July 14, 2024
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July 14, 2024
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Rabbi Dr. Ari Lamm Expands Social Media to Promote Judaism

Rabbi Dr. Ari Lamm, age 36, of Bergen County has been receiving much attention for his work in the digital and social media world. His podcast “Good Faith Effort,” tweets and use of other platforms such as TikTok and Snapchat have earned him influencer status, connecting with both the Jewish and non-Jewish worlds.

On using social media platforms, Lamm explained that “for the first time in history, there’s not only organized hatred of the Jewish people, but also organized love of the Jewish people. You can find it in other communities of faith, in the tech world and countries of the Abraham Accords. You’re starting to see real opportunities for the Jewish people not just to defend themselves but to play a formative role in world affairs.”

Lamm added: “From our vantage point here in America, particularly in extremely large, prominent communities, there’s a deep legacy, or rather a deep tradition, of honoring and valuing Jewish contributions to the wider society.” He quoted John Adams: “They have given religion to three-quarters of the globe and have influenced the affairs of mankind more and more happily than any other nation, ancient or modern.”

In an interview, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, zt”l told him: “I believe Facebook was created for the purpose of spreading Torah. There are plenty of things that you can do with Facebook (and social media, in general) that are not spreading Torah.”

Lamm commented: “It’s a question of worldview. How do you look at the incredible tools we’ve been given at this unusual moment in history? We have a responsibility to seize the opportunity, to spread our ideas to the wider world, and show that the world as it is, is not the world as it ought to be. Social media provides an unparalleled opportunity to reach a tremendous amount of people. It encourages forms of communication that are more accessible than in the past—to speak in shorter, pithier ways. If you put out something valuable, they’ll respond, reaching large numbers with great Jewish ideas. Speaking in a constructive way, people are hungry for great Jewish ideas. That’s been the most exciting part of all.”

Lamm’s “Good Faith Effort” weekly podcast is about the values and ideas of the Bible that can illuminate all of society, from politics to pop culture and beyond. He relays a topic from the week’s parsha and then speaks to somebody who has done something extraordinary. “We talk about how their accomplishments are informed or illuminated by the Bible,” he explained.

“The best advice I ever got about podcasting was from Liel Leibovitz, host of Tablet Magazine’s podcast ‘Unorthodox.’ A good podcast should sound like you and your guests are hanging out at a restaurant and just having a fun conversation. And you want it to be interesting and fun enough so that the person in the next booth can’t help but eavesdrop.”

Focusing on younger millennials and Gen-Z, Lamm launched a new media venture called SoulShop. “Content of faith is thriving, but nobody’s serving this audience with high-quality storytelling,” he said, “a white space of millions, if not billions, globally. Israel and the Jewish people have an absolutely unique competitive advantage because there’s one Holy Land. We can make awesome content for this demographic.”

Lamm is also CEO of Bnai Zion, one of America’s oldest organizations dedicated to strengthening Israel and the Jewish people. He explained how Bnai Zion has been dedicated to big visions. “Instead of just solving problems that are already problems, I’m always looking for the next great need of the Jewish people—how to anticipate and build for tomorrow.” Traditionally, capital projects were needed. Bnai Zion opened the State of Israel’ first institution of higher education and the Bnai Zion Medical Center, in the north of Israel.

Lamm’s next big project will be digital infrastructure. “If you’re looking for truly unexplored territory, fertile frontiers for spreading great Jewish ideas and advancing the Jewish story, the digital world is where it’s at.” He wants to balance investment in the next generation of massive visionary digital projects affecting the Jewish people’s future, while “staying true to our legacy of great capital projects and engaging Israel at a humanitarian level.”

Prior to joining Bnai Zion, he served as special adviser to Yeshiva University’s president and as the William Fischman Resident Scholar at The Jewish Center in Manhattan. After graduating from Yeshiva University and ordination by the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, Lamm was a Fulbright Scholar in Jewish Studies and Eastern Christianity at University College London. He earned another master’s and PhD in ancient Judaism and Christianity from Princeton.

To learn more about Lamm, listen to his weekly podcast or follow him on Twitter @Ari Lamm, Instagram @SoulShop and Bnai Zion.org

By Judy Berger

 

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