To Tweet or Not to Tweet? – That is the Question

Last Updated on Monday, 11 January 2010 11:40 Written by bryfy Monday, 11 January 2010 11:40

I’m really not sure about the Twitter thing. Facebook – I’m sold on – its value and pervasive presence in every aspect of the world we live in is unquestionable. But Twitter – what’s really happening out there in Twitterland?

I’m sure that by now, all of you Twitter convertees are going to tell me about the Obama campaign and the Iranian revolution  – both of which Tweeters claim was one by shear tweets alone. But for us mere mortals who are not involved in revolutions or presidential campaigns – is Twitter really making a difference? Is it a fad or is it here to say?

And importantly (or at least importantly as this blog is concerned) is Twitter one of those things that Jews and Jewish organizations are rushing to join because everyone warns them that they cant fall further behind in the realm of technology – only to discover that they have no idea why they have joined and what to do once they have got there?

The world of Jewish education (despite recent attempts to talk it up – see JESNA’s Top Ten Jewish education achievements in the last decade) – is, in my opinion, rather stagnant. Few serious dents have been made in shaking up a system that was largely built many decades ago – and yet we still continue to scratch our heads wondering why Jewish youth are not flocking to these archaic institutions.

So, maybe, just maybe, this Twitter thing has the possibility of bring about a sea change, a revolution so to speak, in Jewish education. The call to arms might be led by a few honorable Jewish education tweeters that deserve shout outs – with apologies to those that I have missed out, andin no particular order, have become regulars in the Jewish education hashtags of Twitterville – @IraJWise, @jwoocher, @rfaintich, @shaplev, @shamirpower, @redmenace56, @jlearn20, @Knowledgecomm, @lookstein, @danmedwin, @DarimOnline, barkinj, @mzs, @iriskoller, @dwolkin – and you can always count on @reuw to retweet almost anything. There are also a few extras tweeters coming and going most from programs like #jjff or #NATEseattle but they usually come and go faster than you can type a 140 character message. But the truth is I already know most of these @’s in the real world and if I wanted to I am sure that we could have a much deeper conversation if I sent you an email or even picked up a phone. (Warning: If you do tweet something slightly controversial more Jewish education @’s mysteriously appear – I think they are referred to as “lurkers.”)

If you want a really good discussion on Jewish education then you might be able to catch one on #jed21 – but the truth is even those discussions have become somewhat repetitive (because it’s the same people having them) and well let’s just say that there isn’t all that much happening there that hasn’t already taken place in the “real world”

So here’s my challenge. Rather than dismiss Twitter completely – who knows? It might actually be the biggest revolution in social media since, well, Facebook. So, just in case it is – if you’re a Jewish educator, set up a Twitter account and post to #jed21. Post anything – just so we know that you’re out there. But more importantly let’s see if we can change the world of Jewish education – in 140 characters or less. Yes we can!


  1. Lisa Colton   |  Monday, 11 January 2010 at 12:17 pm

    I appreciate your hesitance and questions here. No, we should not all jump on the bandwagon without thinking how and why we are going to use it, but yes I think this is a great wagon to explore. One of the reasons I find the world of Jewish education somewhat stagnant (your word) is that it’s the same folks in the same silos. Twitter breaks down those silos by encouraging transparency (unless you DM). Thus, while #JED21 (named for Jewish Education in the 21st century) has a core group of participants, each tweet tagged with #JED21 goes to hundreds (if not thousands) of potential participants, which widens the circle, and brings new voices into the conversation. The de-centralized nature of this is what’s new — not everyone can (or should) be invited to a Lippman Kanfer think tank, or can afford to fly to national conferences, or even thinks about Jewish education full time. I for one, did not know all the #jed21-ers prior to twitter, and have found many creative thinkers and risk takers through this hashtag (and #jjff and others). While not the greatest impact on my network and professional development, it is a very high return on my investment of time and energy. And we’ve only scratched the surface of its potential. I’m curious to hear other voices in this 140+ character space!

  2. @lookstein   |  Monday, 11 January 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Thanks for starting this conversation. It does seem like the #jed21 hashtag is limited to a small number of educators. Lisa makes a good point that the #jed21 discussions are broadcasted to a wider audience, but can we do better? What if we encouraged them to share their points of view and expertise? If we want to make this a wider conversation, we have to nurture it. I started making it a point to do a weekly search for Jewish day, Hebrew, religious schools on Twitter and following them. I hope that if they follow me back, the educators in these schools will see the benefits of the conversation and join in. In some cases, that worked. Any other ideas out there?

  3. uberVU - social comments   |  Monday, 11 January 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by barkinj: RT @Bryfy: To Tweet or Not to Tweet? – A challenge put forward to Jewish educators. #jed21 #jewish #jjff…

  4. Ira Wise   |  Monday, 11 January 2010 at 3:45 pm

    At the risk of self-aggrendizement (my @ sign is on the list after all) I have to say kol hakavod. While I have been actively tweeting away since October, I am still not an evangelical tweeter. As far as I am concerned, any web 2.0 tech is all about utility. Is it helping me connect. David, I agree. I also know most of the usal suspects in real time. I also know I am not taking time to call you or @Barkinj or @rfaintich nearly as often as we whisper in one another’s ear. And that is largely what twitter seems to be.

    It is a chance to take that random or not so random thought that I think my friends or colleagues might actually appreciate hearing and articulating it. They don;t care whether I am sticking to my diet or going to the loo (as you and @rabbigurevitz might say).

    But a question about authentic Judaism, a reference to someone’s blog posting (like this one) or sharing something viral like the flashdancemob in Jerusalem by Nefesh b’nefesh (thanks @darimonline and @jlearn20) has been useful and welcome. And the time commitment is variable based on my availability, as is the timing. I often wait until late at night to catch up on twitter.

    Will this medium help me connect to learners? Not there yet. But @ellen987 has used it well to connect to parents. I wrote about it in October It is worth a look.

    Thanks for taking the conversation to the next level. It is useless if we don’t.

  5. Lisa Colton   |  Monday, 11 January 2010 at 4:28 pm

    @lookstein — Great ideas. I love that you’re actively searching to make those connections. @synagogues has made two really useful lists — synagogues and rabbis. I point people to them all the time to a) see examples of what good people are doing, and b) as a starting place to find people to follow who have similar interests. Do we have a definitive list for Jewish ed? Can it be that broad or should we break it down somehow? Who is building it? Who’s responsible for adding to it? Would it be useful for others? On another note, I’d love to put together a webinar with case studies of the most creative/successful/impactful uses of Twitter in Jewish education. Any nominations for the 3 panelists to showcase their work? (examples could include prof dev, classroom, local community building)…

  6. To Tweet or Not to Tweet? – That is the Question |   |  Monday, 11 January 2010 at 8:23 pm

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  7. rf   |  Tuesday, 12 January 2010 at 12:39 am

    I do know that something I tweeted as part of the #jjff feed was picked up by one of my followers (another person on the list above) who then forwarded it via email to some of her colleagues and staff (not on Twitter). So we have to also ask how Twitter is allowing us to reach beyond the TweetDeck (or other app of your choice) even if we don’t always know that impact (in this instance, I happened to find out about the “forward” third hand).

  8. @lookstein   |  Tuesday, 12 January 2010 at 7:14 am

    Lisa, Thx for the tip about @synagogues. I have a list of day schools and BJEs that I try to keep current – Supplementary schools are much harder to keep up with because 1) there are so many 2) should one differentiate between the synagogue/temple and its school. Regarding a webinar – sounds great. @YavnehAcademy does a great job using Twitter to keep parents/grandparents up to date with what their kids are doing in school. It’s what all schools should be doing, but they’re actually doing it.

  9. @remilder   |  Tuesday, 12 January 2010 at 2:39 pm

    I appreciate the call to step into the action, bryfy. For those of us who are new to social media (but not to Jewish education), there’s a sense of stepping into a party that’s already going on. Who are we talking to? What kinds of things are said, or asked, in the room? I’m not yet convinced that even if more of us step into the party that the #jed21 conversations will deepen. It may be that the real conversations about transforming J ed take place on other platforms, and twitter supplies the fodder for discussion, like links to news, blogs, and announcements.

  10. Ira Wise   |  Wednesday, 13 January 2010 at 12:09 pm

    So David, a conversation has been going on for 3 days on twitter. I have the actual text on my blog Most of the participants are your on usual suspects list above. Here is my intro:

    A day or three of tweeting while working! My friend Robin Faintich tweeted in response to my last blog posting about an article in the New York Jewish Week on tutoring. More friends joined in: Josh Barkin, Peter Eckstine, Ellen Dietrick and Ruth Abusch-Magder. I am amazed, but not surprised, by the level of dialogue that can occur in 140-character chunks. The conversation began Monday morning. As I write this it is almost noon on Wednesday and Jonathan Woocher just jumped into the pool. As my wife’s accounting professor at the University of Michigan, Chip Klemstein, once said, “It’s not the miracle of birth, but it is pretty cool!

    I am posting the conversation to date below in order to continue it with you. I am also posting it as a comment to David Bryfman’s blog about the potential value of twitter in Jewish education. David has some very interesting things to say (and he mentions me-check it out mom!). Please continue the conversation with us here on twitter!

    You and I exchanged some e-mails yesterday and I asked if anyone else was listening. I am not sure. But I would love to get more folks talking. I love how twitter can sit in the background or consume me. Some time is wasted, but the resources people share are awesome!

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