My father asked…

My father asked: Who’s the audience for this blog?

I do wonder, though, who you’re aiming at as far as audience. . . is it people interested in farm experiences, or Jewish experiences. . . or both? (And, if both, are there many of those folks out there? Or is the intended audience the members of your congregation, who will read it for who’s writing it rather than for specific content?) Do the posted Comments give any clues along those lines? I’m not sure where all of this leads, except to wondering if the rather diffuse focus that I’ve occasionally seen in the blog is good for readership, or not . . . perhaps something worth pondering every now and then (when you have nothing else to do, of course).

So I’ve been pondering. Actually, I’ve thought about that a great deal over the summer as I began writing again. Sometimes I’ve struggled: too much farm and not enough Jewish? How much second-guessing of myself should I do, or should I just write what I want?

(Well, that’s never going to happen. Too much privacy needed — so much of what I think about involves other people’s lives. Someday perhaps I can write about some of the fascinating and thought-provoking interactions I’ve had with people. Or more fruitfully, I should write now, and someday perhaps publish. But I think that there has to be quite a bit of time passed between when I have a conversation with someone and when I write about it, even if I take pains not to identify them in any way. I just can imagine people feeling betrayed to find that their confidences become fodder for my public writing. Surely, I think about the conversations I have with people. And the ironies and subtleties and beauties of them. But sharing those thoughts with other people — well, I just don’t do that. If you’ve someone who’s had an interesting and personal conversation with me recently, perhaps you’re letting out a small sigh of relief right now…)

Anyway. When Mike Huber of the Albany Times-Union asked me (almost a year ago) if I would be one of their clergy bloggers, I think the T-U’s concern was to fill a “diversity” niche: I’m Jewish, female, and from the Troy side of the river. The other 3 clergy bloggers are male, two are Christian, and they’re all on the other side of the Hudson.

As a bonus, he got the rest of me: lesbian, foster parent, spouse, straddling Jewish movements, gadget nerd, and — dare I call myself? — farmer. So I write about all sorts of things! (We’re part-time hobby farmers, though that’s no small amount of time; but we’re not trying to make our living from farming, and that’s what farmers do, such as Mr. Buck across the road.)

And to my great joy, people read and enjoy what I’ve written. This eclectic mixture that is me seems to strike enough chords that people come back. Many are congregants and people who know me personally; others are drawn by some aspect of what I’ve written. The best comment came from the congregant who said, “I either know what you’re thinking or (some of) what’s going on in your life.”

That’s plenty for me. It’s nice. Rewarding, I would say.

So I suppose the answer to my father is “Yes.” Yes, it’s people interested in the Jewish content, and people interested in the farm experience. There’s quite an overlap, and it’s not just because of the Jewish farming community nearby in Nassau (see the blog from last Sukkot about this). We’ve been an urban people for two millenia, but the rhythms of planting and harvest, birth and growth underlie (underly?) most of our holidays, and many of the Jews I know find connection in the outdoors. I certainly do. When I say “connection” I mean what others mean when they say “spirituality.” Or even “God.” So there’s actually quite a readership that is interested in both.

And many of those are people who know me personally, most but not all of them congregants. So yes, there are people who read it because I wrote it; but as Rabbi Jonathan Rubenstein told me of his bread-baking in Saratoga Springs, they may buy once because you’re the rabbi, but if the product is no good it won’t hold them. (See also here.) So the fact that people keep coming back is pretty cool, because it tells me that what I say and how I say it is interesting or meaningful or enjoyable to folks. Which is what I hope it will be. (Of course that’s kind of what this rabbi business is all about: Catching interest, making meaning and enjoyment. And of course easing transitions. There’s a lot of those going on right now.)

This is a bit rambling and it’s a bit late, but I’ve been meaning to write about this since Dad wrote to me. So here it is. Whoever you are, enjoy. And let me know, if you don’t mind, because those comments are part of the sweetness for me.