Torah Tidbit

In this week’s Torah portion Mase’ei, the land is finally apportioned to the tribes of Israel. After wandering, debating and negotiations each of the tribes knows where where in the land either east or west of the Jordan they are getting their portion of land. Numbers 34: 13-29 describes the process by which the land was apportioned. Moses instructs that a chieftain from each tribe is designated to receive the land on behalf of their tribe. In turn each of these men will allot the portion to the families of their tribe.

The JPS Torah Commentary points out that with the exception of Caleb and Joshua who are survivors of the generation who left Egypt, the rest of the list are new names. Each of these leaders is taking the helm of the tribe and for the first time serving as a representative. Yet in the context of the larger narrative this apportioning is seamless with the previous sections on land distribution. To emphasize this link the story of Zelophehad’s daughters that appeared two weeks ago in chapter 27 concludes in this portion in chapter 36.

It is this juxtaposition of changing leadership and continuous communal narrative that piqued my interest. How important it is to retain seamless transition despite changes in leadership. While change is good, here seamless transition is important for stability. The narrative of the daughters of Zelophehad reminds us of the passage of time but also the unity of the story. As we think to our modern institutions the lessons of this Torah portion are important. The ideal is for the new guard to take over without taking steps backward. The text assumes that the knowledge of the apportionment has reached these leaders and that everything will continue as planned. Now while we don’t have God and Moses showing us the ropes, we can take a clue from their book and make sure that we transmit not only responsibility but also the information needed to accomplish the task at hand.

Shabbat Shalom!

Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies

Groundswell book cover

While a host of recent publications have focused on social media (and many of them very useful and worth reading, such as Naked Converastions and The Long Tail), the mere fact that Forrest Research has published this book is a major statement not just for big business, but far beyond.

According to the authors, Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li, the groundswell is a social trend in which people use technologies to get things from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations. The themes, data, strategies and suggestions they present are just as relevant for Jewish life and Jewish organizations as they are for corporations. In this new landscape, we must examine how our organizations can adjust to remain relevant to the consumer or community member, and explore how both the organization and community can benefit from these trends.

Groundswell is a huge help in understanding these questions and deriving useful answers. The book is extremely well organized, and accessible to readers of all sophistications. Part 1 defines a variety of tools (blogs, wikis, social networking, etc.) and their strategic value and practical uses. However the real value of the book is in its second part, Tapping the Groundswell. This four-step planning process is a fantastic tool for any organization that wants to better align itself with this important shift, focusing on People, Objectives, Strategy and (finally) Technology.

Ultimately, the Groundswell is all about relationships. And this is the business we are in. Thus, we cannot ignore the significance of these trends and their implications for the relevance and success (or lack thereof) of our work. The social media tools are just that: tools. They not sufficient, but are increasingly necessary for our continued success in our work. This book will help you understand the tectonic shift taking place, the tools and trends, and the strategies through which you can take part in this excitement and power of the groundswell.

Groundswell is an important, accessible and thorough work, which is valuable to both novice web 2.0 folks as well as those who are more experienced. For more, check out the Groundswell blog.

Have you read the book already? What did you think? What was the most valuable “take away” for you?

Social Media Workshops – Coming to a Federation Near You

I’m going on tour. Though I won’t have a tour bus or a back-up band, I am planning to be speaking at many local professional development events in the coming months. These events range from a hour workshop to a full day seminar. The goal is to answer this question: What Is Social Media, and How Can It Help Me?

The first of the series is part of the Wiener Educational Center’s series at the UJA Federation of New York on September 19, 2008. You can learn more about the event and register on their site.

Watch here for announcements of similar events in other cities which are currently being schedule. Interested in hosting a very valuable professional development event in your community? Give me a holler!

Darim @ CAJE 33: Meet Us in Burlington

The 33rd Annual Conference on Alternatives in Jewish is fast approaching! 1500 Jewish educators are convening at the University of Vermont August 10-14 for a week of learning, sharing, connecting, and schmoozing. Will you be there? We will! Look for Darim staff Lisa Colton, President of Darim, Caren Levine, Director of the Learning Network, and Eve Eichenholtz, our super Darim Graduate Intern.

This years conference includes an extensive track on educational technology, co-chaired by Caren and Debbie Harris. Sessions will focus on helping educators integrate new media into the curriculum to facilitate learning. Blogs, wikis, social networks, virtual worlds, software, web-based Judaic text, online professional development, Internet ethics these are just some of the topics on the menu! Also check out the open lab time and the Bloggers Caf, informal opportunities to play and gain hands-on experience.

Darim is excited to sponsor two sessions at this years conference. Come join us on Monday, August 11 at 10:15am for Exploring Effective and Creative Uses for Web 2.0 Tools in Congregational Education Middle and High School Focus and be prepared to share ideas, projects, visions, challenges. Later that day we will be welcoming our first cohort of the Darim Online Learning Network for Educators at a private kick-off. We cant wait to meet representatives of this incredibly talented group of middle school and high school congregational educators!

Lisa and Caren are also involved with JESNAs Lippman Kanfer Institutes new initiative, JEd3.0, which will be hosting a working reception on Tuesday, August 12, 4:45pm all are welcome to come by to learn about this project and participate in its development. Caren and Lisa will also be presenting sessions at CAJE highlighting their work and issues related to educational technology.

More information about CAJE, including a link to the conference program, can be found here.

Tip: Adding a PowerPoint slideshow to your site

Do you have a large PowerPoint presentation you’d like to share with your website visitors? SlideShare makes it easy to do so! Your visitors can easily view the entire slideshow (maximum file size of 50mb) just as you see it on your computer.

The presentation on your website looks great; rather than load PDFs that require someone to click a link and then wait for the PDF to load, the slideshow immediately presents the first page of your presentation. This graphical presentation will attract more viewers and is also a way to break up some text on your page. Click here to see an example of a PowerPoint presentation from the Darim Demo Site.

Here are the basic “How To’s” for Darim websites: load your PowerPoint Presentation onto SlideShare. You can choose to make it public or private, but be sure to Edit Your Profile and select “Allow Embedding Outside SlideShare”. You then copy the code they provide and paste that into the Source section in the Darim Admin.

If you’d like more information on how to load a SlideShare/PowerPoint presentation onto your Darim website, email: [email protected].

How about an FAQ for your site?

Have you considered adding a page or section to your website with a list of the most Frequently Asked

Questions you receive? This could make it much easier for your website visitors to find the information they’re looking for, which will increase your site’s value as an important resource. An FAQ page might also reduce the number of phone calls you receive. Topics to be included could be office hours, service times, directions, and/or attire for services.

Even if all of the information that would be included in your FAQ appears elsewhere on your site, it might be a good idea to gather them together in one place. Some of the Darim sites that offer an FAQ page find that it is one of the most visited pages on the site!

Here are a couple of examples of FAQ pages:

Beth Torah – Overland Park Kansas

Shaarey Zedek – Metro Detroit

How To Use This Site

Shalom and welcome to JewPoint0, the Darim Online blog. Were happy youre here! Here is an overview of how to use this blog:

What is a Post?

A blog is made up of a series/collection of posts listed chronologically with the most recent entry (post) at the top. Each single unit of writing that usually contains a title, maybe a photo, and some text is considered a post. Posts are written by Darim staff and guest bloggers. Comments on the posts (see below) can be added by anyone.

How do I add a Comment?

We want to hear from you and talk with you! Anyone can add a comment, you dont have to be registered, nor do you have to use your real name. To add a comment, click on the word comment or comments at the top right of each post. Any previous comments will be displayed and a text box appears where you can type your comment. At the left, you will need to enter your name and your email address (this will not be available to anyone else or displayed on the blog anywhere). Before you click Submit Comment you may want to proofread your comment as it is not editable.

Our comments are moderated, which means they need to be approved before they will appear on the site. We do this mainly to block SPAM and also to insure that comments are appropriate and do not violate our commenting policies. Please scroll down to the bottom of this page to view our Commenting Guidelines before you submit your comments.

What is Subscribe to Feed?

By subscribing to the Feed you will be notified, via an RSS Reader, when the blog has been updated. By subscribing to a feed you wont have to check the blog randomly; every time theres a new post, youll be notified.

What’s a Tag and a Tag Cloud?

A tag is a keyword used in association with the content for a post. For instance, in a Post about videos, the tags may be: YouTube, Vimeo, video. When you click on a tag, you will see all posts related to that tag keyword.

A tag cloud is visual that shows the keywords used on a blog and how often they are used. The most common tags are larger than the others. Selecting a tag within the cloud will lead to a results page showing entries associated with that tag.

What is a Category?

This is a method of organizing blog entries by assigning each entry to a predetermined topic. Each topic (category) will link to a list of entries, all with related content. When you click on a category name, you will be able to view all posts within that category. Some categories here on Jew.0 are Nuggets, Tech Tips, and Book Reviews.

Whats the Blogroll?

These are links to other blogs that we like and recommend. Check them out!

Jew.0s Comment/Commenter Guidelines:

The overall theme for our commenter guidelines is very simple: Be Friendly. Respect Others. Darim believes in the living room theory regarding comments; as if you are visiting someone’s home, e.g. sitting in their living room having a discussion. In essence our guideline follows the same practice as it does in our homes:

If you are a guest in my home and are rude to me or my other guests, I will ask you to be more polite. If you do not comply, I will force you to leave and you will not be allowed back in.

Basic guidelines:

  • No personal attacks, abusive or foul language. We will not moderate legitimate views being expressed but pornography, obscenity, racism, anti-Semitism, bigotry, harassment, personal attacks or the promotion of hate will not be permitted.
  • No solicitation. Its fine to link to other blogs or news articles, but please do not add a comment about selling something, trading something, or to promote a site or blog that is selling something.
  • Do not post trademarks or copyrighted material
  • Please use Netiquette (do not type in all caps, write complete sentences, limit use of abbreviations) when possible

Darim Onlines Statement of Liability and Users Agreement:

We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any comments on this blog, and are not responsible for the contents of any comment. The messages express the views of the author of the comment, not necessarily the views of Darim Online or any entity associated with Darim. Any user who feels that a posted message is objectionable is encouraged to contact us immediately by email. We have the ability to remove objectionable comments and we will make every effort to do so, within a reasonable time frame, if we determine that removal is necessary. This is a manual process, however, so please realize that we may not be able to remove or edit particular comments immediately. You agree, through your use of this blog, that you will not use this blog to post any material which is knowingly false and/or defamatory, inaccurate, abusive, vulgar, hateful, harassing, obscene, profane, sexually oriented, threatening, invasive of a person’s privacy, or otherwise violative of any law. You agree not to post any copyrighted material unless the copyrighted material is owned by you. We reserve the right to delete any message for any reason whatsoever. You remain solely responsible for the content of your comments, and you agree to indemnify and hold us harmless with respect to any claim based upon transmission of your message(s). We reserve the right to reveal your identity (or whatever information we know about you) in the event of a complaint or legal action arising from any message posted by you.


Launched in August, 2008, JewPoint0 is the blog of Darim Online, a non profit organization dedicated to helping Jewish organizations make the most of available internet technologies. We believe these tools are essential for doing the important work in our community and beyond, including community building, education, fundraising, social action and more, and JewPoint0 is an opportunity for us to share useful nuggets that surface from both our work and personal lives. It is intended to be a resource for the community to learn, be inspired, find useful models, share their work, and connect with others. Darim believes strongly in knowledge sharing as we can all help educate and inspire each other in our work. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel, and lots of reasons to encourage experimentation, (calculated) risk taking, and sharing both what works well and not so well so we can all learn and flourish together. To learn more about Darim Online and our programs, visit our web site.

Volunteer Engagement — Core Competencies for Establishing a Culture

Organizational support:
• Resource allocation for volunteers includes budget, tools, staffing, recognition and space
• Volunteer engagement is considered a key component in strategic planning and goal setting
• The board has developed a philosophy statement about volunteer engagement that demonstrates commitment to volunteerism
• The ability to work effectively with volunteers is a criterion for employment for the synagogue and staff are held accountable for their work with volunteers

Needs Assessment:
• Volunteer participation is factored into every facet of congregational life from the top down and the bottom up
• Position descriptions for volunteers aim at fulfillment of the synagogue’s mission
• Volunteer assignments are designed to assist staff with the day to day operations as well as fulfill the synagogues dream list

Interviewing and Placement:
• Prospective volunteers are matched with assignments that are right for them and right for the synagogue
• Volunteers are screened based on the level of risk of the assignment
• New members are encouraged to volunteer as a means to establishing themselves in the synagogue community
• Volunteers have the flexibility to change assignments from time to time
• Career ladders for volunteers that provide increasing responsibilities are available to develop potential board members from the plan from the volunteer pool

• Resources such as space and equipment are allocated to volunteers ass needed
• The synagogue budget reflects the costs involved in effective volunteer engagement including recruitment, training, retention and recognition
• All volunteers are oriented to policies and procedures that are relevant to their assignment
• Each volunteer receives training based on the level of responsibility of his or her assignment

Effective Recruitment:
• Each volunteer position has a recruiting plan
• The synagogue’s member database includes information on the skills and talents members are willing to share
• Recruitment is personalized and existing volunteers are considered the best recruitment resource
• All synagogue collateral materials (brochures, flyers, newsletters, invitations, bulletin boards, and website) include information on volunteering

Supervision and Support:
• Every volunteer receives support based on the level of responsibility required in the volunteer assignment
• Volunteers are held accountable for the work that they do
• Volunteer work is regularly evaluated for efficacy and impact on the synagogue

Retention Strategies:
• Volunteers receive both formal and informal recognition for the work that they do
• Volunteer successes are celebrated and documented
• Volunteers have flexibility in what they do and where they do it
• Volunteers are encouraged to volunteer in different areas of the synagogue
• A volunteer benefit package has been developed

Copyright © 2005 by STAR (Synagogues: Transformation and Renewal) and republished with permission.