Lessons from Jodi Samuel’s Chutzpah, Wisdom and Wine

by CEO National Master Evan Rabin 

On or off the chess board, every move must have a purpose. In September 2016, I travelled with Masa Israel to the IAC Conference in Washington DC. At the gala dinner, my friend Garrison Corben and I had trouble deciding on a table to sit at and randomly chose one that seemed to have an interesting mix of people. At the very least, I thought it was random; it turns out Hashem had other plans. Once we started introducing ourselves to the others at the table and mentioned to Alisa Adler that I recently moved back to New York, she said she would love to help me and that I had to meet her good friend Steve Eisenberg. A few minutes later Steve came by the table to say hello to Alisa and said he would take care of me moving forward. A few days later, he set me up with Shabbat plans and meals for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. I also began joining his weekly Torah classes and other Jewish International Connections in New York (JICNY) events. In 2017, I had the honor of participating in Steve’s Israel Recharge trip, which Alisa co-led. Since then, I’ve also become good friends with Steve’s co-founders of JICNY, Jodi and Gavin Samuels. Through Jodi’s recent book Chutzpah, Wisdom and Wine, which was one of the major topics of our recent podcast, episode, I learned several key lessons including, one needs to always focus on the positives of every situation, the world is narrow bridge and that we all need to give back to our communities. 

Jodi has explored the world and has seen probably more than anyone I know. She grew up in South Africa, where she experienced being held up in gun point, lived under rocket attacks in Israel and has traveled to almost hundred countries and has seen some of the most bizarre situations. One fun fact about her life that was shocking to me, is despite the fact that she raised three kids, not once has she changed a diaper. I have a hard time believing that! It take’s someone like Jodi and her chutzpah to get a stranger on the plane to change her baby’s diaper.

On a more serious note, Jodi has had the challenge of raising her youngest child, her daughter Caila, who was born with Down syndrome. When she was born, several people felt bad for the family and she and Gavin thought quite the opposite. Jodi explains how they thought if they could open up their home for anyone, frequently having Shabbat meals for 40+ people, it would be impossible for them to not accept their own daughter. 

I have personally never seen a person with Down syndrome or autism be angry. While Caila and the family have had lots of challenges, they were inspirational, never letting Down syndrome stop Caila from succeeding in life. Jodi and Gavin fought tooth and nails for her to be accepted to mainstream schools in New York and Israel. She has developed friends and a strong sense of humor. For instance, one day Jodi sent her to her friend for Shabbat lunch. Caila overheard that Jodi’s friend suggested they carry a change of clothes just in case she had an accident and Jodi insisted that it wasn’t necessary. Shortly after, Caila scared the host by joking that she had an accident, when everything was clear.

Until today, Jodi always has struggled about whether or not Israel is the place for her. Yesterday, Jodi shared on Facebook how her elder daughter Temira got her papers to enroll in the army, what Jodi describes as the one piece of mail that comes in on time in Israel. She wrote, “I keep getting reminded I do live in Israel, in spite of all my protests!” On one hand Jodi has struggled living in Israel, having to deal with people shouting, lots of bureaucracy, nosiness, security concerns, etc. Furthermore, Israel did not provide nearly as many resources for Caila: “In order to match what Caila was getting- for free- in New York’s education system, we spent thousands of extra dollars a month to get tutors and therapies to get her the support she needs to be in a typical school environment” (194). 

It is Jodi’s chutzpah, shameless audacity, that has kept her to stay in Israel. Her kids and husband Gavin have adapted to Israel well. Inspired by the third weekly torah portion when God commands Abraham to leave his native homeland, Jodi’s “life motto is Lech Lecha. Go. Or just do it. And that we did, with no wavering. When I decide to do something, it’s all or nothing.” While we can all have challenges, it’s important to be persistent and always attempt to finish what we started.

When I studied for a semester at Tel Aviv University in 2011, I definitely missed home at times and experienced some of the items Jodi did on a small scale. I once lost my debit card and it took several weeks to get a replacement one from New York. Thankfully, my friends helped out and lent me some money short-term and I got by but it was definitely a little nerve wracking, being in a foreign country without any access to cash. While some day Jodi Struggles, “love is the overriding reason that compels [her] to stay… Seeing how [her] children are thriving, watching Gavin draw from the Idealism of this life, [she] is [in Israel] because of love” (267). While a chess player may be annoyed by a mistake or a loss, he needs to learn from that and maintain focus for his next move. My grandfather Jack Rabin’s first cousin Fay made Aliyah to Israel from the US. 40 years ago and her whole family followed, thanks to the Law of Return, which allows all Jews to gain Israeli citizenship without questions. While Israel has its challenges, it is astonishing to be able to go to sites of our ancestors like the Western Wall and the burial sites of our matriarchs and patriarchs in Hebron. 

If there is one thing that COVID-19 has taught us, it is how one person can create such a big impact on the world, either positively or negatively. One person consuming a bat in Wuhan, China essentially influenced the entire world to be in lockdown. However, while connectedness in this regard has been venomous, it can also be a blessing. While many of us have been Zoom fatigued, we should be grateful that this time has been an opportunity to stay connected with people around the world. For instance, I recorded my podcast episode with Jodi, while I was in New York and she was in Jerusalem. 

I have been to 24 countries and each one, I have met people through chess, Jewish and music communities. Learn more about my travel in this US Chess article. Jodi has travelled the world extensively and has hosted 10,000 members from 40 countries to JICNY events and her own Shabbat dinners. While people have come from different backgrounds, they have all got along as Jodi writes, “ Many of our deepest lifelong friendships began at our Shabbat table, stretching to our days in outback New York Zealand all the way to New YOrk. We can be very proud of the 126 married couples  as of this writing whose relationships began at one of our JIC events, the first of which were a Beligan and a Hungarian Jew who met in New York. This dear couple and their children now live in Israel and they were regulars with us for many Shabbats a year. Stories like this make the risks of hosting the masses worth it. (248). I am an active JICNY participant and perhaps will be added on to this list of 126 couples, god willing! 

The chess world is also a narrow bridge, as I have friends throughout the world from chess. When I played in the 2019 Vesuvio International, I met a guy who played a tournament in Las Vegas. It turns out his first round opponent Brian Solomon is a good friend from Boston, both from the chess and Jewish communities. 

Jodi also teaches the importance of tikkun olam, giving back and making the world a better place, as exhibited by the great success of JICNY. Unlike many other non-profits, JICNY does not have any high-paid non-profit executives on staff. At the same time, the organization  keeps busy with “two-hundred plus events.. annually with only one paid employee who works twenty hours a week”(250). In addition, the Samuels family has been involved with Shabbat of a Lifetime, “an organization that matches non-Jewish tourists  with Israeli families for a traditional Shabbat dinner…  It is a real-life example of how our connection with thousands of years of a rich and beautiful heritage enable Israel and the Jewish people to survive, even thrive “(251). Unfortunately anti-semitism and ideological warfare still exsists today; one of the best ways for us to fight both is leading be example. Rabbi Levi Welton and Rachel Farjado have taught me the importance of teaching the 7 Noahide laws, which apply to all non-Jews.

In order to build a community and prevent hate, as discussed in this podcast episode with Rabbi Levi Welton and Reverend Gregory Livingston, we need to truly live as one and teach others about our communities. For instance, non-observant Jews and gentiles alike see Shabbat as restrictive; they do not realize it is quite the opposite as observant Jews are the only ones who are not glued to their phones and restricted to technology on Shabbat and holidays.

Likewise, education can stop misconceptions about chess players. For instance, there is a rising population of women playing the game and it is not as much of a nice industry as most people think it is. When I go to networking events, people are often shocked when I state Premier Chess is one of many chess companies in New York. 

Outside of community events, Jodi and Gavin has done a lot of work as Down syndrome advocates. She has developed and maintained the Facebook page Caily’s World and writing the Metroimma blog. As marketers teach “AIDA”, awareness is essential, as it is that which leads to interest, which leads to desire, which leads to action. With that in mind, Jodi and Gavin have also spoken at many events and provided mentorship to other families with Down syndrome.

As we learn in life, it is imperative that we give back to others. Chess has been my passion since I was 7 and I made master when I was 20. While I enjoyed the first few years of my career in enterprise sales, selling technology solutions to financial institutions, retailers and state, local and education institutions for Oracle and Rapid7, I couldn’t be happier to have returned to my true passion, managing chess programs, where we teach business and life lessons to students of all ages and skill levels. Give your self a favor today and buy a copy of Chutzpah, Wisdom and Wine today so you can be motivated to make the best out of every situation, build communities and give back, utilizing your true passion

Chess and Executive Functioning Skills

By Ari Braverman, Academic Liaison at Thinking Caps Group

It is no secret that playing chess is a healthy activity for everybody–but it has particularly positive effects on school-age kids. It’s a social outlet and an excellent way to spend time that doesn’t require a device or any expensive equipment. One of its chief benefits is that it encourages the development of executive functioning skills, which are defined by Merriam-Webster as “the group of complex mental processes and cognitive abilities…that control the skills…required for goal-directed behavior.” Here are some specific examples of chess-related executive functioning skills–and how they’re essential components of school performance

  • Planning – We could also call this one “strategy,” and it’s one of the most important things a kid can learn how to do. It’s no secret that good chess players map out their games several moves in advance. Well, good students do the same with their schedules, mapping out daily homework, long-term projects, extracurricular activities, and events. Tip: Encourage the learner in your life to use a planner that works for them, whether it’s an app or old-fashioned wall calendar.
  • Time Management In chess, hasty decisions could cost someone the whole game, and the same is true in homework and on tests. While it’s important not to waste time, learning how to move mindfully through a math problem, for example, or taking the time to close-read a short story or an essay is a necessary part of engaging with school work. Details are important–and often mean the difference between the right answer and the wrong one, and the grades that result. Tip: Help your student develop a step-by-step process for going through their assignments thoroughly but efficiently. 
  • Organization – A good chess player has to be able to keep track of lots of moving parts using just their brain. The older students get, the more important this skill becomes: ideas–and assignments–get more complex. Kids must be able to understand how to scaffold concepts and how to relate them to one another in order to build a comprehensive knowledge base. Tip: Make sure your kids understand the connections and throughlines present in everything they’re learning. For example, use a graphic organizer or outline for essay planning.

Being a good student requires a lot more than memorizing facts and writing some good sentences. It takes time, attention, and well-developed executive functioning skills. Chess is an excellent way to encourage that kind of growth in your kids.

New Group Class for Seniors Starting October 9

 

 

Fall 2020 Virtual Group Class for Seniors

Friday Mornings at 11:00 AM EST

October 9-December 18 (No Class on 11/27)

Class will be taught by Premier Chess CEO National Master Evan Rabin, who has run programs for all ages and skill levels through organizations ranging from the law firm Kramer Levin to the nursing home Village Care.

Classes will be held on Zoom and feature and incorporate live lecturespractice games and puzzles. We will have a 8-1 student-teacher ratio.

Here are some of the reasons why seniors should learn chess:

1) Chess keeps one’s mind sharp as it is mentally stimulating.

2) Chess helps relieves stress.

3) There is some research that shows chess lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.

For live commentary and tidbits from previous classes, see twitch.tv/premierchess.

Cost for 10 sessions is $199.

Questions: Reach out to Evan Rabin, CEO of Premier Chess at evan@premierchess.com or (917) 776-1306.

Register here

 

Hell is Canceled

by Premier Chess CEO National Master Evan Rabin
If COVID-19 taught is one thing, it is how small the world we live in is. One person getting sick in a remote place in China can cause most countries to shutdown. Fortunately, in New York things are slowly picking back up with businesses open with modifications, schools doing blended learning, students learning in pods, etc.

Yesterday evening I was playing tourist on a Circle Line tour around Manhattan, and by chance met Wencke Braathen, a wonderful playwright and author. When I told her I own a chess company, she mentioned she knew a couple who ran tournaments in Las Vegas. She was surprised when I immediately told her that she must be referring to Janelle and Al Losoff. While unfortunately the Gaming Commission did not allow the National Open  to happen this year as they banned events with 50+ people, they will be back to bigger and better things in June, 2021.

Meanwhile, wanted to share  Wencke’s musical which is called “Hell is Canceled!” and is a hilarious take on archangel Michael and Lucifer as old roommates in Angel College who have so definitely gone in different directions in their lives; Michael up and Lucifer down. After Michael is lowered down to Hell and announces that this department is canceled by decree of Mr and Mrs God, Lucifer arranges for Olympics in Hell to give his people an opportunity to get out before it freezes over. When Michael comes back to help his old friend, he can’t get back to Heaven, and finds himself stuck in Hell with Lucifer and a lost soul. To his amazement, maybe his angelic perfection wasn’t as perfect as he thought, and maybe Lucifer isn’t such a bad guy after all. And who is Lucy, the lost soul?

There is lots of room for comical situations with singing plants in God’s greenhouse, cameos with the people of Hell as they return to Earth Life creating businesses based on Lucifer’s teachings about Fire, and people of Hell claiming their power back when they hear that they’ve fueled the fire with their guilt and shame all these years. The iconic song “Euphoric Sophomoric Seraphim” is sung by Archangel Michael expressing his wish to be able to do that merging thing that humans do, all the time, all in sparkles and rainbows. Lucy’s song “Childbride burning” is a chilling, but rousing country song. We have a gay wedding between archangels and a celebration of the unification of Heaven and Hell, on Earth as it was intended from the beginning. The show has a sincere tongue in cheek approach to everything, somewhat reminiscent of Monty Python. The concept of Hell being over is a good message in our time when the corona virus has changed so many people’s lives dramatically. Things have been turned upside down, and angels and demons might have to become friends.

There are 28 songs over two acts with four scenes in each act. The show needs one stage design throughout that gets minor changes. “Hell is Canceled!” needs 12 actors.

Wencke wrote the book and the lyrics, the music is composed by Gerald H. Bailey. We’re both members of Chicago Writers’ Bloc and the Dramatist Guild. Wencke had another play read on Zoom by the Dramatist Guild, and has won a competition with CWB with a short play about a car and a toaster called “Moonlight in Turquoise”. She has been active with the Chicago Dramatists. Contact her to learn about play or if you have any connections with producers.

 

Remote School Centers

By National Master Evan Rabin

 

As many families are navigating in-person classes, virtual learning, blended options, etc, we are working with families to provide extracurricular activities for pods.

In event your child is doing remote learning option but needs daily supervision, consider our partner  Kid’s in the Games’ Remote School Centers.

They are renting facilities on the Upper East Side, Upper West Side and in Tribeca beginning September 21st. Students will rotate between blocks of remote learning based on their school schedule, socially distanced physical activity, and a variety of games and activities.

They will be placed in pods of 8-10 students, and grouped by grade level, from Kindergarten through Grade 8. All students will have access to dedicated Kids in the Game coaches to monitor learning and provide assistance when needed.

More Details

  • Days Are Structured As Follows:
  • Drop off at 8:00am, pick up at 3:30pm
  • Three hours of guided remote learning where students are supported by Kids in the Game staff while they participate in their individual, school-outlined workload
  • Three hours of sport-specific training for your child to meet sports, fitness and PE goals

    See more information here:

Upper West Side Location

Tribeca Location

Upper East Side Location

Title Insurance & Real Estate is like playing Chess

by Samuel Weiner, Vice President, Business Development at Langdon Title

The need for strategic thinking, evaluating and prioritizing of available options, creating and executing of strategies can be found both in real estate and in the game of chess. Being a Master chess player, like Premier Chess CEO Evan Rabin, is in direct correlation to becoming well-versed in the ‘game’ of real estate – something that can be very rewarding and beneficial for all.

We are not suggesting that you need to start learning how to play chess in ‘game’ of real estate order to understand Title Insurance & Real Estate… However, it might be of interest to look deeper into the parallels between real estate and the game of chess.

We have already initiated this thought process and came up with the following:

Similarly as in playing chess, one needs to have proper planning in buying or selling real estate. Playing chess constitutes using all the available pieces to their most optimal capabilities. Why would one not use all the available pieces (such as Title Insurance) when buying or selling real estate? Doing so will not only dramatically decrease the odds of failure but, more importantly, give each (chess) player a powerful set of tools at his disposal.

Whether or not you take full advantage of all your bishops, knights or pawns is completely up to you, but in the end, real estate is like playing chess and Title Insurance is a major piece in the game!

Thanks to Johannesburg broker Xavier De Buck‘s article for lots of great information that contributed to my post. 

The Entrepreneurial Strategy You Didn’t Know You Needed

by Angela Kristen Taylor


When we think about building and growing a business, one of the first words that comes to mind is strategy. For most, their business strategy is built around social media, networking, a strong business
plan, and a goal of being the most productive version of themselves they can be. They may hire a coach or attend training, buy the best planner, set goals, and still struggle with getting themselves to perform
to their own expectations daily. Just like in a game of chess though, a truly functional strategy must consider all angles, all potentialities, and manage risk well.

So, what is the best strategy to becoming a truly productive and successful business owner?

First, we must consider all the angles. Productivity is rooted in emotion. It doesn’t matter how many coaches you work with, how many training programs you enroll in, how many books you read, planners
you buy, or videos you watch, if you feel yucky on the inside, you’re not going to do the things you know you’re supposed to.

This means you need to look at how you feel on the inside. Most entrepreneurs are building their own business out of a strong desire to not be under someone else’s control, partnered with a passion for
bringing something to the world (a product or service) that serves others by providing something the entrepreneur needed at some stage in their own life but did not have available to them or by having it introduced to them, it made all the difference. There’s nearly always a negative experience that serves
as a catalyst to the entrepreneurial vision and their desire to help others.

Entrepreneurs are driven by this emotion. But underneath all that passion to serve others is a deeprooted subconscious belief that they’ll never make it successful, no one will want what they have tooffer, no one will see it for what it truly is, no one will want to hear them or see them and no one will…
basically they fear rejection and abandonment. They fear loss. This comes from the exact negative experiences that created their vision to begin with. Working on building a business can be a constant roller coaster of emotions where one minute the focus is all high on positive strategy and the next it’s
low in self-doubt and negative self-talk. Their strategy becomes more desperate, more panicked, and less well-reasoned as their fears become reality- a form of emotional manifestation, what you think becomes what you experience.

Yet the most successful entrepreneurs are the ones who understand this fact. You see them on social media posting about their early morning workouts, their healthy meals, and their time off with family and friends, engaging in experiences, often outdoors. They’ll talk about their pain, the negative
experiences that caused them to hit rock bottom and their difficult journey back up and onward. Most importantly, they surround themselves with a supportive team, they process all the potentialities of the game of life and manage their risk by eliminating loneliness and anything else that could bring their energy down. They keep themselves focused on creating positive emotions and see their negative experiences as only part of the journey.

But what about those entrepreneurs who are just starting out? The ones who are stuck all alone in their house, trying to build something important, but still doubting themselves daily. The ones stuck in their journey. How do they go from lonely solopreneur to successful team leader and business owner?
A new solution has just been introduced, allowing the currently successful to guide the struggling beginners and it’s a strategy that has the potential to create a huge ripple effect in the world as entrepreneurs with big visions, big passion, and big ideas aren’t stopped in their tracks by negative self doubt but instead are supported, encouraged, and held up by a community of peers.

Imagine a video game world, a virtual 3D environment where instead of showing up brandishing a sword and ready to defeat trolls and goblins, it’s a campus full of entrepreneurs, some there to teach and some
there to learn. A space where, in avatar form, you can walk into a room, sit at a table and work together with others on getting your next quarter’s social media strategy down. There’s a copywriter on hand, a
marketing strategist, a branding specialist, and customizable templates available. You can put your ideas up on a screen and get instant feedback from the experts and your peers. Think you’ll get more
accomplished this way? What about doing the same for every other aspect of your business you need to sit down and accomplish a task for?

Imagine feeling those low and negative feelings of self-doubt creeping in and so instead of following that rabbit hole, you jump into the virtual world and meet with a mindset coach, attend a guided meditation session, or jump into a support group meeting. Then once you’re feeling more positive, you attend a
training class, a workshop, or meet with some friends you’ve connected with in the space so you can just work side by side on your own businesses, occasionally asking a question, getting feedback, or
helping them with the same.

Because this space is focused on all the needs of entrepreneurs, there’s something there for all aspects of entrepreneurial life. It’s not just about business, because a true strategy is never just about the surface is it? It’s about all potentialities. Will a relationship issue prevent you from being productive?

What about working from home with kids, having trouble sleeping, or managing your money? Of course,
they will and so all those areas and more are covered in this space, in addition to all the business help you could dream of and getting the support of others who truly understand what you’re experiencing
because they’re experiencing it right along with you.

Like a game of chess, your strategy as an entrepreneur needs to be complete in order to win and you cannot just play haphazardly and expect to get ahead, and now there’s a place all entrepreneurs can go to win every single day. It’s called The Limitless Collaborative and it has been designed as a global space for entrepreneurs to work together, learn together, and grow together… because together, we are limitless.

For more information on The Limitless Collaborative, the upcoming virtual conference for entrepreneurs, and/or becoming a member of the space, please visit www.TheLimitlessCollaborative.com

3v3 Team Chess League

 

 

by Dan Pelletier, Podcast Guest

There is a new 3v3 Team Chess League this Fall. Matches will be played once a week online. Matches will be Wednesdays at 5:45pm, Thursdays at 4pm or Saturday mornings depending on each teams availability. Fifteen minutes per player with no delay. Every team will play ten matches and then the top four teams make the Semifinals.

There will be four divisions:

Beginner: USCF Unrated-500
Intermediate: USCF Rated 500-900
Advanced: USCF Rated 900-1300
Elite: USCF Rated 1300 and up

The league will start in early October, 2020. $100 to register individually and be placed on a team or $270 when registering as a team.

Click here for more information.

 

Chess and Acting

by Dylan Kaplan,  NYU Tisch School of the Arts Alumnni 
When I act, I must envision exactly what I want prior to beginning my scene. During the scene, I use tactics with the other actors onstage to achieve my desired goal or outcome. The same is true in chess. Chess requires the player to look moves ahead using complex strategies to outwit the other opponent. Life is a chess match but so is acting. That’s why both chess and acting date so far back in our history. Use “The world is a stage” quote from Shakespeare.

Chess the Musicalcenters around the tensions between the US and Soviet Union during the world Chess championship. In the original production, the stage was designed as a chess board. The characters in the play act as chess pieces with the two main chess players serving as each country’s “king”. Through a number of different strategies, each country tries to disrupt the other country’s king player. This show is just one example of how anytime actors are onstage they are chess pieces in the grand scheme of the game. The game is the production taking place on stage.

In a deeper context, there is a hierarchy to any sort of live entertainment production. There is always a director or “king” who spearheads the musical. The stage manager is interlinked with the entire creative team and serves as the production’s “queen” figure. The rest of the creative team functions as other leading figures to the show. The spectacle of the show is created by these different team members. They can be symbolized as the knight, bishop, or rooks of a production. In the end, the actors serve as pawns which is why they begin and usually end the show. In chess, the first move of the game starts a new story. It is the result of choices made by the players that determine the way the story will end. Theatre works the same way.
Seen by Dylan Kaplan at Wednesday 9:55pm