catholic practice and schooling.

As an aside, Melissa is half Mexican, Italian and German; Jason is Russian, Lithuanian Romanian, Spanish, Ukrainian and Polish. Together, they’ve had some care giving practice with their Siberian Husky, Maccabi—named after Maccabi Beer—whom Melissa calls their “first baby.” Even without a baby, their family avec dog is already a genetic United Nations.

Melissa’s curiosity, combined with her pregnancy, has seemingly revived her husband back into ritual.

While Jason grew up in a Conservative Jewish household with a mother who teaches Hebrew and Sunday school at two synagogues on the North Shore, Melissa said he seems to be gaining a new appreciation for ritual and tradition as they prepare for the arrival of their son.

Jason said it was important to raise their child Jewish because of his upbringing, although the couple doesn’t practice heavily right now.

“I went to school where two or three kids were Jewish and my brother and I were two of the three,” Jason says. “Even though we didn’t live in a Jewish community, [my parents] instilled that faith about how fun it is to be Jewish, the different things we do, how important that pride [is] of being Jewish.”

What seems so utterly healthy and inspiring about this couple is their ability to communicate, explore and take this Jewish journey together.

“[It’s] a learning experience for both of us,” Melissa says.

Before she and Jason got engaged, they met with a rabbi, who Melissa said helped to put her mind at ease. She said the rabbi—who ended up marrying them—made her feel comfortable about asking questions. “[The rabbi] made me feel like I could be myself and still be a part of the faith,” she says.

Even then, she had anxiety about knowing how to raise Jewish children.

“As our children grow, Jason says I’ll learn through our children,” she says. “[I] don’t have to know everything ahead of time.”

Melissa gathers part of her education through attending temple—which she said is easier when the prayer books offer a phonetic version of the Hebrew as well as translations.

In general, Melissa has not fully given up Catholicism. She still observes Christmas and Easter—although she can’t always get Jason to attend.

The biggest challenge, Melissa said, is getting her family on board with the changes—particularly around Christmastime.

“It’s a challenge in terms of getting them to pay attention,” she says. “We don’t want them to feel they’re losing Christmas; [we] want them to think of [it] in terms of gaining new experiences.”

The key to her and Jason’s success appears to be that they talked early and talk often, advice Melissa had for other couples venturing into a mixed marriage.

The couple confronted religious issues in their dating days and even covered the matter of how they would raise their children.

“We joke and tease each other a lot about religion,” Melissa says. “We’ve definitely found our groove with it—talking about it. In the beginning [I] had a lot of questions; I had worries. It definitely got smoother each passing year when [the holidays] became more routine to me.”

Spiritually, Melissa and Jason seem to be on the same page.

“We agreed on all of it,” Melissa says. “Even though we may pray in different languages, [we had] the same idea of what God meant and how important it was. That’s the foundation, knowing we believed in the same ideas.”

Meanwhile, Melissa says she’s discovering the art of Jewish geography. When she received a pediatrician recommendation from her doctor, she later discovered her mother-in-law knew him and Jason knew his son.

She is starting to pick up the Jewish sixth sense, where she can guess if a movie star might be Jewish.

“I hear and I wonder,” Melissa says. “I play the game too now.”

Addressing Israel apartheid on Chicago campuses

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03/09/2010

Addressing Israel apartheid on Chicago campuses photo 1

March not only brought the hope of spring, but, less welcoming, “Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW).”  IAW has developed into an annual, two-week hate fest (March 1-14) of coordinated anti-Israel events such as lectures, films, and “street theatre” activities held in cities and campuses worldwide.  Beginning in Toronto in 2005, by 2009 it had spread to 40 cities on all the continents.  IAW aims to portray Israel as a new South African apartheid country, delegitimizing and demonizing the Jewish State, and to build local support for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israel.  In Chicago this year, we have tracked ten activities being held on and off campuses such as film screenings of “Occupation 101” and lectures entitled, “From Johannesburg to Jerusalem: Lessons from South Africa on Ending Apartheid.”

As the Program Director for the (Jewish Community Relations Council) JCRC/Hillel Israel Initiative, I help motivate and educate a new generation of Illinois college students to promote support for Israel on campus and beyond.  During the past eight years, my colleagues and I have worked closely with student activists helping to educate them on how to address the challenges of events such as 'apartheid week' as they play out on Illinois campuses.

Addressing Israel apartheid on Chicago campuses photo 2

Pictured at the Champaign rally are Lexi Abern, Yael Mazor, Rebecca Crystal, Gail Schnitzer, and Brian Rosen

This year, we are sponsoring programs that target different audiences, to marginalize IAW’s impact. For example, at the University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana an “IVest” campaign with the business school highlights the economic benefits to Illinois from doing business with Israel.  Additionally, following Israel Apartheid week, Israel Peace Week starts.  With major programming taking place daily, the real Israel – democratic, an American ally and miracle worker in Haiti – will be highlighted.

To read more about IAW, check out these op-eds from the JTA and Washington Post:

Op-Ed: Action needed to combat campaign delegitimizing Israel

Israel has its faults, but apartheid isn't one of them 

8 Questions for Stacy Heller, travel lover, Debra Messing fan and BBYO superstar

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03/02/2010

8 Questions for Stacy Heller photo

Did you travel on a BBYO mission to Israel in high school?  Or maybe you attended a convention?  Or perhaps you participated on one of the local boards?  If so, meet Stacy Heller— she’s transitioned her childhood BBYO membership into a full time career.

If you knew Stacy back in college, you might have expected to see her on TV since she majored in broadcast journalism.  Instead, Stacy “choose the Jewish route”— giving back to her community— BBYO.  Today, Stacy is the BBYO Director in Chicago of the Great Midwest Region.

While Stacy’s job keeps her very busy, she says she’s wakes up everyday excited to go to work for an organization that gave her so much as a child.  Stacy oversees and runs the entire BBYO program, including:  working with its regional boards and helping to develop them into strong leaders, planning all of the regional conventions and programs, supervising the Young Friends and Alumni Network (FAN), acting as a liaison between the regional office and BBYO's international office and recruiting and promoting for BBYO summer programs.

Stacy still finds free time to go out with her girlfriends on Saturday nights or to stay in to host Shabbat dinner parties.  So if you enjoy a good home cooked meal, participated in BBYO back in the day, or have a penchant to fly around the world, then Stacy Heller is a Jew You Should Know!

1. What is your favorite blog or website?
Groupon- they have great deals!

2. If time and money were limitless, where would you travel?
That's easy, I would book an around the world ticket so that I can see it all.

3. If a movie was made about your life, who would play you?
Definitely Debra Messing.

4. If you could have a meal with any two people, living or dead, famous or not, who would they be? Where would you eat or what would you serve?
First, I would eat with my grandmother who I never had the chance to meet.  We would eat a traditional, home-cooked, Jewish dinner together right here in my apartment.  It would include matzo ball soup, chicken, potatoes, veggies and of course a delicious dessert.  We would sit, relax and talk for hours!

The other person I would want to have a meal with is Tom Cruise.  He's always been one of my favorite actors.  We would definitely go for sushi at one of Chicago's great sushi restaurants!

5. What’s your idea of the perfect day?
Waking up, watching the TODAY Show over a cup of coffee, checking email and seeing what else is going on in the world.  Eventually, I would go to the gym, work and then come home to a good home-cooked dinner.   If it were the weekend I would get together with my girlfriends for a fun girls dinner and night out!

6. What do you love about what you do?
I love the fact that I wake up every day excited to go to work.  Working for BBYO has been a wonderful opportunity for me.  I love providing BBYO teens with meaningful Jewish experiences and knowing that I am helping shape and develop our next generation of Jewish leaders.  I was a member of BBYO when I was in high school, so I enjoy giving back to the organization that has done so much for me.

7. What job would you have had if not the one you have now?
I would probably be a news reporter/anchor.  I graduated undergrad with a broadcast journalism degree and spent a few semesters interning at CBS in Orlando…when I graduated I just happened to choose the Jewish route.

8. What’s your favorite Jewish thing to do in Chicago?
Host Shabbat dinner parties in my apartment and eat a good burger from Ken's Diner in Skokie!

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