I just got home from Israel and figured I owe Nefesh B’Nefesh one more post before I unpack. Enough people have already written about it in detail that you can find out about what happened at the convention by Googling it (link). I’ll just add my two cents on a few things:
1. NBN is really detail oriented and pulled off an excellent convention. Although I should add that WebAds was very involved in running it and did an equally excellent job. (Seriously, this isn’t some kind of paid commercial.)
2. I didn’t really listen to most of the speeches because I was too busy talking to the many interesting people there. It was a very diverse crowd. We were all wearing name tags that were especially made for this event, with spaces for the name of your blog and your name. One guy had his pseudonym in quotation marks ("Jameel" from the Muqata, who is now a buddy of mine). One lady was talking to me and I kept calling her Jane, as per her nametag, until she told me that it’s a fake name. And one guy just put "Lurker" on his nametag.
3. A handful of bloggers were carrying guns and, to my great surprise, the Mossad didn’t do anything about that despite Bibi Netanyahu’s appearance. At one point, there was a guy with a gun sitting three seats from to Netanyahu. He later told me that he was warned not to make any sudden movement or reach for his weapon.
4. Bibi bored me to tears because I’m not much for Israeli politics. I also found it somewhat annoying that he seemed to hijack the convention in the name of right wing Israeli politics. On the other hand, if I were in charge of the convention and was able to get a person as famous as he to come and speak, I would have done it. It really raised the profile of the event. He also took so much time that the panel I was on didn’t have time to fully discuss the issues.
5. I read somewhere a criticism of Esther’s moderation of the panel. I don’t think it was her fault. Bibi’s appearance messed up the entire panel discussion. I had eight pages of notes for things to potentially discuss and only put a little of that material in my opening remarks. (Bibi took my top page of notes to write on the back during his question period, and didn’t give me the page back!)
6. Dinner, so-so. Dessert, incredible.
7. I met R. Ari Enkin and Netanel Livni in person for the first time. Nice to meet you, gentlemen.
8. I saw someone criticize Dudi Stark for his interviewing techniques. From where I was sitting, he seemed to be doing a good job. He was really just there to minimize the dead air and give people a few seconds of fame in which they could say something to the online audience. And that’s exactly what he did.
9. I find the pro-aliyah bloggers mildly annoying. If I want to convince someone to keep Shabbos, I don’t go up to them every five minutes and ask them whether they are ready yet to radically change their lives. A little subtlety is not too much to ask for. And, let me say that I am not pro-aliyah. I am pro-Torah and mitzvos. When aliyah is a mitzvah, do it. When not, don’t do it.
Above is a picture of me and R. Ari Enkin (which the reporter from Haaretz was kind enough to take and e-mail to me). Below is a picture of me and R’ Akiva from Mystical Paths.