Saturday, December 24, 2011 Needs Your Vote

In addition to keeping Rabbi David Saperstein organized, on track and moving in the right direction each and every day, my friend Daphne Price is the food editor of, which recently was nominated as a “Best Kosher Food Blog.” 

Nominations and voting end on January 11, 2012 and in a shameless appeal to garner votes for Daphne’s blog, I urge you to:

  1. Visit
  2. Scroll down to Price (it’s the 11th entry on the list)
  3. Click on the vote button
  4. Pass the word (it’s one vote per IP address, so encourage your friends to visit and vote, too!)
Winners will be announced on February 1 and I, for one, am rooting for  Go, Daphne!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Biennial: It’s a Family Thing

A few weeks before the URJ’s recent Biennial convention, I received an email from a young rabbi and CCAR staff member who amicably inquired about whether his family’s hotel room (for himself, his rabbi wife, and their young daughter) could be near that of his mother (also a rabbi), his grandmother (who’s been attending Biennials for roughly 50 years), and his in-laws (one of whom is a cantor).

I responded with this:
Hi Dan,

I am, indeed, the right person for your request.

Currently, your room is slated to be adjacent to your mother's room.  I certainly can submit your other requests regarding her mom and your in-laws to the hotel, but cannot guarantee that they'll be able to get everyone close together.

Look forward to meeting you there,
~ Jane.

P.S.  On a personal note, I was very touched by your email and the "family affair" that Biennial is for all of you.  My mom, who died last year, loved Biennial and had been attending for longer than I've been working at the Union.  This will be my first Biennial without my parents in attendance...
Dan then graciously wrote again:
Hi Jane,

Thanks for taking care of this and submitting the extra requests!  This will really mean a lot to my family.

I'm sorry to hear about your mother.  It's pretty amazing that her love of Biennial predated your working at the Union.  If you'd like to have some family time, my family would be happy to adopt you!

Looking forward to meeting you in person, as well.
Thanks again!
Although I regret that I didn’t have a chance to meet Dan or his family, I did, ironically enough, meet some family of my own! 

It was Friday morning and as I left the room where I’d just finished co-leading a 20-minute learning session with the dcc on congregational blogging, a woman approached me:

“Are you Jane?”


“I’m your cousin, Rena Riback.”

And indeed she is!  Her father, z.l., and my father were first cousins…her grandmother and my grandfather, brother and sister.

And so it was that thanks to Rena, I--like Dan--was able to have some family time at the Biennial, too. 

And how did she know I’d be there in the first place?  From the Facebook page of another Riback cousin, of course!

Friday, December 16, 2011

No, I Haven't Forgotten About You

Dear Blog,

No, I haven't forgotten about you...I've just been Biennial busy.  In fact, I hope your ears were ringing yesterday when Ima (who was off the bima at the time) and I presented a 20-minute learning session about congregational blogging for beginners.  Take a look at the presentation here.  If your ears were ringing, get ready for them to ring again tomorrow when the dcc and I will do a similar presentation for advanced users (in Chesapeake J at 9:45 a.m).

Here are a few other things keeping me on the go:
  • Arranging housing, making adjustments and ironing out challenges for staff members, musicians, speakers and VIPs
  • Catching up with Frume Sarah and meeting ZaydeGiraffe and Syl, both from her world
  • Counting Shabbat lunches 
  • Hugging my mom's friends and reminiscing with them about how much she loved Biennial (and all things URJ).  We all concur that she's here in spirit and is, we know, smiling down on what she sees. 
  • Caffeine, caffeine and more caffeine
That last dose is wearing off, though, and so it's time for me to say lailah tov.  I'll be in more regular touch again when I get back home to New York, but in the meantime, I miss you and hope you're taking good care.