Jew It Yourself

Dan Sieradski, who revolutionizes the Jewish world on just about a weekly basis, has a massive new project planned. It’s called Jew It Yourself, and it’s a great crowd-sourced Jewish learning opportunity. Eventually, the site’s going to be full of videos of different people — of all Jewish stripes and subdivisions — showing how to do Jewish rituals, both traditional rituals and rituals we make up ourselves.
Eventually, Sieradski plans on having videos for all sorts of Jewish rituals on the site. But he figured the best place to start his work is where it stops — with rituals related to Shabbat.
Here’s the deal:

To enter, make a short video (under 5 minutes long) with “do it yourself” instructions for practicing a Jewish ritual, making a Jewish craft, or cooking Jewish food that is specifically connected to Shabbat, the Jewish Day of Rest.
read the rest

To encourage the world to chip in, JIY is sweetening the deal the old-fashioned way — with bribery. You can win a Flip Ultra HD video camera, a $50 iTunes/Amazon gift certificate, and a bunch of CDs and t-shirts. All of which are valid reasons to enter a contest, but we still say the best reason is the old-fashioned reason, the reason Jews are best at — because you know how to do something better than other people.
Crossposted from MyJewishLearning, of course.

15 thoughts on “Jew It Yourself

  1. This isn’t a new concept. In fact it’s called ritualwell.org. Anyone can post any type of personal take on Jewish ritual or life, new or old, and share it with the world in this portal. The only difference is the lack of video feed, but it’s not like that’s hard to arrange.

  2. Jew It Yourself is far more than a repository for lesbian Haggadah supplements, but thanks for your supportive feedback.

  3. I think that’s a gross misrepresentation of ritualwell. instead of lashing out “DS” (gee, I wonder who that is…) why don’t you explain what is ‘quantifiably’ different and is qualitatively unique about JIY. I think that part of the problem we have going on today in the realm of ‘innovation’ that concerns me is that there is innovation that is actually necessary, and then there is innovation for innovation’s sake–perhaps there are times when collaboration is more appropriate than innovation. It seems to me that this would be a great collaborative project to do WITH myjewishlearning or ritualwell… why are we so set on always recreating the wheel?

  4. Justin, your comments presume that a) I’m reinventing a wheel that already exists and b) I’m not collaborating with others. You are wrong on both counts. But I’m not going to waste my time writing lengthy rejoinders to people who are taking a dump on something they haven’t even seen yet. I really do have better uses of my time.

  5. Dan,
    Who is taking a dump!? People are asking legitimate questions. It seems to me that there are places serving the purposes that JIY intends to “innovate”. No one’s asking for “lengthy” rejoinders. I have asked for a couple of points. Just one or two is all I need. What is unique about JIY? Why is it different than ritualwell, other than in your snarky offensive “dump” on ritualwell. No one is attacking you. No one has been offensive towards you or your idea! And yet you are posturing yourself as if your fragile ego has been wounded to the point of disrepair. Kind of odd… So how about it, Dan? From a long-time fan and admirer, what is unique about JIY? How does it serve the Jewish community in a way where ritualwell or myjewishlearning have failed? No one’s dumping, except for maybe you…

  6. “This isn’t a new concept.”
    “why are we so set on always recreating the wheel?”
    You guys don’t even know what it is you’re talking about yet but you’re already saying it’s duplicative and unoriginal. Forgive me for feeling insulted that the project I spent 10 years envisioning and the last year developing is being prejudged as a waste of time and effort because another website I worked on 10 years ago (when I was Ma’yan’s webmaster) also exists.
    Maybe Google should have never bothered because Yahoo already existed. Maybe Apple should have passed on the iPhone because the Palm Treo was good enough. Maybe Netflix should have packed it in in deference to Blockbuster.
    I spent the last decade fighting that kind of narrow thinking in the funding community, and now that we’ve finally surmounted it and I got backing for my project, people in the very community I went to bat for are telling me I’m just ripping off someone else’s idea. Sorry you don’t see how I would find that offensive.

  7. well, your defensiveness makes a little bit more sense since I have a better understanding of how you misunderstood both Noam and I. I also want to note that you have still failed to explain what is unique about JIY, but something tells me that you’re going to forgo mature discussion to rehash your same arguments…anways.
    no one accused you of stealing anything or tipping off anyone’s ideas. Noam brought up similarities between what JIY seems to be getting at and what ritualwell is. Who said that JIY was a waste of time? I didn’t, and I don’t think Noam did either. Instead of feeling accused or “prejudged” all of this could have been avoided by simply explaining, once and for all, what is unique about JIY and why it is not similar to ritualwell. Instead you trashed on ritualwell and completely misrepresented that online community.
    Google innovated search engines by their unique algorithm, Apple innovated personal digital assistants by introducing more expansive uses, a larger network and more user-friendly devices and apps, not to mention further streamlining the ability to sync apple products. Netflix innovated movie rentals by delivering to your door and eliminating late fees.
    Each of the products you mentioned offered a yet-to-be-seen innovation. No one is doubting your innovation, Dan, we are simply asking for more information. Again, rather than provide that information, you have resorted to a rather juvenile defense of yourself without one time clarifying your IDEA.
    For better or worse, matthue described JIY as “different people — of all Jewish stripes and subdivisions — showing how to do Jewish rituals, both traditional rituals and rituals we make up ourselves.” ritualwell describes itself as “the source for innovative, contemporary Jewish rituals. The site provides resources to sanctify holidays and life milestones, and empowers Jews to shape and renew Jewish tradition.” So, in excitement I wait or the full launch of JIY and patiently I wait for you to explain what is different (other than video feed) about the two projects.
    There’s no need to feel attacked. We’re all committed, engaged adults who aspire to better our community. Since that is the case, there’s also no reason to attack or libel or decry someone who raises a legitimate question as ignorant. I refer you to the statement below which I presume you put there in the first place!

  8. Justin, your ladder of inference runs so high it’s a challenge to say anything in response. In the course of this exchange, you have accused me of having a fragile ego and of being immature and juvenile. You made assumptions about my project and issued definitive statements about it’s duplicative nature. And you alleged that I was working at odds and not in collaboration with others. And still, you insist there is no reason that I should feel attacked. Do you not see your own contradictions?
    I didn’t dump on ritualwell, I cracked a joke that ultimately explains why that project has been largely unsuccessful: It has had a provincial focus and audience and has not updated its technology or marketing strategy since it came under Kolot’s dominion.
    Whereas ritualwell is about cataloging new ritual — and predominantly feminist ritual (see the main holiday page for example) — Jew It Yourself is not focused exclusively on new rituals. It’s about all of our rituals, new and old, but actually, mostly old.
    Jew It Yourself is Howcast for the Jews. It is a platform for helping those with limited Jewish knowledge or limited access to Jewish resources to self-educate online. It is exclusively a video platform, with an original video series that — similarly to G-dcast — features well-known young Jewish voices teaching basic Jewish ritual, cooking and craftmaking. And it invites others to contribute their own content and knowledge of Jewish practice and culture to the mix. To incentivize those contributions, Jew It Yourself well be holding semi-monthly contests where we’ll be giving away prizes for the best video submissions. In addition, Jew It Yourself is partnering with a dozen Jewish organizations to produce original instructional content for the website and to help distribute the content across multiple channels.
    This is only phase 1 of a 4 phase release. Phase 2 will integrate a Q&A engine (like Yahoo Answers), phase 3 will integrate an open directory of online Jewish educational resources, and phase 4 will include the release of apps for mobile and TV devices.
    And by the way, don’t get me wrong, I’d be happy to partner with ritualwell if they want to do a series of videos demonstrating the rituals contributed to their site.
    But if you think ritualwell reaches the 19 year-old in the mid-West who just came back from birthright and wants to learn how to light Shabbat candles, you’d be entirely wrong. And in that regard, my project is positively nothing like ritualwell at all. And that is why reading Noam’s comment and then your remarks, absolutely infuriated me.

  9. Quick tip from a casual reader — DS, you sound unnecessarily defensive. Sure, Noam’s comment was dismissive and simplistic (and apparently untrue), but you’re not doing your new website any favors. You sound bitter and hostile. Not a good look.
    I’m sure you’re proud of your new portal, but you should be prepared to elucidate, in a warm and welcoming manner, what makes it so great. Or you should leave it up to PR people to communicate with potential users.
    I for one am excited abt JIY, and I would expect the dude behind the curtain to be equally excited, in a positive, embracing way.

  10. Curious, you’re right. It’s just that now that my work is getting recognition, I’ve been getting piled onto lately by haters who seem to have it in for me no matter what I do. Thus I am feeling a bit sensitive. As always, it’s hard to gauge people’s intent from their written word, and in this case, it did not feel like these were friendly questions about the product, but hostile accusations about stepping on Kolot’s turf. I will aim for more productive responses in the future.

  11. I think that curious sums it up succinctly. No one attacked you, but I ask you, Dan, would you be comfortable sharing with the wider Jewschool community what you wrote to Noam personally? I can’t imagine you would. Even if you have so-called “haters,” why would you find them here? I can’t speak for Noam, but I am a contributor to a blog that you started, why would I immediately doubt your project? I look forward to its launch. Also note that my “attacks” on you were merely observations to your reaction. You can’t level my response to your claim that I attacked you an attack… that’s backwards. haters included, I hope you take the words curious presented to heart–it is a worthwhile thing to internalize.

  12. This is a reminder to all participating that Jewschool approves of heated debate and personal opinions, but does expect participants to respect each other and refrain from personal attacks.
    Let’s assume the best of each other and proceed. With the permission of the participants, ill-conceived comments spoken in the heat of the moment have been rolled back. Please continue to discuss the issues at hand.

    “I may attack a certain point of view which I consider false, but I will never attack a person who preaches it. I have always a high regard for the individual who is honest and moral, even when I am not in agreement with him. Such a relation is in accord with the concept of kavod habriyot, for beloved is man for he is created in the image of God.” —Rav Joseph Soloveitchik

  13. i apologize for not giving either noam or justin the benefit of the doubt and overreacting as i did. it’s not an excuse, but i’ve been having a very rough go of it lately and, as i said earlier in the discussion, have been feeling a bit oversensitive. i am sorry for my ensuing remarks.

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