Thanks to everyone who voted in the Jewish & Israeli Blog Awards. With your help, we won Best Group Blog and Best Designed blog, and placed second to Gil in the Best Jewish Religion. What constitutes a “religion” blog is somewhat ambiguous, as already discussed, so I also wanted the popular blog that discusses Torah and Halacha most directly to take the title. Congrats, Gil!
If you want to read the press release, you can read more below.
Now in Overall, I’ll admit to being surprised. At the close of balloting we were over 30 votes ahead of Dry Bones, and 15 ahead of Gil. The “certified” results indicate that enough votes were denied by the JPost to give the JPost’s own Dry Bones the title. Hmm. Now I’ll ask fellow bloggers and commenters to recall that the last time I said something was funny, I wasn’t being paranoid, I was right… but I’m not suggesting anything. :-D
Do I really care? No. Do you know what is going to be the biggest popularity boost? Probably winning Best Designed — because that puts us in pole position on the JPost results page. That, and the really nice press release we got out of the deal, which we hope will lead to further coverage.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PR Agency Contact: Company Contact: Nama Frenkel Rabbi Yaakov Menken Frenkel & Thayer Project Genesis, Inc. 410-802-0100 410-602-1350 x120 namaf -at- aol com menken -at- torah org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Orthodox Blog Takes Top Awards
Countering all stereotypes, Orthodox writers nab top honors in the newest of new media.
BALTIMORE, MD – February 9, 2006 – Cross-Currents, a “blog” written by traditional Orthodox Rabbis and teachers, today took first place honors in the Second Annual Jewish and Israeli Blog Awards, sponsored by the IsraellyCool blog and the Jerusalem Post. Countering portrayals of the Orthodox as technological Luddites who have banned the Internet, Cross-Currents, sponsored by the Jewish outreach organization Project Genesis, won the gold as both the Best Group Blog and Best Designed, while finishing second only to the Jerusalem Post’s own Dry Bones cartoon in the Best Overall category.
A blog, or weblog, is a web site built as an ongoing journal, enabling writers to communicate with web readers around the globe. It encourages informal communication rather than the carefully-edited articles published in mainstream media. The Rabbis and teachers of Cross-Currents, found at http://www.cross-currents.com, post their thoughts and insights on an ongoing basis, sharing their reflections on news, current events and Jewish issues with an audience reaching into the tens of thousands each month.
Cross-Currents was founded by Rabbi Yaakov Menken, Director of Project Genesis, and Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, Director of Project NextStep of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. In Rabbi Adlerstein’s words, “For decades, Torah Jewry in America was at the mercy of editors who were at best benignly tolerant of our community and our views. The world of the blog has changed all that.” Writer Eytan Kobre notes, “the blog offers me the opportunity to communicate directly with the readers, unfiltered by an often hostile and usually uninformed media.”
While the blog awards were a very informal measure of popularity, the wins still came as a pleasant surprise — and also provided Cross-Currents with additional exposure. “We’ve seen remarkable and consistent growth since we started about a year ago,” Menken remarked, “but we finished the contest with half again as many readers.”
The ten contributing writers at Cross-Currents represent a broad diversity of views, dismantling the stereotype of the Orthodox as single-minded with every internal debate. This is but one misconception that the blog rebuts; others are faced more directly. In a recent comment, Rabbi Adlerstein spoke to the misconception of Orthodox Jews as unquestioning followers of a rigid law. “People believe that all answers to halachic questions are somehow contained in SA, the Code of Jewish Law. This is simply not true. Many, many of the most important questions we face as individuals and as a community, in all arenas of the law, are simply not found in SA. There is no way to adequately give voice to the importance of SA, but it was not designed to be, nor could any one work be, the written record of all that we need to know about halacha.”
For many of the writers, blogging has challenged them to share their thoughts in the less formal style encouraged by blogging, rather than more carefully crafted articles. Over time, this has turned into one of the draws of participation. Jonathan Rosenblum is one of Cross-Currents’ best-known writers. As the founder of Jewish Media Resources and Jerusalem director of Am Echad, two media outreach organizations dedicated to furthering a better understanding of Torah Judaism, Rosenblum appears each week in Jewish publications both in and outside Orthodox circles. Yet Cross-Currents is a welcome change of pace. “For me,” he says, “the attraction of blog posting is the ability to enter into a conversation without polishing every word.”
Project Genesis, Inc. is a Baltimore-based organization dedicated to leveraging Internet technologies for Jewish outreach and education. With their leading-edge tools and collaboration with a host of other organizations and educators, Project Genesis web sites deliver Jewish content to hundreds of thousands of visitors each month. Popular initiatives include the premiere Jewish education web site Torah.org, global resource JewishAnswers.org, audio library TorahMedia.com, and award-winning web log, Cross-Currents.com.