Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Blog Hop About Blog Writing!

I had the privilege of learning with and from Lisa Friedman while at Camp Harlam. An incredibly dynamic educator and programmer, it was a joy to 'talk shop' with her (and talk about other things as well!). We'd been following each other on Twitter for a while, so it was nice to make the relationship 'real'.

Lisa invited me (and some other colleagues, including my friend Rabbi Rebecca Schorr) to do a 'blog hop'. Being the dunce that I am, I had no idea what that means. Still don't, but I"m going to give it a try and to answer the questions asked.

1. What am I writing or working on? 

This being the month before the High Holy Days, you might expect that I'm working on sermons, and you'd be right! I usually have a few rules regarding High Holy Day sermons: I try to stick to themes surrounding spirituality and personal struggles, as well as social justice issues, rather than political topics, though I have used sermons to launch projects for the congregation (notably our partnership with Family Promise and our work last year with the Religious Action Center and Gift of Life. There will be some of that, including the role out of a new educational initiative (which I can't talk about yet) but also some discussion of the ever-changing situation in Israel and the implications for us.

In addition to sermons, I'm working on some liturgical materials (finally revising our Selichot service, for example), getting curricula up and running, including for adult ed and confirmation, and generally gearing up personally and spiritually for the coming of the new programmatic year.

As for blogging, I have done #BlogElul in the past and probably will this year as well, but mostly you'll see my sermons and other reflections here.

2. How does my work differ from others in its genre? 

This question is hard to answer; I think my perspective is unique, and our community's experience is pretty unique as well, but I don't know that separates my voice especially from others. My hope is that my work--social media, blogging, bulletin articles, teaching, sermons--become a stepping off point for more and deeper learning on behalf of the individual: a question that generates more questions and more conversation.

3. Why do I write what I write

I have always written. I used to write more poetry, and I find that this often gives me an outlet for those creative impulses. Less selfishly, I hope that I can bring a point of interest or clarity or some sense of value to a series of conversations--about Jewish practice, identity, meaning and engagement--that have been going on for millenia.

4. How does my writing process work? 

I tend to let ideas live in my head for a while. I start chewing on sermon topics weeks in advance and often fully visualize what it will sound like when I deliver it before I start typing. Which doesn't mean that it comes out fully formed--often what sounded good in my head looks lousy on the page and sounds worse when spoken--so there's quite a bit of editing and revising. And, in truth, the sermon itself is never done until I deliver it, often never looking at the notes and speaking extemporaneously. The blog allows me to capture those ideas in a more meaningful way.

So, who to nominate? I'm going to tap three classmates: Alan CookBenjamin Sharff, and Joshua Garroway (who doesn't blog but does sometimes respond on social media). Would love to see how they respond to these questions.

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