Can You Resist Kiva’s Siren Call? (I Hope Not)

May 12, 2011


Dear Friends,

Tomorrow you will see a new entry on The New Jew, but tonight I have a special present for you. This is my first week as a lender-donor on Kiva and I’ve found it to be such an interesting, fulfilling experience. I want you to join me.

The Offer

So here’s my offer, I will give a Kiva gift card worth $25 to the first three people who comment here and say they want to try micro-lending for the first time. My only conditions- and I won’t hold you to them, it’s only a contract you are making with yourself- are that:

  1.  If you like the experience of lending, you write and tell me why
  2.  You give a gift card to someone whom you think would likewise enjoy it

So who are my top prospects right now? I’m looking at Medhi, Evelyn.

Meet Mehdi (Salam Wa Aleikum, Mehdi)

Mehdi has one day left on his loan- at time of writing, $250 is needed- to help him expand his fruit and vegetable  business. He is interested in expanding his offerings, and hopes the loan will help grow his business, and therefore help him better support his family, whom he cares deeply about.

Here’s how Kiva gets you with the urgency (see graphic). 

Note:

Funding Mehdi was my first longer term loan. Up until now, I have strongly preferred loans that are coming due in the short term (i.e. this fall). Something you should know is that all lenders are refunded at the same time, incrementally. You don’t get one final amount back at the end, but you’re refunded small amounts according to the borrower’s payment schedule, which is outlined in detail at the bottom of the screen.

— Keep Reading: Meet Evelyn; Will You Say Yes? —

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Amplifying Women’s Voices in Israel and Palestine (TEDx HolyLand)

December 11, 2010

There’s no question in my mind that women do it best when it comes to relationships.

We’re more giving with each other, more intimate, more talkative, and more forgiving. That’s why hearing and amplifying women’s voices is so important to the process of Middle East peace. After all, the essence of meaningful coexistence is strong, healthy relationships.

If you care about women and the Middle East, it is essential that you listen to the voices of the women in these videos.

TEDx HolyLand

This morning I came across TEDx HolyLand– the only TEDx conference in the world devoted to women’s voices and narratives. (Note that the full name of the conference is TEDx HolyLand: It’s Time).

In the conference’s opening video, co-organizer Israeli Liat Aaronson explains:

“We want to have women’s voices heard in an effort to progress toward the end of Occupation and the end of violence in our region. That’s what we’re about.”

Co-organizer, Palestinian Hanan Kattan asserts:

“The Palestinian people and the Israeli people have many individual challenges they have to work on separately. And yet, ultimately, a truly sustainable future relies on both sides understanding that they cannot do it alone. This connection to each other, this working together, is essential to make anything truly worthwhile happen.”

Kattan explains that the HolyLand conference was sponsored by a Palestinian (lesbian) woman who wishes to remain anonymous. As someone who cares about these issues, I can’t think of a better use of funding to forward peace.

Treading on Transboundary Identities

Here I also want to note how many of these women tread the borderlines of mixed identities, as you will hear below. They are Arab, and Israeli; they are Muslim, and sometimes lesbians; they are Middle Eastern, but occasionally educated in Europe or the United States. It is my belief that the power of their voices comes from their experience with transboundary identities and the spiritual beauty that comes from exploring all aspects of the self.

— Keep reading to hear the powerful voices of women in Israel and Palestine as well as extended resources for recommended reading and viewing —

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ROI, I Love You, But…

July 9, 2010

Broken Heart of Social Media

This could have been my love letter to ROI.  But it’s not. I’m frustrated. ROI, you can do better and I want to lay out a basic outline of how.

Social Media Bonanza

If you’re not familiar with ROI, this organization is focused around an annual global summit of young Jewish innovators. It is supported by a PR company that does advance media, a blog, a Facebook page, a YouTube channel, a Flickr account, and a Twitter feed as well as hashtag– all linked here.

So what could I possibly be complaining about? They have all their bases covered, right?

Well, no. I don’t think they fully practice what they preach– and I’m saying this as a 2009 ROI fellow as well as someone who has been in contact with ROI offering them my support on numerous occasions with regard to social media and web content. I’m saying this out of love: ROI, you can do better.

What’s the Problem, Exactly?

The two primary problems I identify are as follows:

  • There’s a disconnect between the Summit and the rest of the year, and
  • A disconnect between those actively participating in the Summit and those on the outside

With all the excitement generated for the Summit, there’s no carry through for those who aren’t participating. The ROI blog is updated minimally and there don’t seem to be many blog posts coming from participants– which makes sense because they’re really, really busy.

The primary way to follow the Summit is via ROI’s hashtag, which is #roicom. But how much can you really say in 152 characters? Well, I believe that you can get your point across quite effectively, but it has to be a concerted effort: not just comments but actual commentary.

— Now you have an idea of the problem. Keep reading to hear the solution. —

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Street Smarts: Harnessing the Creativity of Urban Activism

July 4, 2010

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Does your organization take its activism to the street? This low budget urban social movement can be done with little funding and lots of creativity.

Here are some recent examples that come to mind. I know there are lots more– and would love to hear your examples.

Scientists on the Train

Hebrew University researchers take to the train for free monthly lecture series in specially designated compartments.

Recent lectures include a profile of Albert Einstein’s contribution to humanity (in honor of his March birthday which marks Israel Science Day), physics experiments in motion, and Israel’s development of new food crops, like genetically modified tomatoes.

My favorite quote from a passenger, “It was weird, but good.”

What would your organization do to go public? Lectures on trains and singing on street corners may seem extreme, but there’s always a lesson to be had in translating your mission and objectives into hands-on contact with constituents.

— Is Your Organization Brave Enough to Sing on Street Corners and Write on the Walls? Keep Reading to Find Out Who Is —

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Jewish/Israel News: All the News That’s Fit to Tweet

October 21, 2009
Source: Flickr, Just.Luc

Source: Flickr, Just.Luc

The air is popping, molecules are dancing, you can practically feel the crackle in the air– alive with energy in the world of Jewish philanthropy and innovation. The New Jew is here to bring you the news that can’t be missed.

Israel

  • Israel President’s Conference— Today is the first day of the 2nd annual President’s Conference, founded by President Shimon Peres. This year’s theme is “Tomorrow’s Future.” To get live updates on Twitter, click on this link where I have collected all the relevant resources for you

(Flickr photo link via Just.Luc, Creative Commons)

In the Media

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  • Free Press Index— Israel’s Free Press Rank plummets on Reporters Without Borders’ index due to tightened government control over the media during Operation Cast Lead (Gaza 2008/2009) and during the elections. Israel dropped 43 places to #93. (The US is #20, up from #40 last year)
  • Human Rights Watch: Anti-Israel— In this New York Times op-ed, Robert L. Bernstein, former chairman of HRW criticizes the group for repeatedly singling out Israel for human rights violations without holding other Middle Eastern countries to equivalent standards
  • Shalom, Al Jazeera— An Egyptian newspaper broke the story that Israeli billionaire Haim Saban was set to acquire the Arab world’s news station. The story is yet unconfirmed
  • Palestinian Jews? It’s not Pre-State Deja Vu— The Wall Street Journal’s James Woolsey asks if we have Israeli Arabs why can’t there by Palestinian Jews?
  • Our Israel? — A raging debate between The Forward’s Jay Michaelson and the Shalem Center’s Daniel Gordis centers on the question of how we perceive Israel as a Jewish state and as our state. Michaelson complains: “My love of Israel has turned into a series of equivocations,” in reference to his stance toward Israeli politics, peace, and Palestinians. Gordis counters, “But you know what I love about this place, Jay?  I love that all the political baggage is mine.” (Don’t forget to read the comments as well)

Jewish Connectivity

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  • Assessing Birthright Israel— It’s been 10 years. Where does Taglit-Birthright Israel stand after a decade of hard work? Here are the statistics: Birthright has brought 200,000 young Jews to Israel so far– 10,000 will come this winter. Philanthropic  dollars: $80 million raised: 55% from individuals; 22% from Jewish communities and the Jewish Agency; 23% from the Israeli government

— Interested in Jewish Connectivity, Israeli Technology & the Environment, Israel’s Economy & the Jewish Community Landscape, Innovation & Education? Read on. —

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Caring About the Environment, Jewishly (Blog Action Day 2009)

October 15, 2009

TNJ_BlogActionDay09.Logo_15Oct09

How do we live as Jews, caring consciously and spiritually about the environment? I’ve done a lot of thinking about this matter, but the best speech that I ever heard on it was a presentation given at the 2009 ROI Summit.

The presenters have kindly agreed to share their speech with you on caring about the environment and living a Jewish life.

This post is an entry for Blog Action Day 2009.  (Check out the blog, and find them on Twitter at @blogactionday and with the hashtag #BAD09.)

The Speech

Presenters:  Karin Fleisch, Vivian Lehrer, and Anthony Rogers-Wright.

Karin Fleisch:

TNJ_ROI.KarinFleisch.JAFI_15Oct09“Environmentalism just makes sense. We all live on this planet and need its resources to thrive and survive. As Jews, environmentalism is rooted in our history, our religion, and our values.

Climate change, over-consumption, mass species extinction — these are happening now. And it’s not just about the Earth anymore. It’s about preventing massive…human…suffering.

Vivian Lehrer:

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But it’s going to be alright – probably – IF we adapt, as we are so good at doing. We already have all the solutions we need to make significant change.

We need to stop thinking of Jewish environmentalism as a separate category and focus on creating a healthier world for all – because, in the process, we’re going to strengthen Jewish communities and identity.

The Jewish imperative for environmentalism isn’t marginal – it’s our most core, mainstream and familiar values and traditions.

Shabbat– is an ecological treasure! A day to rest from shopping, manufacturing, driving!

Kashrut (keeping Kosher)- the idea that what we eat matters, that it’s upon us to minimize suffering of animals! We need to update this to take responsibility for the full impacts of what we eat, the stuff we buy, and what we put into landfills. We vote with our dollars and with our forks for the full story of our food and our stuff.

Brachot (the blessings over our food)– invite mindfulness of where our food comes from. To bless food we have to figure out whether it grew from the ground or a tree; from there it’s a short step to thinking of how it was raised, whether the people involved in getting it to us were paid a fair wage, whether its story helped or hurt our environment.

— Keep reading for a list of Jewish environmental organizations —

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Israeli Environment: New Mall Seeks to Green the Negev

July 7, 2009

New B"S Mall [Image: YNetNews]

“The Future of Israel lies in the Negev.”
~ David Ben-Gurion, first prime minister of Israel

If you aren’t intimately familiar with Israel, you may not realize that the country is divided into two cultural and geographical spheres: the Center and the Periphery.

The Center, composed of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and their environs, are densely populated hubs of activity. The Periphery: the Galilee, Golan Heights, and Negev Desert, are more agricultural areas outside of the Center’s reach. This segmentation is critical to understanding the Israeli mindset when it comes to how we perceive each other.

Today YNet News broke the story that Be’er Sheva is set to become home to Israel’s largest mall. With a projected budget of 700 million NIS (approx. $180.5 million) and a three-year timeframe, the mall aims to be not only a commercial center, but a nexus of social activity. Upon its completion, the mall will house clubs for youths, seniors, soldiers, and feature a children’s play area.

Additionally, the new center will be the first green mall in Israel with the following environmental considerations:

  • Solar paneling on the roof for energy conversion
  • Pools for collecting rain water and condensation from air conditioning to be reused for irrigation
  • Green park to be built near mall with connecting bicycle paths around the mall’s periphery

—– Read more about the mall’s environmental impact and plans for Be’er Sheva’s development—–

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