New York Magazine

So close…
Well… we were supposed to be in the February 20 issue of New York Magazine. Apparently, the writer who called us told us that Jewlicious had been selected in an informal office poll as one of the 10 Blogs you have to bookmark right now. If you’re reading this, then this is not news to you. Sadly, this will continue to be news to New York Magazine’s 437,181 paid subscribers and’s 1.1 million unique monthly visitors. See, what started off as a top ten list devolved into a feature called Five Cool Blogs to Check Out Now. Space constraints meant we were cut out. However, we did make it onto the graphic that accompanied the article (see photo). Yay Jewlicious. Phooey.

Oh well… at least we did win some JIB awards! I know it’s late but, better late than never. What did we win? Uh… 3rd Best Designed Blog (behind Jewschool and the stunning Cross-Currents – I guess blue and brown do go together!), Best Series for our Hate Site of the Weak series, 2nd Best Post for our post on Conservative Judaism post, Best Jewish Culture Blog (which really belongs to the Yadda Blog), 2nd Best Israel Advocacy Blog (behind Little Green Footballs) and 2nd best Group Blog. Lessons learnt? Vote shnorring is undignified, some bloggers are ridiculous. But just to show there are no hard feelings, we’ll re-post the press release put out by one victorious blog crew’s PR Agency announcing their victory. That’s right. A press release and a PR agency. OK so no one (but us) actually reproduced the press release. But what the hell – to the victors go the spoils!

PR Agency Contact:
Nama Frenkel
Frenkel & Thayer
[email protected]

Company Contact:
Rabbi Yaakov Menken
Project Genesis, Inc.
410-602-1350 x120

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Orthodox Blog Takes Top Awards

Countering all stereotypes, Orthodox writers nab top honors in the newest of new media.

BALTIMORE, MD – February 9, 2006 – Cross-Currents, a “blog” written by traditional Orthodox Rabbis and teachers, today took first place honors in the Second Annual Jewish and Israeli Blog Awards, sponsored by the IsraellyCool blog and the Jerusalem Post. Countering both portrayals of the Orthodox as technological Luddites and various bans on Internet use, Cross-Currents, sponsored by the Jewish outreach organization Project Genesis, won the gold as both the Best Group Blog and Best Designed, while finishing second only to the Jerusalem Post’s own Dry Bones cartoon in the Best Overall category.

A blog, or weblog, is a web site built as an ongoing journal, enabling writers to communicate with web readers around the globe. It encourages informal communication rather than the carefully-edited articles published in mainstream media. The Rabbis and teachers of Cross-Currents, found at, post their thoughts and insights on an ongoing basis, sharing their reflections on news, current events and Jewish issues with an audience reaching into the tens of thousands each month.

Cross-Currents was founded by Rabbi Yaakov Menken, Director of Project Genesis, and Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, director of Project NextStep of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. In Rabbi Adlerstein’s words, “For decades, Torah Jewry in America was at the mercy of editors who were at best benignly tolerant of our community and our views. The world of the blog has changed all that.” Writer Eytan Kobre notes, “the blog offers me the opportunity to communicate directly with the readers, unfiltered by an often hostile and usually uninformed media.”

While the blog awards were a very informal measure of popularity, the wins still came as a pleasant surprise — and also provided Cross-Currents with additional exposure. “We’ve seen remarkable and consistent growth since we started about a year ago,” Menken remarked,
“but we finished the contest with half again as many readers.”

The ten contributing writers at Cross-Currents represent a broad diversity of views, dismantling the stereotype of the Orthodox as single-minded with every internal debate. This is but one misconception that the blog rebuts; others are faced more directly. In a recent
comment, Rabbi Adlerstein spoke to the misconception of Orthodox Jews as unquestioning followers of a rigid law. “People believe that all answers to halachic questions are somehow contained in SA, the Code of Jewish Law. This is simply not true. Many, many of the most important questions we face as individuals and as a community, in all arenas of the law, are
simply not found in SA. There is no way to adequately give voice to the importance of SA, but it was not designed to be, nor could any one work be, the written record of all that we need to know about halacha.”

For many of the writers, blogging has challenged them to share their thoughts in the less formal style encouraged by blogging, rather than more carefully crafted articles. Over time, this has turned into one of the draws of participation. Jonathan Rosenblum is one of Cross-Currents’
best-known writers. As the founder of Jewish Media Resources and Jerusalem director of Am Echad, two media outreach organizations dedicated to furthering a better understanding of Torah Judaism, Rosenblum appears each week in Jewish publications both in and outside
Orthodox circles. Yet Cross-Currents is a welcome change of pace. “For me,” he says, “the attraction of blog posting is the ability to enter into a conversation without polishing every word.”

Project Genesis, Inc. is a Baltimore-based organization dedicated to leveraging Internet technologies for Jewish outreach and education. With their leading-edge tools and collaboration with a host of other organizations and educators, Project Genesis web sites deliver Jewish
content to hundreds of thousands of visitors each month. Popular initiatives include the premiere Jewish education web site, global resource, audio library, and award-winning web log,

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About the author


Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.


  • Too bad about New York Mag. We still love you! And, um, could you ask Laya to e-mail me? I have a q about linking pictures on websites. A specific website actually but that’s a secret.

  • uh, i guess i’ll say it, then. cross-currents as best designed blog? 1. it shouldn’t even have been nominated (look ma, i added a white text outline!) 2. the fact that it won makes me question my visual communications minor. 3.i think that’s pretty much enough proof that the JIB awards are a bunch of bovine feces, to put it lightly.

    normally i wouldn’t even care, and if anyone is even slightly upset that they didn’t get such a joke award, i question their sanity.

    but giving cross-currents one of the best designed blog awards is a slap in the face for someone who makes a living in design (me).

    i know i will never vote in those awards again (not that i voted in more than two categories this year, anyway). even extreme boredom will not bring me to waste my time with such ridiculousness. I’d rather watch this on a permanent loop.

  • true, the cross-currents layout is pretty hideous. it looks so boring i didn’t even bother to read anything on it. however, i liked the previous Jewlicious design better, this one kind of feels like I’m looking at Zohar Argov’s bathroom floor. let’s just say it doesn’t suit everyone’s taste. i really like Jewschool’s color scheme.

  • What does this sentence mean:

    “but we finished the contest with half again as many readers.”

    what does ‘half again’ mean and ‘as many as readers’ as who? Is the implication that most of the voters for cross currents weren’t readers or that cross current readers are more likely to vote than the double as many readers at other sites?

    Muffti isn’t trying to be rude; he’s genuinely confused.

  • Ah yes, wacky syntax. It is like tofu: it means whatever you want it to mean. Half again sounds British. In that it seems like English but makes no sense.

  • This is not in the usual news, so FYI:
    More than 200,000 protesters march in Paris Sunday against the vicious anti-Semitic murder of Ilan Halimi

    February 26, 2006, 8:56 AM (GMT+02:00)

    They were led by cabinet ministers, politicians, religious and civil rights leaders with banners and slogans against decrying anti-Semitism and racism. Rallies also held in Marseille, Lyon, Nice and Bordeaux. The kidnap, torture and murder of 23-year old Ilan Halimi shocked all France. His family did not attend the Sunday rally. They blame the authorities’ initial denial of the anti-Semitic motive behind the crime for the delay in saving his life.

    France has asked for the extradition of Youssouf Fofana, 26, suspected ringleader of the kidnap gang, who fled to Ivory Coast.

    Last Thursday, President Jacques Chirac and prime minister Dominique de Villepin joined the family in a memorial service in the Great Synagogue in Paris. De Villepin pledged to bring the gang to justice.

    Ilani Halimi was found naked, bound and gagged near Paris, with horrific injures after being held for ransom three weeks. He died on the way to hospital.
    (that was copied from DEBKA website with no changes)

  • If there was a JIB award for slowest blog to load you would have won easily.

  • And if we had more religious content maybe we’d have been nominated for Best Jewish Religion Blog. I notice our slowness didn’t prevent us from coming in 1st as best series… as opposed to coming in 3rd, but it must have hurt us in the Best Overall Blog category where better speed may have helped us clinch at least a 3rd place showing. Or here’s an idea – maybe we should have done more vote whoring! That seemed to have helped some blogs a lot!

    But I will assume your concerns are well intentioned. The unfortunate thing is that we are being hurt by our popularity – at certain times of day when traffic spikes, I swear smoke comes out of the server! And we currently have three separate physical servers running the site – one for the MySQL database, one for the http and one for mail. For what it’s worth, we’re going to do some maintenance and make some design changes soon and hopefully that’ll help. I know we should have done that eons ago but we were all busy planning and participating in our Jewlicious conference and birthright israel trips.

    I know you’re busy running your own blog am sure you have much better things to do and I appreciate your feedback and concern! Shabbat Shalom!

  • Trust me, Him, we’ve been discussing this issue. Sadly, ck is currently sunbathing at the beach and tanning well is his first priority. By the time the tan is juuuuuuust right, we should be left without a single reader.

    Alternatively, I could take up yoga and write a book called Zen and Controlling Rage When Your Fave Website Takes Longer To Load Than For Hamas to Recognize Israel.

  • Come on, be a good sport and take a good rib with a smile. It’s all in good fun.

    You did that good, imagine how much better you’d have done with a faster loading blog. On the other hand, Jewlicious gives me the opportunity for bathroom breaks while surfing the web. My bladder thanks you.

  • owning? as if! I thought i was being a good sport. I even added a certain blog to our blog roll. And I really did appreciaate the feedback and concern. Really.

  • (denial won’t do ya any good.I say this blogmeister on this unmentionable blog wins the JIB for putting you on the defensive)

    Shabbat shalom, dude.

  • give me a break. like a JIB award is going to get anyone laid. if you want your blog to be recognized, you need only to look at how much traffic you get and what people are saying about you. i think you guys are doing pretty well. in fact i guess it’s a testament that people continue to visit the site despite the painful slowness. why anyone sees the need to hand out Jewish blog awards is baffling.

  • OT, The Israel Consul in New York is asking for:

    “CALLING ALL ISRAELI VIDEO BUFFS has put out the call for Israelis (and those who have videos shot in Israel) to send their video footage to the weblog. From professionals in all fields to ordinary folks, the videobloggers look forward to receiving a broad range of material. In this way, the many faces and voices of Israel will be heard in the global cyber village. ”

    This is a public service announcement from JM.

  • Mother Superior: “Sister Maria, if you were walking through town at night, and were accosted by a man with bad intentions, what would you do?”

    “I would lift my habit, Mother Superior.”

    Mother Superior (shocked): “And what would you do next?”

    Sister Maria: “I would tell him to drop his trousers.”

    Mother Superior (even more shocked): “And what then?”

    Sister Maria: “I would run away. I can run much faster with my habit up than he can with his trousers down.”