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Founded in 2002, Reboot engages and inspires young, Jewishly-unconnected cultural creatives, innovators and thought-leaders who, through their candid and introspective conversations and collaboration, generate projects that impact both the Jewish and non-Jewish worlds. 



Illustrator and Author Lisa Brown Draws 10Q

Shane Hankins

Illustrator and Author Lisa Brown's beautiful, funny, endearing and inspiring works include Picture the Dead, How To Be, The Latke Who Couldn't Stop ScreamingBaby, Mix Me a Drink and more. Working at times with her husband, Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket - the team is a storytelling power couple.

As part of our series, we've reached out to our network of creatives, influencers and dreamers for their interpretations of 10Q, and Lisa Brown chose Q5:

Have you had any particularly spiritual experiences this past year? How has this experience affected you?

Her response:

We love it. Grateful for her interpretation of 10Q, we're eager to see your own. 

Sign up for your own 10Q here.

Discover Lisa Brown's works here and check out American Chickens!

Connecting to Faith Through Food

Shane Hankins

Our Reboot Intern at USC Hillel, Madeline Ottilie, writes on her experience with Reboot and how Jewish cuisine gave her a pathway to connect with her Jewish identity.

I never quite understood what it meant to be Jewish. The language seemed convoluted by confusing dialects. The holidays filled with traditions that seemed to slip through the cracks of my busy schedule. Shabbat every Friday was replaced by sports practice, dinners with friends, and even indifference. It seemed foreign to me that my ancestors kept kosher, or went to temple each week. “What an inconvenience!” I thought naively. “How could they find the time?”

I didn’t fully understand how sacred these traditions were to our people, and how many times in history they had been nearly taken away. But as a young teen who lived at the beach, cared too much about my cell phone, and attended a rigorous college preparatory school, these traditions were the last thing on my mind.

But there was one area of Jewish culture that I always felt absolutely connected to, no matter my age: the cuisine. From my early years, I had grown familiar to the salty smell of matzo ball soup boiling on the stove, prepared each evening I was sick or craving a traditional treat. The comforting taste of warm rugelach with cinnamon on top and the way the latkes in the oven provided a whiff of festivity through the whole house. The second we smelled them, we’d run right downstairs because if we understood nothing else about the holidays, we knew we liked the latkes. I remember the deli we frequented when I was a child and continued to frequent as we grew up and changed routines and uniforms. “Can we go to D.Z. Akins on the way home?” was a question that never changed. It had all the ingredients of the perfect Jewish deli: pickles on the table ready for our hungry hands before menus were even passed out and an entire wall of cookies to fill a pink deli box from on our way out the door.


Like my family, many of the Jewish children I went to school with also fell under the category of “closet Jews”: nonreligious and relatively ignorant in connecting with what we considered to be antiquated practices of our ancestors. Food never seemed to fall into that category, but it was certainly something we all understood. Shared understandings that chocolate matzo was the best type of matzo and corned beef on rye was best with dijon mustard.

It wasn’t until later that I realized Jewish cuisine was not as well understood outside the Jewish community as the food of other ethnicities seemed to be. I brought my boyfriend a bag of rugelach once from a great vintage bakery on Fairfax and he didn’t touch it for a week, afraid I had said “arugula cookies,” fearing they were filled with pieces of lettuce. It struck me that while our bagels and sandwiches might be understood by some, the Jewish menu was a unique culture of its own, uniquely shared by most everyone who shared the faith. I dove deeper into my culture with an internship through USC Hillel and Reboot and it became my job to bridge the gaps for those, like myself, who couldn’t seem to find a connection between their life and their Jewish identity. For me, that connection to my religion and others who shared it was through food. I believed others could feel the same way and created my first program: a trip to a renowned Jewish deli stand in L.A.’s Grand Central Market: Wexler’s Deli.

A snapshot of the everyday crowds moving through Wexler's Deli.

A snapshot of the everyday crowds moving through Wexler's Deli.

We were greeted by the familiar smells of corned beef, fresh bagels and lox. Even though I did not know each of the students attending my initiative, I instantly felt linked through the communal recognition. Suddenly, I was surrounded by harsh critics of what satisfied the standard of a “good Jewish bagel,” and what the proper way to prepare it was. I met people for the first time that day, but with everything we had in common from these conversations, it seemed like I had known them for years.

Just like Reboot’s Beyond Bubbie program, my peers and I began to use our lunch as a platform for sharing our own stories from our childhood, including our grandmothers’ best recipes. Looking around the busy downtown Los Angeles market and the faces surrounding me at the counter, I knew that Judaism would always play a part of my modern life, the smell of a Jewish deli the constant tie connecting my family and Jewish peers. Even though the deli stand throbbed with a hip, modern aesthetic, the food was exactly the same. So was the line trailing out the door, which never changed.

Beyond Bubbie explores Jewish traditions and culture through food, recipes and family histories.

Beyond Bubbie explores Jewish traditions and culture through food, recipes and family histories.

Madeline Ottilie spent the last year as a Reboot intern at USC Hillel, where she planned events that utilized Reboot projects to engage her fellow students.

This program is made possible through the generous support of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles' Jewish Campus Life Grant. 

A Hanukkah Story by Mickey Rapkin

Shane Hankins


When you imagine exciting Hanukkah gifts for eight-year-old boys, do clear lucite bookends come to mind? No? Ok. What if I told you those bookends could also be personalized with a child's name written on them in bubble paint?

That's what my brother and I got one year and I think we handled it pretty well. Which is to say we stormed the kitchen and demanded Mom produce something better from the bag of “real” gifts she surely had stashed away somewhere in the house. We were like the Maccabees rising up against the Greeks — which is apparently the true story of Hanukkah. If we’d known our history, maybe we would have deserved a “real” gift. But we were just spoiled brats. Eventually Mom was too exhausted to fight anymore, and she told us where she’d hidden the rest of the presents. Then she suggested we take the remaining Hanukkah candles and shove them up our bookends.

I’d like to say I displayed some restraint that night. That, like the oil in that ancient Menorah, my Hanukkah gifts miraculously lasted for eight crazy nights. But really I opened everything in a cool two minutes during a frantic search for a yellow toy car that transformed into a robot. And like anyone who’s ever binged, I felt sick after.

In my defense, I was just a kid who wanted what everyone else was getting that time of year. I didn’t know -- or care -- that gifts weren’t part of the original Hanukkah package. You know what was? Giving gelt, Hanukkah money. And since I’m still feeling a little guilty (gelt-y?) about my childish indiscretions, gelt is what I’m giving to mark the Festival of Lights this year, which starts at sundown Saturday, December 24 and ends the evening of Sunday, January 1.

Need help planning your own new traditions? Or shopping for last-minute (non-lucite) presents? Reboot’s Re/New Your Hanukkah page has more than eight ideas for things you can watch, read, listen, nosh, play and give to others to this season, plus IRL experiences happening in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Chicago.

Happy holidays!

Mickey Rapkin is a journalist and author whose books include Pitch Perfect and Theatre Geek. He is a member of the Reboot Network.

November Community Spotlight: YALA, Open Temple and LA Hebrew High School

Shane Hankins

In this monthly highlight, read about some of our LA partner highlights including our reBar Live show with YALA, High Holiday wrap-up with Open Temple and a Shabbaton Retreat with Los Angeles Hebrew High School.

reBar Live at Three Clubs Hollywood

On the night of September 22, 50+ young Jewish adults and friends gathered in Hollywood to reflect in pride, shock and nostalgia on their Bar/Bat Mitzvah experiences and what they would change if they could. Host Sarah Klegman (Challah Hub) was joined by six writer/storytellers - Becky Tahel Bordo (Shit I Learned in My 20’s), Emily Foster (OMFG), Michael Kass (Ceremony), Todd Levin (Conan), Ethan Sandler (New Girl) and Liz Weisman (comedian) in sharing personal stories that moved the audience from raucous laughter to tears of recognition. Themes ranged from personal transformation and reclaiming identity to awkward moments and lessons learned. The evening also featured live music from singer/songwriter duo Shannon and Michael Rubenstone, also known as S+M. Reboot partnered with YALA of the Jewish Federation of LA for this event. As one audience member put it:

“I was transported back to that time. I laughed - and when I was laughing - I found myself suddenly crying and I didn’t expect that. It hit me in a very feeling place…I appreciated the whole experience...the range of emotion and everything it brought up….and it was fun.”

reBar is a Reboot project that opens and creates a space for individuals, families and communities to explore and reflect upon their B-Mitzvah (that's Bar and Bat) experiences as an evolving part of life. You can learn more about reBar and how to bring it to your community here

High Holiday Soul Journey with Open Temple

This year Open Temple, a new Jewish community in Venice, CA, integrated Reboot’s 10Q project throughout their innovative High Holiday programming. Open Temple’s HHD Soul Journey 5777 brought participants through 10 unique experiences from a commencement of Elul Soundbath on the beach through a silent disco dance walk down Abbot Kinney Boulevard with the Torah for Simchat Torah. And every step and breath of the way, 10Q served as a prompt and guide.

10Q was initially offered through an email link announcing Open Temple’s Soul Journey programming. The 10Q questions were presented through projections throughout High Holiday and Tishri Shabbat services. Participants were given journals to write and reflect based on the 10Q prompts. There was also a graffiti wall, where participants were invited to respond publicly to the 10Q. In addition, Open Temple invited participants to sign up electronically for 10Q this year and many shared how much they enjoyed receiving their answers from last year. This is the third year of collaboration with Open Temple led by the innovative and uber-creative Rabbi Lori Shapiro. Thank you Open Temple for being such an amazing and innovative partner!

Shabbaton with Los Angeles Hebrew High School at Camp Ramah, Ojai

During the weekend of October 28th, Reboot LA intern Jamie Cohen led a series of Reboot activities at LAHSS’s Shabbaton Retreat at Camp Ramah in beautiful Ojai, just a few hours outside of Los Angeles. The highlight was a pre-Shabbat interactive workshop introducing 60+ students to the National Day of Unplugging.

Students decorated their own cell phone sleeping bags before “unplugging” and powering down their technology for Shabbat. The activity was a big hit, from Rachel Kaufman, Director of Educational Programming: The “sleeping bags" were fabulous, with one of the students attempting to unplug for the entire weekend with her phone in the sleeping bag.” You can get your very own cell phone sleeping bag at the Reboot Shop. We look forward to continued partnership with LAHHS in 2017.


Hi, I’m Lisa Grissom, Reboot’s Los Angeles Program Manager, responsible for local events, programs and community partnerships in LA. I help various communities and individuals implement Reboot projects, taking the uniquely innovative ideas from the Reboot network and sharing them with the world.


October Rebooter Spotlight: Jessy Tolkan

Shane Hankins

Jessy Tolkan is the head of labs & executive director of Here Now at Purpose, a creative campaign agency headquartered in New York City. Day-to-day, she helps build cutting edge campaign labs of innovation to solve some of the world's biggest problems ranging from climate change to the refugee crisis. Currently, Purpose Labs is all about defeating Trump with a Super PAC effort entitled, Not Who We Are. Jessy is co-founder of Youth Climate Movement in the United States and former executive director of Citizen Engagement Lab. Rolling Stone Magazine named her one of the 100 “agents of change” in America in 2008.

City: New York City & Washington, DC (Wisconsinite for LIFE)

Has Judaism had a direct impact on what you are doing in your life today?

I get to spend my days trying to change the world. From combatting climate change, to supporting an anti-Trump Super Pac this election cycle, to working on the refugee crisis - I'm literally in the business of trying to mobilize everyday people to transform the world around them. In retrospect, I think I learned the values of "Tikkun Olam" at a really early age at Jewish summer camp and it just stuck with me in a pretty proud way.

Traditionally, there is a day of rest to help us recharge. How do you keep a healthy work/life balance?

I have been totally blessed with the greatest community of friends I could have ever imagined. My balance in life is ensuring time for awesome meals in my two cities of DC and NY, hosting dinner parties, and making sure that when all is said and done, I'm willing and able at the drop of a hat to be there as much, if not more for those I love, than for the causes and work that I also love.

What’s your favorite bagel topping?

Not so Jewish on this one, I LOVE a toasted bagel with butter.

What has been your most impactful Jew-ish experience?

No question, 13 epic years at Camp Interlaken JCC, and of course two unforgettable weekends on the mountain at Reboot, the closest I've come to feeling that spirit of the Machaneh since my last summer at camp in 2000.

How has Reboot helped shaped your Jewish identity in new ways?

Reboot has breathed new life in how I get to show up as a Jew in my everyday life. It’s the new friendships I've made that give me opportunity to discuss being a Jew more regularly, it’s the way I proudly incorporate being a Jew into my work more visibly than I had before, and it’s my deeper appreciation for what a creative, multi-disciplinary, community of people we are as Jews.

What is your favorite Jewish text (text defined loosely as film, book, poem, graffiti art…)?

Curb your Enthusiasm would've been my answer for years, but there's just no question that Transparent has taken the spot as my #1 all time favorite and most beautiful form of art celebrating our people and culture.

If you could unplug and spend time with one Jewish/Jew-ish person for an hour, who would it be and what would you do?

I have to go full political nerd on this one. I think I'd have to say, the former (and soon-to-be) Senator from Wisconsin, Russ Feingold. He's been an inspiration for me throughout my political life and went out on a limb and endorsed me for the Madison City Council when I was only 19 years old. He is running one hell of a political comeback fight to rejoin the Senate this Fall. We'd sit on the terrace in Madison, drink a beer, and plot the Progressive takeover of America.

How do you think Judaism is evolving in today’s world?

I think Judaism is evolving in beautiful and kind of sad ways at the same time. We are a people and community changing with the times, more accepting and welcoming of all types of people, families, and ideas, and at the same time - our numbers, our rates of total non-affiliation worry me. We've for so long had a quite beautiful outsized influence on culture, innovation, politics, and more...we are a people that has endured so much - I want and hope we evolve forever, and never cease to be the small and mighty people we are.

What is your Six-Word Memoir on your Jewish Journey?

Family. Tradition. Values. History. Strength. Stamina.

The Rebooter network is large and diverse, with creators of all kinds and types that do amazing work to help change the world. We do not endorse or identify with the specific thoughts, views and/or opinions of given individual Rebooters, and any views expressed are the sole opinions of the individual represented at the time.  

September Rebooter Spotlight: Yuval Sharon

Shane Hankins

Described by The Hollywood Reporter as "LA's avant-garde opera darling," Yuval Sharon has been creating an unconventional body of work that seeks to expand the operatic form. He founded and serves as Artistic Director of The Industry in Los Angeles, directing and producing the company’s acclaimed world premieres of Hopscotch, Crescent City, and Invisible Cities. His productions have been described as “ingenious” (New York Times), “virtuosic” (Opernwelt), “dizzyingly spectacular” (New York Magazine), and “staggering” (Opera News). Yuval begins a three-year residency with the Los Angeles Philharmonic with a new performance installation called Nimbus in Disney Hall on October 1.

City: Los Angeles

Has Judaism had a direct impact on what you are doing in your life today?

“Tikkun Olam” has been one of the most inspiring concepts for me in Judaism, and I consider the mission to repair the world a motivational force in my life. It took me a while to realize how to do that and also dedicate myself to art — specifically opera, which can seem to so many people elitist, a confirmation of the established order rather than a call to question and change it. But when I think of art’s ability to let people see with new eyes and hear with transfigured ears, I see how it aligns with the mission of “Tikkun Olam." I don’t believe art can directly change the world, but I think it’s one of the most powerful catalysts for inspiring an appetite for change. It’s also why I’ve been dedicated to do work here in Los Angeles that is accessible, affordable, and not removed from daily life — staging opera in train stations, moving vehicles, on the streets, etc. — to show that the everyday always has within it tremendous potentiality. That should be available to everyone, with the hope that “Tikkun Olam” begins in the hearts of spectators who feel inspired by what they see, hear, and feel.

Traditionally, there is a day of rest to help us recharge. How do you keep a healthy work/life balance?

Hmmm…sadly, I don’t think my work/life balance could be called “healthy!” Running an independent non-profit arts organization doesn’t happen within the prescribed 9-5, M-F work week. That said, I feel so fortunate that I make a living doing work that fills my life with meaning, so a lack of balance hasn’t provoked a crisis yet! I must confess that every Rosh Hashanah I vow to myself I’ll honor the Sabbath in true Rabbi Heschel style. The way he describes Shabbat in his book "The Sabbath" has always inspired me and remains a personal goal. (I’m sure I’ll go through the same process of wishful thinking again in a couple weeks…maybe this is the year?!)

What’s your favorite bagel topping?

Avocado! (I’m suuuuuuuch an Angeleno now…)

What is your favorite Jewish text (text defined loosely as film, book, poem, graffiti art…)?

Since I’m an opera director, I have to choose Arnold Schoenberg’s opera "Moses and Aaron", which I think is one of the most devastating depictions of the elemental struggle between word and image, the spiritual and the material. Moses is a speaking role, and he’s given severe and visionary pronouncements that struggle to find an audience; Aaron is a tenor who rephrases Moses in long seductive vocal lines that are so much easier to connect with. After an orgiastic dance around the golden calf provoked by Aaron’s singing, Aaron defends himself to his brother by saying he was making Moses’ ideas more relatable to the public. Moses responds, “Do I have to see the idea falsified?” The dialogue never resolves — Schoenberg never finished the opera, so when it’s performed now, it ends with the last line he set: Moses wailing, “Oh word, you word that I lack!” I love so many things about the opera, but what I think I love the most is how an elemental Jewish dilemma becomes a parable for truth's struggle to find its expression in the world.

If you could unplug and spend time with one Jewish/Jew-ish person for an hour, who would it be and what would you do?

I would discuss Wagner with Daniel Barenboim (the Argentine-born pianist and conductor who is a citizen of Argentina, Israel, Palestine and Spain).

What is your Six-Word Memoir on your Jewish Journey?

Horizons also journey along with you.

The Rebooter network is large and diverse, with creators of all kinds and types that do amazing work to help change the world. We do not endorse or identify with the specific thoughts, views and/or opinions of given individual Rebooters, and any views expressed are the sole opinions of the individual represented at the time.  



Community Partner Spotlight: September

Shane Hankins

Hi, I’m Dina Mann, Reboot’s Partnership and Outreach Manager. I work on community partnerships worldwide and help various communities and individual implement Reboot projects, taking the vast and mighty ideas from the Reboot network and sharing them with the world. In this monthly highlight, I will share some of the most interesting work that is happening with our partners. (Of course, there is a ton of cool stuff, but I don’t have the time and you don’t have the patience to read about it!)

September means back to school and back to reality. Here at Reboot, we like to use this time of year to reflect, react and renew. Specifically, we would like to invite you to 10Q.  

What’s 10Q? 10Q takes place during the 10 days of awe. Participants get an introspective question sent to them each day. After Yom Kippur, the answers are put into a vault and then returned to them the following year right before Rosh Hashana. Try it at And in other news:


1- 10Q Live Pop-Up NYC: Join us for a 10Q art installation around New York. We will be helping people reflect all around NYC from Brooklyn College to the Union Square Green Market to Lab/Shul’s High Holiday prep. Follow 10Q on Twitter and Facebook to find out where we will be. 

2- Have you heard of Honeymoon Israel? It’s an awesome org that takes newlyweds to Israel with other newlyweds. Well, Reboot is super excited to work with Honeymoon Israel to create an awesome retreat experience for their New York honeymooners.

3- Want to Reboot your Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkot? Reboot has awesome tools to help you, your family and friends to think differently about the experience of High Holidays. Visit our RH/YK and Sukkot pages to download goodies that are sweeter than honey.



4- After 2 years of the Reboot Hillel internship in LA, we are expanding to NYC campuses. Thanks to the generous grant from UJA-Federation of New York, Reboot will be working with interns at Baruch, Brooklyn and Hofstra. We can’t wait to collaborate!

Interested in becoming a community partner? Want to learn more about how Reboot can collaborate with your community. Please feel free to email


CLIP’s Six-Word Memoirs

Shane Hankins

Last night, I facilitated a Six-Word Memoir activity for The Collegiate Leadership Internship Program (CLIP). Run through NYU’s Bronfman Center, CLIP matches undergraduate students who have an interest in Jewish life and culture to internships at for-profit, non-profit, and various Jewish communal organizations.

We started off the evening with a brief description about Reboot and the history of Six-Word Memoirs on Jewish Life. The idea of the project came from Ernest Hemingway's six-word novel: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” With that idea in mind, SMITH Magazine created a way for people to explore Jewish identity through only six words.

Since the Six-Word Memoir book is chock-filled with amazing, funny, deep, real, and thought provoking sentiments, I thought it best to have everyone skim through the book and find a quote that caught their eye. Once everyone got an idea of what others have written about, they sat down to write their own Six-Word Memoirs on Jewish Life with the following questions in mind;

Who am I? What have I inherited? What, if anything, am I going to do about it?

The ensuing memoirs came from such different places but each one had to do with something specific that had impacted the person’s Jewish life in some way.

Ilana Hoff wrote about her experience going to the mikvah (ritual bath) with her mother when she was four to complete her conversion process; “Immersed. Felt like I’d come home.”

Dorit Sosnowik talked about her experience being an only child in an Orthodox upbringing where it is expected to have a large family; “No siblings? Are you really sure?”

David Labine told us about his experience growing up as the only Jew in a predominantly Christian community “No Eucharist, please. Let’s have Manischewitz.”

Dani Kogan spoke about her confusing religious identity “Halchik woman, still won’t wear skirts.”

    These are just a few examples of what people wrote about ranging from their Jewish upbringings, to their current denominational confusion, to more light-hearted sentiments about not being a JAP (Jewish American Princess). This activity brought about great conversations and thought-provoking discussions that taught me that everyone has some sort of internal Jewish battle going on and most people are questioning the same things that I am. It was a great evening that gave me, and the rest of the CLIP interns, a lot to think about.

Reboot Summer CLIP Intern, Esti Lodge

Bridging the Gap: Growing Up Jew-Ish

Shane Hankins

These days, one of the recurring messages you’ll find is that your identity is ever-fluid. Call it a “Millennial” thing or whatever you’d like, people have the freedom to choose who they’d like to be. In fact, that’s what so many struggles today seem to be about - the right to preserve a unique identity.

Growing up as a child of Russian Jewish immigrants, the concept of choosing and preserving my own identity is now more relevant than ever. My father once described himself as a man with no home country, a “quintessential nowhere man,” due to being born in the Soviet Union and its eventual dissolution. That sentiment found its way into my life as well, having been a first generation American and not knowing exactly how to assimilate parts of my Russian heritage into the culture I grew up in.

The same thing went for my Jewish background. Somewhere in the years of my parent’s generation and their emigration to America, my family’s Jewish background was lost in translation. Because of the chaos occurring in Europe during that period of time, especially with prejudice towards Jews, my family wanted to start anew, and that meant leaving bits of our genetic identity behind.

Growing up, I knew that we were Jewish, and I even went to Hebrew school during the day as a young child. However, while there was a strict adherence to Jewish schooling where I spent a good amount of day, there was nothing really to continue that education when I came home. We didn’t talk about it, and we didn’t practice. While other kids I knew were growing up Jewish, I was growing up Jew-ish. I knew it was this thing that was somehow connected to my family, but I didn’t really know what it meant and I didn’t really care to.

This all changed after college. After college, the question of identity came back roaring in my face. I was let loose in the big world as a new adult and had to fend for myself. The only thing was, in order to fend for myself, I had to know who I was and what I stood for. I began searching internally for pieces of myself to form an identity that I was proud of. Judaism became a large part of this for me.

By chance, the job I found happened to be with the non-profit organization, Reboot, whose mission it is to create cultural initiatives and provide tools and resources to make Judaism a unique, personal experience. I didn’t expect to get called in. It was as if a big part of the identity puzzle fell into my lap. So I thought, “Well, I don’t have to be a big Jew in any sort of way, but I can explore the roots of my family and connect to it.” Through my work and the young professional, cultural Jewish world, I met others like myself and learned about ways of connecting to this side of me that I haven’t had access to before. Other great organizations like Lab/Shul, Moishe House and Base Hillel helped me discover different ways of incorporating Jewish culture into my life.

More so, I discovered how my Jewish self connected with other interests and factors of who I am. It wasn’t an isolated part of me that only came out around Jewish folk, it was melded with other aspects of me to become a whole. Through my own interests in the topic of unplugging and meditative clarity, I came into contact with the Jewish ritual of Shabbat and explored how those two ideas could merge in my life by discovering The National Day of Unplugging and other programs. Through my passion for music I discovered amazing Jewish music to expand my own repertoire. The Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation helped out big with this one. All in all, this new approach to my Jewish self seemed unintrusive; I didn’t have to be a certain way to be Jewish.  

And so, that’s how my Jewish self went from just being “that thing,” to becoming “my thing.” My thing is still very much in motion. My thing is in constant flux. My thing says “you’ve done it, you’ve figured it out!” Then my thing says “much to learn, padawan.” It’s different this time. At least this time around, I know it’s my thing.


Playing Music Can Connect You To Your Creativity and Heritage

Shane Hankins

Playing music has been the greatest creative tool and force in my life. It’s made my life better, my experiences richer, and my thinking skills sharper. On top of that, it has also introduced me to new friends, given me a new appreciation for my own Jewish heritage and culture, and has made me a stronger listener and presenter; my life is significantly better for it.

I’m naturally a huge music geek - always looking for a new tune or band, which motivates me into picking up the guitar, bass, and synthesizer. However, I don’t think you have to be a music maven to start playing an instrument, or to see the benefits of it in your life. As Fast Company writes in their article on the revolutionary thinking design firm IDEO’s promotion of jazz school, learning to think and play music with other musicians “can unlock innovation [much like design thinking], and music schools may become drivers of a new economy.”

Fast Company and IDEO are presenting a fascinating idea: learning music as a driver for innovation. I agree with the thinking behind their recommendation. Here’s why:


  • As a musician, you’ll gain a new creative channel, including learning to write your own songs. It's not so hard!. Songwriting is a creative release, and from a design perspective, it’s an iterative learning process. New songs are prototyped, tested, and refined, often with an audience, over time. No songs appear fully formed, and trial and error is highly promoted. As a musician, you’ll progress in your craft by writing and playing, hearing what works and what doesn’t. You’ll see how a cool riff or chord progression can take on a life of its own, and release more creative juices in your head.

  • You’ll become a better, more active listener. The more you listen for chord changes, pitch, and melody, the more you’ll start hearing the “jazz” in your everyday conversations; when to listen, when to speak, and how to modulate your conversations, moving thoughtfully from one topic to another. This skill is helpful in your personal life (your significant other will thank you!), and also in your professional role, where you’ll build stronger working relationships grounded in active listening.

  • You’ll learn how to play well with others. In a band setting, the lead player knows when to step forward, and supporting players know how to hold this player up. The musical decisions are made as a unit, and everyone has a chance to contribute at the right moments. You’ll learn how to build successful collaborations because you’ll be doing it constantly through the songs you learn to play together.

  • You’ll gain confidence by playing live. To paraphrase Aristotle (who played the lyre): you learn best by doing. If you are new to presenting in public, there is nothing like getting on stage and playing a live show. You’ll learn how to be comfortable in front of an audience, how to deal with the unexpected and pivot where needed and how to channel the adrenaline flowing in your system to work in your favor. These are skills and experiences that will stick with you. And who knows, you may even enjoy it.

  • You’ll learn more about yourself and your own cultural DNA. As you play more, you’ll look to branch out and discover influential artists and trends that open your mind to what is possible and how music has evolved. The Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation, a project of Reboot, was established based on the belief that Jewish history sounds different when you know where to start listening. The Idelsohn Society has given a second life to influential Jewish American cultural trends and artists through releases like It's A Scream How Levine Does the Rhumba: The Latin-Jewish Musical Story 1940s-1980s and Black Sabbath: The Secret Musical History of Black-Jewish Relations, which have opened tens of thousands of music fans to these key and often forgotten trends and artists. Dust-to-Digital, Light in the Attic Records, and Numero Group (who released the amazing God God! Soul Messages from Dimona [Israel]) are also great archival record labels worth checking out.

The Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation contains collections and information on Jewish music.

The Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation contains collections and information on Jewish music.


I gained an even deeper appreciation for my own culture through record shopping and learning about the artists and trends that have emerged from the periphery. From Jewish punk rock icons (Richard Hell, The Ramones, Carrie Brownstein/Sleater-Kinney) to soul/funk burners (The Ghetto Brothers) to “bagels and bongos” jazz (Irving Fields) to Israeli psychedelic rock (The Churchills, Shmulik Kraus), there are rich, diverse, and really talented Jews making music in all genres. I gain a new pride and appreciation for Jewish identity and continuity related to music making, which influenced my own guitar playing and thoughts around what Jewish music could be.

So enough talk! Go to your nearest music shop, pick up an instrument that speaks to you (it doesn’t need to be expensive), and start making some noise. And let us know what you learn about yourself by doing it!

Dan Fast is the Manager of Special Projects for Reboot, responsible for the creation and launch of new products and projects to support Reboot’s next chapter of inventiveness. Dan built his experience in community development, strategic planning, and program design and management through his roles at Birthright Israel NEXT, UJA-Federation of New York, and Young Judaea. His passion for music and entrepreneurism led him to co-founding Mercado Sound, an educational travel startup that explores global cultures through the lens of music. Dan’s mixology skills have gotten him published on Serious Eats and comparisons to Tom Cruise in Cocktail.


"Jewish" Is What You Make It

Shane Hankins

On Thursday, June 30 Reboot took part in BBYO International Leadership Conference (ILTC)’s “reverse field trip” in Lake Como, Pennsylvania.


BBYO teen leaders spend three weeks up at Perlman Camp honing their Jewish leadership skills.  For the “reverse field trip,” professionals from established Jewish organizations came up to camp to lead sessions about our respective organizations and create opportunities for BBYOers to engage in conversations about different issues within the Jewish world. Meeting with teens from across the country, the air was ripe with talk of Israel, collaboration, and camp-pride.

In the Reboot workshop, we used our Six-Word Memoir project to help the teens make personal connections to their roles as leaders.


In Larry Smith’s introduction to Six-Word Memoirs on Jewish Life, he writes that “the six-word limitation forces us to figure out the essence of who we are and what matters most. This simple form of expression can become the starting point for larger discussions.” In each of my workshops we discussed using this language to express our values as Jewish leaders using these three questions as the basis for our conversation:


Who am I?

What Jewish leadership skills am I inheriting?

What, if anything, do I want to do about it?

Responses ranged from comedic, to sentimental, to the utterly intellectual. All poignant and excited about their roles in the community, these teens Six-Word Memoirs on Jewish Leadership exemplify the future of Jewish leadership.

Here are a few:


More leaders make a brighter future.

Jacob Schuman: Cleveland, Ohio


One Jewish teen can change everything.

Deena Goldman: Boca Raton, FL


Six million gone, one step forward.

Jacu Sobel: Charlotte, NC


Never forget what we’ve come from.

Dahlia Byres: Fort Collins, Colorado


Changing lives often grows a soul.

Alec Shears: Cooper City, FL


I am, therefore we are, forever.

Shalom Mayberg


Jew by religion, Jewish by action.

Jordan Vlosky: Mequon, WI


Do not rinse, wash, and repeat.

Lauren Dryzer: Knoxville TN


Soup is empty without Matzoh Balls.

Rebekah Hess: Tenafly, NJ


Paying for college? Bar Mitzvah Money.

Rebekah Hess: Tenafly, NJ


What's your Six-Word story?


Zoe Penina Baker is a Program Consultant at Reboot, responsible for developing and implementing events and programming in the greater New York area. As an artist, long-time event coordinator, and Queens native, she has worked for the last 6 years organizing and curating arts programming across New York State. Zoe’s creative practice explores Jewish-feminist themes through interactive food- and textile-based interactive installations. See more of her work here:






Kibitzing About Kosher

Shane Hankins

Nothing says BBQ better than summer. But in today’s society, people are increasingly examining what they eat, especially when it comes to meat, questioning where and how their food is raised, slaughtered and prepared. Jews can struggle with even more questions. Did our forebearers think about organics? Or whether animals were grass-fed? How does the ancient tradition of Kashrut fit into current food practices?

Reboot’s Kibitz podcast takes listeners through the complex questions of what we, as Jews, are inheriting and what we are going to do about it as we face new concerns about health and our responsibilities for sustainability and humane practices.

In three episodes focusing on “noshing,” Kibitz podcast host Dan Crane, whose most vivid childhood memories are of his father coming home late at night from the Denver BBQ joint that he owned and enshrouding him in thick cloud of hickory smoke as he tucked Crane back in bed, asks whether kosher meat is more humanely raised and slaughtered than non-kosher meat, how to know whether the eggs you’re buying are from humanely-raised chickens, or if Jews should even eat meat at all.


“Like any good Jew, I worry about the meat that we are all eating. And I’m certainly not the first to sound an alarm bell that the way we are raising and killing food is not only bad for the animals, it is bad for us…antibiotics, growth hormones,” host Crane says. “Should we even be able to buy an entire rotisserie chicken for $4.99? Sure they are delicious but what are we really eating. I wondered what the Jewish angle was on this.”


In Episode 9, our intrepid guide takes listeners inside Teva Foods, one of the few remaining kosher slaughterhouses in the Los Angeles area and through the kosher slaughter process, designed to minimize the trauma to the animal and overseen by a rabbi.  

But Crane learns that the kosher designation means nothing about how the animal was raised.

Crane doesn’t leave listeners there. He helps guide them beyond the question of what we as Jews are inheriting to get to ask what we are going to do about it. He talks with Yadidya Greenberg, a Jewish animal welfare advocate with the Jewish Initiative for Animals, an organization that works to increase popularity and availability of higher welfare kosher meat. A former child kibbutznik in Israel with a close relationship to the farm animals there, Greenberg resolved to reconcile the issues around factory farming, the mistreatment of animals and his adult Kashrut practice.


“There is a (Jewish) law…which basically says you cannot cause undue suffering, unnecessary suffering, to animals. Then there are the laws of kosher, kosher slaughter, kosher slaughtering. Those laws are talked about in separate places,” Greenberg told Crane. “These modern day industrial slaughterhouses are not breaking kosher laws by using factory farms. They are still kosher as long as they are processing everything according to the law. Now the thing is that that doesn’t always mean that what they are doing is humane.”


His point is that the production of meat is more than just the final step and as consumers in general have started to pay more attention to animal treatment - from pasture raised to grass-fed to organic - more observant Jews are left in a quandary. Do they give up on Kashrut, eat vegetarian or put aside their concerns?

Crane finds KOL Foods, the only mail-ordered purveyor of organic, pasture-raised, grass-fed kosher beef in the United States. In 2007, founder Devora Kimelman-Block started KOL Foods because people wanted to know the farmer and be assured the animals were raised without antibiotics, she tells Crane.

Crane is not alone in his meat concerns, which he discovers in conversation with podcast regulars comedian Moshe Kasher and his brother Rabbi David Kasher in Episode 6.  


“Every dietary choice is based on a decision that you’ve made about what is the moral choice, the moral right. And I don’t know if it is morally right to not eat cheeseburgers. I don’t necessarily think it is not morally right to not eat cheeseburgers. But it does seem that there is a powerful voodoo and magic in infusing your diet with identity and tradition,” said comedian Moshe Kasher, who eats a modified kosher diet (he eats out in restaurants but does not eat pork and other restricted foods).


Indeed, Jewish tradition and culture around food go beyond Kashrut. In Episode 7 (part two), Crane speaks with deli aficionado David Sax, author of, “Save the Deli: In Search of Perfect Pastrami, Crusty Rye, and the Heart of Jewish Delicatessen.”

He says the Jewish deli evolved in each area based on circumstances. In each community’s deli, the taste, the dishes, the layout, the atmosphere really is shaped by how that community evolved, including climate, economics, and real estate. While the origins are in the food of the Ashkenazi diaspora in Eastern Europe, each area’s specialty is a kosherized version of the local cuisine, Sax said. The deli continues to evolve to this day with a new generation, including Wise Sons in San Francisco, Mile End in New York, Langer’s in Los Angeles and Mogg in Berlin.


“The growth of slow food, the growth of pickling, all this fit into the natural strength of the Jewish deli, so all of a sudden it went from being perceived as something that was tired or outdated to being perceived as something that was in the center of the zeitgeist,” Sax said.


Crane doesn’t have all the answers, he says. But toward the end of his tour of Teva Foods, he looks down and notices a side of beef and thinks that it looks like a “fresh, beautiful looking steak” that would be “pretty tasty.”

“Does that make me a terrible person? Probably,” he says. “But I like to think that at least knowing where our meat comes from is at least a step closer to the right direction.”

Listen to all the Kibitz Podcast episodes at


Tanya Schevitz


Community Partner Spotlight: August

Shane Hankins

Hi, I’m Dina Mann, Reboot’s Partnership and Outreach Manager. I work on community partnerships worldwide and help various communities and individuals implement Reboot projects, taking the vast and mighty ideas from the Reboot network and sharing them with the world. In this monthly highlight, I will share some of the most interesting work that is happening with our partners. (Of course, there is a ton of cool stuff, but I don’t have the time and you don’t have the patience to read about it!)

This month: read about our internship program at Hillels, a partnership with PJ Library and an editorial collaboration on the FRIDAY App with the Foundation for Jewish Camp.


1- Reboot Internships at Hillel

What happens when you mix college students, rad projects and a gift from the Federation of Greater Los Angeles? Reboot internships on campus. In our second year, Reboot has worked with students at Hillels at UCLA, USC and Hillel 818 to create a year long internship, where students are trained in Hillel International’s engagement methodology and Reboot’s various projects. Interns then go on to create their own fabulous programming. Highlights from this year included Unplugged Shabbats, a Touring the Jewish Deli series (pass the pastrami), and experimenting with concerts and a beer seder.

As our USC intern, Mitchell Stahl put it:

“Working as a Reboot intern over the course of the past year has been an incredible experience. As I gained a deeper understanding of Reboot and led relevant programs, I experienced personal, professional, and especially Jewish growth.”

Stay tuned for news from our new LA cohort and our first year in New York, thanks to the generous support of UJA-Federation of New York.


2- PJ Library for Parents

PJ Library is for kids, right? Well, hold your horses. A new initiative of PJ Library is sharing books and resources with parents to better help them think about their own Jewish identities and how it can mesh with their parenting. One of those books is Six-Word Memoirs on Jewish Life. The book and project created by SMITH Magazine in partnership with Reboot is a great tool to gain an insight into others' Jewish identities, and also a way to create new Jewish texts and inspire people’s creative juices. Interested in sharing Six-Words with your family? Check it out here.


3- Summer Camp in FRIDAY

Reboot and the Foundation for Jewish Camp are proud to partner on a summer series of stories for the FRIDAY App. FRIDAY is a free mobile App, designed and produced by Reboot + IDEO, for the iPhone. It offers a distinct invitation - a warm welcome and open door to unplugging, mindfulness, and connection. FRIDAY has come to life thanks to the partnership and generous support of The Righteous Persons Foundation. Look forward to stories about camping, canoeing and canoodling throughout the summer.


Interested in becoming a community partner? Want to learn more about how Reboot can collaborate with your community? Please feel free to email Dina Mann at




August Rebooter Spotlight: Tiffany Shlain

Shane Hankins

Tiffany Shlain is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker and founder of The Webby Awards. Her recent films are “The Science of Character,” “The Adaptable Mind” and “The Making of a Mensch.” She has received more than 75 awards and distinctions for her films and work. Her film studio, Let it Ripple, in San Francisco hosts a global event called Character Day (September 22, 2016) that explores  the social science and neuroscience behind character development -- shaping and developing who we are -- with screening and discussion events around the world.  Tiffany is currently directing a new film called “50/50,” about the past, present and future of women and power that will be released this fall.

Engage with Tiffany at and @tiffanyshlain.

City: San Francisco

1. Has Judaism had a direct impact on what you are doing in your life today?

Being Jewish has definitely filtered into everything I am doing today. As a filmmaker the first “Jewy” film I made was directly inspired by the first Reboot Summit in 2002--I wanted to bring this conversation about American-Jewish identity in the 21st century to a wider audience. So Ken Goldberg (collaborator, husband, Rebooter) and I wrote “The Tribe: American Jewish Identity through the history of the Barbie 18 minutes.” It came with a discussion box including the film, conversation cards, and a book called “Guide From the Perplexed” (based on Maimonides book from the 11th century “Guide For the Perplexed.”) Ten years later, in some ways the “follow-up” to that film is my recent “The Making of a Mensch” (2015) - with a discussion kit about reviving an ancient Jewish philosophy (Mussar) about living with meaning and purpose. So 10 years ago I was wrestling with “What does it mean to be Jewish?” And today, as a married mother of two, I’m asking  “Okay, I’m Jewish, what Jewish ideas can help me live with meaning and purpose, and help Ken and I raise mensches?” (And yes, I want to reclaim mensch for both men and women.)

“The Making of a Mensch” is one of the three films being shown on Character Day on Sept 22, 2016, when people all over the world watch films and engage in discussion materials that focus on character development in the 21st century from different perspectives. There are 20,000 screening events planned at schools, companies, congregations, organizations on who we are and who we want to be in the world. We’re working with Jewish educators to expand our “Making of a Mensch” materials and resources this year which will be available online. We also have amazing thought leaders both Jewish and secular experts in the field on Character Day on our online Google hangout that unifies all of these screenings. I’d love for anyone reading this to bring Character Day to their kid’s school, congregation, alternative shul, work, or home. It definitely seems like the news today is calling for us to think, rethink and focus on who we are and who we want to be in the world. It’s all free -and you can check out a one-minute trailer and information here.

2. Traditionally, there is a day of rest to help us recharge. How do you keep a healthy work/life balance?

Since my father passed away in 2009, my family and I have turned off all screens from Shabbat until late afternoon/early evening on Saturday. We started doing it that first National Day of Unplugging. We are now on our seventh year and it has been one of the best decisions we ever made.  Friday morning, I make challah with the girls. In the afternoon we make the table gorgeous with fresh flowers, Ken cooks an amazing roast chicken. We always have people over for dinner. All screens (phones, iPads, computer) go off. Then we go to bed, unplugged.  Saturday morning we wake up to a whole day to just hang out, no screens, reading, daydreaming, in nature, connecting. It resets everything each week, and I value this ritual/practice above all others in my life.

3. What’s your favorite bagel topping?

I like the whole megillah. Cream cheese, lox, tomato, cucumber, dill, salt & pepper, avocado. That sounds excessive as I write this….but it’s true.

4. What has been your most impactful Jewish-ish experience?

Ken and I helping to rethink, plan and experience our daughter Odessa’s recent bat mitzvah.

5. How has Reboot helped shaped your Jewish identity in new ways?

See answers 1 and 2.

6. What is your favorite Jewish text (text defined loosely as film, book, poem, graffiti art…)?

“The Sabbath” by Abraham Heschel. I love the way he talks about Shabbat as being “a sanctuary in time.”  As I move through life, I keep understanding more layers on why it’s so important to truly take one day off and place your mind and soul into a different mode.  It’s amazing for creativity and connection.

7. If you could unplug and spend time with a Jewish/Jew-ish person or several people for an hour, who would it be and what would you do?

I’d like to take the following people to Burning Man: Einstein, Queen Esther, Abraham Heschel, Hannah Arendt, Mel Brooks, Gilda Radner, and Louis one airstream.

8. How do you think Judaism is evolving in today’s world?

Our greatest strength as Jews is to ask questions, and questioning is the lubrication for innovation. It keeps us exploring the best parts of rituals and ideas and then rethinking of how they can be updated for the 21st century.

9. What is your Six-Word Memoir on your Jewish Journey?

Jew. Jew-ish. Ish. Shh.. Jew. Jewess.

The Rebooter network is large and diverse, with creators of all kinds and types that do amazing work to help change the world. We do not endorse or identify with the specific thoughts, views and/or opinions of given individual Rebooters, and any views expressed are the sole opinions of the individual represented at the time.  

New Beginnings with Unscrolled

Shane Hankins

Becca Grumet worked as Reboot’s LA intern from September 2015 to May 2016. During that time, she jumped in head-first to learning about Reboot’s programs and projects. Graduating from intern to community partner, Becca is now the Program and Engagement Director of Open Templean emerging spiritual and creative community in Venice, California. Here are some of Becca’s reflections upon reading Reboot’s Unscrolled for the first time in the fall of 2015:


Last week, I did something I hadn’t done in a long time: I read from the bible. Except, it wasn’t so much The Bible, but a bible, called Unscrolled: 54 Writers and Artists Wrestle with the Torah.


Ironically, I had just come home from a local synagogue event in Los Angeles for Simchat Torah, a holiday at the end of Sukkot that marks the conclusion of public Torah readings for the year. I hadn’t really wanted to go, but my carpool was stopping by on the way home.


I poked my head into the giant room to watch young families dancing fervently with several torahs around a klezmer band. Senior congregants sat on the sidelines and clapped happily. Young professionals mingled and drank “Torah-tinis.” I had never seen anything like it, but I started to think: I guess if a synagogue constituency is equivalent to a weekly book club of sorts, they certainly did have reason to celebrate. They had, after all, as “people of the book” spent the last year reading their super long and seminal work.


I don’t read as much as I should, especially when I come home after a long day of work. My personal “text study” usually consists of delving into the visual work of Shonda Rhimes, or listening to whatever NPR podcast strikes my fancy that night. Reading comes in 3rd or 4th place, and biblical-y, Jewy reading? Well, that’s just hilarious.


But there I was, reflecting on how happy everyone at the synagogue looked to finish this task of reading for the entire year, of really completing something, and there it was. Unscrolled. Like a magical moment from scripture itself, Unscrolled had appeared in the mail a couple weeks before as part of an orientation packet for my new graduate school internship at Reboot.


I opened up the book to the first parsha from Genesis, B’reishit, and found a quick recap of the original text, followed by an interpretation from none other than Josh Radnor, aka Ted Mosby from one of my favorite shows, How I Met Your Mother. I turned to my roommate, a Jewish education masters student, and said: “Did you know Ted Mosby wrote about Genesis?” He did not know.


I was confused and delighted. I continued flipping to find more of my favorite writer-performers and their contributions. Jill Soloway on Lekh L’kha. Damon Lindelof on Vayeara. Michaela Watkins on Vayishlah, my bat mitzvah portion I hadn’t read since age 13. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. This was a bible? The last bible I had read was large and scary and part of the required reading list for a course during my first semester of college. It had over 1500 pages. Most of all, I remember it being really, really long and boring. God rambled for like, ever.

But not so much the case with Unscrolled. Josh’s B’reishit was brief, poignant, and truthfully unexpected. It even had a thought provoking reading guide you can find online. As a writer myself and former film student, this was the perfect companion for me to engage with the “old” Jewish text I hadn’t connected with in years. I had a feeling some of my friends in the arts community would feel the same way, Jewish or not. And best of all, they could now find portions from Unscrolled released online on a rolling basis.


As much as I shocked myself by wanting to read more of the artsy variations ahead in Unscrolled, I stopped after Josh’s chapter and made a challenge to myself for the year. I thought of the excited congregants earlier at Simchat Torah - and decided to hold off until next week, when I would read Noah on schedule with the rest of one of the world’s largest book clubs, not in a synagogue, but in the comfort of my own bed. Then would come Shonda, and then NPR.


Becca Grumet is the Program and Engagement Director of Open Temple, an emerging spiritual and creative community in Venice, California. She's a graduate of the Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management and also studied film and television at USC. Her masters thesis, Doing Jewish at Burning Man, was featured in HuffPost Religion.


Egg Creams, Egg Rolls and Empanadas- Oh my!

Shane Hankins

A Klezmer band parades down Eldridge Street.

A Klezmer band parades down Eldridge Street.

On Sunday, June 19th Reboot set up shop at the Egg Creams, Egg Rolls and Empanadas Festival hosted by Eldridge Street Synagogue on the Lower East Side. Celebrating the rich, multicultural immigrant history of the neighborhood, the annual festival welcomed a diverse visitor population to learn about and honor the Jewish, Chinese, and Hispanic traditions held by residents of the Lower East Side.

Rob manning the Reboot table.

Rob manning the Reboot table.

At the Reboot table, Marketing Associate, Rob Simakovsky and I donned our aprons to collect recipes and host a raffle for Beyond Bubbie. Striking up conversations with festival-goers about mealtime rituals and family memories, visitors to our table painted a multigenerational, multicultural portrait of their own relationships with Jewish foodways.

                                                                                           Fishbowls full of recipes ready to share!

                                                                                           Fishbowls full of recipes ready to share!

Exemplary of the spirit of the festival, Anita Fein shared this story:

Before my husband and I were married, I was invited to my future in-laws to dinner. I’m Chinese and he’s Jewish. I made and served fried wonton.

“Kreplach!” exclaimed my father-in-law.

“Wonton!” I said.


“In my house they’re wonton!”

He smiled and we had a great relationship until he passed away in 2009.

At Father’s Day dinner that evening over vegetable lo-mein, my dad reminisced about staying up all night to the click-clacking of his Jewish mother’s mahjong tiles from the kitchen table, my grandfather spoke of his youth on the Lower East Side, shopping for his mother at Essex Street Market, and I sat intently, writing their stories on recipe cards in my mind.


Zoe Penina Baker is a Program Consultant at Reboot, responsible for developing and implementing events and programming in the greater New York area. As an artist, long-time event coordinator, and Queens native, she has worked for the last 6 years organizing and curating arts programming across New York State. Zoe’s creative practice explores Jewish-feminist themes through interactive food- and textile-based interactive installations. See more of her work here:


From Learning to Practice

Shane Hankins

Hi! I’m Esti, a rising senior in the business school at SUNY Binghamton, and a summer intern at Reboot. I’m really excited to be here this summer because of the awesome work that Reboot does. Putting on programs and events to bring Jewish millennials together to create their own Jewish lives is really inspiring, especially for someone who is about to graduate college and enter a new Jewish world.  

As I did some research about Reboot, I saw that they had partnered with the global design firm IDEO. As a leadership and consulting major, a lot of my classes have to do with eliciting creativity and teamwork, so I’ve learned a lot about IDEO. We talk about the strategies of innovation used in their design processes to come up with creative ideas that translate into real products. I became interested in the company after learning about their anti-hierarchical structure where creativity is put above all else. IDEO’s founder, David Kelley, finds ways to bring out people’s creativity by making an open space where all ideas are welcome, similar to the process here at Reboot.

The two organizations created The FRIDAY App, which works to reconnect people by urging them to unplug from their devices for 24 hours. The collaboration of these partners also brought about the Rebook, which talks about the process by which the app and other projects are being created. Outlined in the Rebook are five values that “tie us together:”

  1. Practice Unconditional Welcoming

  2. Balance Humor, Head, and Heart

  3. Celebrate Imperfection

  4. Give People Guidelines and Tools, Not Rules

  5. Make it Gorgeous

These five values were guiding principles in creating The FRIDAY App. Each week this summer, I’ll be writing a blog post exploring a new principle. I’m excited to learn more about each value and see where it takes me, as well as share them with all of you.


Esti Lodge


What's in it to #unplug?

Shane Hankins

Dan Fast

It’s sunset on Friday. Where are you? Like most Jewish young adults, you are probably not lighting Shabbat candles. Maybe you’re at a bar? Or at a restaurant with friends? Perhaps going to see a movie or concert?

But what if around sunset, you received a ping reminding you to unplug and take a minute to reflect. Would you take that moment?

At Reboot, we know that Judaism and Jewish culture are full of rich ideas, values, traditions, and guidance for all of life’s moments, big and small. And yet, we also know it feels inaccessible to many people–especially many Jewish young adults. This key question is closely connected to our mission–affirming the values of Jewish traditions and creating new ways for people to make them their own. So we set out to address this question by reframing it as a design challenge, and we set to find solutions to this challenge with the help of world-class design company IDEO.

Working closely with IDEO, we underwent an exploration and discovery process, talking with a diverse group of young adults about their lives, what’s important to them, and how they feel about being Jewish. They shared their experiences with us, and we found opportunities for design in their stories. Next, we invited two dozen leading thinkers, creators, and leaders from diverse backgrounds to join us for a three-day design workshop.

During the workshop, we realized the solution to this design challenge isn’t a single product or idea. It’s actually establishing a creative and functional “queue” of products for Jewish life and modern living, which enhance people’s day-to-day lives and allows us to learn as we build.


The products created would embody a set of shared, core values, which include:.

  • Have a profound sense of welcome for all;

  • Engage people’s head, heart, and humor (all three are key);

  • Celebrate diversity of interpretations and expressions of Jewishness, and encouraging a Do-It-Yourself approach;

  • Share guidelines and tools, not rules, which help people in their lives and meet them where they’re at;

  • Remix rich traditions with new thinking; and

  • Be gorgeous in aesthetics, design, and feeling.


This brings us to Friday night. During our discovery process, we learned that a challenge young adults face is finding ways to disconnect from technology and reconnect with real people in real time.

Introducing FRIDAY. It’s a free iPhone App that helps users slow down and disconnect during this time of weekly transition, the start of Shabbat. Think of FRIDAY as a warm welcome at the end of the week—an invitation to pause, reflect, unplug, and connect with something that’s not on your screen. We know it’s ironic, but we’ve found the most plugged-in people want to be met where they already are. We believe Shabbat is the great Jewish equalizer: everyone can get behind the idea of a meal with friends, family, and good conversation.

The App works like this: every Friday, 30 minutes before sunset, your phone pings you and asks, “Are you ready for Friday?” If you click yes, your screen then recedes into a blissful twilight, while the App serves up a thought-provoking story and question to inspire personal reflection and fuel lively dinner discussion. After reading, your phone’s screen fades from twilight to darkness, prompting you to put it away and connect with something (or someone) that’s not on your screen.

So now, as the National Day of Unplugging approaches on March 4-5, we are asking you to unplug from technology and plug into what is important to you. And before you do that. Take a moment to slow down with a story, reflect with a question and enjoy that moment of transition on FRIDAY.

Download FRIDAY in the iTunes Store and learn more at Pledge to unplug, sign up to be a community partner and learn more at

Dan Fast is the Manager of Special Projects for Reboot, responsible for the creation and launch of new products and projects to support Reboot’s next chapter of inventiveness. Dan built his experience in community development, strategic planning, program design and management through his roles at Birthright Israel NEXT, UJA-Federation of New York, and Young Judaea. His passion for music and entrepreneurism led him to co-founding Mercado Sound, an educational travel startup that explores global cultures through the lens of music. Dan holds a B.A. in English and Religious Studies from Lafayette College, and completed Columbia Business School’s Developing Leaders Program.

Are You Ready for your Bar or Bat 26-vah?

Shane Hankins

If, after reading this article, you are excited at the idea of having your own Bar or Bat 26-vah, you can sign up here.


“I’m here to start my preparations for my upcoming Bar 26-vah,” I said.

“What’s a Bar 26-vah?” asked my two mikveh guides – Wendy and Peggy – simultaneously. I was sitting in the lobby of Mayyim Hayyim, a beautiful mikveh (ritual bath) in Newton, Massachusetts.

I paused, trying to determine how I could answer her question. What I came up with must have felt entirely unhelpful to my two new friends. “I’m not exactly sure yet,” I said. “But I’m excited to find out.”

I am, by just about any measure, a deeply “engaged” or “involved” Jew. Judaism plays a concrete role in every day of my life, through my employment by a Jewish organization, my recent entry into rabbinical school, and a smorgasbord of everyday practices and activities I engage in that connect me to the Jewish past, present, and (hopefully) future.

But I realized something about myself recently. I have grown very comfortable in my Jewish skin. Too comfortable. Only a few years back, I was regularly trying out new Jewish experiences. I did hagbah (ritual lifting of the Torah) for the first time. I sought to learn my first tractate of Mishnah (the first text of rabbinic Judaism’s “oral law”). I observed a number of holidays, from Shavuot to the 17th of Tammuz, that I had never really known about before.

Recently, however, I think I reached a point where I felt content with where I was. It’s not that I have engaged with Judaism any less in the last year or two, it is just that I haven’t really done so in ways that push me out of my comfort zone.

So I decided to do something a bit crazy, requiring a great deal of chutzpah. After learning about a few creative ideas, including Reboot’s Rebar Project, I decided to invent a Jewish ritual for myself – the Bar 26-vah.

I will be turning 26 – twice the age when most American Jews have their B’nai Mitzvah – this coming November (God-willing). When I do, I will be marking it in a big way. My birthday is over nine months from now, but I have decided to spend those months really pushing myself to Jewish territory that I have not yet explored. Trying out experiences I have not yet had, taking on certain practices I have considered but not fully owned for myself. This process will culminate in a celebratory event when I turn 26. I am happy to say I have no idea exactly what that event will look like.

This Bar 26-vah process is why I found myself at Mayyim Hayyim. Their mikveh is a space specifically designed to mark important life cycle events and, most importantly, I had never dunked in a ritual bath before. This was new.

Because it was new, I felt a tinge of nervousness. What exactly would I do when left alone in the bath? Sure, they have some sheets with blessings and readings designed to enhance your experience, but would I really connect to them? What if I just float there, awkwardly?

It turns out, despite my apprehension, that my mikveh experience was a terrific one. For a wide variety of reasons, it was exactly what I needed to refresh myself and really commit to a year of Jewish exploration. Most importantly, it reminded me that Judaism is far more powerful when we take risks and push ourselves beyond our previous limits.

That is what my Bar 26-vah is going to be. It will be a way for me to push myself beyond the bounds of my personal Jewish comfort zone. The best part? When I described this idea to a few friends of mine, they wanted to participate as well. Thus far, eight people are on board to explore what a Bar or Bat 26-vah could look in their lives, and Reboot has graciously offered to serve as a resource for us as we move forward. I am optimistic that Reboot’s awesome reBar toolkit, which helped inspire this idea in the first place, is just one example of the helpful resources Reboot provides that will be immensely helpful. And as we approach our ceremonies themselves, you can be sure that we will be sharing our excitement on this blog or at

To clarify one frequently asked question: our process will not be one-size-fits-all. We won’t be writing up any one service, laying out any one project, or creating any one replicable program. Some in our cohort may choose to pursue activism through a Jewish lens, others may enter into a process of Jewish textual learning, and still others may decide that creating a “2.0” version of their first Bar/Bat Mitzvah is their best path forward. The possibilities are diverse and, if you ask me, incredibly exciting!

The number 26, in rabbinic Jewish numerology, is particularly holy. It is the number associated with God’s four-letter Hebrew name. Our cohort excited to take that number and imbue it with the holiness it deserves. If you are between ages 24 and 26 and you’d like to join us on this potentially transformative process, just fill out this form and we’ll be happy to welcome you aboard!


Lex Rofes

The Wall of Reflection at The Brandeis School of San Francisco

Shane Hankins

By Tanya Schevitz

Throughout the Jewish High Holidays, friends often found Brandeis parent Angie Dalfen standing in front of a wall papered with Post-It Notes. The hundreds of notes were reflections posted by students and teachers in response to questions posed by Reboot’s 10Q project.

The student reflections ranged from positive memories or achievements of the past year to goals like wanting to be a better friend or sibling and improving in school, to fears, hopes and despair about health and family.

“I met a new friend. It made me feel good,” said one student.

“I went to a Crohn’s camp. Crohn’s camp is a camp where kids have Crohn’s. It is nice to met other people who have it,” wrote one student.

“I was thankful when I made it in to level four in dance,” wrote a student.

“A special moment where I felt out of the ordinary this year was at Thanksgiving. I felt so special because all of my family was gathered around the table and I realized how lucky I was to have all of them there with me.” 

“There has been a lot of fighting in my family this year,” one student wrote. “My parents have fought a lot, my sister and I have fought a lot. Everyone fights, everyone is responsible. This has led my parents to talk about a divorce. Obviously this has very negatively impacted all of us. I’ve felt very depressed a lot of the time, and my sister has been taking her emotions out in a physically violent way.”

Throughout the High Holidays, teachers at the Brandeis School of San Francisco discussed the 10Q questions with their students and asked them to write their reflections and post them to a wall in the hallway.

The 10 questions are about life, goals, the future, relationships, your place in the world and more. Those who sign up for the 10Q project are sent a question a day for 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. After the 10 days, their answers are shipped in to a digital vault and then returned to them the next year just before the holidays.

Some students wrote about things we otherwise may think are trivial but that for them are really important, making everyone pause to think.

“I got my ears pierced and it made me feel accepted,” wrote one student.

“In Judo when I learned how to flip people it made me feel good,” said another.

While the project started online, many people discuss the questions in person. The exercise at the Brandeis School of San Francisco helped to focus the school on the tradition of pausing to consider the year past and the year ahead.

“It definitely brought home the aspect of this period as being a period of reflecting,” said Debby Arzt-Mor, director of Judaic Studies and Hebrew, who spearheaded the partnership with Reboot. “I watched kids showing their parents (their posts), so there was definitely the kids awareness of ‘this is going on and I’m a part of it.’ My feeling is that it was cool to them that they were part of a bigger piece.”

Some students wrote about moments that were important to them:

“When I stood up for my friend.”

“My great grandmother had eye surgery and this makes me feel sad.”

“I got my ears pierced and it made me feel accepted.”

“I went to South Africa and Botswana with my dad. It really opened my eyes to the beauty of nature. It was also eye opening to the fact that lots of animals there (rhinos and elephants in particular) are in very serious danger of extinction because of the huge demand for ivory all around the world. I actually lost a lot of faith in humanity on that trip.”

“One happy moment this year was when my sister got into chorus.”

Some students talked about difficult times:

“One goal I would like to achieve this year is making my ankles more stabilized. In fourth grade, I found out that I had an extra bone in each of my ankles. I had to wear a boot for almost three months. I couldn’t play sports or run around at all. Ever since I got the boot off, I’ve been doing physical therapy and trying to prevent my ankles from getting inflamed again.”

“My grandmother’s death.”

“The moments that stands out the most are the heart problems that my aunt is having. My whole family is very close to her, even thought she hardly speaks English, and so recently as she has been going through a rough time, it has taken a toll on all of us.”

Some students set goals or wrote about ways to improve themselves:

“I want to improve my organizational skills along with my social skills. In the past year, I learned that it is OK to ask questions and make mistakes.”

“Stay calmer with my family. When I feel like getting really upset and yelling, I need to do a better job of staying calm and talking in a productive way about how I feel, and not contribute to the fighting.”

“My goal is to not call out in school because I don’t want to get in trouble.”

“My goal is to read 15 books because that will help me read faster.”

“One way that I would like to improve myself is to be nicer to people that I don’t like or that I’m not really friends with. Sometimes when I’m at school, someone who I’m not very fond of will come up to me and ask a questions that was either just answered, not even relevant, or a bad question and I get kind of snippy and annoyed. I feel bad when I do that because it is not the right thing to do.”

Some students wrote about what has held them back and how they can overcome it:

“I’m scared of step slides. I can close my eyes.”

Some talked about how events in the past year have affected them:

“My sister went to college. Lots of new expenses.”

“There has been a lot of fighting in my family this year. My parents have fought a lot, my sister and I have fought a lot. Everyone fights, everyone is responsible. This has led my parents to talk about a divorce. Obviously this has very negatively impacted all of us. I’ve felt very depressed a lot of the time, and my sister has been taking her emotions out in a physically violent way.”

“This year, my great uncle got diagnosed with cancer. It has affected me because I got to know him as I grew up and it is really hard to know that he’s dying.”

Some students shared what they could have done differently in the past year:

“Something I wish I could have done differently was at my sleep-away soccer camp with three of my teammates from my soccer team. All three of them were super good friends and I really wanted to be with them but they shut me out. I wish I could’ve used my voice to speak up for myself.”

Arzt-Mor said that Brandeis would definitely participate again.

“It is a great way to invite the community into this process,” she said. “It set a framework and allowed teachers to engage with it however they want.”

If your school is interested in participating next year, please contact Dina Mann at .





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