Author: rjetter

I Didn’t Think I Could Change The War. I Was Wrong.


It is hard to ignore the news and it is even harder to engage with it

Over the last 2 weeks, these pictures and others like them have been all over the news, publications, and social media. With different news channels sharing opposing stories, newspapers vouching contradicting “facts”, and Facebook flooding with comments, what do YOU think about them? Do they invoke fear? Do they make you more confused? Maybe they even make you excited and more interested about what is going on in this part of the world?

Regardless of how these images make you feel, it is hard to ignore the current news and it is even harder to engage with it when as citizens, we don’t exactly have control over the situation.

What we CAN do is write.

Posting a Facebook status or writing a blog is one of most powerful ways to engage with these current events, or any other issues that you encounter. Writing enables you to articulate your own thoughts and sharing these thoughts allows those that care about you to begin to relate to your experience. Sharing these thoughts through social media is the quickest and more efficient way to reach masses.

Benefiting You

Writing is incredibly therapeutic. It allows you to pour out your thoughts and emotions, no matter how scattered or intense they are, without facing any opposition. By writing your unreserved feelings down, you will relieve yourself of the emotions that hold you back from accomplishing what you want to accomplish. Fill your writing with “I” statements and own your thoughts!

Benefiting Others

Blogs and personal stories are more powerful than a journalist’s report or a news article because of the personality that comes through in it’s content. The words in them are honest and emotional and it is that genuine voice, not a scripted dialogue that gets a reader to pay attention and to believe what you are writing. This is why personal storytelling is so important. Through blogs, statuses, and pictures, we can inform our communities about your life, about what is happening on the ground in Israel and about what is going on in your head. Writing provides information and comfort as well as lets people into our lives on a more intimate level.

Ways to most effectively share your story with your audience:

1) Be real –The news shows the missiles, the destruction, and the fear in people’s eyes over and over again. We write to let people see OUR sides of the story, not what is just on the news. Your story may include being in a bomb shelter but the thoughts, emotions, and discussions that occur during these experiences add a new layer to the story that a news report doesn’t provide. For example, sharing a story about a new person you met in a stairwell or talking about the pride you feel for your community can open your audience’s mind to a different side of the situation. Personal growth or positive experiences will captivate your audience and keep them reading as well as comfort them that you are not only safe but that you are also growing from the experience. Campaigns, such as #BOMAHStory, illustrate this storytelling strategy on social media and share people’s truth to the world.


2) Identify your audience and use terms that are trending –If your friends and family aren’t as engaged with the issue, chances are a lot of the terms and information you use will be hard to connect with. So, what do we do when we don’t know something? Search the internet! Use common words and phrases that are trending on Facebook and Twitter so that your community can easily look the correct information they seek. Terms like “Operation Protective Edge” and hashtags like #IsraelUnderFire, #IsraelStrong and #BomahStories are popular to search and will provide an abundance of relevant information. Take it a step further and add hyperlinks, suggested news sources, or links to another friend’s blog to connect your network with more even more sources!


3) Visuals – Adding pictures or videos to your writing allows the audience to see through your eyes. These images can also replace or add to the images seen on television. If you are not in Israel, adding a visual can help your reader bring your words to life and your opinion all of a sudden becomes a scene your audience can imagine! If you are in Israel, your images can be your readers’ ticket to your reality.

4) Make your Post Public – Whether you have a personal ongoing blog or are posting an isolated Facebook status, your thoughts have the power to strengthen community, educate those who are less informed, and even start a discussion with those who stand on a different side of the argument. However, to reach all of these people, this includes people outside of your list of Facebook friends, post your thoughts on as many social media forums as possible and make sure your settings are public so you can be heard!


5) Be social –Having people engage with your thoughts is the goal of using social media and leads to you having loyal readers. Your readers will undoubtedly respond with a “Stay safe!” or “Thank you for the update!” Make sure you reply with a “Thank you for reading! I’ll be posting more so keep checking my page” One way to proactively engage people is go give a shout out in your post such as “So family and friends, I’m hanging in there!” or tag someone directly.

Yalla – Help yourself and help others! Write a blog, post a status, share your thoughts! Message your stories with a picture on the BOMAH fan page to share it with the world!

A Trust I’ve Never Before Had To Realize

While on my Masa Israel Journey program, I decided to make Aliyah. I landed a great full-time job, registered for Ulpan, and found an apartment in the trendy, and heavily American, German Colony in Jerusalem. Last week, my first week post-program, was amazing and that dreaded “transition to being on your own” was a piece of cake, chocolate Marzipan cake of course. Week two came, and it came with my first Code Red siren; a new disturbance to my new confident On-My-Own mentality. It seemed like with the end to my program and the disappearance of a pre-planned daily schedule and the transparent care of my directors, my safety ended as well. All I wanted was to call my Director at Yahel – Israel Service Learning and ask her to make the missiles stop!

I was at a concert outside of the Old City with some friends last week during the first siren. Everyone knew that the country was facing activity that day and while we were all constantly checking the latest updates on our I-phones, we weren’t going to abandon the concert tickets we purchased out of fear of something that might not even disturb the night’s events. Trying to provide constant comfort to my parents back in the states, I sent this picture with the caption “Safe in Jerusalem – at a concert!”


Nefesh Yehudi Concert Old City, Jerusalem minutes before a siren

3 minutes later, sirens went off. The concert was shut down and everyone raced home. The rest of the night was quiet although if a siren went off, I’m not sure I would have heard it over the volume of that heart was beating.

My anxiety about Operation Protective Edge pretty much ended that night. Reading articles and engaging in conversations with Israelis gives me comfort and enables me to be more informed. Restaurants, stores, and public transportation all operate normally, and continue to do so 5 minutes after a siren stops. My Israeli friends are calm and go about their daily lives without fear or worry. No meetings or classes are canceled. I worried before thinking about the situation, because I felt like I should; because that was what I did when I was back in the states and when I didn’t hear about people grocery shopping, laying out in parks, and going to school on the news. Needless to say, I’ve started reading more Israeli news articles than American ones.

Down town Jerusalem, last week, the evening after a siren

Other sirens have gone off since this first one and luckily I haven’t been by myself during them. The composure of the people around me, the amount of shelter-selfies taken, and the sense of community prominent during these times, all allow me to take these sirens as a 5-minute disturbances to my day.

So, what’s my reality during Operation Protective Edge? My ears and eyes are alert, my phone provides me with updated notifications, I regularly call family members and I give an extra big smile of appreciation to the guard on the train. I grab coffee at Aroma on my way to my office in Musrara, Jerusalem and I meet a client or two throughout the day. Ironically, I work at an Israeli start-up that specializes in social media and much of our energy goes towards explaining our Israel experiences. In the evenings, I have been going to Ulpan and meeting up with friends.

I am well aware that unlike many other areas in Israel, Jerusalem to this point in the operation has seen very few missiles. I also know that these sirens are not simply disturbances and that they are serious threats. However, my “keep on trucking” mentality is the result of a trust, I’ve never before had to realize. I trust my Israeli friends around me, the individuals patrolling the streets, and the IDF, specifically the technology of the Iron Domes. Forgetting Hamas for just a minute, I think about that trust and how THAT, not necessarily experiencing the sirens, has made me just a little bit more Israeli.

Me with my fellow Masa participants at Tel Nof Air Force Base, Iron Dome behind us

Me with my fellow Masa participants at Tel Nof Air Force Base, Iron Dome behind us

Operation Protective Edge: Addressing the Current Event Through Social Media

With Operation Protective Edge activities on the rise, we are all trying to find the best ways to communicate with our audiences, to provide comfort to these people that believe in you and your brand, and to show them that your organization is on top of the issues at hand.

Why Social Media – Communicating through social media is the fastest and most efficient way to reach your participants and followers en masse. What’s even better is that you have control of the words being posted and you can create a positive and comforting message. This can also ensure a positive association with your company and external happenings going forward. Using social media avenues such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn also empower others to use their own voice and respond. These forums also enable you to time your posts so that your audience in the USA and other countries can see your letter at their most appropriate time. So use as many social media avenue as you can and start talking with your networks!

1. The Opener – The first sentence or subject to your post needs to immediately provide your audience with what they are looking for: TRUST IN YOU! Immediately soothing the anxious minds of parents, donors, or future participants can enable your reader to confidently trust in the words that follow in your letter. Below is Onward Israel’s opener in their address letter:


2. Acknowledge the Issue – With dozens of articles and news stations to tune into, your audience is reading your post to learn about what’s going on without all of the fluff and mixed messages. They want, and deserve, to hear the truth about the situation from you, a source they are involved with. 3. YOUR Reality – The beauty of social media is that we can post in “real time,” however this means that people expect to learn about what’s happening at that moment. Illustrate how the situation is currently affecting your organization or program; maybe a trip went on an alternative itinerary or maybe some people were relocated. Using a picture or video can illustrate this positive status and enhance the your audience’s confidence in your company. Taglit-Birthright does this well! “These days are challenging…but I just came back from visiting groups who are hiking Masada” – CEO, Gidi Mark.


Picture 2

4. Share Your Plan – When a crisis it out of your control, comfort comes from knowing you have a plan in place. Sharing the people and places that you are connected with in case of a crisis illustrates that you were thoughtful and proactive before the incident even arose! This also adds to the legitimacy of your organization and allows your audience to be a part of each step of the process.

5. Be Helpful – Having someone’s contact information can be a huge source of comfort, even if that phone number or e-mail address is never used. Putting your own contact information, or a crisis-specific address, is a way to make the outreach more personal and makes your audience feel like they will receive individual and focused attention. Other ways to be helpful include listing news sources or hotlines they can turn to for more information – hyperlink these websites, including your own, for easy use. Creating your own hash tag, such as #bomahupdates can also be a great way for people to follow updates through you and your brand. MASA – Israel Journey:


6. The Power of “We” – Using “we” statements creates a sense of community and personal attention to all people affected in the situation that are reading your letter. That sense of community also encourages people to respond to your post and to be active in your efforts to further reassure your audience.

7. Specify Your Audience – Your network ranges in level of participation, age, location, etc. and you may want to communicate with each group a little differently. Through your Facebook Fan page, you can target your audience and post letter’s specifically written for them!


8. Be Social! – By posting on social media venues, you are enabling and encouraging others to engage with your posts, so you must engage back! Respond to each question, “like”, and “Thank you” quickly. Special shout outs to parents, like the one below from Birthright, are a way to show your appreciation!


9. Back to Normal – It’s easy to get caught up in posting updates about military efforts or what the UN is saying, but it’s always important to focus on implementing your vision. Once things simmer down, write another letter saying that your program is back on track!

* This is a strategy for social media outlets – engaging with media sources takes on a different strategy entirely.Sometimes, when it comes to media, it is best to not talk at all!

Read more and learn about our social media strategy!