Linking-up and clicking at the bloggers' ball

By Michal Levertov, August 28, 2008

The first international Jewish bloggers convention in Jerusalem last week brought together more than 200 participants from Israel and abroad.

The event, organised by aliyah organisation Nefesh B'Nefesh, was intended to give Jewish bloggers - writers of online diaries - a platform for networking, sharing ideas, experience and tips, as well as getting acquainted with the people behind online destinations such as Oleh Girl or My Right Word.

More than 1,000 people who could not get to the conference watched a live feed of the sessions online.
American blogger David, a participant in group-blog Jewlicious, explained at one of the conference's panels that the incentive to create the blog lay in the wish to portray Judaism as "cool".

The Jewlicious team, he said, wanted "to stimulate people to know more, making them come to Israel, make a decision on how to best relate to their Jewishness from a more knowledgeable perspective - not like the guy who came to me asking who's that Hashem guy we're always talking about".

Benji Lovitt, 33, who started his successful blog What War Zone??? a couple of years ago, when he made aliya from Kansas to Tel Aviv, said: "The convention was a brainstorming session on how to do good hasbarah for Israel and spread the good word using the power of the internet."

Mr Lovitt said that many English-language Jewish bloggers, especially olim, started their blogs "as a way to keep in contact with family and friends, and then they came to hasbarah. In my case I already started it as hasbarah." He tried to do so in a humorous, light-hearted manner: "I think that it's the funniest Israeli-related blog in the internet."

Most of the bloggers attending the convention were English-speakers - either from North America, Europe, or new and old olim. Some Israeli bloggers also took part, but the more prominent figures in the Hebrew
blogosphere did not attend the convention.

One of them, Roy Chicky Arad, a poet and editor of the literary periodical Maayan, told the JC that he was glad such a conference had been organised.

"But it passed quietly because the Israeli bloggers' tendency is, perhaps, to achieve a new type of politics. And the entrenchment in the Jewish issue is not something that arouses interest.

"Maybe it's time to initiate a gathering of Israeli and Palestinian bloggers. I have a friend who is a Syrian blogger, and meeting people such as herself would be much more interesting - at least, sexually."

Last updated: 1:30pm, August 28 2008