You know all those Chinese Auctions you always see hosted by Oorah or other places? Well, did you ever think about how exactly they get all those great prizes? Who donates those flat-screen TVs, tickets to Israel or diamond necklaces?

Well, every organization has their contacts and people who owe them favors. But they also have the people like me who cold-call any number of organizations in an effort to get them to donate prizes for free PR (we are, after all, going to reach an audience of over 100,000 people). This trade often doesn't work because the companies are too small for that to really matter and advertising in their local Jewish newspaper provides them with enough business to keep them happy.

I, on the other hand, remain glued to the phone, excitedly informing people of all the reasons that they want to give us free things.

Something really nice happened today, though. One woman whom I called to discuss car-leasing options told me that she personally couldn't donate free leases but she could donate her time by calling dealerships for us and trying to see whether they would want to help us out. I thought that was really generous of her. So huzzah for this kind lady!

And now I return to making phone calls.

Deadline time: Pieces of paper swirl on and off my desk. Red pens litter the floor. Layouts are edited again and again, each time searching for perfection. I clutch a bottle of whiteout (breathing in appreciative whiffs of the wonderful chemically smell) erasing semi-colons, and inserting commas. The following is a photo of my desk during deadline. No, this is not staged. It actually looks like this. On the far left hand side of the desk sits my happy water bottle. It is powder blue, with a pink screw on lid and decorated with unicorns and flowers. It is my saving grace. I hastily gulp water (ROOM TEMP ONLY) and enjoy how cheerful its colors and unicorns make me. The frantic pace keeps up for about two weeks. Then the magazine goes to the printer and we can breathe. Or rather, we are forced to breath. No more dreams filled with dingbats or, horror of horrors, uppercase letters in the middle of a sentence.


People sometimes wonder what the perks of a job are. Well, here at the ALJO, it's free milk. Every Monday morning, a variety of milk cartons magically appear in our fridge...and there they remain, dwindling in number as we guzzle them down.

We're given enough milk to ensure that we have strong bones and can work heartily away!

But seriously, it's nice that they give us free milk. And free coffee. Hence the king of all coffee machines: the Keurig.

Long live drinkable beverages!
I'm working on building a website - not an easy task for someone with minimal programming/graphic design ability. But I get by with a little help from my friends. And a scientist's (I'm a trained bioengineer!) greatest trick: trial-and-error.

Then randomly, I got an anonymous email yesterday, from someone asking if I wanted help redesigning the logo on my website to look more like two hearts and simultaneously a Jewish star. I didn't know who sent it, and when I looked up the email address, turns out it's some random guy from North Dakota who designs logos and does other web things. This guy said he'd do it for free, and asked me for some specs on what I wanted. Shocked, I replied "Wow, thats actually exactly what I needed help with and didn't know where to turn, and I'd be totally grateful if you'd do that for me!"

A friend of mine found him through some forum, messaged with him, and asked him if he always goes around offering free logo design. He said no, normally he charges or just doesnt do things.
"but from time to time i offer my services to places
and while i'm not jewish nor a believer in love,
your goals are commendable"
What a lier, he totally is into love.

Be on the lookout for a new logo, coming soon! (hopefully...)
I dabble in everything, much as a dilettante does. (That's how I work best- dabbling is my longterm lifestyle.)

In any case, life at the ALJO today has consisted of the following things:

-Tediously typing people's birthdays (listed on one spreadsheet) into a different spreadsheet

-Designing a webpage (and being summoned to a meeting regarding that webpage)

-Designing a flyer alongside easily the most hilarious (and patient) graphic artist known to man (he signs all of his email correspondence with the highly evocative, friendly and otherwise entertaining 'GRINS'), Berish

-Pricing out edible goodies and creating yet another blog so that people will sign up to receive said edible goodies

-Irritating my coworkers when my modem/ computer decided to commit suicide loudly via burning hairdryer sounds because it couldn't handle viewing the scandalously clad participants on various ALJO programs

-Switching to a different computer, looking through 7 CDs and picking out pictures of Happy Kids on Camels only to learn they must be censored and photoshopped before we publish them because people like to complain about ridiculous things - the good part is this included laughing about headless camels

-Sending various logos and backgrounds to the lady who is designing our landing page while learning that the UGalilee program has no official logo (that's a tad bizarre)

-Eating a bag of Craisins, a bag of M&Ms and a cup of chocolate milk to sustain me and turning into a sugary lovable mess

-Changing the name of this blog because now I officially work for an Anonymous Large Jewish Organization- yippee!
Life at the Anonymous Large Jewish Organization (ALJO for short) is never boring.

I take that back. Life at the ALJO can occasionally be boring. This mainly happens when one is seated before a neverending list of folks and told to call them all and/or to update the list with random tidbits of information that it is nearly impossible to procure.

However, at the moment, life at the ALJO is far from boring.

You see, today is "Happy Kids on Camels" day.

To what am I referring?

Well, it's like this. The ALJO is actually a relatively sophisticated organization. We do research into our advertising and try to come up with methods to recruit participants to our programs in the most effective way. We have to reach out to many different audiences and must discover how to do this. In this particular case, we want to create a landing page that will please and intrigue unaffiliated Jews so that they will consider joining our 'Israel Free Spirit' Birthright trip. The question was: what to put on this page? What would draw people in but not terrify them?

An IDF soldier could potentially be too scary and evoke negative media images. However, a nice Bedouin on a camel doesn't really convey the essence of our trip.

As we sat in our offices, we looked at one another. At once, the answer came to our minds. It was almost as exciting as when the Great Computer calculated the answer to the universe= 42.

"Happy Kids On Camels!" we exclaimed.

And now we hunt for pictures.

(Addendum: And sadly, the pictures we do have of children on camels are not suitable for our work. It is all very saddening. But surely we will come up with something else that stirs people's hearts and ensures that the only thing they want to do is hop on a plane and kiss the holy ground of the Holy Land. Maybe it will even sport the same daring alliteration.)
It is a busy Tuesday afternoon at Jewish Inertia magazine. The phone rings and I hurriedly answer,

"Jewish Inertia magazine" I answer in a clipped professional tone.

"Hello, a voice soft voice answers, this is Shifra and I am looking for summer 2010 of Jewish Inertia magazine. My father is in one of the photos with Dr. Bernard Lander. I let someone borrow the magazine and now I don't have it. The picture really means a lot to me. Can you please send me another copy?"

Back issues cost 6.50 and them takes tracking it down in various Anonymous Jewish Organization storage closets. We were approaching deadline, and time was tight. The hope in Shifra's voice made me stop and answer kindly.

"I will do my best, but it will cost you. Can I please call you back this afternoon?"

"Yes, please do," Shifra answered.

I sighed and started to rifle through some stuff on my desk. As I was sorting through various shreds of paper I came across Jewish Inertia magazine summer 2010. Not only one but two copies. I called Shifra back right away.

"Hello may I please speak to Shifra?"


"Hi, Anna here from Jewish Inertia. I can send you a copy of the magazine."
In a split second decision I said, "it will be 5.00 even."

"Thank you so much!" Shifra said the thanks and excitement was palpable in her voice.

"Your welcome, shana tova u'metukah," I said.

As I was packaging the magazine I decided to send her both copies I had found. I then took a sticky and wrote a note "I know I told you I would send you one magazine but this seemed so important to you that I decided to send you two. Shana tova umetukah~Anna"

A few days later I got to work and immediately started to listen to my messages. Pen poised ready to take down complaints about missed issues or never recorded address changes. Instead there was a teary message waiting for me.

"Hello this is Shifra. I want to let you know how much receiving the magazines with the note on them meant to me. It really made me stop and think about the little favors we could do for people on an every day baises that we tend to pass up. Shana tova"

I spent the morning smiling. Then it was 4PM and I was rushing to finish things off for the day. I got another phone call. Sighing, I picked up.

"Hi this is Shifra again, I wanted to speak to you in person. You must be an out-of-towner, your note was so nice."

Taken aback by the sentiment I managed to answer "yes I'm from Cleveland."

"Thank you again. Your note will be saved the photos passed onto my grandchildren. You don't even know how much happiness this has bought to me. May all your prayers be answered."

I went into Rosh Hashanah awed by Shifra's thoughtful and exuberant thanks.