Dating 101: Politics and Religion


I have been dating “George” for several months and for the first time in my life I am not in a rush to define it. He calls me his girlfriend, which is lovely. We are in an exclusive and committed relationship that matters to me, but I am not searching for labels or declarations. That is new for me because as a hopeless romantic I am so hopeful that my view of relationships has been distorted.

I have loved men who were unworthy of me. By unworthy of course I mean they should never date. Ever. I have not been interested in men who were probably good for me. I have cried more tears than anyone should, yet I am certain I will find love. I will meet someone wonderful who gets, deserves, and appreciates me. We will build memories that are happy rather than sad. It is just a matter of time.

When it comes to George, I have never been treated so kindly by a man. He is sweet, attentive, supportive, and lovely. He does not look like anyone I’ve ever dated, and he is not Jewish, which is how I have always rolled. He is a republican, which is how I never roll. We have nothing in common and were raised very differently, yet we are in a relationship and it is all really quite nice.

I am at a point in my life when I understand how hard it is to simply have nice. Nice is a wonderful word to describe a relationship and I don’t think people understand how important it is to have things be nice. To be clear it is not boring, just nice. We are respectful of each other’s opinions and communicate without fear. I enjoy his company and how he treats me. Most importantly, he makes me laugh.

There is however, one unsettling thing. When we talk politics, I find myself wanting to punch him in the face. We are on different pages and it makes my lower back spasm. The truth is no matter how much George thinks he is a Republican, I think he may actually be Independent. Perhaps I am one too! He believes his views are patriotic, but they are actually not at all in the best interest of the country.

I like him, but politics are a road block. I used to think I could never date a man who wasn’t Jewish, but it turns out dating a republican is much harder. It could just be me getting nervous that everything is good and therefore I’m finding things to sabotage. It could also be that I’m simply not able to date someone so different on two very important subjects of politics and religion.

It is hard to know if I am making the right choices. On Friday night George came with me to Shabbat services. He held my hand while I prayed, participated in the traditions, and met my Rabbi. It is great that he is open to my faith and will celebrate with me. I appreciate it, but we will undoubtedly speak about the political drama of the week, and I will struggle to not punch him. Oy vey.

At this point in our relationship I need to either jump in or get out. I want very much to set aside politics and focus on the nice, but I am not sure I can do it. I am open to all perspectives, but am struggling with politics, which is strange because I was certain it would be religion that got in my way. George is not a religious person. He believes on God, but does not practice any faith.

That makes things surprisingly easy. I am a practicing Jew, but I do not need him to practice with me to be satisfied in my faith. It is enough that he supports and respects how I practice Judaism. Having him at services with me was lovely. He was comfortable and open to all of it. This is a wonderful man who checks a lot of my boxes. I want to make it work, but will I be able to?

Can you fall in love with someone who is fundamentally different from you? Can you build a life with someone who’s political perspective changes how you view them? Should you invest in someone who you want to change? I adore this man but politically we are beyond not being on the same page, we are actually reading different books. It seems silly, but is a real struggle.

The internal battle I thought I would face over religion never happened. Instead my struggle is political, but love should never be political. Should it? I believe people should think, feel, and believe whatever they want. I also believe in love, and love is grand. The most important thing in love is respect, so can I love someone who’s views I don’t respect? It is all rather complicated.

The problem is that I have written here many times that love should not be complicated. My past relationships have always had something that was complicated, and the complication ultimately ends things. I am in a relationship now where the complication has been front and center from the beginning. There are no surprises. I knew what the differences were right from the start.

Time will tell if this complication brings us closer together or tears us apart. George is of the belief it makes us interesting as a couple. He is also a republican, so what does he know? Oy! It has been a wonderful weekend with George. We went to temple, hung out with my son, and enjoyed our time together. As for the future, he might be my bashert so I am putting politics aside, and keeping the faith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dutch watchdog reports record levels of online anti-Semitism


A Dutch watchdog group said it was observing record levels of anti-Semitic hatred online.

Meldpunt Discriminatie Internet, or MDI, said the current volume of reports on punishable hate speech against Jews is unparalleled during the organization’s 17 years in existence, the AT5 television channel reported Monday.

“Usually, we get three to five reports [of incidents] per week, but now we have received 73 reports,” MDI cofounder Suzette Bronkhorst told AT5. “We are talking about 200-300 incidents of anti-Semitic hate speech within 10 days,” Bronkhorst added. The jump is connected to Israel’s offensive in Gaza, she said, and largely consists of statements on Twitter.

One Twitter message flagged by MDI read: “I want all Jews, but really all of them, to drop dead until not a single one is left.” Another, belonging to the Twitter user “goldmocro,” identified as James Rodriquez, read: “Hitler needs to come back to kill the Jews. #FreePalestine.”

In France, the hashtag #PalestineVivraIsraelBrulera, or “Palestine will live, Israel will burn,” was ranked third-most popular among users from the Toulouse region on Tuesday.

Hashtags are words or phrases preceded by the number symbol that are used to index messages on Twitter and other social networks.

Best. Site. Ever.


It’s common these days to micromanage what information we receive. Many of us have a list of favorite Web sites and blogs we regularly go to, as well as Facebook pages and mobile apps that reflect our individual tastes and ideologies. It’s a way of maintaining some level of control amid the chaos of the Internet.

There’s an opportunity cost, however, to micromanaging this flow of information: We rarely experience the joy of what I call “bumping into knowledge.”

That’s why I want to tell you about my all-time favorite Web site, Arts & Letters Daily (aldaily.com).

This is not really a Web site. It’s more of a playground for human thought, a garden of fascinating ideas, a cocktail party for the incurably curious.

The site is wonderfully ugly. There are no cool images or graphics, just columns of words … striking, original words that are like mental speed bumps.

And, thank God, it’s not interactive. There are no inane comments from rabid and angry readers. It’s a one-way freeway of intellectual delights — they serve, we savor.

As many as 15 topic areas are listed on its masthead: philosophy, aesthetics, literature, language, trends, breakthroughs, ideas, criticism, culture, history, music, art, disputes and, yes, even gossip.

The home page features three column headings: Articles of Note, New Books, and Essays and Opinions. Under each heading is a series of brief blurbs, each one linking to an article from a broad range of publications, many I’d never heard of before discovering the site.

There are no ideological or topical boundaries. The only boundary seems to be: Is this a smart and fresh read?

The site is curated daily, which means you’re guaranteed a daily dose of brain food.

Just to give you a sense of what it feels like to be on the site, here’s a sampling of some thoughts and ideas you’re likely to encounter on any given day:   

“A modern Marx. Jonathan Sperber’s attempt to confine the man to his milieu misses the point. Marx’s ideas shape our world …”

“Technology confounds Sven Birkerts. What happens when this not-quite Luddite goes for a ride with Siri? A transcendental experience ensues …”

“Albert Camus’s writings on the Algerian war are marked by their honesty, consistency, even purity. His peers — Sartre, de Beauvoir, Aron — were cynical at best …” 

“ ‘Never before has anti-Semitism been so eliminationist in its rhetoric,’ says Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, ‘not even the Nazi period.’ Chilling. But is it true?”

“Before Soho was boho, there was Covent Garden. Its theaters, bordellos, and back alleys gave rise to a modern archetype: the poverty-stricken artist …”

“The demonic Picasso. In the absence of morality, it is monstrosity that carries the weight of his work, and shakes the viewer’s beliefs …”

“Could humans — so fractious and violent — forge a moral lingua franca, a unified system for weighing values? Let the metacognitive revolution begin …”

“For all of us, but especially for Generations X and Y, a sustained and quiet read is harder to get than ever. Cultural studies is to blame …”

“Income inequality will worsen, predicts Tyler Cowen, but revolution is not stirring. Our economic and social future will be a ‘hyper-meritocracy’…”

Get the picture? The site provides a constant flow of challenging ideas that hit you from all sides. Imagine that. You lose control. You are constantly surprised. You are at the mercy of a curator’s taste. 

One minute, you’re reading about a critic’s outrage at “America’s cultural debasement …” the next you read about how “regret is what makes us human.”

Right after a piece on how “putting pen to paper unlocks a sort of alchemy,” you read about Michael Ignatieff, “a man who would be philosopher-king … left Harvard and reinvented himself as a politician. Or so he thought …”

AL Daily, which is owned by the Chronicle of Higher Education, is the brainchild of the late Denis Dutton, its founding editor. According to Wikipedia, Dutton was inspired by the model of the Drudge Report but wanted to reach “the kinds of people who subscribe to the New York Review of Books, who read Salon and Slate and The New Republic — people interested in ideas.”

The plain, word-heavy design of the site “mimics the 18th century English broadsheets and a 19th century copy of a colonial New Zealand periodical, the Lyttelton Times.”

The site is so intellectually rich that it even includes a little section titled “Nota Bene” (Latin for “mark well”), which offers a collection of daily links to more quirky articles.

In short, the site is the antidote to boredom and predictability. It counters the modern-day habit of finding refuge in media channels that mostly confirm what we already know and believe.

It’s comfort food, but only for those who don’t seek comfort.

In that sense, it might be the ultimate Jewish site, designed not to comfort us but to challenge us, not to reinforce us but to move us, not to change our minds but to open them.


David Suissa is president of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal and can be reached at davids@jewishjournal.com.

My Single Peeps: Jered F.


When Jered, 35, first tells me, “I came from a very indulged upbringing, and it kind of put me at a disadvantage,” I start to laugh, because it sounds like something Mitt Romney would say after getting caught for being obscenely rich during the years when his wife claimed they ate pasta and tuna fish in a basement apartment. 

But Jered’s not trying to spin. He continues, “I thought I needed a lot of things I really don’t need, and I was constantly seeking fulfillment in things that wouldn’t make me feel fulfilled.” He grew up in a home with two housekeepers, wore only designer clothing, and by age 10 he had traveled the world. “I kind of pursued unhealthy relationships to try to re-create my childhood. I didn’t realize it was a disadvantage until my late 20s,” when he was working in real estate. “There was a moment when I turned around and had everything I needed in life — and most of what I wanted. I got to a point when the real estate bubble burst and my mother cut me off. I had nothing. I was shoveling horse [manure] on my friend’s ranch for $10 an hour.” 

He asked his mom for help, but she denied him. “I fought tooth and nail to get to a place where I’d never have to ask anyone to help me — and I thought, what do I need?  What’s a need and what’s a want?  And why do I want the things I want?”

He took a job at a limousine company to get a paycheck. He ended up loving it. “Three months later, I started my own business,” named Fetch Me.

“I’ve never been as successful and independent as I am now. I’ve been in stages of my life where I’ve looked for a savior from without, but I think I’m coming at the dating world from a healthier place than I did when I was younger.  But the bottom line is, I just have a really, really rich life, full of wonderful people and experiences, and I’d love to chronicle it with somebody. I’d like to have somebody I could experience things with now and look back later on with.  Make memories with somebody. Wouldn’t we all?”

I should probably mention at this point that Jered’s gay — sorry, ladies. He suffered when he came out of the closet — his mother stopped talking to him. “She’ll deny it to anyone else, but that’s exactly why.” Ironically, when his brother became an Orthodox Jew, she stopped talking to him, too.  He and his brother remain very close.

Ideally, he’d like to find a Jewish guy. “Age doesn’t matter. If he’s got a career and he’s built like a linebacker, I wouldn’t hold it against him. I like tall guys — and I’m 6 feet. I’ve been with guys who I’ve supported and with guys who’ve supported me — but it definitely helps you have a more comfortable life if your combined income is decent. It doesn’t buy happiness, but it sure helps. I’m looking for someone who’s compatible with me personally, is supportive of me professionally, where we can have faith in each other in all aspects, and someone who seriously, actually, wants to have kids. I’d love to have my own biological kids, but I just feel really guilty about it. I’m not completely opposed to the idea, but I think at this point I’d rather adopt.

“I meet attractive, successful, colorful men everyday, but I just haven’t yet met one who conveys staying power.  And at this point in my life, I’m not interested in a three-monther or a two-weeker, you know?  I want someone who’s not afraid of forever. Because it’s not a scary thing. It’s a beautiful thing.”


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and two children. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

My Single Peeps: Rick S.


At 48, Rick is a happy guy. He likes life. He likes smiling. He’s also a bit irritating to be around when you’re exhausted and barely have enough strength to open your eyes after a blink because you’ve been up all night with a cranky 5-month-old and a 2-year-old who’s having night terrors that she can’t explain but that have something to do with tap shoes, swimming and some Spanish words she picked up from the nanny. But I can’t blame Rick. He drove all the way from Simi Valley to meet me, and he seems like good peeps.

Rick’s a family physician who spent years as a traveling doctor. “It was really fun meeting a lot of different people, and you know it was kind of neat to just jump into a new lifestyle — different town, different people. I kind of thrived at it, because I love learning about new people and getting new life experiences. I’m really interested in learning about other people’s experiences and trying to build on learning more about life.

“The downside of that was I was living away from my home base and [wasn’t] able to establish any long-term relationships. I traveled a lot with this Jewish singles group called Amazing Journeys — they do cruises and trips all over the world. I’ve met and made a lot of friends from all over the U.S. But it’s time to meet that right girl that I can enjoy traveling [with] to new places.”

Rick’s an extrovert but says he’s not used to talking about himself. “I’m used to getting to know the person that I meet,” he says. Rick lived in Spain after college and became fluent in Spanish, which comes in handy at work. “I became a family doctor rather than a specialist because I like talking to people. I’m very busy because I give my patients time. [I’m] conscientious, compassionate and I’ve enjoyed taking care of different generations of families over the years. I love what I do. I take it seriously, but I also know how to enjoy life when I’m off. I go to conferences and take classes to stay current because I pride myself on taking the best care of my patients.”

He wants a woman in her 30s to early 40s — “Family oriented because I’m close with my family. Looking to have kids in the future. I would like to meet someone who likes to take care of herself and is interested in starting a mature, possibly long-lasting relationship. When I go on those single sites, I don’t click on any girl who’s not smiling. It’s just one of my pet peeves. I’m done traveling with work; I’m staying local and actually just bought my first house. But I’d always love a female perspective on interior decorating. I love dancing. I’ve taken swing and salsa classes, and on my singles trips I’m usually the one out on the floor dancing. I love dogs. I don’t own one yet, but I am considering that. I almost became a veterinarian but I decided on becoming a people doctor because they could tell me where it hurts.”

Rick tells me a story about a date that didn’t work. But they became friends, “which I’m always a fan of.”  He likes to be liked. He tells me he doesn’t discuss politics “in mixed crowds.” I’m not sure what that means but I assume he means among acquaintances. While talking, he uses the term “BS” instead of the more colorful curse word. I ask him if he’s always careful about his language. He says, “I have a pretty easygoing temper. I lose it every once in awhile … not in mixed crowds. That’s not who I really am.” 


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife two children. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

 

My Single Peeps: Bekah L.


When I was 5 I knew I wanted to try Froot Loops, but my mom wouldn’t let me. That was the extent of my goals.  Bekah wanted to be a teacher. And she became one. To be fair, I’ve also eaten a good amount of Froot Loops since then, so we’ve both kind of accomplished what we wanted to. She says, “If you came into my family when we were in elementary school, we all knew exactly what we wanted to do. My brother wanted to study germs. My sister wanted to study fashion. And I wanted to teach.” 

Bekah, 33, grew up in a Detroit suburb, the middle child in a family with a long line of doctors — “Dad’s a doctor, grandpa’s a doctor, brother’s a doctor, [my] uncle’s a doctor. They all went to the same med school. My grandpa was practicing until a few months ago. He just turned 95. He was Jimmy Hoffa’s doctor. He was the first doctor in Detroit to refuse to hold separate office hours for blacks and whites.”

She couldn’t get a teaching job in Detroit, so she moved to Tampa, Fla., sight unseen when a school there offered her a job. “I didn’t know a single person, so I just got really involved with [Jewish] Federation to meet people.” By year three, she was tired of Tampa and wanted to move to L.A. “I applied to only Jewish day schools, flew out here for interviews, got a job I liked, and moved. This is going to be my sixth year teaching [in LA].”

I ask her what she does for fun. “I go to a lot of concerts. I kind of made a home for myself at Hotel Café, and I’d say my best friends are either because of work or from hanging out in the indy music scene in L.A. I’m very social. I can talk to a wall. I like doing things by myself a lot, too. I go to movies by myself.  I go to dinners by myself.  If there’s something I really want to do, and I can’t find someone to do it with, I won’t let that stop me.”

Bekah’s looking for a man who’s motivated and driven. “I think in L.A. you find a lot of people who think they’re trying but they’re complacent where they are. Their definition of ‘trying’ seems to be different than my definition. I surround myself with hard-working people. It’s really important to me. Someone said to me, ‘If you were a janitor, you’d be the best janitor there’d be.’ And that’s my personality. I just want someone who’s trying hard. I don’t care if they’re making five dollars, as long as they’re really into what they’re doing.”    

A friend of Bekah’s once asked her what she wants in a man. She was tripping over her words and her friend cut her off and said, “Cute, smart and funny.” “It’s so generic but it hits the nail on the head. I think it’s from a movie — ‘Kissing Jessica Stein’ or something like that. I want to really like the person I’m with — and to love them even when you hate them. I want to be with someone Jewish. I’m not very religious but being Jewish is part of my everyday life. I work in a Jewish institution. It’s just kind of part of who I am.”

I ask her if she imagines doing anything else for a living. “No. I don’t know what else I would do. You could have the worst day, the worst things going on in your life, and the kids [say something] — they don’t mean to be funny — but it changes your whole day.”


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

 

My Single Peeps: Eric Z.


I like Eric right away for the most shallow of reasons — he’s got a New York accent and he dresses like my father did: jeans, tucked-in polo shirt, tassel loafers with colored socks. East Coast preppy. My father died 20 years ago, but sometimes little things can trigger my emotional memory and I find myself missing him out of nowhere. This was one of those times. 

Eric went to MIT and worked for years at Mobil Chemical as a chemical engineer. When he said it, I got a weird feeling in my stomach. How could a guy who reminded me of my dad work for a corporation making atomic weapons that kill puppies and babies? Granted, I should probably educate myself a bit on how chemistry works, but still … it sounded evil. I pressed him, like any good journalist would. And I got to the source of the truth. He made plastic foam for meat trays and egg cartons. Probably evil egg cartons, but I couldn’t be sure, so I moved on.

“Great engineers are tinkerers at heart, and I was more interested in the business side of things. So I went back to business school at Harvard. I said the only place I think I’d want to live that I haven’t been is the San Francisco Bay Area. So when I graduated, that’s where I went. I was in Silicon Valley back in the early ’80s. This was rock-and-roll heaven. There were always more positions than there were people.” After a few misses, he worked for Sun Microsoft Systems from the mid-’80s to 1999. “I came [to Los Angeles] to sell in 1988.” After 13 years, he grew bored and took some other sales jobs. Now he does a few small consulting projects. “But the women shouldn’t worry they have another guy who’s out of work. I don’t have a rent check to worry about or a car payment to make.”

He’s had a few long-term relationships, but they didn’t work out. At 58, “let me be the first to tell you, it’s no fun being single and alone. This was not my grand plan. Part of the challenge for me in L.A. is I don’t meet many women here that have enough East Coast umph behind them. They’re not sharp enough, quick enough, [or] worldly enough. [The] entertainment industry has a lot of New Yorkers here, but I’m not in the entertainment industry. Not even close. I’m looking for a woman who has some substance, a life of her own, a career, interests, [and she] brings something to the table that fascinates me. A woman also needs to be attractive and fit. I’m not talking model good looks, but she has to place some importance on it. I work out four or five days a week. I’m vegetarian. I think you just feel better when you’re healthy, and I think it just comes across.”

Eric’s favorite things to do are play golf on Sundays and go to Mulberry’s pizza on Friday nights. “I still think of myself as a New Yorker, even though I haven’t lived in New York in 40 years. I sit at the counter, eat a slice, and read the Post.” He smiles and laughs about it. The guys who work there, he says, “tease the heck out of me.”

“I did a lot of traveling when I worked for Sun. The travel part of it per se is just miserable. It’s just more of a hassle — and again, I want someone to do it with. I’ve been to a lot of places. It’s not as much fun alone. I’d much rather have a traveling companion.” 

If you’re interested in anyone you see on My Single Peeps, send an e-mail and a picture, including the person’s name in the subject line, to mysinglepeeps@jewishjournal.com, and we’ll forward it to your favorite peep.


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

 

My Single Peeps: Brandon B.


Brandon’s an only child. He tells me he’s the kind of kid who kept to himself. “I didn’t break out of my shell until late in high school. I’m still kind of introverted, but an outgoing introvert, if that makes sense.”

“How’d you break out in high school?” I ask. “I just started doing things to get more confidence in myself. I didn’t want to be a nerd, for example. I wasn’t comfortable with that.”

He decided to own up to his strengths. “I got into programming, code … that whole world.” He joined the robotics team.

“I also got into photography. I got my first DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera and started playing with it and got really good at it. I learned Photoshop, and I learned that I liked Photoshop more than I liked taking pictures. And that turned into someone asking me to build a Web site. It wasn’t easy at all, but I did it. Things I couldn’t do, I hired people to do for me. One turned into two. Two turned into four. And now I have developed over 200 Web sites.

“[In college] I went from having no Jewish friends to having mostly Jewish friends. I realized their personality was similar to mine. The way I think about things, the way I approach things, and the way I think about family.”

He’d love to meet a Jewish girl. “I want someone who’s very driven. I like someone that’s as busy as I am but always makes time to see me. Someone who cares about her appearance. Someone who understands that friends and family are more important than career. Education’s important. I like someone who’s healthy — who goes to the gym on a regular basis. Someone who tries as hard for me as I try for them. I think it should be 60/60 rather than 50/50. Each person should put in more toward the relationship than the other person is.”

Last summer, Brandon, 22, needed surgery. “There’s three scars on my shoulder — it’s pretty cool. I started going to physical therapy, and then I got a personal trainer. It ended up with me gaining about 20 pounds of muscle in about four months, and it completely changed my body. … All of a sudden, my arms were twice as big, and my shoulder was never stronger.”

He’s into self-improvement — if he doesn’t like something about himself, he fixes it. “I try too hard to be perfect, which is the best and worst attribute about me.”

When it comes to work, he’s extremely confident. “When I was younger it was very difficult for me to say good things about myself. Society tells you people will think you’re cocky. But why shouldn’t you be able to say, ‘I’m good at this; I’m the best Web developer you’ll find.’? I’m not saying I’m better than you. I’m saying I’m better than you at building a Web site. That’s my thing. That’s what I do. So I might as well be the best at it.”

In high school, when he was still shy, he read the book “The Game.” “It changed my life.” He learned a lot from it. “I wouldn’t date someone I was attracted to, because I didn’t feel I was good enough, and that’s absurd. I was good enough — I just didn’t have the confidence to tell them I was good enough. If you’re not proud of who you are, why would someone else be? If you wouldn’t date yourself, why would a girl date you?”

If you’re interested in anyone you see on My Single Peeps, send an e-mail and a picture, including the person’s name in the subject line, to mysinglepeeps@jewishjournal.com, and we’ll forward it to your favorite peep.


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and two children. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

My Single Peeps: Laurie S.


I met Laurie through another single peep, Katie. They were eating breakfast at one of my favorite breakfast spots, Hugo’s in West Hollywood. Try the El Desayuno Burrito De La Casa. It’s less complicated than it sounds on paper. So is Laurie. She lives in Brentwood. She has two dogs — Maltese mixes. Her ideal is to meet a man and “live on the Westside forever.”

But Laurie, like the burrito, is easier to handle than she looks. “At the end of the day, if you meet someone and fall in love it doesn’t matter where you live. You just have to feel fulfilled and happy in your life and you don’t need the material things to achieve that — it would be nice, but it’s not what you’re thankful for at the end of your life.” As for her Malteses — both are rescues.

Laurie, 36, was raised a Conservative Jew in Philadelphia. “I went to Temple University, majored in broadcast journalism and minored in political science. I wanted to work in live news — elections and presidential summits — and I worked at ABC off and on for all those years in college. I worked at CBS News in New York after college.” After a visit with a friend to Los Angeles, they decided to move here together.

“A friend of mine had day-played once on ‘Felicity’ and they offered her a three-week job as J.J. Abrams’ assistant.” When the friend pulled out of the job for another one on ‘Seventh Heaven,’ she recommended Laurie for the job. “And that’s how I ended up in TV versus news. And I’ve really been in TV ever since.

“I assisted line producers, worked on a couple of pilots and a couple of shows, and then I got offered a job on the pilot of the show ‘Medium.’ I was on that show for seven years.” In the first season she was promoted to a producer. “While I was on that show I also produced a short film that won a lot of awards in the film festivals, and that’s when I realized I liked line producing but it felt like you get trapped in that job — all the guys were in their 60s — and I wanted more out of life than that. I wanted more choices. And I didn’t want to get home at 4 a.m.”

She’s currently transitioning to a creative executive position. She’s also developing shows — “getting my hands in everything and branching out. It’s been nice. I have time off which I haven’t had in over 10 years. It’s a luxury. I took a nice vacation. I went to Maui. I went to Cabo and went zip lining for the first time. I say that I’m not that adventurous, but my friends say, ‘What are you talking about?’ I went white-water rafting, kayaking, water skiing, but it’s not my idea. But if someone comes up with it, I do it and have the time of my life.”

I ask her about men. “I’m attracted to guys who are confident. Not cocky. Guys who are comfortable in their own skin — know who they are, [and] know what they want. I’ve dated guys who try to be what they think I want and it’s just not attractive to me. [Someone] close to their family, likes to laugh [and] is a decent human being. I like guys who are hard workers but genuine salt-of-the-earth kind of people.

“A lot of my friends are out dating three or four times a week, and they’re freezing their eggs and that gives me anxiety. I’m out there dating but I’m certainly not chasing it. I want someone to chase me for a change.”

If you’re interested in anyone you see on My Single Peeps, send an e-mail and a picture, including the person’s name in the subject line, to mysinglepeeps@jewishjournal.com, and we’ll forward it to your favorite peep.


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and two children. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

My Single Peeps: Rob T.


I had a lot of difficulty with this interview. It’s actually the hardest one I’ve ever done, simply because Rob was so difficult to figure out. He’s a grown man drinking soda from a Marvel Avengers reusable cup. He looks lost. A little on the fringes. He’s out of work but receiving money from his last employer because of a pending lawsuit. He’s licensed as a chiropractor but doesn’t practice for money. Instead he volunteers to work on the backs of amateur wrestlers who can’t afford proper care. He runs a lot of Web sites.  One of them is called Findanagentbecomefamous.com. “I’ve devoted my life to helping children, so if children have a dream to become famous, I connect them with an agent or manager and give them advice.” He claims he makes no money off of the site and insists that children be with their parents at all times when auditioning or meeting with an adult. I press him on this one a bit, because it just seems so creepy. But in the end I think he’s just a guy who’s fascinated by fame.

He also runs a Web site on which he offers himself up as a Sober Companion.  He says all it requires is spending time with the addict so they have a distraction from using — and if he’s unable to do it, then he finds them someone who can. He tells me more than once that he doesn’t charge for referrals. He does it because he cares.

I tell Rob that he comes off a bit odd to me, and I’m not sure if I have a handle on him yet. I say, “I’m not sure what to make of you.” I tell him why I’m uncomfortable, and then we sit quietly for a moment before he says, “You said some things that make a lot of sense to me.” He tells me that the “Today” show had him on to talk about addiction and that he seemed off when he watched the show. I find a clip of it online — he has trouble forming sentences. We talk about his thought process and vocal patterns, which he says have always been unique. But it’s worse since the alleged harassment he received at his last job. As he starts to open up about his flaws, I start to get a better idea of his struggles. “[I’m] more of an acquired taste. I’m more actions than words, and anyone who spends a certain amount of time with me sees the love and caring that I’m about. In the writing I’m able to express myself a little bit clearer than in talking.” But, as he says, “It’s not how we communicate in real life.” And that’s his struggle.

He loves spinning class — “I’ve spun at almost every club in Los Angeles, but when I went to Crunch, I seemed to fit in the best there. The other places seem more like a clique.” And he wants a woman in her 30s or 40s with a Jewish identity. “Traditions and customs mean a lot to me.” He also wants an educated woman who has the time to spend on a relationship. “Somebody who has more than weekends,” because he likes to travel and take road trips. “I don’t mind if [she has] children or not.”

Rob’s way left-of-center, but he’s not off the map. He’s just struggling to find his place, and I have no doubt there’s at least one woman out there who would appreciate who he is. She’s probably sitting by herself in a screening of “The Amazing Spider-Man,” hoping Rob takes the empty seat next to her. If only he would get up the courage to ask.

If you’re interested in anyone you see on My Single Peeps, send an e-mail and a picture, including the person’s name in the subject line, to mysinglepeeps@jewishjournal.com, and we’ll forward it to your favorite peep.


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

My Single Peeps: Mike K.


I generally don’t meet people at their offices. I feel it’s best to get to know them in a neutral place, like a coffee shop. But Mike told me he worked in porn, and the deviant in me was intrigued. Suffice it to say, his office might as well have sold paper supplies, it was that generic. There were a few mainstream movie posters on the walls, DVD replication machines in the back, and ordinary offices and editing suites — with mezuzahs on every doorpost. He insisted that I meet him there for just that reason. “I don’t see porn as most people in the mainstream world [would]. It’s like I’m selling toilets. It’s just a product. And it’s something I know how to do better than anyone else. To me, it’s all the same — whether it’s power tools, sinks or toilets. We’re a professional company.”

Mike was born and raised in Connecticut “in a very rich family. Kind of like the Beverly Hills of the East Coast. My brother owns a pediatric practice. My mom owns a kosher travel agency. If you want to go to China and you’re a Chasidic Jew, she’ll set up all the kosher tours. And somehow I ended up in the porn business.”

When he was 18, he moved to Los Angeles with a girl he was dating. He took a job working for a smoke shop distributor, which led him to another job with a porn video and distribution business. He quickly learned the ropes, and when he saw that the owner wanted to diversify, Mike started up the replication side. “I wanted to get back to video and distribution, so I started my company, Monarchy. I own seven studios. The business just kind of blew up. We’re at the top of the industry right now. We move more product than anyone else. Life is pretty good.”

Mike’s a very hardworking guy — he seems smart, and he clearly has the business head to be successful, and not just in the pornography business. “In 10 years, when I’m 35 … I’d like to diversify and start some other companies that aren’t porn-related.” Restaurants and real estate interest him. He owns a house in the Valley, plus a vacation home in San Diego in an avocado orchard.

“I’m actually pretty traditional. I like the simple things in life. It’s weird, you writing up what I do, because I don’t really put myself on Front Street a lot and talk about working in the porn business, because it’s a taboo field, and people have their automatic opinion about it. Frankly, I’m just a businessman. It’s what I do; it’s a product I sell.”

Mike has a son he’s very close to — and an ex-wife, as well. He’s very mature for a 25-year-old. But it’s what also makes it hard for him to date. “There aren’t a lot of 25-year-olds with kids. That’s why my last relationship ended. She said, ‘You have a lot of baggage: You work in porn, you have a kid.’ So it’s hard to find someone to look past everything and see you for you.”

“I’d say business is a big hobby of mine — coming up with new ideas and implementing them. To me, it’s like having another child.  Business is another child.” 

Mike also likes hiking in Azusa, and he goes to Runyon Canyon twice a month.

“I just started going to services again. I went the last couple of weeks to the Chabad in Toluca Lake. The rabbi’s a cool guy.”

“My strength is motivation. When I set my mind to something, I not only do it, but I always succeed at it. And if I’m not succeeding at it, I make myself succeed at it.”

If you’re interested in anyone you see on My Single Peeps, send an e-mail and a picture, including the person’s name in the subject line, to mysinglepeeps@jewishjournal.com, and we’ll forward it to your favorite peep.


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

My Single Peeps: Lynn R.


Lynn has been a widow since 1996 and is doing her best to fall in love again. But she’s finding the world of online dating difficult to navigate. On one date, she told me, “I found out the guy was a bookie.” He was in a bad mood because he had just lost $8,000. “There was one guy on the phone — every time we talked with each other, it was fun and great. Then we got together, and he was way overweight. I mean way overweight — which wasn’t disclosed in the profile. There was absolutely no chemistry — nothing. You can’t let yourself be seduced by the voice, because the pictures they put up aren’t representative of who they really are. That’s online dating.”

Lynn’s originally from Los Angeles. “I grew up in the Valley. I was a Valley Girl before the term was created. The last several years, I’ve been writing screenplays, which doesn’t differentiate me much from the other people out here. But I did have a short film made, and one of my screenplays is in the hands of a London producer who’s trying to find a director for my script. So that’s hopeful. That’s what I spend a lot of time doing.”

“I started out as a secretary, but I hated it. I took a Greyhound bus around the Western states when I was about 22 and wound up in Sun Valley, Idaho, and I thought this could really be fun working here in the winter. So I tried to get a job as a maid, which I would have failed at miserably — my parents had a cleaning girl.

“At the last stop before the bus came, there was a coffee shop, and I heard a piano player next door — and he was so bad that I thought I could do better than that. I used to play as a kid. If she had asked me to audition, I couldn’t have done it. But she didn’t.”

Lynn made a deal that she’d work at another bar they were opening if they would send her the train fare. “I went back to my old piano teacher, and I took three lessons a day and practiced 16 hours a day for two weeks and took my first job.  I got fired a week later.”

But that led to a job at another bar and, soon, a singing and piano career.

[For other Single Peeps, visit jewishjournal.com/my_single_peeps]

Although Lynn, who’s in her early 60s, is officially retired, she puts in two to four hours a day on her writing. “I hate the word retired. You see it on profiles and wonder what they’re doing with their lives. I like being productive, and I like for other people to be productive. If he is retired, at least he wants to do other things, like travel. [I want] a man with a good heart, a good mind and financially stable. I don’t mind dating men who are younger than me. It just depends on the man. He could be older and could be a terrific guy.”

I ask Lynn what she likes to do with her free time. “I like to go to movies, I like to read, and I love to swim. I love to travel. My last major trip was to Africa on a safari. [It was] the most amazing trip of my life, seeing the animals in person. I traveled with a girlfriend. Another favorite place I went to is Bora Bora. I went there with my [late] husband.”

“How’s single life?” I ask. “It’s fine. You know, I certainly adapted to it. But I think life is better when you share it. I do.”


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

My Single Peeps: Karen B.


Karen got divorced a year and a half ago. “I think at first it was hard to come to terms with — ‘I’m divorced.’ It had a kind of negative connotation, but now I look at it like I’m an experienced person. I know exactly what I want. I know exactly what I don’t want. And I’m kind of enjoying it — having my own time. But I have my moments where I wish I did have somebody to share that time with.” 

And, ultimately, that’s what she wants.

“I’m originally from Argentina. I moved here when I was 13. I did not want to move here. The [Argentinian] Jewish community in the ’80s was really tight and incredible. The first year [in L.A.] was a shock for me. I didn’t speak the language. I spoke Spanish and Hebrew. But I was pretty determined, and within six months I was pretty fluent.”

She works as a Jewish educator. “I’m the director of an exchange program between Israeli and American teens. We have a twin school there. The Israelis come here; we go there. It’s a partnership. I’m very passionate about connecting kids to Israel — just making sure they feel connected. I work a lot. One of my goals for next year is to simplify my life a bit and work less.

“I feel like in the last year and a half I’ve really opened up to learn a lot about myself. And one of the things I’ve learned is to honor what I envision and to feel OK saying, ‘This is not what I need.’ I want someone who’s my No. 1 fan, my supporter, and vice versa. Someone I feel connected to — and I think that was the biggest thing that was missing in my marriage. The connection that I thought I had was phony.” In spite of all that, she’s still close with her ex-husband. “It just wasn’t a match.”

“What kind of guy do you want?” I ask. “I care that he’s passionate about something that he does, whether it’s a job or a hobby. I won’t lie — it’d be nice to have someone who makes a nice living, but it’s not the most important thing in life. Although I’m not looking for someone religious, I’m looking for someone Jewishly spiritual. I don’t even know if that’ s a sentence, really.” She laughs. “Does that make sense?” 

“What’s the most difficult thing about you?” I ask. “I can be reserved sometimes. Sometimes it takes a little bit to get through the walls around me. But once you’re in there, it’s a good place. I put a lot of pressure on myself — I always thought that it was really important to give off a certain image that everything is great and fantastic, even when it isn’t. And I think the hardest thing is that I’m really just hard on myself.”

“What’s the easiest thing about you?” I ask. “I’m a great schmoozer. Outgoing, friendly …” And she is.

She thinks for a moment and then says, “I would end by saying I’m in a really good place in my life right now. And this is why I’m really ready to meet someone. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier with myself. Once I allowed myself to be happy, a lot of doors have opened. Part of that goes back to having opened myself up to the spiritual side of things — again, not religious, but it’s just kind of connecting with the energy around you, and what you put out is what you get back. 

“Does that make sense?”

It does to me, Karen.

If you’re interested in anyone you see on My Single Peeps, send an e-mail and a picture, including the person’s name in the subject line, to mysinglepeeps@jewishjournal.com, and we’ll forward it to your favorite peep.


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

Opinion: Teach children to be their own Internet filters


Tens of thousands of Jews filled Citi Field in Queens on Sunday and heard from haredi Orthodox leaders that the Internet should be avoided in the home at all costs and used sparingly at work, and then only with a filter blocking content that could be damaging spiritually.

Debate as you will what some may see as draconian edicts to protect the Jewish community from moral corruption. But at the heart of the matter is a question that should concern us all: How do we keep our children safe on the Internet?

We know that we cannot work around the Internet. Research from the Pew Foundation indicates that 54 percent of children say they go to Google first when they have a question, as opposed to only 26 percent who say they go to a parent and 3 percent to a teacher. Rather we must figure out how parents and teachers can make this important tool work safely and effectively for our kids.

The difficulty is that even the simple solutions are incredibly complicated. Powerful filters can block illicit images and material, but those filters often block out the good with the bad and limit far too much useful information. This solution has been discussed and debated on our own campus concerning Internet access in dormitories.

Some yeshivot have considered avoiding technology altogether and sticking with books and blackboards. But that would leave students without the digital competence required to succeed academically in college and beyond, not to mention that it would rob teachers of increasingly exciting and effective educational tools.

The only real answer is that as parents and teachers, we must instill in our children a strong value system based on Jewish morals and traditions that allows our children to become their own filters when exploring the Internet. That would be far more powerful than any protective software.

The onus is clearly on us because it seems that children will listen to our rules, at least when it comes to the Internet. Only three in 10 young people reported to a Kaiser Foundation survey that they are given clear rules about how much time they may spend using a computer, watching TV or playing video games. The average child with no rules spends more than three hours per day on such media. Those who are given rules spend considerably less time.

Yeshiva high school students said they would be receptive to rules. More than half of those surveyed by researcher Debbie Fox, director of the Aleinu Family Resource Center, a program of the Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles, said that they would welcome more guidance from parents regarding Internet use.

These same students, in fact, said that they would be far stricter with their own future adolescent children regarding responsible Internet use than their parents, and would monitor their children much more closely.

The dangers of the Internet are not limited to challenging content. A 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study showed that about half of students in grades seven through 12 said they do their homework with media open that do not pertain to their task at hand. In other words, about 50 percent of middle and high school students are doing homework with divided attention. And while some kids may believe that they are being more efficient, multitasking has been proven in adults to cause higher levels of stress and lower levels of efficiency.

While some kids can multitask well, it’s up to parents to actively determine if their children work more efficiently while doing so or while focusing on their work without interruption. Parents should collaborate with their children to test whether they are more efficient when not being interrupted or distracted, and then meter their background activity accordingly.

The greatest challenge of all, however, may be making sure that our kids completely separate from the Internet at times.  According to the Pew Foundation, 75 percent of American teens prefer texting to in-person contact with friends. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that this generation’s empathy levels among adolescents are significantly lower than those of previous generations.

It may seem that adolescents in every generation feel isolated and tuned out at some point or another. But it turns out that their computer habits may be compounding the problem. Parents need to teach children that some of their relationships must include direct face-to-face interaction without the distraction of text messages and cell phone calls.

While some of what occurred at Citi Field this past weekend might seem foreign, we must work to ensure that our students and our children can grow up as highly moral and successful Jewish digital citizens.

Dr. Eliezer Jones is the educational technology specialist at Yeshiva University’s Institute for University-School Partnership. Dr. David Pelcovitz is the Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus chair in psychology and Jewish education at YU’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration. For more information about safe Internet rules and guidelines, visit www.yuschoolpartnership.org/parentguidedigitalage.

Google Street View in Israel to go online


Google’s Street View in Israel will go online next week.

The project, which will feature 3-D images of the streets of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and other attractions in Israel such as the Dead Sea, the Sea of Galilee, Nazareth and the Ramon Crater, will be launched with a ceremony in Tel Aviv on April 22, Israel’s business daily Globes reported.

Israel’s Justice Ministry in approving the project set several conditions on Google Street View, including the right for Israelis to request further blurring of residences and license plates. Israeli officials reportedly had been concerned that terrorists would use the service to plan attacks in Israel.

The Google cars and tricycles, fitted with 360-degree cameras to take panoramic images, began collecting the images last September.

Google Street View, an online mapping tool that provides a 3-D view of buildings, landmarks and streets, is available in 30 countries.

My Single Peeps: EG Daily


The first time I saw EG I was just starting to train at the Howard Fine Acting Studio.  She looked familiar, but I didn’t put it together immediately.  Then it clicked — Dottie!  From “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure”!  After we became friends and had worked together on various scenes for class, it was always hard for me to resist saying, “I’m a loner, Dottie.  A rebel.”  It still is.

Her family is European.  She’s one of five kids — one was born in France, another in Israel.  She was born in L.A.  “I was raised in a normal, middle-class neighborhood with kids.  We walked to school, whereas my kids now go to school in the Valley, so you have to drive.”

EG was more of a dancer and singer than an actor … “but I learned to be good at it.  And once I graduated high school, I started booking movies.  Lots of cult films.  Simultaneously did music, wrote songs and was on soundtracks.

“I was married maybe seven years — had two kids. [The ex and I] get along fine.  I love my girls.  I put a lot of attention on them — make sure my kids are priority.”

“What did you learn from divorce?” I ask.  She says, “You know that game — ‘Hot, hot, hot, you’re getting cold, cold, cold’ ”?  I nod, yes.  “It’s pretty simple.  If it feels good, it’s hot, hot, hot; if I want to get out, it’s cold, cold, cold.  How does it feel, is the big question.  I think when you’re with the right person, your life gets better.”

We talk about the difficulty in meeting men.  She’s now more known for voicing cartoon characters on projects like “Rugrats,” “Happy Feet” and “The Powerpuff Girls,” so her fans have changed.  “I started doing a lot of voiceover because I was being a mommy, so it sort of just worked itself out for me.  I was able to be there for [my kids], so voiceovers just blew up.  It was fun for them, too, to have the mommy who was the successful cartoon mommy.  I still have a lot of guys who are in love with me from ‘Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.’  I had to weed through a lot of people at that point.”

I ask her what kind of men she likes.  “I like funny, connected, kind and sensitive — not out of touch, [where] you don’t feel like you can share what you’re really feeling.  Someone who’s comfortable with himself and also works on himself and is growing.  Someone who brings to the party, rather than a taker.  Someone who’s your best friend, who you’re super attracted to.  That’s ideal.  And where you feel at home.  I always say, where you feel like you’re sitting in a warm bath.”

“How do you meet guys?” I ask.  “At my car.” I laugh.  “Seriously, I get notes on my car.”  “Do you respond to them?”  She doesn’t.  But I get the feeling she finds it flattering.  “Guys come over to me in stores, in a market, in the gym. … I was at a party and met someone I dated that way.  I don’t have a 9-to-5 job, so I meet people out.  I’ve dated other dads from the kids’ school.  It was cool.

“I’d say he should be between 40 and 55.  I’m in a different place now.  I feel like I’ve been out of the loop, because I’ve been raising children. … Some dating, but nothing serious.  But now I feel like there’s more of an opening for having a partner.  Because what else is there?  Printing up resumes, doing your auditions, but at the end of the day, what else is there besides companionship?”

If you’re interested in anyone you see on My Single Peeps, send an e-mail and a picture, including the person’s name in the subject line, to mysinglepeeps@jewishjournal.com, and we’ll forward it to your favorite peep.


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

My Single Peeps: Shanee F.


Shanee was born and raised in Beverly Hills by Israeli parents. After college, she moved to New York for four years, where she worked in marketing. “I absolutely adore New York, but I came back because my heart is here — my family and good friends are here. I have the most amazing friends in the world.” She then proceeds to play a game of Jewish Geography with me. I don’t think we’ve ever met before, but she keeps trying. “I know everyone,” she half jokes. She works as a program director for the Israeli Leadership Council here in Los Angeles. “I know tons of people because of that. It’s an awful thing, because I literally create events and bring together some of the best young Jewish professionals in the city every eight weeks, and people think, ‘Doesn’t that make it easy to meet guys?’ But it doesn’t, because it’s in a work capacity, and everyone sees you as the person who puts this together. I guess I don’t come off as attainable because of that.”

I ask her what she’s looking for in a man. “If I can build him, he’s 6 feet, he’s dark-haired, dark eyes, he comes from a good family — and by good I don’t mean perfect, but they’re aware of each other and have a relationship. And he’s settled in his life. Not boring. He has direction, not someone who’s lost. I think by the time you get to your mid- to late 30s, if you’re not really sure of who you are at your core, you’ll always be looking for it. He wants kids. Ideally, he has some sort of Israeli connection. Speaks Hebrew …” Then, out of nowhere she says, “I love green.” I stop typing. She laughs. “That’s random,” she continues, “green’s my favorite color.” I notice her eyes — a stunning sparkling green. I’m about to compliment her, but she’s on to another topic.

“I have a fantastic apartment in Encino, and I love to decorate it. I love to make dinners. I love to host. I love to know when other people are enjoying themselves. The older you get, the more you realize you have to take care of yourself. So, for a long time I had a tendency to forget about myself. I will always want to make sure everyone’s OK, and I’ll always make sure my friends are the best they can be, and I’ll always want to help. But it’s time, at 33 years old, to make sure I’m taken care of, and I’m the best I can be. And I think maybe that’s part of the reason I’m [going on My Single Peeps]. I’m the most sociable person. If you throw me in the desert, I will come back with a friend. But when I know there are a lot of eyes [on me] I am paralyzed. I’m a scaredy-cat, in general. And I think it’s about time that I start doing things that break me out of that mentality.”
Most important to Shanee is family. She has five brothers — she’s the only girl in the family — and she’s extremely close to her nephews. “Being a mom is my priority. It’s such a priority. If I need to work, I need to work. It’s OK. But if I’m able to not work, that’s very OK. Kids need a lot of attention. Kids need a lot of focus. I love children. Love, love, love … more than anything, it’s the most important part of my future. I will be an amazing mother. I know it.”

If you’re interested in anyone you see on My Single Peeps, send an e-mail and a picture, including the person’s name in the subject line, to mysinglepeeps@jewishjournal.com, and we’ll forward it to your favorite peep.


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

 

My Single Peeps: Sarica C.


I’ve become fascinated with meeting single peeps who are only children. Sarica is one of them. Whatever negatives there are growing up without siblings, the positives are immediately apparent. Sarica, like others I’ve met, is overachieving, confident and a natural leader. She also happens to be really smart. After graduating with a degree in biology and working as a data analyst at a biotech company, she was confronted by one of the Ph.D.’s there, who said, “Don’t get me wrong — I love that you’re here, but what are you doing here? You have so much potential.” Sarica realized the Ph.D. was right, and she quit her job and went back to school. She tells me, “Basically, since day one at pharmacy school, I realized it was my calling. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it earlier.” She hit the ground running at USC.

“While I was in pharmacy school, I started my own organization, called the Student Industry Association, and the purpose was to introduce students to opportunities for jobs within the biotech and pharmaceutical industry.” That led Sarica to work for the world’s largest biotech company, “which changed my life. I love what I do now. I’m a medical educator — going around teaching doctors about the biotech company’s clinical data. I’m not in sales. I’m a true educator.”

For a girl who grew up with no Jewish friends in an entirely non-Jewish neighborhood of Simi Valley, she’s had no problem reconnecting to Jews. She’s going to be the chair of the Young Women’s Division of the Guardians of the Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aging; she’s involved with Jewish Federation, Young Jewish Professionals; and charities for her alma mater and one called Operation Blankets of Love, for shelter dogs. “My friends always joke around that if I have a free moment, they’re surprised. But I always keep myself busy with social and volunteer activities. I’ll host a Shabbat dinner; I’ll go to someone’s birthday party; I’ll throw a baby shower … people say I missed my calling as a party planner. I should be social chair of whatever I’m involved in.”

If this comes across as bragging, it’s not. She’s not the self-absorbed type. She just loves being involved with organizations and people. She enjoys introducing people to others.

I ask her about what kind of guy she’s looking for, and she jokes, “With two legs.” But there’s some truth to it. She adds some adjectives, “Driven, ambitious and nice,” but in terms of looks she says, “I don’t care if they’re tall or short or fat or skinny. I’m really not that picky. Obviously I need to be attracted to them, but I can be attracted to someone fat, short or bald.” I grab on to this and start pointing out various funny-looking men in the Starbucks. “Would you date him? How about that guy with the creepy mustache?” She says yes to all of them except the homeless guy — and it’s more about his lack of ambition than his pungent odor.

I wouldn’t believe Sarica was so easygoing had I not spent time with her in Israel last month on a Jewish Federation trip. She gets along with everyone. “That’s something I value. I don’t have a lot of enemies.”  “Do you have any?” I ask. “No, I don’t have any. I don’t think I have any. Not that I know of, anyway.”

So now I’m not sure if I’m more interested in finding her a husband or an enemy. But if you’re interested in either, let me know.

If you’re interested in anyone you see on My Single Peeps, send an e-mail and a picture, including the person’s name in the subject line, to mysinglepeeps@jewishjournal.com, and we’ll forward it to your favorite peep.


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

My Single Peeps: Eva F.


I met Eva this year as part of EILI, an entertainment leadership group through The Jewish Federation. She’s tall, has dark hair, and is stacked like the House of Pancakes. A ditzy actress, I told myself. Our first weekend together was at a retreat in Ojai. We heard lectures, discussions and got to know our group. Eva seemed guarded when I met her. Yet when it was time to share personal stories, Eva had no problem digging in deep and sharing with the group. She was honest and real, and she surprised me. She wasn’t guarded. She wasn’t ditzy. And it turns out she’s never acted a day in her life. She’s an attorney for a mini-major movie studio.

When we sat down to do this interview, Eva was so honest and open that I didn’t know what I’d be able to use from our 90 minutes together. She didn’t try to make herself look good — she just spoke as plainly as she could about her life, her relationships and where they took a wrong turn. So I took a few facts about her life, put them together to create a simple profile and avoided injecting any opinions of her that could potentially get me in trouble with someone I’d be working so closely with for a year. But when I finished writing it, I realized I was too cold and impersonal. Luckily I had time to fix it before it went to print.

Eva grew up in Whittier, Calif. Her mom’s a mix of Mexican, Spanish and Norwegian and converted to Judaism before Eva’s parents were married. Her father’s an Ashkenazi Jew. She was a nerdy loner in high school, but found her way in college. After graduating from UC Riverside, she went directly into law school before becoming an independent contractor at the studio. “I love it. I love the people. I passionately care about my co-workers. My department is mostly all females, and you think that’d be a horrible thing, but it’s great. Would I want to work anywhere else? No.”

She had her first serious relationship at 21 and has had one other relationship since. When I ask her what her requirements in a man are, her responses are comical — he has to have a car and a cell phone. “Ultimately, I want him to have a career — not a job; something that he’s actually passionate about. I’d prefer that he make more money than me — at least in the long run — because I don’t want that to be a potential point of contention down the road. I think most men end up resenting the woman if they make more than them. I want him to be the man in the relationship. In general, I like a guy who’s confident. I like a good smile, good teeth, a playful sense of humor. Someone who can hold his own in a conversation.

“I never know who I’ll be attracted to. It all depends on the mood I’m in and how I’m feeling that night. But, put me in a room with, like, eight guys, and I’ll probably be attracted to at least two of them.”

The night of our interview she stops me as I’m about to shut down the computer. “You should put a disclaimer — I do talk a lot.” When I ask her what she likes to talk about, she says, “Everything. Literally everything. My ex-boyfriend’s friend even said, ‘She doesn’t shut up.’ ”

If you’re interested in anyone you see on My Single Peeps, send an e-mail and a picture, including the person’s name in the subject line, to mysinglepeeps@jewishjournal.com, and we’ll forward it to your favorite peep.


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

An internet guide to finding Israeli products


You could say it all started in 1967, when one of Howard Bernstein’s daughters got married.

“I insisted we serve Israeli wine,” the Chicago businessman and founder of the Buy Israel Goods (BIG) Web site said. He had visited Israel both as a tourist and in his position as an investment banker to the food industry and was searching for ways to help the Jewish state.

“It doesn’t cost any more to buy Israeli products, and they are superior products in most cases,” he said.

But it was several decades—not until 2002, in fact—before Bernstein would launch BIG (buyisraelgoods.org), which he now runs in conjunction with America-Israel Chambers of Commerce, StandWithUs and several other organizations.

His motivation was simple to explain, more difficult to accomplish: Help the Israeli economy by motivating consumers to buy a broad range of Israeli products for their everyday needs.

Today BIG, which Bernstein funds, and maintains with the help of a few interns, lists available Israeli products in about 25 categories in 17 cities in the United States and Canada. Both local merchants and online sellers are identified. The coverage area includes more than 75 percent of the Jewish population of the country, he says.

So let’s say you live in Seattle and are looking for an Israeli-made birthday present for your toddler. Click on your city, click on “Toys and Games” under Product Categories, and voila, you discover there’s a Toys ‘R’ Us store in town that sells Israeli brands, plus a listing of five online retailers. Couldn’t be simpler.

That’s exactly what Bernstein was going for.

“I noted the singular focus in doing business with Israel was high-tech products,” he said. “That’s as it should be, because it’s Israel’s strongest suit. But I also noticed that nobody was paying attention to the considerable amount of companies in the consumer products business.”

He decided he would be the one to pay attention, coming up with the idea of a Web site that would direct people to Israeli consumer products. He started out in a few market areas, watched the Web site grow and hired some college students who, he freely admits, knew much more about Web site development than he did.

“I gave them a single rule that they must never violate,” he said. “I will sacrifice any element of color or design to have a site that, if a visitor sees a page they want to print, all they have to do is press print and they get a perfectly legible copy. I had to drag the (Web site designers) back to the straight and narrow.”

Now Bernstein has Jewish organizational sponsors in a number of cities whose members help gather information for the site. He’s recently added a blog feature, with news about Israeli products, and a library feature that archives articles on the subject.

Big news on the site might be that “AIPAC served Israeli wine to 10,000 people at its last national meeting in Washington, D.C.,” he said.

Wine, in fact, is Bernstein’s favorite product and one he works hard to promote. “If I hear of someone having a banquet, I send a letter: Here’s why you should serve Israeli wine. There’s a lot of misinformation out there. A lot of people think they won’t like Israeli wine, but when they drink it, they like it,” he said.

He gives credit to local America-Israel Chambers of Commerce in BIG’s market areas for providing listings of local merchants selling Israeli products. “Without their input, there would be no BIG,” he said.

Bernstein said he often hears from merchants pleased with the number of sales they’ve made through BIG.

That’s also the view of Roz Rothstein, co-founder and CEO of StandWithUs, a 10-year-old pro-Israel education and advocacy nonprofit based in Los Angeles.

The organization works in partnership with Bernstein after launching a campaign that also promoted buying Israeli goods. That promotion was designed to specifically combat the efforts of groups calling for a boycott of Israeli products, Rothstein said, and was launched on Nov. 30, 2010, and March 30, 2011 — days anti-Israel groups had designated as boycott days.

“We have a very large international membership, and our campaign became global,” reaching supporters as far away as Australia, Rothstein said. “Shelves of Israeli products were emptied” on the boycott days, she said.

Rothstein said StandWithUs “pushed the campaign (to buy Israeli products) out into the world. It became a living, active thing.”

Another goal, she said, was to counter the negativity of the pro-boycott groups. “We created an upbeat, happy campaign,” she said. “We asked people to send in their photos, videos, and it created excitement in Jewish and Christian schools, synagogues, churches. Federations picked it up. It became a whole campaign that was very effective.” Christian pro-Israel groups helped power the effort as well, she said.

Bernstein said that in each month when a boycott was called for, BIG’s page views increased from about 5,000 to almost 50,000. “StandWithUs’ efforts have proved to be very effective,” he said.

StandWithUs, meanwhile, will continue to sponsor and work with BIG as Bernstein seeks to expand the Web site’s reach into new markets, including international ones.

And here’s what Bernstein wants everyone who uses his service to remember: “While I hope and think that BIG assists Israel, the Israelis do more for us than we do for them, just by being there.”

Dead Sea Scrolls debut online [VIDEO]


Internet users can now view the Dead Sea Scrolls online.

The Israel Museum on Monday launched the Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Project, which provides access to high-resolution images of the scrolls, as well as additional data and background information.

The project is a collaboration of the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Google R&D center in Israel.

Five scrolls have been digitized: the Great Isaiah Scroll, the Community Rule Scroll, the Commentary on Habakkuk Scroll, the Temple Scroll and the War Scroll.

It marks the first time that the collection of scrolls is being photographed in its entirety since the 1950s. The entire collection includes 900 manuscripts comprising about 30,000 Dead Sea Scrolls fragments.

“We are privileged to house in the Israel Museum’s Shrine of the Book the best preserved and most complete Dead Sea Scrolls ever discovered,” said James Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher director of the Israel Museum. “They are of paramount importance among the touchstones of monotheistic world culture, and they represent unique highlights of our Museum’s encyclopedic holdings. Now, through our partnership with Google, we are able to bring these treasures to the broadest possible public.”

Story continues after the jump.

The Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library project is being funded with a major gift from the Leon Levy Foundation, with additional major funding from the Arcadia Foundation and the Yad Hanadiv Foundation.

Virtual gifting


Tally Oliveau loves gift cards so much that she hopes to do away with them altogether — in their physical form anyway.

The Woodland Hills entrepreneur last month launched iCardMall, a service specializing in virtual gift cards and e-greeting cards. More than 80 brands are available through her Web site, covering everything from Chili’s to Sears.

It was a natural fit for Oliveau, 41, since gift cards are among her favorite things to give and receive.

“They’re just so convenient,” she said. “It prevents that whole opening the box and it’s the wrong size, and then the trouble of returning it. The gift card takes all of that bad part away.”

Her goal is to take that virtue one step further. As the former vice president of an environmental engineering company — a job she gave up to become a stay-at-home mom — she understands the negative implications of all those plastic cards floating around out there.

iCardMall customers can simply e-mail gift cards, which can then be redeemed online at retailer Web sites or printed out and taken directly to a store. For those who aren’t sure what to choose, there’s also an iCardMall option, for a small extra charge, which allows the recipient to choose from among any of the companies on the Web site.

Aside from being environmentally conscious, iCardMall is also expedient: It allows customers to get gifts to recipients within 24 hours.

“It saves so much time and money for everyone, from the business perspective and from the consumer’s perspective,” said Oliveau, a member of Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills. “It’s so much cleaner and faster. And you don’t have to get off your tushy!”

Each gift card comes with an e-greeting card — either a free one, or a designed one can be added for 99 cents. That’s no accident either: Oliveau created her own greeting card company, Papier Studio, in 2005. (Even in this endeavor she had gift cards in mind, patenting a greeting card designed to hold a gift card.)

Aside from working on iCardMall for the past year, the mother of three has become interested in mixed-media collage and assemblage art. She co-wrote a book, “Mixed-Media Dollhouses,” which was published in March.

And Oliveau has plenty to keep her busy heading into the future as she continues to add new companies, including local ones, to iCardMall’s site and tries to set up fundraising partnerships with nonprofits. She has high expectations.

“I think iCardMall is going to change the way people buy gift cards,” she said. 

Check out iCardMall at icardmall.com.

Yad Vashem launches Farsi YouTube chanel


Yad Vashem has launched a YouTube channel in Farsi and an expanded version of its Farsi website.

The Farsi YouTube channel launched Sunday contains survivor testimonies, archival footage and mini-lectures by Holocaust historians on topics such as contemporary anti-Semitism, and what makes the Holocaust a unique historical event.

The comprehensive new website includes a chronological and thematic narrative about the Holocaust with related video, photos, documents and artifacts; frequently asked questions about the Holocaust; a lexicon of terms; online exhibitions including a multimedia presentation of the Auschwitz Album in Farsi; and stories of Righteous Among the Nations. 

Addressing viewers on the YouTube channel, Israeli President Shimon Peres encourages visitors to the site.

“History is rich in events, but there is one event that is exceptional, which is a watershed. That is the Holocaust, when a cultured nation in an organized manner killed 6 million people because they were Jews, including a million-and-a-half babies and children,” Peres says. “What we suggest is that each of you will see the material, which is based on records and on photos, to understand what happened, and also to be able to tell your own children to beware, not to let history fall again to such a depth, to such shame,” he said.

“One of our primary goals is to make credible information about the Holocaust accessible to as wide an audience as possible,” said Avner Shalev, the chairman of Yad Vashem. “Today, when there is so much disinformation and distortion easily available online, we provide an alternative to anyone who is interested in the truth.”

Yad Vashem’s website and YouTube Channel are available in English, Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, Spanish and Farsi.

Dead Sea Scrolls going online


The Dead Sea Scrolls will go online in a project launched by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The project, part of the celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the authority, will image and digitize the entire collection of 900 manuscripts comprising about 30,000 Dead Sea Scrolls fragments.

The Antiquities Authority is collaborating with the Google R&D center in Israel to upload the digitized Scrolls images, as well as additional data that will allow users to perform searches across a broad range of data in a number of languages and formats.

The Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library project is being funded with a major gift from the Leon Levy Foundation, with additional major funding from the Arcadia Foundation and the Yad Hanadiv Foundation.

It is the first time that the collection of Scrolls will be photographed in its entirety since the 1950s.

The images will be equal in quality to the actual viewing of the Scrolls, according to the Antiquities Authority.

“We are establishing a milestone connection between progress and the past to preserve this unique heritage for future generations,” said Shuka Dorfman, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority. “At the end of a comprehensive and profound examination, we have succeeded in recruiting the best minds and technological means to preserve this unrivaled cultural heritage treasure which belongs to all of us, so that the public with a click of the mouse will be able to freely access history in its fullest glamour.”

True confessions of an online dating addict #20: Don’t believe


ALTTEXT

True confessions of an online dating addict #19: I feel badly


ALTTEXT

True confessions of an online dating addict #18: Keep mouth shut


ALTTEXT

True confessions of an online dating addict #17: Things are not going well


ALTTEXT

True confessions of an online dating addict #16: Marathon date with Jeremy


ALTTEXT

True confessions of an online dating addict #15: All that’s left is me


ALTTEXT