The Power of an Invitation

Uber and AirBNB are proving the power and opportunity of a bottom-up model of organizing.  Empowered with technology, their own creativity and initiative, people today are less reliant on institutions than ever to achieve their own needs.  At the same time, smart platforms are critical for activating their curiosity and motivation.

So too in the Jewish community. We are beginning to see the shift in the market, and the emergence of new platforms to help people self-organize and build Jewish community and meaning.  While this brave new world may feel scary to organizational leaders, in my book it's a very healthy sign.  The question is, how are we as a field adapting to this new "economy"?

The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and Steven Price have been following these trends, and are re-energizing a very traditional idea: The Book Club.  Together, we've been asking ourselves, "How can we get more people developing deeper, more meaningful relationships, building Jewish community, and feeding their intellectual and spiritual curiosities together?"

Our research showed that the vast majority of people who aren’t currently in a book club, Rosh Chodesh group or another similar club are overwhelmingly interested in being part of such an experience.  Their primary reason for not yet being in a club?  No one has invited them.

Thus, we've designed Gather to find and empower initiators to start new groups, and invite others to join them.  It doesn’t mean they have to be the ongoing leader — they are simply the initiator.   There's no long term commitment, no expectations of what your group will be, no prescribed content. But we do have ideas, suggestions, discussion guides, and a concierge ready to help answer any questions. Gather is a platform to help those curious about Jewish learning and community to launch new group (with friends, acquaintances, family and/or new contacts) to build and strengthen relationships, and to engage in discussion around Jewish content and values.

We're just launching our beta phase, and we're inviting (see — get the theme here?) members of the Darim network to take it for a spin.  You can start a new Gathering yourself, and/or you can invite your own network to start their own groups.  Gather is a tool that can help places like synagogues and schools become more connected (and educated and engaged) communities, so it's an easy and powerful platform to help organizations dip their toe into the self-organizing, platform model that is such a powerful approach in today's culture.

Anyone can start a club, and any community can have multiple. For example, a dad with kids in the early childhood program might want to start a dads club, or maybe families with post-b’nai mitzvah teens might want to start a parent/child social justice book club.  Maybe 20-somethings want to get together to cook out of the Jerusalem and Zahav cookbooks, or members of your LGBTQ community want to get together more regularly in addition to Pride Shabbat.

Consider this your invitation — we would love for you to consider using Gather to engage with and support your community, and if you’re interested, help you plan the next steps. If you want to share with your community, we’re happy to create customized pages that promote the content that aligns most closely with your mission and goals, and the interests of your audiences (e.g. culture, cooking, music, Jewish classics like Buber and Heschel, etc.), and give you a link which will track participation from your network (and we're happy to share data with you).

Ultimately, we hope that these initiators become the leaders in your own community, and help to engage their peers in your mission and programs too. 

We know the power of an invitation is profound.  Who will you invite?

Want to take it for a spin?  Click here to see how simple it is to start your own Gathering. Want to invite your own community or network to initiate Gatherings? Feel free!  If you want your own link to track adoption, just drop Elyse Kort, Gather Project Director, a note.

Monday Web Favorites: A JewPoint0 2013 Retrospective

As 2013 winds down, I found myself poring over past JewPoint0 blog posts. A LOT of stories, insightful moments, cool tools, and practical wisdom has been handed down in these pages. I thought I'd take a moment to share some of my favorites from the year that's passed…

  • Four Lessons for Maturing Your Social Media Practice: Evidence from the Jewish Day School Social Media Academy – All of our social media academy and boot camp participants share amazing moments, and it's tough to choose one or two to highlight…so here's a post that brings you some great moments from not one, not two, but ten different institutions. What a bargain, eh? One of my favorite take-aways from this post is the idea that social media is about people, not technology. Keep that in mind and you're already ahead of the game.
  • Using Social Media to Strengthen Culture of Welcome – I especially love this small moment shared in an overall lovely and reflective post by Rabbi Ed Bernstein, "…we then went right to the issue of creating a culture of welcome at the synagogue. People were asked to complete the sentence: “My first time being welcomed to Temple Torah was…,” and there was great response. One older congregant was bold enough to post that she didn’t feel so welcome, but I utilized this opportunity to reach out to her publicly and privately, and she appreciated that.”

    This must have been such a powerful moment for this woman, for Rabbi Bernstein, and a potentially meaningful one for dozens of others who saw the interaction. I commend the Rabbi not only for his actions in this situation, but for sharing this story here; it’s a great example of transparency and what it means to live and learn in the connected age.

  • Two posts about thankfulness: Thankful and Being Thankful – Ellen Dietrick's post "Thankful" is not only a great story, but shares some clever tools for generating, and repurposing, content from and with your community. Michael Hoffman's "Being Thankful" is a super practical guide to showing appreciation to the people who help make your work happen, all year round.

We're looking for new stories and new voices to share in 2014!

Have a bit of insight, a great case study, a cool resource or tool and interesting implementation, a personal reflection, or a big question you want to pose to the community? We'd love to hear it, and perhaps share it here. Be in touch with Miriam Brosseau in the comments or over email to find out about guest blogging. Here's to another year of learning together.

How Blogs Build Community

This is a video on how blogs build community created for the day school parents of Knoxville, TN, who are doing a training with The Jewish Ed Project’s Parent to Parent initiative. I was supposed to co-host a session with them, and had a last-minute conflict… :/ So, this is me "being there without being there." Hit me up with any questions!


Hi everyone, it's great to connect with you all, and I’m so sorry I can’t make it. I’m really looking forward to next time when we can have a deeper conversation about social media, and really dig in with strategies and fun tips and all kinds of goodies.

I love talking about blogging because it ties in so well with Jewish sensibilities about content and conversation. The Talmud was, arguably, the first blog – a conversation that takes place across time and space, bringing in many voices, contradictory opinions, and preserving it all. Even the format speaks to this. If you’ve ever looked at a page of Talmud (and not gotten completely intimidated, as I usually do), the main content is at the center, the comments in chronological order reverberating out from there. Folks comment on the main idea, then comment on the comments, then comment on the comments’ comments… Ah, Judaism, the ultimate obsessive-compulsive book club.

While blogging was hot news online about ten years ago, it’s still, i believe, at the heart of the internet. Blogs are where the stories live and breathe and grow. Think of it this way. If the Internet is a city, then Facebook is a college campus, LinkedIn is a convention center, Twitter is a series of cocktail parties in little, connected clubs, Pinterest is a shopping mall and an art gallery (in many ways), and so on and so forth, but blogs are often the homes. Blogs are where authentic stories come out. And people can visit your house, and engage in your story there, and that’s amazing and valuable. But more and more, as social media has evolved, it’s when those stories are brought into all those other places – the shopping mall, the convention center, etc. – that they become part of the bigger conversation. Sharing the story in your home, but then opening it up to this larger audience help create a sense of fluidity, of comfort, of community. Stories get set free when they’re shared in these larger spaces and the conversation around them gets hosted there. And the best part is, often, those stories don’t stay online; they influence the way people interact with one another in real life, then flow back into the online world.

So, blogs are a place for establishing a voice. For being your most authentic self, outside of proprietary social networks like Facebook and Twitter. But if you want people to join you in your home, to share in your story, you have to go out into the world and introduce yourself. Share that story. Ask questions. Visit other people’s homes and listen to what they have to say. Take this metaphor with you as you think about writing your blog post. And most of all, have fun! Please send me any questions you might have over email (or via Facebook, or Twitter, or LinkedIn…I’m all over the city), and I’ll see you next time!

Above image via Wikipedia

Monday Web Favorites: 2013 Imagery and Inspiration Edition

As we come closer to the end of 2013, sites are releasing their obligatory "best of" lists. Here are a few of our favorites, for your inspiration…

First off, Tumblr's Year in Review is well worth checking out. Tumblr is a hip, funky, user-friendly and lightweight blogging platform that excels at imagery and attitude. Here's a bit about the "best of" list they're producing

The retrospective starts Tuesday at with an exploration of 20 categories ranging from the most popular musical groups to the most interesting architecture of 2013. Boasting a plethora of images, the review will continue through December with daily posts that will culminate on New Year's Eve with the best fireworks displays featured on Tumblr during the year.

Our take-aways for the Jewish communal set?

  • Scan the most-reblogged posts and people. What can you learn? What do these posts have in common? What kinds of images, what types of language, etc., really work?
  • Are you using Tumblr? It's a great place to connect with teens. Tumblr is also flexible enough to be used to produce a full website, or can easily pop up for the sake of a single event, conference, or trip.
  • Are there ways for you to capitalize on what Tumblr thinks is hip? What kind of connections can you make between "trending topics" and your work to help get the word out about your organization or cause?

And up next: we normally wouldn't re-post something from Buzzfeed, the site we all waste time on and love to hate/hate to love, but this one seemed especially apropos: the 21 Most Creative Instagram Accounts of 2013. Honestly, this post is not really about the photo-sharing service Instagram, or even about photos, but about the role of surprise and delight. Take a look at these accounts, what do they have in common? To us, they both surprise and delight their viewers. How can our social spaces do the same for our communities?


…and we'll close with some good ol' nonprofit video. Enjoy the winners of the 2013 DoGooder Awards!

What have been your web favorites lately? Share in the comments, or send them to Miriam directly, and they could be featured here next time!

Vine vs. Instrgram Video. How Do They Compare?


This past week, Facebook launched a video component to their already immensely popular photo platform, Instagram, in order to compete with Vine, the short form video app by Twitter.


vine_icon.png Launched by Twitter, Vine is a micro-video app that allows you to record six-second videos on your phone and share them on Vine and Twitter. You can record all 6 seconds at once, or break up the six seconds to record separate images in a series or "stop motion" style. Vine then displays the videos in a loop, similar to a GIF.  (Yes, you might be thinking, 'aren't animated GIFs so 1999?'  Yes, but they are making a retro comeback, especially through Tumblr and with new tools like Vine).  In some cases the looping effect holds your attention longer, and allows for a deeper understanding of what might appear simple on the surface.  But in some cases the looping effect can be annoying.  Perhaps in the future Vine will allow it as an option.

After downloading the app, you can start and stop the video by tapping and holding the screen. When finished, you simply upload the video and can add comments and hashtags. Similar to Twitter, when tagged, a video can be seen by anyone, but you only see videos by users you follow in your feed. Vine videos can be embedded anywhere on the web and uploaded to Twitter and Facebook as well. A quick Vine tutorial is here.  Warning: it's slightly more than 6 seconds!

Instagram Video

instagram-icon.pngTo compete with Twitter’s new mini-video feature, Facebook launched its own version of Vine, via Instagram.  Instagram video is not a separate app, but rather incorporated within Instagram. Users simply download the updated version of the app and a new video button appears when taking photos on your phone. This video feature can be started and stopped like Vine, but can record up to 15 seconds and allows for editing and filters, similar to Instagram photos. Unlike Vine though, Instagram video can only be uploaded via Instagram or Facebook, whereas Vine can be embedded anywhere on the web.

Instagram video also includes a cover photo (you can choose which frame of the video you want to show when it's displayed as a still image — it doesn't have to be the very first frame), and video stabilization.  These videos do not loop as Vine does.  A quick Instragram tutorial is here.  Also more than 15 seconds!


So what should I be using?

Vine does have the largest audience in terms of short video app users. But that audience is only 11% of the total video sharing market, whereas Instagram holds 35% of the photo sharing market, and has 130 million users. Despite the newness of Instagram and the fact that you're not currently able to embed those videos, its audience and relevancy eclipse Vine’s, and it offers more features.

The looping of Vine and the ability to embed the videos elsewhere online can, and will, probably be added to Instagram in the future. But since both are free, it doesn’t hurt to download both and see which one you like better.  If you're already a regular Instagram user, it may make sense to integrate your short format video work into that existing channel.  If you have not created an Instagram channel for your organization, you may find Vine more attractive since you can embed those videos elsewhere to augment other channels.

Here’s a breakdown via TechCrunch (read the whole article here):





Contractually Blogging: Maturing Systems in a Congregational School

Shearith Israel is a conservative congregation in Dallas with a strong religious school, approximately 200 students.  We have pre-k-10th and we are in the midst of developing a HS component through 12 grade back into our program. 

The biggest challenges we face are related: apathy and communication.  Over the last couple of years we have tried to address both of these issues.  Each of our teachers was required to communicate with parents on a bi-weekly- monthly basis, giving them information about what their children were experiencing in the class. 

We also have a weekly newsletter from the school, but this is more general information, and not usually specific to classes. We also decided last fall to use a text system for updates for parents: Remind 101.  We had many parents sign up for this- but not all. 

Ellen Dietrick has been our mentor in the Darim Social Media Boot Camp for Educators, and she has guided us through various explorations.  Each year Dallas has a Yom Limmud- day of learning where all of the educators come together and this past fall one of the featured presentations, from November Learning , was about tech in the classroom, featuring Twitter.  So we eagerly joined Twitter as luddites.  Ellen helped us explore what to do with it, but learned that our best bet was to set up blogs for our classrooms.  This would be a better focus for students, parents, and even our teachers to interact with and learn from each other.  Back in February we presented this idea to our teachers at a professional development session.  At first they were reluctant, but they grew very interested when they found out about the various ways to communicate, engage and share the content of what goes on in their classrooms.

Showing the various steps of the learning process, as well as what the students take away for it will definitely serve the students better, and help their parents understand and hopefully engage them and us a bit more.  We decided to make this compulsory as of the coming school year and it is written into the teacher contracts that they need to submit a post each week we have school.  At this point we are exploring whether to use the template we created on Blogger or to invest in using Edublogs (which is part of WordPress).  We are very excited about this and will be suspending our weekly newsletter that we send using Constant Contact in lieu of this improved and interactive tool.  I am already thinking about who will be our ‘plants’ on the blog- hoping to quietly designate parents to generate/comment on posts to build and keep the conversation going.

We should tell you as well that back in the fall as part of a separate grant, we began creating a teen Israel blog which is a blog about Israel by teens, for teens.  This has been a great learning experience for the teens and the professionals working on this project. 

In addition, we are fortunate to have smartboards in our classrooms, as well as iPads for teacher and student use.  Our students have been working to create apps…. Now we can actually tell the world about this and use them to enhance our blog communications.

We hope that this project will improve parent communication, as well improve the students’ engagement with what they are learning.  We want to thank Ellen Dietrick for her assistance and Darim and The Covenant Foundation for the opportunity to make our school a better learning environment.


Shearith Israel participated in the Social Media Boot Camp for Educators, a year long program generously funded by The Covenant Foundation.  This series of blog posts this spring chart the learnings of the 10 teams in this year's cohort.


Launching Teacher Blogs at JCDSRI


This year we were lucky enough to be accepted into the Social Media Boot Camp for Jewish Educators. We were provided with a coach to help us achieve our goal of school wide classroom blogs.  We met with our coach, Shira Liebowitz, about the milestones we met, the challenges we faced, and to chunk up our goals for month to month, measurable, small successes. Shira was a great sounding board and provided us with wonderful suggestions to help us reach each objective.  

Through a combination of the Darim Boot Camp and our school's own 21st century learning initiative, we have made great strides in teacher blogging.  We used WordPress to create an overall cohesive structure and designed look where we share classroom news, student work, and ideas with our parents, community, and the greater educational world.   With our blogs, parents, and grandparents, without stepping foot in the classroom, have been able to see what we do and engage with their children in a meaningful way. 

“With Darim's guidance, we were able to bring blogging to a new level,” said Sari Guttin, 2nd grade teacher.  “Not only have our blogs replaced newsletters, but they have become a forum for discussion between parents and students, students and administration, and students and teachers.”

Blogs help to extend the school day by providing discussion topics for families to think about at home.  Because all our blogs are hosted on the same platform, it allows for uniformity and connectedness between individual classrooms and the school.  

jcdsri_blog.png“Starting a classroom blog this year has allowed me to be a reflective practitioner and invite others into the classroom,” said Jessica Perlman, Kindergarten teacher.  “By composing the blog posts and questions for readers, I have been able to truly reflect on the learning and goals of each lesson, as well as the steps taken, allowing the curriculum to become a living document.” 

Initially, our blog postings were weekly summaries. As the year progressed, they emerged into detailed accounts of classroom activity, complete with photographs and direct student quotes.  Additionally, teachers incorporate questions aimed to encourage parents and students to want to engage in further discussions. 

“Our blogs have enabled me, a part-time, specialty teacher, to stay connected with class happenings,” said Karolyn White.  “I can easily check the blogs to learn what’s new. I especially appreciate the depth of the blogs, which frequently include explanations, goals, results and descriptive photos. Our blogs encourage me to reflect on the class updates, collaborate with teachers and modify content or format of my library lessons, making them more informative and pertinent.” 

Our blogs have become valuable resources that promote our students, families, faculty and administration to stay connected.  The mentoring provided by Darim has helped scaffold this process as well as provide a great sense of comfort and support.  As a faculty, we are feeling excited about this "21st Century" way of communication and collaboration and we thank Darim Online and The Covenant Foundation for launching us on our way.

Shari Weinberger is the Curriculum Coordinator at the Jewish Community Day School of Rhode Island, and wrote this post with input from team members, Sari Guttin, Grade 2, Jessica Perlman, Kindergarten and Karolyn White, Librarian and Communications Manager.  To view our blogs click on the link

This year JCDSRI participated in the Social Media Boot Camp for Educators, a year long program generously funded by The Covenant Foundation.  This series of blog posts this spring chart the learnings of the 10 teams in this year's cohort.





Shabbat Unplugged

Devorah Heitner, PhD is an experienced speaker, workshop leader and as founder of Raising Digital Natives, is a consultant & expert on the research on kids media.

Families are struggling with how to manage their children's digital experiences, and how to develop a healthy media ecology that promotes digital literacy without letting media take over their lives. Parents have questions about Internet usage on playdates, gaming "addiction" and when to allow access to devices from the iPod touch, to cell phones and tablets. When I speak to parents, I share ideas about how to create a positive digital media environment in your home by carefully considering devices and apps before giving children access to them.

In addition to children's media usage, I encouraged them carefully review their own relationships to their devices and the constant connectivity that we've all come to rely on. Jewish families, like many parents everywhere are dealing with the information overload, employers that expect instant responses to  texts and emails sent during family time, etc. While technology can make us feel in-demand and super-productive,  unplugged time is more important than ever–and it doesn't happen on its own.

Kids want and need unplugged time with their friends and with their parents, even if they don't express this need directly.

Here's a list of "Phone/Screen Time rules for parents" from a group of 5th graders I worked with recently.

  • "Get Blue Tooth so you don't call or text while driving"
  • "No Phone at Dinner, Restaurant"
  • "Have someone else text for you when driving"
  • "Don't get calls and faxes all night long"
  • "When an adult is on the phone, kids should be able to play video games."

Hearing these sharp insights from the mouths of kids I work with is a good reminder of how closely kids are observing us!

In the Jewish community and beyond, parents are increasingly distracted by technology. We spend a significant amount of time with one foot in our immediate environment and other foot in "the cloud" or on social media. Our distractedness may even lead our toddlers to and young children more vulnerable to injuries. And our older children can be "injured" in subtler ways by our inattention.

Parents can help children embrace the positive potential of connectivity with weekly google hangouts or Skype time with distant grandparents, choosing tzedaka opportunities though online research and helping kids start creative digital projects such as  Bar or Bat Mitzvah Blog that can be shared with friends and family. Keeping track of your media ecology for a week, including noting every time you are multitasking will give you a good picture of where your devices are enhancing your family life, and where it might be undermining it.

For Jewish families, Shabbat offers a the perfect opportunity to create some unplugged time. Even if you still use electricity, or drive your car to shul, you can still choose to leave your devices at home, not check email, and skip that status update. Turning off the wifi at the router might help some families avoid temptation. If you let people know that you are offline at this time, and are consistent about it, you can carve this space out of your hectic life.

Bringing a little bit of Shabbat into the week could mean that you let you boss know that your are eating dinner with your kids and doing bedtime from 6:30-8:30pm and you can't answer texts or emails at that time. All of us need to push back against both workplace and social obligations that crowd out time for reflection and our closest relationships. After shabbat dinner with my husband and my son, I sleep more restfully than I do the rest of the week, when I am frequently answering email until 11pm.

On April 25th, I'll be presenting on a webinar through Darim Online about how Jewish educators can help children and parents draw on Jewish values and traditions to create a healthy and intentional family media ecology. (You can register here:

From unplugging on shabbat to finding ways to do tikkun olam in the digital sphere to resisting the temptation to gossip, there are many intersections between our Jewish values and traditions and nurturing digital citizenship in our children and a positive media ecology for our whole family. In the webinar, I'll draw on current research as well as my experiences at schools working with parents, faculty and students.

I look forward to answering your questions, and engaging in a dialogue about how Jewish Educators can support families at this time of great change in family life.

A Look at Google Sites

Managing lots of information, relationships, and resources can be a challenge for any organization. While it can be easy to be overwhelmed by the variety of options on the market and their pricing there is one platform I recommend you explore, and its free: Google Sites.

I came across Google Sites while searching for solutions for managing the production of PresenTense Magazine, which entailed upward of 80 volunteers collaborating around 30 articles over the course of several months per issue. Our contributors spread from Los Angeles to Jerusalem to Budapest and everywhere in between. I needed to store items as varied as drafts of the articles themselves; spreadsheets recording who was working on what; and running blog-style thoughts from conference calls and online and in-person brainstorms. It was crucial that everyone on the team could easily access the information necessary to do their job true when working with colleagues, and perhaps even more so when working with volunteers.

Satisfying all of these specifications could be seen as a challenge. However, once the right platform of Google Sites was discovered and properly developed, managing our bountiful ecosystem of data helped enable us to convert our advantages such as geographic diversity, a multitude of ideas, and an eager crew of enthusiastic volunteers into opportunities.

Here are some benefits, tips, and drawbacks Ive discovered in Google Sites. I hope you will consider them and that they will similarly help you turn your organizational assets into opportunities.

Why use Google Sites?

Everything organized in one place.
Rather than dealing with a litany of Google Docs, you can not only store them in one place, but also use article-style pages to organize links to spreadsheets, blog pages, and file cabinets (where you can store files such as images, documents, or presentations).

Easy to learn to customize your own site.
To set up a site effectively might take a bit of practice, but it does not take knowledge of HTML. If you spend some time exploring the different template options, you can build a functional site in just a few clicks and it is easily customizable to exactly your needs.

Convinced? Heres how to use it!

Learn how to take advantage of the templates
Think about how the different templates could make sense for your use. The templates can be highly effective if you apply the right template to the right purpose. For instance, the template called List can be a to-do list or task management tool, a spreadsheet that stores contact information, or a list organizing other items stored in the site (i.e. you can link directly to article pages or file cabinets within the site). The templates each offer great flexibility so you can customize them for your purpose.

The more organized you can be, the better!
You can at any point reorganize the skeleton outline of your site (which pages are organized under which other page). You can also create a table of contents which allows users to easily jump to the page theyre looking for. Take advantage of these organizational methods to make sure everyone working on the project can find what they need, fast.

A word of caution: A few Google Sites drawbacks

Not the best tool for engagement
While Sites is a great way to store information such that it is easily accessible, in my experience it has been difficult to use it to start conversations. Perhaps the user interface is not intuitive, or requires a greater investment of time to figure out than people who are just looking for information to do their job are willing to give.

Sharing can be a little complicated
If you do not have a Google account, you have to go through the extra step of creating one. While in theory this should be an easy process, I have had some non-Gmail-users unable to find how to access Sites, and this can be a source of frustration. If your information isn’t particularly confidential, you could consider making the site public (viewable to anyone) for the duration of the project. I’ve used this approach at times and it has helped overcome this obstacle.

Whether or not you ultimately decide to use Google Sites, I do recommend that, before embarking on any new endeavor in iformation management, you take a moment to answer these questions yourself, and/or survey your coworkers on their thoughts and needs:

  • What tools do you currently use to manage your projects, and if they are not working, why not?
  • What functions are on your wish-list for information management?

Then, you can more knowledgeably find the tools that will work for you and find ways to more consciously tailor and employ them for your specific purposes. After all, at the end of the day, tools are only as effective as what we make of them!

Have you used Google Sites in your work? If so, how? What other tools have you experimented with for information management?

deborahDeborah Fishman is a network weaver interested in new opportunities to create change in the Jewish world. She was most recently Editor and Publisher of PresenTense Magazine. She blogs at

An Old-Fashioned Writer, Writing in the New Digital World

A relative, 10 years after beginning his Ph.D. thesis, still hadnt finished. Couldnt get it just right. Knew it would be scrutinized. Wanted to make it right; didnt want to be caught in imprecision, or worse yet, error. 10 years. Not finished.

Two years ago I had a similar problem. Trained as a lawyer, being a publisher and editor, I live in a world of words. Theyre important; theyre permanent. I am accountable for what I write, and for what my company publishes. Words will endure. They need to stand on their own, be thorough, be accurate, be complete.

But Behrman House needed a blog, and as the leader of our firm I needed to contribute. To share my views in that informal setting. So write I did, but I did it in my old way: I wrote, edited got it vetted by colleagues, checked, rechecked, sometimes rewritten. A short piece, with a quick thought, could take hours. It just wasnt worth it.

I thought back to my college days, where I wrote a weekly column for the paper. I just banged it out. Every week, one evening. Went the whole campus. It was pretty good. And I had no fear.

So I made a decision: Ill trust myself: write the damn thing, read it once, fix obvious errors, and post it. Simple as that.

So I tried it. Truth be told, the first time I chickened out. Sent it to Dena Neusner, our Senior Editor, who can tear apart and rebuild my writing like no one else, and makes it 30% shorter on a regular basis. She did her magic, and I decided I was done. Posted it. And, next time I didnt even send it to Dena.

Im writing this to all of you who grew up in my world, the world of permanent words, the world where every one of those words is equally important, and permanent. And to all of us I say: Just write the damn thing, and post it. It will be liberating. Think of it as conversation, not a permanent position. (Lisa Colton spoke at the GA of the permanent beta, and shes right.) It will never be worth it to spend a half-day on a blog post, so if thats your standard, youre censoring yourselfit will almost never be worth it to spend the time, and so youll never be able to share your views.

Just write the thing.

PS: I wrote this one on the airplane coming home from the GA. Once, straight througha half-hour. Put it aside for a day, then spent another 10 minutes cleaning it up. Im done. I hope its good, and I hope you find it useful. If not, maybe Ill be more successful with the next one.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

Screen Shot 2011-11-10 at 10.06.10 AMDavid Behrman is CEO of Behrman House Publishers, the leading publisher of textbooks, software, and other educational materials for Jewish religious schools throughout North America. Before joining Behrman House, he was a consultant with McKinsey & Co, in New York, where he served clients in the service, transportation, and not-for-profit sectors, and he also practiced corporate and securities law with Davis Polk & Wardwell in New York. He is a graduate of Haverford College and Stanford Law School, where he served on the Law Review.