If someone had turned on the radio in Mulukuku, Nicaragua, on May 28, 2005, they would have heard "Hatikvah," the Israeli national anthem. There is no Jewish community in this village of 7,000. In fact, there is not normally even a single Jew. But for one week at the end of May, there were 14 of us.
Our group was in the most impoverished region of Nicaragua as part of a joint project between The Jewish Federation and American Jewish World Service. The goal: to help alleviate poverty, hunger and disease among all the people of the world. It was an imperative that I took very seriously, and one that compelled me to step out of my Los Angeles life of privilege and material comfort into a world where those two terms are largely devoid of meaning.
Headphones on, face pressed against the microphone in a cramped cubicle, the leader of one of the best-known Jewish organizations in the country is reliving his youth.
Well, sort of.
"This is B'nai B'rith Radio, and I'm your host, Dan Mariaschin."
Mariaschin is far from the 50,000-watt radio station where he used to be a disc jockey in Keene, N.H., from the time he was in high school. But he also is far from his current day job as executive vice president of B'nai B'rith International.
Throughout the workweek, Mariaschin leaves his spacious Washington office for the makeshift radio studio down the hall, and spends several hours recording promotions and other messages for the first Internet radio station devoted to world Jewish music.