Where have we been, where are we going

In the last six months, I sold all my stuff and moved my family half way across the world. Got jobs, replaced the stuff, and settled in to take root in NJ. For me, NJ is where it all began. For my partner and son NJ means new beginnings and opportunities.

It’s no Mecca- but the holy land we left wasn’t feeling too holy either. Both of our homes lead by greedy, racist narcissists, surrounded by sycophants. In both of our lives we expend our energy in the name of the resistance, in hopes of leaving our children a kinder, more just society. These days we are not optimistic about either of these societies, but we are comforted by the way we raise our son, and lift up the people around us as much as possible.

Check out my Times of Israel blog for my latest thoughts and actions:

Be the ‘Righteous Gentile’

The days after awe, stay woke

This Jewish mother is dedicating her Yom Kippur to Kalief Browder

 

 

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Uncentered

I love living in Beer Sheva. I love the desert. The expanse, the space and the heat. The B7, as we call it, is one of the oldest cities in the world- traveled by Abraham and all of the tradesmen, profits, families and pioneers since. It has somehow frozen throughout time- in between growth spurts and perhaps just now catching up. In so many ways Beer Sheva is the perfect place for my family. Small enough to avoid traffic and city-parking-battles and just big enough to provide a taste of culture and nightlife when you want it. The mood is calm, slow and less contentious than other cities in Israel. We can walk our son to daycare in the morning and my partner walks to work, yet when we get the chance to go out, there is always new restaurant or bar to check out. The local flavor includes diversity, community, and a real sense of responsibility for one another. A large, forward-thinking university and a new high-tech park- booming. Ever a place of contradictions, there is also extreme poverty here and deeply rooted streams of backward societal norms- embodied in racism, sexism and homophobia. I guess we have it all.
Somehow when I moved to Beer Sheva I felt at home. I fit here. I never liked the big cities. Tel Aviv was too hectic and hip for me and the tensions of Jerusalem grew strenuous after 5 years.
Though we call Beer Sheva the city of opportunities, alas, it will never be in the “center.” It is the very definition of peripheral. There has been A LOT of progress here and so many people are doing great work- from grassroots  to the mayor- to increase employment opportunities, keep living costs low and foster culture here. But it isn’t always easy. In a job search it will always feel like 90% of the jobs in your field are looking for people who live in Jerusalem or Tel  Aviv. Some of your friends and family will scrunch their noses up when you invite them down for the weekend, unaware of the utter greatness of this place. Also, you can’t always find canned black beans in the store so you will have to learn how to cook the beans from scratch. You will have less fabulously out LGBT neighbors and you have your work cut out for you if you openly take issue with racist and sexist “jokes” (like I do).
Despite its challenges, I wouldn’t live anywhere else in Israel. The quality of our life here is rich and abundant. All else comes together, with hard work and positive life energy. If home is where your heart is, then mine is in the Negev.

Doing What I Love

Helping good causes, good companies and good people get the message out. This is what do. I am an activist, a social networking maven, an event planner, a story teller, a shmoozer, a spokeswoman, a connecter, and an organizer.

What do I offer? What is my expertise?

Public relations- Recognizing and creating opportunities, strategizing messaging and disseminating to news media, TV, radio, print, blogs. 

Communications infrastructure: Upgrading website and social networking presence, integrating online fundraising platforms,

Curating multimedia materials: videos, photography, etc., optimizing email newsletters

Media, Marketing and Advocacy campaigns: Community building, analyzing and strategizing for campaigns, organizing public events, optimizing tools for ‘letter writing’ campaigns, petitions, viral videos, memes, crowdfunding

English writing: opeds, press releases, content writing

International relations- Building a network base abroad (special in the US), garnering international support, strategies for trips in the US, lecture tours and meetings abroad

Organizations that stole my heart

I am so proud to have dedicate time and energy to the following great organizations. I remain a staunch supporter of their work to advance equality, to improve the lives of individuals as well as changing Israeli society as a whole.

Women of the Wall נשות הכותל

The Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Toleranceהבית הפתוח לגאווה וסובלנות בירושלים

MEET (Middle East Education through Technology) מפגש חינוך טכנולוגיה

MASLAN The Negev’s Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Support Center מסל”ן מרכז סיוע לנפגעות ונפגעי אלימות ותקיפה מינית בנגב

 

My Experience

Professional Experience:

Freelance: (Current)
Communications consultant: Strategist and project management with expertise in Public Relations, web presence, social networks, branding, content writing, campaigns. International Relations: Building partnerships, visits, lectures and meetings abroad
Clients include: Make a Point: Online Messaging Tool, Simpact: Sustainable Social Impact

Women of the Wall (2010- Current)
Director of Public Relations and Development
(Interim Director December 2013 – July 2014)
Responsibilities include: Supervision of full time, part time and freelance staff, writing English materials including press releases and articles, developing and managing strategies for all social networking sites, managing web content for English and Hebrew site, press contacts and organizational partnerships in Israel and abroad, overseeing logistics and PR for events.

MASLAN- The Negev’s Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Support Center (December 2010- March 2012)

Director of the Education, Prevention and Advocacy Department: Responsibilities included supervision of professional staff- full time and freelance- cooperative efforts with other organizations; communication with institutions including educational and welfare frameworks, municipalities and local government; overseeing resource development, marketing, budgets, and statistics for the department; development of MASLAN’s new website, social networks; recruitment and facilitation of the education and instruction course.

 

Shatil, New Israel Fund (2010)

Interim Coordinator of the Training Department (2010): Responsibilities included coordinating logistics, finances and administration for Shatil training courses and seminars in the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem areas and responding to all organizations looking for first-time support from Shatil.

MEET: Middle East Education through Technology (2008- 2010)

Summer Program Coordinator: Responsibilities included coordinating summer program for excelling Palestinian and Israeli high school students at Hebrew University; overseeing staff from the US and Israel, budget and cash-flow

Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance (2007- 2010)

  • Coordinator of the Open Clinic Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Health Center (Spring 2008- Spring 2010): Responsibilities included recruiting and overseeing a staff of 10 medical and mental health professionals; fundraising; building international networks with experienced LGBT Health Clinics abroad; coordinating community activists to expand the clinic’s health fields; overseeing the writing of protocols and procedural regulations
  • Community Coordinator (Spring 2007- Spring 2008): Responsibilities included programming social activities for different groups within the LGBT community; building and managing the programming budget; PR online and within the community; coordinating volunteers and cooperative work with organizations in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv; writing curriculum, coordinating speakers, recruiting participants and facilitating the first LGBT Leadership Course in Israel.
  • Fundraiser, Grant Writer (Spring 2007- Fall 2007): Responsibilities included writing letters of interest, grant requests and reports; meeting with donors and foundations; relationship-building with supporters, donors and foundations.
  • Coordinator of the 2007 Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance (Summer 2007): Responsibilities included coordinating logistics; overseeing hundreds of volunteers; communication between all official parties involved, on behalf of the Open House: staff, board of directors, PR firm, Police, production company and municipality.

World Union for Progressive Judaism, International Headquarters (2006- 2007)

Programs Coordinator: Responsibilities included logistics and communication for the 2007 International Convention and its hundreds of attendees; management and planning of web site; organizing other projects around the world and in Israel.

Israeli Knesset (2004- 2006)

Coordinator of the Christian Allies Caucus: Responsibilities included event planning in Israel and abroad, media relations

networking works

I am a HUGE fan of networking, personally and organizationally. The success, for me, has been in finding the balance between creating bonds with people who share my passion for social change work and trying to get what I want- whether it was a job, donations or  volunteers. Sure, networking usually has an end goal but it isn’t selfish, at least I don’t believe it is. Facebook started of as a bunch of nerds trying to get laid, and I can’t blame them for that, but it also ended up connecting silenced activists living under dictatorships to the outside world. Unfortunately, hate groups and bullies unite through networking online, but so do civil rights groups and victims of abuse. Some of my closest friends started as “networks”- colleagues or mentors or clients- and I often network with my actual best friends today.

If networking is creating bonds and taking advantage of those bonds to further a cause or ourselves, then we owe it to ourselves to learn how and make it work for us! For organizations it is important to create a voice- a clear personality that is inviting, exciting and interesting that calls for others to join on and get active! I love social networking for the right cause because I enjoy creating the right character for the organization that represents its goals and its leaders– and helps it grow. The keys to creating online buzz is actively reaching out to the right people and organizations to get support, and offer mutual support, as well as creating interesting and maybe even controversial conversations. Connecting to relevant articles, video, media and music does not hurt– and neither does a sense of humor!

Let me know if I can help your organization develop its online presence and work that network!

The Consequence of Sound

Regina Spector is out of her mind. She is an amazing singer-song-writer but one listen to her music will tell you that she is completely out of her gourd. But there is so much genius, heart and message in her lyrics and in the music in between. The Consequence of Sound is a Spector’s stream of consciousness- it’s nuts, it makes me think; I love it.

Give it a listen: The Consequence of Sound- Regina Spector

I have always felt a deep connection between language and music- the way the right words can set you free, set the mood.  Language  was a way to flow off of your tongue- for me, English and Hebrew come to me and they mirror the way the right melody and harmony flow in tandem out of a finely tuned instrument. I have been breathing, talking and signing for nearly 30 years and yet just recently, I was fortunate to learn the the real meaning and importance of a deep, intentional breath taken before letting the notes and words ring out.

In terms of social change, activists voices’ give sound to suffering, violence, vulnerability and violations which have gone silent for God knows how long. The web and social networks give voice to millions who are stifled other wise by those who wish to control media and freedoms. Every Take Back the Night, every classroom workshop on sexual assault awareness gives voice to the men, women and children who suffer silently. When “straight” people stand up for the rights of the LGBT community, when a diverse community refuses to accept racism and discrimination in their midst- we are essentially creating change just with our will– and our sound. But it is the deep breath, the strategy and the intention that makes change effective and sustainable.

When I write, protest, volunteer, and work to help people and communities to change- I do so in the grand hope that my legacy will be to leave a better, kinder and more just world when I leave it.  The consequence of the things we say- as leaders and as every day people walking around- shape our society, shape our community. So lets take a deep breath, figure out a strategy and sing- for ourselves and for those who can not.