Oy! Bites


A taste of what’s going on at Oy!Chicago, an online community for Jews in the Loop!

Oy! Bites

Start your summer with Oy!

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I Hope You Didn't Blink

I Hope You Didn't Blink photo

With less than two minutes left, Jonathan Toews made an incredible pass to Bryan Bickell to tie the game. Suddenly hope was restored. We would make it to overtime for the fourth time this series, and the Blackhawks had already won two of the previous three overtime games. I hope you didn't blink.

Seventeen seconds later, Dave Bolland made history in what had already been an historic season for the Blackhawks. They were less than a minute away from their second cup in four years. In 17 seconds, they went from heartbreaking loss, to Stanley Cup glory. I really hope you didn't blink. (Read more ...)


Moving Back

Moving Back photo

My famous last words: "I will not move back to Highland Park."

That's what I told my wife when we were looking for a house. I grew up in Highland Park and though I loved elementary and middle school, high school I could've done without. I think that can be said for many people. Instead, I had a suburbs crush on Glenview. (Read more…)



Tumbling photo

"She's darker than you." the girl said to me. She was twisting her blond hair and chewing on it while her blue eyes darted between me and my daughter. Fray was attempting cartwheels with great enthusiasm and seemed not to hear. "And what's with her hair?" the girl blurted out loudly. "Do you wash it? Why is it so crazy?"

I regarded Fray's afro as a few other parents gave me sympathetic looks and rolled their eyes at the kid's perceived impudence. Only hours before, the afro had been a collection of neat little braids. The current hairdo was the result of my tediously unbraiding, washing, conditioning and combing my daughter's hair amid dramatic protests and screams of agony (despite the plug of a sizable lollipop and Doc McStuffins on TV). (Read more…)


Matchmaking: Doggie-Style, Part III

Matchmaking: Doggie-style, part III photo

I don't believe much in serendipity but sometimes when situations knock you right in the face, it's hard to deny them.

This morning on my walk into work, I received an email from my vet wishing our dog Toby a "happy birthday." Now before you go accusing me of being a terrible pet parent and not knowing my dog's special day, let me preface this by saying  Toby is a rescue dog. We've always considered his "birthday" to be the day he found his forever home with us, which is not until June 26. And we are actually planning a big puppy party for him, but I digress… (Read more…)

Oy! is in full bloom

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A Cake to Build Your Life On

Coffee Cake

I love an anniversary. I am a sucker for any chance to stop and review where I am and the path that got me here. Lucky for me my first "Jewish Birthday" is this week, so I don't have to work very hard to find an anniversary to think about. What that means is I'm spending a lot of time this week thinking about my journey to Judaism.

I was originally attracted to Judaism because a lot of my very best friends are Jewish. When I was coming out, my Jewish friends were the most supportive people in my life. They took me in and became my family. They gave me love and acceptance in a way that I had not known. Then I met and fell in love with my Jewish husband and that basically set the whole thing in stone. We were living a Jewish life, so why not make it official? (Read more ...)

How You'll Meet Their Mother


I recently indulged in a guilty pleasure of mine and read an article entitled "How to Date a Jewish Sorority Girl." I'm sure many of you saw the article floating around Twitter. As a recent college graduate, East Coast native and Jewish sorority girl, I naturally could not refrain. (There are probably more appropriate ways to introduce myself, but they are probably not as fitting.) The article was frighteningly accurate giving advice along the lines of "when in doubt Camp Ramah" and "you studied abroad in Florence? I was in Rome!" It gave all the essential tools and shortcuts to the heart of every Jewish sorority girl.

But how do you date that girl once she has left the sorority, left college? In fact, now that we're in the real world, how do you date at all? (Read more ...)

What a Difference a Decade Makes


Ten years ago in April 2003, I was 130 pounds heavier, desperate for love, working the wrong job and financially unstable. One year later, I had tried hard to take a few steps forward, but in actuality had taken several steps back. Now, 10 years later, I am grateful for the monumental and positive changes in all four of those areas. I weigh less today than when I graduated high school; I eat and live healthier, having completed over a dozen distance races, including a marathon; I am married and very much in love with my beautiful wife; I healed and improved relationships with many friends and family members over the years; what I accumulated in debt by 2003, I not only paid off, but have managed to save the equivalent amount for retirement. I worked with coaches to win at the game of health, relationships and career. (Read more ...)

Lessons of Flexible Parenting

lesson of flexible parenting

It's raining, it's pouring, and my little guy is in the back seat snoring. We were out running errands before nap time, and of course, less than a mile away from our house, his eyes, already droopy, collapsed shut.

Parents out there know the conundrum I'm facing: waking him now will spoil his regular nap for the day, but staying in the car means...I'm stuck in the car. Oy! indeed, Chicago. (Read more ...)

New year, new Oy!

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 New Year, New Me 


Ever since my late teens and into my twenties, this motto "New Year, New Me" echoes loudly in my mind this time of year. I'm both a terribly sentimental and superstitious person, so New Year's also tends to elicit my most ambitious activity seen all year round. It's simple enough most of the time. Work out more. Be a better friend, sister, daughter. Do more of what I enjoy. Give back. And then some. And so propelling through January, driven by this motivation, I've been trying to do the normal, day-to-day stuff with a little more umph, a little more purpose. I'm kidding myself, aren't I?

 'I love you like a love song, baby…  


Valentine's Day is more than a month away, but I am hating on love a little early this year.

Love songs are like audible reminders of lovers past. If I hear a song that frequented the radio waves while I was dating a certain guy, it sticks. I will always think of him years later when I hear that song. Just like Selena Gomez's Love You Like a Love Song, it's painfully hard to forget.

If only our senses and memory triggers were that strong when meeting and assessing new potential mates. I knew I had the topic for my next Oy article when I found myself re-dating.

 Great Jewish NFL moments this season  


There are not too many great Jewish NFL moments to write about, the highlight being Adam Podlesh's two-point conversion. Most of our great Jewish NFLers are Offensive Linemen (we are not complaining). Here is how everyone checked out.

 Young Adult Engagement and Philanthropy: An Event Model that Works 


Those of us working with young adults know all too well the many challenges of attracting this demographic to fundraising events. We constantly look for new ideas, venues, speakers and incentives. Then we use facebook, twitter, email, websites and more to market the event, with the hope that people don't ignore us. We check our registration lists incessantly and pray that people show up. We try to explain the cause in an effective way and hope people understand. We review each aspect of the event so it delivers in hopes that participants will enjoy and bring their friends in the future. Sound familiar?

If you've felt this way and are looking for a single event that can draw hundreds of young adults in support of the community then read on, because in Chicago, we've spent five years building an event that thousands of young Jews know about and attend each year.

Oy! The holidays are coming

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Turkey Time! To Celebrate or Not 


I was recently surprised to hear a friend tell me that she does not celebrate Thanksgiving. We were schmoozing over coffee and I asked about her plans for the day. She ticked off the usual expected items like: sleeping late, eating breakfast in pajamas, watching football, etc. I did not hear any mention of turkey or family and friends coming over. So I mentioned it. "Oh, I don't celebrate Thanksgiving," she said. When asked why, she replied, "well, it is not a Chag." I should mention that my friend is a modern orthodox Jew.

This is not the first time I have heard this. When SHALLOTS, my first restaurant, was on Clark Street, we offered a Thanksgiving Day menu complete with turkey and all the trimmings. A regular customer came in and was extremely upset that they were not able to order from the regular menu. I told him that we were featuring a holiday menu. He said, "Thanksgiving is not actually a holiday for Jews." 

I thought a lot about that conversation over the years and have quietly polled people regarding the American holiday and whether they celebrate it or not. 

In Loving Memory 


In my mind, I have imagined standing here many times. I imagined eulogizing my grandpa, my "pop-pop," honoring him, his life, and listing the innumerable people, places and things that were changed, influenced and impacted by him. My grandpa was in his 90s after all - and no one lives forever. But I was in shock the morning my mom called to tell me my grandpa had died. And while I was writing this (and now that I am actually standing here), I realized the practicing in my mind was my heart's attempt at bracing itself for a huge hole. Our family has lost a most loyal, loving and kind soul.

JUF gets Wind of Hurricane Sandy and Sends Relief 


Every water bottle, pitcher or jug we owned was filled with water. A pyramid of canned beans, corn and tuna were stacked neatly atop the counter. The pantry was full of stove-top friendly fare, such as rice and quinoa. The freezer was packed with extra ice, so that it would hold its contents better- in case we lost power. The fridge was unusually bare. We stopped buying perishable goods, once we got first wind the storm was headed our way. The emergency suitcase was prepared for a quick departure with some warm clothes and our most essential documents. We were doing our best to take the threats seriously and "hunkering down" for a hurricane.

Holiday Health 


Halloween is a killer, not in the gory-scary-chainsaw massacre way but in the belly. It starts the holiday season with miniature morsels of goodness. Even if you are not knocking on doors begging for candy, you have some. And it's in your office too, there's no escaping Halloween candy. Up next: Thanksgiving and a disgusting quantity of delicious stuffing, turkey, pies and potatoes. 

Since most people gain a few pounds throughout the winter and don't lose it, now is the time to be diligent. With work events, friends, and family gatherings it's hard to stay on a workout regime and eat healthy. You have to outsmart fat. Here are some simple strategies to stay slim this holiday season.

This fall at Oy!

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  Kindness and cancer: How you can help 


Doubtless you've noticed all the pink already: National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is here. People of Ashkenazi Jewish descent with a family history of cancer need to know about BRCA and hereditary cancer syndromes. I've written about these issues for Oy! before, and I hope the articles still prove helpful:

• Do your genes belong to you?: BRCA, Myriad Genetics and the legality of patenting genes
• The Unfunniest Thing in the World: Gilda Radner and ovarian cancer
• More than pink and teal: Knowledge versus awareness

Today I want to talk about something less abstract: how you can help people with cancer and their loved ones.

Love carefully packaged into small freezable containers. 


Jonah is the last of my three boys/men to go off to college. I started worrying and grieving about two years ago. The thought of an empty nest terrified me. But, two years is a long time, I told myself, and I put off thinking about it. Sure, the reality crept in every now and then as I watched him tower over me and mature, but denial is a powerful thing to a mother.

I was like this as each of my kids went away to school. I cooked favorite meals and poured my love into soufflés, soups, stews and roasts. I was determined that each kid miss my cooking and me.

This week, after the holiday, I am going to make some of Jonah's favorites and when I go to visit him next week, I will arrive loaded with my love carefully packaged into small freezable containers.

  JEW-PERMAN? An interview with author Larry Tye 


Larry Tye is the author of a new biography of the first great superhero, Superman: The High-flying Story of America's Most Enduring Hero. He has also written Home Lands: Portraits of the New Jewish Diaspora. Recently, he flew through Chicago to discuss his new Superman book at both comic-book stores… and also congregations, as much of the book discusses the Jewishness of its super subject.


Oy! in summer

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Social Media- A Mechanism to Effectuate Real and Meaningful Change


The Chicago Tribune recently published an article titled, "Social Media a Godsend For Those with Rare Disease" which featured a Chicago area woman who retreated into cyberspace when diagnosed with a rare heart condition called SCAD- Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection. Using the mouse as her guide, within a few moments, she was able to find support, encouragement and relevant information about her disease.

Now more than ever, individuals with rare diseases are finding the critical and necessary information and support to better manage illness. When health care providers are unable to fulfill those needs, the web-based community is ready and willing steps in.

The Night Circus 


"The Circus arrives without warning...It is simply there, when yesterday it was not."

These are the opening words to what will probably be the next phenomenon in Young Adult literature. Released in fall of 2011 The Night Circus has all the necessary elements to captivate its readers as much if not more than The Hunger Games and its other YA/Fantasy counterparts. But if you were overwhelmed by the thousand page series of Hunger Games, or more so the five-thousand pages so far of A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones), do not fret. At a mere 400 pages of pure delight you'll wish you could stay in the magical world of The Night Circus for just a bit longer.

Why it's important to read good news - and where to find it 


Whenever I discuss the news with someone, one word seems to come up often: "depressing."

Regardless of what news site you read, each page refresh brings more troubling information, regarding everything from merciless killers to crooked politicians. Another day, another crime, misdeed or tragedy.

But that kind of sensationalistic coverage is far from an accurate representation of life, and I think it has negatively skewed the way we view the world and humanity in general. Sure, all those terrible things do really happen, but so do plenty of wonderful and inspirational things that are showcased nowhere nearly as often as the upsetting and depressing news.

I don't know about you - but that's not how I want to live my life. I don't want cynicism, mistrust and pessimism to dominate my world view, and I'm sure you don't either. So while we can't necessarily change the news or avoid reading the terrible stuff altogether, there is hope: by seeking out good, inspirational news

Stinking Flower 


Jews have had a long tempestuous relationship with garlic. The Talmud suggests that men eat garlic on the Sabbath because Friday was the night devoted to conjugal love. This testimonial from Ezra the Scribe: "garlic promotes love and arouses desire," pretty much says it all but garlic was also used as a means to disgrace Jews with the term "foetor Judaicus," the "Jewish stench" of degeneracy and garlic used as an anti-Semitic stereotype.

Allium sativum, commonly known as garlic, is a species in the onion family. Dating back over 6,000 years, garlic has been a staple in Asia and the Mediterranean. Used for a variety of medical issues including stabilizing blood sugar, lowering blood pressure and treating infections and cancer, garlic is a useful component in medical laboratories as well as kitchens.

April showers bring more Oy!

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Why Regina Spektor is worth listening to - and not just for her music


 As soon as I heard her music around six or seven years ago, I knew Regina Spektor would become one of my favorite musicians. I had never heard anyone like her before, and was absolutely captivated by the beauty of her storytelling and piano-playing.

As it turned out, Spektor and I had a lot in common, from physical attributes to the Russian-Jewish immigrant story, not to mention that I also played the piano. (To this day, I joke that if God had gifted me with a singing voice, I would be giving Spektor a run for her money.) As the years went by and I kept listening to Spektor's music (which I couldn't stop playing on repeat), I started reading her interviews. What struck me even more than her talent for quirky yet beautiful song writing, was the pride in which she spoke about her background as a Russian-Jewish immigrant.

Can Chicago be the new New Jersey? 

Jersey Shore. Jersey Couture. Jerseylicious. Real Housewives of New Jersey. House. Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Even Boardwalk Empire is about the early days of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Ever since The Sopranos (which debuted in 1999), New Jersey has been a goldmine for TV shows… and ratings.

But isn't Chicago just as interesting, just as filled with memorable types as New Jersey? These days, Chicago could- should!- easily have as much screen time as, excuse me, New Jersey. So here are my proposals for TV shows set in Chicago. You'll notice that none of them are cop, lawyer, or doctor shows, either… because there are other things people do! [TV execs: if you use these, I want a royalty and a "created by" credit]


USY and Kinnus: An Unforgettable Experience


This past weekend, I embarked on a journey to Kinnus, the annual culminating regional convention where every April, about 200 energized USYers from all over the region come together, celebrate a year of awesome Jewish fun, and elect the next year's regional board and discuss regional events, activities and any amendments to the region's constitution.

Kinnus weekend truly is an exciting moment for Jewish kids to be able to experience such a strong, close Jewish community that encourages and nurtures its youth. This year's group of high school students from our chapter were amazing to work with and spent lots of fun times doing mitzvah projects, collecting tzedakah, or just hanging out in the youth lounge and unwinding from the everyday pressures of life. From them, I learned that the value in USY does not just come from learning tefillah or engaging in Jewish learning or activities, but also making valuable and lasting relationships with other Jewish teens, in a fun and relaxed environment.


Me and Amtrak: a buddy comedy


Two straight days with no shower, no bed and no familiar faces. Don't dismiss it as a vacation option just yet, though: it's also one of the best ways to see the United States from the ground. Two weeks before Passover, I did something I'd been dreaming of for nearly a year- I bought tickets for the Southwest Chief, an Amtrak train that runs daily between Chicago and Los Angeles. The stops in L.A. and New Mexico were more than worth it, but the train is another adventure with a personality all its own.




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