Seventy religious women gathered at the Ramada Renaissance Hotel in Jerusalem on Wed. Feb. 17 for a conference on social media. The organizers of the Kishor Social Media Conference, who belong to a haredi (ultra-Orthodox) women’s professional network, were extra-careful to avoid any halachic prohibitions. The conference was sanctioned by Rabbi Yitzchak Berkovits, who addressed the conference. He and Rebbetzin Holly Pavlov stressed the dangers of internet use, from pornography to malicious gossip.
In The Jerusalem Post’s report on this conference, one gets the impression that the entire purpose of the conference was to warn women off from internet use. However, this was far from the case. The aim of the conference was to empower women to use social media effectively as a business tool. One of the morning sessions, led by Debra Askanase and Talia Klein, demonstrated how social media is the fastest growing use of the internet. The afternoon sessions were devoted to practical training in the use of social media. A beginner’s track taught the basics of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogging. The professional’s track discussed time management, social media strategies and tools and tricks. An especially interesting presentation by Paula Stern showed case studies of successful social media campaigns, such as the one which publicized the IDF’s activities in Haiti in the two weeks after the earthquake.
Haredi society is often portrayed in a stereotypical fashion. The idea that haredim are closed off from the technology of the internet is widely held. This view has been strengthened by recent news items reporting that rabbis have banned the use of internet, including haredi websites. The Jerusalem Post’s take on this conference is obviously part of that trend. But the women at this conference were clearly a world away from that sector. Many of them belonged to the haredi world, and they were either involved in social media or interested in becoming involved. Every one of them owned a computer with an internet connection, and they all understood the importance of social media for business success. This was a social media conference geared towards religious women, not a religious conference about social media. And it was a success.
Is Facebook Kosher?
The Jerusalem Post report on the Kishor Social Media Conference focuses on the halachic discussions at the conference.
Kishor – Professional Jewish Women
“The Kishor Social Media Conference will be a first-of-its kind event, with world-class speakers and focused educational value, teaching religious women about cutting-edge technologies at a conference sanctioned by leading rabbanim, and created by and for frum women.”
Are Haredi leaders losing their followers to the Web?
The Haredi rabbis’ ban on the internet doesn’t seem to be having much effect.
Overview of Social Media: Trends, Stats, and What It’s All About
Debra Askanase and Talia Klein have posted the slideshow from their presentation online.