As I've noted many times, the primary purpose of the JIBs is to expose readers to other blogs. I think it serves this purpose quite well - a large percentage of the blogs I read I discovered through either Haveil Havalim or the JIBs, with the JIBs being a slightly better way (in my opinion). This is simply because if there's what seems to be a small blog in a given subject that's still garnering a nice number of votes, it often [but not always] means that its readers really enjoy it for whatever reason.
This year, I received a nice surprise as I was following this rule of thumb to check out some of the other blogs. I stumbled on a blog called Alleyways to Torah which I'd never heard of before, and noticed that it was picking up a lot of votes in the Torah category. I figured it was worth checking out, and what do I find? My cousins. R' Ally Ehrman, one of the most hilarious and brilliant people I've ever met, married to my sweet cousin, living in the Old City, teaching in Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh... has a blog!? Who knew?! This is the family I stayed at a few times, where I experienced the Old City of Yerushalayim in all its glory, where I woke up to his 4-year old rattling off Sefer B'reishis (the Book of Genesis) by heart as he played with his toys in the morning, where I couldn't stop laughing with and marveling at their family.
Wow. It is a very small world. If you have already voted, go back to the site and check out some more blogs - you never know what you might find. And if you haven't, go vote first and then do the same! SerandEz is still leading in my favorite category, Best of the Rest (A), and actually making a nice showing in Best Overall (A) and Best Large (A) against some excellent competition. As of now, we're just missing the cut in Large and slightly behind in Overall. Go, vote, and check out what's out there! I discussed some of the blogs I think are important yesterday; perhaps I'll have a chance to discuss some more over the next few weeks. Have fun!