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currently: Los Angeles
Writer-at-large in Los Angeles. But occasionally also New York City, Jerusalem, and the world. #10 on the JTA's 2009 list of influential Jewish Twitterers. Yes, that's a real list...
Recent Activity
Me (and my purple scarf) leading a group in improv exercises at the ROI Summit Back in New York, people had been encouraging me to do comedy for years. But as far as I knew "doing comedy" meant either a) moving out to LA, pitching agents and studios on ideas, only to have your heart trampled on, or b) doing standup at an open-mic or "bringer" night at a comedy... Continue reading
Posted Mar 3, 2014 at MY URBAN KVETCH
There's a classic joke about the oleh chadash, the new immigrant to Israel, who sees that wherever he goes, people are parking on the sidewalk. One day, he's driving around and looking for parking. Nothing. Not a single legal space free, but people are still parking on the sidewalks. He sees a policeman and asks, "Excuse me, officer, is it legal for me to park on the sidewalks?" "Absolutely not!"... Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2014 at MY URBAN KVETCH
Do you spend a lot of time thinking about food and the role it plays in our lives? My friend, filmmaker Joseph Levy, previously famous to me for being a producer of the amazing short George Lucas in Love , does, and the result is a film that is beautiful in message and medium (and music). Spinnning Plates (available at Amazon via this link) is the story of three very... Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2014 at MY URBAN KVETCH
Welcome to My Urban Kvetch, a place for me to vent about the issues that clutter my brain as I live my so-called-freelance life in the Big City. I'm all about looking at my experience through the lens of humor, whenever it's possible. […]And though I've resisted long enough, I'm joining the blog generation. My hopes? That this space will provide me with a forum for fleshing out ideas, kicking... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2014 at MY URBAN KVETCH
Although it's hard to believe, both for me and for those who know me, there was a time when I was not a blogger. The me of this time was a struggling freelance writer, desperate to find venues who would publish her, even though she had rarely been published before. The me of this time also had a friend who recommended that, as I developed my reading audience, I might... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2014 at MY URBAN KVETCH
In Winter 2006-7, philanthropist Lynn Schusterman brought an international group of young Jewish leaders to the Galilee to help “repair” what the Second Lebanon War had destroyed. Because we lacked painting experience, we imparted way more personality than artistry – illustrating bomb shelter walls with images we believed to be calming, inspiring or uplifting. Fish in an ocean. Flowers and animals frolicking in a sunny field. And my friend Dave... Continue reading
Posted Jan 22, 2014 at MY URBAN KVETCH
On January 2, 2013, Ha'aretz published a piece I'd written about how the community can support those who grieve (if there is a paywall on this link or any of the ones below, please contact me and I'll send you a PDF). It might have seemed a strange way to begin a year, a year whose start is supposed to inspire optimism; but I saw it as an opportunity to... Continue reading
Posted Jan 4, 2014 at MY URBAN KVETCH
Online connections are a daily thing to me, but as much as possible, I try to seek out opportunities for online connections to cross over into real life. While meeting someone who's basically a stranger sometimes leads to awkwardness, I'm always amazed by how much deeper a connection can get when you add an in-person dimension - as if something in the in-room chemistry reinforces human solitude and interdependence simultaneously,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 9, 2013 at MY URBAN KVETCH
If you work in or adjacent to the Jewish nonprofit world, you know that the release of a study on Jewish identity can launch a thousand op-ed pieces, even if the findings themselves are not entirely surprising. The arrival of such a study can elicit excitement or flat-out panic, and reactions swirl together violently into an intellectual and emotional froth. As passionate consumers - educators, academics, rabbis, Jewish communal workers,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2013 at MY URBAN KVETCH
This is a continuation of last Sunday’s post, “(What's Not) Working at a Nonprofit: Tumbling Ideas for Nonprofit Improvement.” The nonprofit worker's life is full of frustration - while many of us suspected this was the case in our particular nonprofit professional experiences, at the end of July, we learned it wasn't just us. The Working in a Nonprofit Tumblr made it clear - these things are far more wide-reaching... Continue reading
Posted Sep 17, 2013 at MY URBAN KVETCH
If you’re working for a Jewish nonprofit, it’s entirely probable that you’ve seen the “Working at a Nonprofit” site, featuring images from TV and film – which themselves don’t really have anything to do with actually working at a nonprofit –juxtaposed with text headings to illustrate the challenges and frustrations of nonprofit professional life. For instance, “When you are in a meeting, scheduling a meeting, about the next meeting,” features... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2013 at MY URBAN KVETCH
After some needling via social media, I've been told that it takes "up to 20 days" to get a response from customer service. So expect an update around August 26...maybe...
"You've already seen 'Conversations with My 2-Year-Old'? But have you seen zefrank's 'True Facts About' nature series?" I seem to do this a lot, ask my friends what they've seen, what they're enjoying, what's making the rounds virally on the web. I delight at being among the first few viewers, and when something is good, I really enjoy sharing it. And so, I launch a new series here. ICYMI, for... Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2013 at MY URBAN KVETCH
Fine, fine....I get it. Obviously in shielding the identity of one airline, my goal was never to malign another. I'll change it to something else immediately, and then the internet people can tell me why the new alias is a bad one...
I'm not generally the person who makes a federal case out of delayed flights and travel troubles - this is the cost for modern airline travel. But last weekend, I flew back from New York on a flight that was severely delayed. And the fun didn't end there. This is the letter I wrote to the airline, submitted via their customer service form for Comments or Complaints - name of... Continue reading
Posted Aug 6, 2013 at MY URBAN KVETCH
It is often the custom at large meetings at Jewish organizations to have someone present a Jewish framing for the work at hand, usually rooted in either a recent calendar happening or in the weekly Torah portion. A few weeks ago, I was asked to prepare a few words for a committee at the Jewish Federation named "Ensuring the Jewish Future" - since the week containing Tish'ah b'Av (a fast... Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2013 at MY URBAN KVETCH
In June, my last Jerusalem Friday before my return to the US, I went to the Western Wall (the Kotel), to say a prayer for a friend's father who was seriously ill. I jotted down some notes, and returned to the US. A few weeks later, this piece emerged. I'm posting it here, now, because it's the 9th of Av, which commemorates destruction in Jerusalem because of baseless hatred between... Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2013 at MY URBAN KVETCH
Over the years, I've had a number of people - at the office and in other areas of my life - ask for my advice on everything from PR to online content development and social media engagement. Most of them aren't looking to hire me, just to glean some quick advice. So I thought it might be helpful to share a few pieces of advice about media strategy and PR.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2013 at MY URBAN KVETCH
Possibly one of the worst ideas for a Mother's Day card ever. We all know what happened to Bambi's mother, right? Isn't Mom the Bomb? 82 Ways to Tell Mom You Love Her. Don't forget about Mom! It's Mom's turn. Mother's Day offer! Make Mom feel special. Treat Mom to the dinner she deserves! What mom really wants. Ready to Party Like a Mother? Tell your mother you love her.... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2013 at MY URBAN KVETCH
When I first found it, it was like a breeze of fresh air: the merest whisper of hipster energy, a wooden interior that evoked Brooklyn and San Francisco and Tel Aviv and all the coffeeshops I'd loved before, as venues for procuring caffeine as well as for the bustling creativity that seemed to live there. This was a place that made me want to dissolve the ties I had to... Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2013 at MY URBAN KVETCH
I don't think i t appeared on SNL. I think the youtube clip was mislabeled. (I'm quite well-versed in SNL sketches, and would have remembered. :)) Thanks for commenting, Israeli superstar Ohad!
(Esther's note: This piece is a 2013 version of "Dating the Seder Way," which appeared in the NY Jewish Week, April 22, 2005. Wishing us all a happy and liberated Passover, and that we continue to make strides toward personal and relationship redemption.) Dating the Seder Way by Esther D. Kustanowitz Amy and Sheldon on a date (via Why is this date different from all other dates? On a... Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2013 at MY URBAN KVETCH
Via FanPop I used to be very serious about my Oscar parties - inviting the right friends, having some lovely snacks and perhaps even dressing up a bit in mimicry of the red carpet madness. But then I found that people were betting on the results, being loud and talking over the presenters, and generally not letting me hear or experience the moments that would be water-cooler dissected at work... Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2013 at MY URBAN KVETCH
If you're an adult (and I don't mean behaving like an adult all the time, I mean, that you have passed a certain number of years on this planet), you probably remember this scene from "When Harry Met Sally": HARRY: I mean, "should auld acquaintance be forgot" - does that mean we should forget old acquaintances, or does it mean if we do happen to forget them, we should remember... Continue reading
Posted Feb 20, 2013 at MY URBAN KVETCH
I've been to five LimmudLA conferences, and have twice been granted access to the Mothership - the original UK Limmud. At all of them, I've experienced new approaches to familiar texts, fresh opinions on Jewish engagement, and reinvigorated connections to culture and tradition. This weekend is my first time to the NY version of the conference, and I'm ("only") doing three sessions, so I'm super-excited to participate lots. It's sold... Continue reading
Posted Feb 15, 2013 at MY URBAN KVETCH