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?

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