Hamas War

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My Reply To Gil Student

The least pleasant only unpleasant thing at the International Jewish Blogging Convention was Gil Student's words mocking the entire event, denying "community" with the heterogeneous crowd in the room and online. His tone and body language added to the insult. Yes, he has his fans who don't perceive him as I did.

Maybe I was a bit more sensitive, being that I had just had my two minutes on the mic to promote Jewish blog carnivals, and his words were replying to mine. Blog carnivals are "floating" internet magazines, the articles being blog posts. There are three:
Havel Havelim
Kosher Cooking Carnival

I used the term "community," since many on the panel had used it. All I did was to ask the "big" bloggers to promote (not host) the carnivals by mentioning them in their blogs. Carnivals are a good way to promote one's blog and get to know others and of course get more information and perspectives about various topics.

Gil's response was so negative, a real kick in the kishkes. Most of us came to the conference for a friendly networking event, not for controversy. To think that Gil traveled all that distance, hoping for something more exciting...

Apparently, I'm not the only one who was surprised by his attitude and he blogged about it. Here's my comment to his post:

Honestly, what else can we expect from a man who thinks you can "knit" yarmulkas?
And I'm really surprised that you put down a "kosher cooking blog" as something you wouldn't read. Kosher cooking is all about halacha, and the Kosher Cooking Carnival accepts and recruits posts about that crucial aspect. Maybe you just don't know what goes on in the kosher kitchen.
Gil, you went to the conference so you "could learn and contribute," but you admit in this post that you wanted to "stir the pot.
"Now, about "bein adam v'chareiro," you are very "selective" about whom you link here. Gila's good enough to mention, but you leave your readers ignorant of who she is, just giving an empty name. Davka J. K. Rowling rates a link, even though even it's easy to search to find out who she is.
I've been trying to be very careful in how I answer this. I think that you should have been more careful with your words at the conference.

Now that I've gotten this out of the way, I can get the house ready for the grandchildren's visit.


frumhouse said...

Enjoy the grandkids!

I wouldn't take Student's comments personally - your comments at the microphone merely gave him a segue to express his thoughts on the whole jblogging community theme that had been circulating around the convention.

My opinion is that he is entitled to his opinion. I certainly see myself as a hobbyist blogger. I certainly don't see myself as a professional blogger (if I am I have been working pro bono for far too long!).

Perhaps Student views his shul chaplain salary as including coverage for blogging? Maybe he viewed himself and the other blogging panelists as being paid for their conference participation by Nefesh B'Nefesh - the press passes, business class accomodations and such - therefore those bloggers have graduated to the realm of "professional"?

For msny of us - blogging is about sharing ideas, having fun, and meeting other people you wouldn't get a chance to meet if not for the blogging commonality.

Once it stops being fun and starts being an aggravation is when it's time to take a step back. One thing we can borrow from the professional world is the phrase "It's nothing personal, it's just business." I think that's how you have to treat his comments.

Gila said...

Nu, you did not link to me either! :) (teasing!)

Listen, I read the post. Honestly, the guy reads like a bit of an arrogant/judgemental twat. That being said, he is entitled to his opinions. Let it go. A lot of people do enjoy the carnivals. Focus on that.

Which reminds me that I want to start getting notified about the kosher cooking carnival.

So....let me make sure I understand. The grandkids were not purhased at Kmart either? :)

Gila said...

I should qualify that I do not read his blog, so no idea if this post is representative. Maybe he comes across as a nice guy elsewhere?

Leora said...

Batya, his remarks on Jameel's site upset me, too, and I can understand why his remarks at the convention upset you. I'm still trying to figure out why. I think partly it's because he was the only Orthodox rabbi represented? Am I correct or did I miss someone? And so because I know that blogging serves as an outlet for so many Jews that write of difficulties, it is painful to hear a rabbi just dismiss blogging as mere hobbyists who just talking to each other like people would discuss crocheting.

Sometimes the recipe is just a way to share and connect, like the way you discuss your vacation at a party. But underlying that is a deeper connection, one that he doesn't get at all. Painful for me.

If he would let it go, I would let it go. Why does he have to prove that he's right?

If he would just go read some of the beauty that some Jewish bloggers write, I would feel much better. And up to now, I really did like his site. Hopefully, I will continue to be able to read without feeling sour.

Rafi G. said...

you should not take his comments so personally. Not everybody is interested in every topic. We all choose to read blogs that interest us. I might read a blog that discusses one topic but not another because that one has less interest to me. There is nothing wrong with him saying he personally is not interested in a cooking blog. He is not interested so why should he read it.

The way he said it did come out harsh, but the idea behind what he said (not getting involved in the community issue) is correct.

Jack Steiner said...

The one thing that he did was bring about a wave of comments and thought about this.

In effect he brought out many members of the community. I have been pleased to see so many like minded individuals on this topic.

It is part of the joy of blogging for me, the community that is. We certainly do not have uniform views on everything, but on some things we do and that is enough for me.

Akiva said...

Leora - there was a number of ultra-orthodox bloggers in attendance (including myself), some of whom actually run "RabbiSoandSo's" blogs. I would put the number at around 5-10% of attendees.

As for Rabbi Gil, he was making a general point that some Jbloggers (and he's clearly one of them) are blogging what they consider their narrow perspective and are not trying or really want to be a bigger part of anything. For charedi bloggers, both watching content, who you link to, and who you associate with can be a real religious issue.

I know I met a yeshiva-student blogger at the conference who mentioned to me he hadn't seen so much exposed flesh in several years, as he's been exclusively in his yeshiva and the ultra-orthodox areas of Jerusalem. This particular blogger clearly felt uncomfortable having ventured to a JBlogger event to discover that it was equivalent to going to any other kind of widely mixed cross-section Jewish event. His only connection was it was all Jewish, and all bloggers. But not part of his world view.

I suspect R. Gil also felt a little out of his environment.

Batya said...

First of all, it was nice running Camp Savta today. Baruch Hashem, I waited a long time for such a job, and G-d willing the camp will get bigger and better.

Now that this issue is being discussed, and I hope you're blogging about it, too, where possible, I realize that there was a "fatal flaw" in the program structure of panels-sans discussion, and that's one of the reasons Gil's reply kept eating away at me.
frumhouse, I also have the right to an opinion, and the "putdown" without my having a chance for rebuttal wasn't pleasant. I used that chance at the mic to promote sharing. What kind of "rabbi" is against sharing among Jews?

Gila, I love you. You have a great way with words! You'll be added to the KCC list, and the grandkids are from Cartier, worth more than their biggest diamond!

leora, I can't figure out why he's so popular and powerful. I wasn't impressed before the insult. Most of us attended for "community;" we weren't there to debate. He was bored, but the panel structure wasn't set up for an argument. He had "the last word." I wasn't allowed an counter.

rafi g, you're not listening. I don't have a "cooking blog." I run the Kosher Cooking Carnival which includeds halachik posts. Kosher cooking is practical halacha. Maybe men really don't understand. And if Gil doesn't like community, why was he there?

jack, the carnivals are community, and I'm so glad to have become acquainted with other bloggers that way.

Akiva, Please don't "project" your feeling on someone else. You helped me so much with my blogs. I will take this opportunity to thank you again. Nothing in Gil Student's words or body language gave any hint ot your feelings. After what you wrote about how some of the charedi men felt, I realized that I was much too oblivious.

I just thought it was so nice that so many different types of Jews were together without any major arguments.

This has taken me along time to write. thanks for your comments.

frumhouse said...

Batya - Yes, it did turn out badly when your remarks suddenly turned into a debate and you didn't get your chance at a rebuttle.

By the way - your other post title reminded me of the Frank Sinatra song High Hopes:

"Just what makes that little old ant

Think he'll move that rubber tree plant

Anyone knows an ant, can't

Move a rubber tree plant

But he's got high hopes, he's got high hopes

He's got high apple pie, in the sky hopes

So any time your gettin' low
'stead of lettin' go

Just remember that ant

Oops there goes another rubber tree plant..."

Batya said...

Frumhouse, I love that! Thank you so much. Maybe that was the song playing deep in my mind which made me choose the "ant."