Friday, September 11, 2015

Where do you get yours News & Views?

Nowadays, I read my news-and-views mostly online. I still get a print newspaper delivered to my door every morning – Haaretz in Hebrew (don't read too much into that!) but like you, I get most of my news-and-views from social media, Internet viewspapers, and by visiting favorite websites.

Beyond Israel, I find myself drawn (sometimes like a moth to flame) to Facebook, Twitter, The NYT, WP, C-SPAN, PBS Newshour, Politico, Roll Call, Real Clear Politics PEW, Drudge, gosh…I could go on and on.

I'm always interested in discovering genuinely fresh sources of "content" especially since so much of what we read is regurgitated, curated, and aggregated.

In brainstorming about how I could promote my book The Pater, my publicist suggested I check out Kveller. If nothing else, I tripped upon a great site.

It is, editor Molly Tolsky tells me in an email, a website for women and parents who are raising kids through a Jewish lens and looking to share, celebrate, and commiserate with like-minded people. The site goes after readers from all different levels of observance and experience, from "first-time parents, grandparents, interfaith parents, queer parents, adoptive parents, and everything in between."

Kveller averages over 1 million unique page views a month, she says.

People turn to Kveller for its personal essays. "Our writers are relentlessly honest and unafraid to take on any topic, whether light-hearted or taboo, as it relates to parenting, relationships, careers, and so on," Tolsky says.

"We also feature an extensive Jewish Baby Name finder, how-to guides for Jewish holidays and life-cycle rituals, recipes, an advice column called 'Dear Gefilte,' and exclusive blog posts from Emmy-nominated Jewish actress and writer, Mayim Bialik, who stars on CBS' The Big Bang Theory."

Kveller is named after the Yiddish word, meaning to burst with pride (as over one's child... get it?), she prompts.

Kveller is part of 70 Faces Media, a not-for-profit group which also runs the JTA.


I'M FOREVER asking people where they turn for news-and-views.

When I posed this question to Shimon Fogel, chief executive officer of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs in Canada he wrote back:

"Elliot, there is no shortage of excellent sites from which to glean important and insightful information flowing from specifically Jewish perspectives. While my personal reading is not, of course, limited to Jewish-specific sites, the ones that I review on a regular basis include:

Commentary and Tablet magazines – both of which provide very timely insights, albeit from different perspectives (the former being more conservative and the latter more liberal). In addition, Mosaic provides an excellent daily digest that I find very useful and the Gatestone Institute has been producing some very strong and useful articles and analysis that I have found very helpful."

British scholar Colin Shindler, emeritus professor at the University of London and author of the just published The Rise of the Israeli Right: From Odessa to Hebron  tells me that he is "a great fan of Harry’s Place which focuses on the attitudes of the British and international Left towards Israel and Zionism.

"It provides factual information which is often omitted elsewhere. I also enjoy reading Jeffrey Goldberg’s website for his humour and analysis of issues concerning the Jewish world. I appreciate Roger Cohen’s insight, erudition and command of the English language in all his writings."

Sally Berkovic, chief executive at the Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) in Europe is a voracious consumer of news and views particularly as it relates to her work. 

She rattled off a bunch of sites, some of which I'd never heard including of which is a repository of nearly 10,000 entries about Jewish charities in the USA and its Israeli counterpart -

She says is an excellent overview of the issues, events and challenges dealing with Jewish heritage; is the site of one of the most important institutions in Jewish and Israeli life that holds our national memory and heritage; has relevant updates in Jewish philanthropy and reflective articles by leading practitioners in the field; provides a treasure trove of important documents chronicling 100 years of helping Jews across the world and offers access to thousands of images and documents reflecting Jewish life in Europe.

Shimon Cohen who runs the well-regarded THE PR OFFICEin London says he makes it a point to read Tablet, Forward and Jewish Journal. "I read as much and as many as I can find and I have found these to be extensive and authoritative. Then there's Failed Messiah which is to Jews what Fox News is to the rest of the world." 

So I asked Shmarya Rosenberg of FailedMessiah to tell me about his site. 

During the "quiet summer time" he draws 200,000 visitors and about 1 million page views.

"I report on crime, corruption and bad behavior, primarily in the haredi and Modern Orthodox/Zionist Orthodox communities, but also on religion and state issues in Israel. I do it primarily to expose the internal cover-ups related to these crimes and to provide some measure of protection and support for victims by doing so. As Justice Louis Brandies said, sunshine is said to the best disinfectant."


OVER AT Rationalist Judaism, Natan Slifkin tells me a bit about his site: It is primarily for people with a strong yeshiva education, a strong secular education, and disturbed by much of what is taught in the Orthodox world.

The site is mostly a labor of love though sometimes he receives donations in response to offering monographs for download.
According to Slifkin: "It started primarily as an exploration of the rationalist approach to Judaism and how it differs from the mystical approach. This relates to everything from Torah/science issues to the size of a kezayis to the alleged merits of segulos to the role of Torah study. In the last few years I have also written a lot about haredi vs. non-haredi society, especially in Israel. This also relates to the non-rationalist divide, as I discuss on the site. So the site is an
unusual combination of scholarly writing and social commentary.

Sometimes these are intertwined. For example, when it comes to the issue of army service, there is a haredi claim that their Torah study protects. Many people disagree with this, but they don't actually debate its merits from a Torah perspective. On my website, I carefully analyzed this argument from several perspectives, including that of basis in traditional sources."

Slifkin used to be very much part of haredi and still lives in a generally haredi community. "This means that issues relating to haredim are very important to me, and it also means that I have an insider's perspective on their worldview, and are thus better qualified to critically evaluate it."


LEAVE A COMMENT and let me know your favorite sources and sites – the more obscure or esoteric the better!

And thank you (loyal reader) for checking in on my blog over the past year.

Wishing us all a year of health, creativity and peace (with security…of course!). 

 : - )


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