Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

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 and of course, please let us know of any other desired tools via

    Best regards,


Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.

Current day month ye@r *


  • Blogs Sports Dodgers Power-Hitter Could Break Stereotype of Jews in Sports

    Dodgers Power-Hitter Could Break Stereotype of Jews in Sports

    Rookie player for the Dodgers Joc Pederson may boost the image of Jewish athletes if he can prove he has both brains and brawn, according to an article in the Daily Beast on Sunday. The piece pointed out a longstanding stereotype of Jews as more brainy than brawny, and asserted that Pederson could break the stereotype. Indeed, the 23-year-old’s “power-hitting” performance thus far has been considered rare among Jewish athletes. “If Pederson sustains his performance for any length of time, he could be the first respected, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Jerry Seinfeld to Make Comedy Debut in Israel

    Jerry Seinfeld to Make Comedy Debut in Israel – Famed Jewish-American comedian and actor Jerry Seinfeld is slated to make his comedic debut in Israel later this year. Seinfeld, who was born in Brooklyn to Jewish parents from the Ukraine and Syria, will perform in Tel Aviv’s Mitvtachim Menorah Arena on Dec. 19 as part of a world tour. The comedian is most known for his enormously popular NBC sitcom Seinfeld, which ran from 1989-1998 and is widely considered one of the greatest TV series of all time. […]

    Read more →
  • Food Israel New Video Shows American Kids Reviewing Israeli Food After Tasting Dishes for First Time (VIDEO)

    New Video Shows American Kids Reviewing Israeli Food After Tasting Dishes for First Time (VIDEO)

    A new video circulating online shows eight American children reacting — mostly positively — to their first taste of the famed Israeli eggplant salad/dip, known in Hebrew as “salat hatzilim” and in other parts of the Levant as baba ganoush. The clip, created by, features the youngsters trying a variety of exotic dishes from other countries as well, such as Hawaiian poi, Colombian pork belly and Russian borscht. The Israeli delicacies served include schnitzel, slices of pita, hummus and the baba ganoush salad. “If someone […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Pioneers/Philanthropists ‘Start-Up Nation’ Israel to Host Forbes Magazine Young Entrepreneurs Summit

    ‘Start-Up Nation’ Israel to Host Forbes Magazine Young Entrepreneurs Summit – Forbes magazine announced Tuesday that it will host its Under 30 EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) Summit in Israel for the first time in April 2016. The conference is expected to bring together some 600 young entrepreneurs, with 200 from Europe, 200 from the U.S., and 200 from Israel. The summit has been hosted in Philadelphia for the past two years. It will include presentations, speeches, a pitch competition, and cultural immersion opportunities in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Beliefs and concepts What’s That Huge White Bridal Dress Floating Over the Tower of David?

    What’s That Huge White Bridal Dress Floating Over the Tower of David? –  “What’s that huge white bridal dress floating over the Tower of David?” That’s what visitors to Jerusalem’s Old City asked last week. The wedding gown, created by leading Israeli artist Motti Mizrachi, is part of the 2nd Jerusalem Biennale for Contemporary Jewish Art, an event that blew into town as the Sukkot holiday got underway. Mizrachi, who lives and works in Tel Aviv, created the dress that floats majestically over the Tower of David, the main exhibition site […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion The Top 10 Places to Visit in Israel

    The Top 10 Places to Visit in Israel

    Israel is a holiday destination on many travelers’ bucket lists. No matter the style of holiday you are after, Israel has the answer. Whether you prefer to relax by the beach, hike up mountains in the desert, visit religious and historical sites, eat your way through the country or just enjoy some retail therapy, your journey through Israel will be one to remember. While there are obviously so many things to see and do, here is a list of 10 of […]

    Read more →
  • Pioneers/Philanthropists US & Canada Jewish American Fashion Mogul Ralph Lauren to Step Down as CEO

    Jewish American Fashion Mogul Ralph Lauren to Step Down as CEO – Jewish American fashion mogul Ralph Lauren announced his plan to step down as chief executive officer of the renowned fashion brand. The head of Gap Inc’s Old Navy brand will take over the position. The 75-year-old Lauren, who founded Ralph Lauren Corp. in 1967, will continue to serve as executive chairman and will continue leading the fashion house’s design team, according to a statement by the company. After the announcement, Ralph Lauren shares rose 3.79 percent while Gap shares […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Sports US & Canada Jewish Boxer Dustin ‘White Tiger’ Fleischer Scores Fourth Knockout Victory

    Jewish Boxer Dustin ‘White Tiger’ Fleischer Scores Fourth Knockout Victory

    Jewish boxer Dustin Fleischer, who said his quest is to become the first world champion descended from a Holocaust survivor, stayed unbeaten with a first-round knockout. Fleischer, nicknamed “The White Tiger,” moved to 4-0 with the defeat of Ira Frank on Saturday night in Beach Haven, New Jersey, near his home, he reported after the fight on his Facebook page. The 26-year-old welterweight has won all his bouts by knockout. Read full story at JTA.

    Read more →