Junior Achievement Receives Sam’s Club Grant

111513_Junior-Achievement-Receives-Sams-Club-GrantJunior Achievement of Central Maryland has announced it has received a $20,000 grant from the Sam’s Club Giving Program to support the JA BizTown facility, a site-based entrepreneurship learning opportunity for local students. Sam’s Club Giving Program presented the grant, one of three nationwide, in support of its nationwide focus on small business, which includes igniting the entrepreneurial spirit in today’s youth.

Students attend the day-long JA BizTown experience after completing 22 classroom lessons. At the fully interactive, simulated town facility, students connect what they learn in school with situations found in the real world.

Esterson Retires From Loyola

This summer, Loyola University affiliate professor Morton M. Esterson retired after 50 years of teaching in the university’s graduate division.

Esterson has taught seven different courses in the field of special education. He also taught the Administration and Supervision of Special Education course at the Johns Hopkins University for five years. Esterson is a former president of the Suburban Orthodox Toras Chaim Congregation and is currently an active member of the Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion Congregation. He served as a member of the board of directors of The Chimes Inc., the Hearing and Speech Agency of Metropolitan Baltimore, the Children’s Guild and the Saint Elizabeth School.

Maryland Live! Receives Tourism Award

Maryland Live! Casino has received the 2013 Maryland Office of Tourism Development Award in the category of Economic Engine in recognition of its role as a major driver of tourism and economic growth in the State of Maryland.

To date, the Casino consistently outperforms competitors in the mid-Atlantic gaming market, generating top revenues among all casinos in the region, including Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The state receives more than $1 million per day in taxes from Maryland Live!, making it the highest taxpayer in Maryland. In addition, the casino has approximately 3,000 employees, making it one of the largest employers in the state.

Five Ways To Turn Off A Recruiter

101813_lasson_elliotI came across a recent survey that supports anecdotal evidence that I have often heard from my vantage point at Joblink. Some 1,500 recruiters and hiring managers were asked anonymously to list their pet peeves in dealing with job seekers. Interestingly, and perhaps not astonishingly, some recruiters are actually so turned off by certain job-seeker behaviors that 43 percent indicated that they would go so far as to blacklist such candidates and suppress their names from future resume searches. Now, if you’re a job seeker, that’s not a good thing.

Here are the findings, together with my commentary:

1. Applying for irrelevant jobs: 31 percent of recruiters noted that their biggest turnoff was candidates who apply to irrelevant jobs (jobs for which they are clearly unqualified). Sometimes referred to as serial job applicants, frequently seen names will start to look familiar to recruiters. In most cases, the person’s background will not match the position or its requirements. There are a few reasons why an applicant might apply frequently. One is to show openness and flexibility. However, from the recruiter’s perspective, applying broadly will earn you the reputation of not being a serious job seeker, even relative to those jobs for which you might objectively be qualified.

2. Exaggerating qualifications on a resume: 21 percent of recruiters say it’s a big pet peeve. A good resume will capture your skills, experience and accomplishments. But you also need to be truthful and objective. This applies to the wording you use to describe yourself. It also relates to that for which you take credit, as well as the job titles that you ascribe to yourself. Of course, claiming to have a nonexistent master’s degree is wrong. But some applicants will list a senior job title, yet the duties performed are akin to a clerical role. Also, savvy recruiters will figure out that being the CEO of an unknown company might merely be a proxy for self-employment.

3. Focusing on salary above all other job factors: 15 percent don’t want to work with candidates who think that salary is the most important factor in a new job. I have had many occasions where I will circulate a job that crosses my desk and the first question I get is, “What’s the salary?” In many cases, it becomes clear that the person may not have read anything beyond the job title and location. People who are actively in the job market are understandably anxious about their situation. Furthermore, they might not want to waste their time if the salary is clearly a nonstarter. Focusing on salary and inquiring about it directly at the very beginning of a recruitment process will convey a certain wrong message about you.

4. Responding to a job posting that is way beyond an applicant’s level of experience: 13 percent of recruiters indicate these unrealistic applications waste their time. The motivation of doing this is similar to No. 1. Then again, so is the reaction by the recruiters.

5. Calling/emailing more than once a week for status updates: 11 percent do not want to hear from candidates that often unless actively discussing a specific opportunity. While it is a good idea to check in and to express continued interest in a particular position, this needs to be done in a patient and measured way. Most recruiters today have phones with caller ID, and too much persistence in your communication will come across as stalking.

Elliot D. Lasson, Ph.D., is executive director of Joblink of Maryland, Inc.

Does Deceptive Marketing Work?

The cynics say, “Good guys finish last.” Does deceptive marketing pay off? The following three questions can help you determine which side of the spectrum you’re on and who really finishes last.

Does your marketing pass the what-were-they-thinking test?
On the 12th anniversary of one of the worst tragedies in American history when nearly 3,000 people were killed by terrorists, Tumbledown Trails Golf Course in Wisconsin offered a special promotion: Golfers could play the course for only $9.11.

Not surprisingly, people were shocked by the insensitivity. Furious complaints streamed in, and the company’s Facebook page was overrun with negative comments.

While huge companies may be strong enough to withstand the backlash from such major miscues, most small-to-midsized businesses can’t recover from damage to their reputations.

For responsible marketing, you need to know where to draw the line. So if you have a marketing idea that you think may be controversial, don’t rush into it. Check with your business adviser. And if your gut tells you that you are making a mistake, think twice before pulling the trigger.

Are your claims simply too good to be true?
It’s been said that “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Between 2000 and 2003, an Illinois company sold QRay bracelets to thousands of people, claiming the bracelets would alter the body’s energy and relieve pain. The company cited a study showing that wearers had less pain.

Eight years later, the Federal Trade Commission found that in that same study, a placebo bracelet relieved pain just as well. The company had to return nearly $12 million to customers who had purchased the bracelets.

And few years ago, Dannon’s Activia yogurt offered consumers various “clinically” and “scientifically” proven nutritional benefits. A lawsuit forced Dannon to pay $45 million to customers who believed they had been swindled by false health claims.

So before making claims, keep in mind (to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln) that you can fool some of the people sometimes, but you can’t fool everyone forever.

Are your products really scarce?
Thirty years ago, the makers of the popular Cabbage Patch Kids said, “We really create the market. We create the demand itself.” Parents fought in toy departments, as they were led to believe that there were only a few of these “precious” dolls left for their children during the 1983 holiday season.

But the company soon found themselves facing charges of false advertising by the Consumer Affairs Department in New York. They were right, scarcity increases demand. But they were wrong, because they lied.

A very simple solution: Tell the truth. If you say there are only 15 of a certain item left, you’ll lose all credibility when consumers learn that your stock room had many more.

Truth remains at the core of marketing, not because you should worry about getting caught lying, but because marketing is about building trust with your customers.

It’s my fervent belief that you can be — and should be — creative, persuasive and honest in your marketing strategies. With the right tools and focus, you can be a good guy and still win.

Jon Goldman is president of Brand Launcher and a board member of Jewish Entrepreneurial Trust (JET). To learn more about JET or to get involved, contact info@jetbaltimore.org.

Pikesville Boys Take Aim At State Soccer Title

Pikesville varsity team (Provided)

Pikesville High School varsity team (Provided)

The Pikesville High School boys’ soccer team hopes to make history Thursday when it takes on North Carroll in the state Class 1A boys’ soccer championship.

“They’re ready to play,” said coach Mark Lavallee, who is in his 11th year of leading the Pikesville team.

Pikesville finished regular-season play with an 8-2-2 record, falling only to Catonsville and Hereford. The team’s Nov. 5 regional win over Central marked the first time the Panthers have advanced that far in the playoffs. On Nov. 9, they advanced even further by defeating Havre de Grace in the state’s semifinal round.

“I said if we ever won the region championship I would take them all for pancakes,” said Lavallee. “We won the region — this was a Tuesday night — and we went to IHOP on Thursday night.”

The team will have to settle for bragging rights if they win Thursday, because Lavallee said the IHOP offer doesn’t apply to the state championship.

Nonetheless, he said, the team’s excitement is sky-high as it prepares for its final game of the season. “It is incredible for these kids,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like it — how up they are, how positive.”

Thursday’s game is set for UMBC Stadium at 5 p.m.

IDF Soldier Killed In Terrorist Attack At Afula Bus Station

Israel Defense Forces soldier Eden Attias, 19, from Nazareth Illit, was stabbed to death by a Palestinian teenager Wednesday in the northern Israeli city of Afula, Israel Hayom reported.

The terrorist attack took place around 8:30 a.m. aboard the 823 Egged bus from Nazareth Illit to Tel Aviv. Sixteen-year-old Hussein Jawadra from Jenin, who authorities say was residing in Israel illegally, attacked Attias when the bus came to a stop, stabbing him multiple times.

Jawadra then attempted to flee the scene but was quickly apprehended by another soldier and border policeman who were also on the bus. Attias, who joined the IDF in October and was still undergoing basic training, sustained several wounds to his neck and chest. Magen David Adom paramedics rushed him to Haemek Medical Center in Afula where he underwent emergency surgery, and later died of his wounds.

“The soldier was admitted to the hospital in critical condition, suffering from massive blood loss. We administered a series of treatments in an attempt to stabilize his condition, but the injury to his heart was too severe and despite our best possible efforts there was nothing we could do,” Haemek Medical Center Deputy Director Dr. Tuvia Tiyosuno told the Israeli Channel 2 TV network.


Analysis: The Global Jewish Shuk

PM Netanyahu at the Opening Plenary greeting attendees (Photo vy AG for JFNA)

PM Netanyahu at the Opening Plenary greeting attendees (Photo vy AG for JFNA)

It was a shuk — a marketplace — of ideas. Attendees heard new and familiar voices. There was an abundance of give and take.

At the 2013 General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, which ran from Nov. 10 to Nov. 12 in Jerusalem, participants had the opportunity to immerse themselves in the most important issues facing the Jewish state and the Jewish people. They learned, they were challenged, and judging from the buzz in the hallways and the smiles on the shuttles, North America’s top Jewish communal leaders and professionals were refreshed and renewed.

The messages: Kol Yisrael arevim zeh la-zeh , all Jews are responsible for one another. This is a challenging time, but a time of great global Jewish opportunity.

“We spend a lot of time talking about the challenges that face us,” said Jerry Silverman, JFNA president and chief executive officer. “But the biggest challenge is something that I believe we take for granted until it is too late, and that is the idea that we are best when we stand together – as a single community, as one nation.”
A clear call to action: Unite.

A difficult appeal, judging by the dialogue and debate at the GA, which was branded “The Global Jewish Shuk: A Marketplace of Dialogue and Debate.”

Unlike a traditional general assembly, with dozens of sessions focused on solicitation techniques, storytelling and community study data mining (although a handful of these sessions did exist), the 2013 GA on the one hand, focused on Diaspora-Israel relations, on the challenges of a maturing Jewish state and on the need to celebrate Israel’s successes . On the other, there was much talk about Iran, the peace process and Israeli security.


Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says Israel’s security is his first priority. (Photo vy AG for JFNA)

Speakers ranged in stature from the prime minister of Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu, Knesset members with and without portfolios (Minister of the Economy Naftali Bennett, MK Nachman Shai, Finance Minister Yair Lapid, MK Aliza Lavie and others) to leading Israeli CEOs, journalists and activists. The more than 3,000 participants unpacked what it means to be a Jew living in Israel versus a Jew living in the Diaspora, and they deliberated about ways in which the two contingencies can live with – and learn and grow from — each other. Talks tackled issues such as civil marriage in the Jewish state, making a place for egalitarian prayer at the Kotel and the need for increased Israeli philanthropy.

Some speakers urged Diaspora Jews to lobby and help move the Israeli agenda forward. Others called on American Jews to support the state but to leave the politics and the policies to those who live on the land.

“I am disturbed by Jews who live abroad and don’t have a connection to Israel,” said Ziv Shilon, a 25-year-old captain in the Israel Defense Forces. “Think right. Think left. But for Heaven’s sake, think! … Even if you don’t live here physically, live here in your mind and your soul.”

“With a 71 percent intermarriage rate among the non-Orthodox, the Jewish community in North America has a lot of work to do, and they should do it before they decide what we should do here. There has always been a policy that Jews outside of Israel do not mix into Israeli politics—right or left, more or less religious,” said Rabbi Yitzchok Elefant, chief rabbi of Dimona.

All speakers called on Israeli and Diaspora Jews to talk more, and more often. U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel B. Shapiro spoke about his focus on people-to-people bonds as the “undergird for bilateral relations” and said he hopes to build new and better opportunities for exchanges.

“Our work here in Israel is not over, but it is changing,” said the JFNA’s chair of the board of trustees, Michael Siegal.


Defining Identity

The Pew Research Center survey on U.S. Jews was the elephant– or maybe the large, purple gorilla – in the room, in that North American Jewish leaders are focused today on the study’s indication that Jewish non-Orthodox young people are not affiliating, are intermarrying and think the Holocaust and Jewish humor better defines who they are than synagogue life or religious rituals.

But what was striking during the conference was how quickly it became apparent that the struggles for self-definition, the push for a more pluralistic and individualistic Jewish identity, even within the confines of the open U.S. society, were not that dissimilar from the struggles of many Jews in Israel. And that the Israeli way of relating to Judaism may be similar to the growing cultural (as opposed to religious) affiliation of many young secular North American Jews.

Calls by leaders such as MK Shelly Yacimovich, chairwoman of the Labor Party, for a civil agenda, for support for freedom of religion and worship for all sects of Judaism, for a government that supports civil marriage and gay rights (including gay marriage) were met with thunderous applause. (In 2012, the non-Orthodox Jewish community was among the most vocal contingencies in the State of Maryland lobbying for Question 6, which was also called the Maryland same-sex marriage referendum.)


Participants enjoy Israeli food before the opening plenary (Photo by AG for JFNA)

Statements by top leaders such as Rabbi Uri Regev, president and CEO of Hiddush, that “the more committed halachic Jews need to understand that pushing religion down the throats of Israelis endears Judaism to no one” nearly echoed the sentiments of young American Jews who sat on a panel about engagement.

“Young adults want Judaism like their music. They want access to everyone, and they want to make their own playlist,” said Rachel Hodes, planning associate in the Commission on the Jewish People at UJA-Federation of New York.

“The Pew study confirms there is not one Jewish identity, there are Jewish identities. Regardless of all these different names that I have for myself [Sephardi, white Jew, Israeli, American], one thing that unites all of them is the fact that I am Jewish. … You can define in different ways and still be Jewish,” said Oren Okhovat, an intern at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

In a talk titled “It’s Different Here: Is Jewish Identity in Israel Distinct from Diaspora Jewish Identity?” secular Israeli Jews expressed that they see the Bible as their inspiration but create a Judaism for themselves that resonates with them in 2013.

“I take inspiration from these stories [in the Bible], said Bella Alexandrov, director of Tor Hamidbar. “I don’t ask myself if it happened or if it didn’t happen. I take it as it is, and when I want to do something with it, I create from it a ritual to which I have a connection. It is not a source of authority, but of inspiration.”

“Judaism means history and heritage and family and a Jewish calendar and school system,” said MK Nitzan Horowitz in a separate session. “I see myself not less Jewish [than the rabbis] … even though I am secular. I feel Jewish, and I am 100 percent Jewish.”

The story of Jewish life in Israel, as speakers stood up and expressed at the end of the identity session, is best grasped through its people. And in Israel, while the news reports show a society of black and white, as one participant indicated, “There isn’t one kind of Judaism, one option; everyone can find [his or her] own place.”

Stop The Bomb

This was a second underlying theme of the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America. From Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech on the opening night until MK Shelly Yacimovich’s talk at the final plenary, the theme of no deal is better than a bad deal when it comes to Iran could clearly be heard from right, left and center politicians and security officials.

The PM told attendees that an Iran without a nuclear weapon was good not only for Israel, but also for the world. But, he said, “For us, it is a matter of our existence.”

Netanyahu lashed out at the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, namely United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom and France, plus Germany) who at the time of this writing was negotiating with Iran in Geneva. He said agreeing to lighten sanctions on Iran because it comes to the table pleading is making a bad deal. He said Iran is ready to negotiate because the sanctions are having impact and that if the P5+1 placed demands on Iran to cease and desist the building of capabilities to produce atomic bombs, and Iran is on its knees, why now would we want to come to a deal without Iran dismantling anything?

Elyezer Shkedy, a retired Israeli Air Force major and president of El Al, said “I think we should do everything in order to prevent them [Iran] from getting nuclear capability. I think we should, at least in the beginning, work with the U.S. But in the end, the prime minister of Israel is the leader of the State of Israel and the Jewish nation around the world, and he will have to be able to look into the mirror and know he is doing the right thing.”

Minister of Finance Yair Lapid also spoke in terms of a potential military attack. He said some people draw parallels between the Iranian threat and the Holocaust. He said he refused to believe it was inevitable that Iran would have nuclear capabilities and made clear, “No one will scare us anymore. We have the capabilities to protect ourselves.”

While he noted that “diplomacy is always better than war,” he said that when in discourse with people who “lie for a living” one has to be extra careful.

“My role is to bring alternative ideas to the public, to speak out and challenge the government,” said Yacimovich in reference to her role as the head of the opposition party. “But sometimes we must put aside our disagreements. There is no disagreement that Iran must be stopped from getting the bomb.”

Maayan Jaffe is JT editor-in-chief — mjaffe@jewishtimes.com