August 21, 2008

Haveil Havalim & The JBlogger Conference

Many of you know that I was supposed to attend the Nefesh B’Nefesh International Jewish Bloggers Conference in Jerusalem. Unfortunately due to circumstances beyond my control I was forced to back out at the last minute, and I do mean the last minute.

Much has been written about the conference. Jewlicious has a roundup of the roundup that is worth taking a look at. I may provide my own feedback in a separate post, but for now I'd like to focus on a few comments made by Rabbi Gil Student of the Hirhurim blog.

I don't have a clear transcript so this is going off of what was seen in the feed, which means it may be off a bit.

The good rabbi said that he does not like Haveil Havalim because he is uncomfortable with some of what is presented within. Presumably he doesn't want to appear to be endorsing positions that he disagrees with

For those who are unfamiliar, Haveil Havalim is the Jewish/Israeli Blog carnival. It is a weekly roundup of posts from the Jewish/Israeli Blogosphere. I am the administrator for said carnival, having taken over the post from the founder Soccer Dad. You can find recent examples of Haveil Havalim by clicking here.

That is not entirely unreasonable. One shouldn't be forced to pretend to agree with positions that he/she finds disagreeable, especially if you are looking at issues that are not classified as being benign.

So you might ask what the official position is for submissions to Haveil Havalim. That is simple. If it is anti-semitic or anti-Israel it is banned. The hosts have latitude to ban submissions that fall into these categories and frankly can bounce other posts that they find to be offensive.

However I strongly encourage them to construct a carnival that is not limited solely to their own perspective. Legitimate criticism of Israel is welcome also welcome, provided that it is legitimate.

While I respect Rav Student's belief, I have a problem with his boycott. Maybe it is because I am a believer in the Marketplace of Ideas or maybe it is because I have long enjoyed challenging my own. But I think that it is a mistake on his part to do this.

If your beliefs are strong and based upon logical and rational thought then they should hold up to being challenged. They shouldn't just crumble because you see/hear an opposing view. Much as I hate to admit this, I learned long ago that I am not always right. I am wrong more often than I'd like to admit.

The second part of my disagreement with him is based upon his assertion that we are not part of a community. I disagree. We're part of the JBlogosphere, we are all Jews. Now I won't get into a discussion about Halacha or how we should act as Jews. That is a separate discussion that will never end.

I suppose that one could try and define the Jblogosphere a bit. We could spend more time trying to determine what you have to blog about to be a member. Maybe it is as simple as saying that if you sometimes blog about being Jewish and or Israel you're part of it.

I don't know, have to think about it.

But if you'll forgive me for sounding like a fearmonger, this I am sure of. The people who hate Jews will not distinguish between those who are Torah observant and those who aren't. It doesn't matter if you are an FFB who fell off of the derech, a BT, a ger, Conservative, Reform, whatever. Jewish blood is Jewish blood and those who hate us do not discriminate based upon how we think of ourselves.

16 comments:

SuperRaizy said...

Agreed. The whole point of blogging is to speak your mind, share your ideas, and learn from other people's ideas. I don't want to have a conversation with 10 other people who think exactly the way that I do. What's the point of that?

Another meshugannah mommy said...

I have to say - I think he is entitled to his opinion, but I heartly disagree. Can't one host a blog carnival and still make one's own opinion perfectly clear? Communities can consist of differing viewpoints.

Tzvee said...

gil is the one way outside of the mainstream of the community. you get it. keep up the good work.

Phyllis Sommer said...

hear hear! i agree with you wholeheartedly. i think we don't necessarily have to define "j-blogger" more clearly, we just have to self-identify and agree to get along...enough to create a weekly carnival of ideas. perhaps it's the best thing there is for the world jewish community -- if we can all get along online, maybe that's a good step toward jewish unity irl.

Batya said...

Jack, I brought up the point of carnivals and had to activate Steve's promise to allow me to use the discussion, since the moderator kept ignoring me. ther's more in my my post about the conference.

I was very surprised by Gil's responses to some of the questions. He totally denied that we jbloggers are a community and insisted that blogging is "just a hobby." Well, it's my hobby, too, and just like I network with others who crochet, I network with other bloggers. What was he doing taking a free trip to Israel for a major jblogging networking session if he doesn't consider himself part of our community?

Back to the jblog carnivals, I asked the "biggees" to just post that there is a carnival, so that more people will read them and maybe visit new blogs. I didn't ask them to host carnivals, not that I would mind, but a quick post saying: "Read the latest HH or KCC or JPIX," with appropriate links would be nice.

I had to be prompted to even mention my own blogs, putting a lie to the nasty comments about me on some blogs.

PS we have another more serious problem. BC is down.

hadassahsabo said...

i love the different points of view - what would be the fun if we all blogged the same, thought the same? there would be just one blog - we each bring our own perspective to the JBlogosphere - and we are a community. cant make a good argument against that.

Blog On, dude.

Baila said...

I agree with what you are saying and I like to hear and interact with all points of view. But what I think the Rabbi was saying was that because he is religious there is some content he doesn't want to be associated with or refer others to--posts that may have more adult-type content or foul language. I think that's okay if that's his opinion, but I don't really understand why someone like that would be asked to be on the panel. I guess it's all part of the democratic process.

I was very dissappointed that you didn't make it. There was another Jack there and I introduced myself to him, but he looked blankly at me and said, "sorry, I'm not THAT Jack".

G-d willing, next year.

Jack said...

SR,

I hear you.

AMM,

Communities that only adhere to one perspective are usually called cults.

Tzvee,

All we can do is try. He does good work, I just don't agree with all of it.

Phyllis,

Unity is important. It is a goal worth striving for.

Hi Batya,

I'll have to go take a look.

Hadassah,

It is those different perspectives that I am interested in.

Hi Baila,

That is pretty funny. I hope that my namesake was a nice guy.

Jack said...

SR,

I hear you.

AMM,

Communities that only adhere to one perspective are usually called cults.

Tzvee,

All we can do is try. He does good work, I just don't agree with all of it.

Phyllis,

Unity is important. It is a goal worth striving for.

Hi Batya,

I'll have to go take a look.

Hadassah,

It is those different perspectives that I am interested in.

Hi Baila,

That is pretty funny. I hope that my namesake was a nice guy.

Leora said...

Jack, I read your post late last night, when it was commentless. I'm glad I waited until some of the Jbloggers had their say.

Rabbi Gil Student sounds like a young version of some of the people I knew growing up. Actually, he was *taught* by some of the people I knew growing up. This group is extremely knowledgeable about Judaism; however, I'm afraid it's also "anyone to left of me is an apikorus, anyone to the right of me is a heretic." So we can learn from them, but one has to scream to get them to listen to us. Sigh.

Leora said...

Correction:
"anyone to left of me is an apikorus, anyone to the right of me is a FANATIC."

Interesting little slip on my part.

orieyenta said...

I found his feelings on Haveil Havalim interesting. When reading them at whoever's site is hosting them, not once have I ever thought that the views of the posts listed were the views of the host. I just viewed it as a nice summary of posts that happened during the week that might be of interest to me.

As for the whole community thing - I obviously disagree about that as well. Where I live there is not much of a Jewish community. The Jewish community I have met through my blog has only helped me to further my level and my love of Judaism - be it from discussions of Jewish issues, a simple Shabbat Shalom, sharing stories about raising Jewish kids in a non-Jewish community, many offers to share Shabbat in so many different states and countries, etc. If that isn't community, I don't know what is.

Jack said...

"anyone to left of me is an apikorus, anyone to the right of me is a FANATIC."

That is a pretty good description of people in general. I think that we all like to feel like we are the posterchild for normal life.

Orie,

Good to see that you picked the right side of the fence. We most certainly are part of a community.

Communities do not have to be composed of people who agree on every point, diversity is ok.

JoeSettler said...

We missed you Jack!

westbankmama said...

Sorry not to see you Jack!

Jack said...

Joe,

It was very disappointing not to get to hang out with everyone.

WBM,

Me too.