So I’m doing an experiment on my website, mostly because no one else is doing it, and it’s something I want to see. This idea came to me a few weeks ago when I made a short article about the typical kinds of posts you can find if following the hashtag #Shabbat.

What I saw was that while Jews post shabbat greetings, wisdom, and art, the hashtag isn’t really used that much considering how many Jews post Jewishly elsewhere on the web. Even more interesting was how often the hashtag was used  by non-Jews, but I’ll discuss that below.

My experiment is simple. I’m aggregating content across different social media networks that’s tagged for Jewish terms. My hope is that there is a good space for Jews, regardless of affiliation, can find good user-generated content to feel connect to these ideas. While there are plenty of “Jewish” hashtags being led and directed by specific organizations or interests, I wanted to follow more general hashtags to get the broadest sense of what’s going on.

Check it out @ www.jew.camp The result is a beautiful, ad-free page highlighting the content and people who are sharing on those hashtags.

I have started with three broad tags that I felt would collect a lot of posts: #Kosher, #Shabbat/#ShabbatShalom, and for this week especially, #Purim. I set Flow-Flow, the WordPress plugin I am using to manage these social stream aggregation, to collect posts from Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Flickr, and Vine.

The result, overall is pretty awesome. The result is serendipitous and surprising. A few things stuck out above all else.

  • Religious Christians use #ShabbatShalom on Sundays, sometimes in conjunction with #HappySabbath and #SabbathSelfie
  • #kosher is rarely used for food on instagram
  • #shabbatshalom taggers are not always consistent posting on that tag
  • #ShabbatShalom gets trolled on Fridays by users who want their pictures to get more likes
  • #purim is an incredibly lively hashtag

purim in tel aviv

What can we learn from this?

  • Jews should really own the hashtag #ShabbatShalom and make posting on it an actual thing. Imagine if the thousands of Jews who use twitter, regardless of religious identity, used it each week…
  • The wide range of Posts on #Purim demonstrate that Jews, regardless of affiliation love to share stories, images, and recipes surrounding traditional observances
  • There is a lagging gap on the social web for user-submitted Kosher foodpics.
  • Jewish people and communities are sharing a lot of great simple content via general Jewish Hashtags, but there is room for great growth.

Hashtags for the future?

As more platforms appear, hashtags continue to be the standard for communal classification. Jewish communities and organizations are already using these general hashtags as well as engaging with their own hashtags.

To use hashtags well, be authentic. Only tag on to general hashtags when appropriate. Don’t be a troll. Engage people offline about how you’re going to use your own hashtag.

Jewish Social Streams

If you’d like to have more, please visit www.jew.camp to see a few of the streams in action.