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Changing Up The Feedback Loop
By Sierra Debrow, ISJL Education Fellow
Two years ago, I was scrolling mindlessly through my Facebook feed when something different caught my eye. It wasn’t a picture of a friend’s cute dog or a group of friends posing in front of a lake at summer camp. The picture was of a cup of coffee and a notepad with “Elul 1: To Prepare” scrawled across the top.
The caption of this photo revealed that it was a friend’s first in a series of daily posts for something called “Blog Elul.” Blog Elul is a social media challenge that encourages people to make daily, introspective posts based on a series of prompts. The challenge asks us to use the month before the High Holidays to think carefully about our past year of successes, blunders, and everything in between, all with the hope that it will better prepare us for the year ahead. Reflecting is a wonderful tool. It helps us take a step back from our work, analyze it, and make an effort to improve upon it.
Like most things, introspection requires a balance. Focusing solely on where things went wrong can be stressful and tiring; only congratulating ourselves on our successes doesn’t provide the perspective that we need to grow. Challenges like Blog Elul are a great way to evaluate where we stand and pace ourselves so we can get where we want to be in the upcoming year. Here are some creative ways to customize a challenge like Blog Elul to fit your community’s needs.
Ask community leaders to participate. There are 29 days in Elul. Instead of coming up with 29 different reflections on your own, ask leaders from your community to participate. This volunteerism can diversify the responses you receive and divides the challenge into manageable chunks. It’s easier for seven people to come up with four posts each than for one person to write 29!
Create a community hashtag. Hashtags aren’t just part of millennial slang; they’re important tools for tracking and consolidating social media posts. If your congregation decides to participate in Blog Elul or a similar social media challenge, create a special hashtag for members of your community to use on their posts. For example, if your synagogue is named Congregation Beth Israel, think about using #ElulCBI or #BlogElulCBI. Just remember: keep it simple! Hashtags should be the accent on a post, not a replacement for one.
No Tech? No problem! This kind of challenge isn’t restricted to social media platforms. If your synagogue has an empty bulletin board, turn it into a space to engage your community! Pick a prompt that will lead your community to reflect and share their ideas for the year ahead. Keep some pens, pencils, and post-it notes by the board, encourage your community to participate, and see what they come up with!
Though “Blog Elul” might’ve started as an individual way to share reflections of the year, customizing this kind of challenge to your own community invites people to share an array of thoughts, memories, and creative ideas for the year to come.