Jan 27, 2009

Some Thoughts on the CJ Website Conversation & Moving Forward

Shalom Chevreh,

I believe the energy it would take to get a CJTorah site up is enormous - and worth it.  The ShefaNetwork.org main page is meant to begin that process as well, holding pointers to both the internal ShefaNetwork conversation and to the wider world of Conservative Judaism.  There is a page with collections of Torah commentary from Masorti/Conservative Rabbis, one of synagogue skills, a page with links to online essays by living CJ luminaries, and much more - perhaps finding places to connect is a better use of our energies than recreating everything.  If conservativejudaism.org isn't going to be a place of content but rather a meeting place for the institutional players, that's not bad.  It just isn't sufficient.  Just today, a blog post related to this was written by someone named Sam Gerber at http://gerberblog09.blogspot.com/2009/01/127.html.  I have no idea who this person is, but they wrote, in a post called "Class Reflections" just today:

In evaluating the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism's home on the web, I was surprised that the site doesn't clearly define the group's basis for Jewish identification. I was shocked I could not find where the group defines Judaism, who is Jewish and the principles of Judaism. Under the "About Us" tab, there is information on the bylaws, history and mission statement of the organization, but not on conservative Judaism. Next, I explored the tab Jewish Living, however this only presented information on prayers and Torah study.  Although it didn't touch on this important idea I feel a national Jewish website should have(basic definition of Conservative Judaism), compared to www.reformjudasim.org, I thought the USCJ's website is organized better. Reform Judaism had little information on their site and send the viewer to many other links for information. the UCSJ's site had many different tabs on the top and the left of information. I also liked how you could more easily find a local conservative Synagogue on the UCSJ's site.  Overall, it seems that the Reform site gives more information to a non-partisan viewer, while the UCSJ assumes most people viewing the site are Jewish and most likely Conservative Jews finding information about the parent organization.   I did however find www.shefanetwork.org very helpful for theological information on Conservative Judaism. I was especially impressed with the Audio/Visual Torah section, to see that some in the conservative movement are in tune with the newest technology, and can reach out to even the most tech savvy of us. I think this section would be most popular with the younger population of Jews, as they might not have patience to read the weekly Parsha (that is a whole other topic, today's youth impatience that is), but would listen via a podcast.

So chevreh, I'd put forward a thought: how about visiting shefanetwork.blogspot.com, where the ShefaNetwork blog is waiting for this kind of conversation, and can be discovered by the next online seeker - the more connected Torah we put out there, the better.  Creating newer silos won't move the conversation deeper, it will likely only complicate the breadth of the entry for many.

My best, chevreh, and good luck to us all balancing the needs of our particular community with the global needs around us, which need ever-more tending.

Kol Tuv,

Rabbi Menachem Creditor
-- www.netivotshalom.org
-- www.shefanetwork.org
-- menachemcreditor.org

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