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Periodically, I review the history of this series, rather like looking at an old picture album. (And yes, I am of an age when I still think of physical albums.) I look at where we have been and where we are, and try to gain some perspective.

The series was started at Street Prophets when thefatladysings asked if it was a regular series. I actually had been writing an occasional d'var Torah for some time before that, but the idea of a series got some support, and here we are. I wrote the diaries for the first few weeks, but gradually other writers volunteered. Sometimes we also posted over here, and then, when DK4 got started with groups and all, we formed Elders of Zion (the name that got the most votes - irony won the day).

At Street Prophets our audience was limited to interested people, Jewish, Christian, animist, atheist or whatever. At DK, of course, the audience was wider, and some of the discussions focused on whether we had any business on a political/Democratic website.

Religion and progressivism have always had connections, and some of those leaders of various movements have been motivated by religion. After pointing this out a few times, we have seen these comments stop, except when someone new discovers us. Our way of dealing with this and with other interruptions has always been to invite people in and involve them in the discussions. Some have stayed, some have gone.

I was ready to end the series not so long ago, after many of our Jewish writers had left DK over what they felt was unaddressed anti-semitism, and I found myself writing some three or four diaries in a row. Navy Vet Terp, with the help of quarkstomper, kept it going. For the first time we had writers, as well as readers, who were not Jewish . Some years ago, someone asked if non-Jews could write for the series. My answer then was maybe, if they kept to the text and could connect with Jewish thinking. Anyone who has read the diaries of quarkstomper and Eowyn9 can see that this development has been almost completely positive.

I think our readers have realized that we treat everyone with respect. We also expect commenters to be respectful of each other. Things occasionally get a little heated, but when you combine politics and religion, that will happen. Sometimes things get personal.

Navy Vet Terp and I are the only administrators remaining since several others left.

Coordinating a series is not easy, as anyone who has tried it can tell you. When the series is about something as touchy as religion it gets even harder. Our Jewish writers are Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Revisionist, and secular, with varying degrees of observance and knowledge. Add non-Jews to the mix, and you can get some very strong feelings. But we continue to be inclusive and respectful.

Recently the two of us have been receiving complaints from some group members who feel discussions have become too heated, and want us to do something about it. We have discussed it with each other and with them, but we cannot continue to do so even though we take all your concerns seriously. We always monitor the comment threads, which can continue for days, and we will respond to abuses as we deem necessary. Neither of us has the time for ongoing discussion beyond what goes on in the threads. If you express concerns there, we will respond.

We will continue to be inclusive overall. We have never had to use hide-ratings to resolve problems, and have no plans to start. We want everyone to feel safe, but still find that if things get too heated, the best solution is to walk away, either physically or figuratively.

Parsha Yitro was the first parsha after we officially began as a series, so Parsha Yitro this year will mark four years since that Shabbat. It was my adult Bat Mitzvah parsha a year before, and a year later, thefatladysings' son posted his Bar Mitzvah speech. I am so pleased that the series continues, and thank you all for keeping it going.

Originally posted to Elders of Zion on Tue Nov 05, 2013 at 04:45 PM PST.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (23+ / 0-)

    Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be ... almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die. - Jonathan Safran Foer

    by ramara on Tue Nov 05, 2013 at 04:45:43 PM PST

  •  Thank you (15+ / 0-)

    for all that you and Navy Vet Terp do. It's a lot of work to keep up a series, but it's a nice supplement to what my own rabbi sends out. I'm grateful.

  •  I always read D'var Torah, (7+ / 0-)

    even though I'm Lutheran.  I have always found the rituals and observances of Judaism beautiful and fascinating.

    I love the concept of Yahrzeit.  Every year on January 25, I do my own little Yahrzeit observance for my dad.

    I have never commented here because of my lack of knowledge.  All that I know I've learned from reading the books of Isaac Bashevis Singer, Chaim Potok, Herman Wouk, and others.

    I read D'var Torah because I like to learn more.  Thank you for continuing to do it.

    Stand Up! Keep Fighting! Paul Wellstone

    by RuralLiberal on Tue Nov 05, 2013 at 05:45:32 PM PST

    •  Thanks and welcome (6+ / 0-)

      Somewhere I read, in some biography, don't recall the author and don't recall the subject, but the author said he would rather visit where a person has died than where a person was born.  Babies are born every moment of every day, a newborn has accomplished nothing except being born.  Lincoln and MLK died after achieving greatness, and I would rather observe the days they died than their birthdays.

      "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

      by Navy Vet Terp on Tue Nov 05, 2013 at 06:00:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I know a woman (6+ / 0-)

      who became Jewish largely because of Yahrzeit - her brother was killed in Vietnam, and she couldn't just get over it, as her family outwardly did.

      Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be ... almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die. - Jonathan Safran Foer

      by ramara on Tue Nov 05, 2013 at 06:11:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I have left EoZ (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ramara

    and will not be writing any more dvar Torahs - that should solve most of the issues right there.  Yasher koach to those who continue, from strength to strength.

    •  I'm sorry to hear it (4+ / 0-)

      I hope you will stop by sometimes, and if you decide to join us again, you will be welcome.

      Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be ... almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die. - Jonathan Safran Foer

      by ramara on Tue Nov 05, 2013 at 09:16:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  And I will second Ramara (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ramara, mayim

      And hope you will continue to drop by, and will be welcomed if you decide to join us again.

      "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

      by Navy Vet Terp on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 03:17:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  What upcoming weeks aren't taken ? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ramara, mettle fatigue, mayim

    I haven't written one for a while.

    •  The person who was doing next week's (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ramara, mayim

      Vayislach, backed out, so let me know if you would like to do it, otherwise I will.  After that November 30th, Miketz and Shabbat Hanukah, and every Shabbat thereafter.

      Thanks.

      "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

      by Navy Vet Terp on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 03:28:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  perhaps EofZ profile page might be updated (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ramara

    to reflect the clarification in this diary, so that this paragraph

    Dealing with trolls

    From experience, we've found that diaries having to do with Jews and/or Judaism tend to draw the attention of trolls. Antisemitism of any variety will be hide-rated without warning. Members should not engage diary hijackers or those seeking to instigate pie fights over any topic, I/P or otherwise. Hijackers and pie fighters will be warned once and hide-rated thereafter.

    won't mislead anyone else into expecting the group to operate differently than the clarification explains.  

    always assuming the page http://www.dailykos.com/... actually is correctable. (maybe it's not.)

    as a member concerned about inappropriate hostility, i appreciate knowing the actual policy and the work that goes into sustaining this series with only two administrators left to handle all of it alone.

  •  It's no fun (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ramara, Navy Vet Terp, mettle fatigue

    if coming here means always getting hurt. I don't have the energy for it. I'm tired of being attacked and judged. Some comments were made here to me that were extremely hurtful. It was the final straw - I realized trying to connect with any kind of Jewish community would always be met with some form of criticism or hostility, which I don't have the emotion strength to deal with. I also feel the mission of organized religion is destructive. There is something fundamentally unethical about looking for reasons to tell people they are bad and should change. If you can't accept people for who they are, you have no love in your heart. As far as I am concerned, if this is someone's position, he or she has failed as a religious person. I don't have the inner resources to cope with static or bitchiness. As I already believe politics can't solve any human problem, there is nothing else to keep me on Kos. I'm posting my D'var for the week because I said I would - then I am out of here. Some of you have been cool. I appreciate the kindness and support of people like Ramara, NVT, and Mayim. Everyone should try to remember: what you say matters, and you don't know how far or how deep that might go. Try not to be cavalier with your comments. I need an environment where who I am is OK. This clearly isn't it.

    •  Everyone should feel safe (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Navy Vet Terp, mayim, mettle fatigue

      and I'm sorry we have failed to give you that feeling here. There are places in the Jewish community that are very accepting - here in Tucson there is even a rabbi who has converted. I know I did not expect to feel accepted when I first went back to a synagogue after years away, but I have found two congregations in different states that welcome people as they are.

      I had hoped to develop that kind of community here; if you have any suggestions how we could have made it safer for you, I would love to hear them, either here or in a message.

      I look forward to your diary, and hope you will reconsider.

      Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be ... almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die. - Jonathan Safran Foer

      by ramara on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 12:45:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  And I'll second Ramara, again (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ramara, mayim, mettle fatigue

      We must respect one another and not degrade one another.  It was never the intent of this series to get into pie fights that hurt other people.  Your diaries have been most enlightening and moving.  I always looked forward to them and am saddened that things have gotten out of control here.  That was the purpose of Ramara's diary, to try to steer things back to what they originally were in the days when Street Prophet was its own web site - an impossible task, I know, but one all readers and commenters should strive for.

      "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

      by Navy Vet Terp on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 03:24:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm very sorry if i have contributed (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ramara, JDsg, Navy Vet Terp

      to your feeling hurt or attacked or judged here.   i've re-read all i can find of comments between you and me, and i hope none of them were hurtful.  i don't think they were because some of the conversations went on for a while very interestingly.

      but i did raise objection to belligerantly crossed boundaries, when that reached a point i saw as an obligation of responsibility to meet.

      if that added to your uneasiness with EofZ, please know i will not be a self-appointed class monitor here again, no matter who does or doesn't write or comment in the future.  

      in any group of adults, no one or two individuals can impose fair treatment or kindness for all the rest.

      but they can build kindness and fair treatment together in their varying ways if they are committed to it, you have every right to benefit from that here and to enjoy it, and i think the group as a whole is committed to it.

      i apologize if i have made you feel uncomfortable or strained.  i hope you see that you are valued and appreciated here, and i hope you will nevermind me and stay.

  •  Thank *you* ramara for starting this series (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ramara, Navy Vet Terp

    and for your role in keeping it going! Also thanks for the positive shout-out :) (blushing) :)

    "We are stardust, we are golden, and we've got to get ourselves back to the garden." (Joni Mitchell)

    by Eowyn9 on Fri Nov 08, 2013 at 07:12:46 PM PST

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