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Jewish Holidays

Happy (almost) Chanukah from the Negev

source: http://jewishrobot.com/home.html

8 Days – The New Music Video by NBN

Source: http://www.nbn.org.il/

Sukkot

I know this is our second post in row with material from the people at G-dcast.com, but hey, it’s the holidays and they’ve been putting putting out some amazing content lately.

Enjoy and Chag Sukkot samayach!

David, Chana and Yoav

Sukkot: Back to Basics from G-dcast.com

More Torah cartoons at www.g-dcast.com

Shana Tova U’mitukah!

My personal apology for the lack of recent posts, we’ve simply been super busy right before the Chagim with our primary jobs here at Negev Direct Marketing.

Please take a moment to watch this inspirational video from G-dcast.com and from all of us at Negev Direct Marketing, we wish you a Shana Tova U’mituka!

David, Chana and Yoav

The Saddest Day

Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av is by far the saddest day in the scope of Jewish history.

Both the First Temple and the Second Temple were destroyed on that day and many other tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people happened on the very same day.

We mark the day with a 25-hour fast and many other customs of mourning. For details, there is a good article here.

There continues to be some dissonance in modern day Israel’s attitude towards Tish B’Av. The Jewish State is reborn and the Jewish people alive and well after a long exile. Problems remain to be sure, but none-the-less here Israel is,  now home to half of the world’s Jewish population.

Still we continue to mourn.

An easy fast and better times ahead.

David

Chag Shavuot Samayach

Chag Pesach Kasher V’ Samayach

The Passover Blog

Is Coca Cola Kosher?

Is it Kosher for Passover?
The answer to both questions is yes, thanks to the late Rabbi Tobias Geffen. Born in Kovno Lithuania, he ended up in Atlanta by way of Canton, Ohio; and if you want to read the full story of how Coke became Kosher, here’s a link.
We’re not fans of Coke consumption, although we do indulge in the occasional glass, like a teetotaler who falls off the wagon with a semi-annual drop of Sherry.
But we are big fans of Coke’s marketing. They have set the standard for innovative marketing for well over a century.
And they are still at it.
Our son was in a mall yesterday where the local Coke folk were running a terrific promotion. They snap your picture and a minute later you are handed a free 2-liter bottle of Kosher-For-Passover Coke with your face on the label.
We’re saving that bottle for the Seder.
Think of all the famous Coke advertising slogans that you remember. Here’s the definitive list.
My personal favorite: 1891’s “The Ideal Brain Tonic”. That was really truth in advertising since a single glass of Coke contained 9 milligrams of cocaine until 1893. We have a framed Coke magazine ad in our office from 1941 with the slogan “Work Refreshed“.
Take a look at the photo at the top of this post and you can see the original hand-written Kosher For Passover certification of Rabbi Geffen on the top of a bottle of Coca Cola.
Rabbi Geffen (Full Disclosure: the Rabbi’s grandson is my physician and lives in Beersheva) was willing to go the extra mile to make a popular product available to Kosher-observant Jews and Coca Cola was willing to go to extraordinary lengths to accommodate a group of potential clients.
And that’s what leads to great marketing.
A healthy, happy and Kosher Passover to all.
David

Purim Fun In Beersheva


It’s Purim 5770 today in Beersheva as it is in most all of Israel and the Diaspora.

 In honor of the topsy-turvy nature of the holiday: remembering a serious crisis in Jewish history while being playful at the same time, we have the deep honor of posting our holiday feast’s guest, Robert Klein’s, “Prayer for the Welfare of Beersheva”.
Enjoy.
“Our Father who art in Heaven, Rock of Israel and its Redeemer – Bless the City of Beersheva, the beginning of the flowering of our roasted seed-&-nut stands. Protect her with the wing of your loving-kindness, and especially protect the way-cool video sign over there at the intersection of Rager and Tuviahu streets.”

“Send your light and truth to the mayor and the deputy mayor, and the deputy mayor, and the deputy mayor, and the female deputy mayor – yes, to all four of these terribly vital deputy mayors, together with their office workers – and the nephews of their office workers, and the friends of the nephews of their office workers, and the friends of the friends of the nephews of their office workers, and the sister of the veterinarian of the dog of the friend of the friend of the nephew of one of their office workers – and set them up with a high-profile position and a good salary according to Your will.”

“Strengthen the hands of the defenders of our holy city, i.e. the Southern Region Police Force. Crown them with a crown ofvictory for the Beersheva soccer team, in reward for faithfully watching the team for many hours in the television room of the police station, and bless them with comfortable couches in that same television room, and bless them with a good living made off of the cameras which catch drivers who in actuality are going ten kilometers per hour less than the typical police car. And grant free parking throughout the city, and thusly peace to her inhabitants.”

“And our brothers, the whole House of Israel, watch over them throughout the lands of their dispersion, and speedily lead them upright to Zion your city, and to Jerusalem, the tabernacle of your renown – but if they don’t have the money for an apartment there, at least lead them upright to Beersheva your city, and lead them on her sidewalks with caution. And also lead them with clear maps, lest they fulfill what is written in the Torah of Moses your servant “And she went and got lost in the wilderness of Be’er Sheva”. (Genesis 21: 14)”

“May all the inhabitants of Beersheva merit Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) that they might fathom the mysteries of her street system. For example, why is it that at almost every traffic light, the street name changes, but when your turn right at the Stadium from HaMeshachrerim Street, you end up on HaMeshachrcrim Street- what’s up with that?”

“Appear in the majesty of the pride of your strength to all those who are standing in line at the local post office that they shouldn’t faint, and that no broken fingernail afflict the only clerk who is, so-to-speak, ‘working’.”

“And let us all say, Amen.”

 

Happy Chanukah From the JDB!

2009 – A Wild Year For Direct Marketing

2009 started out with a continuation and amplification of the problems that began in late 2008.

Shall we list them?
1) US and European real estate bubbles which triggered…
2) Bank collapses which brought about…
3) Stock and bond market crashes that lead to…
4) Massive government intervention in the banks and markets which caused…
5) A serious threat of deflation causing companies to lay off staff, meaning…
6) People have less money and are afraid for their economic future, therefore…
7) They give less to charity, save more and spend less

And as if that were not enough, Bernie Madoff confessed to the Mother of all Ponzi Schemes which bankrupted several Jewish private foundations and placed many well-known national Jewish organizations into deep financial crisis.

 All-in-all, it’s been a tough year.
Many Jewish organizations reacted by pulling back: cutting staff, programming and of course, fundraising budgets. Some of that was justified while their financial situations were in flux.
Many others went into panic mode, downsizing in a way that hurt their clients, their staff and their fundraising efforts. Some of the bigger mailers lost literally tens of thousands of donors from their active donor files as they stayed out of the mail and eliminated acquisition mailings.
All doom and gloom.
But things started to look up by mid-year.
There was a new administration in Washington, the capital markets began to stabilize, and before the High Holidays, Jewish organizations decided that they needed to test the waters again and bring new supporters on board during the historically best mailing cycle of the Jewish year.
And then, great news: the results were better than many had predicted. So we are seeing a good number of end-of-year/Hanukah mailings and up uptick in mailing plans for 2010.
List owners suffered, as did list managers, in 2009. Many were asked to make price concessions for mailers, while many mailers adopted a policy of using only exchanges and foregoing list rental entirely. That cut deeply into list rental revenue for 2009, but again we are looking at a return to higher levels of rentals in 2009.
On a personal level, 2009 started with Beersheva (where our offices are located) and much of the northern Negev under rocket bombardment from Gaza during the Gaza War. I’m proud to report that Negev Direct Marketing was open for business every working day during this time. The dedication of our staff and our families to our clients was really something to see and be proud of.
Looking forward, we predict a stabilized general economic situation in the United States, although unemployment will remain high for the balance of the year. People are donating again, and are looking for lean, mean, effective organizations to give their money to.
If you have not streamlined your mail or email campaigns to meet these realities, now is the time to do so.
We would like to hear from our readers about their experiences over the past year and how they view direct marketing and fundraising faring in 2010.
David

The Thanksgiving Blog

Before
Here’s a question that you have probably never asked yourself:
Is turkey Kosher?
Which is actually a legitimate question in Halacha (Jewish Law) because there is no ancient tradition of eating turkey. It’s not mentioned in the Bible or the Mishna or Talmud.

After
In fact, Jews were introduced to turkey as a food a mere (in Jewish time) 250 years ago.
The short answer is, yes, turkey has been accepted by almost all Jewish authorities as a Kosher bird.
For the long answer and a full discussion of the matter, we refer you to Kashrut.com and an article byRabbi Ari Z. Zivotofsky, Ph.D.
In Israel we don’t celebrate either American or Canadian Thanksgiving(s), but many immigrants from both the US and Canada do eat turkey around this time. Our family custom is to have Thanksgiving-style food on the Shabbat immediately following Thanksgiving.
Enjoy the holiday.
David
Completely Different

Chag Simchat Torah Samayach

Original Intent

Source: Tablet Magazine 10.2.09

By: SAMUEL D. GRUBER
“A student sukkah project harks back to architecture’s dawn”
“Nationwide, the Sukkot holiday and the sukkah building type are undergoing something of a renaissance. Just as tent imagery captured the imagination of Jews building suburban synagogues in the 1960s, reflecting their continuing exodus from the “old neighborhoods,” so the simple form, temporary nature, and domestic setting of the humble sukkah strikes a sympathetic chord in the today’s enviro-friendly moment. The modest domestic and social rituals of Sukkot are especially appealing after the solemnity of the Days of Awe. The transition is a natural one: on the afternoon of Yom Kippur, synagogue-goers read of Jonah sitting in his sukkah overlooking Nineveh, and tradition calls for construction of the sukkah to begin the day after Yom Kippur.”

Gmar Chatimah Tova From The Jewish Donor Blog

Literally: A good final sealing

Idiomatically: May you be inscribed (in the Book of Life) for Good
“Gmar” comes from the root word that means to finish. Although it’s not biblical, it appears quite a bit in the Talmud (Avot 2:16 Yevamot 12:6). Chatimah is also talmudic and can mean a signature or a sealing (Pessachim 104). The word “chotemet” or stamp (the ink kind, not the postal kind) is a derivative of “chatimah.” Of course “tova” means good. The days of repentance are divided into two parts: The first the inscribing begins on Rosh Hashana and finishes Yom Kippur when the final “sealing” (chatima) of our fate takes place. Many sages give us a second chance – an extra 12 days until a really final sealing on Hoshana Rabba (the 7th day of Sukkot).

That is why many people finish their correspondence during this time of year by writing or saying Ktivah V’chatima Tova – “may you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.” On or right before Yom Kippur, people modify that and wish “Gmar Chatima Tova.” Technically you can say it means ‘may your finished sealing be good’ – which would be fine if you are redoing your apartment, but for the rest of us may you all have a healthy peaceful and fulfilling year.

“Inspire Me” Marketing

Football season is right around the corner. And you know what that means: It’s almost Rosh Hashana! And of course, my yahoo inbox is seeing a good share of Rosh Hashana greetings. Amidst the well-wishes, two emails that I got seemed eerily similar to one another – yet significantly different.
On Tuesday, I got an inspirational video greeting from Aish HaTorah and then another one from my alma mater on Wednesday. Here are the links:
Which was more engaging and inspirational for you?
Normally I wouldn’t compare these two videos. One is from THE Jewish outreach organization, the other from THE Jewish University. Presumably they are reaching out to different audiences and trying to acheive different goals. What’s to compare?
Plenty. Firstly because they arrived in my mailbox one after the other on subsequent days. In my mind, the second email felt like a response to the first (no conspiracy theory here, but I have my suspicions). But more importantly, I’ll compare them because the structure was the exact same for both of them. As was some of the content. That tells me that on some level, both organizations are trying to acheive the same thing here.
They both have the generic but inspirational New Age / Contemporary / Jim Brickman-esque piano music thing going on. That’s a must. And they both have the obligatory-inspirational-sentence-fragments (OISF for short). Plus the uplifting pictures in the background. The 3 amigos (music/words/pictures) of the genre.
But in my mind, one of them does a far better job of engaging the viewer. It provokes us to think about the big issues by asking us questions that we know are important but rarely stop to ponder. It provides us with a picture of a potentially better future – along with concrete steps to acheive that goal. There is a call to action. Something to do with the inspiration after the video is over.
The other one throws random OISF’s at us and hopes we will somehow be inspired (to do what exactly?). There is no structure. No cohesiveness. No prodding our curiosity.
I still think they are both effective on some level. But one of them had a far greater impact on me than the other. Can you figure out which one yet? If you haven’t, watch them both and decide for yourself. Am I totally wrong?

Invite A Chicken to The Seder

That was the subject line of the email blast we recently received from Yad Eliezer.
It did catch my attention.
And I want to be on record as saying that I love Yad Eliezer and the work that they do.
I also love chickens, although we are having tuna steaks for the Seder this year.
But as a Direct Marketer, as soon as I opened the email I noticed several problems that are becomeing very common, and in my humble opinion, only decrease response rates.

Here’s a list:
1) No photo of a chicken. Minor, but if you are talking about chicken, get a picture of a chicken (live or cooked) into the body of the message. If nothing else, it continues the subject lines’s inside joke.
2) Too wordy! Way too much text and it reads like a direct mail letter. Direct mail letters are great and it takes a real professional to write one (check out this link). But they are for a different audience on a differnt medium who respond in a different way.
3) The call to action, the “Donate Now” button, is at the bottom after all of that text. It should be near the top.
4) Why a PS? Again this is not a Direct Mail letter.
5) Personally, I don’t believe in any option that allows people to click off of your email. Just state the Charity navigator rating. If they want to check it out, they will. Don’t give people an option to click off of your message.
6) If you do click on the “Donate Now Button” you land on a page with a broken matzah and a reference to another Foundation. Very confusing. And the theme (chicken, feed the hungry) is not carried through.
I could go on, but in the spirit of the Holiday I want to commend the work of Yad Eliezer and suggest that you donate to them by clicking here.
David

Chag Samayach!

Dear Jewish Donor Blog Readers,

Chag Samayach!

The writers at the Jewish Donor Blog want to wish you and your family a healthy, joyful and prosperous new year!

Yoav, David and Chana

Pessach

As Pessach nears we remember that we were once freed from slavery in Egypt.

Let us however, not be complacent in our freedom, lest we forget that there are still many atrocities in this world that need the light from our collective soul to shine upon them.

Pesach Samayach.

Jewish Donor Blog: Purim Edition!

It’s Purim! Chag Samayach!!

In the spirit of Purim I want to include a posting that is a litle lighter than the usual hard hitting stuff that find on J.D.B.. If you are a big fan of basketball and March Madness like myself you will get a laugh out of this!
Direct from the Jewish Humor web site http://www.bangitout.com/ , here is a Purim TOP TEN list…
TOP TEN Reasons the NCAA Tournament Needs to Be On Purim!
10. Stomping/Air Horns/ when hearing opponents name is normal
9. Queen Esther taught us when entered into a contest, never doubt the underdog
8. 64 different uniforms make for a good costume party
7. The tourney feels as long as the megillah
6. Binge drinking every round now a mitzvah
5. Will definitely invest your Matanos Levyonim cash into a NCAA pool
4. Sitting on your couch for 3 hours with friends, over-drinking/eating, screaming, making jokes…sounds like an awesome NCAA/sudeah to me
3. On Purim, all your prayers are answered, including ones involving St. Joeseph’s going all the way
2. Somebody will get unseated, dethrone, upset,
1. Misha Nichnas March, Marbim B’Madness
Yoav Kaufman

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