Hurricane Sandy was the first major U.S. storm of the Twitter era. Like so many others, I was following the storm using social media, including Facebook and Twitter updates. Worried about friends in the East Coast, I tried to gauge just how devastating this act of nature was going to be.
One thing I noticed was that synagogues and temples along the Eastern corridor were using new media communication efforts to keep their membership informed about the storm, the cancellation of schools and programs, and to offer help to those in need (both during and after the storm).
When I received an email from Luba Tolkachyov, the co-founder of a new Jewish singles app, I was intrigued. Luba wrote, “I’ve been following your writing on Jewish Tech and thought you may be interested in Yenta, a new location based mobile phone application for Jewish singles.”
Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, an influential ultra-Orthodox rabbi, says it is forbidden for religious Jews to own an iPhone and has instructed his followers to burn the device if they own one. It’s not that Kanievsky sides with Android in the smartphone war, but that he’s concerned about what observant Jews will see with such a device. Burning ones iPhone seems a drastic measure, but Kanievsky wasn’t the only Jewish leader with angst against Apple’s iPhone this week.
There was undoubtedly more texting in shul this Rosh Hashanah than in past years. In most liberal congregations, texting was likely done as discreetly as possible, often with a cellphone hidden low in one's lap. In some congregations it might have been more overtly outside in the lobby or perhaps outside the synagogue building.
Like many parents I was concerned that my son wasn’t getting enough sleep while he was away at sleep-away camp. As it turns out, it was my wife’s lack of sleep that posed a bigger concern. Each night beginning around 11:30 she would sit anxiously in front of the computer screen scanning each new photograph as it was uploaded from the camp. It was a slow process that lasted well into the wee hours.
Back in December 2004, I wrote about my technology experience at the Mamshit Camel Ranch, a Bedouin village in Israel. I explained how funny it was to be at a Bedouin village that appeared to be authentically rustic to the Birthright Israel participants I was chaperoning, but behind-the-scenes the place was equipped with the latest technology.