Saying Goodbye to The New Jew

December 13, 2009

Dear Friends,

It has been a long time coming, but today, with a heavy heart, I am closing The New Jew for good. Creating and sweating over The New Jew was an amazing, passionate, edifying experience– one that I definitively no longer have the resources to pursue. The blog, which continues to receive many thousands of hits a week despite very little posting, will remain open as a resource to all for the time being.

Thank you so much for your loyal support and participation over these past two years. Wishing you all Hag Hanukah Sameach,

~ Maya


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 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


  • 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


  • 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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Sending Money to Israel? What’s Your Return? (Guest Author: Chaim Landau)

October 19, 2009


Chaim Landau reflects on the history of Diaspora giving to Israel and where we stand now. This piece was originally published in PresenTense Magazine’s philanthropy issue.

Sending Money to Israel? What’s Your Return

Well before the founding of the State of Israel, Jews in the Diaspora have been sending money to support a variety of causes in the land of Israel. The simple model, however, of Diaspora Jews as donor and Israeli Jews as recipients, has become outdated.

The Old Paradigm of Giving

It is no longer axiomatic for many young Diaspora Jews that they need to send money to a successful country whose fate seems to have little impact on their own lives.

Money invested in Israel, whether by the individual or the Jewish community as a whole, must benefit both donor and recipient, and needs to be seen as part of a holistic two-way relationship. Such philanthropy, instead of being divorced from Jewish life in the Diaspora, needs to enhance and contribute to it.



The money that Diaspora Jews sent to Israel throughout the years was indispensible in absorbing millions of immigrants, building up the State’s infrastructure, and maintaining an army capable of defending Israel.

What these donors received in return was pride in Israel’s very existence: its military victories, developing infrastructure, and its vigorous and thriving society. They could feel themselves a part of the Jewish people, and active partners in building up the Jewish state even if they did not reside there themselves.

Jewish Poverty in the Diaspora

Yet Israel’s current condition is not the same as in its early years when it was undeveloped and unstable, and American Jewry has its own pressing needs. Jewish education in the Diaspora is still a luxury for many.

— Keep reading for best practice models in engaging donors —

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

October 15, 2009


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:


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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Mourning the Loss of Dr. Gary Tobin

July 9, 2009

Dr. Gary Tobin [Image]

The New Jew mourns the loss of the esteemed Dr. Gary Tobin (Z”L), may his memory be a blessing to all he touched.

Sourced from the Institute for Jewish and Community Research:

Founder and president of San Francisco-based Institute for Jewish & Community Research (IJCR), Dr. Gary Tobin passed away on July 6, 2009 at age 59.

Dr. Tobin was an innovative teacher, writer, researcher, and community builder who worked courageously and passionately to help the Jewish people grow and thrive.

In all his work, Dr. Tobin challenged the status quo of institutions for which he cared deeply yet always believed could be better.

Whether it was the Jewish federation system, American academia, or the State of Israel, Dr. Tobin was never afraid to challenge and provoke, always expecting better and more. He believed the greatest expressions of affection came not through blind praise but through thoughtful criticism and unlimited optimism for the things that meant the most to him.

At his last Passover Seder, Dr. Tobin reminded his family that the Jewish people entered the Promised Land without their leader Moses. Dr. Tobin worked tirelessly to coach his team of colleagues at IJCR. He wanted his work to live beyond him, not for the sake of his own legacy but for the sake of the greater good he always pursued. The Institute for Jewish & Community Research will continue to advance his visionary research.

For more information please visit

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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ROI Summit 2009: Stories of Inspiration

July 4, 2009

ROI Logo

I had the honor and privilege of attending this year’s ROI Summit in the New Media Track. It’s been hard for me to put into words the value and inspiration that I was gifted there, so instead of gushing about it, I’ll start by introducing you to four women I met who inspired me.

Manuela ZoninseinManuela Zoninsein, a journalist in Beijing and current Presentense Fellow, seeks to connect Chinese farmers with Israeli agricultural technology. She is in the process of creating Sustain, a newsletter that will “track the evolution of agricultural technology and techniques worldwide”
Nicole Hyman

Nicole Hyman’s goal is create a confluence between citizen media and mobile technology (namely cellphones). A South African strongly influenced by the Rwandan genocide, Nicole strives to provide Jewish bloggers with a way to use mobile media to promote and support Israel


Susanne Goldstone RosenhouseSusanne Goldstone Rosenhouse is the voice behind Jewish Tweets, Twitter’s most popular Jewish presence with over 3,800 followers. Susanne utilized her social media expertise to found ParnasaFest, a grassroots network helping Jews find meaningful employment within the Jewish community
Ziva Haller Rubenstein

Ziva Haller Rubenstein works for the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem. Her goal is to help make the Jewish Agency’s website more accessible and user friendly across languages, countries, and cultures. Ziva also blogs at the Designist’s Dream (de-Sign-ist, get it?) about sustainable art and design in Israel


—– Read More About The New Jew’s New Directions —–

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