What’s Your #ITCH?

The Hebrew Organization of Billionaires Networking with Other Billionaires (HOBNOB) has announced the three finalists in its contest, “What’s Your Idea to Transform our Common Heritage (ITCH)?” The web-based contest invited submissions of projects that would address a pressing issue confronting the Jewish community.

One finalist, Jared Mandelbaum, proposed a new website called UDate, whose purpose is to engage unaffiliated Jews through dating. Mandelbaum, reached at his home on Columbus Avenue at 96th Street in Manhattan, explained, “I’ve never met an unaffiliated Jew, so I thought I’d start this site. Dating an unaffiliated girl would be awesome.” The selection committee praised this proposal, saying “the power of social networking is a great tool for the transformation of American Jewish life.”

A second finalist, Mindy Bloom, studies Occupational Therapy at Stern College. She suggested an essay contest about how to perfect the world. “To me, when I think of the days of Moshiach, I picture a world where every single unaffiliated Jew has been reached out to,” said the Teaneck native.

The third idea to reach the finals of the competition, from Florida grad student William Smith, is called Groucho House. “You know how Groucho Marx said he’d never join any club that would have him as a member?” asked Smith. “I thought we should have a home for unaffiliated Jews who want to be with other unaffiliated Jews, not with the Jews who want them as members.”

A HOBNOB program officer, Rabbi Aliza Cohen-Levi-Israel, was asked if she had expected so many ideas relating to unaffiliated Jews. “We were all surprised by that,” she told a reporter. “I don’t know where all these entrants got the idea that billionaires are interested in the unaffiliated.”

Dr. Isaac Zahn, a retired oral surgeon who also blogged about Jewish philanthropy as The Funder Dentalist, was asked for his view of the “What’s Your #ITCH” initiative. “TheFunder Dentalist’s take?” he began. “There’s lot to chew on. It’s too early to draw any conclusions.”

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