50 First Dates

Quest For Love

by Molly Shaffer

A lonely American rabbi’s son is taking the concept of speed dating up a gear by going on 50 blind dates in 50 US states – all in just 50 days.

Dan Jacobs, from Santa Monica, is setting off on the ultimate romantic road trip next week to find a woman who’ll “give a nice sensitive short guy like me a chance”.

The 22-year-old’s voyage of discovery, which is being part-funded to the tune of $21,000 by friends and investors, will be filmed for a television documentary called A Sensitive Guy on the Road: 50 Dates In 50 States.

The roaming Romeo hopes his 50th and final date will see him reunited with his most successful first date.

Jacobs’ amorous adventure began a few months ago when a radio station in Idaho publicised his project.

His face was soon plastered on newspaper front pages nationwide and more than 400 responses from potential partners flooded in from across the US.

Jacobs has since narrowed down the applicants to a shortlist that includes Miss Teen Maine and a 39 year-old mother who rides a Harley Davidson.

Sensitive Jacobs, who pens poetry in his spare time, hopes to meet his perfect partner on his travels.

He told TJ: “I’m doing this as a social critique as well as for love. I realise that reality isn’t a fairytale but I would like to meet a culturally Jewish girl, as I feel very connected to my faith. Some people have criticised me and called me an egotist for attracting such attention, but I try not to worry about what people say.”

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |

It was a BALAGAN!!!

Michigan Students Celebrate Israeli Culture at First “Balagan!” Carnival

October 11, 2004

By Eve Lieberman

The American Movement for Israel, the University of Michigan’s Israel advocacy group, drew thousands of interested students to its first annual “Balagan!” Carnival. The carnival highlighted many aspects of Israeli culture and society that are often overshadowed by regional conflict.

“‘Balagan!’ was an enormous success,” Berman Fellow Samara Kaplan said. “Thousands of UM students passed through and saw tons of information focusing on the culture of Israel, such as its technology triumphs, study-in-Israel programs and food, rather than the conflict.”

The colorful booths and wide range of activities held in the center of campus created the exact “balagan,” or craziness, on campus the organizers had sought. The booths focused on everything from sports and entertainment to advancements in medicine and technology. Passers-by also had the chance to enjoy free massages and Israeli dancing and music. Hiller’s Supermarket, a local store, treated hundreds of attendees to free samples of Israeli cookies, candy, hummous and pita.

Many of the booths featured travel and volunteer opportunities in Israel, including the Arava Institute Environmental Programs and Magen David Adom (Israeli Red Cross). Students also learned how to apply for birthright israel trips that Hillel organizes.

According to Adam Soclof, the coordinator of Balagan 2004 and cultural chair of American Movement for Israel, the festival helped students from diverse backgrounds learn about the richness of Israeli society.

“While the free food, free massages, and the moonwalks made for a great deal of fun, the information presented on programs and developments in Israel did a wonderful job of showing the university community that Israel isn’t just some exclusively militaristic entity, as some of its detractors would have them believe,” Soclof said. “‘Balagan!’ was a great way to begin conveying this message to the university community, and we are looking forward to more events that achieve the same goal throughout the year.”

Eve Lieberman is a student at the University of Michigan

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |

Researchers warn against oral suction during circumcision

By PAUL LUNGEN Staff Reporter

An ancient procedure that is part of ritual circumcisions, and which has been found to spread herpes and other dangerous illnesses is still used in Toronto, though infrequently.

Oral metzitzah, the practice in which a mohel sucks blood from an infant’s circumcised penis, has been supplanted by more hygienic and effective ways of cleaning the wound, said Dr. Aaron Jesin, a Toronto-based mohel. While metzitzah remains a required part of the circumcision ritual, most practitioners employ a glass tube to clean the wound, he said.

However, there are groups in Toronto today who continue to employ mohels who use oral metzitzah, said Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Lowy, a spokesman for the Orthodox Va’ad Harabonim in Toronto. “Those in the Torah world, the yeshiva world, use the procedure, unless there’s a problem,” he said.

Last month, a group of researchers in Canada and Israel published a report in the medical journal Pediatrics, which found eight babies who were infected with the herpes virus likely contracted their illnesses through oral metzitzah. Most of the infants were found in Israel but one, who was circumcised in 1994, was from Toronto. [more…]

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |

Rabbi Jason Miller in the Ann Arbor News 2004

New Rabbi

Saturday, October 2, 2004

Who: Jason A. Miller

Where: Mandell L. Berman Center for University of Michigan Hillel

Started: Aug. 1, 2004

Age: 28

Residence: Ann Arbor

Education: Bachelor of Arts in international relations, James Madison College at Michigan State University (1998); Master of Arts in education, Jewish Theological Seminary, New York City (2004)

Job history: Rabbinic intern, Congregation Agudath Israel, Caldwell, N.J. (2002-2004); rabbi, Congregation Shaare Shalom, Leesburg, Va. (2003-04)

Family: Wife, Elissa; son, Joshua

Heroes: Joshua, the Israelite leader. “He was a phenomenal leader, able to rally the Israelites after the death of Moses.”

Last books read: “Money Ball,” by Michael Lewis; “Wrestling with God and Men,” by Steven Greenberg

Of note: Reaching young Jews during their college years is crucial, said Miller. Students are connected to their synagogue in childhood, but after Bar or Bat Mitzvah and organized youth group activities, they sometimes drift away until it’s time to register their own children at the synagogue.

Hillel location: 1429 Hill St., Ann Arbor

Phone: (734) 769-0500

Membership: Hillel estimates about 6,000 Jewish students at the U-M. “We’re here for all of them,” said Miller.

Average attendance: 80 to 125 students at each of three services (Orthodox, Conservative and Reform)

Worship services: Shabbat services each Friday (times vary; see Web site); Orthodox services Saturday, 9:30 a.m. (See Web site for other Hillel services.)

Special programs: The Annual Israel Conference; Conference on the Holocaust; The Golden Apple Award for teaching excellence

Hillel history: Founded in 1926

Web site:

Search committee: “We invited Jason to join our staff because he is a very bright, thoughtful and energetic young professional and a talented, senstive and well-educated rabbi,” said Hillel Executive Director Michael Brooks.

Compiled by Catherine O’Donnell

© 2004 Ann Arbor News. Used with permission

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |