Cucumber Season–Your Thoughts and Suggestions Requested

Israeli journalists used to call August “cucumber season” because the only subject you could squeeze a news story out of during vacation time was the rise and fall in the price of cucumbers. This August is much more eventful, what with the Iranian atomic threat, war between Russia and Georgia, the Olympics, and the rise and fall in the dollar. But it’s still a good time for us to take a pause and solicit your opinions and comments about our South Jerusalem blog.

Gershom and I created South Jerusalem at the end of last February because we sensed a need for a critical but loyal Zionist voice in the blogosphere, and in the public debate about Israel as a whole. Furthermore, we wanted to offer readers a more rounded picture of Israeli culture and society than the traditional press usually provides.

The experience has been both exhausting and exhilarating. It’s a pleasure to be able to write about issues and subjects that are important to us. And it’s a lot of work to keep up the standards of good writing, accuracy, and thoughtfulness that we’ve set for ourselves.

As we head into our second six months, we’d like to hear some more detailed reactions than we’ve received so far from both regular and occasional readers. We’d be delighted if you could let us know–either by commenting here or by e-mailing us (at gershomg@gmail.com and hwatzman@gmail.com). In particular we’d like you to address the following questions:

1. What kinds of posts do you read most? Politics? Culture? Judaism? What would you like to see more of? What less? Are our posts too long? Too short?

2. What do you think of our new design? Do you like the look? Is it user-friendly?

3. What suggestions do you have about where and how we can seek more readers?

We look forward to your responses.

15 thoughts on “Cucumber Season–Your Thoughts and Suggestions Requested”

  1. Guys, I’m so happy you’re blogging!

    1. What kinds of posts do you read most? Politics? Culture? Judaism? What would you like to see more of? What less? Are our posts too long? Too short?

    For me it’s the following order: Judaism, Politics, Culture. I would very much like to see more about Judaism and books (For instance Avi Sagi and Zvi Zohar’s on conversion that Gershom mentioned is just splendid). Nothing less.

    2. What do you think of our new design? Do you like the look? Is it user-friendly?

    After some frustrating fluctuations you’ve settled for a good one.

    3. What suggestions do you have about where and how we can seek more readers?

    I wish I could help here :/ I’ve been telling all my English-speaking friends about your blog.

    Kol hakavod, Gentlemen!

  2. Keep up your focus on current events in Israel and relations with the Palestinians and Arab Israelis. You provide such great on-the-ground insight on attitudes in Israel.

    Judaism, both religion and culture. Your posts speak with great moral clarity about controversies in both our religion and society.

    I love the entries on books, but the other issues addressed are more important to me personally.

    Thank you so much for your work!

  3. Judith Green thought I would enjoy this blog, and she was right (as always!). I had listened to Gorenberg speak with Terry Gross and on Bloggingheads. I appreciate your sensibilities and deep, wide fund of knowledge. Sometimes I wish you had moderation of comments turned on because you have at least one annoying naysayer who appears ready to pounce no matter what you write.

    1) I don’t much seek content on Judaism per se and frankly don’t need that here (plenty of other resources). Best for me is your on-the-ground eyes, ears, intelligence of anything that moves… or doesn’t, and why. Some examples: Book mentioning is great. Didn’t know Hashoa shelanu is now in English, and I quickly reserved it (at my Atlanta public library). The Darwish obituary was the first respectful, informative piece in the Israeli media that I saw since his death.

    2) The new look is OK. Your banner doesn’t speak to what you write about. Looks like a Sears or Target’s catalogue page for lawn furniture. Too generic. Match the image to your tag line.

    3) Clueless. Word of mouth and links in the blogosphere are pretty powerful.

    Thanks!

  4. There isn’t much coverage of the Israeli election in the US, so I end up reading Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post mostly. I would greatly appreciate more coverage of political intricacies that aren’t understood here / links to Israeli political blogs.

    Thanks.

  5. 1. I read all the posts, more or less. It is the combined or interwoven political/cultural/Jewish perspective that makes the site uniquely interesting to me. The two of you complement each other nicely as well. Book reviews, critical orthodoxy (if that is not a contradiction in terms), Jewish-Arab affairs– all of it is stimulating.

    2. To tell the truth, I rarely visit the site since I read your stuff via my blog reader. But now that I’m here, it looks pretty nice.

    3. Both of you seem to publish fairly regularly in other venues. So you should always include in your tagline the phrase “and he blogs at southjerusalem.com”.

    P.S. I smoked Bedouin cigarettes with Gershom on top of “Mount Sinai” 30 years ago. More recently, I met Haim’s sister when she was living in Washington. So I feel like I’m practically part of the family. Happy cucumber season and keep the good stuff coming.

  6. First of all, one think that’s great is that I can read the entire post in my RSS reader, and it does not come in formatted weirdly, or get cut off.

    I just started reading you guys about a month ago, and I really like your Jewish stuff, and often the politics stuff.

  7. first off, congrats on yr 1st 6 mos!

    1- i enjoy the cultural posts, followed by the judaism ones. politics-eh 🙂 shorter posts r always better than longer ones
    2-new design is good…always luv the soothing photo at the top 🙂
    3-keep blogging & doing it well & the readers will come…u r both high quality writers…visitors can immediately recognize that fact. don’t know how many mentions u get from other blogs, but that is how i sometimes find new, interesting sites to read, so perhaps some salesmenship(arm twisting, favor calling in!) is in order w/fellow bloggers.

    shabbat shalom, guys! u r always a welcome part of my morning read!

  8. Hey guys, I’ve been reading your blog for some time now (can’t remember how I came across it), although not much lately (since I’ve been busy). I’ve never actually left a comment (except for the one yesterday), but I’ll go ahead and answer your questions!

    1. Politics. As for post length, I dig long, contents-rich posts.

    2. The design is fine, but nothing too attractive. Remember, a good design DOES get people to re-visit your blog.. You might want to toy around with it more, especially the sidebar area… the menu bit is fine, the header image is fine, but if I were you, I would change the font in the subtitle (?) to something more original perhaps?

    3. The best way to get readers is to read other blogs and leave comments occasionally (just don’t forget to include your website address)… I don’t mean comments advertising your blog, just regular comments…

  9. First off, you guys are WAY TOO FREAKING LIBERAL for your own good. I mean, whose side are you on anyways?? Sheesh.

    Naw, I’m just kidding. LOVE the blog and read it daily. Keep up the great work!
    🙂

  10. As a(something not to be mentioned in mixed company here in the mid-west) Christian Liberal over 72 I delight in your selection of topics .I especially delight in having jousts with Y Ben David .The banter is good both informationally and for the good of the community.

  11. I’ve really enjoyed your blog and try to check it every few days. I think your current mix of politics, cultural and religion are all a good blend. The book reviews you have done have also been good. What I’m looking for in a blog is something original and which you’re unlikely to find on other Israel related blogs or media related blogs.

    I think your blog has provided something missing in the blogosphere – that is an intimate portrayal of Israeli life and culture with a critical and progressive eye.

  12. I met Haim the other night at the JBlogger love-in (grin). I’m the one who owns all your books and loves them. I don’t know Gershon although I disagree with him a lot–but I do know his sister (smile–Sarah, Lani’s friend). However, I love the blog. Keep up the good work!

    As for layout–well, the header is my favorite picture (I temporarily live up the street from this park), and the sidebars are extremely effective in locating articles BUT it does look a bit like the classified section of the paper.

    Readership? I’ll link you. Ask the Biggies to link you, also–usually we’re all pretty obliging about this kind of stuff.

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