OyChicago blog

Matchmaker, matchmaker, help me make a difference

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Volunteer Matchmaking photo

Rachel and Dejanay, the student she tutored at George Manierre

Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match! Hey Oy!sters, it’s your friendly neighborhood matchmaker here – ready to make your dreams come true.

Wait…I hope you’re not expecting me to find you a boyfriend or girlfriend. That’s not quite what I’m referring to. I am a professional volunteer matchmaker. I am here to help you find the perfect volunteer project.

Working at the JUF TOV Volunteer Network, my time is spent cultivating relationships with nearly 100 Jewish and general nonprofits throughout Chicago and its suburbs so that when you call, I can suggest a handful of agencies that correspond to your availability and interests.

So yes, if you work eighty hours a week and can only volunteer once a month at a location that is accessible by public transit, I can help. Or if you are between jobs and are looking to volunteer A LOT to keep yourself busy and distract yourself from the tortures of a job hunt (and maybe buffer your resume), I’m also your girl. All you need to do is fill out this form and you’ll receive a list of agencies with opportunities that are right for you.

With the summer coming to an end (boooo – I know!) and the 2009-2010 school year just around the corner, I wanted to fill you in on a great volunteer opportunity that is ideal for a busy young professional like you.

TOV, in conjunction with a nonprofit called Innovations for Learning coordinates a program where you can tutor a first-grader from Cabrini Green without ever leaving your desk at work.

The JUF TOV Literacy Project’s Online Tutoring program uses an interactive website for students and tutors to connect, read stories, and play word games that enhance the classroom reading curriculum. TOV hosts a meet-and-greet party at the school in late September where you’ll meet your student and then in just 30 minutes per week (even during your lunch hour if you want!), you can make a difference for a student in the first grade class of George Manierre School.

All you need is an internet connection, a phone, a bit of patience and the desire to make a difference.

For information on this program and other volunteer opportunities throughout Chicago, call Rachel at the TOV Hotline: 312-357-4762, or email her at tov@juf.org.


Tel Aviv celebration lights up the night

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Tel Aviv celebration lights up the night photo 2

English freely mixed with Hebrew as nearly 250 people gathered to celebrate the Tel Aviv 100 on North Avenue Beach Wednesday.

From humble beginnings as the first modern Jewish city, Tel Aviv – which means “Hill of Spring”, a title taken from the Hebrew translation of Theodore Herzl’s “Alt Neuland” – has grown into a world-class metropolis, the hub of economic and cultural development in Israel, said Israel’s Consul General to the Midwest Orli Gil.

“Tel Aviv today is a lively city – full of booming restaurants, clubs, trends from all over the world when it comes to fashion, food and music,” she said. “Tel Aviv today is a city to celebrate; a city to go out and enjoy.”

Dan Bielski, the news editor at Kol Israel radio gave a brief tribute to the city, recognizing its special place in the hearts of Israelis.

“When I drive to Tel Aviv, I have tears in my eyes because Tel Aviv is quite an impressive place,” Bielski said. “I would not trade Tel Aviv for anything else. If you want to stay young in your heart, Tel Aviv is the place.”

Lively games of Makot – Israeli beach paddle ball – sprung up on the terrace at Castaways as Israeli music pounded and attendees crunched on falafel-flavored bisli sticks and bamba, Israeli peanut snacks.

Tel Aviv celebration lights up the night photo 1

The runaway hit of the night was the falafel eating contest, which attracted about 15 participants. Each had to put away as many garlicky falafel balls as possible in 30 seconds. The record went to David Held, whose name tag proclaimed him as “Hashem.” One arm held behind his back, David managed to munch four falafels in thirty seconds, and put away seven in the one-minute final round, in which friends fed the three remaining participants. His prize? Two tickets to comedian Howie Mandel’s appearance at JCC Live!, the annual JCC benefit.

“As an organization that brings Jewish values to life, it was really important for us to connect people to Israel, which is a big part of our tradition,” said Rachel Dreytser, who coordinates the Sidney N. Shure Kehilla, the JCC’s young adult program, and organized Tel Aviv’s birthday party.

Other event sponsors included the American Zionist Movement, Israel Aliyah Center, Israel Ministry of Tourism, Stand With Us!, Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest, Birthright Israel NEXT, Honest Reporting. Shaarey Tzedek Medical Center in Jerusalem and Pumamaki Expeditions.


Office daydreaming: a photo essay

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Weather.com says it’s 76 degrees and mostly sunny outside, but I can’t confirm this firsthand. Me? I'm just chillin' in my 67 degree, mostly florescent cubicle. No, it’s fine. I can only see two windows, which face a very dark alley, and the blinds are pulled shut.

But… it’s Thursday! And that means it’s almost Friday. And that means it’s almost the freakin’ weekend, baby, I’m about to have me some fun! Top of Thursday's to-do list: Weekend Daydream. Sunshine, party trolleys, margaritas, beaches and puppies. Sigh…

Office daydreaming photo 1

Oh, hey, what did you say you were doing?

Office daydreaming photo 2

Ooooh. Say what? In an office? Yikes.

Office daydreaming photo 3

Too bad, cuz we’re just havin’ a laugh on the beach.

Office daydreaming photo 4

Watching this dog do super cute dog things.

Office daydreaming photo 5

Office daydreaming photo 6

Yep, still watching.

Office daydreaming photo 7


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