It's over. After 11 years plus, over 600 productions, thousands of comments (some of them even positive), plenty of healthy controversy, a fair share of laughs, and lots of growth...I'm calling it quits. Today, Salomon Says says goodbye and yes- it is "Something to Think About."
It all began with a phone call. Rabbi Nechemia Coopersmith had the foresight to understand that the Internet was exploding and that the hundreds of thousands of current and future aish.com adherents would use it to learn, to grow, and to question, all while being entertained. So, when he invited me to try and produce a weekly video blog, I was honored and humbled.
"Make it poignant," he said. "And relevant. And light...but with depth. And current. And wise...with a touch of elegance."
"Anything else," I mused?
"Oh, yes," he quipped. "Try to keep it at two minutes max."
So, I bought a mini-camcorder (remember those?) and a dumb little gizmo that resembled a light, I guess, and...ACTION!
For the purposes of this au revoir, I recently went back and watched my very first blog. It was November 23, 2005. WHEW! It looked like one of those silent movies filmed in the 1920’s. I even had some hair that wasn’t grey! A lame attempt at pathos, it was a person resembling me, describing a device that someone had invented to lock up a gallon of ice cream. I then asked folks what they owned that they would want to lock up, or share. Don't worry. I don't get it either. But after a short while, the program caught on. For some reason, people seemed to like it.
Predictably, the more comfortable I got, the more daring my subject matter became. I took on Sears when their website sold swastika rings. I questioned the value of public menorah lightings. I exposed phony Kabbala and urged Jews to study more and bring genuine meaning into their lives.
My editors challenged me not to settle for simply raising an uncomfortable topic. "The audience also wants to hear your opinion," they said. And when the comments came pouring in, like several hundred of them when I insisted we should think many times before buying German-made products, I knew they were on target.
Of course, it wasn't all fun and games. Being recognized wherever I travelled was quite a hoot, I must admit. But the flip-side of notoriety is pressure. I had to produce something blog- worthy every single week for over 600 consecutive weeks. And if it sounds daunting, well...
But I’d be lying if I claimed that my resignation is in any way related to pressure or strain. Finding pertinent topics and exactly where my voice resided became absorbing, challenging, and even fun. I became more self-aware, less fearful, and really eager to hear your responses to my thoughts and views.
Regrets? Not many. I probably should have been more technically savvy. My camera and lighting did improve over the years, but "the look" could have been better. And I think I got into a habit of speaking too long - two minutes probably should have been the max. But on the plus side, I did sort of pave the way for Lori's wonderful blog and Emunah's great column.
Ever since my decision became reality, I found myself wondering what the reactions to my stopping would be. Sadness? Demands for my return? Syndicated reruns on HBO or BRAVO? Petitions to the White House? A class action lawsuit or two? More than likely, a short-lived rumor mill will ensue, perhaps suggesting that I was offered a late-night talk show hosting job for eight figures or so. But life will go on and aish.com will continue to flourish, like few sites ever have.
"Wait," you say. "You haven't really explained WHY you are leaving?"
Quite astute, dear reader. And the best answer I can think of, is, I'm really not sure myself. I truly loved the opportunity, there is still plenty to talk about, and yes, I am certain that I will miss it. But in life, very few things last forever. We change, we grow, we question and examine. And often times, we use that process to re-evaluate how we spend our precious hours on this world, perhaps developing new vehicles of expression and contribution. In one phrase, sometimes you just know.
I have always had trouble with separations, and this is no exception. I cry at weddings, airports, and even certain commercials. But I like to cry. Crying is good. It puts us in touch with our deeper emotions and reminds us of the value of what we no longer have.
I don't expect you to cry, when you arrive at aish.com and see that Salomon Doesn't Say Anything anymore. But if I shed a tear or two...or three, I won't be surprised. After all, I spoke to you every week, for many years, and when you spoke back, we both gained. We didn’t always agree, but there is nothing wrong with that. After all, we are the Jewish People. We shared something very special and I will miss that very much.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Please keep reading, and watching, and speaking up. I hope I have given you Something to Think About. You certainly have done that for me. And that, I am sure…will never end.
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