My colleague and friend, Rabbi Jason Miller, wrote a column in the New York Jewish Week, titled The First War Played Out in the Social Networks. It’s about how the Israeli Government and the terrorist group, Hamas, that is ruling Gaza, are using social media platforms like Twitter. It’s a very informative piece, which is why I’ve hyperlinked to it.
One implication of Rabbi Miller’s comments is the importance of having social media policies in place, updated contact information of constituents, and a social media crisis management response plan ready to go. More specifically, they also made me think about how we can support Israel during this unacceptable situation of millions of Israeli citizens living in bomb shelters or having to flee to them routinely. (And yes-the situation is also intolerable for innocent Gazans who cannot stop Hamas militants from placing lethal munitions in their basements, in crowded neighborhoods, where they know they will inflict carnage on their own citizens. Who wants to see truly innocent people suffering?!)
If you want to help, you can:
- Create a simple list of links to English-edition Israeli newspapers that provide frequent updates.
- You can do the same for links to your local federations, Jewish Community Relations Councils and organizations like AIPAC, which are very good about providing information and talking points about how to respond to the evolving situation
- You can create a congregational Facebook Page on the current situation that you can update regularly
- Note: you should have a social media usage policy in place if you go this route, as you will generate both support and opposition; you want to know how your organization will respond to what you view as excessive on either side
- You can start a Twitter feed that you want constituents to know about
- You can send out email alerts and text messages to constituents on an “as needed” basis, where you aggregate content from sites that you like and add your own commentary
- If you’re like me, you’ve received first-hand accounts from the parents whose children are in the army or from friends and family under attack in different parts of Israel, describing their fear and anger. You can share those accounts using any of the methods described above (it’s best if you get permission)
- And-you can write letters to the editor of online and print copy newspaper expressing your viewpoint.
With the guidance of leaders, volunteers can play a substantive role in communicating to the public.
Personally, I wish that I were in Israel now, volunteering and showing support. But until I get there in about five weeks, I can at least use social media as a public means of support. I hope that you will too and if you have other ideas, please comment.
Rabbi Hayim Herring