Identity, Mishegas, Uncategorized

In Which (These Particular) Jews Control (A Certain Part of Social) Media

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?


9 thoughts on “In Which (These Particular) Jews Control (A Certain Part of Social) Media

  1. Chaviva is truly wonderful and open-minded, and a great blogger friend (I blog about my Reform Jewish journey.) I think the non-Orthodox Erika Davis ( and Michael Getty ( deserve big nods, for combining deeply thoughtful, journey-in-progress spirituality with LGBT themes that never miss being meaningful. Often unexpectedly so.

  2. I’m an exception! Huzzah?
    This is an interesting commentary on how we view influence in the Jewish world, I guess. Does it mean that there are not enough “loud” voices in the GLBT, secular, or post-denominational community? Or that we just don’t give them the credit or clout they deserve? To be honest, I’m struggling myself to think of people I follow via social media who define such voices.
    Do I follow too many Orthodox Jews? Perhaps. Or maybe they saturate these social spheres more than other groups.
    I’m going to have to think on this.

  3. > “Finalists were selected by an expert panel of judges and evaluated based on creative and strategic use of social media to positively impact the Jewish community.”
    So clearly, to be selected candidates would have to both be on the radar of the “expert panel” (i.e. At least known in their social media circles) and make a “positive impact” on the Jewish community based on whatever it is that they deem “positive”.
    Of course it’s going to reflect their particular perspective on Jewish social media. They were representing themselves, they weren’t trying to be a cross-section of world Jewry, and it’s a top-10 on a blog, not a “definitive guide to Jews online” or something like that.
    Firstly, the OP attached way too much weight to this. Secondly, expanding on what Chaviva said, if there aren’t enough “alternative” Jewish voices on these lists, the solution is for there to be more and better “alternative” Jewish voices out there speaking to people like these and not just having a passionate an insular dialogue with other “alternatives”.

  4. Is the NJOP run by the OU? Chabad? Or is it just that the founders and members happen to be predominately Orthodox? I don’t really know much about NJOP, but I think that it really makes a difference when you step back and take a look at these issues.
    Also, I’m not saying that someone who happens to be a ‘minority’ or a less traditional member of the Jewish community may not face more criticism, but I just wonder if it happens to be that the people chosen really deserve the recognition above others who are also involved in Jewish social media.
    I just came across this from Chaviva’s Twitter, but I’m happy to see individuals using social media to do good and bring people together. These things seem to be lacking within the Jewish community where I live (outside the U.S.) and I’m happy to see it happening in other places.

  5. Chaviva- I think part of the issue is that Orthodox and/or right wing groups tend to have strong convictions that their way is the right way, and thus are more likely to speak up, loudly and often, about the importance of Jewish identity and practice of a certain kind. Whereas left of centre Jews tend to place more importance on pluralism, and are thus wary of touting any one kind of Jewish practice. I think both of these camps could learn from each other; the problem that left-wing Jews have is that we are so wary of causing offence and our conviction in the primacy of pluralism (both good things, imo) cause us to not unite but to fracture.
    There’s got to be a way of doing kiruv that is inclusive of all kinds of Jews and Judaism, but that still has strength, motivation, and some kind of message.
    Obviously there are exceptional voices in the Orthodox community (yourself, Matthue Roth, Aaron Levy, many others); I don’t want to suggest homogeneity.

  6. How about working with Punk Torah to come up with a list of LGBT, progressive, feminist, leftist individuals? Then someone else can complain when not one on the list is Orthodox.

  7. i think the more sincere a person is in the cause they believe in, the more influence they will wield. I use the singular of the word cause because once you try to represent yourself to all people and all causes you lose the individuality that who you are represents. NJOP, and their most influential list, represent a group of people with a singular cause.
    If you remember the windows in the Beis HaMikdash, you will recall that they were V shaped with the point of the V on the inside and opened outward towards the world. The light that filtered thru these windows lit up the entire world with the spirituality of the Mikdash/Temple. The Mikdash had one goal…to light a light that would draw the world close, to be “mkaraiv” the world to an authentic relationship with HKBH. To comment that you dont see black Jews are Gay Jews or any other type of Jew is silly because the bucket of Torah Judaism encompasses all Jews. The bucket of Gay Jews or any other category of Jew are Jews with a focus on theitr group rather than Jews as a whole. I often discuss with Jews on my page (facebuker Rebbe and Friends) if their own great great great grandparents would feel comfortable eating at their Shabbos table. For the voice of an agenda to be heard , it needs to be an all encompassing voice. Like G-d speaking to us directly at the Sinai mount 3373.75 years ago…the message has to have something for everybody.

  8. Michael Doyle and Michael Getty should definitely have a nod on an alternate list. Chaviva does amazing work, glad to see her there but as a Jew of Color the list did seem a little one-deminsional. There are a slew of really great JOCs doing really exceptional work through social media. SwirlGirl,, April Baskin of The Jewish Multi-Racial Network, Jared Jackson of Jews in All Hues, Aliza of Jewminicana…to name a few.

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