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.
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]
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.
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.