Friday, February 10, 2012

Management Update: The State of the Union

As most of you have figured out at this point, my conversion was finished a month ago. So what happens to the blog now??

My current plan is keep on doin' what I'm already doin'. There is clearly a need for this kind of information and discussion. This isn't going to turn into a "what to do as a new Jew" blog. This space is about conversion and getting along in orthodox society (which is also useful to baalei teshuva). While my life comes up here and there, this is not a blog about my life. I'm here to share information, my experiences, and the experiences of others. 

Of course, I can't guarantee anything. If I got an amazing full-time job, there's the possibility of posting less than the current 5 times a week, though I don't expect to stop blogging entirely. That said, you and your cousin Bob are welcome to hire me. Or you can justify my continued unemployment by donating to my seforim/eating fund through the "Donate" button on the right-hand side of the blog.

Since there has been some confusion among some of the readership in the past, what exactly am I doing here? I realize that many long-time-observant people (converts, BTs, and frum-from-birth) read here, and that's a wonderful resource for both me and my readership. But I do make editorial decisions about what to write about and how to write about it based upon who my target demographic is. And while you may not agree with which questions I choose to tackle (or not tackle) and how I tackle them, you're welcome to submit a guest post for consideration. However, I like keeping pretty tight editorial control over this blog because I'm the one who ultimately answers for it.

My target demographics are people converting to orthodox Judaism or born-Jews who are relatively new to orthodox society. The BT demographic is a new direction for me, but almost all information, even if applied to the case of a conversion candidate, applies to BTs too. I do write about liberal conversions when the occasion arises that there is an overlap or important distinction between the movements on a particular conversion issue. I care about this demographic (and I think orthodox kiruv organizations should not be turning away liberal converts), but I think their needs are served by the many blogs out there from liberal converts. However, I realize that they can also find useful or enjoyable information here, and I hope maybe they can learn more about orthodoxy than they might otherwise. There is a lot of misinformation and hate-mongering out there (from both sides, obviously). I don't always present the pretty side of orthodoxy, but I hope I present accurate and useful information about why something is the way it is (as best as I can tell).

So what do I assume about my intended readership? (I know, assuming is always dangerous business.) I expect that most of these people do not live in New York City or Los Angeles. Many live in areas with no orthodox Jews. They may even live in countries without Jews at all. Probably most live in a community somewhere in between those two extremes. I generally assume that my intended readers do not speak Hebrew (I don't, for that matter) and may not even read Hebrew at this point. I do assume that readers probably cannot "listen for" specific words or phrases in regular congregational davening. I assume little to no familiarity with halachic concepts unless I've written about them previously (and I try to remember to link to those posts).

But honestly, I don't know very much about who actually makes it here. I get approximately 800-1,000 views every day except Shabbat, but I don't know who you people are. So...I'll continue to write for the people I'm here to serve. I hope all the rest of you find a benefit here, and if you meet someone who could benefit from this information, point them to this blog. I appreciate it! 

My goals right now:
Better search functionality (The only problem I've ever had with Blogger)
Better linking between posts
Going back and linking old posts
Figuring out how to create a "Similar Posts You Might Like" automatically after posts
I'd like to figure out a different look, but that always gets pushed back
Working on/expanding the "pages" other than the blog
Increasing my own knowledge in order to pass that along to you!

Some people have brought up the idea of me writing a book. Knowing me, that'll probably happen sooner or later, probably some years from now. I have a few things written up so far, but nothing organized. However, if you happen to be a literary agent or otherwise in a position to give me monetary motivation to get my tuchus in gear on this, I'm certainly willing to discuss the issue. I currently don't have any plans to self-publish any book I might write.

On the other hand, I'm certainly willing and able to speak to organizations or groups about conversion issues and the conversion experience. I already do that every week at the Shabbos table, I might as well expand my audience base. I'm no authority, but I've listened to a lot of people, as well as having my own experiences. Starting the community conversation and making people aware of the issues is the key to improving the process for everyone.


  1. Hi Skylar! Congratulations on your conversion. I'm glad your blog isn't going anywhere, as it's such a great resource.
    You can create "Similar Posts You Might Like" after your blog entries by using LinkWithin: That seems to be the most common way and also takes care of it automatically.


  2. Commenting for the first time! I read your blog because it has lots of good information. I have no plans to convert Orthodox, but my bf is Jewish and I am enjoying learning all I can about the religion (I am also taking classes in real life, including Hebrew.) Keep up the good work!

  3. Hi Skylar,

    I can't find any answer to my question on the internet, so I figured out I could ask you this:

    Could you tell me how long is cha'harit service during shabbos in your orthodox synagogue ? Any idea how long is it "in general" ?

  4. David,
    Shacharis is usually 2-2.5 hr long at the main minyan usually, depending on the length of the rabbi's speech. It is longer if anything special needs to be added, like Hallel. If you are at an early morning Hashkama minyan or something, then it can be a bit shorter, but plan on over 2 hours.

  5. What Jade said. But I have seen Shabbat shacharit regularly be over 3 hours in one particular community. So it's not out of the realm of possibility. On the other hand, services in Israel are almost always significantly shorter than American ones (partially because they often skip the speeches).

  6. I got caught up in other things, and haven't been to your blog in too long. I'm so excited that your conversion is complete! Mazel tov!

  7. Mazel tov on completing your conversion! I am glad that you are continuing your blog as I am still in your intended demographic and find your blog an important resource.