Tziporah Gelman Gets The Jewish Community Moving

This post was originally published on Jewish Business News…

Tziporah Gelman Frumba

Two years ago, Tziporah Gelman weighed almost 300 pounds and knew she needed to make a change, so she stepped into her first Zumba class at her local gym.

Today, Gelman is a Zumba instructor, in great shape and changing the lives of Jewish women in the community for the better. It was love at first dance move, when Gelman took her first Zumba class.

“To me it didn’t feel like a workout, it really felt like a party,” she said. The Zumba program, which was created in 2001, is like a fitness dance party that uses Latin-themes and international music to create a fun, dance party vibe that gets people moving and burns calories.

Over the next year-and-a-half, Gelman lost more than 130 pounds. When her class at the gym no longer worked with her schedule, Gelman, a schoolteacher and rebbetzin (rabbi’s wife), hired her instructor to host private classes for Jewish women, many of whom didn’t feel comfortable exercising in front of men. When the response became overwhelming, her instructor encouraged Gelman to become the teacher.

“She kept telling me, ‘You have it, Tziporah, you’ve got the gift. You have it, your community needs it.” And when her instructor moved out of town, Gelman

thought seriously about becoming a Zumba instructor herself. “Maybe I really could do this for the Jewish community and get my community moving,” she said. “I know for myself I was so heavy and couldn’t get out of the rut, and maybe I could inspire other people to get in shape and to do it in a fashion that was actually really fun.”

So she became a licensed Zumba Instructor and AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America) Certified Group Fitness Instructor and found a small space to open Frumba Chicago, LLC. Fifteen Jewish women came to her first class, 20 came to the next, and, within a month, she had 50 students. So she rented a bigger space at the Bernard Horwich JCC, and currently rents from the Lincolnwood Jewish Congregation on Touhy and Crawford. Eventually her classes got so large that she hired three of her students to get trained and become instructors as well. She now attracts some 300 students.

For people who didn’t have an active social life in the Jewish community, Frumba Chicago is their connection. “They can now be in Jewel or Hungarian [Kosher Foods] and see

somebody and they smile because they’re part of this secret club,” Gelman said.

And while many of her students are from the Orthodox community, there are other Jewish women with no affiliation and even women who are not Jewish.

“It’s just so beautiful because I could have 90 women in the room and there are just so many parts of the community that are represented,” Gelman said. “If we were sitting and talking Judaism, it would probably be a very heated debate, and yet here we come and we exercise and we just have an amazing and great time and it’s just pretty magical.”

Gelman has been described by women in the community as a crusader to improve the health and lifestyle choices of Jewish women. “I think a lot of women in the orthodox community very often have a lot of kids and they sort of get put on the back burner. Their health and their well-being very often [aren’t prioritized] because life happens and it happens very quickly,” she said. “My mission and my dream have always been to get the Jewish community moving.”

While she says Zumba is not for everyone, she encourages women of all ages and backgrounds in the community to check out a class at least once. “You’ll never know unless you come and try.”

For more information and class schedules, email, or visit the Frumba Chicago page on Facebook.

What Have We Done To Our Children?

Read this post by Moshe Klein on March 4, 2013:

What have we done to our children?I’m struggling to understand how we in the orthodox community have created a monster. How is it that in the last 20-40 years, some of our smartest Rabbis have created a generation of functional illiterates? Or, was it always this way but I never understood it before?

Recently I visited a large Expo in the NY/NJ area that catered exclusively to the orthodox and hassidic communities. Its prime objective was to bring small businesses together and to provide opportunities and training for job seekers. On the surface, this is wonderful and something that we would want to encourage and to see more of around the country. In reality however, it was alarming and a big disappointment. Yes, thousands of people showed up and paid $25 each for the “opportunity”. What I found could have been a scene from Fiddler on the Roof or Yenta. There was a sea of long black coats, beards and black hats in all shapes and sizes. Men outnumbered women 10-1. Announcements on the PA system were in a broken English/Yiddish and left nothing to the imagination relative to when the next minyan would be davening mincha or where the women’s tables could be found for them to sit and enjoy their lunch.

Not sufficiently concerned yet? Allow me to tell you more. As I walked around the Expo and visited vendors, talking and chatting with participants – I encountered the following:

  • A man who wanted to pay his $25 admission fee with a combination of credit & cash.
  • Several people inquiring about the location of the “women’s pavilion” which consisted of what appeared to be two folding tables cordoned off by six foot high poles and curtains to assure that men and women would be separated according to the laws of modesty.
  • A man who came towards the end of the event and stopped me in the parking lot. He stated that he came here “representing” his son who was looking for a job but couldn’t attend as he was learning in Kollel at the time.
  • As I was visiting with a vendor at a small booth selling some household items – an Expo attendee asked the vendor if he could use his Medicaid card to purchase some of the items.
  • Other than the cleaning staff and the security team – I honestly could not find a non-Jewish or non- religious face in the crowd.
  • Other than the business owners who paid for the space at the Expo, it was difficult if not impossible for me to identify anyone in the crowd who was not a job seeker.

I could go on – really, and tell you more of the same but I think that you get my point. What’s wrong with this picture?

I didn’t need to go to NY to discover that we have a problem in our Orthodox community. We have hundreds of thousands of young men (and women) that have been denied in many cases even a basic secular education and access to the outside world of business and enterprise. Our great Rabbis have consciously decided to keep generations of our young people “barefoot and pregnant” so to speak and isolated from the opportunity to become educated and financially self-sufficient. Our Rabbis have chosen to instill fear of the outside world in the hearts of so many and to promote a culture of dependence on government welfare programs and the largesse of the orthordox / hassidic community structure. The result is communities of otherwise strong, healthy and intelligent young people who are hopelessly unable to compete in today’s job market and to provide basic necessities for their families. Expos like this one that I described are held around the country to masses of people like this, exclusive of the outside world where the jobs and opportunities actually are.

So what is the answer? How do we deal with this massive problem of illiteracy and high unemployment in our religious community and at the same time continue to maintain and promote the Torah true values that have sustained the Jewish people for thousands of years? Well, certainly not by isolating ourselves from the rest of the world. When Jacob our forefather took his family to Egypt – he and his sons and their children conducted business with the Egyptians openly and regularly. Our greatest Rabbis and community leaders throughout history have built business empires and held jobs at every level in the non-Jewish world. All of these Jews throughout the ages were able to find ways to work and to do business honestly and at the same time to maintain lives that were committed to Torah values including religious observance and study.

What changed in the last few decades that makes it so difficult for our Rabbis to understand this? And, how can it be that so many amongst us follow along with this narrow minded and unrealistic system of poverty and illiteracy for the masses?

In my opinion, we should not continue to sit idly by while so many of our young people sacrifice their futures on misguided and blindly followed directives regarding job training, education and business development. Our greatest Jewish business leaders who are the backbone of financial strength and charity in the country provide their children with secular education. Their business is conducted honestly in the non-Jewish world and they understand that not only is there nothing wrong with this – it’s to be encouraged for the benefit of our children’s future.

May it be that we wake up before the welfare programs run out of money and a large percentage of our people find themselves not only without an education or a job but without food and housing as well.

Read more at Jewish Business News…

A favor to ask of you

As you likely have seen by my recent emails and messages, our third annual FREE business and employment expo. “The Business Event” is right around the corner. Believe it or not, it takes place next Thursday, June 20, from 1 to 7pm at Evanston Township High School (1600 Dodge Avenue) and I mean it when I emphasize – you won’t want to miss it!

The Business Event
The Business Event

The event will feature thousands of business networkers, including some fantastic contacts, and dozens of business and employer exhibitors. Based on rave reviews, we have expanded our highly successful workshops forum which includes topics like “Rock the Room with your Instant Introduction”, “LinkedIn to Profitability”, “Get Set! Get Ready! Get Hired!”, and “The Four Keys of Branding”. An employment clinic, featuring Andrea Storz of The ARK will be running throughout the event as well.

As I said, best of all, the entire event is FREE! If you didn’t register yet, please go to


Can you tell as many of your contacts about “The Business Event”? Please post to your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn networks, and spread the word about the event! So much information is available online, so just forward the link (or this email) to

Thank you in advance and I look forward to seeing YOU @ The Business Event!

To success,

Scott "Shalom" Klein
on behalf of Jewish B2B Networking

P.S. We will be at “The Business Event” on June 20, 2013 in Evanston, IL. Will you? Register online at