Social Media for the Observant Jew

May 10, 2012 3:32 pm 1 comment

Photo: wiki commons.

On a Friday evening, I tweeted three times and posted three Facebook updates at three separate times — and I wasn’t even online.

Tools like HootSuite and Tweet Deck allow social media users to schedule posts in the future for major social networking platforms. This innovation allows Jews to observe the Sabbath while updating their “Followers” on Twitter and “Friends” on Facebook.

A HootSuite-like feature can be beneficial for both the observant Jew who is a marketing professional and for the one who runs a business. For the former, it enables them to maintain a constant social presence and to post notifications on behalf of a client. And for the latter, their business’ Twitter profile or Facebook page can offer deals during the Sabbath.

Of course, fellow observant Jews won’t be checking those updates.

However, one Conservative Jew I spoke with expressed concern at the chance of a post during the Sabbath being misinterpreted. He proposed a scenario whereby a fellow Jewish friend might later see the post and assume that it was written in real time. This in turn might cause him to think that he violated the Sabbath.

To remedy this, the man suggested there be a big disclaimer coinciding with such posts explaining that they were written prior to the day of rest.

The question of whether Twitter can be used by religious Jews in general was raised by Rabbi Hartman of the Shalom Hartman Institute, a Jewish think tank, who lamented over Twitter’s 140-character limit as a way to educate people on Judaism. In an article on the institute’s website entitled, “Judaism is Not a Twitter-able Religion,” he wrote:

“This content is not Twitter-able. The journey of a meaningful Jewish life needs a wide bandwidth. It requires knowledge, time, and commitment. If we want Judaism to have a great future, and not merely a great past, we need to set our sights higher and deeper.”

The Catch-22, he said, is that Jews, particularly because they are small in numbers, must utilize Twitter as a resource to reach more people. But, he added, “a dumbed-down and watered-down Judaism … cannot compete in an open marketplace of ideas.”

What Rabbi Hartman failed to note is one’s ability to add hyperlinks to a Twitter post. A successful Twitter post is meant to give a tidbit of information; to pique one’s interest. By clicking on a hyperlink, the user can be directed to a website or page with a “wide bandwidth.”

But the simplest answer to whether Judaism is Twitter-able may be the shortest answer. Consider the famous Talmudic story of Rabbi Hillel who was asked by a non-Jew to teach him the Torah while the latter stood on one leg. If successful, he agreed to convert to Judaism. And so the story goes that Rabbi Hillel answered with, “That which is hateful unto you do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole of the Torah, The rest is commentary. Go forth and study.” (His summary of the Torah, by the way, is only 57 characters, certainly within the character limit for a tweet.)

Another interesting innovation, one blogger brainstormed, would be to have a Kindle that could “bypass Sabbath prohibitions by disabling its buttons, turning itself on at a preset time, and flipping through a book at a predetermined clip.”

One of the most common activities of the Sabbath is reading, and as books shift from print to digital such a device will be valuable. According to the Association of American Publishers, ebook sales were up 117 percent for 2011 while trade print sales of books declined on all fronts. The largest decline of 36 percent was seen in mass market paperback books.

Like the advent of the Sabbath elevator that stops and opens at every floor from sundown Friday to Saturday night, advances in technology have further accommodated observant Jews, allowing them to, paradoxically, use technology without actually doing so.

However, while such innovations don’t constitute a break in the Sabbath, not everyone approves of them, feeling, as one observant Jewish friend of mine said, that they go against the “spirit of the Sabbath.”

1 Comment

  • Thanks for sharing the HootSuite story. We truly enjoy seeing the unique ways folks use the social media dashboard and this was one use-case we’d never thought about. Keep in mind, you can batch schedule up to 50 messages at a time with HootSuite Pro. I’d also suggest adding a hastag to denote pre-scheduled posts i.e. #presked if this is a concern.

    One other note, we have a crowd-sourced translation project which allows users to help us translate HootSuite into their language. If there is suffucient interest, we could do this for Hebrew. Start by checking out http://blog.hootsuite.com/translation and of course, please let us know of any other desired tools via feedback.hootsuite.com.

    Best regards,

    @daveohoots

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Music US & Canada Lady Gaga Accepts ADL Award: ‘Your Philosophies Are So in Line With Ours’ (VIDEO)

    Lady Gaga Accepts ADL Award: ‘Your Philosophies Are So in Line With Ours’ (VIDEO)

    Pop superstar Lady Gaga on Thursday accepted an award from Jewish human rights group the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on behalf of her Born This Way Foundation, which strives to combat bullying among young people. “Your philosophies are so in line with ours,” she said of the ADL upon accepting the Making a Difference Award in a videotaped message, which was shown at a ceremony in New York City. “We want to help young people know that their feelings and who they are on [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities At 80, Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Roots ‘Very Much Intact’

    At 80, Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Roots ‘Very Much Intact’

    JNS.org – Eighty years young, Leonard Cohen fits many descriptions—singer, songwriter, poet, novelist, monk. From his Jewish upbringing in Canada to the present day, Cohen has always explored his spiritual side. This month, the singer-songwriter released the CD (May 12) and iTunes (on May 8 of this year) formats of his latest album, Can’t Forget: A Souvenir of the Grand Tour, which features live recordings from his world tours in 2012 and 2013. Last year, Cohen’s Popular Problems was voted by Rolling Stone [...]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not be Booted From World Soccer Association

    FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not be Booted From World Soccer Association

    JNS.org – Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) head Sepp Blatter said during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that contrary to Palestinian complaints, Israel has not violated any FIFA statutes and should not be suspended from international soccer’s governing body. “We should not come to one federation saying we will exclude them,” said Blatter, the Jerusalem Post reported. “If the national association is fulfilling its obligations then there is no need to intervene,” he said. “I’m on a [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Middle East Sports Jewish Rights Group Slams Palestinian Attempts to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Jewish Rights Group Slams Palestinian Attempts to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) said on Tuesday it was “appalled” by a Palestinian Football Association initiative to suspend Israel from FIFA, calling it another “front waged in the context of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign.” “We are appalled at the temerity of the Palestinan Football Association (PFA) demand that FIFA suspend Israel at your forthcoming Congress in Zurich,” wrote the group’s international relations director, Dr. Shimon Samuels, in a letter to FIFA President Joseph [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Star of Auschwitz Thriller Says ‘God Was Holding the Hand of Every Jew in the Gas Chamber’ (VIDEO)

    Star of Auschwitz Thriller Says ‘God Was Holding the Hand of Every Jew in the Gas Chamber’ (VIDEO)

    The lead actor in Son of Saul, an Auschwitz thriller featured at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, told the UK’s The Guardian that he believes God was “holding the hand” of each Jew who died in the Nazi gas chambers during the Holocaust. “I do not for one nanosecond like to pretend that God is off the hook. He could and should have stopped it at a much earlier stage,” Géza Röhrig, 48, said. ”But I would not be able to get [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Backstreet Boys Singer Howie D Gushes Over Masada During Israel Trip

    Backstreet Boys Singer Howie D Gushes Over Masada During Israel Trip

    Backstreet Boys singer Howie Dorough took to Instagram on Tuesday to marvel about climbing the famed Masada fortress with his band during their visit to Israel, where they will perform this week for the first time. The group’s second day of sightseeing in the Jewish state included the Masada hike, and taking a mud bath at the Dead Sea. A picture from the band’s official Twitter page shows the five singers covered in mud. While relaxing in the Dead Sea, [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews US & Canada ‘Arms and the Dudes:’ New Book, Film Detail How Ex-Orthodox Yeshiva Guys Became Top Suppliers for Afghan Army

    ‘Arms and the Dudes:’ New Book, Film Detail How Ex-Orthodox Yeshiva Guys Became Top Suppliers for Afghan Army

    A new book and its upcoming film adaptation tell the true story of how three former yeshiva students who habitually smoked marijuana scored a $300 million contract from the U.S. government to supply weapons for the Afghan Army, the New York Daily News reported on Sunday. Arms and the Dudes details how the Miami Beach potheads became “the most unlikely gunrunners in history,” according to the book’s author, investigative reporter Guy Lawson. The tale begins with Efraim Diveroli, nephew of [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater Natalie Portman: Israel-Themed ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness’ Not Political

    Natalie Portman: Israel-Themed ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness’ Not Political

    JNS.org – Natalie Portman, who directs and stars in the new Hebrew-language film adaptation of author Amos Oz’s A Tale of Love and Darkness, says that despite Oz’s record as a vocal left-wing critic of Israel, her film is not political. Like the book on which it is based, Portman’s film is about a young boy at the time of the founding of the state of Israel. “I think the movie is very much about this very particular, specific family story. Of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.