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 Newyorkmag.com’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
410-802-0100
namaf@aol.com

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 http://www.cross-currents.com, 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 Torah.org, global resource JewishAnswers.org, audio library TorahMedia.com, and award-winning web log, Cross-Currents.com.

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About the author

ck

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.

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