Chaviva Galatz has a few different identities. After all, she was born Amanda Jo Edwards. But perhaps you know her better as the kvetching editor. Or maybe you’ve conversed with her through the Twitter feed of a Jewish organization she advises.
Galatz, a blogger, tweeter, and social media expert, is never too far from her Macbook, iPad or Android phone.
She started her blog, “Just Call me Chaviva,” in early 2006, when she converted under Reform auspices. “I really just wanted to tell my story,” she said. And so she did, chronicling her time as a Reform Jew, her experimentation with Conservative Judaism and her ultimate decision to convert again under Orthodoxy. She also moved from Nebraska to Washington, D.C., Illinois, Connecticut and New Jersey – sharing her adventures every step of the way.
“The moment I stepped out of the mikvah [the first time] I was hungry for more,” said Galatz. She grew up Christian in Nebraska, but found herself looking for more. In college, a friend suggested she read “Choosing a Jewish Life” by Anita Diamant, and she was hooked.
Over the years Galatz has built up a strong following, averaging 14,000 hits a month, almost 3,000 Twitter followers and an active commenting community, including hundreds of e-mails from potential converts with questions and concerns.
Her years of blogging, tweeting and sharing have made Galatz a social media expert, and she wants to bring the power of online networking to other Jewish organizations. Groups that are not online, said Galatz, “are really missing out on a huge opportunity.”
As a consultant for the Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life, Galatz advises three schools in New Jersey on the best ways to utilize online resources, reaching out to parents, students and teachers. “Organizations really need to step up, and invest the time and money to listen to young voices.”
Very studious: Galatz is currently completing her second and third master’s degrees, in Jewish studies and Jewish education. Cool Jew: Galatz (and 2010 36er, Susanne Goldstone Rosenhouse) led a panel, “Jewish Synergy: Social Media and the New Community” at the SXSW Interactive Festival this year.