Connect with Respect


The mission of Facebook is to connect everyone and bring the world closer together. This is according to the testimony given in Congress last week by Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook.

There are many people who will tell you that technology does not bring people together. Others may say that while technology may bring people together, it is not worth the cost to their privacy. Personally, I enjoy reading technology news and see both sides of this debate having merit.

Additionally, I read up on the “news” of Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony, wondering what will change — if anything — in protecting people’s privacy, both from the consumers’ actions to protect their own information and from Facebook and other tech compnies to safeguard personal information.

Currently, we are in middle of a period called Sefirat HaOmer. It is a time when Jewish people worldwide refine themselves and prepare for Shavuot, to be spiritually prepared to reaccept the Torah for the 3,330th time. Seeing this debate about connections and privacy, about sharing and at times not oversharing, I could not help but think, “how apropos.”

One of the things that we focus on during this time period is Jewish unity. The big celebration takes place on Lag B’Omer with a communal event — at Harford Chabad with a community cookout.

When looking to connect with others one needs to be cognizant of several things: they, like myself, would like to be part of a community; they may serve G-d in a way different than I do; and they may, in good faith, have different ideas as to how to solve issues and may disagree with me politically. We need to both connect as well as respect their privacy.

We must be careful not to cross the boundaries. Respect the space others are in and recognize that they have their personal information that may not be ours to share.

By doing this, we create not only connections and community, but we do what Mark Zuckerberg hopes to accomplish, and I quote: “It is not enough that we just connect people. We have to make sure those connections are positive.”

Have a connecting Shabbos.

This column was originally published on

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman is the spiritual leader at Harford Chabad.

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