Man, Y'all Just Don't Get It

I hope that this design is less loud for those of you who complained about the last version. I’ve also added a link to my e-mail prominently at the top of the sidebar.
Now to address some of the issues raised in response to my outburst of blog depression:
Jewschool has eight contributors in Israel, two in Atlanta, one in Massachusetts, one in Vermont, one in Baltimore, one in Kansas City, two in St. Louis, one in San Francisco, one in Los Angeles, one in Berkeley, one in Miami, one in London, and nineteen in New York. Amongst this group we have secular and religious Jews, including varying degrees of religiosity from Reconstructionist to Orthodox, as well as Zionists, post-Zionists, and anti-Zionists.
I have tried, time and again, to diversify the posting here on Jewschool, by adding interesting folks from around the world and across the spectrum of Jewish belief, to the blogteam. The impulse for blogging, however, comes and goes for some people. Many of our contributors are, you might notice, people with more important things to do than keep Jewschool’s readers entertained. Others have been driven away by rank and vile commentors after their initial postings, and have yet to step back into the ring.
That being said, I am constantly trying to find qualified writers to contribute to the site, but it’s not easy to get commitments out of people. I’ve got six people who said they’d join the crew who still have yet to register their Blogger accounts months after accepting an invitation to blog. I’m happy to have new people join the Jewschool team, but they have to fit a few criteria: They have to be coherent, know some HTML, be linked up to the Jewish community in a meaningful way, and have something worthwhile to say. I hate to break it to you, but there aren’t that many people out there who fit that criteria. We currently have 30 on our staff — the cream of the crop as far as I’m concerned — and fewer than 10 post regularly.
But there’s another thing a lot of folks seem to be missing: Our content leans to the left for a reason. There are countless Jewish right-wing, pro-Israel, and pro-Hareidi blogs out there that have readership on par with Jewschool’s numbers. There are few — less than a dozen by my count — left-wing, liberal Jewish blogs like ours, with relative readership. If Jewschool isn’t balanced, as far as some of you are concerned, it’s because Jewschool provides counter-balance to the dominant voice of mainstream and institutional Judaism that infests practically every Jewish publication both on- and-offline. If your complaint is that Jewschool doesn’t provide enough right-wing views, read a right-wing blog. That’s what they’re there for. The dissenting perspective is what we’re here for. And frankly, it’s kind of a lonely place to be. Hence the need for Jewschool to take the angle it does.
As per the subject of dissent, a lot of folks seem to be upset with the fact that we have the nerve to be critical — critical of Israel, critical of Judaism, critical of the Jewish establishment, critical of Jews themselves. Well holy crap — someone has to speak up! The Jewish world is facing many issues few people are doing anything about, and I and many of Jewschool’s contributors, are not the type to stand idly by and watch as things devolve into more hegemony and inanity. If something’s troubling us, we’re not going to be cowed into silence because it might not be “good for the Jews” to make a stink about it. All public debate by Jews about Jewish issues is, ultimately, good for the Jews, as far as we’re concerned, and we’ll continue to facilitate those conversations as long as it takes for some progress to be made on those issues.
Also, I’ve got to say, enough with this “hipster elitist” catcalling nonsense. It’s true, many of the people who contribute to this site are the same people behind projects like Heeb, JDub, the Jewish Fashion Conspiracy, etc. These projects, and the people involved with them, are in many ways responsible for the new Jewish revival that’s been sweeping the U.S. for the last five years. Most of us know each other, are friendly with one another, and share similar interests and commitments. We’re happy to promote each other’s projects and have no qualms with using Jewschool to that effect. However, if you scroll through our archives, you’ll be hard-pressed to find much self-referrential, self-aggrandizing content. Further, no one here claims to be a tastemaker, as has been alleged. Can one not say that a band, which clearly sucks, sucks, without being told that they’re imposing their taste on others? Such contempt for our contributors reveals more about those holding it, than those its directed at.
Finally, Jewschool is, in its current manifestation, just a blog — which is, in some ways, a one-way street. But it’s not supposed to be. I’ve been hard at work for two years, developing ideas and software to accomodate the sum total vision of what Jewschool should be. I’ve had ups and downs with private investors, philanthropies, programmers, and all sorts of stumbling blocks that have kept this site from reaching its fullest potential. But it’s going to get there. And when it finally launches, I think a lot of you are going to be pleasantly surprised. Perhaps then it will finally click, and you’ll say, “Ahh, now I get it.” Whereas it seems that many of you do already, too many don’t. And I find that very sad and regrettable.

10 thoughts on “Man, Y'all Just Don't Get It

  1. cool redesign. I like the simplicity of this and that Jerusalem art site (if I remember correctly) you did too.

  2. Dude, I LOVE your site. Don’t let the wingnuts (the “frumster elitists”?) get you down. There is a ginormous silent majority of liberal Jews who read your stuff and think this site is phenomenal.

  3. Whatever, man. F*ck “balance”. Do you think The Wall Street Journal feels obligated to offer a socialist perspective or Maxim a feminist one? Just write what you feel and be forthcoming about it.

  4. One way to respond to criticism is to mischaracterize it and then dismiss it. It’s a great PR tactic.
    Another is to deal with it. That starts by listening with open ears. Mobius, do you think that there was any criticism at all that was on point?

  5. the only thing that really stands out for me was the point about being inaccessible via e-mail and not being more prompt to reply to people’s messages.
    the stuff i found valuable was the insights people were offering into the state of the jewish community.
    the criticisms, though, i think were mostly hurtful mischaracterizations of this project and the people involved with it.
    we have thirty people on staff. three of them are chabad rabbis. some of them were israeli soldiers. some are women who lay tefillin. show me how those people are right? it’s not my fault our writers don’t post more often. its their fault for beating on them.

  6. I think Jewschool is rock solid and has been for a LONG time. It sad there are so many angry people ready to spew venom at anything that moves and it’s even sadder knowing that these are OUR people.
    The internet brings out the best in some people and the worst in others. I for one am happy you are here.

  7. I didn’t get a chance to offer my opinions on to the first part of this issue. But I really love Jewschool. Its way better than the school I’m currently going to!! I really like the confluence of religiousity / spirituality with left style politics. And I like the politics here – you give a good range of perspectives and are not dogmatic or preachy. I would never read Tikkun for example as its too contrived and militantly liberal.
    I also find the quality of writing good, and I like the blog format – Giving a brief synpossi of contemporay issues with links to their source.
    And I guess that maybe this blog is quite New York-ish – I’m reading it in Australia – but that’s a Jewish vibe that I’d like to tap into.
    Some things that I don’t totally like : Sometimes the comments do get a bit dogmatic and personal. I like arguments, but not when they get personal. The other thing is that occasionally I’d like the editors to respond to issues or questions; rather than only being able to pose them to fellow readers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.