Social Media and Jewish Organizations – Local View

Over the last couple of weeks, there has been a drumbeat “out there” about Jewish organizations using social media.  We’re paying attention here at Boulder Jewish News – this effort was designed with social media in mind, building on what we already knew (and expanding as we learn more). We believe the local Jewish community can’t be our own best-kept secret. We started by thinking of this as the 24/7 (well, 24/6) version of the Boulder Jewish Festival: it’s all here, we hope you’ll check out what’s happening – at whatever level of engagement you feel comfortable.

We have met with organization directors/ administrators, board members, volunteers and interested members of the community for feedback, coaching, discussion.  The junior member of our Tech Support team has helped two local organizations get set up (and we’re happy to help you too!).  We’re seeing a wide range of use of these tools but more importantly, we understand and appreciate the challenges of boards and staff at the organization level. Who’s got the time to learn something new?

And yet, the drumbeat continues.  Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), said this in his Shabbat-morning sermon at the URJ’s recent Biennial Convention:

The Internet and cyberspace are changing all the rules of Jewish interaction, and we need to be at the forefront of these changes. We need to create an online, Oral Torah of ongoing Jewish discourse, and invite in the opinions of our members. We need to ask our members to share their personal stories and Jewish memories – which they love to do when given the chance. We need to encourage hotly debated, multi-voiced, civil discussions on synagogue and local issues, and on Israel and national issues.

The idea is not just to serve our members but to engage them. The idea is not only to inform but also to inspire and create community. The idea is to see the Web not as a bulletin board for announcements but as an act of communal collaboration.

The convention included learning sessions on social media, as did the General Assembly of The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA).  Yesterday we received the newsletter of the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education (PEJE), which included this:

Blogging is the most flexible method of “new technology” communication: It can be used for nearly any purpose, but that open-endedness can be overwhelming. Listen to this month’s PEJE Podcast to determine where to start.

Where does Boulder Jewish News fit into the mix?  The approach here is “open the tent” – open the conversation even further.  Organization blogs – as envisioned by URJ, PEJE and others – engage members (or may attract new members).  We believe that wider visibility to this information benefits all – so if/when your organization has a blog, we’ll carry your feed (find it on the front page, in the section “News and Blogs from Around Town”, as well as on the directory pages. Feeds link to your site).  We have remarkable rabbis, teachers and leaders here – let’s widen the audience.  For excellent perspective from a pro-blogger, we hope you’ll read Esther Kustanowitz’s post: Manifesto: Social Media and Jewish Organizations. We also invite in-depth stories on particular news in your organization – if you have a great story you’d like to share, post it directly to the Boulder Jewish News.

What about time? We think it’s about time better spent.  Let’s have a conversation about how to improve your communications, increase your reach, widen your audience, and spend less time than you spend now.

We “caught” Esther’s post this morning (thanks to Twitter) and it prompted this piece, but we also hope our readers see that Boulder Jewish News is not just organizations. If you have a point of view – please share.  See a film with a Jewish theme? Review it, tell us about it. Read a book? an article? Share your perspective. Arts, culture, Jewish Life, Israel, opinion. .  . comment, engage, discuss (among yourselves – or online!). We would like to thank and recognize the more than 30 members of the community who have already posted an article or commented on a post, as well as Facebook fans and Twitter followers who are part of the conversation too.  The community looks forward to your point of view – that’s how the conversation starts. If you would like to get more involved – writers, designers, advertisers, programmers – please contact us.

I'm David Fellows, and I've served as a writer, photographer and/or an editor on my junior high and high school newspapers; the Daily Trojan at USC (where I earned my journalism degree); the student newspaper at the Anderson School at UCLA (where I earned my MBA); and I've written and edited countless business documents and presentations in the ensuing twenty years. I was also a professional photographer from 1978 to 1988 (although you never really stop...).

I've been involved Jewishly since my bris and in Boulder since 1995. I'm married to my Executive Director Cheryl, and we have two children, Lauren and Ethan.

One response to “Social Media and Jewish Organizations – Local View”

  1. Social Media Manifesto Takes Off on Twitter — The Book of Esther

    [...] “Manifesto: Social Media and Jewish Organizations” has been retweeted several times by Jewish organizations and educators, shared with fellowship members and technology staffs. I’ve got meetings set up in New York to talk with potential clients about social media outreach. And I’ve been asked to lead a few groups at the upcoming Darim Online Northern New Jersey Social Media Boot Camp. Plus, the post is beginning to be cross-linked in other locations and cited as inspiration for kicking social media conversation into high gear (see the Boulder Jewish News). [...]