The Tweeting Cantor

By Cantor Yonah Kliger

@cantoryonah      @templeemanuelbh

Social media has played an ever increasing role in my work as a cantor. I think that many of us have realized the benefits of FB (Facebook) in terms of connecting with our friends and colleagues. Remember the story I wrote back in February about the two octogenarians who found each other on Facebook after 60 years? Ultimately they reconnected, fell in love, and confirmed their commitment to each other in a special private ceremony that I officiated. I’ve even used FB as a means of learning about congregants’ illnesses, simchas, and even deaths.

According to a recent piece in the Atlanta Jewish News, living in the age of the Internet broadens the sources of information which craft the values of our generation. Our values form our identities. This shift in values formations results in a shift in identity formation as well. We are, today, categorically different people than those who came before us.

We see relationships within the world differently. Because we recognize that there is a World Wide Web of thoughts, ideas, and people, with whom we can interact, we do! Real relationships which feel meaningful, powerful, connecting and ever-lasting are created in virtual space. Whether it’s a good thing or not, the reality is that we talk less but communicate more through text, e-mail, Facebook and Twitter. We use virtual reality to live some part of our life which is no less authentic or legitimate than the actual world in which we live.

We should constantly be striving to create, and maintain connections, to ourselves, to each other, and ultimately to something bigger than ourselves.

Twitter is yet another means of connection. Because of its 140 character limit, Twitter forces you to be more mindful of the content of the message. In my role as clergy liason to families with young children, I use Twitter as a means of sharing interesting articles, facts, and events. Though I should note, that when social media is truly effective, it’s best not to use it as a digital bulletin board of events, happenings etc….rather, it should serve as a means to create a virtual community of interaction.

If I find an interesting article on prayer, music, theology, parenting etc, I can quickly share it with my followers. Similarly, I might pick up an interesting piece from the people that I follow.

So, Twitter expands my resource pool. Now I am connected to colleagues all over…many of whom I have never met and may never actually meet in person. I can learn from other clergy (of all faiths, denominations etc) experts in other fields such as music, food, art, social media…you name it.

I’m not just interested in connecting with other clergy and Jewish professionals. Besides a few celebrities that I follow (ie TEBH alum and former Bar Mitzvah student, Jonah Hill) I really want to connect with YOU on Twitter. And I really want you to connect with each other.

The results have been very positive. I have followers who, when they see me in shul on Shabbat will comment how much they enjoy my tweets on a given topic, and that they actually miss them if I’m silent for a while. This shows me that even though I may not realize it, I’m creating connection. Which to me, is such an integral part of what I do–of course through music and davvening, but in everything that I do. We should constantly be striving to create, and maintain connections, to ourselves, to each other, and ultimately to something bigger than ourselves.

Not on Twitter yet? Have no fear, jump in and get started. It wasn’t that long ago that we were all trying to figure out how to go from tapes to CDs, and look at how far we’ve come in a relatively short time. Now we are on to MP3s and AudioNotes!

Follow me on Twitter. Cantoryonah/ (I promise I’ll follow you back)

Follow the temple too. TempleEmanuelBH/

Let’s get the conversation going…..

Cantor Yonah Kliger

(A version of the article was originally published in the National Cantors Assembly publication.)


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