Hoping to post here more frequently in the weeks ahead, but since it’s been a while since I did a media roundup, I’ve collected a group of media mentions over the last several months. The pieces are varied and interesting, ranging from reflections on personal conversations with other people to pieces explaining my work with The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and with the ROI Community of Jewish Innovators.
The Jewish Journal did a cover story about my work and that of my larger team working on young adult programs and engagement at the Jewish Federation. My program, the NextGen Engagement Initiative – a program of the Federation sponsored by a Cutting Edge Grant from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles – got several paragraphs of attention (on page 2 of the online article) for our work in bringing together smaller Jewish organizations in LA for collaboration on the young adult engagement front.
Speaking of young adult engagement, in this series of two posts (so far) – “Getting Engaged, Part 1,” and “Getting Engaged, Part 2: Courting Engagement” I break down what engagement is and isn’t, and suggest principles to keep in mind when planning Jewish (or really, any) programs meant to engage people (especially young adults). These pieces caught the attention of eJewishPhilanthropy, and have led to ongoing discussion about the definition of engagement and how to craft relationships, especially on The Next Jew blog, where author Dan Mendelsohn Aviv ponders the engagement question through an education lens and “wishes there were an App for that.”
I am lucky to have a wide network of friends and colleagues, many of whom are also actively engaging in this conversation on Jewish life, identity and engagement, so occasionally some of our conversations spark writing for me and for others. I am extremely flattered to have been mentioned in these pieces written by Lia Mandelbaum in the Jewish Journal – “Language of the Birds,” which focuses on identity work, and “How I Define ‘Mensch’: Seven People on Unique and Holy Paths,” in which Lia lists and introduces to her readers a few people who have made an impact on her. (I’m on the list, but read it for the other people.:)) An eJewishPhilanthropy post acknowledged my early role in shaping PresenTense, and Drew Kaplan credited me for some observations on assessing the qualitative impact of Birthright Israel and other Jewish identity programs.
And I was interviewed on Israel’s English-language IBA News about the ROI Community and the global scene for Jewish innovation.
What are your thoughts on Jewish engagement and innovation? As always, your comments are welcome.
In light of the recent IPO by social media juggernaut Facebook, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency asked me some questions about how the Jewish community uses Facebook in a piece titled “Is the Facebook IPO Good for the Jews?”
Pitchfest! Jewish Stories Go Hollywood!
Join G-dcast’s Producer, Screenwriter, and a panel of celebrity judges in an interactive Hollywood style pitchfest. Each team gets a (very) colorful Jewish story that we promise you’ve never heard before and develops its own red carpet, scene-stealing pitch. (We’ll coach you on how the experts do it.) Then send your best rep up on stage to dazzle the executives and convince us why YOUR story should be turned into an animated film. Big sunglasses provided. (Session produced by Sarah Lefton, with supporting cast turns by Sean Mandell, Josh Walters, and Esther Kustanowitz)
Since I’m the “celebrity judge” who lives and works closest to Hollywood (geographically, Beverly Hills ain’t far), bringing the celebrity glamour will be my responsibility. You can check out my new TribeFest speaker’s bio here.
A few weeks ago, I presented at LimmudLA a session titled “Nothing Helps (But This Might Help)” – the subject of the discussion was grief, mourning and coping with loss, and grew from my ongoing experiences in coping with the loss of my mother last May. This session – which I also presented at Limmud in the UK in December – is part of my process in creating a collection of writings about this year of mourning, the Jewish traditions that define it, and my personal reactions to this great loss in my life.
This is the intro for that session – what followed was a round robin of the people in the room, which I’m cutting out to preserve their privacy.
I hope to post more audio clips as I become more familiar with the audio editing software.
I’m honored to have been named one of the Top Ten Jewish Influencers by the National Jewish Outreach Program.
Finalists were selected by an expert panel of judges and evaluated based on creative and strategic use of social media to positively impact the Jewish community. The achievement was also covered in the Huffington Post.
I’m honored to share company with the other members of the top ten, all of whom are prominent in the Jewish social media world, and to be recognized for the value I try to bring into the world through social media.
Thanks to everyone at NJOP and Jewish Tweets who had a hand in this decision – here’s to us all – top ten and beyond – using our online and offline influence to bring value, comfort, intellectual stimulation, laughter, joy and unity to people everywhere. May it always be our privilege.
2011 was quite a year, for some great reasons and one really sad one.
We’ll start with the sad first in this post, and hopefully build towards joy from there. As the Psalm says, “they who sow in tears harvest with joy.”
In May, my mother, Shulamit E. Kustanowitz, lost her battle with two serious illnesses. Losing her has been the most earth-shattering experience of my life, and I’m dealing with it every day in some way. My writing has changed, both in frequency and in tone, and I haven’t been diligent about updating my blogs and websites, because it just didn’t seem important and because I felt, for a while, as if I’d lost command of the words. So it’s taking me a while to return to posting about my publications and achievements, and to the daily business of musing on things social media- and technology-related.
But there have been moments, even within a year of mourning, which are worth celebrating. I was thrilled to be named to the Big Jewcy , a list of 100 Jews to watch, which this year also featured my brother (we were the first siblings to make the list the same year, and the piece about me was published on my birthday, by coincidence). I presented at the 2011 General Assembly in Denver, JHub (social entrepreneurship hub in London), and the UK’s Limmud Conference, moderated at the Jewish Federation’s Day of Jewish Learning and Culture, and made 2012 plans to present or moderate sessions at LimmudLA (next weekend), Jewlicious (the weekend after), and the ROI Summit in Jerusalem (June). A friend also made me laugh with his Gefilte Fish Invaders game/Rosh Hashanah greeting card, which got me quoted in the Jewish Week’s Jewish Techs blog. So life does go on.
I’m working on getting my writing going again, and some of that is happening in a longer chunk of text that I’m referring to as a “book” and which might just be one some day, tentatively titled “Nothing Helps (But This Might Help): Loss, Grief and Unintentional Comedy in a Year of Mourning.” Some of it is likely to pop up on the web in various places – on my blogs or on websites – and hopefully to be finished before the end of 2012. (At least that’s my current estimate.) But I’m also balancing that with some lighter pieces, some focusing on culture or comedy, or other such smile-provoking subjects, and will likely produce several other pieces about Jewish life and contemporary culture, because – let’s face it – I do what I do.
Like I said, 2011 was quite a year. Here’s to a 2012 of gratitude, productivity, health, healing, laughter and eventually, joy. Thanks for your continued support.
Greetings, readers. Apologies to you all for the delay in posting – my mother fell ill in April, and passed away in May. Since then, I’ve been making my way back, slowly, into a new reality, trying to get back to normal. So here I am, accepting offers for speaking engagements and setting my travel schedule for fall 2011. I’ll be in San Francisco and Berkeley (September); New York City, New Jersey and Oakland, CA (October); Denver, CO (November); and London, UK (December). Contact me for details, or stay tuned to this space or to MyUrbanKvetch.com for updates and details.
Also, I’ve published a number of pieces that might be of interest – most of the posts are from my own blog focus on my processing the loss of my mother, but one continues to explore the Jewish innovation scene.
“Innovation at Any Age” (eJewishPhilanthropy)
“Eulogy for My Mother” (My Urban Kvetch)
“E-Ma’ariv: Contemplating the Evening Prayers” (My Urban Kvetch)
“Marzipan and Meaning: Jerusalem Reflections” (My Urban Kvetch)
I just now returned from the TribeFest conference, a gathering of youngish Jews in Vegas. There are lots of ideas running round the old noggin, but while they race, I wanted to share this article in the NY Jewish Week’s Jewish Techs blog, which focuses on my social media updates as a method in staying updated on conferences, even if you can’t be there yourself in person.
Truly, it was an honor to be the center of this piece, and to have my efforts to share with people outside the room acknowledged – and to be among those amazing people in entertainment whose names are simply a single name. Basically, this is something that some of us are achieving by sticking to a brand on Twitter, and becoming known by a handle, which is often just a first name. In my case, it’s EstherK. But I guess in the Jewish world, most people know me as Esther.
The hashtag from this conference, which earned me this apparent Twitter equivalent to being named prom queen, is #tribefest. Check out the tweets from the past few days there and via the @tribefest account, handled by JFNA (@jfederations).
This weekend, I’m presenting at LimmudLA – a number of the panels are through the “Future of Jewish L.A.” track, sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, and then there’s the “Improv for Jews” session, which is just for fun. (And education!)
Engaging the Next Generation Meaningfully in a World of Options
When it comes to social and community connections, today’s 20-somethings and 30-somethings are overwhelmed with online and offline options. How can we provide Jewish 20s and 30s with the online resources that they need and with in-person programs that engage them socially, communally and Jewishly? Hear from some of the people who are actively engaging this population in our community.
What’s the Next Big Idea for Jewish Los Angeles?
As we open a new decade, and Federation celebrates its Centennial, what does our community need most? Join Andrew Cushnir, Esther Kustanowitz, and other innovative and creative thinkers with big ideas for the Jewish future for an inside peek at some ideas from the Next Big Jewish Idea search. Then we’ll talk about our communal needs and how we can meet them through innovative community and cultural initiatives.
“Withinnovation”: Making Institutional Room for Partnerships and Innovation
People perceive Jewish innovation and Jewish institutions as two separate entities – but they don’t have to be. In our increasingly interconnected Jewish future, community institutions like synagogues and Federations are “withinnovating” – making room for innovation within their institutions, which can present challenges to innovators and institutions alike. Explore this emerging trend with some of LA’s resident innovation experts.
Improv for Jews
What’s so Jewish about basic improv comedy? This informal, participatory workshop introduces the basics of improv comedy within a Jewish community context – suitable for Jews and Judeophiles of all ages, and no comedy experience required.
Today, it begins with representing the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles at the Jewish Leadership Initiative Conference in Santa Monica, CA. I’ll be tabling at this conference of mostly graduate students, many of whom are looking for jobs – business or law, possibly a few interested in applying their MBAs or legal skills to serving the Jewish community.
February at least eases me into Conferenceness with a series of local conferences – it kicks off with the North American Jewish Day Schools Conference, March 6-8; I’ve been invited because many friends and colleagues from the world of Jewish education will be attending.
On February 16th, I’ve been invited by BBYO to present to their pre-Convention executive meeting for regional presidents and top leaders – they are planning to do a session inspired by this article.
After ending last year with a brief stint at Limmud in the UK (and missing LimmudNY), I’m thrilled to be preparing for LimmudLA – the local version of the international sensation that has never been snowed out takes place February 18-21. I’ll be presenting a number of sessions on things ranging from Jewish communal engagement and innovation to Jewish improv – stay tuned to this space for a full list of my sessions when they go up.
Then, a week later will be the Jewlicious Festival (my 7th), held in Long Beach, CA, and which will again, probably not be snowed out.
March brings two (confirmed) conferences that are pretty different from one another. March 6-8 is Tribefest, a gathering of Jews ages 22-45 in Las Vegas sponsored by the Jewish Federations of North America and designed to appeal to young Jews who connect to Jewish life in multiple and diverse ways. I’ll be wearing several hats while I’m there – from my role in NextGen Engagement at Federation to representing ROI Community.
Then, March 17-19 is the Nonprofit Technology Conference in Washington, DC, sponsored by the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), where I’m hoping to learn lots about how nonprofits inside and outside the Jewish world relate to the world of technology and social media.
There may yet be other additions to the conference schedule, but they’re all leading up to the 6th ROI Community Summit, this year moving back to Jerusalem in June. More information to come!