Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors

Go To an Online Synagogue This Yom Kippur

That’s the invitation being offered by many individual synagogues and even by the Jewish Television Network, a pioneer in using many forms of communications technology to meet the needs of Jews, and anyone else interested in Jewish thought and practice. While some in the Jewish community object to the very notion of people tuning in online for their Yom Kippur experience, there is much about this that deserves to be celebrated. As I told the Steve Lipman of the New York Jewish Week, “The more opportunities there are for people to connect, the better it always is.”
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the halakhic problems from a traditional perspective, because I do. And for those and many other reasons, attending a cyber-shul is not for me. But unless one insists that to be authentically and meaningfully Jewish, something must meet the measure of contemporary orthodoxy, and I certainly don’t, that is not an issue. Neither is the fact that participating in a service online really is very different from being there in person.
While I wish that more people broadcasting their services better appreciated how new technology and new means of communication create genuinely new understandings of community and connection, the changes they are bringing are no more radical than the writing down of the oral torah, Maimonides popularization of a simplified law code over the more complex Talmud, or the institution of regular prayer that could be performed anywhere as a substitute for animal sacrifices offered exclusively in the Jerusalem Temple.


Compared to these events, all of which both radically altered AND enhanced the experience of the Jewish people, shul-casting is a pretty modest departure from the tradition — one with enormous potential in both immediately and in the future. While on line services may not be for everyone, just consider how they can serve many people in the following circumstances:
• Those who can’t afford local synagogue services for whatever reason
• People who are physically unable to attend synagogue services
• People who have to remain home to attend to a homebound ill or disabled family member
• People who don’t feel comfortable with locally available synagogue options
• Disenfranchised, alienated or disaffected Jews who seek a meaningful spiritual experience outside the established structure of synagogue life.
• Seniors and disabled patients confined to hospitals, nursing care, assisted living, hospice, rehabilitation and residential facilities
• Members of the military who may be based in remote locations
• Elderly shut-ins, who had despaired because they were unable to attend a service on the holiest night of the Jewish calendar year
• Anyone who is curious about the Yom Kippur service, but too shy or intimidated to seek out a synagogue
• Students who attend rural or foreign universities with few or no options to attend a reasonably close synagogue
• People living and working abroad in regions that offer few or no alternatives
This list is from the JTN website, and you can get information about their shul-cast by going to Interestingly, like many of the synagogues mentioned in the Jewish Week article, this is not about encouraging people to leave a brick-and-mortar synagogue for their home computer. It’s about creating options so that more people can connect in more ways, regardless of the circumstances of their lives. That seems pretty sacred to me.
I want to take this opportunity to ask forgiveness of anyone who has been hurt or offended by my words on Windows and Doors, and bless each of us that in the coming year, we find all that our minds long to learn, all that our hearts yearn to feel, all that our bodies need to be well and the love of friends and family with whom to experience it all. G’mar Hatimah Tovah.

  • pagansister

    As is rather obvious, I’m not a follower of the Jewish faith, but I think the opportunity offered on the internet for those who can’t attend the services in person for whatever reason is wonderful.

  • Cully

    I’m with you, Sister! And Rabbi, if you ever said anything that hurt me?? I don’t remember it – all I know is that my imagination is sparked, my hunger to know more is renewed, and I am thankful that you are here!! Blessings and hugz, Cully

  • Erena

    I thank you very much for this rather unique opportunity, so nobody who want to participate in this services would be left behind, this is so thoughtful and generous.
    I’m going to forward this information to the people, who might be interested in this as well.
    Ones again, thank you Rabbi.

  • sheila

    I am thankful that is will be available as we do not belong to a synogogue for financial reasons (cannot afford to join) Thank you and bless you for showing this info, my family will be involved this way!

  • M. Mosheh

    I think that it is great because, now when we are sick or something we can just worship at home. Thank you for the information. peace and blessings.

  • MarleneEmmett5

    The High Holiday’s are somewhat hard for me,ever sicne 1974 when my
    mother passed away right at the start of the Holiday’s.
    Last year they came right on the start.
    This year will mark the 35 Anniversary of her passing.
    I miss her.
    I grew up going to Serivces at the High Holiday’s,my parents were
    very involved in them~especially my dad,who “mapped out the whole
    service for the Rabbi’s”
    And I did alot of the babysitting for the children of the Temple:
    I’d round up the other teens and have them help me watch the younger
    ones~babies in strollers,toddles,kids who were 4,5,6:
    While their parents were praying I would tell stories,play games
    and keep them quiet. Sometimes we even got paid?

  • Marcy Arbitman

    I appreciate the idea-I have not been able to go to services because of my disabilities and money issues but I would rather see the Jewish community help people like me attend services with rides, etc. and make us feel welcome. I feel unwanted by the Jewish community although I have been a practicing Conservative Jew all my life. At 58, I feel the need for community, especially at the holidays.

  • Bob Brickman

    Thank you very much for the posting. Feel relieved that we will be able to attend services now.
    L’Shana Tova

  • Harriett

    Thank you so much. I live in a small town in Alabama and I don’t know but am probably the only Jew living here. This is the first time in years, since my company transferred me here, that I will be able to attend services. For once I will not feel so alone at this time.
    L’Shana Tova

  • wendy frederick

    I see this more as a door into the Jewish community than anything else. The people that will use this are people that can’t or won’t attend anyway. Maybe someone that attends services on line for a few years will find the desire to participate more in the community. L’Shana Tova

  • Bonnie Reiss

    I can empathize with your situation. My husband died right before Yom Kippur, my sister died right before Sukkot and my maternal grandmother, father and mother died on the last days of Pesach. The High Holidays are a time to reflect and to find ways to care for yourself, as well as to make ammends. If you enjoyed taking care of the little children, volunteer to do this at a local near you. Parents will appreciate it and it can make you feel good too. Also, all Chabad Centers are welcoming to everyone at all levels of observance and are free.
    May you be inscribed in the Book of Life. Best wishes for a happy, healthy and sweet new year.

  • Anonymous

    I just want to say that, as a disabled person, the opportunities that the internet offers can be wonderful.
    Also, as someone who has spent most of my adult life in poverty, I do think that the Jewish community needs to work on including the Jewish poor in synagogue life.
    The poor are really excluded by not being able to afford the annual fees and fees for the services. As a result, even if there are some low cost options, the general climate of synagogue life is just not welcoming for those Jews among us with less financial means.
    I think it is absolutely essential that this be addressed and Jews living in poverty or of lesser economic means are not excluded from the synagogue.
    After all, the synagogue does not belong to man. It belongs to Hashem. And I do not think man has the right to make rules about which of Hashem’s children are allowed in Hashem’s own house.

  • Linda Hayte

    Thank you for letting me know of this. I am in Radiation Treatment and the drugs I am on prevent me from attending where there are large groups of people, especially those with children.
    In this difficult time, altho fasting may not be an option, I hope that God understands.

  • Julie

    I am feeling very disenfranchise this year. My mother picked Rosh Hashana to tell me she no longer believes in G-d and that these holidays and holy days are nothing more than historical events we are acknowledging. My brother and I are estranged and for the past 5 years I’ve had no Shul of my own.
    Oh, I am a paraplegic and I am in an interfaith marriage. He is very knowledgeable about my faith and very respectful of my need to observe. We live in New York. While we do have Synagogues in our neighborhood they are all at best conservative and at worse accessibility challenged.
    Needless to say I’ve been feeling rather overwhelmed this year.
    Anyway, I do take police in the information found in this article.

  • Your Name

    As a member of the military who is very frequently serving away from home, having services available online means I can practice my faith anywhere in the world. It hurts to have to work during the holidays but it is the profession I chose and it is a compromise I am willing to make if it means everyone in the United States can worship with a little less fear in their hearts.
    May we all have a healthy and safe year.

  • Ellie

    I just wish to thank those who have made online services available. [Please pardon me now for any spelling/capitalization errors]
    I, too, have married a man who is not Jewish. While he does not practice his religion, he ever discouraged me from observing mine. I grew up involved in an Orthodox shul; a place where no one was EVER turned away despite not having a “ticket” to attend services on the High Holy Days (or any other days). Quite the opposite, they were always welcomed with a cheerful “L’Shana Tova” and shown to a seat. For the past several years, my parents have paid for tickets for my son and myself–this year they were unable to.
    Now, I find I cannot attend services without a membership or a ticket. I always gladly donated to my shul what amount and when I am able to, but to purchase a ticket for both my son (who had ADHD and is unable to sit for extended or even short periods of time) and myself is not viable. I am saddened that we will not be able to attend a “live” service, but, I am, once again, thankful to those who have used the power of the internet to allow those who still wish to fulfill their desire to belong. I believe that Hashem will understand.
    May you be inscribed for a good year.

  • Ro

    Thank you for offering this on line it is the first time in many years that I have been able to see a Yom Kippur service. I hope that you will continue this for years to come…….
    Thank you and God bless……….A healthy year to all.

  • SimoneMUELLER24

    I think that to get the home loans from banks you ought to have a good motivation. However, one time I’ve got a commercial loan, just because I wanted to buy a car.

  • Jenna

    I feel I just have been told about this subject
    at pub 1 day ago by a colleague, but at that time
    it didn’t caugh my attention.

  • Concord Lady Watch

    To be a noble human being is to have a amiable of openness to the in the seventh heaven, an ability to trusteeship undeterminable things beyond your own restrain, that can take you to be shattered in hugely extreme circumstances on which you were not to blame. That says something uncommonly outstanding thither the condition of the principled life: that it is based on a corporation in the up in the air and on a willingness to be exposed; it’s based on being more like a weed than like a treasure, something somewhat feeble, but whose extremely precise attractiveness is inseparable from that fragility.

  • Aisha

    n harry’s sustenance, at some dated, our inner foment goes out. It is then burst into flame beside an contend with with another benign being. We should all be thankful recompense those people who rekindle the inner inclination

  • Aisha

    In harry’s time, at some pass‚, our inner foment goes out. It is then blow up into flame at near an encounter with another human being. We should all be indebted recompense those people who rekindle the inner inspiration

  • Alice

    In harry’s sustenance, at some dated, our inner fire goes out. It is then break asunder into passion by an be faced with with another benign being. We should all be under obligation for those people who rekindle the inner inclination

  • Jane

    In every tom’s existence, at some occasion, our inner foment goes out. It is then blow up into enthusiasm at hand an contend with with another human being. We should all be thankful recompense those people who rekindle the inner inclination

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