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Archive for the ‘Press’ Category

Where’s Waldo? At the Banquet!

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Ari Teman, the stand-up comedian who crashed the black-hatters scene at Kinus Hashluchim banquet tells COLlive why he wore a “Where’s Waldo” costume.

By Rabbi Yehuda Ceitlin, COLlive Editor

The wider Lubavitch public first heard of Ari Teman in 2009 when he competed for (and won) the top spot in the Jewish Federations’ Heroes contest against Rabbi Levi Shemtov, founder of Friendship Circle.

An award-winning stand-up comedian and a man of many talents, Teman was praised for founding JCorps, a volunteer organization with some 10,000 members aged 18 to 30 in the USA, Israel and Canada.

As we reported then, Teman openly credits the Shluchim at Brandeis University for the lessons he learned about the way to treat people and building a great organization.

Over the 5772 Kinus we discovered that his connection with Chabad goes further than that, and is actually quite memorable. Here are excerpts of his conversation with

How many times have you attended the Chabad Kinus banquet?

This was my third time. My first was as a guest of the amazing Rabbi Peretz Chein of Chabad at Brandeis. It was at the armory, and hearing 3,000 pairs of shoes stomp the floor as they rose to say tehillim was incredible. It felt like being in the middle of a stampede. I remember being impressed at how all of the rabbis were wired, carrying the latest smartphones and interested in using technology to reach Jews.

My second time was last year, as a guest of Rabbi Avraham Berkowitz. We were actually sitting together in Basil in Crown Heights a short time ago discussing JCorps when the earthquake struck New York! We felt the earth moving, saw the lights swaying and ran outside. Most people don’t know this, but thanks to that earthquake 770 is now 768.

And this year?

I came this time as a presenter, having given a talk at the Kinus on how to reach the next generation. The gala banquet was, as usual, incredible and inspiring.

What did you think of it?

The conference was very moving and I woke up yelling at my puppy in Yiddish. I’m not sure what I was saying. I think I told her to ‘Shluf’ like a chossid… It doesn’t matter. She doesn’t listen to me in English either. I adopted her from North Shore Animal League. All I get is trouble with people from Long Island.

As someone who is active in the Jewish world, how is Chabad perceived today?

Being called “active in the Jewish world” makes me cringe a little, because most of the “professional” Jewish world is lame. They don’t put effort into design, they don’t take risks, they see Jews as donors who are there to feed their organizations as opposed to their organizations as there to feed Jews (spiritually and when in-need).

Chabad, on the other hand, takes risks, the shluchim are almost always willing to try something new, to experiment, to reach out to someone. They are there to give unconditional love to all Jews. So who cares how Chabad is seen by others? The important thing is how Chabad sees them!

What do you think is Chabad’s best virtue?

Chabad has integrity to their core set of values. That’s what sets them apart. As Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks said, “Non-Jews respect Jews who respect Judaism.”

Well, so do Jews. Most unaffiliated kids don’t respect Jewish organizations, because these organizations compromise their values in the name of “pluralism” or to get a few more people to an event, and eventually they’re mediocre.

Steve Jobs said it, “A-players hire A-players. B-players hire C-players.” Chabad attracts A-players by sticking to their values, and that spreads. We try to steal as much as possible from Chabad at JCorps. Don’t let me near Mr. Bogolubov.

You came into the banquet wearing a tie and vest. What went wrong?

Um…my bekishe got stuck at the dry cleaners? Wait, no, we don’t wear those where I’m from…2011…I mean, Teaneck, NJ. I can’t believe I just admitted I’m from Teaneck.

Oh, you mean the Waldo costume? Nothing went wrong! Everything went right! Having seen 4,000 people dressed the same, I thought it’d be great to let people at the place and on the livestream play “Where’s Waldo?” or “Where’s Wally?” as they apparently say in Australia (For foreigners, the Australian Shluchim’s English is excellent!)

I also thought it’d give everyone a great time and be a great way to introduce hundreds of Shluchim to JCorps and my comedy this way. It worked! If you’re going to tell Chabad how to market, you better prove your stuff! “Guerrilla marketing” as we call it.

You were a hit!

It was awesome! People were stopping me to take photos, grabbing my hands to dance, Chabadniks and their supporters are really cool. A security guy came over to check me out and RabbiMoshe Kotlarsky‘s son was like, “He’s with me.”

The funny thing is, it took security about an hour to find Waldo. The Shluchim were much faster at finding a Yid.

Beyond that, Shluchim from Vancouver to Moscow to Sydney to South Africa have already been in touch. Some are considering helping us find rockstar young adults to launch JCorps in their cities. Others are thinking of having me for a comedy show.

In which Chabads have you performed lately?

All over… Montreal (Rabbi Yisroel Bernath‘s Jewish Comedy Festival), New Jersey (Rabbis Boruch Klar and Mendy Kasowitz), New York (Rabbi Yaya & Devorah Wilhelm‘s Young Jewish Professionals, The Aliyah Center, Sheva & Tzvi Tauby’s iVolunteer, Rabbi Yonah & Keren Blum at Columbia). Pretty soon I’m going to have to start every joke by thanking the Rohr family.

What was your most memorable experience at a Chabad House or with a Shliach?

I have so many great experiences at the Chabad House at Brandeis with Peretz and Chanie Chein. One that always sticks in my mind is how Peretz greeted a worker at Home Depot who was clearly not a Jew (although who can tell anymore?) as if he’d finally gotten to meet the King of Home Depot.

I saw how Peretz appreciates people and how the Torah values permeate him completely. My best friends and best memories come from my times with Peretz and Chanie. I’ve yet to meet Shluchim that measure up to them, and I’ve met many amazing Shluchim. Ten years since meeting Peretz he is still a source of inspiration and guidance.

Rabbi Levi and Perel Shmotkin are also an amazing couple. They’re there for young professionals during the difficult transition from college to the “real world” in NYC and I’ve spent a lot of nice times at their expanding Shabbat table. They’re another example of people are are chossids 24/7, 100% of the time, as in the theme of the conference.

Teman (L) with Rabbi Avrohom Berkowitz and friends

Teman (L) with Rabbi Avrohom Berkowitz and friends
Teman (R) with Rabbi Levi Slonim of Binghamton, NY

Teman (R) with Rabbi Levi Slonim of Binghamton, NY
With Rabbi Boruch Klar of Essex County, NJ

With Rabbi Boruch Klar of Essex County, NJ

With Rabbi Yitzchok Moully of Basking Ridge, NJ

With Rabbi Yitzchok Moully of Basking Ridge, NJ

With Rabbi Berel Zaklikowsky of Goodyear, AZ

With Rabbi Berel Zaklikowsky of Goodyear, AZ

With Rabbi Shloma Leib Abramowitz of NCFJE

With Rabbi Shloma Leib Abramowitz of NCFJE

With Rabbi Areyah Kaltmann of Columbus, Ohio

With Rabbi Areyah Kaltmann of Columbus, Ohio

With Rabbi Chaim Nachum Cunin of California

With Rabbi Chaim Nachum Cunin of California

Jerusalem Post: Seriously funny

Friday, July 9th, 2010


Ari Teman joins the growing list of American comedians looking for a laugh in Israel.

Over the past few years, Israel has seen a surge of American comedians performing on its stages. The Comedy for Koby Tour continues to bring comedians recognizable from TV and films; and New York veteran Jim Gaffigan recently performed for a few small crowds while vacationing in Israel. Continuing the trend, Jewish American comedian Ari Teman will appear in Tel Aviv with a few local performers for a one-night show.

In a Jerusalem Post interview, Teman explained that while there is a lot of demand from comedians who want to go on the comedy tour, there are also many comedians who don’t want anything to do with Israel. “There are comedians in front of hundreds of people, or thousands if they are on TV; they will tell jokes (about Israel), never having been here,” said Teman.

The comedian regularly performs in comedy clubs around New York City as well as on the road. He appeared in a VH1 commercial and once performed at the White House for US President Barack Obama. “I know they are calling Obama a Nazi, which I think is fantastic, because if you thought US President is a tough job for a black guy to get, a Nazi? We have overcome.” Teman said the president laughed after hearing the joke and gave him a hug.

This is Teman’s second time performing in Israel. This trip he will be leading a comedy show called ‘American Comedy in Israel’. Last year he did a single show at Jerusalem’s Off The Wall comedy club while on vacation. He expects to do a few topical jokes about current events in Israel and said that he received positive reactions in the past when making jokes about Israeli topics like the disengagement from Gaza. “On the one hand I’m a big supporter of the people from Gush Katif, and on the other hand my family owns a bulldozer company,” Teman said to a crowd at a New York fundraising event.

Teman also discusses his dating life on stage. “I think Ikea is a good place to pick up a girl who’s not looking for something permanent,” he jokes.

Besides his career as a comedian, young Jerusalemites might recognize Teman as the founder of the social volunteering network JCorps. JCorps organizes events where Jewish young adults can volunteer for a local cause while meeting new people.

In addition to Teman, local comedians Benji Lovitt and Yossi Tarablus will also be performing at Teman’s show. Benji Lovitt is a well known comedian among the Anglo communities of Israel, and native Hebrew speaker Yossi Tarablus is doing a unique performance in English.

Meeting Natan Sharansky

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

At the end of the Jewish Federation of North America’s General Assembly, I had the honor to briefly meet the legendary Natan Sharansky.

Here is a letter about it from the head of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington (D.C.):

Ari Teman and Natan Sharansky

Dear Friends,

I want to share an incredible moment with you from the past few days of GA fever. As many of you know, the General Assembly, the Jewish Federations of North America’s largest annual conference, was held here in D.C. this past week. We hosted over 3,000 participants. For me personally, there were many moments of deep pride, high energy and great momentum. (more…)

36 Under 36: The Next Wave of Jewish Innovators : Ari Teman

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

The following is an excerpt from The Jewish Week, 5/21/08

36 Under 36: The Next Wave of Jewish Innovators

by The Editors

They’re the community’s new young guns — forward-looking rabbis, social-justice junkies, campus crusaders, arts entrepreneurs, bridge-builders, new media mavericks and hedge-funders with heart — who are reshaping the landscape of Jewish life. They’re all grass-roots, bottom-up thinkers and doers who are (mostly) bypassing the Establishment and pushing for change — now. Brace yourselves.

Ari Teman

Pioneering “social volunteering” among young, Jewish professionals

Ari Teman was tired of meeting the same group of people at parties. So he founded JCorps, the largest non-denominational Jewish volunteer organization on the continent, open exclusively to 18- to 28-year-olds. The only restriction? That they be single. (But they’re not singles events, he stresses. “We discourage that air of desperation.”)

JCorps volunteers meet, typically on Sundays, to feed the hungry at soup kitchens and food banks and entertain senior citizens at old-age homes and hospitals. Each volunteer receives a custom-designed JCorps shirt, free of charge. “People come for selfish reasons,” he says. “You meet other people, make business connections and get something out of it.”

It’s Charity 2.0 at its best; call it “social volunteering.” After signing up for an event on, Teman and his volunteer team will “friend” you on Facebook or ask that you send a picture. “We want to make sure that you’re not a 40-year-old man,” he says. JCorps uses the same technology that powers Gmail, so the second time you come back to the site to volunteer again, the form will be filled out for you.

Only a year old, JCorps has thousands of volunteers from more than 115 colleges and 300 companies, and is active in almost every state (and more than 20 countries). Teman markets JCorps by posting pictures from past events on Facebook. “More than 30 percent of volunteers show up because they saw a friend’s picture.”

Teman, who owns a consulting firm called 12gurus, regularly puts into practice the Website design, technology savvy and problem-solving skills he gains on the job. Last May, he and his firm raised nearly $500,000 for Meir Panim with an online art auction and wine sale at


He’s a comedian, too. Seriously. Teman is a regular at Broadway Comedy Club and Stand-Up New York. He’s organized several comedy nights to raise money for charity.

Mailbox Full? Teman invented the patent-pending PhoneLobby, which connects supporter’s real phones via the Internet to their governmental representative. The “Callsforjerusalem” campaign used his technology to direct more than 10,000 calls to the White House in support of Israel. It was so successful, the White House’s call center kept dropping calls.
—Tamar Snyder

Online at:
Wed, May 21, 2008

A new media baron: Student bankrolls independent Brandeis newspaper

Monday, September 30th, 2002
By Andrew Lightman

WALTHAM – One week away from launching his new independent newspaper, The Indi, Ari Teman has his mind on other things.

His new big interest is cars. In fact, Teman said he is in the process of manufacturing one.

Even if Teman didn’t have his mind in other places, he said has no desire to write or report for the paper, and has no plans to edit either.

“I want to be the man behind the curtain,” he said. “The man in the background who keeps the machine running.”

He outlawed editorials, columnists, and opinion pieces from appearing in his paper, but otherwise his editorial team has free reign. And when Teman said he has complete faith in his team, it says a lot, considering he only employs students.

But then again, Teman is a student too.

Whether or not Teman, a Brandeis University sophomore, likes to admit it, he is distinctive among students. While many go away to college to learn about business, Teman is running his own.

And while a number of collegiates scramble for editorial positions at their college papers, Teman just decided to start his own.

“This is kind of like any other business that I get into. I saw a need that had to be filled, and I put together a team to fill that need,” he said.

For a few summers during his high school years, he consulted on Wall Street for companies like Morgan Stanley, and, while in the process, learning about identifying demand, and then supplying it.

Five years ago, Teman recognized that companies that excel at creating products often need help in selling or advertising. So he started a business – – to get these companies selling and advertising on the Web.

Now in college, Teman said his latest venture again fills a big void. His paper aims to bring information about upcoming activities to his peers, while providing advertisers with a direct connection to 4,000 young readers.

“A major component is Brandeis students aren’t going to clubs and events … and groups don’t have people to attend events,” he said.

By making his paper a link between students and activities, Teman believes his paper will be a success.

Editor-in-chief Cora Books, a junior sociology major, has been on the job for about a week. Already Teman’s wealth of business knowledge has caught her eye.

“We’ve got a lot of really good people on the staff, and a lot of the administrative issues are already figured out,” she said.

However, Teman realizes that his new gig cannot last long if it is not embraced by the Brandeis community.

“Because it’s a private venture, we have to pay for our survival. We can’t afford to put out four pages that people won’t read or don’t care about,” he said.

Teman plans to support the paper with capital from his online firm, but is hoping to fully support his paper with advertising. Its main competitor, The Justice, receives financial support from the university and from advertising.

“It’s always nice to diversify the voice on the Brandeis campus,” said Michael Socolow, who teaches journalism at Brandeis. “I think Brandeis students have a real curiosity, and I think they will welcome a new competing newspaper.”

Teman said that his mission, though, was not to compete with The Justice.

“Why do I have it? To report the news. And if you look at it that way, it’s pretty simple,” he said.

“I want it to be a professional, business-like paper,” Teman said.

“This will give people a realistic, more real-world opportunity. This, for them, is a very special opportunity to learn on the job, while balancing schoolwork and the paper.”

Source: The Dedham Transcript (Article was published in a network of local newspapers.)(Sept. 30, 2002)