Monday, August 11, 2014

#BlogElul and #ElulGram 2014

For the last few years, I've embarked on a project, and invited the social media world to join with me.

#BlogElul and #Elulgram have inspired, informed, and offered a little bit of additional introspection across the internet for the last few years. By popular request, it's back! 

Elul -- that wonderful and terrifying month that precedes the High Holy Days.

A month of introspection and considering, a month of personal reflection and preparation.
Perfect for blogging and other social media... 

What's it all about?

I have made a list of Elul-related topics, and I'm inviting you (yes, you! reader, colleague, friend...anyone with a desire to share ideas about the holidays) to join me.

But I'm not stopping only with blogging. Sure, it's called BlogElul but you can "blog" in any way you like. Maybe it's your daily Facebook update or tweet. Maybe it's your Instagram photos or your FourSquare checkins (can't wait to see how that would work out -- but please try!). Now we have Vine and other quick-video services -- perhaps a daily 6-second video? Maybe you don't want to do it daily. Maybe you just want to dip your toe into the experience, or just read (and share?) what others write. It's totally up to you.

right-click to save this image and use it wherever you blogElul!
I try to keep it simple, as I've done for the last few years. I've provided a topic (somewhat randomly mixed up) for each of the days of the month of Elul...just write a blog post about that topic on the assigned day! Use the hashtag to share your post, even in your title. This might be a great way to kickstart your blog (are you new at it?) and it might be a great way to get yourself ready for the themes and ideas of the holiday! (I plan to use #BlogElul in all my post titles, so that the hashtag is already there.)

And then there's #ElulGram. It's far more open to interpretation! I'm inviting you to post photos related to the same themes as the blogging project. Maybe you're not a writer or you don't have a blog - so take a picture instead! (And don't forget, sharing pictures is not limited to Instagram, but there is also Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr....etc.) Whatever you do, don't forget to tag it with #Elulgram so we can all share.

The themes are totally up for your own interpretation! I tried to think broadly about the general themes of the High Holy Days, and they are totally open to your own interpretations. There are no rules, but feel free to collaborate, cross-post, share thoughts, etc. This year the words are simple verbs -- do with them as you will.

And yes, I know that the dates include Shabbat. I personally don't blog/tweet/Facebook on Shabbat, but I will post after Shabbat is over. That's my custom but you can do whatever you like.) 

Are you going to play along? Let me know! Leave me a comment here, send me a tweet, or send up a signal fire.... Feel free to grab my pretty badge to announce to the whole world that you're Blogging Elul. If you let me know that you're doing it, we can cross-post, or guest-post, or even just do some virtual hand-holding as the days grow closer to Tishrei. I'll try to link to as many posts and pics as I can - won't it be amazing to all share in the Elul journey together? 

I'm looking forward to sharing this journey with you.Elul begins on August 27th (it's always on time), so I wanted to give you a head start if you're going to pre-write some of your posts.

I hope that our shared preparation for 5775 brings meaning and hope, inspiration and enlightenment for all of us.

A text-based list of the #blogElul #elulGram topics:

Elul 1: Do
Elul 2: Act
Elul 3: Bless
Elul 4: Accept
Elul 5: Know
Elul 6: Search
Elul 7: Be
Elul 8: Believe
Elul 9: Hear
Elul 10: See
Elul 11: Count
Elul 12: Trust
Elul 13: Forgive
Elul 14: Remember
Elul 15: Learn
Elul 16: Understand
Elul 17: Awaken
Elul 18: Pray
Elul 19: Ask
Elul 20: Judge
Elul 21: Change
Elul 22: Dare
Elul 23: Love
Elul 24: End
Elul 25: Begin
Elul 26: Hope
Elul 27: Intend
Elul 28: Give
Elul 29: Return

Friday, July 4, 2014

Day In The Life: Cabin, Cabin, Cabin TENT!

I'm back at camp, serving on faculty. People always ask me just what it is that I do all day at camp, so  I'm going to try to give you a snapshot of a day in the life of a faculty member at camp. This was yesterday....

7:45am Tefillah (services) -- this morning led by one of the tzrifim (cabins). We also read a little Torah. All in 14.5 minutes! (Followed by breakfast....scrambled eggs!)

8:40am Shira (song session) and my 3rd cup of coffee...

9:00am Limud (learning) -- Our study theme for this group and this session is the "North American Jewish Experience." Our campers are learning about early Jewish immigration to the United States, and they had an Ellis Island simulation a few days ago. Today they were talking about what it was like to make decisions in the "new world" -- decisions about Jewish identity and how they could be both modern Americans and committed Jews.

10:30am  A little work in my "office" (i.e. my room in the Lodge) while the campers were having swim time

11:45am Ivrit (Hebrew) - a lesson about the Hebrew words of camp. Taught thru a modified game of Duck Duck Goose....tzrif tzrif tzrif....OHEL! (cabin, cabin, cabin....TENT!)

12:30pm Faculty Lunch and discussion. Pizza!

1:45pm Menucha (Rest time)

3:00pm walk to drop the chaverim campers (the little ones, our faculty kids) down at the lake for a boat ride with the babysitters

Then work on tomorrow's and later-on-in-the-session programming on my laptop with other segel (faculty) members

5:00pm - Meeting with a tzrif (cabin) to help them prepare to lead tefillot (services) later in the session. 

6:15pm dinner (stir fry!) followed by a quick change into longs-and-longs (long pants and long sleeves) in readiness for tonight's special event

7:00pm All Camp Tefillah followed by an awesome concert with Rabbi Noam Katz:

Then some late night meetings and a little socializing with the other faculty....

11:55pm off to bed so we can start all over again!

Camp is a lot of work and a lot of fun...doing holy work here in this beautiful setting.

Read more about our work at camp over here on the OSRUI blog, with this really nice post from my friend and colleague, Rabbi David Locketz.

Friday, April 4, 2014

#blogExodus: Free

Free of hairbrushes
Free of pony tails
Free of braids
Free of a veil behind which I can hide....

Want to join in? We're sharing #BlogExodus for the next 2 weeks. All you have to do is use the hashtag and there are suggested prompts on the graphic above (feel free to grab it). Maybe you just want to post on your Facebook or Twitter about these topics...or maybe you want to try #Exodusgram, posting photos related to these themes? I'll be posting my #blogExodus posts here, at this blog, my #Exodusgram pictures on my tumblr site,, and who knows what else!? It's going to be a busy fortnight!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

#blogexodus 2: Tell

We tell our stories. 
That's what we do. 
It's who we are. 
It's why we exist. 
It's as near as breathing. 
People ask how we can share our lives. 
I could we not. 
We tell our stories. 
It was Elie Wiesel who said:
God created humans because God loves stories. 

Want to join in? We're sharing #BlogExodus for the next 2 weeks. All you have to do is use the hashtag and there are suggested prompts on the graphic above (feel free to grab it). Maybe you just want to post on your Facebook or Twitter about these topics...or maybe you want to try #Exodusgram, posting photos related to these themes? I'll be posting my #blogExodus posts here, at this blog, my #Exodusgram pictures on my tumblr site,, and who knows what else!? It's going to be a busy fortnight!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Believe #blogExodus

Feel free to grab this graphic
I believe that when friends share your pain, it really and truly is lessened, maybe only for a moment.
I believe that when you cry with others, the tears flow together to soothe the hurt.
I believe that I can't stand alone.
I believe that a hand held tightly can be a lifeline.
I believe that I will always find others to stand with me, even in the depths of my aloneness and pain.
I believe that the sun will rise and set, that time will move forward, that love will sustain us.

I believe that the only way the Exodus could ever have happened at all was because no one crawled into the hole of their pain and grief and despair at their life of slavery....but instead they held hands, they prayed, they sang and they lifted each other up out of the depths of that gaping hole....and they did something. Together.

Want to join in? We're sharing #BlogExodus for the next 2 weeks. All you have to do is use the hashtag and there are suggested prompts on the graphic above (feel free to grab it). Maybe you just want to post on your Facebook or Twitter about these topics...or maybe you want to try #Exodusgram, posting photos related to these themes? I'll be posting my #blogExodus posts here, at this blog, my #Exodusgram pictures on my tumblr site,, and who knows what else!? It's going to be a busy fortnight!

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!