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Jul 27, 2011

Should Rabbonim Be On Facebook

Srugim reports on an international rabbinic conference on various issues community rabbis have to deal with  in the modern world.

One of the interesting discussions and debates at the conference was whether or not community rabbis should be on Facebook.

This is not just a debate about community rabbis. Teachers have the same debates, and very similar concerns, as do parents and most authority figures. The question is whether it is more important to be using Facebook/twitter/G+ or any other social media network as a tool, a way to reach out to people, or if it is inappropriate in the sense of being "friends" with students or community members at that level, or even just sharing such personal information between the rabbi and others.

Most rabbis from chutz laaretz were of the opinion that Facebook is a reality, and therefore rabbonim should get on it and figure out how to make the most of it.

One rav from Manchester said that he is on Facebook but he is careful how he uses it, not putting up everything he would like, but he uses it to connect to people, including many he has not seen in many decades. The chief rabbi of England, Rabbi Yonatan Sacks, is on Facebook and uploads a weekly video on the parsha.

Another rabbi said that it can be used as a community tool, explaining that in his community one of the women had to go to the hospital. She wrote about what she was undergoing on facebook, and if the rav is not on Facebook, everybody but the rav knows what is happening with the member of the community.

A rav from Israel was more cautious, and skeptical, about the need for rabbonim to be on Facebook. Rav Reuven Spolter said that if you are following people on Facebook, you get every update they send, much of which is not appropriate or necessary for the rav, and it becomes a tremendous waste of time. The community rav does not need to know every stupid thing everyone is doing.


Interestingly, one rav said that he finds it interesting that in Israel using Facebook is such a big issue, while everywhere else it is completely accepted. It is used to stay up to date with the community, and to stay in touch with former students.

6 comments:

  1. One rav from Manchester said that he is on Facebook but he is careful how he uses it, not putting up everything he would like, but he uses it to connect to people, including many he has not seen in many decades.

    This sounds like good advice for anyone using Facebook. (Caveat, I personally am not on Facebook, but I am not opposed to in on principle).

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  3. Tzniyus goes beyond what clothing to wear. Aside from the issue of wasting time, there is a certain amount of privacy that one is entitled to which FB seems to negate.

    Yet all technology is hard to acclimate to if one has the attitude of Chadash Assur Min HaTorah.

    Just a few short years ago talking on cell phones in the street was frowned upon in the religious community. Today no one bats an eyelash.


    One used to be labeled a Rasha for maintaining a blog. Yet technology is here to stay and we will need to find a Kosher way to use this knowledge. Didn't you feature a kosher version of facebook recently?

    http://lifeinisrael.blogspot.com/2011/07/faceglat-glat-kosher-version-of.html

    Follow my blog link to a post on 'facebook'. Not only do you watch facebook, facebook watches you.

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  4. I think it would be hard to categorize Rabbi Spolter as a rav from Israel. He's from the States, and made Aliyah only recently (after bemoaning the Aliyah of rabbis from America). I'm not even sure that he serves in a rabbinic role here in Israel. I'm not disparaging Rabbi Spolter, but I think that he should be counted among the American rabbis at the conference.

    On the other hand, Rav Moshe Taragin used the opportunity to stress to the conference how powerful facebook is by posting a picture of the proceedings and telling the participants that in the 30 minutes of their discussion they all became facebook celebrities. Incidentally, I found out about this from one of Rav Taragin's facebook postings.

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  5. interesting. thanks. the article says he is a rav in Yad Binyamin. sounded like of the community, but maybe he just lives there. i dont know.

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  6. Yes.

    And they should use it regularly. They should also use email and answer sheilot via those means.

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