Dan Sieradski, also known as Mobius, the founder of Jewschool.com recently wrote a post titled Let It Be Said: We Run This Bitch. In it he does an adequate job of describing the early days and evolution of the JBlogosphere and the role he played in that. The article was inspired by the thrashing he’s been receiving over at the Jewish Press’s new blog. In the blog’s innaugural post, Steven Plaut referred to Jewschool as the “encephelophobic Left among American Jews.” In a later post, Jason Maoz disputed some of Mobius’s allegations against the paper, and Mobius defended himself by saying that he forgot about a particular fact that Maoz brought to light. The details are banal. I’ve provided links for those of you who care. Frankly, when I start hearing terms like “moonbats” and “rightards” my eyes start to glaze…

What this whole hullabaloo accomplished was to inspire the initial post I cited on Jewschool. Mobius himself described it as his “moment of hubris” where he states the following:

But the sheer fact of the matter is that the Jewish Press now has a weblog because of me and everyone else’s other favorite blogger they love to hate, Steven I. Weiss… Jew School and Protocols (Weiss’ original blog and the first ever Jewish group blog), it should be known, debuted within a month of each other… Protocols has long since folded, yet Jew School continues to reign as the longest-lived and still-relevant and going Jewish weblog, six years on.

OK. Fair enough. He then continues:

I can hardly tell you how many Jewish organizations contact me in a given week asking for help in getting started in the blogging world. Many of the most popular jblogs that exist today are, in fact, sites that I either inspired or was hired to build due to my experience in the field… Here’s a trivia question: Do you know why Jewlicious, the most popular and prominent of Jewish megablogs, exists? As CK himself revealed to me, and then affirmed in his ynet interview two years back, he began Jewlicious to stick it to me. He was trolling the threads on Jew School at about the time I started opening up to leftist views on Israel and decided he needed to provide a counterbalance to what he felt was the damaging impression of Israel I was promoting. (He likes to say “other Jewish blogs” — but at the time, Jew School was the only left-wing Jewish blog online, period.) … Likewise, since Jewlicious began, I have been the repeated subject of posts there, both flattering and unflattering. Suffice to say, my biggest competitor is only successful because he took the model I pioneered and sought to do it “better” than me… Thus, the truth is inescapable: Jew School set the gold standard. We developed the jblogging genre. We taught the Jewish world how to blog. We set the agenda.

Now that’s the part I have a problem with. Of course I am flattered by his description of Jewlicious as “the most popular and prominent of Jewish megablogs.” I always assumed that was a description more suited to Canonist or uh… Cross Currents. However, I never created Jewlicious to “stick it” to anyone. I simply wanted to promote the notion that one could be a cool and relevant Jew without being dismissive of Judaism and unduly critical of Israel. I felt that the opposite was being promoted by Jewschool where I was an active commenter at the time. I figured why bother wasting my time and energy arguing on Jewschool when I could very easily start my own blog, as many had already done at the time, and reach a wider audience.

I don’t consider Jewlicious to be in competition with Jewschool or any other blog for that matter. Quite the opposite is true. We have always been supportive of the JBlogosphere in general. We often place and pay for banner ads that we sold, on other Jewish blogs, including Jewschool. Last year, when we helped out on ROI120 we made it a point to include as many JBloggers as possible, including those affiliated with Jewschool. At our most recent conference we even flew in 3 Jewschool affiliated speakers. Does that sound like we’re trying to “stick it” to anyone?

But it gets worst. Mobius claims that “my biggest competitor is only successful because he took the model I pioneered and sought to do it “better” than me… Thus, the truth is inescapable: Jew School set the gold standard. We developed the jblogging genre. We taught the Jewish world how to blog. We set the agenda.”

Well. No. Jewlicious is successful because we transcended Jewschool. The model Mobius claims to have pioneered wasn’t anything unique to Jewschool – not in the Jewish world and not in the world at large. When we started Jewlicious, anyone at all attuned to the Internet knew of the rising popularity of blogging and the promise it held vis-a-vis the democratization of content delivery. Of course I was reading blogs like Protocols which at the time I assumed was being run by Luke Ford. I had no idea that it was actually started by some guy I’d never heard of called Steven I. Weiss and had been effectively hijacked by the very prolific Mr. Ford who posted so often that the other bloggers couldn’t keep up. I imagine that’s why the decision was taken to shut it down, but what the hell do I know. I was also reading a blog by an old classmate of mine called Patio Pundit. His blog, started in 2001 and now mostly inactive, discussed his life and political opinions and often delved into Jewish and Israel related matters. I of course read all kinds of blogs before starting Jewlicious and for Mobius to claim that his blog, and his blog alone inspired Jewlicious, and set some kind of “gold standard” is ridiculous – unjustified self aggrandizement and hubris at its finest!

Jewlicious succeeded to whatever extent it did for a number of reasons. And here’s the part where we give away our secrets, so pay attention.

First of all, we were the first Jewish blog to use WordPress – a blogging program that required installation on a server and some familiarity with PHP, MySQL and other techie mumbo jumbo. At the time Jewschool was using Blogger – a service now owned by Google that allowed anyone to blog with ease, but that did not have the flexibility and power of WordPress. Well after Jewlicious established itself, Jewschool followed suit and switched to WordPress.

Using WordPress it was easy to feature not just our content but also the participation of our commentors and we certainly published links to the most recent comments before Jewschool did.

I could go on and on but I won’t. Instead I’ll tell you the main difference between ours and everyone else’s jblogs. Here it is: We’re not just a blog. Right from the beginning we leveraged whatever success we had, into activities that involved face to face interaction with our constituency. We’ve run 6 Taglit birthright-Israel trips and have three more on tap this summer. We’ve helped organize three annual Jewlicious Festivals in Long Beach California. We have also been very involved in ROI120 in Jerusalem. Right there that’s over a thousand people who have interacted with us personally and have an intimate understanding of what we’re all about.

I don’t know of any other JBlog that does what we do the way we do it. There was no template to follow, no gold standard to live up to. Don’t get me wrong, Jewschool is a fine blog as it were. Bluster and bravado aside, Mobius’s characterization of his influence on us is not at all accurate.

Just sayin’ is all …

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.

32 Comments

  • hey we know that Jewlicious is more popular than Jewschool because the name is better. Lets be real. And because ck is Moroccan. Yeh, thats it.

  • ck why are you even responding to his bad manners? if you copied him (or not!) he should be happy and have left it at that. excessive pride about something always seems distasteful as it is rooted in something else. does this guy live with him mom or something? spit on a bit on the playground? or?

  • Early this morning I was hanging out with my new buddy Al Gore (we met at an Oscars afterparty and discovered a mutual obsession with Shel Silverstein and early Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show), sipping Campari and sodas and watching the sun rise through the ozone-less sky, when we ran across ck’s post.

    So Al says “Screw ’em. All of ’em… Dan, David, Weiss… all of ’em… ’cause Ramon, as we all know, I invented the Intranets. Without me there’d be no Jewschool or Jewlicious or even any of that friggin’ Gawker Media crap…”

    “These punks take my thing, my invention, and abuse it… this friggin’ Myspace thing? If I woulda known it was gonna give an outlet to every shmuck with a guitar and Garageband… or if I thought for one second these Jblogs were gonna expose Jimmy as an anti-Semite, I never woulda created the damn thing!”

    But after he finally quieted down he admitted “I do like that My Urban Kvetch thing. Funny, good writer…”

    I went to bed, leaving him to his Campari and flat soda and silently-stewing bloated ego. But as I lay there I thought to myself he might have a point. Then I fell asleep and dreamt about Yaakov wrestling with the Angel. But the Angel was Yaakov. Then Yaakov became Al Gore and the Angel became ck, who was now wrestling Mobius, who was suddenly not wrestling ck but an Angel who was Mobius. And the Mobius Angel touched Mobius’ thigh and broke it… then I woke up drenched in sweat, damning Campari, Al Gore, all of you. Good friggin morning.

  • I noted that J. Maoz left out Jewlicious on his dopey list of important Jewish blogs last week, what a moron!

    AS far as the topic, I always felt Dan was a bit crazy and faked up big time, nuff said.

  • It wasn’t a list of important Jewish blogs. It was a list of important Web sites for uh… Jason Maoz. Like Baseball Crank (baseballcrank.com). In that respect I trust the list is completely accurate.

  • I can’t speak to the history of all things Jblog. But I can tell you that I found Jewlicious and Jewschool at the same time and place: in the Protocols blogroll.

    And ramon marcos’s entertaining comment aside, when people ask me who to speak to about the origins of the Jblogosphere, I tell them there are three–SIW, Mobius and CK. Not that the three of them founded the Jblogosphere per se (individually or collectively), but because all of them can speak from personal experience creating Jewish blogs with large, vocal readerships. That Jewish organizations contact them when starting new blogs is a good thing; hell, I think more Jewish orgs could benefit from blogs.

    Being in the vanguard of a new trend, somewhat of a blogebrity for your role in creating something that has “legs,” is something to be proud of, so who cares who was first?

  • The only people I know of who invented the wheel were the Mesopotamians. Today, I choose Firestone.

    To be the first is not to be the best, even if it’s exciting. And realizing there are few “firsts” anymore is probably a healthy and less egotistical outlook.

  • Esther…you are the Ultimate Matriach of Jewish Female Blogging! Take credit where it is due!

  • I just find it funny that people think that the JBlogosphere is somewhat “special”–I was reading blogs way before I heard about Jewish blogs, and I still read non-Jewish blogs about 10:1 compared with Jewish ones.

    To claim “dibs” on the title is, well, kinda bubbled.

  • I forgot to tell you the rest of the dream, where the Angel became Esther and kicked ck, mobius and Weiss’ ass in that order.

  • I think it also bears mentioning that Jewlicious, at least for as long as I’ve been reading it (Nov. ’05), has provided meaningful and timely content through a small team of five, sometimes six bloggers. (Who the hell is Phoebe anyway?) You know where everyone stands, and in many cases, you even know who they are.

  • I think it’s because we’re all good looking. tfoo tfoo tfoo (Moroccan woman spitting to ward off evil eye)!

  • So are we going to get into a pissing contest or is it who has the biggest schlong?

    Come on, both Jewschool and Jewlicious provide useful and meaningful content from time to time.

    Let’s all have a big Jew hug.

    Isn’t that better?

  • Oy. I do not want to get into a pissing contest. Everyone is beautiful and wonderful in their own way. I don’t care who started Jewish blogs, but I do know it wasn’t me. I wish everyone well and success in all their endeavors. I just wanted it to be known that I never do anything with the express purpose of “sticking it” to anyone.

  • Gee, Mob, ego problem much?

    I don’t know how your mother brought you up, but where I come from, we were taught to choke the chicken in private, not in the middle of the street.

    Some things are just not meant for the eyes of others. Getting up on a soapbox and flacking yourself in public is one of them.

  • So who has the biggest schlong?

    But on a semi-serious note, it is not who was first that matters, it is who survives and grows.

  • a. there’s nothing wrong with a bit of contretemps as long as we all don’t get nasty (well, too nasty).
    b. usually a lot of unknown facts and personal histories come out which is always helpful and verrrry interesting.
    c. the Left always thinks it has the moral high ground, so go on and give it to him
    d. I am in awe of people like you who can do so many technical things so whatever, one might learn something from this.
    e. I am glad the The Jewish Press is semi-mainstream as a result of Mobius’ extreme political opinions – he’s pulled them over a bit.

    Cha kasher v”samach

  • big deal
    I think that the jblog world is big enough for all of us, from the mega to the mini. I find all the catty competition a real turn-off.

  • Today hardly anyone knows or reads Jewschool, much in the same way as hardly anyone uses Windows 98 anymore, or asbestos, or the infamous Honeywell H316 kitchen computer.

  • I dunno who the gallumphing goyishe you kids is but thanks loads for being here. The world needs a larger smile and a shorter frown anyways. I wish Sammy the Hat could see you folk, it lightens the dark here.