MacGyvering A Mensch: Socially Awkward Edition

This is a guest post by Jon Minnick.
There comes a time in every man’s life when someone he’s talking to starts a sentence with “there comes a time in every man’s life.” I suppose the same is true for women. But that eminently clichéd line is eminently clichéd for a reason. People go through a lot of the same experiences at certain points in their lives – giving us both formal and informal rites of passage.
The not-so-great thing about informal rites of passage is that so many of them are those “character-building” moments in which we “learn” about how to deal with “adversity.” All those quotation marks are there because that is grown-up code for “the times in your life where you wish you could turn your face inside-out and be anyone but you.” Fortunately for me, this worked out because on the reverse side of my face I have a more handsome face.
“Rites of passage,” though, exists as a term because it sounds more pleasant than “UNIVERSALLY EXPERIENCED GUT-WRENCHING HEARTBREAKS.” And it’s quite a bit easier to say. Think about some of these: fighting for social acceptance, uncomfortability* around the opposite sex, coming to terms with changes in my body – and all that was after I turned 30 last year. It’s understandably much harder on tweens (don’t worry, I just punched myself in the arm for using that word).
*I realize this isn’t grammatically correct, however, “discomfort” calls to mind something altogether different and not necessarily appropriate in this instance.
Of course, this is excluding the positive rites of passage, like your first Jucy Lucy (the kosher, dairy-free version of course), the first time you watched “The Goonies,” getting your driver’s license and flirting with your friends’ sisters (OK, maybe that one doesn’t count). One positive rite of passage that brings back memories for so many members of our community this time of year: Jewish summer camp. There is a reason why it brings back memories for so many people It is a life-changing, character-building, identity-shaping experience not quickly lost.
How many of you are still in contact with people you met at camp? How many of your friends have talked about the friends they met at camp? (Feel free to post in the comments, or if you don’t I’ll pretend that was rhetorical.) My guess is “a lot,” since I’m very articulate. But, for serious, lifelong friendships are forged at camp. Every year. Summer after summer. Not to mention the lifelong connection to Judaism that camp deepens.
You may not know this, but the Minneapolis Jewish Federation enables children and teens to attend camp through scholarships and incentive grants. Every year. Summer after summer. In fact, this summer, 206 children will attend camp thanks to Federation donors. Think about how many friends those 206 children will make. And think about the lives they’ll touch down the road. It’s not even a stretch to say that the gifts that enable these children to attend summer camp will affect thousands of people.
Requests for camp scholarships increased almost 20 percent this year over last. That means that more campers than ever before are depending on the generosity of the Jewish community. The Federation’s goal is to ensure that every child has the chance to experience camp. With that in mind, the Socially Awkward Edition of Five Devices starts with an opportunity to give:

  • Throw something. Federation’s 2011 Annual Campaign wraps up on June 30. Pledges do not need to be paid until Dec. 31, 2011, but they must be made by June 30. If you’d like to help us send more children to Jewish summer camp, visit Or call Mort Naiman (952.417.2322). Or email him. Or just throw something relatively soft at him when you see him in public.
  • Get tropical. Steven Schussler, the entrepreneur behind theme restaurants including the Rainforest Café, will join Young Men’s Networking to share his experiences in bringing dreams to life on June 22. This event is directed at men ages 21-45. Don’t forget to bring business cards for networking. Jungle attire highly encouraged, but only so you can be mocked. More info here.
  • Northside art. Rimon: The Minnesota Jewish Arts Council is teaming with the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest on a celebration of art and culture on the north side of Minneapolis from June 16-29. Get all the details at
  • Jew rock. PJ Library is presenting a Rick Recht concert. Stateside and abroad, Jewish rocker Rick Recht puts on 150 shows a year, and his music appeals to the entire family. The show will be at Sholom Community Alliance on Sunday, June 26. For more, click on this.
  • Facebook. Like Federation on Facebook and we’ll keep you up to date on even more ways for you to connect to the Twin Cities Jewish community.

TWO CITATION-NEEDED WIKI FACTS YOU MAY OR MAY NOT BE AWARE OF: 1.) After years of up-and-down speculation about the possibility of a sequel to “The Goonies,” Director Richard Donner said in July of last year that the sequel was definitely going to happen. If you’re not excited about this, you probably haven’t watched “The Goonies.” 2.) One of the key characteristics of the tween demographic is that they like things that are fun and interactive. I just find this amusing because whoever wrote that Wiki probably should have added that they also enjoy food and soda.
(graph via