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About Gil

Dear BeingJewish.org visitor!

I am so glad you discovered our website!  Much of the information you will see on this site is a result of my work.  So you deserve to know "who is this guy anyway?"

I am a former journalist and then entrepreneur and now I use both of those careers to help people understand their Judaism.  I say that I do 2 things:  I am a Jewish baggage handler...as I listen to people share their Jewish baggage.  Secondly, I am in sales and marketing for Judaism, Inc.  I make no money from any of these efforts as they are truly a labor of love.

In addition to writing my books and my column, I published Being Jewish Magazine for six years. (that peaked at a circulation of over 100,000 homes.) I lecture often...having spoken in over 70 communities. I also volunteer a lot in my own community mostly in Jewish organizations, but I have also coached Little League Baseball and Kid's soccer.

Although my 10 year daughter once described me as some kind of "rabbi dude, " I am not a rabbi. My personal level of observance -- like keeping kosher -- has varied greatly throughout my life and continues to go up and down. What has remained constant is that being Jewish has always been important to me. Since I was a child, I have almost instinctively been proud to be Jewish -- though until recently, I couldn't clearly articulate why. Now I can, because as an adult, I have devoted much time and effort to learning about Judaism, including three years of intensive Jewish study in a program known as the Wexner Heritage Foundation.

I grew up in a non-Jewish suburb in the Midwest. I attended public schools that were predominantly gentile. In my high school class of 700-something, there were about a dozen Jewish students. My parents' home was not kosher or particularly religious, but we all knew we were Jewish. The two main reasons were my parents. My Mom was a Hebrew school teacher and my Dad was an Israeli (a very secular one). All the reminding we needed that we were Jewish was hearing my mother and father speaking in Hebrew when they did not want us to understand what they were talking about -- which was often.

In addition to the Hebrew spoken by my parents, as I grew up, I was exposed to a lot of Judaism. I visited Israel regularly, attended Jewish camps as both a camper and a counselor, and was a teacher for many years at my synagogue.

I should point out that just because my Mom taught Hebrew did not mean I behaved better at Hebrew school than anyone else. In fact, I got into more trouble than my friends. I attended afternoon Hebrew school all the way through high school -- my Mom made me. Unlike my friends, when I was rowdy (a daily occurrence), after throwing me out of class, my teachers just went down the hall to complain to my mother.

The net result of this upbringing was that my attraction to Judaism was strong enough that while in college, I actually gave thought to attending rabbinical school. But I decided not to for numerous reasons -- not the least of which was that I did not like services! (I didn't think they would let me go through six years of rabbinical school and skip all the services.)

Instead, I majored in political science and broadcast journalism. My career began in TV news and eventually evolved into business. In 1983, my wife and I started a company producing computer training video courses that we marketed nationally to Fortune 500 companies and government.

Marketing has been the aspect of business that has interested me most because I have been intrigued by customers' behavior. I like to know what they are "really" thinking and why. My experience has been that if you ask, they will frankly tell you.

In recent years, as I have sought answers to my many questions about Judaism, I have come to see that the product is excellent but sales haven't been so hot. Consequently, as part of my personal investigation of Judaism, I also became curious to know what other Jews think of Judaism. So I asked.  And continue to ask.  The result is my work which now appears in print, online and when I lecture.

If you are interested in sending me your Jewish story or question or would like to inquire about having me lecture, please email me:  GilMann@BeingJewish.org.

I hope you enjoy BeingJewish.org and will direct others here.  If you have suggestions or ideas that can make our site better or you just feel like sending us a comment, please click on the email box on the lower left!

Thank You!
Gil

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