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A Survey for My Readers

I’m in a quandry.

This is the 844th post on this blog, and some of the very basic material is WAY back in the files, chronologically speaking. Lately I have repeated some topics as a way of moving them up to the front, and I’ve thought about many different schemes for re-organizing things here. However, if it “ain’t broke” I don’t want to fix it!

I need input from you, my readers. Even if you don’t usually comment, I’d appreciate your answers to the following questions in the comments.

  1. Have you ever used the search box at the top of the right hand column?
  2. Have you ever searched by “Categories,” the drop down menu on the right?
  3. What topics would you would like me to cover in the near future?

Thank you very much for helping me with your replies! If there’s anything else you want me to know (requests, complaints, comments) I welcome your feedback.

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

59 thoughts on “A Survey for My Readers”

  1. 1. I have never used the search box.
    2. I have never searched by category.
    3. I love your missives. Personally, having not grown up Jewish, am always particularly attracted to “nuts and bolts” information about Judaism, ritual, tradition, etc. Essentially, why do Jews do what we do and how ought we do it effectively or meaningfully in our individual lives.

  2. I haven’t use the search box or searched by category either. I appreciate your posts as they come up and find most of them really interesting. Not Jewish, but I’ve always been fascinated the culture and the religion.

  3. Just this survey reminds me that there is a search function I could use to look for topics covered in the past. Thanks!

  4. I have read your blog for a long time. I never even thought of looking for a SearchBox or looking up Categories. I read your blog to see what is important to you. To me, the most worthwhile postings are those which grow out of your experiences, or the experiences of your readers, and how you relate them to Jewish Life and Jewish Tradition.

  5. I have not used the Search or Topics drop down box (and until you mentioned them I have to admit, I never really noticed them, but now I will use them). I have however clicked on the Related boxes and the links you put in your blogs for additional reading and information. I always find your blog pages very interesting and informative. Thank you for asking for comments and I’m glad you are moving some of the previous topics up for refreshment, and perhaps a short synopsis or reminder of the weekly parsha would be nice.

    1. Sheila, thank you! I was not sure what people are using. I will visit the weekly parashah more often – good suggestion! I appreciate your reading and your comments; thank you so much for participating in this survery.

  6. I am committed life longReform Jew. I find your blog insightful and creative.
    You speak my language- “learning ” with you has enriched my life.thank you-Yasherkoach.

  7. Dear Rabbi, I love how you share your life with us, your experiences, the daily things you notice, the things you want to learn that you teach us, and the wonderful things you know that you teach us. It’s the daily stuff-of-life I look forward to in your blogs. There are many things you’ve written that I’ve copied or scribbled somewhere….for example, the blessing for the person who MAKES the coffee, which we have recited at our coffee shop before Torah study. Hmmmm, just realized you have a search function! At some point could you please address atheist Jews? What does is mean to be Jewish and atheist, a la, say, Daniel Radcliffe or others? Todah rabbah. Mahela

  8. I have not used the search or categories functions. I enjoy your blog, some of course are more personally meaningful than others, but that’s to be expected. In my opinion, it’s not broken so no need to fix! Thanks for your thoughtful writing.

  9. I never used the search box. I’m just happy to have your blog so available…. I would suggest some adjustment to the blog font–it’s not dark enough, especially when you quote passages (they’re even lighter than the regular font and hard to read).

  10. I have used the search box three times, although I don’t recall which topics I searched. I did search Categories once.

    My favorite topics are when you’re just you — traveling (this is how I discovered the TravelScoot for my sister), being charitable, talking about your friends coming over for Shabbat, anything and everything. Your “Ask a Rabbi” is wonderful and such a service to us all! Seriously, Rabbi Ruth, if you write about it, it’s certainly worth reading…none of your words are ever wasted. <3

  11. 1/2 I do not remember being aware that these two sections existed.
    3. Your take on the Torah portion of the week.. Always interested in book references primary in the area of Tanakh. Jewish historical novels. Rituals, although I live in the Modern (Open) Orthodox world.

  12. 1. Yes
    2. Yes

    (Re both 1. and 2. ……I have several places, sources( and the list grows) where I go when I want to find out more about anything Jewish: and also, sometimes, I like to read about the same thing, but from different viewpoints – so, having ‘go-to’ places where I know and trust the source is invaluable)

    3. One of my ongoing ‘things’ is observance….more specifically, what do people mean by it? It sometimes seems to be used(not here) as going hand in hand with/the same as Orthodox: and to me, it is more a spectrum; I do what I can(I subscribe to the view that “better a little that I can sustain, and build on, and slowly add to, than too much which overwhelms me and sends me backwards)

  13. 1. No, 2. No, although honestly, I’ll probably use both now that I’ve noticed them, and I have clicked through to links to related posts when they’ve been provided. 3. I’m always interested in reading more about motivation to convert and how to achieve certainty around the decision. How do you know when you’re actually ready to pursue it (especially if you’ve been kicking the idea around for years)? And how to navigate nervousness about fitting in with a new faith community…

  14. Hi Rabbi Adar,
    I have not used the search tools but know they are available. I find you blog about topics that are timely and typically answer questions I might have prior to realizing they are there 🙂

    I love reading your materials and it helps to keep me in tune with my new found love of Judaism… thank you for taking the time to blog… it’s such a lovely way to pause during my day.


  15. Yes, Rabbi, I have used and continue to use the search box and also categories. It is especially useful when holidays roll around and I want to secure in my mind what is the real reason for the way we do things. I do so look forward to your daily ramblings. You seem to have so much more common sense knowledge on ways to do things. Next to my own Rabbi, you are the best. Thank you so much for what you provide us.

  16. I’ve never used either of the search options, but will do so in the future. One of the many things I get out of perusing this blog on a regular basis is the opportunity to do/think about/engage with something Jewish every day. I always enjoy your take on things!

  17. Rabbi Adar, interesting responses to your questions 🙂
    I’m pretty sure I have used the search box and clicked on subject/topics; also follow you on Twitter which has led me to others to follow 🙂
    I have also found other blogs to follow via your writings and readers’ responses.
    I enjoy how you tie in Judaism to current situations, keeping being Jewish relevant and meaningful.
    Your commitment to keeping up this blog is amazing and very much appreciated.
    Right now I am reading a book about the value of the Diaspora to the state of Israel, so if you have some insight on not feeling badly b/c we are not making aliyah to Israel that would be a good topic for me.
    Stay well, Meredith

    1. Thank you, Meredith! I’m curious – what book are you reading? Always looking for good things! And thank you for the topic suggestion, that is indeed a good one.

      1. it is a freebie through LibraryThing, by Alan Wolfe, At Home In Exile, why Diaspora is good for the Jews, 2014, Beacon Press

  18. I’ve never used the search or Categories, but now I know and probably should. I have clicked on “Related”.

    I mostly tune in to see what you’re up to. And then I learn things along the way too. I like how you often have a different take on the stories we all grew up hearing, and your ideas of little things to slow down and make life a little more sacred (Regardless of your religion or lack thereof).

    But I’d like a darker font too. I like to say my eyes are “medieval”. I need more contrast.

    1. Lurk, you never fail to make me laugh: “I mostly tune in to see what you’re up to.” I hear you loud and clear about the font. Working on that. If you spot blogs using a WordPress template that you find more readable, please point me to them so that I can take notes!

      I switched to the current template because I thought it would be more readable, but part of what I’m learning is that different screens/ systems “see” these things differently. Now in search of something that will be better for all of us.

  19. Never used any of the tools associated with the blog. But, here’s what I like about the layout. It’s perfect! Nice large, unadorned font and posts seem about the right length. I love the graphics that you attach. Best of all your writing is clear–free of jargon and you define all your terms. To me, you are best when you talk about sticky issues. How do you talk to non-Jews about an imperfect Israel without making work colleagues angry or feeling like a heel b/c you didn’t offer an alternative view? How do you relate to Orthodox neighbors? How do you defend progressive Jewish views? How do Jews in places where there are small numbers of Jews–small towns, say, or even a large town where you are the only Jew in the workplace or your kids are the only Jews in the school setting–enhance their Jewish lives, or for that matter, even explain them to others?

    1. Diana, your questions are wonderful – I added them to my notes. Thank you so very much.

      Thank you for your kind words about my writing. I try very hard to make this blog accessible to as many people as possible. Occasionally I will hear (usually via Twitter, weirdly enough) from people who say that I oversimplified something or that I didn’t cover an aspect of some topic, and I always reply that they should read the motto at the top: “Basic Judaism spoken here.” My goal is to inform without overwhelming. So thank you for letting me know that it’s working for you.

  20. Have used the search bar occasionally, not the other function. As to topics, the more on daily life the better: the 100 blessings and the sense behind them, daily ethics in business, courtesy, etc., the importance of friendship and keeping stuff clean–how to rebuke, how to visit the sick, how to simply cherish one another, etc. I realize that you have touched on many of these subjects already, but reposts from the dim past are not bad, and you also will find, by revisiting a topic, how much you wish had room to say the first time! Thanks for your amazing work. I often refer students to your blog.

  21. I just read the postings as you send them, and do not use the search bar, or otherwise try to navigate this site. Right now I have two needs: one is to learn what the Jewish way of death is, so I am ready when my time comes, and also so I can mourn my husband if I outlive him. I am interested in an adult Bat Mitzvah, a program offered at my new shul, and so my second need is to get my Hebrew up to speed. I know you can’t teach me Hebrew here on this blog, but a word on mourning customs would be welcome.

  22. I haven’t searched using the search box or categories, but I believe the website suggests similar posts you made. That’s led me down enjoyable paths.

    The exception is High Holiday. I went looking for that. I’m a concert now, but there’s so much to remember, and there are so many Jewish holidays back to back, and they’re all at the same time as the secular holidays we also celebrate! I appreciate the ‘cheat sheet’ to keep me straight.

    I don’t remember if you already do this – many blogs that are re-treading ground in a new way will put links to past posts on the new post, with enough description to catch the interest of the reader to go back. I usually open those links in a new tab and read the link when finished with the current post.

    1. Superbien, thank you! I was afraid that it would look like I was “lazy” to retread old ground, but you have given me a way to frame it. Will do!

      I’m glad the “cheat sheet” was helpful. I’ll do more of those in the future.

  23. Dear Ruth,
    I have never used the search box at the top of the right hand column. Nor have I
    ever searched by “Categories”. I love getting your posts and very much appreciate your
    take on EVERYTHING. Keep up the great work that you do!
    All the best,

  24. Just another idea that comes to mind tonight. The antisemitism on college campuses worries me–the situation at CUNY, for example, must be very hard for Jewish students and also for faculty. You did such a bang-up job on the Israel question, do you have any thoughts on campus antisemitism? I wonder how we can help our kids respond, especially since so many of our kids ARE in favor of justice for minorities?

    1. dianablum…that is a great idea! and let’s expand that to discussion for parents of middle school and teenagers in high school. Thank you!

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