Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Looking Back- Some thoughts on the first year of this blog

This year, I won’t be posting my Facebook year-in-review. It’s not that I don’t like the pictures they chose. On the contrary, I was happy to see them. It’s just that I feel like they give off a one-sided impression of my year. Yes, there were some truly unforgettable moments, but there were a lot that I’d just as soon forget. Instead, with my blog having recently reached its first blogaversary, I thought I’d share some thoughts on what I’ve learned from it.

By design, my blog focuses both on the personal as well as Jewish content. If I had to pick the common denominator between those two, I would say that I am looking to be honest and thought-provoking, while giving voice to some challenging issues that might resonate with others. For the most part, I feel that I’ve hit the mark, and have been gratified by the response. I’ve met many new people virtually, and some have blossomed into real-life friendships. It’s hard to imagine that I have some friends who I did not know before I started writing.

On the other hand, I’ve made some mistakes with what I’ve written. There were a few posts for which I wish I’d paused a bit before hitting the publish button. However, I have chosen to not delete any posts as I think it’s important to live with the effect of one’s words once they’ve been put out there. I’ve received some good feedback and some helpful mussar from friends and strangers alike.

At times, I’ve struggled to find the line between open and honest, as opposed to being confessional and sharing what should be private. I try and remind myself that not everything that is thought should be said, and not everything that is said should be put in writing. My putting myself out there, continues to be both a strength and weakness.

I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to share my Torah in a more public forum. Some of my insecurity has dissipated after receiving some really positive feedback from talmidei chachamim and scholars. It is good to be reminded that I shouldn’t be afraid to be creative in Torah, fearing that my ideas are not worth sharing.

Writing about Jewish education has been both gratifying and frustrating. I’ve received a lot of thanks for discussing some of the problems in the field, and appreciation from those in the field of Jewish education. At the same time, I’ve wondered if my openness about what I’ve seen and what I think, has contributed in any way to my being unable to get a job in chinuch. While I know that I’ve gotten some interviews because of what I’ve written, I have no way of knowing if it has cost me any interviews.

I’ve also shared some of my audio shiurim and tried my hand at poetry. As for the latter, while I’m happy to have moved on from AA-BB poetry, I don’t think I’ll be a poet laureate any time soon. Still, I appreciate the feedback and encouragement I’ve received, particularly from those who are more talented.

Finally, I’d love to pretend that I write just for me and don’t care how many people read what I write, but it would be a lie. Writing has been described as turning blood into ink. Thank you for reading, responding and pushing back on what I wrote. While this year has had some great highs and extreme lows, many of you have helped make the former even more enjoyable, and the latter more bearable.

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