Last Thursday I returned from the annual conference of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, held this year in Boston, MA. One of the first questions I was asked upon my return was “Rabbi, what was the best part of the conference?”. My unconventional and unexpected answer was “Sitting in the last row.”
To a very quizzical look, I explained that during most of the major sessions I found myself in the last row of the ballroom with a group of colleagues who have become friends, teachers and fellow learner’s in the land of Jewish technology and social media. Sitting in a row, iPads, Laptops and Smartphones in hand, we tweeted our impressions of what we were hearing and learning from the presenters (under #ccar12), we prayed together (That’s my iPad next to a friend’s siddur in a picture taken by @imabima) and we shared the experience together.
But something else happened… We both taught and learned from each other as we shared new websites, apps, social media sites and techniques that we had found useful in our work. I both taught others about such things as using an iPad and Apple TV for a wireless Visual T’filah and learned about ifttt.com and finding your voice in the blogosphere. In fact, this blog is a product of being inspired by one of my friends from the last row.
Sometimes the teacher you are looking for is not at the head of the class, but standing right beside you. And sometimes you need only look to the left or the right to find a fellow learner with whom to share your journey. Who are the mentors in your midst? Who do you look to to share your journey of learning?
“Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Perachya says, “Make for yourself a teacher and acquire for yourself a study partner… (Pirke Avot)”