Culture, Mishegas

SXSW's Judaism 2.0 panel

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.

The Judaism 2.0 session at SXSW Interactive was live streamed, and the video is available at here.
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: He did ParnasaFest
Chaviva Edwards @kvetchingeditor blogs at She pointed out that Judaism was the original social media.
Mordechai Lightstone @mottel blogs at
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.
Foreign Service language training materials are in the public domain:
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.”

4 thoughts on “SXSW's Judaism 2.0 panel

  1. Judaism was the original social media because we had a common language, communicated even when far-flung via a network of traders, and shared annotated and hyperlinked text. (Chaviva explained it more eloquently than I’m able to.)

  2. Check out the video (I, too, cannot reiterate my own brilliance, har har) to hear my explanation.
    If you think about how successful Judaism was over the expanse of history, you will see how it was the original social network. Jews made for good traders because even if they shared an uncommon “state” language, they shared a common language overall — Hebrew. Jews from Ancient Palestine could schlep throughout the Roman empire without a hitch and do work because of a shared language. It was like that before the Roman period and well after. Jews have always been excellent at maintaining community through social networking on a large scale, despite being a small people. It’s just our tools and how we go about that social networking that have changed!
    Or did I just make things worse re: explanation? 🙂

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