Orthodox Jewish All Stars Party Recap!!

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After months of hard work and planning, we finally had our amazing Orthodox Jewish All Stars Awards party last Sunday, on November 24 at the newly renovated Lincoln Square Synagogue in Manhattan thanks to the talents of Sarah Lasry and Chanie Waxler, the JITC team, and our wonderful sponsors (like Ruth Fischl and Freeda Wigs).

Several Orthodox Jewish All Stars from this year and last year were in attendance, including Sarah Hofstetter, CEO 360i US, Rabbi Issamar Ginzberg, Inc. Top 10 Entrepreneur (who flew in from Israel for the event!), Anne Neuberger Director NSA/CSS, Dr. Laurel Steinherz, Director of Pediatric Cardiology at Memorial Sloan Kettering and co-founder of Camp Simcha, celebrity chef Jamie Geller, The Maccabeats, and pro-boxer Dmitriy Salita. “Survivor” winner and pro-soccer player Ethan Zohn was also at the party as well as Hasidic alt-rock girl band Bullet Proof Stockings.

Our guests mostly spent the evening enjoying the delicious Thanksgivukkah feast provided by Legendary Destinations and Eden Wok as well as the open wine bar by Le Soreq while Olam DJ by Uri Abramov cranked out fun, funky Chanukah themed songs and Brooklyn Jazz Warriors gave an awesome concert. But we wanted the evening to have a message as well, so we heard some insightful thoughts from one of this year’s All Stars (branding expert Sarah Hofstetter) about the Orthodox Jewish brand and how we must each strive to be a Kiddush Hashem and some words of wisdom by Rabbi Daniel Cohen (spiritual leader of Agudath Sholom in Stamford, CT and one of Senator Joe Lieberman’s rabbis) about being a light unto the nations. We showed a short video interview I did with Senator Joe Lieberman (one of last year’s Orthodox Jewish All Stars), and then I spoke. Here’s an excerpt from my speech:

Some of you might be wondering how a regular person and an amateur blogger like me was able to convince a United States Senator to sit for an interview and participate in our All Stars video. To tell you the truth – I STILL wonder it myself at times! I had had in mind that I wanted to do a video with Senator Lieberman, but how exactly do you get a U.S. senator’s attention? I didn’t actually know, but, as it turned out, in February 2012, the Senator was being honored at a dinner where I was receiving a social media influencer award and my big plan was to arrive to the party early, wow the senator during the cocktail hour and get him to agree to participate. But as fate would have it, I got incredibly lost while using GPS!

And by the time I got there, Senator Lieberman was going up on stage, giving a speech and he noted that he was leaving immediately afterwards. I turned to my husband and asked “does he mean IMMEDIATELY after this speech?” My husband said “let’s see if he sits down or walks towards the door.” The speech ended and sure enough Senator Lieberman headed towards the closest door, so I picked myself up and headed towards the door closest to me, trying to intercept him in the hall.

But another woman got there first and intercepted my interception and I was like “lady, hurry up, there are YOUTUBE videos to talk about.” And then, there I was, giving Senator Lieberman an elevator pitch, literally, in front of an elevator as the doors were closing, “Hi Senator Lieberman, my name is Allison Josephs and I run a website called JITC which breaks down stereotypes about Orthodox Jews, we’d love for you to be in our upcoming video.” I handed him my card and he smiled and responded, “Sure, any time, call my office.” as the doors closed.

Enthralled, I ran back to my husband  and screamed “we got Lieberman!”  He told me “any time, call my office.” My husband, ever the more in touch with reality side of our relationship informed me, “He says that to everyone – he was just being polite,” But sure enough, I called his office the next day, submitted a proposal and was told a few weeks later we had made it into the “yes pile!”

There is a recipe for success that I’ve discovered, with some trial and error along the way: It’s equal parts audacity (some might say, ignoring the limits of what’s considered possible!), perseverance, and Hashem putting the pieces together that made this plan to land Senator Lieberman work and that explains how all of Jew in the City’s successes have come about.

The Maccabees employed this formula, too. No sane individuals would ever believe that a small band of fighters could vanquish the collosal Greek army. But because they didn’t let reason stop them from fighting for what they believed in, never gave up hope, and, most importantly, had Hashem’s help – they did.

Jew in the City’s mission is to re-brand Orthodox Jews and Judaism to the world, but no one in their right mind with no funding, no experience, and no connections would even attempt something so grandiose. And they certainly wouldn’t quite two jobs while their husband was still in law school to do it. And yet…somehow, here we are. We — our team of volunteers, our advisors, our sponsors, and our loyal followers — actually ARE reshaping society.

There are many ways to measure success in the social media-slash-PR world — media mentions, page views, Facebook fans — and we continue to grow by leaps and bounds in all of those metrics. But I want to focus tonight on the individuals whose lives we’ve changed.  We get so many messages from our viewers, but here are just a few examples. From a man on YouTube: As a Jew myself.. I am guilty of assuming the stereotypes of the Orthodox community. Very enlightening! I think a lot of people…even myself ..thought of the entire orthodox community as being very seclusive.

From a woman on Facebook: I am so excited after reading some of your articles and watching a few videos to get started in my path to becoming more observant. I am going to put in a call into our local Orthodox rabbi’s wife to come and help me to have a kosher kitchen. Thank you so much.

From a teenager girl via email: I’m fifteen years old and about 6 months ago I was online and I was searching along the lines of what Judaism is about. I was raised secular so I knew nothing really about Judaism. Anyways, I came across JITC and I stayed up all night watched all of your videos and on your website. I was starting to get really interested in our faith and realized how extremely beautiful it is and how finding G-d can change your life. I just started on my spiritual journey, and my life has changed so much. I go to a secular school, live in a non-kosher home, I keep shabbos by myself, been starting to dress modestly. My family is noticing a change and I think they think I am someone who is weird and has lost their mind, when really I am just a girl who is finally happy because I found purpose to life. Thank you for all you do, its amazing. These are just a few examples of the profound impact we are having on people’s lives every day — with each of your help.

The more noise we make, the more headlines we create, the more people will get a chance to see our community in a new light and a chance to explore our tradition (should the interest be sparked). And speaking of making headlines, we thankfully have made many from this party! We had a TV crew from the Hallmark Channel’s “The Better Show” filming our “modest red carpet.” We also have this awesome video from CNN and a longer, but truly inspiring video below it featuring four of our female Orthodox All Stars from Vos Iz Neais. (Check out our press page for even more party coverage!)

Thank you to our other sponsors: Natural and Kosher Cheeses, Arts Events, OU, Kosher Scene, Not 2 Shabbey, Baker’s Dozen, Breezy’s, Great Kosher Restaurants, and Gift of Life

Click here to view our playbill.

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Allison Josephs About Allison Josephs

Allison is the Founder and Director of Jew in the City. Please find her full bio here.

Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow!! Mazal Tov!! You guys should really be proud of the amazing work you do:) and that Issamar guy was hilarious!
    Just one thing; You say how you wanted to show people ‘how Shabbos, Kosher and Yomim Tovim don’t have to hold you back’. (You’re not the only one who I have heard say this sort of thing). The issue I have is that it makes the whole Jewish life thing seem like (L’HAVDIL) some sort of disability that we are no longer allowing to hold us back. It just sounds like having a career is our main focus in life and our Judaism is secondary. I think the world needs to see that our Judaism is what has helped us lead such successful lives rather than say that we have successful lives despite having to keep Shabbos kosher etc.
    I’m sure you didn’t intend to make it sound this way and I am certainly not judging you, just thought I should point it out to help avoid this in the future.
    Keep up the good work!

    • Allison Josephs Allison Josephs says:

      Thanks, Anonymous, we are proud of what we’re doing! I hear your point – I certainly don’t mean for it to be understood as a God forbid disability! I’m just thinking in terms of how *I* saw halacha before I was frum. In that world it *was* the stuff that holds you back. Our goal is to first show that it doesn’t (in any significant ways) and then to show that it actually enhances.

    • OP, I totally agree with you! Our attitude has to be that Torah Judaism rocks! Torah Judaism is awesome precisely because we are so lucky to have G-d’s instruction manual to life: the Torah. Even if there were no orthodox Jews in the world with important careers or fancy college degrees we should be proud that we are the most amazing people on earth! We are The NORMAL regardless of society’s ever changing definition of success. What is success anyway? It used to be bullfighters and gladiators were envied, then philosophers and poets were held in high esteem, and now it’s pop stars, CEOs and people with lots of money. So what? We are successful because we are living life the way G-d wants us to live life; by constantly striving to perfect our character and relationships, becoming givers, emulating G-d’s ways. We don’t need to feel apologetic at all …. we have IT and we are IT!

      • Allison Josephs Allison Josephs says:

        Thanks for your comment, Ayala. We at JITC agree that we are so lucky to have Torah wisdom and observance. The thing though, is that Torah living has gotten the reputation of being dream squelching and as you and I both know, there is much room for self-expression and use of God given talents while having one’s life enriched by our holy traditions. Our purpose in publicizing the All Stars is not to promote fancy degrees and fancy jobs for the sake of fancy degrees and fancy jobs. That’s just the conversation starter. What we’re *trying* to show is that there is room in a Torah observant life to be in the world (inasmuch as it’s kosher) and that the ultimate success is not just professional success but having the whole package which includes spiritual success. If you believe our intentions are anything but this, you have misunderstood the point of it all. Hope this clarifies things.

        • Allison, I love your site and you are doing an amazing job of promoting Torah Judaism by illustrating how a life of Torah and Mitzvos is “Darchei Noam”, ways of pleasantness (NOT of suffocation and dream-squelching). I just felt the need to reiterate how awesome Torah Judaism is in and of itself because after reading just this one article someone may get the impression that “Orthodoxy wishes we could be Kechol HaGoyim, like all the nations, but we can’t because we’ll burn, but don’t worry guys…we have it almost as good”….
          And yes, ultimate success is NOT just professional success….we see clearly how the cultured and educated professionals and professors in Germany morphed into barbarians—without an absolute moral system (The Torah), the most sophisticated and intellectual human beings can act no better than untrained animals.

          • Allison Josephs Allison Josephs says:

            thanks for your response, Ayala. i’m curious what in the post makes you think that i was saying our goal is to be just like everyone else. i didn’t mean for that to come across so i’m wondering if i should edit some wording. but what specifically gave you that impression? thanks!!

  2. Allison, after reading the article again I see that there is no specific wording that made me get that impression. Just the concept of an “orthodox Jewish all stars event” at a first glance seemed to me as begging for validity from the secular world when after careful reading I see that you do clearly state how it’s not legitimacy we’re seeking but about giving people “a chance to see our community in a new light and a chance to explore our tradition”. Keep up the amazing work, and thanks for your responses.

  3. Mazal Tov and Bravo from France !
    You really should be proud of the fantastic work you do !
    It’s oxygen for me… So thank you and Brah’a véHaslah’a for you !

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