In fact, while many critics condemn the social networking site, blaming it for the loss of personal interaction, lack of privacy and developing socially inept individuals, Facebook has proven successful at uniting communities and cultures, establishing solidarity amongst various groups, and even finding long lost friends.
The popularity of Facebook has, naturally, brought about the rise of many similar social networking sites that are tailor made to cater to the needs of various kinds of population and cultures.
One such website is Jewishnet.ru – a Jewish social platform of the new generation targeting to create integrated information space for Jewish users and organizations. It is currently is in the alpha version stage.
With up to 80,000 daily visitors (and counting), Jewishnet.ru aims to preventing assimilation and stimulate Jewish self-education as well as to connect fast-assimilating Jews across the Russian-speaking world.
The idea of the project was born in Ukraine in 2011 when Roman Gold, along with Igor Kozlovskiy, Co-founder of Jewishnet.ru, felt that Russian-speaking Jewry had no platform to connect and share news and interests.
"The Jewish community faces several problems today in terms of Jewish identity due to stereotypes of Israel and Jewish people, low prestige level of Jewish education, intermarriages and conversion to other religions, etc.," Kozlovskiy tells Shalom Life.
"With this website, we are trying to help find a solution to these problems," he adds. "Jewishnet.ru is now a universal platform for Jewish users and Jewish communities. It’s a communication tool with unaffiliated audiences and leaders of opinion in the Jewish world.
"We try to encourage education through an unobtrusive format. We also have open discussions, a business platform, clubs, start-up support and charity initiatives."
'Jewish voice for the whole world'
Jewishnet.ru also has segments dedicated to couch surfing, dating and travel buddies.
Currently, the site is among the three leading Jewish Russian-speaking recourses in the former Soviet Union.
"Its brand is well-known for its quality and as a professional and successful Jewish resource playing an important role in the life of the Jewish communities, supporting and objectively covering events from around the world," says Kozlovskiy.
"We have supported the organization and mass media coverage of more than 30 successful conferences in Israel, Ukraine, Russia, Belorussia and the USA," he adds.
"We have also held over 10 rallies in support of the State of Israel around the world gathering more than 500 people. Two MASA Programs – 'Mabat-Media' and 'Art Tel New Media' have been launched successfully."
Jewishnet.ru is currently supported by a variety of outstanding Jewish figures, including Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky; Ukraine's Chief Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich; Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetzky, chief rabbi of Dnepropetrovsk region (Chabad); Moscow's Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt; Kenny G, one of the most famous musicians in the world; and many others.
The website has also created an impressive pool of journalists and public figures of more than 600 people, who help develop a strategy for objective coverage of all things Jewish, Israeli-reality and to fight all kinds of anti-Semitism.
Jewishnet.ru has presented exclusive content from some of the most currently renown Jewish authors including Kseniya Svetlova, Dr. Zoya Kopelman, Dina Rubina, Evgeniy Satanovskiy, Zeev Chanin and many others.
"Over 1,200 Jewish and non-Jewish organizations and structures all over the world are our partners at the moment," Kozlovskiy says.
The next stage of the website will implement functions like online charitable funds, crowd-funding, homes exchange, travelling together and an idea incubator, among other resources. It will also be involved in organizing professional conferences, forums and seminars.
Jewishnet aims to approach the global market and become a multilingual platform, targeting English at first and then trickling into other languages.
Kozlovskiy is ambitious and has huge plans for Jewishnet.ru besides increasing its unique users per day to 12-18 million.
"In six years, we want the platform to become a de facto role model for managing social, educational and other activities for Jewish and non-Jewish organizations interested in strengthening cooperation with Israel and/or Diaspora," he says.
"We would like to see our platform become a global influential and well-known Jewish resource in the world, so that every Jew, in any corner of the world, would have an opportunity to find something useful, meaningful and needed on our resource," Kozlovskiy adds.
"We would like to become a Jewish voice for the whole world, uniting the world Jewry in one community."
Reprinted with permission from Shalom Life