Showing posts from May, 2017

Shavuot Ethnography

We come here every year and I can't keep track of the years anymore.

They all seem to blend in together. As every time, the routine is the same. I walk in with a big black knapsack, like a teenage runaway or a homeless woman, fearful of losing it and all that it contains.

At that moment when the fear wells up -- for I do recognize how odd it looks to shlep a backpack around in shul -- I always think the same thing: I trust in You, God, but I don't trust these people, or any people, to *not* steal my stuff.

It isn't a big synagogue, but it feels big. The room is divided in half. The Torahs are encased in a special holding container in front. Starting partway down the room there is a wooden divider separating the men from the women, as is traditional. The entryway is in the back.

I sit down, and it is just like I was there yesterday. In this synagogue there is a designated member of the congregation, a man, who traditionally gives the women a prayer book as well as a Bible. …

Remembering The Women Who Volunteered To Serve

"In an era of universal polemics and political unrest – with no thought of glory, with no fanfare or public notice – 265,000 women volunteered to go where they were needed, to do what was needed. The era was known as Vietnam, and these young women, most in their 20s, risked their lives to care for our country's wounded and dying." - "History of the Women's Vietnam Memorial," accessed May 29, 2017 The Vietnam War has such a strong negative brand that the very mention of it brings to mind unpleasant thoughts. So unpopular was this war that people routinely threw tomatoes at the faces of Veterans lucky enough to make it home, adding insult to injury.

Nowadays, we live in a very polarized environment, although my sense is that people are getting weary of it.

More than that, as much as they may loathe the politics of the "other side," there is a growing recognition that shutting people down just because they have different views does not make any sens…

A Simple Crisis Communication Template

Hope this is useful to you.
A Simple Crisis Communication Template from Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. __________
 By Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are the author's own; this blog is posted in the author's personal capacity. Public Domain.

When A Tagline Becomes Your Mission

Created in the early 1940s during World War II, Rosie the Riveter is my favorite advertising character of all time. And my favorite ad slogan is, you guessed it, Nike's 1988 line: "Just Do It."

Along the same lines, if I had to cite a book worth reading, it would probably be
Street-Level Bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the Individual in Public Service.As you can tell from the title, the work is a discussion of practical reality: civil servants do their jobs amid a large, complex, and very confusing bureaucratic machine.

In my work life and in my personal life, I believe in the power of getting things done. So often we get bogged down in minutiae, in trivialities, in power struggles and petty politics and ruminations. We think about all the things that could possibly go wrong, and in the end decide to do nothing.

But there are people out there. They are real, they have needs -- they are hungry. Whether we are acting as partners, parents or professionals, we cannot ignore our obli…

Management as a Mothering Activity

When I was a kid each set of grandparents (may they rest in peace) wanted to hear that I preferred them to the other ones. It rose to the level of a family joke that at every visit to the Catskills, Grandma would ask if I preferred the mountain air to Toronto. Meanwhile Zayde would ask me the same. "You don't have to answer if you don't want to." Suuure. Just like the endless "favorite grandparents" discussion, men and women will never stop comparing themselves to one another when it comes to gendered skills. "Women are horrible drivers," some men love to say, "because they never look." Whereas "men are horrible drivers," according to the women, "because they are so goddamn aggressive." When it comes to management I can honestly say that gender superiority simply does not exist. There are some men who are great, intuitively great, get-the-team-together-and-get-it-done types, and others who are abusive, self-serving, …

First World Problems

The homeless lady looked at me.
So I looked at the homeless lady looking at me.

"You're crying."

"I know."

"Can you spare two dollars and fifty eight cents? The doctor said I need to drink coffee."

Annoyed at the distraction, I reflected that no doctor would ever say that.

You're a horrible person, I mouthed to myself in an imaginary mirror.

And then I said, "What else can I get you?"

She looked skinny, and hungry, and tired.

Her sleeping bag was next to her on the seat, with a backpack and her pocketbook.

Using the mobile app, I tried to order her some food. But there are so many Starbucks in the city, I had trouble figuring out which one we were at.

This was becoming an odyssey.

I picked up my computer, knapsack, phone and coffee and traveled to the counter to get our exact location.

"I have the flu," she announced as I walked away.

And then came back.

"Now I know where we are," I said proudly, and keyed our loc…

I Before You Except After Me (Poem)

I had one more thing to say before you interrupted;
Now I've lost my train of thought.
Keep up with me, I have grand ambitions.
(You're a gem)
Did I mention that I had a job interview today?
Your profile picture, I don't know about that; Seems like you've gained a little weight lately.
(Anyway, let's talk about me.)
I was published in The New Yorker, once; They chose my poem out of piles. 
(Are you listening to a thing I say?)
...I think I will wear blue to the party. It flatters me.
(Where is your mind I'm speaking?) 
I have a grand, grand future. You're either on *that* train or you're out.
(Stop interrupting)
Get me some coffee while you're at it, my darling; I'll be working on this for hours.
(And shut the door? Sorry, but you make noise.)

By Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are the author's own; this blog is posted in the author's personal capacity.

A Blessing Upon Seeing Israel (Poem)

What is Israel? It's Jews who look like a salad of race, ethnicity & culture. It's Rav Ovadia Yosef at the money exchange place. It's cats with human souls. It's 80 mph. It's the truth. It's security guards who check for weapons at the door. It's Hebrew, Arabic and English together. It's kosher McDonald's. It's the Israeli flag flying everywhere. EVERYWHERE.  It's girls with half shaved heads and purple hair walking barefoot on the overpass. It's frum ladies hitchhiking in the middle of the highway.  It's art museums, concert halls, and huge convention centers. It's companies sponsoring civic spaces. It's friends outside, relating. It's grandmothers, mothers and fathers taking their kids to school with sippy cups. It's huge ads. It's soldiers right next to Peace Now. It's Chasidim with old iPhones asking to borrow your charging cord. And you're low on juice but you lend it. It's screaming, screaming babies and you sa…