Monday, November 28, 2022

Online (and/or televised) religious services: Pros and Cons

This isn’t a discussion about halachah (Jewish religious law), it’s a discussion about practicality.


Online (and/or televised) religious services make these services available to almost all elderly, ill, and/or disabled people.  The unfortunate exception is people with significant hearing loss—it’s almost impossible to caption a Jewish service (or other event) that’s constantly switching from Hebrew to English and back, and American Sign Language interpreters who can interpret from both English and Hebrew are relatively rare.  (EJ Cohen, where we find your colleagues?)

Online (and/or televised) religious services also provide access for folks who don’t live near a Jewish community.  People don’t always have the option of living near a synagogue, or, perhaps, the neighborhood in which they live no longer has the same demographics that it had when they moved there.  Some years ago, Lenny Solomon wrote a song about the passing of a synagogue for which he was the last High Holiday chazzan (cantor).


It’s so much easier to watch services from one’s living-room than to throw on some presentable clothing and get to synagogue in person that many people simply haven’t returned to in-person services.  My husband and I have participated in many Shabbat (Sabbath) and holiday services via Zoom or livestream, as well as in person again (since Pesach/Passover 2022), and honestly, I don’t know which is sadder:  a synagogue so small that congregants have to hold their breaths at every service, wondering whether they’ll get a minyan, or a congregation of over 500 members that can’t get an in-person minyan on a Friday night. 

Bottom line:

I don’t think it’s possible, or desirable, to put this genie back into the bottle.  Online (and/or televised) religious services are here to stay, whether or not everyone approves.  Clergy and congregants alike, let’s make this multi-access world the best it can be!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love your blog — wondering if you saw my post on patrilineal vs matrilineal— I believe the Torah is mixed — again how do you know you are Jewish ?
Your mother..
How does she know ? Her mother
How does she know ? her mother?

What if we have a claim from someone that your great grandmother was not “born a Jew .” but married your great grandfather who was a Jew and tragically one died during childbirth and the other days later - leaving an orphan ; only one person knew their secret.. they were married by a rabbi who also did not know ;

I’m assuming none of your other mothers along the line went thru a “ formal” conversion and why would they … they assumed they were Jewish

But if this was the case and you find out — is your Judaism forfeit without a formal conversion?

Some of these people buried in Jewish cemeteries— how should deal with them ?

Tue Nov 29, 04:44:00 AM 2022  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Pardon me for snapping at you, but this is not the first time that a post of mine has been hijacked by someone wishing to talk about a totally unrelated topic, and I'm getting tired of it. If you wish to discuss a topic of your own choosing, please write your own post and publish it on your own blog.

Tue Nov 29, 10:22:00 PM 2022  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I forgive you for snapping at me —yes I saw your post and in fact I saw your more Recent post and commented on it

I find this an very engaging topic and wanted to see if you had seen my comment there .

Thu Dec 01, 04:52:00 PM 2022  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess the theme here is Judaism allows for discovery— even in orthodox contexts

Virtual attendance is a topic that isn’t so different here —

Can a virtual attendant count toward a Minyon ? Idk

Thu Dec 01, 04:56:00 PM 2022  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

"Can a virtual attendant count toward a Minyon ?" The answer(s) is/are a classic case of "two Jews, three opinions." :) Some rabbis won't touch a Zoom minyan with a ten-foot pole. Some count online attendees if they're visible (so turn your camera on!). Some say that there must be ten people physically present in person in a defined space such as a room, backyard, or parking lot, and then everyone watching online can say all the prayers with them. In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, we "attended" online services that looked almost exactly like in-person services except that everyone, including the clergy, was in their own home. We also attended online services in which absolutely every prayer and ritual that required a minyan was omitted. And just to keep us thoroughly confused, we attended services in which everything required a minyan was omitted *except* for Mourner's Kaddish. And all of these services were conducted using a Conservative prayer-book.

You might find the (Conservative) Rabbinical Assembly's Committee on Law and Standards interesting:

Thu Dec 01, 08:36:00 PM 2022  

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