A wise rabbi once said: “Judaism is a great product, but the marketing sucks.”
As a Jew and a branding professional, Archie Gottesman is in full agreement. In her inspiring talks, she discusses this phenomenon with a contagious wit and passion that provoke even the most jaded to demand that their Jewish practice – whether it be big or small – touch their soul.
Archie knows in her kishkes that warm, meaningful Jewish rituals will keep people connected to their Jewish roots. This includes people who have a regular Jewish practice as well as those who are lukewarm, disengaged or totally new to Judaism. “Our Judaism should continuously fill us with joy, warmth and meaning and be something we look forward to, from Shabbat to the major holidays to lifecycle events,” she explains. “Everyone wants meaning in their lives. If Jews don’t find it in their Judaism, they will find it at yoga. Why not help Jews find the meaning in Judaism? How amazing would it be if disengaged Jews saw their Judaism as a gift, and as something that will add beautiful connections in their lives?”
Archie also knows a thing or two about connecting with people through good branding. For 20 years, she was the voice behind Manhattan Mini Storage’s iconic billboard and subway ads, which featured such hilarious and provocative lines as:
Why leave a city that has six professional sports teams, and also the Mets?
NYC: Tolerant of your beliefs, judgmental of your shoes.
If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t get gay married.
With this innovative messaging, Archie took something as dull as self-storage and made her company one of the most well-known and admired brands in New York City. Now she’s thrilled to be doing the same for Judaism through her recently launched website Jewbelong.com.
A graduate of Northwestern University and a Wexner Heritage Program alum, Archie has lived in New Jersey for most of her life. She has been thinking about how to inspire and excite people about Judaism since she first met her husband, Gary DeBode, a Naval Academy graduate who was not born Jewish, in 1987. It was on their third date that she told him if they were going to fall in love and get married, he would need to raise Jewish children with her, and she wondered how he felt about that. (You really need to hear the rest of the story in person.) Suffice it to say, Archie and Gary are now the proud parents of three Jewish daughters. And if statistics prove to be right, at least one of them will fall in love with someone who was not brought up Jewish. So Archie is indeed on a crusade to make Judaism, in her home and in yours, something that the next generation won’t want to live without.
Archie serves on the board of the Foundation for Jewish Camp and the Women’s Board of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC). In addition to her work for Jewish causes, Archie cares deeply about decreasing overpopulation in homeless dogs and is a past chairwoman of Animal Haven Shelter in Soho, NYC. Along with the rest of the Gottesman-DeBodes, four previously homeless dogs — hailing from Guatemala, NYC, New Orleans and Jerusalem — now call Summit, NJ, home.
Stacy Stuart was born into a Jewish family with two Jewish parents. While she did attend plenty of Bar and Bat Mitzvahs growing up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, this was largely the extent of her Jewish education. It wasn’t until 1994, when she got engaged to her also-Jewish but entirely secular husband, Gregg, that she decided to investigate Judaism, fueled by the desire to create a personal and meaningful wedding ceremony. She found a reform rabbi and a few helpful books and created a mostly-English, somewhat non-traditional ceremony that included many of the mainstays of a typical Jewish wedding. She loved the experience, but wasn’t sure how to add Judaism to her life in a way that would feel as authentic.
Fast forward a few years to when Stacy and Gregg were invited to spend Rosh Hashanah at Archie Gottesman’s house. They were worried that they would feel uncomfortable and out-of-place because they didn’t know the lingo, the songs or the customs. (In other words, they were worried about being Jewbarrassed™.) Fortunately, Archie’s expectations of what one “should” know were low and the experience was warm, welcoming and full of joy. This was the real beginning of Stacy’s Jewish journey, when she realized that Judaism needn’t be distant or complicated or even include belief in God. She believes that there are many people like her, who are open to giving Judaism a try and who would ultimately be thrilled that they did, if only they had the right tools. Stacy is proud to be a co-founder of JewBelong, where she is determined to make sure that happens.
Stacy has been a marketing professional for almost 30 years, including five years at Ogilvy and Mather, and 20 years working on the well-known advertising for Manhattan Mini Storage, including a couple of these favorites:
You’re not little Edie, and this isn’t Grey Gardens.
Let your personality be the reason people don’t want to come to your apartment.
Stacy and Gregg have raised three secular but spiritually-Jewish children in Verona, NJ. Stacy is a graduate of Ithaca College and New York University and is currently a Wexner Heritage Fellow.