Ah, Sweden. Birthplace of Ikea. Home of Abba. Case-study in government use of social media gone terribly wrong.
It seems that the Swedish Tourism Board thought that turning over the official @Sweden Twitter Account to regular folks from around the country would be a great way to expose the rest of the world to all the country has to offer. I’m not sure how long the Curators of Sweden program has been running, but it got a boost of publicity this morning when the current curator, Sonja Abrahamsson, tweeted the following:
Whats the fuzz with jews. You can’t even see if a person is a jew, unless you see their penises, and even if you do, you can’t be sure!?
I can’t be the only one reminded of Henry Blodget’s similar question on Business Insider at the end of last month, although there’s clearly a difference between tweets from someone who self-identifies as an under-educated woman from a little isty-bitsy village and the CEO of a respected publication. But I’ve got to wonder myself if there’s something about this moment that’s bringing “the Jewish question” back into public discourse.
On Wednesday, The National Jewish Outreach Program (NJOP)-the folks who brought you Shabbat Across America and Read Hebrew America- picked the winners of its first-ever “Jewish Treats: Jewish Influencer Awards,” announcing the recipients as part of Social Media Week. The award is based on the “creative and strategic use of social media.”
It should not surprise me that this is what it looks like: white, Orthodox dudes (and white skinned folks overall-nary a Jew of color in sight), people espousing the awesomeness of frumkeit-I believe the kids call it kiruv-and representing “mainstream” to right wing Jewish organizations.
A colleague sent me this list; if it hadn’t been in the Huffington Post, I doubt I would have found out about it at all. NJOP is not a diverse, lefty, or secular organization, they have an specific agenda (which of course, everyone does), and it’s expressed here. This is who NJOP has decided are leaders, who gets to represent the Jewish community, who is Jewish enough and in the right way.
Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, it’s lacking in religious, political and racial diversity, and because of the wide spread readership of the Huffington Post, a lot of folks have probably seen it. It’s a sad example, with the exception of Esther Kustanowitz and Chaviva Galatz, of how a certain part of the American community represents itself to the larger world.
Where’s the list of the most creative and influential lefty/radical/progressive/ queer/feminist/non or post denominational/secular, etc. Jewish social media personalities? Who would be on yours?
New York — Matisyahu, a Jewish kid who “found” Torah Judaism through reggae and lost his ability to trim his facial hair, reported today via Twitter that he shaved.
Jewish News services the world over sent news alerts, alerting their followers that the “musician” who has made a fortune “utilizing” another culture’s music for the “benefit” of the Jewish people shaved.
It would appear that by cleaning himself of his facial hair he has lost his magical powers to assume the musical styling of the Islands as well as his ability to be a role model for other lost Jews.
This modern day Samson story doesn’t end well for this mediocre musician. While reaction is mixed, his blatant abuse of his religion and the plagiarizing of another for his career is most likely over. Few are upset about this, yet there will be many who use this as further proof that young American Jews do not have the same connection to their traditions as previous generations.
[Editor's Note: We cut the rest of this article because it isn't news. For the sake of the holiness code move on. This guy made bad music with lame ass messaging based in a lack-luster Jewish indoctrination education.]
As many know, Mobius, activist and founder of this blog, is known for his outspoken views ending on the Occupation and more recently for his leadership in Jewish slice of the the #Occupy movement (among his prodigious other accomplishments).
In a somewhat surreal turn of events, earlier this week as police evicted Sieradski and the rest of #occupy wall street from Zucotti Park, the Electronic Intifada denounced him for being a tool of the Zionist PR machine. Got that? They associated him with his twitter and real-life debate partner, William Daroff, who proudly clams that title. Clearly, having posed together for a photo makes them philosophical bunk mates. Confused yet? It gets better.
Not only this, but he is, or was, and now is again- FOR the #Occupation. Of course- and apparently Electronic Intifada is as well. But not THAT occupation. And Mobius is not entitled to be thus as he hasn’t been nearly outspoken enough about his views. Which E.I. is against because, well, he’s so clearly in bed with the rightwing Zionists. And Muppets.
Which they’re for- no wait, against.. Okay, I’m confused. Blame the Jews!
And btw, since we’re off the topic, the Muppets also deserve a state of their own too. Who doesn’t anymore (except Kurds, Boriquenas and American Indians)? Personally, I believe the @Muppets should be free to live everywhere. As long as its not in my backyard because my 6th cousins are moving in as soon as UNESCO declares their right to return to my #basement. I also wish to denounce those who would deny them the right to both have the state of #Muppestine and the right to denounce such states on principle! Really, this totally made sense when explained by the Electric Meyhem.
Somewhere I hear Bill Murray turning to Harold Ramis and saying, “Wait, I thought you said the Occupation was baaaaad.” DOWN! with the evil #occupiers of the anti-zionist non-entity! No wait- FREE Palestine! End the #Occupation! Muppets! No, wait, we support the occupiers just not the #occupation! Reverse that. We are with the 6 million! Wherever we stand, it is in opposition to the opposition of the opposition of the occupation, except when we’re not. And then we are.
At least the Palestinian Solidarity movement got its support of #occupy straight on one point, and that was… failing to make a clear point. Nice work and way to muddy the waters for the enemies of progress. Thanks for the giggles! But not really.
It seems cynicism is our favorite pill these days, used whenever we get an allergic reaction to the latest “shtut” (ridiculous step or statement) made by our leaders and officials. How else should we react to a call for separate public buses, insisting that women sit in the back? To a legislative attempt to allow communities to discriminate against any newcomers, with the exception of “one non-Jew needed to turn on the light in my refrigerator if it goes off on Shabbat”, as elegantly put by MK David Rotem? To a racist smear-campaign against African asylum-seekers and migrant workers “who are swamping Israel and spreading deceases like HIV”, as the Interior Minister lied to the public?
Our leaders and the press are competing with each other now: Who will speak louder against “disloyal traitors”? Who will do a better job at silencing and pushing aside legitimate criticism? And who will simply stand idle while our country is losing its mind?
Xenophobia and incitement are not the sole actions of the zealous. They are part of an overall scheme by cynical leaders to solve serious problems that should be publicly debated by simply pointing a figure and saying “Look at her! She’s to blame!” This way no one looks at them and holds them accountable. Therefore any time the average “man on the street” is caught on TV cameras speaking out against Africans, voicing racial slurs against Arabs, and explaining that the whole world is against Israel because they are Antisemitic – then the politicians can be satisfied that they have done what they sought out to do. “Am Yisrael” is exactly where they wanted them to be. More »
Those following along at home know that dlevy and I like to cook. (What, you mean you’re not still dreaming of our Deep-fried Tofutti Cuties? Don’t tell me you forgot about our pancakes too?)
Well, we’ve been at it again. And by “we’ve” I mean “I’ve.” With dlevy’s encouragement, of course.
It all started on Friday when my housemate dlevy, tweeted:
I WANT THIS INSIDE OF ME! RT @mwecker Scary yet oddly enticing! RT @WendyRosenfield: 1st, OMFG. 2nd, who’s in? is.gd/fRvFq
I was oddly mesmerised and horrified by this cake monstrosity. Clearly, I had no choice. Forget the fact that I had planned down to the very last minute until shabbos, and did not have time to bake, essentially, two cakes and two pies before sunset. Forget that our shabbos meals were to be fleishig and this monstrosity would only be milhig. Next thing I knew, I was offering to figure out how to bake it myself in our kitchen.
I dashed to the grocery store on my way home from work, bought the essentials, and somehow, b’ezras haShem!, managed to whip up two cake batters, two pies, drop said pies into two 10″ round cake pans, fill ‘em up with the batters, and bake them – all within an hour. ‘Twas truly a shabbos miracle!
Then there was the frosting. It had to be butter cream. My icing, which I used to hold the two cakes (“layers”) together failed. (Though, it turns out, the bottom vanilla layer absorbed that rum icing in a tasty way.) So motzei shabbos I was off to the store to buy (gasp!) pre-made icing. Yeah, I admit it. (Though I never will again.) Iced, the cake was ready to go.
Now here’s where this post takes a turn: I’m going to tell all you curious yidden out there NOT TO ATTEMPT THIS AT HOME. Read that as a warning. Take it to heart. Because, you see, that one small piece I tried? I got about halfway through it before feeling… ill isn’t a strong enough word. And I’m pretty sure my teeth all instantly rotted before jumping out of my mouth.
Bottom line? While most of our adventures in progressive kashrus are great, tasty fun, this one is a punch in the gut. Leave it for the goyyim.
(This can be confusing though. It’s called the Ground Zero Mosque by people using it as en election wedge issue and by those who buy into their rhetoric. The institution itself, once its built will be called Cordoba House. Park 51 refers to the projects future address and refers to the organization that is raising the funds for construction Cordoba House.)
After their twitter, @Park51, was mentioned in a big article, they’ve been doing quite a lot of back-and-forth with fairly hostile Twitter users. And they’re kicking ass. So here’s a roundup of some of my favorites.
annahandzlik: But Imam Rauf wants more Sharia compliance in the US. He has been open about that. Who are you? #whereisthesharia?
stoning in Iran (regularly), gays executed (Iran & Saudi Arabia), blasphemy law (Pakistan & Muslim world), genocide (Sudan). #mmmk
Park51: we can’t answer for all Muslims or other countries or practice of law overseas
annahandzlik: if u can’t speak for entire world, then what is your version of Sharia law? If we’re supposed to be compliant we need to see it.
Park51: Insults aside, I asked you for clarification on your blanket statements several times. Waiting………..
JordanSekulow (works for the American Center for Law and Justice, which is suing to stop the project): I encourage you to read the lawsuit, here’s the direct link bit.ly/afME66 (can’t make it any easier for you)
Park51: Oy vey, for the fifth time we read it. In 140 char and from you, why are you doing it?
Park51′s twitter has also been kindly informing people who @reply them, but won’t return Park51′s responses that “twitter is about conversations.” And on one occasion, they told one antagonist to get a real profile pic because they look like a bot without one.
Foxmanides on Twitter begs some consistency from the man purportedly voicing anti-bigotted conscience. Top tweets:
Ceding our perennial demand that Palestinians remove anti-Semitism from their school textbooks. Their anguish entitles them to bigotry.
@BernieMadoff Need a Presidential pardon? DM me your price. Over a mil and we’ll throw in a benefit dinner. Fish or steak?
@OliverStone I want a worldwide telecast w/you on your knees screaming “JEWS HAVE NO POWER” or no dice. And I want you dressed as a chicken.
Oh wait, Israel’s friends with Turkey again? Armenian geno-wha?
The joke’s on Abe because he’s shocked at the blowback. He and his are losing moral authority, especially among the younger folks. I’m sure he has little clue that his reticence against consistently fighting bigotry (instead of selectively) is entrenching the ADL’s reputation as prejudiced by omission if not commission. We would be hard pressed to justify anti-Semitism if it were delivered in a “nuanced” press release trumpeting “sensitivity.” Oh wait, that was just done.
Let us rewrite the ADL’s anti-mosque statement with “the Jewish right to self-determination in their historic homeland” instead of “Islamic center” and “colonization of the Middle East” as “9/11″. Let it culminate as theirs did in the final paragraph: “It’s not about rights, it’s about what is right.” Meaning, the Jews have a right to build their state, but not in the Middle East, where sensitivities are raw. I doubt Foxman would reply to such with nuance.
Regardless, Foxmanides has been unleashed. Even The Onion knows no safety now:
Jewish educators on Twitter who want to be part of a bigger conversation know the hashtag of choice is #JEd21. This hashtag was created by Phil Brodsky (yes, hashtags do have creators!) when he was the Hornstein Intern at Darim Online. Much of the conversation tagged with #JEd21 involves the application of technology to Jewish education, because after all, what is the 21st century if not the Information Age?
Longtime Jewschool readers (or dlevy groupies) might remember that I’ve been working part-time (for eight years!) on my masters degree at Hebrew College. I’m pleased to let you all know that this coming Sunday, I will be graduating with two degrees — an MA in Jewish studies and a Masters of Jewish Education. Since so much of my life has straddled the worlds of Jewish education and the internet, I set out to take a hard look at what Jewish education really does look like in the 21st century, and what it could look like if we all put our heads together.
Once my research started, I quickly realized I’d need to limit my inquiry a bit — this isn’t a doctoral dissertation, after all. So, I decided to stick with what I know best (and is dearest to my heart), supplementary Jewish education for teens. Below is the fruit of my labor. I don’t know how interesting it will be to any of you, but here you go.
Eagle-eyed readers will note that two other Jewschoolers make it into my citations.
As we move from the freedom of Pesach to the responsibilities delivered to us on Shavuot, we count out the 49 days of the Omer period. If the practice is unfamiliar to you, I recommend My Jewish Learning’s intro to it.
If you consult the sidur, you’ll be told how to count it out loud at the end of your evening prayers as each new day of the Omer begins.
TWJ posted a link on Twitter to this article involving a collaboration between hipsters and Hasids. Aside from the rather fascinating story, it got me thinking about what a combination of hipsters and Hasids would look like. Thus we bring you the Khipster: Ironic thick-rimmed sunglasses mingle cleverly with long peyes. An unshaven beard morphs smoothly into a waxed handlebar moustache. Untucked white button-down shirt, tzitzit hanging down, almost brushing the tops of bright green Converse. Truly, the khipster is the most fearsome creature ever to roam this earth.
Other ideas about this most alarming of combinations are certainly welcome (and if anyone’s good with Photoshop, go to town).
South by Southwest is an annual music, film and interactive media festival/conference that descends upon my (David AM Wilensky’s) hometown of Austin, TX every March. Yesterday, my mother, Glenda S. McKinney, attended the Judaism 2.0 session of SXSW Interactive.
She is a great Jewish mother and tweets as @gsmaustin. What follows are her tweets and notes from the session.
At about 6:30, there’s a pan of the room, so you can see the original group of about 40 in addition to the 20+ sites that were live streaming. The introductions are pretty much unintelligible, but it was a good mix of people: Jews and non-Jews, several Austinites and a few Israelis, active bloggers, and Jewschool founder Dan Sieradski.
Dave Weinberg @weinberg81 announced a conference on the future of Jewish non-profits that will be held in July 29 at the 92nd Street Y in New York City: bit.ly/fojnp. He did ParnasaFest parnasafest.org/.
Chaviva said that there is no funding to do the decennial census of the US Jewish population, and talked about work she did to gather contact information for congregations and federations to try to do an informal census. At around 30:00, this went into a discussion of congregations not being active on the internet, and privacy and security concerns.
Dan Sieradski talked about using technology to interact differently with Judaism: build alternative communities on-line, open source Judaism, build your own Haggadah, BBYO’s build-a-prayer site, and JPS Tagged Tanakh. A few people talked about using Second Life to do Jewish things, like visiting the Wall and attending Torah study or services. (So I could ‘really’ go to the Wall, virtually.) You can tweet to @kotel to have your message inserted into the Wall. Mordechai talked about people discussing Daf Yomi via Twitter.
The best part came towards the end, which was planning for next year Apparently, there was some resistance to having this session at SXSW–because there was a fear that it might be religious in nature–so we talked about what we’d like to see in the future, where it could happen, who could do it, etc.
Intersections of Jewish interest with the larger group, like moderating hate speech, were proposed as possible topics that might be more easily accepted as sessions.
There was talk of having Israeli start-ups and tech companies at the conference, just as there are booths for the West Midlands of England and for Finland. The Cleanovation event by the Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce in Austin earlier in March and Austin’s Blue Knot group were talked about as possible models and resources.
As a final editorial note of bizarreness, as the session wrapped up, I was sitting on a train on my way to Taste of Limmud NY when I recieved the following tweet from Dan: “mobius1ski: @davidamwilensky I just met your mom.”
I might have gotten that title mixed up a bit. Fuller report coming tomorrow, including video of most of the Q&A part of the panel. In the meantime, if you’re curious to know what it was about and you weren’t one of the lucky 120 or so people who made it in the room before the risk of fire hazard cut folks out, you can see tweets from me and Joanna Ware from the panel. (Scroll down to those with timestamps between 7:00 and 8:00 pm EST on Jan. 31st.) I took some snapshots of the Jewschool table and the crowd as well. My pictures of the panel didn’t come out so great (Danya talks with her hands too much for my crappy camera phone to focus!) so you’ll have to wait for the video to see Jay Michaelson, Seth Castleman, and Danya Ruttenberg in action.
I’m not going to chronicle the entirety of the tweet-battle I just had with David Appletree of the JIDF and some other like-minded people. I don’t do those things so I can gloat about them later.
However, I do think it’s necessary to point out a few choice tweets that I received during the whole affair, which to me represent the righteous, holier-than-thou attitude that these right-wingers tend to bring to this issue. In no particular order:
@sarahleah770: @renaissanceboy it isn’t me – it is Torah. And respect for the Sages and Rabonim. And acceptance that there is nothing other than Hashem.
@JIDF: @renaissanceboy no, you don’t, or else you’d comprehend the fact that i speak the truth and don’t take that label lightly.
@sarahleah770: @renaissanceboy we don’t differ on anything. u r a jew? i am a jew! torah non negotiable.
Look, I have no quarrel with people with significantly more conservative religious and/or political opinions than me. In fact, I tend to learn from them, as I do from anyone who has a different opinion. Hence, I seek out respectful discussions because I find that I always walk away knowing more than I did before I started. David Appletree and Sarah Leah clearly don’t have that M.O. Fine by me, but it does need to be said that they also don’t contribute anything to the discussion by refusing to engage anyone except on “you are one of us and therefore infallible” or “you are a terrorist-empathizing, anti-semitic, radical-islamist-rationalizing, Israel-hating uneducated liar” terms.
I think of this comic a lot.
It’s certainly attractive to boil down complex problems into simple “us-and-them” soundbites, and Twitter is an ideal platform for doing so. The problem of oversimplifications in politics is certainly not a new one, but it’s taken on a different face with the rise of social networking.
The result of today’s altercation was that JIDF blocked me on Twitter, and then continued to trash me. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the mechanics of Twitter, if someone blocks you, it means that you don’t see when they “mention” you (put your username in one of their tweets). By doing this, David has demonstrated that he cares more about making cheapstrawmanattacksbehindmyback than discussing real issues (in case anyone didn’t know that already).
@jidf: i’m concerned about my grandmother suffering w/ cancer, chemo, diabetes & @renaissanceboy harasses me about labeling terror supporters
David, if you’re reading this, I’m honestly and truly sorry to hear of her sickness. I also have a grandmother with a degenerative disease, and I feel your pain. It’s not something I’d wish on anyone. Period.
@jidf: @renaissanceboy what part of “go away” do you not understand? i know children with more common sense and morality than you.
@jidf: the fact that @jewschool_com lets a child like @renaissanceboy blog on it is further indication what a anti-Israel joke the site is.
Mr. Appletree, before you go accusing people of resorting to childish and ignorant tactics to give the semblance of winning an argument, take a look in the mirror.
And speaking of said overlap, there’s also In the Beginning, a Hebrew Bible fanworks fest, coming soon to an internet near you. This one challenges fanfic writers to write “fanfic” about the Hebrew Bible… or, what others might call midrash. Pieces will be published beginning October 2nd, but until then the site gives some background to the project.
I meant to post this before Rosh Hashannah, but apparently StorahTelling held services in a winery? Maybe this makes more sense for those of you who live in New York. If this piques your interest, they’ll be back for Yom Kippur – more info here.
My facebook feed before the holidays was abuzz with discussions of this article from The Forward, decrying the lack of family-friendly policies in the Jewish professional world.
If it was doubted before that social media breeds transparency, then the evidence is in Mobius‘ Twitter debates with William Daroff, head of the UJC. The summary: Daroff says the UJC represents all of and is entitled to speak for all of us, at least because they paid for grandma to move here from the old country; Mobius dissents. The juiciest part I excerpt below, but do read the whole thing:
Daroff: @mobius1ski Does Obama represent you? Did Bush? You might not agree w/everything we say or do – but we do represent you.
Mobius1ski: @Daroff Comparing UJC to elected officials is beyond hubris.
Mobius1ski: @Daroff My U.S. citizenship is a social contract w/ the gov’t. My Jewishness is not a social contract w/ UJC.
Daroff: @mobius1ski Didn’t mean to be hubrisy; simply stated: organized Jewish community endeavors to represent Jewish communal interests.
There’s more. Daroff needs a reality check. In his childhood, the federation may have been the be all, end all of Jewish communal life. But the past 20 years saw not just a boom of independent growth, but a decline of previous institutions. The federation system struggles to find not just funding, but a leadership that isn’t plauged with failure and embarassing turnover rates. (Worth mentioning here: yesterday the federation’s highest rising star Daniel Sokatch just left the SF Fed after less than a year to head the New Israel Fund.)
Meanwhile, after decades of stagnation, more than 300 new Jewish orgs have been founded in the past ten years alone, representing 400,000 Jews and $100 million, according to JumpStart’s2009 social entrepreneurship report. These newcomers were founded to get away from the UJC and do work outside the consensus: AJWS, New Israel Fund, Jewish FundS for Justice, Progressive Jewish Alliance (founded by Sokatch), the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, J Street, the Limmuds, PresenTense, ad neaseum, all founded in the past 35 years. And of course, none of these orgs have a seat at the JCPA policymaking plenum or the Council of Presidents I might add further. Their umbrellas are pretty narrow.
It’s a product of our times as well as our generation, created to fulfill a vision for communtiy that the UJC didn’t have and wouldn’t seed. The UJC doesn’t represent me or anyone else who gives neither a dime nor a damn. (Okay, okay, I gave $5 to UJA-NY Fed once, but just so I could vote in the icky World Zionist Congress and undermine the right wing.) My money has gone to groups founded in the past 35 years and I’m hardpressed to find a legacy org worth saving. (Also an exaggeration, I like HIAS’ immigration work with non-Jews.)
Mobius was very kind to UJC to recognize the good work it did and does. But it’s not the model we need anymore, and I feel it’s not disrespectful to say “Thank you for your work, but it’s time to retire.” The federation is raising money from fewer and fewer donors, making Daroff’s claim to democratic mandate slimmer and slimmer. And personally, I find his haunty, self-important puffery the epitome of leadership I can’t admire.
Daroff, it’s a new era and you need to see your institution in relation to the changes afoot. Take it down a notch. Humility is in these days.