Jan 25, 2010

Q&A: With my Readers!

Okay, so you guys are really good at these Q&A posts, and although I might not respond to every little thing every single one of you says, believe me, I'm absorbing it all and processing it, too! (Believe me, I'm going to respond to posts on my family/conversion/chaos post, it's just going to take me a little bit of time.)

But because you're all so good at answering questions, and because I value your opinions so much, I have a new question for you, which relates to a few panels I'm going to take part in over the coming months. Are you ready?

What has Twitter, Blogging, or other Social Media (that is, Web 2.0) done for your Judaism (or other religious/spiritual experiences)? Has it brightened it? Made it more dark? Connected you to people, or broken friendships? How has Judaism 2.0 effected (yes, as in changed) your life?

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

for me having debates and discussions on blogs helped me give up belief in Judaism and eventually observance.

Dunking Rachel said...

Web 2.0….social media, blogging (not loving the twitter…not enough time in my life for that! Lol) has made it possible for me to share experiences, find others who are going through similar processes that in a single community I would not be able to find. There is a woman in my synagogue who converted many, many years ago, her name is Mary.. she is the only other visible Jew by Choice in this synagogue. (I think there might be others but they are in the closet!) What my involvement in web 2.0 endeavors has given me is a broad-spectrum exposure to the world of Judaism through a medium that emphasizes the personal. It is this very personalization, which makes it such a tangible and engaging medium.
At times I do believe my interest in such media opens me up to issues, concerns and controversies that I wouldn’t know about through my own community. This could be both positive and negative, but over all I believe it has expanded my understanding of the faith I have chosen, helped me find comrades on the path and ultimately it has helped me define my spirituality by exposing me to the wider Jewish world. More concretely I can see different practices, levels of observance, complaints, etc…all of which helps me to polish my own beliefs and understanding the larger Jewish World that I have chosen….

Daniel Saunders said...

It's been a mixed experience for me. I have come in contact with more Torah ideas, especially more Modern Orthodox ideas, which is good (Modern Orthodoxy not being so strong in the UK), but I have also come in contact with more heterodox ideas. I did know about the Documentary Hypothesis before blogging, but it did not feature so much in my thoughts. Still, on the whole I think knowledge is better than ignorance, despite the doubts created.

As for connecting with people, I think blogging has not been very good for me. I have tried to make friends through Jewish blogging, but have not really succeeded (in contrast I have made one or two of friends through secular blogging and re-established contact with a couple of people I had lost contact with).

shavuatov said...

It has been an absolute bonus for me. I have connected with people I wouldn't have otherwise met, been given guidance, advice, support that I may have found more difficult to obtain and learned about other walks of Jewish life in a way that I would have found extremely difficult otherwise.

Of course, blogging does expose you to unwanted attention (yes, let's call it anti-semitism), but the positive experience has so far outweighed any negatives that I barely give the 'bad side' the time of day.

I'm also beginning to realise that I have a lot to offer other people just starting out on their own path, which is a great feeling. Plus blogging has helped me hone my writing skills too - an unexpected benefit that I barely thought about when I published my first post!

It's all good.

Melissa said...

For me, I've received a lot more than I've given to the world in terms of sharing the Jewish experience via Web 2.0. I admire and appreciate others' ability to share their stories so honestly and eloquently. I know we all keep many aspects of our lives private, but I haven't found a network of people I felt I could open up to and share my own experiences the way you and others have. I haven't blogged much in the way of Jewish living since I converted (Conservative) 2 years ago.

That said, I derive tremendous benefit from Jewish blogging, Twitter, etc. I've learned a lot about different Jewish communities and observances (particularly among the Orthodox) as an outsider peering in. Following Jewish bloggers and Twitter reminds me to keep my own rhythm of the week and stay away from the computer during Shabbat. I am heartened by stories from the mikvah. I nod in agreement and am inspired when I read about the challenges of keeping kosher out in the world, while yearning for the opportunity to share more leisurely Shabbat meals at home with friends and family. This may sound silly, but there's something to be said for feeling like a part of a community, even from a distance, when you practice the same behaviors.

So, for me, Jewish Web 2.0 serves as a surrogate community, but one where I feel safe because I don't have to answer questions about my own provenance or observances the way I would in person. I suppose the anonymity of the Internet provides a safe haven for the timid and growing. It's not the same as the relationships you share in "real life" (though I know some great people from shul, they're much older and/or have a different level of observance than I wish I could have).

If nothing else, these social networks provide a medium for learning through shared experience, and a chance to reach out and in some small way connect to klal yisrael.

Melissa_O said...

I think social networks, especially blogs have made me reevaluate my level of observance. I am so grateful for blogs like yours!

Tamar Halivni said...

Not to be a grammar maven, but you would have to say "effected change" and not simply "effected." I'm quoting from the CMS on this one. In one of your previous posts, it's also "whet" an appetite. Not "wet" an appetite, although "wetting" an appetite seems perfectly logical. I thought that as an editor you might appreciate these corrections.

Chaviva said...

@Anon Seriously? Given UP? That's so sad to hear. If anything, I've heard the opposite. Maybe I can change your mind a bit? :)

@DunkingRachel That's interesting. In my community, there are a lot of converts, and most of them are known to the greater community. I suppose it depends on the community, the "hidden"-ness of the converts themselves, and the warmth and welcoming of the community. Luckily, for people -- no matter where in the world -- Web 2.0 offers outlets that can help encourage and supplement what we do and learn in our own communities.

@Daniel JEDP!? I don't buy into it so much anymore. As an academic, there are too many holes in it for my liking. I'd be curious to hear what you've learned on the web or what your experiences have led you to understand.

@Rachel Love your response! Isn't it amazing how much stock other people put in our stories and sentiments about Judaism? It's empowering, and I think it also helps us -- the bloggers who feel this way -- to continue growing and enhancing our connection to the Divine and the greater Jewish global community!

@Melissa I think finding that network of individuals you can open up with is important. I've got some great friends on the web, whom I've subsequently met in person and spent Shabbos with, too! I think these connections have been almost more powerful than the in-person relationships I have because I've gotten to know these people over time, and in most cases, they've been able to read my writing -- which is by far more eloquent than my speech, I think -- before hearing me talk. The great thing about this? They know my story, they don't ask unnecessary questions, and they can start conversations about things as if we've known each other for years. So, you know, if you need anyone to confide in about anything, let me know. I might not always be quick on email responses (especially the doozies), but I am here to lend an ear.

@Melissa_O I hope that's a good kind of reevaluate! Although, I suppose "good" also is relative :)

@Tamar Thanks for your comment. Every editor needs an editor, and I'm guilty of not editing my own stuff -- ever! As for effected, it means, among its many definitions to "influence." I used it in this manner. Has Web 2.0 "influenced" your life in any way, be it positive or negative. In this manner, you can use it with or without. At least, that's how I learned it during my days of editing training in J-School. I'm not a fan of CMS, but that's probably because I grew up on the AP Stylebook. As for whet/wet, I agree that "whet your appetite" is the appropriate phrase. I said "wet your palette," so I'm not sure if "whet" is the necessary RULE in all cases. In fact, "wet your whistle" is older in use than "whet your appetite." So, for the middle of "whet/wet your palette," I'm unsure if it really matters whether it's "wet" or "whet," because it's not a typical, accepted popular phrase.

I'm a geek.

Anonymous said...

yes, seriously. I was already on the way out, but having a blogging community helped me work out some of the issues. i mostly stopped believing in the Jewish dogmas before blogs existed. Blogging was very helpful to me. Without the blogging community I would have felt alone. That would have been sad. I'm not sure how you can "help", since I'm doing fine as far as I can tell. But if you want, I can help you drop observance. free of charge :)

Chaviva said...

@Anon Lol. Help all you want, but I guarantee you my ways won't be changed. I'm a believer and a doer. I used to be a non-believer and a non-doer. Oh the times have changed :) Maybe I'll indirectly help ... I'd like to know what drove you away or what it was that broke the camel's back.

Anonymous said...

Chaviva, There wasn't a single thing or event that happened that drove me away. Basically, after years of learning in yeshiva, I decided to objectively analyze my faith to see if it was valid. After much introspection and thought, I realized that the main reason I believed was because I happened to be born into an orthodox Jewish family and was taught to believe since I was born. I saw no real good reasons to believe it was true independent of my personal bias. Without any reasons to believe, I simply stopped believing. Observance (orthodox style) without belief is tedious and hard, so I stopped observing.

I'm curious what makes you so sure it is true? I'm sure you gave it a lot of thought and looked deeply into it

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