Saturday, March 29, 2014

Twitter for Rabbis: A Crash Course

Today starts the 125th Annual CCAR Convention.
Hopefully, that means that #ccar14 and #whatrabbisdo are about to become Trending Topics on Twitter.

If that above sentence made perfect sense to you, and you responded with a resounded cheer of "yes!" then you probably don't need to read the rest of this blog post.

If that above sentence made your eyes glaze over with the # symbols and the word on.

How to become a quick-study at Twitter:

1. Go to and set up an account. Choose a user name that isn't too long, isn't too complicated, and in some way helps to explain who you are. My username is imabima. (Get it?)

On Twitter, users are referred to by the user name, prefaced by the @ symbol. So my username is @imabima. The idea of "tagging" someone in a post actually originated in Twitter but expanded to Facebook.

2. Find at least 10-20 people to "follow." This isn't a huge commitment. It's not like being "friends" on Facebook. It implies no special relationship. You follow other people in order to have something to read and respond to as you use Twitter. Twitter is ideal when there are people having actual conversations back and forth rather than just putting ideas out into the world.

I suggest you start with these rabbis who tend to tweet at the CCAR Conventions (this list is by no means comprehensive):


(There are so many others who tweet....this is just a sample, based on the front page of those tweeting at the CCAR right as I type this post. Also, there are lots of other non-Reform rabbis and other interesting things and people to follow on Twitter. That's a different post for a different day.)

A single Twitter post is known as a tweet. The verb used to explain what you're doing when you post on Twitter is tweeting.

3. There are two main kinds of posts in Twitter: your own original tweets and other people's posts that you re-post, known as re-tweeting. "Re-Tweets" are usually prefaced by the letters RT. Most "good" Twitter users will do a nice balance or combination of their own tweets accompanied by RTs of other people's stuff.

4. Hashtags: This gets people a little wiggy. It's really less complicated than it sounds. Hashtags are a way to follow along a certain stream of conversation in Twitter, which can be a vast ocean of stuff. So in order to best follow what's happening at the CCAR, users will post their tweets with the extra phrase #ccar14. This allows people to follow just this particular stream of information surrounding the CCAR Convention and differentiates our conversation from last year's convention. You can get by on Twitter with ONLY this hashtag for the convention. You don't need any other ones. As you get a little more advanced in your can learn more about these things.

5. In real life: Add your twitter username (known as your "handle") to your name tag at the convention. Talk to other people about how they're using Twitter. Don't be afraid to follow people and to see that others are following you.

Twitter is worth exploring. There's a lot to be learned and gleaned from the vastness of its information stream. It does seem a bit overwhelming and daunting when you merely look at how many tweets there are per day, per hour, all over the world. For specific uses and purposes, it can be a really useful and educational tool.

I look forward to reading all the #ccar14 tweets!

Monday, March 24, 2014

#BlogExodus and #Exodusgram 5774

Yes, it's that time of year again.

Passover is just around the corner and so is Rosh Chodesh Nisan, which is just about one week away.
I've thought a lot about whether I wanted to offer up the #BlogExodus and #Exodusgram prompts again this year. And I almost didn't. But then I realized that whenever I put up the prompts, I share them with the reminder that it is entirely what you want it to be. So I decided to put forth the prompts and give it a try. Maybe I will write on all of them, and maybe I won't. But it's a start, right?

So here it is, this year's #BlogExodus and #Exodusgram prompts:

Feel free to grab this image and share it, use it, post it....add it to your blogs, whatever!
So what is this really about? #BlogExodus is really what you want to make of it. I've provided topics for the first 14 days of the month of Nisan. What you do with it is up to you -- write a blog post, tweet, Facebook, tumblr, or something that I haven't even thought of yet! Use the hashtag to share your post (I put it into the title). It's a great way to kickstart a blog or rejuvenate your languishing blog or just get yourself ready for the holiday of Passover! I will be posting my #blogExodus posts here on this blog and I will tweet them out at @imabima. There aren't any rules, so maybe you don't like the order of the topics? Maybe you want to write on only a few of them? It doesn't matter. It is what you make of it. 

#Exodusgram is a little more interpretive. While I love Instagram (I'm imabima, of course), I know some people don't. So maybe you want to share Exodus-themed photos via Facebook, Twitter, tumblr, Pinterest or....whatever! My #Exodusgram posts will go up on Instagram and then be shared to my tumblr, Whatever you do, don't forget to tag with #Exodusgram so we can all share.

The themes are really up for your own interpretation. I was thinking broadly and openly about what makes Passover special and interesting to me. I hope it will translate into creative and inspirational posts from all of us!

Are you going to join in? Leave me a comment here or send me a tweet or just...jump in!
At some point in the middle, I will probably do a "roundup" post and I will retweet all the #BlogExodus and #Exodusgram posts through Twitter via @imabima. If I miss your posts, let me know so I can go back and be inspired by what YOU have to say!

*Yes, I know that I put the Shabbat dates there. I don't blog/tweet/Facebook on Shabbat but I will post on Fridays before Shabbat and on Saturdays after Shabbat is over. You can, of course, do it any way you like!