3,000-some-odd URJ Jews are in Toronto this weekend for the URJ Biennial. I’m following along on twitter (#urjbiennial).
Every biennial, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the president of the Union, make his “State of the Union” sermon from atop the mega-pulpit erected for the convention on Shabbat morning. In this sermon, Yoffie announces the Union’s newest biennial initiatives. Last time, he unveiled the “Shabbat” initiative–how creative, Jews celebrating Shabbat!–and this time he’s unveiled something called the Embracing Technology initiative.
Overall, I think it’ll be a good thing. We here in the Reformish corner of the jblogosphere have been straining to be heard for some time so it’s nice to find a new Union site basically devoted to how to get your congregation into the conversation going on out here.
Except, oh wait. It’s not about how to jump into the conversation. It’s about how to start a blog for your congregation. And how to moderate comments. How inspired. The fact that moderating comments is one of the chief concerns of the site is pretty tell-tale.
When stuffy corporations begin blogging or tweeting, it’s a huge change in the way they think, and it’s rarely as quick as you’d want it to be. From Sinai, marketing was a one-way conversation. You’d spread your message and if people liked it and the way your presented it, they’d buy your stuff (or do whatever it is your advertising wanted them to do).
The new way is two-way. You say what you have to say and a conversation starts. If you’re doing it right, it’s an open conversation and it happens in real time. When the blogger or the administrator is away from the computer, the conversation continues because at all times of day or night, people can continue to make their comments on your post. Or, in the case of twitter, they can continue to @reply to you or use #tags that refer to you.
If your blog is moderated, this process grinds to a halt. The open and real exchange of ideas that a blog done right promotes is over when your moderate. The openness can be scary.
You need no more proof of the fact that the Union doesn’t get what we’re doing out here than to check out RJ.org. With a few notable exceptions, the RJ.org blog has become more and more of a URJ cheerleader in it’s year and a half of existence.
So, congregations, if you’re listening, the way to get into the conversation out here on the internet fringe isn’t to do what the Union is telling you. The way to do it is to read some blogs. And when you feel like you get it, start your own. Don’t jump in based on URJ advice alone.
Shabbat Shalom to everyone out there in Biennial-land.
Update! Just found RJ Blogs, where they’ll create a blog for you. With WordPress. Very impressive. *eye roll*