Now, millions of Diaspora Jews can harness the power of social media by tagging their Jewish identity (with “#ish”), combating assimilation.
By MELANIE LIDMAN
When seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong tagged pictures of his stolen bike, thousands of fans raised the alarm and helped get it returned. When actor Kevin “Silent Bob” Smith tagged pictures of himself getting kicked off a Southwest Airlines plane for being too fat, thousands sympathized, creating terrible press for the airline.Now, millions of Diaspora Jews can harness the power of social media like Armstrong and Smith did, by tagging their Jewish identity (with “#ish”) and saving a whole generation from assimilation.Thanks to a new campaign by the Jewish Federations of North America called “What’s Your #Ish?” Jews around the world can broadcast 140-character messages about what it means to be Jew#ish.“The campaign is aimed at a younger generation than traditional supporters of the Federation,” Dani Wassner, communications director for the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) in Israel, explained on Sunday. “The question of what it means to be Jewish means something to this generation that’s different than it once was.”The “#ish” hashtag uses a pound sign/hash mark, the “#” sign, which allows JFNA to identify and aggregate the ish-isms floating across the Web on different platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and the JFNA Web site. For each published ish-ism, JFNA will transfer 25 cents from its marketing budget to a special Ish Fund, up to $50,000. Wassner is “very hopeful” that JFNA will reach its goal of more than 200,000 tags about Jewish identity.Hashtag charity campaigns took off last year, most notably with the “#BlameDrew’sCancer” campaign that raised thousands of dollars for LiveStrong, Armstrong’s cancer charity.Drew Olanoff, a Philadelphia native, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’slymphoma last May, and invited the Twitter community to blameeverything on his cancer, from losing their wallets to not finding aparking space. In the past year, more than 34,000 things have beenblamed on Drew’s cancer.Combining social media with outreach is the next logical step for JFNA,one of the biggest Jewish charities in North America. “Federations arenot only about seeking donors, they’re about getting Jewish peopleinvolved in their local Jewish communities,” Wassner said.“It’s also very important to get the younger generation involved, because maybe in the future they’ll be donors as well.”
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