Monday, August 01, 2005

What is this thing called Blog?

There has been a lot of activity on this blog especially over the last weekend. I feel that it is time to spell out what a blog is - and specifically what this blog is - for some of the people looking at this site who do not seem to understand it's purpose.

Blogs - short for Weblogs - have been in existance for about 8 years. They are primarily used by individuals as a type of on-line diary and to discuss current events and topics of interest to the owner of the blog. There are literally millions of blogs on the web and quite a number that deal with Jewish topics. For an interesting and comprehensive history and description of blogs see the entry in Wikipedia.

As I have said many times this blog is my personal web log and was setup to discuss topics of interest to me. It is not a community forum but is being used by individuals to discuss topics of importance and let off steam. I fully support this exchange of ideas especially about our community. I firmly believe that by talking to each other in a respectful way we can contribute to the betterment of our mosod and community.

Over the month that this blog has been in existence I have received over 13,000 hits and around 2,000 comments. As someone pointed out yesterday most blogs receive only a few comments on each topic. Some of the topics here have received well over 100 comments. Obviously that doesn't mean that each topic or comment is correct or "worthy" it just means that there is a lot of interest in what is discussed here.

There has been some critisism that all this negative discussion of Chabad is exposing our current weaknesses to the public and to other communities. It is true that noone likes to air their dirty linen in public but, as has been pointed out, the time has long passed for us to be so sensitive. The problems of our community are not unique just to us - many Chabad and other communities around the world have similar problems. We should not be burying our heads in the sand but looking for solutions to the problems of our mosod and children.

Some have also accused me and commentors of always dwelling on the negative and not acknowledging the good products of our schools and the good that our community achieves. I agree 100%. Before we start critisising we must remember the positive.

Chabad is a powerful force in Australia. Starting with the immigration after WW2 supported by the Feiglin family and comprising of our founding fathers the Althaus, Kluwgant, Gurewicz, Pliskin, Perlow and Serebryanski familes Chabad has grown in leaps and bounds. I do not need to repeat the history as it is recorded in other places.

When Rabbi Groner arrived he became not just the Chabad rabbi but a community rabbi which he still is today. He has gained the respect of all sections of the community - frum and non-frum. Along with the founding fathers he built the physical buildings that we see today when we drive along Hotham and Balaclava Roads as well as Yeshivah Gedolah. They also built up the mosod to where we have 100s of Lubavitch familes and a number of Chabad shuls in Melbourne.

A senior (non Chabad) Melbourne rabbi once said to Rabbi Groner - you have to understand that my shul is not Hotham St (meaning that his congregants were not committed Jews). Rabbi Groner replied - Hotham St was not always Hotham St - a lot of work went into building up the Yeshivah community.

While we acknowledge all this we must still look critically at the areas that can be improved. It is all very nice to congratulate ourselves on what has been achieved but, as we have been taught many times, unless one is constantly moving forward one is sliding back. There are a number of areas where our school and mosdos could be improved and we should all be working toward that goal.

Just because improvement is requested doesn't meant that people want to tear down the community and destroy it's institutions. On the contrary. People here want the best for Chabad, the mosdos and especially their children. Who wouldn't cry out when seeing some of our children forsaking our derech. It is even more amazing to me that there hasn't been more of an outcry and demand for action. Private discussion with the PTB doesn't appear to have achieved anything. More open discussion within our community is needed.

Hopefully this blog can contribute to the solution in at least some small way.