Thursday, August 21, 2008

Jbloggers Conference

Just a few thoughts on last night's NBN Jbloggers conference.
At first I felt somewhat fish-out-of-waterness. I didn't really "fit the profile" of the conference. On one hand, I don't blog on "jewish" subjects. On the other, I believe my jewishness informs my outlook on life, work, the universe etc... So, I guess I'm just as jewish as the next blogger...well, jewish blogger.
I was somewhat annoyed with the political undertones of the conference, as there was a perceived majority of a certain demographic, but that was to be expected I suppose.
Former prime-minister Bibi Netanyahu made a grand enterance. He is a very knowledgable and engaging speaker. Unfortunately, he spoke for over an hour which detracted from the time alotted to other bloggers and presentations. And, again, I was annoyed with his campaigning (once a politician...)
Little known fact about me:
I grew up in the same Philadelphia suburb where the Netanyahu's lived when the patriarch (Ben-Tzion) was a professor at Dropsie College. We didn't live there at the same time. I mention this not as a claim to fame, but as a prelude to the next bit of personal information:
My decision to return to Israel, after having grown up in the USA, was crystallized after reading a book called "Yoni's Letters". Yoni, Jonathan Netanyahu (z"l), was the older brother of Bibi and was the commander of the operation to free Israeli hostages from a hijacked plane in Entebbe in 1976 (oddly enough the year of my Bar Mitzvah). Yoni was killed in action during the operation and is probably the best known of Israel's military heroes. After his death, letters he sent to his family during his army service were published as a serial in an Israeli newspaper and eventually compiled and published in book form. BTW the book was translated into English.
As I read the book, I was surprised to discover some of the parallels in our lives. Yoni went to the same high school as I did, and his impression of American culture was identical to mine. Reading his letters mirroring thoughts and feelings of mine served to galvanize my decision. Despite having grown up in the US, I never felt that I completely belonged, a fish out of water as it were. So after finishing my undergraduate degree, I packed up and came back home, albeit a home I barely knew.
23 years later I'm at a conference of Jbloggers meeting many others who have come home. Some very very recently and others like myself, not so recently. Strange fish, strange water. Everyone was looking at everyone else's name tag. Some actually recognize my blog's title and even like the blog.
I was able to exchange a few words with Treppenwitz and his charming wife Zehava whom I had the pleasure of inviting to a hike in my neck of the desert a couple of months ago. David was his usual witty self and in my opinion was the star of the evening (despite Bibi's fabulous enterance in the middle of David's words).
I also had the great pleasure of meeting one of my favorite bloggers Gila, who writes My Shrapnel. And I must mention a delightful conversation with Baila.
Because of the diversity of the bloggers in attendance (200!) and those watching online (1300!), I agree with one of the speakers, that the Jblogosphere is a conglomerate of people with the same hobby (OK some do this professionaly). It made for an interesting evening.


Risa Tzohar said...

I saw you when I came in and wanted to say hello and tell you that I read your posts and it's a shame you don't post more often. Maybe next year.

Benji Lovitt said...

Nice to briefly meet you...hope you had a good time.

Anonymous said...

Nice honest post.

Batya said...

Nice review of the conference, even though it's different from mine.
The people who showed up, showed up because they could and identified with jblogging to some extent. To say that there were "too many" of a certain kind would imply that you'd prefer a quota system or have problems with the facts on the ground.

rutimizrachi said...

I was graduating high school at the time of your bar mitzvah, and had a mad crush on Yoni, zt'l, after reading his "Letters." I also was strongly influenced toward a love for Israel after reading that book. We could use a little more of that old spirit now...

Didn't get to meet you at the conference (too new to the blogosphere; to shy). But I like your easy, conversational style, and will add you to my required reading. See you next year!

Maestro said...

Should I say that I envisioned you as being much older than I am and that now I now that to be untrue. ;)

Well, you're older, but not much.

Unknown said...

Risa - I'd like to post more often, but the thing is this: I have a job too ;)
Benji - I believe a good time was had by all, except for those that didn't.
Ilana - thanks.
muse - No quota needed and no problems with facts on the ground, just some surprise is all.
Ruti - hope to see you next year too!
Jack - I think I'll take that as a compliment ;P

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