Some of you have been asking for a copy of the speech I gave at the Twin Cities’ Cardozo Society (read: Jewish lawyers) dinner this past Thursday night about TC Jewfolk. In case you hadn’t heard, I had the distinct honor of receiving this year’s Arthur T. Pfefer Memorial Award, given annually to “a Jewish law student or young lawyer who has demonstrated outstanding leadership potential and commitment to serving the community.”
Super amazing perk of winning this award? The Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation is kindly making a $1000 donation in my honor to a nonprofit of my choice (bet you can’t guess which nonprofit I chose….).
But I digress, my speech Thursday night is a great primer on TC Jewfolk if you’re ever trying to explain to someone what this site is, or why you love it, or what it does for our Twin Cities’ Jewish community. I’m reprinting it in full here (with added awesome hyperlinks for your benefit). Thanks so much for reading and sharing this with your friends/parents/Bubbe and Zayde/Hebrew school teacher, etc.
I’m sure many of you have heard about the recent Pew Research Center study on American Jews. A local rabbi highlighted the most remarkable fact in the study: that 94% of U.S. Jews surveyed said they were proud to be Jewish.
Our Jewish community needs to tap into and encourage that pride, that passion for Jewish religion, culture or history that led 94% to identify so strongly with being Jewish.
In 2009 at the same time as I began my career as an attorney at Maslon Edelman Borman & Brand, I joined with a group of friends to figure out a way to engage and inspire young people in our community to connect a little more with their Judaism and pride in being Jewish – on their own terms. We founded TC Jewfolk to create a vibrant independent online Jewish blog and community space for those in their 20s, 30s and 40s, and the young at heart.
4 years later, TCJewfolk.com is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, has a paid Editor and features daily articles by dozens of volunteer writers. In last month, our articles have ranged from a heart-wrenching story of a local teenager volunteering for Israeli Red Cross to Jewish job postings, from young woman’s conversion story to a local Chabad Rabbi’s take on what Judaism says about organ harvesting. We partner with Jewish Federations and other Jewish organizations in town to highlight their events & opportunities, & to connect them to young Jews who wouldn’t otherwise know about or engage with their programming.
6-7000 visitors log on to TCJewfolk each month. There’s nothing like TC Jewfolk anywhere else in the country, & we hope to expand to other communities in coming years.
Our readers have told us that the articles on TC Jewfolk move them to tears and to action. When one of our writers wrote about raising her kids Jewish with her non-Jewish husband, our readers said “thank you for giving voice to that experience.”
Another writer wrote about struggling with fasting on Yom Kippur given her history of an eating disorder and our readers thanked her for her insight, and for giving voice to those too ashamed to come forward about their own battles. For a young stay at home mom, TC Jewfolk is her connection to participate and engage with the Jewish community. For our rabbis, it’s a source for creativity and inspiration.
TC Jewfolk is supported in part by Jewish Federation and family foundations but mostly by individual donations. We invite you to join us and log on, and if you are so inclined, to support our work.
I’m honored that you selected me for this year’s Arthur T. Pfefer Memorial Award and humbled to be here on stage with local leaders like Cliff Greene and Ellen Sampson, and the inspirational John Prendergast. Thanks to Maslon for giving me the opportunity and flexibility to do this work, and to the Cardozo Society and Federation for the great work they do building pride and connection in our Jewish community.
(Photo: Celestine Chua)