Why did you initially join Twitter?
I originally joined Twitter just because I thought that I had to be on every social network imaginable. Years of bullying and being the odd kid out had taught me that kids were mean and didn’t really want to spend time with me (high school sorta sucked). In order to compensate for this I, much to my parents chagrin, begin to reach out to people through chatrooms and other pre-social network social networks (this was long before Facebook even existed). Because of this I joined Twitter as soon as it came out and I promptly forgot about it because I didn’t really see the point. It wasn’t until I got my first iPhone and could tweet on the go that I began to use it quite heavily. One suspended account later I’m now an addict.
How did you get involved with the Jewish community on Twitter?
Despite my extreme secularism I’ve always gravitated towards the Jewish community in one form or another. In the case of Twitter it wasn’t so much intentional but rather because I was so interested in aliyah, Israel, Judaism, etc. that I began to know quite a few Jewish/Israeli tweeps. I didn’t specifically join Twitter to meet Jews but rather Twitter became simply an extension of my social life. In university I began to spend a lot more time with Jews, attending Jewish functions, running pro-Israel advocacy courses and participating in Jewish life in Sydney.
How has Twitter’s Jewish community changed your life?
They have made me the person that I am today. The Jewish community on Twitter helped allay any real fears that I had making aliyah, they provided a loving and welcoming atmosphere and helped me with any problems that I might have. I had an entire community of friends, nay family, waiting for me before I even landed here in Israel. I attended a tweeter’s wedding two weeks after I left Ben-Gurion Airport and another tweeter opened her home to me and will be my adopted family once I enter the army. The loving support of the Jewish community on Twitter has helped me open up to who I am. I’m no longer the social introvert that I once was. My family on Twitter has become just that in real life.
What are the most interesting Jewish conversations taking place in your Twitter feed?
I think that the most interesting Jewish conversations in my feed aren’t exactly Jewish but rather Israeli. As an anglo Oleh I often tweet about the vagaries of adapting to life over here and in response I get people talking about what life is like here, dealing with the government or what life used to be like and how much of an improvement it is.
Who are your favorite Jewish tweeters?
I currently follow around 1300 people. Of those about 50% are important Jewish tweeters (or West Wing fans tweeting as characters….don’t ask). I suppose that if I had to cull a list into people that I truly couldn’t live without I suppose it would be:
And all of the #twitpacha.
As for news sources I’d always recommend @ynetnews and @haaretzonline.
What’s the most interesting or out-of-the-box way you have used Twitter?
To gain employment. The last two times that I have had to search for a job I simply sent out a tweet and my various twitter friends here in Israel would poke around and see what they can find. If you happen to know the right people and they’re willing to put a good word in for you then great. One of the things that Israelis always say you need in this country is ‘protexia’, the friend who helps you jump the line or helps you get a job when you’re competing with someone equally qualified. It’s how things get done in this country. Twitter has given me the protexia that I needed to get my start here. The Jewish community on Twitter has been both a life-changer and a life-starter.
Follow Raffe Gold at @raffeg or read his blog, Raffe’s Book Blog.