Facebook Is Not a Waste of Time

About four months ago, I signed up for Facebook. Several of my younger friends in the Jewish communal world had been clamoring for me to join. They had “tagged” photos of me in their profiles, whatever that meant. I was skeptical. I’d spent some time on MySpace. It was a disorganized mess. I had set up a profile there months before, never checked it again, and continued to receive friend requests from people with names like “Suzi” and “Candy.” Would Facebook be any better?

Ultimately, it wasn’t the clamor of friends that led me to enlist. It was work. IFF was, and is, considering doing something with online social networking. Having not been involved in any social networks up to that point–and being the youngest person in the office–I needed to get up to speed. Alongside Facebook, I signed up for Yelp! and Shoutlife, a Christian social network. I never look at my Yelp! page and plan to shut down my Shoutlife profile, but I’ve checked my Facebook homepage every day for at least the last two months. My name is Micah, and I am a Facebook junkie.

Facebook may have sapped some of my productivity at work (sorry, Ed), but it does have its benefits. A week or so ago, I started a group, Friends of InterfaithFamily.com, and we’re up to 21 members. And today, in my friends feed–which lists updates to any of your friend’s profiles–was the news that Andi Rosenthal, one of our best writers, had joined a group called Conversion to Judaism Resource Group. If you’re on Facebook and a convert, or considering conversion, it’s a pretty active resource. But scrolling through the discussion board turned me onto a terrific new blog called Jews by Choice. This group blog written by, and for, converts, is updated on a daily basis. It’s home to the kinds of discussions that most born Jews never think about: How expensive are Tefillin? Is it OK to attend a life cycle event at your synagogue even if you don’t know the congregants involved well? How does one do Shabbat? In responding to these questions, the site is a great information source for both Jews-by-choice and Jews who feel bashful to admit what they don’t know.

So, yes, Facebook has its uses. (Although like all junkies, I may just be in denial.)

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5 thoughts on “Facebook Is Not a Waste of Time

  1. Hey Micah
    Thanks for the mention and I’m glad that you like our blog!

    PS a while back we added InterfaithFamily.com to our links section. Would you be willing to add us to your links (if you have them) or maybe your resources (again if you have them).

    Oh and one last thing whats the difference between you guys and the JOI people? I’m sure there must be a difference, but I haven’t figured it out yet.

  2. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I added you to our Blogroll as soon as I found your site.

    As for the differences between us and JOI, basically, we’re focused on the intermarried where JOI is focused on all unaffiliated or marginalized groups in the Jewish community: gays, singles, the intermarried, etc. Also, they work with Jewish organizations to train them to do outreach, while we are more grass-roots, with intermarried individuals forming the bulk of our contributors and readers.

  3. Hi Micah

    Thanks I did notice about the linkage, thanks!!!!!

    Also thanks for clarifying the differences between you guy’s and JOI.

    Are doing doing in stuff with self-indetified conservative Jews or CJ institutions (although I know you mentioned being more grass roots)? Just curious.

  4. We certainly don’t shun Conservative Jews, if that’s what you mean. The affiliated Jews that visit and write for our site tend to be Reform, but that’s due to the Reform movement’s welcoming approach to the intermarried rather than any bias on our part. We welcome Conservative Jews to contribute and visit, and work with some progressive leaders in the Conservative movement–such as Rabbi Chuck Simon, executive director of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Club, and Rabbi Braham David, head of the Boston-based Jewish Discovery Institute–to promote outreach to the intermarried. Obviously, the Conservative movement has particular sensitivities (such as its hardline stance on rabbinic officiation at intermarriages), and we don’t ask or expect the movement to rapidly make radical changes. We’re interested in practical, feasible change–change that simultaneously serves the intermarried, addresses the needs and comfort level of the Conservative rank-and-file and is acceptable to a significant number of the movement’s rabbis.

  5. Hi Micah:

    Thanks for sharing the above with me. To be honest I’m not surprised that most of the people (Affiliated Jews as you put it) are Reform, for the same reasons as you have mentioned above. I myself am a Reform convert, however now self-identify as a Conservative Jew. I asked my question more or less out of a sense of denominational Curiosity. Anyhow your last post “Unsilencing the Intermarried” maybe be a sign of things opening up, which might be a good thing IMO. Anyhow, we should probably be doing more on the topic (of intermarriage) over at http://www.JewsByChoice.org because three of our contributors are intermarried and I’m sure some of our regular readers are as well.

    Oh and on that note, if there is ever anything we can do for you fine people, please just let us know,

    Thanks again for the reply.

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