August 11, 2009
Fern Wallach is my mother-in-law’s sister’s daughter. You’ll want to keep that in mind for this column to make sense.
Fern lives in Manhattan. She is part of a Wallach-Levy Boro Park Diaspora that spreads from the Upper West and East sides of Manhattan (natch) to Newton, Mass., to Toronto to Seattle to Long Beach, Calif., to Israel and back to Boro Park. It’s also a family whose politics span from right to left, whose religious observance varies from none to Orthodox, whose income levels go from struggling to wealthy.
In other words, it’s a small tribe that reflects the dispersion and diversity of the larger Tribe.
And those attributes are very much in evidence in Los Angeles, home to the third-largest Jewish community in the world: Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Persian, Israeli, Russian, rich to poor, Chasidic to Reform to none of the above, from Ventura County to Long Beach and from the Inland Empire to Malibu.
I’m writing this between meetings at a Starbucks in Encino, and in the past hour I’ve heard Farsi and Hebrew and seen two Chabadniks, two Sammy Glick wannabes and the kind of wealthy looking women-in-tennis-togs I remember from the Encino of my youth. I rest my case.
Last April, our Web Editor Jay Firestone and reporter Dikla Kadosh took to the streets to ask Jews how they would make the Jewish community stronger. In dozens of interviews (which you can see at jewishjournal.com) one main suggestion emerged: help us communicate better with one another.
We Jews don’t agree; in fact, we like to disagree, but we like to disagree together. We like to argue at the dinner table — but that presupposes we all come to the table at the same time. And given our diversity, our dispersion, our traffic, our tendency to build walls around the Jewish communities we do create, this is a daunting problem.
But I believe The Jewish Journal has figured out one way to solve it.
When we set out to redesign our Web site, we made sure to develop a state-of-the-art social networking site, and we integrated it into jewishjournal.com. Last week we launched the site, named EveryJew.com.
EveryJew.com will allow every Jew in Los Angeles — and Newton, and Boro Park, and elsewhere — to stay in touch with every other Jew in their community, and beyond. As with any social networking site, you can create sub-sites so fans of Jewish hip-hop or members of the Skirball Cultural Center or children of Holocaust survivors or Jews who want to save Darfur or members of your synagogue or softball team can group together. Everyjew.com, which is free and simple enough for even me to use, makes it easy, allowing you to post photos and videos, add to a community calendar, send messages back and forth, publicize your events and promote your cause. If you have a bar mitzvah or wedding, EveryJew.com can easily become your free site for posting information on your mitzvah project, RSVPs and photos of the celebration.
Most importantly, it enables you to keep in touch with all the other Jews in Los Angeles and beyond — it brings us all together.
Yes, this is what Facebook does as well. But the idea behind EveryJew.com is to create a Jewish neighborhood in cyberspace, one where you’ll come face to virtual face with your fellow Jews, in an environment devoted to the issues and news that animates our communal discussion.
So here’s the ask. The next time you’re online — or if you’re there now — visit EveryJew.com and take 30 seconds to sign up. Invite your friends, your children (13 and over) and your colleagues to join you. If we’ve done our job, the end result will be a far-flung, diverse community brought together in a single virtual space.
I believe it can work, and my evidence of this is Fern Wallach.
Two days ago an e-mail popped into my inbox: “Fern Wallach has left a message for you on EveryJew.com.”
I don’t get to see the extended Wallach clan much — maybe twice a year in a good year. But someone who signed up for EveryJew.com knew someone who knew her, and soon enough she found me and sent me a message to find out how we’re doing. “What a great site,” she wrote. “Love to the family.”
The connection helped bring us a little closer together — which is where every Jew should be with every other Jew.
To watch the video, click here: