(photo credit: AP Photo)
A Cincinnati-based congregation is expanding its online services this year to provide a live stream of the High Holy Day services for mobile devices.
This will be the third year the independent Congregation Beth Adam will be using hi-tech to bring Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur prayers and sermons to any Jew with an Internet connection through OurJewishCommunity.org, an online synagogue founded by Rabbi Robert Barr and Rabbi Laura Baum. The project will mark the Jewish year 5771 as the first in which shul can fit into your pocket, in the shape of your iPhone, Blackberry and Droid.
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Besides the inevitable evolution of the concept of community, which nowadays arguably includes modern-day virtual frameworks, OurJewishCommunity.
org aims to reach out to those who might not have another way to experience services and sermons, such as members of the military, the homebound or Jews who are geographically isolated.
As reported in The Jerusalem Post, efforts are under way to promote “offlining” on Yom Kippur, an ideal day to switch off all exterior and online devices, and focus one’s energy on contrite contemplation – though traditionally this takes place in a synagogue, surrounded by others in a similar state of mind.
But what if your local place of worship is distant, physically or conceptually? “There are so many people who don’t have a connection to Judaism but would like one,” Baum said. “We bring Judaism to people where they are. This means two things: having a philosophy that speaks to 21st century Jews and using the tools of the time.”
Besides live video-streaming of two Rosh Hashana and two Yom Kippur services, pre-recorded services for children including stories and background about the holidays will be available.
The pre-recorded memorial service, said on Rosh Hashana, will feature photos of the deceased family members the web site’s members submit.
And what is a prolonged synagogue service without a bit of chatting? In the case of Ourjewishcommunity, Twitter and Facebook will serve as surrogate back benches and yard.
It remains to be seen if the ubiquitous irate worshiper, who in every congregation takes it upon himself to maintain the quiet during services, will also tweet @shhhh!