Playing Like Lion Cubs

I’m recently back from 2 Jewish education conferences — #JEA59 (Conservative Jewish educators) and #NATEseattle (Reform Jewish educators). Both conferences shared a theme about technology, and I fully enjoyed the opportunity to both teach and learn. In Seattle, Charlie Schwartz and Russel Neiss of Media Midrash did a session on mobile technologies, which I loved. They demanded that we all bring our phones and ipads fully charged and ready to go. They reminded us of the educational power of the tools students bring with them into the classroom, and guided us to the productive and creative ways to use them. But it wasn’t PollEverywhere or SCVNGR that really got me excited. It was that we were all playing. That’s right. PLAYING.Lion Cubs at Play

 

Mid-text message, while the educator’s snarky responses to Charlie and Russel’s questions were popping up on the gigantic screens, and giggles were erupting throughout the ballroom, I had this vision in my mind:

We’re all lion cubs.

Children, of all species, play. They play not just because they’ve got nothing else better to do, but because they need to play to learn and practice the skills they will need to employ as adults. We play to learn balance, boundaries, social skills. As adults, we often forget how to play in this way. We’ve grown out of it. It’s natural. But in an environment where we continually need to be learning new boundaries, new skills, new tools, this kind of play is actually really important.

While we often focus on "professional development" and "training" (both of which are important and have their place), I was struck by these conferences’ ability to help us play. In my pre-conference Boot Camp at NATE, participants launched Twitter accounts, and tried their hand at blogging for the first time. Low risk, just play. At JEA, a "technology theater" gave participants permission to sample tools and dabble in a simple, exploratory way.

In our work at Darim, we often observe that the "accidental techies" are educators. "Accidental techies" are the people who are intrigued with a tool, play around, and start to accept responsibility for the organization’s social media activities. I don’t think this is a coincidence. Perhaps educators feel more permission to play. Perhaps people who like to play as adults become educators.

Regardless, I encourage you to embrace your furry playful lion-cub self. Go ahead, play a little! And thanks to Russel and Charlie for presenting your rich and educational session is such a fun and playful way. Kol HaKavod. You taught us more than perhaps you had planned to.

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

Networked Nonprofit Book Club

I pre-ordered The Networked Nonprofit and cracked it open the day I received it last summer. Authors Beth Kanter and Allison Fine are gurus of nonprofit social media and the implications for organizations, and I was eager to continue to learn from them. What I didn’t realize is that the book would provide both conceptual and tactical frameworks for advancing any organization’s work, regardless of where you are starting from. While I’ve recommended the book to many, here at Darim we were eager to really engage with others about what this means for Jewish organizations, their leaders, and the community as a whole. On Monday, we’re launching Darim’s Networked Nonprofit Book Club. Based in the new Facebook Groups, we’ll be posing discussion questions from one or two chapters each week. We hope to learn what you’re thinking, doing, learning, and struggling with. And we hope to learn from each other, help each other solve problems, and also get a sense of where Darim’s efforts could make an important difference for you and others. We’re also learning, as this is our first book club adventure and our first large scale experiment with the updated version of Facebook Groups. So far, 137 people have joined — which has far exceeded our expectations! Even authors Beth Kanter and Allison Fine are on board. We hope the opportunity will help participants learn the “ins and outs” of this new tool along with us, and consider how it can be useful in their communities too. We welcome your input, suggestions and reflections on it — leave a comment here, in the group, or email us at [email protected] to share your thoughts. Want to join us? No cost – just swing on by: http://on.fb.me/netnonbookclub We have posted some initial info and guidelines for the Book Club. In the interest of sharing and encouraging others to experiment with Groups, book clubs, and online community facilitation, we’re posting the information here (see below) and will be sharing updates in future blog posts. Everything on this blog will be tagged "bookclub" and "#netnon". Tweeting? Use #darim and #netnon (which is the hashtag for the book in general). Hope to see you there! It kicks off Monday, though you’re welcome to swing by and join the conversation anytime. How We’ll Work Together We will focus on one or two chapters each week beginning January 10. Each week, Darim staff will kick off the conversation with one or two questions per week that relates to themes in that chapter and implications for Jewish organizations. Together, we will reflect on what that means for our work as Jewish professionals and lay leaders. Respond to our discussion questions by commenting on that post. You can also pose questions to the group, or share links or other information by posting your own status updates to the group. We encourage you to participate in ways that are most meaningful to you. Feel free to jump into – and even initiate – conversations, and to post relevant links and resources to share with the group. If you prefer to dip in and out of the discussions, that’s cool too! There are no preconceived expectations — we want you to learn, experiment, share and connect with others. Tips for Using Facebook Groups Notification settings: BY DEFAULT, You will receive any status that is posted to the group. If you comment on it, you will also receive notifications of any additional comments on that posting. If you’d prefer NOT to receive these notifications, you can click “unsubscribe” next to that specific posting. If you’d like to receive notification about a posting that you haven’t commented on, you can click “subscribe” next to it. To change your default settings, please visit “edit settings” in the top right corner of the group. Adding members: You probably noticed that you can add your Facebook friends to the group if they are on Facebook. Please feel free to add anyone who would like to join – we only ask that you check with them first to see if they are interested. You will find the “Add Friends to Group” link under the Members photos on the right hand column. You can also email them the link to our Group so they can opt in if they’d like. http://on.fb.me/netnonbookclub Group Chat: You can chat with group members who are online in real time by clicking on the “Chat with Group” link under the Members photos on the right hand column or by clicking the tab at bottom of the page. This is a fun way to make a personal connection with others in the group. When the chat box opens, you’ll see photos of group members — those with a green box are currently online. You can elect to have group chat messages sent to you going to “edit settings” and selecting that option. Living Room Policy: While we have very few rules, we do want to make the Book Club experience as fun, useful and efficient as possible for everyone. Thus, we ask you to abide by the Living Room Policy, which is basically this: If I were to invite you into my living room, I would expect you to be courteous and sociable. You are welcome to disagree or challenge me or anyone else, but you must do so respectfully. Also, vibrant discussions require good listening and asking questions or others, not only talking about yourself. Finally, please refrain from using this as a platform for marketing unrelated products or programs. And if you have any questions, please feel free to ask us at [email protected] It may take a little time for you to determine your personal preferences and customize them to fit your needs. Don’t be afraid to take them out for a test ride, tweak as needed, and/or ask us if you need help. Interested in more technical details? You can learn more about Facebook Groups here: http://bit.ly/fvSAor Resources for the Book Club If you have not already done so, please be sure to order your copy of The Networked NonProfit by Beth Kanter and Allison Fine. Here is a link to Amazon: http://bit.ly/aOa6nX And please feel free to view the recording of the recent Darim webinar with Allison Fine and Lisa Colton in which they discussed networked nonprofits and Jewish organizations: http://bit.ly/c8Iudm Are you tweeting? #netnon is the hashtag for the book, and #darim is for our community. Want to learn even more?! Join us at NTC in DC! Join us at NTEN’s annual Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC). And by “us” we mean a whole bunch of Jewish leaders like you – in addition to the fabulous NTC program (where top notch thinkers like authors Beth Kanter and Allison Fine regularly speak), the Schusterman Family Foundation and Darim Online are hosting a series of events for our members. Click here to learn more about it: http://bit.ly/igDAzB – we hope to see you there!

Hanukkah Entertainment That Educates?

in collaboration with guest blogger Rick Recht The ultimate form of ‘cool’ in the Jewish world is when your non-Jewish friends also think it, whatever IT is, is cool. Well, cool just happened – twice. [If you’ve seen the videos, feel free to skip below them to the bottom of this post. Unless, of course, you can’t help yourself but watch them again.] On December 4, the CNN.com top headline picture was a snapshot from a viral video by the Maccabeats, male a capella group from Yeshiva University. The video Candlelight, a parody of teen heart-throb, Taio Cruz’s top 10 hit, Dynamite, and Mike Tompkin’s a cappella version of it. The Hanukkah version has racked up more than 2 million views on YouTube, earning the Maccabeats appearances on The Today Show, The Early Show, CNN.com and The Washington Post, among others. Candlelight includes lyrics about the Hanukkah story and traditions such as latkes and dreidel spinning. The video humorously depicts the Maccabeats reenacting aspects of the ancient Hanukkah story in makeshift gladiator costumes occasionally flash-forwarding to present day Yeshiva college buddies flipping latkes, studying Torah, and singing on camera, Brady Bunch-style. Simultaneously, another new Hanukkah video, by reggae rapper, super star, Matisyahu, attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors. Matisyahu’s song, Miracle, is a contemporary interpretation of Hanukkah, where in a dream sequence Matisyahu meets Antiochus, the King of the Greeks, and the father of Judah Maccabee (the hero of the Hanukkah story), also named (get this!) Matisyahu. At Shabbat services last week, I mentioned the viral videos and then many laughed and nodded in recognition of the achievement by OUR Maccabeats and Matisyahu. We’ve got communal pride because this caliber of media rarely emanates from the Jewish world, and when it does, Jews take notice. These videos have the perfect combination of ingredients — including high-quality talent and cinematography, great humor, a clear connection with popular culture, and a powerful story line that is authentic Jewish history. These guys took it to the next level by unashamedly expressing their Jewish pride by using fun costumes, humor, and symbolism to tell the Hanukkah story. We’re not just talking about playing dreidel, we’re talking about the pressure to assimilate, and the temptation of … well, "chocolate stuff". (Don’t know what I mean? Watch "Miracle"!) While they are surely educational, the approach isn’t shoving historical facts down your throat. I asked my 23 year old office manager, Seth, why he thought the videos were cool and he didn’t skip a beat in responding, “First off, they’re hilarious. They are a great example of the talent that comes from our Jewish community. Now that these videos are viral, not only within the Jewish community but everywhere, it gives us pride to be Jewish because Jews AND non-Jews are watching and loving these videos. Hanukkah has lost a lot of its religious meaning and understanding for many of us (young people) and these videos give us a different way to look at the holiday and put a modern spin on it. They highlight the Jewish people and bring attention, in a very good way, to our Jewish community.” For Seth and many other young Jews, these videos exceed their apparent entertainment value and become more meaningful because they have a clear educational purpose. They don’t just hover around the contemporary iconic Hanukkah symbols such as dreidles and Hanukkah menorahs. They tell the REAL historical story of Hanukkah. They serve as relevant and meaningful sources of Jewish education for this holiday that has lost much of its meaning having become a contemporary American Hallmark holiday. They employ the ultimate tools for reaching and impacting young lives – music and video – and then stream the content on YouTube, the most powerful platform for video sharing. It’s also a powerful place for expression, identity building, and discusComment on Maccabeats Videosion. A few comments on the videos are posted here – they are fascinating to browse to gain insight into youthScreen shot 2010-12-06 at 10.55.39 PM (and not-so-youth) culture today of both Jews and non-Jews. Timing is everything, and the chance of being exposed to anything by or about Jews is dramatically increased during the Hanukkah season. It is no coincidence that these 2 videos hit their rocket-like trajectory on the 3rd and 4th days of Hanukkah. Familiarity breeds popularity. In the case of the Maccabeats, their song Candlelight was a parody of one of the most popular songs in the country. Almost every kid in the country had already memorized Dynamite by Taio Cruz and only had to learn the new Hanukkah lyrics in the Maccabeats’ parody. Screen shot 2010-12-06 at 10.58.49 PMScreen shot 2010-12-06 at 10.57.43 PMSo let us rejoice for the blessing of these two incredible viral videos that have infused our Jewish lives with such excitement and pride during this holiday season. And let us contemplate a time when individuals in our Jewish community can achieve national recognition in between holidays, using the power of music, video, and genuine high-quality talent to not only entertain, but educate both Jewish and non-Jewish audiences about our Jewish rituals, values, and history. Rick Recht is the top touring artist in Jewish music, the Executive Director of Jewish Rock Radio, Executive Director of Songleader Boot Camp, and the JNF National Music Spokesman.

Your Invitation to Join the Jews at 11NTC!

Technology, marketing, communications, leadershipall vital ingredients to advancing your mission, all key topics to be discussed at the 2011 Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC).

CLSFF and Darim Online have worked with the event organizer, NTEN: The Nonprofit Technology Network, to offer the members of our network a discount to attend this important gatheringthanks, NTEN!and we are extending an invitation to you to join us there for an intimate discussion about the role technology and new media has to play in advancing our Jewish organizations.

Need another reason why YOU should attend? Well give you three:

  • Its a rare opportunity to connect with, learn from and share knowledge with peers and experts in the nonprofit sector. A wide range of nonprofit professionalsexecutive directors, development professionals, marketing and communication folks, IT staff, program staff and othersfrom both very small and very large organizations will be present to connect with and collaborate on creating change.
  • A playground for the tech-friendly and curious Jewish professionals, the NTC will help you step outside of the silo of our community to learn from the rockstars of the nonprofit technology field, gain insights and skills you wouldnt find elsewhere, and enjoy ice cream bars at the mid-afternoon break and a cocktail with friends at the After-Party.
  • Schusterman Family Foundation and Darim Online will be hosting unique gatherings at the NTC just for the members of our networks: on the morning of Thursday, March 17, we will be facilitating an intimate learning-and-networking event, and on the evening of Friday, March 18, we will be hosting Shabbat dinner.

More details to follow on both events. Please click here to let us know if you are interested in attending and here for your chance to win a free pass to NTC!

In the meantime, 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.

Please note: the member rate will increase along with the regular rate as we get closer to the event so register as soon as possible! If you do it by Dec. 7, you will get the lowest rate of $359! Have money left in your 2010 professional development budget? This may be just the way to spend it wisely!

To learn more, visit www.nten.org/ntc, and please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions. We hope to see you in Washington, D.C., in March for an invigorating gathering and schmooze sessions!

Shalom, Sez Me… Grover’s Big Adventures

[cross-posted on jlearn2.0] Shalom Sesame: NextGen. The good people at Shalom Sesame are rolling out the release of the first two of twelve dvds in their new series. It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years since the first edition on video; I am pleased to report that Moshe Oofnik has not aged – nor mellowed – a bit.

The first two dvds, featuring the ever inquisitive Grover, include Welcome to Israel and Chanukah: The Missing Menorah. In true Shalom Sesame fashion, each episode contains groovy animations, Muppets and humans hanging together, joyous singing, and fun snippets of learning around Jewish values, Hebrew language, and Israeli life.

At a recent screening at Sesame Workshop, Shari Rosenfeld and Stephanie Wilchfort, the project leaders, described resources that will be of special interest to parents and educators. The accompanying Shalom Sesame website will feature over 100 free clips from the dvds and supporting materials for home and classroom use including games, interactive storybooks, art projects, Hebrew language reinforcement, and holiday e-cards. One of their goals is to make the material as flexible as possible and to provide multiple entry points into learning about Jewish culture. In the meantime, they are releasing clips on their Facebook page to whet your appetite and put a smile on your face (oh, kids will like it too – the little ones at the premiere were bopping along to the songs).

In celebration of Chanukah, many JCCS and synagogues will be sponsoring the debut of Shalom Sesame’s holiday episode, Chanukah: The Missing Menorah on Sunday, December 5th. Check with your local JCC / synagogue for details. Some local PBS stations will also be airing the Chanukah episode.

The videos are available online and in stores and can be ordered directly from the Sesame Street Store. Interested in learning more? Darim Online is hosting the creative team behind Shalom Sesame on a webinar to discuss the new series and how schools and parents can use it with their children. Register here – it’s free – and it’s fun!

Here’s a taste of Shalom Sesame – I love learning Hebrew with Grover! I know just how he feels: Grover Learns Hebrew: Boker Tov!

Opportunity: Tell Us How You Tech!

Have you or your organization used new media technology in an effective, creative way to activate your network? Tell us the details of your story, and be entered to win a free pass to the 2011 Nonprofit Technology Conference (“NTC”) from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and Darim Online. NTC, an annual event organized by NTEN: The Nonprofit Technology Network, will take place March 17-19 in Washington, D.C. It is a rare opportunity for the tech-friendly and curious Jewish professionals to connect with, learn from and share knowledge with peers and experts who are dedicating their talents to the nonprofit sector. A wide range of nonprofit professionals—executive directors, development professionals, marketing and communication folks, IT staff, program staff and others—from both very small and very large organizations will be present to discuss how technology, marketing, communications and leadership are essential to advancing your mission. Do not miss out on this amazing opportunity to step outside of the silo of our community to learn from the rockstars of the nonprofit technology field while also engaging in facilitated discussions and schmooze sessions with your fellow Jewish professionals. Better yet, you can earn the chance to do it for free simply by telling us how you are using technology! Leave a comment below! Deadline for submissions is December 15! Thank you to the Nonprofit Technology Network for donating this conference registration to the Jewish community!

Need A Hanukkah Gift For Your Boss?

YScreen shot 2010-11-19 at 3.34.26 PMou’re looking for the gift that keeps on giving, right? I’ve got just the thing for you. Pick up a copy of Beth Kanter and Allison Fine’s book The Networked Nonprofit. A fun read with great stories and case studies, this book will help any nonprofit leader better understand the impact and opportunities of working in a networked world. THEN SIGN UP FOR OUR ONLINE BOOK GROUP! That’s right. Starting in January, we’ll be hosting a free online book group to discuss the concepts and their application to our work in the Jewish community. Bonus: experience the joys of the new Facebook Groups feature while you’re at it. You can join the book group now, and we’ll kick off discussion in January. That gives you just enough time to get copies for your co-workers, plus one for yourself, and read it in mid-December while everyone else is still scrambling for that other holiday, or by a cozy fire, or on the beach in Hawaii or where ever you might take a winter vacation… Have you read the book yet? What are you interested in discussing? What ideas grabbed your attention?

New Darim Book Group: The Networked Nonprofit – Join Us!

The Networked NonprofitAs part of our 10th Birthday Celebration, Darim is thrilled to announce our new book club! Following on the success of our recent webinar with Allison Fine, we are starting a book group to dive more deeply into The Networked Nonprofit and what it means for transforming Jewish organizations.

The Details

Darim is excited to launch our very first book club to deepen our understanding of "networked nonprofits," and to help each other adopt these approaches into our work. Starting January 10th we’ll be discussing a chapter of The Networked Nonprofit each week.

Step this way to the Darim Online Book Club!. Just click on "request to join" and we’ll add you to the group. The book club will take advantage of Facebook’s new "Groups" (note that this is different than the previous "group" structure; extra bonus – in addition to great conversation, you’ll become more familiar with this new Facebook feature.)

In January we’ll start posting questions to guide our discussion. Share your thoughts and questions as we learn from each other!

Please note: there is no cost to participate, but you will need to login to Facebook to join the group. Join us – and get reading! You can buy The Networked Nonprofit by Allison Fine and Beth Kanter here.

The Blossoming of Video Rosh Hashanah Greetings

Did you notice the proliferation of vide0 this holiday season? Many congregations and other Jewish organization embraced the video greeting, with humor, seriousness, and calls to action. Video is a powerful medium for many reasons. First, it conveys personality, nuance, body language and intonation so much more powerfully than text or photographs. Further, a video can capture a user’s attention for 2 or 3 minutes at a time, rather than a few seconds at a time with text online. Thus, it has the potential to tell a much deeper story than you might achieve otherwise. Let’s take a look at a few Rosh Hashanah greetings from this year: The Community Synagogue, Port Washington, NY. This video got picked up by Perez Hilton, The Daily Beast, and local TV news, resulting in over 90,000 hits on YouTube. While total hits aren’t the ultimate measurement of success, they clearly got something right that generated this attention. There are three important elements to take away from this success: 1) The Rabbi’s message is personal, thoughtful and educational; 2) the central piece is humorous and playful. While it feels silly and lo-fi, it also give a sense that this is a fun place to be; and 3) it closes with a real community building tour of the people who make the synagogue run on a daily basis (including introductions of recently hired staff). While it’s slightly long (nearly 4 minutes), it is well paced and keeps your attention. The comments on YouTube are fascinating too — worth glancing at. Jewish Federations of North America put together videos that local Federations could use and adapt for their own purposes. You’ll notice that while the campaign is about a "call to action", the story being told is from people just like you and me, and less about the institution itself. This approach makes the video more compelling, personal and accessible than a pure solicitation. Congregation Rodef Shalom in Virginia made a video to a song, and invited any cameo appearances — the UPS guy, the gardener, and the entire summer camp – to give a feel of the community. How else could you shed light on the community, help people learn something, or develop new associations with your organization? What Rosh Hashana videos did you notice this year? Drop a link and your thoughts about what worked (or didn’t) in the comments here. What should orgs be thinking about for next year?