As this blog has grown in leaps and bounds over the past three months, I think it’s a good time to step back and get some focus.
A lot of what I have to say here arises, to a great extent, out of the numerous private e-mails we have received and, to a lesser extent, from some of the comments here on the blog.
Administering a blog of this sort is a lot more difficult than it may seem. Mark bears the brunt of that load and for that we are all (especially me) thankful. Administering this blog is kind of like juggling. On a tightrope. In the rain. On one foot. With a piano on your back. Without a net. And that’s on a good day!
What do I mean? (I was hoping you would ask that). There is so much balancing to be done, so much to be weighed and with such risk. We have been taken to task for being, at turns, too heavyhanded, too permissive, too cautious, not cautious enough, kowtowing to the “powers that be” and “rocking the boat”. We have even been called out for linking to a site that linked to another site that had an objectionable post. One of our more prominent commentors summed it up in an email as follows: “Quite a balancing task, this blog. You want to be open to be mechazek yeshivish BTs, MO BTs, perspective BTs, halfway there BTs…”
In the very first post on the blog Mark wrote “We’re here to discuss issues of common interest to Baalei Teshuva and to help Baalei Teshuva from around the world connect and strengthen one another.” In the short span of the blog I believe we have begun to achieve that. We have created a place where BTs can come to for advice, for community, for support and, yes, for constructive criticism. In doing so we have invited contributors with varying backgrounds and outlooks all of whom fall under this rather large umbrella we call Torah Observant Jewry. While the blog’s initial target audience was those who have been BTs for many years, our readers, commentors and contributors have expanded to include new BTs, parents of BTs, FFBs and Jews that don’t affiliate with Torah Observant Jewry.
As the demographic of our readership has expanded, we believe that our collective sensitivities to our fellow readers, commentors and contributors must expand as well. Since we have found this to be impossible, we will be shutting down the blog effective today. Kidding, I’m kidding. In order to foster the growth of the blog and our individual growth as Jews, I am selecting a few points to focus upon when commenting.
BTs, FFBs and other classifications.
Not everybody fits neatly into the common classifications generally bandied about in conversation and on the web. In my opinion, that is a good thing. In practical terms, that means not judging a person by the group to which you think they belong and not judging the group as a whole.
There are many paths to teshuva.
People are coming from different places and are taking different paths to get where they are going. The fact that you approached teshuva from a specific path doesn’t make someone else’s path improper. In that regard, while your advice and input gained from your road to teshuva is important, it is also important to realize that what worked or works for you is not necessarily what will work for others.
The written word is not the spoken word.
There is a world of difference between what is written and what is spoken. That difference goes both ways. On the one hand, the written word is generally given more thought and precision than the spoken word. It can (and perhaps should) be reviewed before pressing the “send” button. On the other hand, the written word often lacks the nuance of the spoken word. Since it lacks inflection and emphasis, the written word is often more easily misconstrued than the spoken word. We even need to add little smiley faces to ensure that others realize we are joking. :) In my opinion, these factors should be kept in mind in order to increase the clarity of the message and avoid unintended offense. A good rule of thumb is the old phrase: Don’t write anything you wouldn’t say to someone’s face.
These are just a few ideas that I think will allow us to make our little slice of the Jewish blogosphere more constructive and conducive to growth. Any other ideas?