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One Fewer Online Community for Converts

This evening, a former fellow member of emailed me to let me know of that community’s untimely demise. The email came as a surprise. The growing, interdenominational community of Jewish converts was really positioned to become a leading online source of knowledge and affirmation for those newly arrived at Judaism.

Cutting to the chase, the site is down permanently, its content is offline, and a large group of folks have been thrown into online community homelessness–with scant explanation from the site’s founders as to why. (For what explanation there is, see this post on MikvahBound.)

A core group of former members has gravitated to the GereiTzedek convert discussion board, but unfortunately it’s a private board.That means potential converts and the newish Jewish can’t simply browse the board at will–they have to be let in, first. So, sadly, North American Jewish converts are now in limbo–an online Diaspora, if you will–until someone steps up to create another publicly open and accessible online community geared for our community.

Hopefully, if and when that happens, it will be a community whose founders manage to keep to it going–or at least don’t run off with no explanation. For now, goodbye to what was, briefly, a great idea, and a great online home for new Jews.

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Michael Thaddeus Doyle

I'm a NYC-native, Latino, Jew-by-choice, hardcore WDW fan in Chicago with an Irish last name. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I do nonprofit development. I've written this blog since 2005. Believe in the world you want to live in.

My Bio | My Conversion | My Family Reunion


4 replies

  1. Natalie, I am concerned about spammers and antisemitic propaganda too however I really want my forum to stay open. I do close registration a few hours before Shabbat and I’ll do the same over the High Holidays. That way new people can’t register and go crazy while I’m not around. I figure I’ll try that for a while and hopefully things go smoothly. I am a member on Gereitzedek too but didn’t know you were there! I should go back over and look around again.

  2. Michael, I saw you signed up on my new forum. Thanks so much! And also for letting your Rabbi know we’re not a bunch of crazies. I hope you’ll find a moment to stop by and tell us how things are going for you.

  3. That’s a shame for the site to have been trolled like that. That’s why it’s important to always moderate discussion forums. A conscientiously moderated forum is hard to troll. And it’s a lot better to moderate an open discussion forum rather than to make it completely private.

    I want to note to readers that I joined GereiTzedek very briefly last night…but this morning asked for my account to be canceled. If I’m going to wear my kippah 24/7, blog publicly about my Jewish journey, and in all aspects of my life be an unhidden Jew, I just can’t bring myself to hide away behind an electronic mechitza just to discuss my very publicly beloved faith with fellow converts.

    it’s a subject for a future (and long-planned) blog post of mine, but as far as I’m concerned, Judaism with the drawbridge pulled up is Judaism based on fear. And that’s not my Judaism.

  4. Thank you for the mention. If I may, I’ve been a member of Gereitzedek for many years and would like to try to address some of the (valid) points you brought up.

    Gereitzedek is never going to replace Its origins are different, its members are different, and they desire something different. It started as a listserv hosted by some URJ-affiliated organization back in the mid-90s. It recently (i.e., within the last year) moved to Proboards, which is free and allowed conversations to flow more easily than in a listserv format.

    Gereitzedek used to be an open community. In January of 2011, it was spammed, rather awfully, by neo-Nazis who sent horrific pictures to all of its members, and then again in the spring. After that, the moderator decided to make some changes: you have to write a short blurb about yourself, to try to weed-out troublemakers, before you are granted access (no one is turned down once they do so, unless you’re Messianic or trying to convert us… away from our conversions) and the forum was “hidden” so you can only see its contents if you are a member.

    This does afford a level of intimacy in these forums that you cannot find in other forums. Because these posts will not be found on Google, I (and other members who want to keep professional and personal lives separate, or at least keep our personal lives out of Google searches) can more honestly and openly share what is going on in my life. This is absolutely a drawback in some ways, when compared to, but with time, it may become another type of resource for gerim.

    I do hope or a clone will rise again.

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