“Behind every Jewish blogger is a spouse waiting to use the computer!”

I wish I could take credit for that line, but actually it was one of the panelists at tonight’s blogfest, otherwise known as The First International J-Blogger Convention. It was hosted at the Jerusalem offices of Nefesh B’Nefesh (NBN) and sponsored by SUN Microsystems, Office Depot, WebAds, LLC & Israelmall.co.il.

Article follows below the photo:

Screenshot of Author of WhatWarZone via JBlogger webcast

Pictured is the Author of WhatWarZone via Webcast (Wasn't he the final act at TCC this year?)

This was an excellent program & not wanting to drive to Jerusalem was not an excuse for not attending as the entire program was web cast via their website. Although there were a few technical issues, (some related to the overload of people trying to log in!) in the end, everyone online was able to see, here & chat. The only thing we missed out on was the food & the raffles.

The onsite evening started with a deli buffet during which Benzi Kluwgant of NBN nabbed as many bloggers as he could and asked each one to introduce themselves and their blogs into the camera until Danny wrangled everyone into their seats for the first panel discussion and introductions by Benzi and Stephen Leavitt, CEO of WebAds LLC.

The first panel discussion was very serious and discussed a number of aspects of blogging, and what is unique about Jewish bloggers. The main theme seemed to be that of indirect “hasbara” for the state of Israel and to encourage aliyah. Moderated by Esther Kustanowitz, it included the authors of Treppenwitz, Jewlicious, IsraelMatzav and Hirhurim. Esther herself is the author of both My Urban Kvetch and JDaters Anonymous.

It seems that (former) PM Netanyahu arrived late, so he spoke after the first panel rather than before, and for quite some time. Some of the chat comments drew analogies to Al Gore as some of the PM’s comments were very general as he attempted to describe how the internet works to people to live & work in cyberspace. His comments were perhaps less well received than they would have been had he spoken before the first panel, as many of his topics had already been discussed by the panel members.

After a refreshment break, during which Benzi snagged more bloggers for those of  us online, we were entertained by the ranting of the author of the FrumSatire blog. This certainly lightened up the atmosphere and Zavi Apfelbaum followed with a lengthy presentation on branding blogs and Israel. This presentation led into an open panel discussion led by Yishai Fleisher of Kumah. The authors of My Shrapnel, Oleh Girl and WhatWarZone were the highlights of this discussion, with Oleh Girl winning over everyone by announcing that although her blog was originally started to keep her mother from calling to ask “if she had been run over yet”, her mother has just decided to make aliyah in 2 years.

In his closing remarks, Danny Oberman, Executive VP of Israel Operations, Nefesh B’Nefesh, announced a project called MyAliyahIdea. This new project is an online site where people can suggest Aliyah related projects and activities and get feedback from others regarding the idea. They plan to use this project for Israel and aliyah education in schools abroad when they are invited to make presentations. You can check out this new project at http://www.myaliyahidea.com.

The actual Blogger Convention was recorded and will be available on-demand with in the next 48 hours. They will be emailing me the exact link & when they do, I will post it right here for you!

Perhaps next year they will be able to include the online crowd both in asking questions of the speakers and the raffles. But for now I give it a “2 Thumbs UP” rating, as they actually had an online moderator who both provided technical assistance and responded to requests for the camera to show us the speaker’s slide presentations as well. I felt the camera operator did a nice job of panning the room occasionally as well, so we could see what was going on overall, as if we were sitting there.

If it’s during the Klezmer festival again next year, I will plan to be an online participant for sure: great music in the window, fireworks from my porch & a blogfest on my laptop. Now, what could be better than that?