Fun with Panels

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Panels are where the business of the AJS conference happens. At worst, they’re dry presentations of old research. At best they’re engaging conversations about vital issues and ideas. Often, they’re just somewhere in the middle. Here are some highlights from yesterday and this morning’s panels – mostly quotations.

My panel (where I presented with Steven M. Cohen and Isa Aron about a project we’ve been working on about synagogue transformation) was a good combination of presentation and conversation. I mean, I speak to Isa and Steven all the time about our research and writing, and the conversation that followed was really productive – people asked good questions (“what’s wrong with congregations that are full of ‘dwellers’ as opposed to ‘seekers?’� or “Isn’t change generally more of a Reform thing than a Conservative thing?�).

As a presenter, it was actually really helpful, and helped Steven, Isa and me articulate ourselves better.

Later, I went to a panel about “Orthodoxy and the Internet.� Three papers – one about Orthodox women’s blogs (“domesticity and the home page: blogging and the blurring of public /private space for orthodox Jewish women�), another about the opposition to the internet among ultra orthodox communities, and a third paper about frumster.com, and the ways in which spouse-seekers identify themselves.

The Frumster paper (given by Sarah Bunin Ben-Or) gave the third paper, and it was brilliant. Statistics, supplementary questions that Frumster might want to think about adding (“what do you want to name your children? How many children do you want to have? Do you watch Television?�) It was a beautiful analysis and a great powerpoint and it revealed the ways that a seemingly homogeneous population makes many fine-grained distinctions among themselves.

Later that day, was the postdenominational conversation. Here are some highlights:

Posted on December 18, 2006

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