Jewschool was once just a twinkle in an innovator’s eye. Disenchanted with mainstream Jewish offerings, some guy named Daniel “Mobius” Sieradski started this here blog and gave a soap box to those nearest him who had a bone to pick with the establishment. Jewschool dominated the Jblogosphere (back when there were only a handful of us), spawned competitors, and became the online home of progressive Jewish thought. We continue to be the largest progressive Jewish blog covering the full spectrum of religion, politics and culture, even though Sieradski has moved on.
Sieradski left Jewschool with the intent of going big with his ideas, to no avail. The Jewish community is, like any community, terrified of change. Its institutions reject bold, smart ideas for the safety of orthodoxies. Sacred cows wallow in an abundance of funds, while social incubators and fellowships need one to be a trust fund baby. And the digital age has yet to overcome the organizational/copyright turf wars that keep information segregated, siloed and inaccessible.
There are a lot of bright ideas out there. And they’re dying. How the hell can we spark a conversation about those doomed ideas? With whom can we pitch, share and network to connect around shared ideas? Where can we find our own resources without the institutions and angel funders? And who would care about it all? In essence, can we crowdsource this effing revolution?
Thus 31 days, 31 ideas:
Sieradski is posting one of his ideas every day for all of January. In February, he and six cosponsors including Jewschool will post 31 more ideas that have never seen the light of public exposure. We at Jewschool join him in hoping this means some bright people with time on their hands will say, “Hey, I want to do that.”
We’re already into Day 3 and he’s already showcased…
- Pop-up Parsha, a widget that searches pages for references to Torah parshot and scriptural citations and offers a pop-up window with the Hebrew/English text, plus links to commentaries and discussion boards.
- Pop-up Jewish dictionary, another hypertext tool that would offer definitions for Jew-lingo. Sieradski makes a great point that as he increased his Jewish literacy, his friends often stopped reading the garbledigook of Jewspeak. I facetiously engaged the same problem for my non-Jewy friends by defining my nomenclature. If we’re battling low Jewish literacy, then surely we can make it easy on each other?
- The Hebrew input widget is neither “striking nor sexy” but allows for simpler typing of Hebrew into any web form or comment box — and offers phonetic entry of Hebrew (H for Hay, G for Gimel, etc.).
Not all these ideas will be winners, he warns, and not all will be totally original:
Most are ideas for web applications, some are web publications, and some are ideas for new organizations all together. And not every one of them is parochial even — some have uses beyond the Jewish community. Yet what connects them, is that each one brings something to the table that I believe to be truly revolutionary and transformative — things that have the potential to alter the Jewish world as we know it. And that’s what I’m in it for: A revitalized, renewed, and refreshing Jewish existence. It’s the only thing I’ve ever truly been for.
Indeed, it’s what Jewschool was created to do. We’ll post a wrap-up here of the last seven ideas every week for two months. Have an idea you want pitched? Email us and you might end up guest posting your idea here.