Lisa Colton Named a Top #JewishInfluencer

jewishinflThe National Jewish Outreach Program tonight announced the recipients of the first “Jewish Treats: Jewish Influencer Awards” during the organization’s 18th annual dinner. I am completely honored to be named among them, and am humbled by the excellent company on the list (more on that below). The announcement was listed as part of Social Media Week (SMW12) which kicked off earlier in the day. Finalists were selected by an expert panel of judges and evaluated based on creative and strategic use of social media to positively impact the Jewish community. “We launched @JewishTweets in March 2008 and from the outset, embraced it for the way it allows us to connect with people everywhere. It has allowed us not only to be heard, but to listen and be inspired by others every day,” said Ephraim Z. Buchwald, founder and director of the National Jewish Outreach Program. “In particular, we wanted to take time to recognize some of those who are leveraging the power of social media to raise Jewish social consciousness and shine a positive light on Jewish life." I appreciate that this list includes so many different types of people — entrepreneurs, community organizers, educators, consultants, institutional folk and very non-institutional folk. Just goes to show you that there’s no right or wrong way to tweet – just be yourself, help others, add value, and have fun. And as Allison Fine says, "social media a contact sport, not a spectator sport." So get in the game. Rabbi Yonah Bookstein @RabbiYonah Rabbi Yonah Bookstein is the executive rabbi for JConnectLA, which hosts events to help young Jews “connect to something bigger”. A popular blogger, Bookstein’s writings regularly appear in The Huffington Post, Jewlicious and LA’s JewishJournal.com. He also maintains the Facebook presence for both JConnectLA and the Jewlicious Festival, a popular youth event. Lisa Colton: @LisaColton and @DarimOnline Lisa Colton is the founder of Darim Online, a nonprofit dedicated to helping Jewish organizations and leaders effectively leverage social media to achieve their goals, including community building, education, communication and fundraising. In the past year, Colton has presented at conferences throughout the United States, and has hosted social media webinars online. William Daroff: @Daroff William Daroff is the vice president for public policy and director of the Washington Office for the Jewish Federations of North America. To the Jewish online community he is @Daroff, a prolific Tweeter who offers great insights into happenings in the American Jewish community. In 2011, Daroff co-chaired the social media committee for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Global Coalition for Israel. Chaviva Galatz: @TheChaviva Galatz is a popular blogger, Tweeter and social media personality. She created and co-chaired the only Jewish-themed panel at the 2011 SxSW Interactive Festival in Austin, TX, entitled Jewish Synergy: Social Media and the New Community. She was named to The New York Jewish Week’s prestigious “36 Under 36” list where she was credited for “Connecting with Jews, one Tweet at a time”. Allison Josephs: @JewInTheCity Josephs is the woman behind “Jew in the City,” a popular website and video blog that helps promote a positive perception of Orthodox Judaism to non-observant Jews and non-Jews alike. In the past year, she has been invited to speak at numerous events and was interviewed by NPR for her work. Esther Kustanowitz: @EstherK Known to the online community as EstherK, Kustanowitz is a respected blogger, Tweeter and nonprofit consultant. Esther has traveled the globe presenting at various conferences on topics like Jewish communal engagement, social media and innovation. She was recently named a "Jewish Engagement Superstar" by Jewcy. The Maccabeats: @Maccabeats The Maccabeats, the male acapella group from Yeshiva University, has captivated American Jews with its hugely viral music videos promoting Jewish holidays. Their video for the song “Candlelight” has more than 7 million views alone. In 2011, the group was invited to perform for President Barack Obama at the official White House Chanukah party. The Maccabeats recently helped raise more than $88,000 for Gift of Life through their Miracle Match campaign. Rabbi Jason Miller: @RabbiJason Miller is a popular blogger on a wide variety of Jewish topics including technology, pop culture, politics and Jewish law. He is published regularly in the New York Jewish Week, The Huffington Post and the Detroit Jewish News. Rabbi Miller’s video response to former presidential candidate Governor Rick Perry’s “Strong” commercial has nearly 220,000 views on YouTube and was written about in dozens of national and international publications. Dave Weinberg: @Weinberg81 A Jewish innovator who uses social media to rally people for causes he supports, Weinberg runs Causil, which offers nonprofit consulting, conferences such as the Future of Jewish Nonprofit Summit, aimed at educating the Jewish community on social media. Dave also was invited to lead the Social Media Boot Camp at the AJOP Convention earlier this year. Rabbi Josh Yuter: @JYuter Rabbi Josh Yuter is not only a pulpit rabbi. He’s a popular blogger, tweeter, and podcaster (his Jewish-themed podcasts were downloaded more than 20,000 times last year.) After he launched an impressive Facebook page and Twitterfeed for his synagogue, he was chosen by the Rabbinical Council of America to teach other rabbis about social media and “Using the Web to Teach Torah” at its 2011 Annual Convention.

Jewish New Media Innovation Fund Winners Go Beyond Those Awarded Funds

Today the Jewish New Media Innovation Fund announced the winners of the exciting process that help catalyze our community to focus on new media, our missions, and our strategy for the digital age. It was a fascinating experience to read the applications of the final 30, think deeply about the criteria of the fund, collaborate with an extraordinary team of advisors, and work with three visionary foundations. I am honored to have been part of this pilot year, and I hope that this initiative, and others like it, will continue.

While I’m quite excited about the projects that have been awarded funding, I’m even more excited about the broader impact that this fund has had on established organizations, entrepreneurs, and funders alike. Having worked to advance the Jewish community’s use of digital media for over 10 years now (wow, that went fast), I can see that even the announcement of the Fund changed the conversations among staff and lay leaders throughout the Jewish community. While a social media and mobile strategy might have been pushed to the bottom of the agenda over and over again, the Jewish New Media Innovation Fund forced them to put it at the top of the agenda, and to think about it strategically, not just tactically. Regardless of whether or not these ideas were funded today, providing an incentive, structure and time line I’m sure has deepened and advanced the work of many applicants.

It’s also important to note that the criteria used to evaluate the proposals has an impact beyond the short term decision making about fund allocation. For example, one requirement was that the projects would be able to launch or achieve results within 12 months. While in some cases this felt like a really compressed time line, the reality is that we are all in a permanent beta mode — we have to throw ideas against the wall, assess their effectiveness, and continue to refine over time. If you’re spending more than a year putting it together, either the idea wasn’t sufficiently thought out to begin with, or you’re not prepared to develop in an agile and iterative process.

The fund also set a priority on innovation – though the term was fairly broadly defined. In many cases, I think the made applicants really think beyond the obvious. I was impressed by how many applications viewed their mission through a new lens as they developed their applications. While the technology employed may not have been so “innovative” and new, the ways that they were thinking about their work clearly were. Kol hakavod to those that busted through the walls of their buildings, put the freedom of exploration in the hands of their users, and researched technologies, platforms and models outside of their immediate sphere of influence, or even their comfort zones.

There are many more lessons to be learned from the applicant pool, process, and over time, the outcomes of the projects funded. Regardless of who receives a check, this Fund was a tremendous gift to our community. I hope that those who used the opportunity to think in new and deeper and riskier ways will still find inspiration and value from the process, and will resolve to continue to take action on these ideas by incorporating these costs into their operating budget where appropriate, writing other grants, and seeking the support of other funders – foundations and individuals – who also recognize that these tools, ideas and approaches are critical to our communal future.

Are you an applicant to the #JNMIF who didn’t get your project funded this round? How are you going to proceed with this work? What non-financial assistance do you need? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Top 10 Reasons to Go to the 2011 Nonprofit Technology Conference!

On March 17-19, NTEN will host its annual Nonprofit Technology Conference in Washington, DC. The Schusterman Family Foundation and Darim Online will be there, and we think you should join us. NTC_vert_rgbWhy? Thought you’d never ask … 10) You’ll get to learn from experts in the nonprofit sector in person and learn from their practical experience. 9) Speaking of, where else will you get to attend sessions facilitated by rockstars like Beth Kanter and Allison Fine, authors of “The Networked Nonprofit,” Wendy Harman, of the American Red Cross and Stacy Monk, founder of Epic Change and Tweetsgiving campaigns? (See our list of the top 10 must-attend sessions.) 8 ) A wide range of nonprofit professionals—executives directors, marketing and communications professionals, development and program staff—and organizations will be there. 7) It’s a great way to step outside the silo of our community while creating partnerships and mentorships within it. 6) It’s fun! NTC is not your average stuffy professional conference. You get to enjoy ice cream bars at the mid-afternoon break and cocktails with friends at the After-Party. Yes, you read that right—ice cream and cocktails! 5) We’re offering a discount to the members of our network (see below for how to take advantage). 4) The adventurous-and-always-fun-to-learn-from Esther Kustanowitz will be there. 3) Can we get you a warm chocolate chip cookie with that ice cream bar? 2) Guaranteed free wifi throughout the conference. You’re encouraged to fool around on your iPad/blackberry/laptop during sessions—but only if you’re tweeting or live blogging. Finally, the #1 reason why we think you should join us at NTEN this year is … 1) We’re hosting two really awesome gatherings just for you! The first will take place on the morning of Thursday, March 17, before the NTC officially gets underway. We will gather from 9 am – noon, using these three hours to:

  • Get an update on the state of the Jewish digital union, including a debrief of the results of the Jewish New Media Innovation Fund;
  • Discuss the new rules of the digital game and how they apply to your work;
  • Hear a few case studies of leading practices in the Jewish and nonprofit sectors; and
  • Work through an obstacle-busting exercise based on the issues your organization is facing.

The second gathering will be Friday evening for a light and easy Shabbat dinner. Come to eat, schmooze and continue the conversations sparked by Thursday’s gathering. Nothing fancy—just food, new friends and some time to TGIF. You do not have to register for the entire NTC conference to attend these events (though we do encourage it). Sold? Ready for next steps? Great! A) Sign up for NTEN. To take advantage of our special rate, you will need to follow these steps:

  • If you’re new to NTEN, you’ll have to set up a free and easy account. (Or login to your NTEN account.)
  • Go to 2011 Nonprofit Technology Conference
  • Select “Darim Online” in the “How did you hear?” field when registering to receive the NTEN member rate.

B) Fill out this form to let us know you are coming and if we can expect you for Thursday’s gathering, Shabbat Dinner and/or the entire conference. Again, you don’t have to register for the NTEN conference to join us at one or both of these events. C) Take care of the details like transportation and hospitality. D) Let us know if you have any questions. Until next time! Your friends at CLSFF and Darim Online

The “New Normal” is Change. Deal With It.

At the Jewish Communal Service Association’s annual program today, change was the name of the game. Jerry Silverman, CEO of Jewish Federations of North America in particular spoke about two kinds of change that we need to embrace: First, accepting that constant change is the “new normal” (the theme of the JCSA conference), and second, the need to confidently lead through change, whether that be changing economic times, new technologies, and evolving cultures.

On the first, we need to learn how to be more nimble — learning new skills, evolving our decision making processes to be able to move more swiftly, and being able to adjust structures to keep the machine humming when the outside world shifts.

But all of this is only possible when we are successful with the second. Leading through change is a great challenge, that involves not only good business strategy, but excellent communication, team building, listening, and attention to the psychology of change, not only the logistics of change. If the Jewish community needs one thing, it’s people who are superb leaders in times of change.

Several years ago, when Darim was shifting from our original work of building web sites to a focus on training, coaching and consulting, I read a powerful book, Managing Transitions, by William Bridges. The take home message: Change is situational (like a light switch), but transition is psychological (a process). We need leaders who know what change needs to be made to thrive in the “new normal”, but those same leaders also need to facilitate a transition, which requires a whole different set of skills.

If you haven’t noticed, the Jewish community isn’t the only one recognizing this need. (It’s comforting to know we’re not behind the curve on this one!) A flurry of new books are hitting the shelves focused on change strategy and management in today’s world:

  • Switch, by Chip and Dan Heath (from Amazon.com): In a compelling, story-driven narrative, the Heaths bring together decades of counterintuitive research in psychology, sociology, and other fields to shed new light on how we can effect transformative change. Switch shows that successful changes follow a pattern, a pattern you can use to make the changes that matter to you, whether your interest is in changing the world or changing your waistline.
  • The Power of Pull, by John Hagel III, John Seely Brown, Lang Davison (from Amazon.com): In a radical break with the past, information now flows like water, and we must learn how to tap into its stream. But many of us remain stuck in old practicespractices that could undermine us as we search for success and meaning. Drawing on pioneering research, The Power of Pull shows how to apply its principles to unlock the hidden potential of individuals and organizations, and how to use it as a force for social change and the development of creative talent.

Coming out soon:

  • Open Leadership, by Charlene Li (co-author of Groundswell) (from Amazon.com): “Be Open, Be Transparent, Be Authentic” are the current leadership mantras-but companies often push back. Business is premised on the concept of control and yet the new world order demands openness-leaders do not know how to be open and be in control. This must-have resource will help the modern leader understand how to lead in the new open world-where blogging, twittering, facebooking, and digging are becoming the norm. the author lays out the steps that leaders must take to transform their organizations and themselves into being “open” -and exactly what that will mean.
  • Empowered, by Josh Bernoff (co-author of Groundswell) (from Amazon.com): Fueled by data from Forrester Research, Empowered is packed with the business tools and information necessary to move your organization several steps ahead … and lead … your people (who are) armed with cheap, accessible technology, and are connecting with customers and building innovative new solutions.

What are your strategies for managing change? Where have you been successful? What’s hard? Do you have advice or other resources to add to the conversation? Onward!

Wave in Review

By Deborah Fishman

An all-volunteer magazine put together by a geographically diverse, online community of young adults 22-40, PresenTense Magazine has always been a collaborative enterprise. As such, weve made ample use of many Google products, storing and sharing articles in Docs, communicating in Chat, and organizing and tracking article progress in Sites. Yet the lack of integration has made using all these tools in concert a challenge, and we are always interested in exploring better ways to perform these tasks.

For our tenth issue, PresenTense Magazine launched the Digital Issue the first-ever print magazine to be published entirely in Google’s new tool for collaboration, Google Wave. The platform allowed us to pioneer new horizons for journalism by seeking to address a key challenge for journalists today: how to collaborate in a digital age.

Google Wave enticed us with the ability to collaborate on all aspects of the magazine production in a single package, as well as offering several new and exciting features. For instance, playback allows users to review the sequence of changes and easily restore a document to a previous version. Two modes of engaging with waves edit and reply give greater flexibility in editing documents and leaving comments for writers. Since edits and replies are updated in real time, authors and editors can interact naturally, as if in an in-person conversation. Wave also includes the ability to add images, maps, videos, and other gadgets right in the collaboration space.

It was especially fitting that we set out to explore Google Wave for our Digital Issue, focused on the Digital Age and how it is affecting young Jewish community- and identity-building today. Google Wave allowed us to take advantage of the very digital trends and technologies we were discussing, to produce content to act as the starting place for a larger conversation. We found that, while rough around the edges as a pre-Beta product, Google Wave has some real potential for online collaboration.

Ready to embark on a whole new world of Wave discovery, we soon realized that our first hurdle was getting on Wave to begin with. A collaboration tool only works when your co-collaborators also have access. Each issue of PresenTense Magazine is the product of over 70 young Jews writers, editors, advisory committee members, and art team members who work together through the creative process, from the initial brainstorming phase through the final production. Wave invites are a scarce commodity, and for 70 contributors, you need an allocation strategy. Googles arbitrary approval process further baffled our editorial team.

Even with an approved Wave account, not all writers were as eager to ride the Wave as we had hoped. The great flexibility offered by the Wave platform belies the fact that Wave is to many unintuitive. It took significant effort for many writers and editors to learn such Wave basics as how to reply to a message, causing a great deal of frustration. Even those who persevered encountered a fair share of frustrations from frequent crashes, missing features, and various other unexplained occurrences. For those accustomed to working over e-mail and chat, the lack of integration with GMail meant many participants did not notice changes until days later.

Along the way we also came across some collaboration-enhancing perks. When posting in real-time, one author and a commenter discovered they were able to have a brief exchange of ideas inside the Wave and then delete all but what they wanted to preserve for others to see. Another pair of authors were able to “meet” each other and converse when they bumped into each other on their articles section contents page.

PresenTense Magazine is generally published as a glossy, in-print magazine. One of our defining features has been our full-color photographs and artwork, skillfully laid out alongside articles and other content. Wave does offer the ability to drag-and-drop images into an article, and you can even view them as a slideshow or one at a time as full-screen images. However, inside a blip the images appear as either small icons or full-size images taking up most of the page, and it’s not possible to wrap the surrounding text around them. The unsatisfying formatting was further complicated by Googles mysterious rules governing whether and how blips are indented, depending on where exactly one clicks and whether one selects edit or reply.

PresenTense Magazine is the foundation for a vibrant community. Over the past five years, our ten in-print issues have acted as a community organizing tool, bringing together hundreds of young Jews around the world with ideas and enthusiasm about the future of Jewish innovation. However, there are challenges inherent in grassroots work with young Jews spanning time zones around the world. The geographic distances involved provide the tremendous benefit of enabling us to incorporate different perspectives and start conversations that may never occur otherwise. But it can be difficult to find appropriate online collaboration tools that have all the functionality we need. We found a lot to like on Google Wave, and we look forward to future improvements to the medium.

Deborah Fishman is the Network Animator for the PresenTense Group, engaging and empowering the PresenTense community to explore issues facing the Jewish People. As the volunteer managing editor of PresenTense Magazine, Deborah has managed hundreds of volunteer writers, editors, and visionaries.
Lisa Colton, Founder and President of Darim Online, was a member of the advisory team for Presentense Magazine’s Digital issue.

The Innovation Ecosystem: Emergence of a New Jewish Landscape

In their recently published op-ed in JTA titled “Invest in Innovation”, Felicia Herman and Dana Raucher disagree that at a time of economic downturn we should follow the “calls for greater consolidation and a return to the more centralized infrastructure of yesteryear.” These two brilliant women (Felicia Herman is the executive director of the Natan Fund, and Dana Raucher is the executive director of The Samuel Bronfman Foundation) are not looking backwards for solutions, but looking forward. They write:

We believe that the young, and often small, nonprofits that have emerged in the past decade, and the very de-centralization they reflect, are here to stay. We believe that this interconnected network of smaller, niche-based organizations reflects the organizational transformation now under way in American culture: a revolution in the way that people connect, organize and affiliate, brought about by technological advancements that have dramatically shaped our ways of looking at the world. That revolution already has utterly transformed so much of our lives — the way we shop, network, share information, learn and teach. We dont believe theres any going back.

I completely agree with their observations. In addition to encouraging you to read the new report, The Innovation Ecosystem, that they developed with JumpStart, I want to reinforce their de-centralized vision, and encouage us to questions our assumptions and the status quo of how we go about doing our business. The top down models that have worked in the past are no longer the only solution. Self-motivated, creative and empowered individuals and groups now have the ability to self-organize, creating the programs and organizations that embody the bottom-up culture that is so attractive.

Investments in innovative organizations are important, because we do need to evolve our Jewish community to continue to be relevant to its participants. Furthermore, we need to invest in helping more traditional organizations also make this shift to realign themselves with a rapidly changing paradigm. The “revolution” which Felicia and Dana refer to is in fact a tectonic shift, largely empowered by social media, that we cannot ignore. So where to begin? While the strategic questions may feel overwhelming and insurrmountable, dipping our toes in the water to begin to understand the evolving culture and the potential of the technology tools is a fruitful (and dare I say FUN) place to start.

Often I hear staff say “but where are we going to find the time to do this social media stuff? I don’t have even 10 minutes a day to spare.” While that may be true, we are spending a tremendous amount of time and energy (and dollars) in our “business as usual” routine, the products of which may or may not be the most efficient and effective way to achieve our goals and mission.

Take for example the synagogue newsletter. This 12 or 24 page monthly publication takes thousands of dollars per year in paper, labels and stamps, plus who know how many hours to write, edit, layout, photocopy, stamp and send 500, 1000, or 1500 copies each month. Can you tell me how many people read it cover to cover? What’s the most popular column? How many throw it in the recycling without even a glance? Even those who do read it cover to cover — what’s the impact on their participation, education, engagement, identity or support?

Now, can we borrow just 10 minutes a day from the team of people who put countless hours into that newsletter? I’ll help you measure the return on your 10 minutes. My guess is you’ll find it worthwhile.

There is no looking back. So we might as well start looking forward. How do you spend your 10 minutes of social media per day? What are the outcomes?

Jewish Media/Communications Jobs

It’s amazing that in this economy, and in a time when we here are Darim are continually advocating for increasing staffing and capacity around media use, that these openings pop up! What luck! Might they interest you, or someone you know?

BIRTHRIGHT ISRAEL NEXT: DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS

(excerpts from a post on ejewishphilanthropy.com)

With an emphasis on community organizing and grassroots mobilization, Birthright Israel NEXT empowers all Taglit-Birthright Israel trip participants and Jews between the ages of 22-30 to be more connected to Jewish community, ritual, culture, and social action. The organizations goal is to provide the resources and motivation for Jews to discover and develop their own relationship with Judaism, communicate and meet other Jews in the community, and provide an inclusive means for people of all religions to understand and experience Jewish culture.

Creating an inspired, interactive, and compelling online presence is essential to increasing awareness of and participation in our programs, adding to our growing community and encouraging involvement in our events. Therefore, we are seeking a Director of Communications to develop and implement traditional PR and online strategies to provide young people with a rich, interactive experience with our brand. This is an exciting opportunity for a creative and tech-savvy communications specialist with a passion for our mission and a desire to mobilize.

The Director of Communications is charged with crafting a communications strategy for Birthright Israel NEXT and overseeing the full range of internal and external communications, including media outreach, social media marketing, advertising, fundraising, and board communication. The ideal candidate has demonstrated success in leading integrated traditional and digital public relations/marketing campaigns for a cause-related organization with proven results, has outstanding brand-building experience, and superior communications skills.

More info here.

COMBINED JEWISH PHILANTHROPIES – BOSTON FEDERATION – VP of MARKETING

The Vice President of Marketing manages all marketing, branding, communications, public relations, direct marketing, and event management for Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP).

We are looking for a creative and seasoned professional to deepen the CJP brand, grow awareness of CJP’s philanthropic and programming offerings, expand the use of new media and increase the role of online strategies in our marketing mix.

More info on the CJP web site.

THE DAVID PROJECT — WEB DESIGNER/DEVELOPER (Boston)

The David Project Center for Jewish leadership is an international non-profit organization dedicated to educating and inspiring strong voices for Israel through dynamic and comprehensive educational seminars, workshops, and curricula. Our groundbreaking Israel education curricula are currently taught in over 100 Jewish high schools and middle schools, reaching thousands of students around the country. Each year we educate and train hundreds of college students to assume pro-Israel leadership roles on campuses across America and Canada.

This position will involve the updating and improvement of our current website on a regular basis. The individual will be responsible for implementing changes and improvements to our website consistent with the mission of our organization. In addition, the individual will be responsible for working with other staff members to keep the information on our website current.

More info here.

Additional jobs at UJC in New York and other Federations nationwide.

Got a job to post? Add it to the comments with a link to more info!

Your Turn To Brag. Come On, Really.

Reform Judaism magazine is planning an upcoming article on how Reform congregations are integrating cutting-edge technology in the service of community. We know if you’re reading this blog, and you’re a staff member, lay leader or active member of a congregation you’ve likely got something good going on. Tell us about it! NOW! Leave a comment (see “comments” link above) or email us at [email protected] and tell us your story, including links. We’ll pass along stories to the folks at the URJ, and/or you can copy them on your email at [email protected]

We have found that many congregations think what they’re doing isn’t so special — until they start to tell others about it, and eyes light up. It doesn’t even have to be fancy techie stuff. When Temple Israel Center really started sharing their web stats (a report to the board to show value, a report to staff to show their writing is really being read, and a report to members to illustrate how many people find the web site content valuable), it changed the conversation about the use of the web site in their congregation. And once they shared the practice with others via the Darim Online Learning Network, many other congregations adopted the valuable practice.

Are you doing anything with social networking? Online video or podcasting? Distance learning for adult education? Blogging? Have you restructured your e-newsletter recently? What products or services have you found most helpful? What’s been key to moving your work forward (adding staff, recruting volunteers, getting a budget, etc.)?

Consider it my Hanukkah present. Take 3 minutes and tell me your story.

Baltimore Jewish Leaders Assembly, Powered by Teens

Allison Fine signs copies of her book, Momentum
Allison Fine signs copies of her book, Momentum

Allison Fine, author of Momentum was the keynote speaker at ACHARAI, the Shoshana S. Cardin Leadership Development Institute’s “Technology: Threat or Promise” event on Thursday, November 20. After setting the stage to help participants see the landscape of the field, Allison pointed to the group of teens seated at the back tables. These people are the future employees, and consumers of what our Jewish organizations have to offer. Allison urged us to listen to them, carefully. How are they using these tools, how are they making decisions, what do they want? The bottom line: communities are no longer being built from the top down, they are powered from the bottom up. We must empower and engage these young people to bring them into our community and organizations.

These teens came to the program to both learn and teach. One of the several break out sessions, led by Darim’s Director of the Learning Network, Caren Levine, employed the teens to help participants get hands-on experience with social media tools, such as wikis and blogs. The teens were able to help lower barriers to entry, so participants could experiment with the technology in a safe and supportive place.

Teens debrief at the end of the day
Teens debrief at the end of the day

While the teens were instrumental in assisting the program, I think they walked away with more than they expected. Those who attended my session on social media theory and practice told me they had many “ah-ha moments” — that while they don’t think twice about the technology, they’d never paused to think about how it can be used strategically to help achieve a specific goal, and they were excited to see examples of really fun stuff happening online in the Jewish world.

Hats off to Debs Weinberg and her team for organizing such a thoughtful, educational and inspiring event. In my vision, the next stage of Jewish organizational life will fuse experienced strategic thinkers with younger “we’ve grown up on this stuff” staff to shift organizational practice into relevant 21st century modes. These young people may have walked in thinking they were contributing to the teaching, but they left with much more. Sitting in on the debrief after the conference, I was amazed to hear what they had learned. The skills they developed in this one day will position them to be incredibly valuable in the job market as they graduate in the coming years.

Our Recommendations, and Yours

Part of our goal in this blog is to turn you on to great stuff, and we’ve just set up an aStore through Amazon.com to provide even more recommendations. The aStore allows you to set up your own store with your recommended products that Amazon sells. Any organization can do this, and through your affiliate relationship, get a percentage of each sale. The real value, however, is that you can turn on your constituents to the products you think they’d most enjoy or benefit from. This is a great way to plant the seed that parents and grandparents buy Jewish-themed gifts for Hanukkah. Instead of thinking that this is a great way to raise a few bucks, market it as a service you are providing to your community. And consider the affiliate referral fees just a bonus.

Check out our aStore here. And you can learn more about setting up your own (really, a 30 min undertaking to get going) here.

We also want to hear what you’ve been reading or using that you’d like to share with others through our aStore. This can be about anything: Jewish, nonprofit, technology, media, etc. I’ve even set up a kid related category as a resource for Hanukkah gift ideas. Leave a comment below with your suggestion, and we’ll add it to the store! I’ve also added a link to our store on the left side of this blog, so you can find it easily in the future.

When I speak at conferences or professional development events, I always try to leave something in my wake. After a shot in the arm of social media, usually the people in the room are hungry for more. I always mention books, web sites, blogs, and other recommendations, and provide a handout with lists of this info. After nearly every event, I get emails from participants saying “I love that blog!” and “I read that Managing Transitions book — thank you, it was so helpful!”. I hope our store can provide this ongoing resource for you. When you finish your next book, come browse!