The Twittering of Rabbis in the trees

I have to admit that I’m not big into Twitter, except as a way of promoting, even though I’m a computer geek in my day job. HOWEVER, I just found out about a twitter “tag” (I’ll explain more in a minute) called #whatrabbisdo. It yields some interesting insights into, well, like the tag says, “What Rabbis do”.

If you have glossed over the whole twitter phenomenon (and I wouldn’t blame you if you have), this might be a reason to give it a second look.

How Twitter works
(just a brief note for those hiding under a rock for the last two years)

Using email, cell phone text messages, or the web site, you post very short (up to 140 characters) messages about what you are doing.

Other people “subscribe” to your account so that they can see what you post.

Twitter at its most banal

“going to lunch now. I’m thinking tacos!” is a great example of why anyone with an IQ above that of a houseplant would avoid twitter in the same way you’d stay clear of a 40-year-old affection-starved Trekkie with halitosis and a contagious skin condition. People with boundary issues abound on Twitter. Luckily there’s a solution: don’t subscribe to their twitter feed. Just because they are watching your messages does not obligate you (technically or socially) to see what they have to say.

Twitter at its best

Twitter is now used to communicate everything from H1N1 flu information by the CDC to breaking news in countries with suppressed media. Organizations (including synagogues) use Twitter to communicate programming updates (think “Sunday School snow days”) and other useful information.

On a person-to-person level, people are able to keep large groups updated with important or immediate situations without making multiple phone calls or text messages, or having to manage email lists.

How the tag works
Rabbis create a twitter message as they would for any other piece of information. But if they feel it fits the #whatrabbisdo category they simply add “#whatrabbisdo” anywhere in the message.

Within Twitter, others can search for any message that has that tag, and see messages from multiple people (even people where they don’t want their regular twitter information).

Are there other tags
You betcha. For a painfully complete listing, check out the site

However, just a few Jewish tags that might spark your interest: #GiladShalit, #Tweet4Shalit, #torah, #hunger, #Israel, #Holocaust and, of course, #Jewish.