Remember that Pew survey a few weeks back with the surprising conclusion that Americans, while claiming to be oh-so-religious, don't know very much about religion, and that the folks who seem to know the most are atheists?
Applaud Mobile creates iPhone apps specifically for Jewish organizations like synagogues, temples and Jewish schools. I recently reviewed the app it created for the Solomon Schechter Day School in Newton, Massachusetts. Tamir and Marcia Borensztajn, active lay leaders in their community and parents at SSDS, came up with the Applaud Mobile app.
Quite often I get asked to consult synagogues on their Web presence. The first thing I do is take a look at their current Web site and try to determine in which year it was created. I can usually tell its production date within a few years based on several factors. I then explain what a Web site should do today. After I explain its function, I let them know that the look of the site matters less today than its functionality. Today's Web site needs to be an extension of the community the synagogue is trying to create (or in some cases, has already created).
History is being made! The first woman-written Torah scroll made its worldwide debut on campus last week. The Big Easy is getting ready for the biggest onslaught of Jewish college students in its history. Two Hillels have disappeared from the map and students want to know why. And students at two Israeli universities produced must-watch videos from Israeli universities that feature air-guitaring professors, Albert Einstein, underwater camera work, roller ballet and, yes, more. They’ll make you go Gaga.
Years ago, on a trip to Japan, I came across a swastika. Dozens of them, actually, in museums across the country. I was shocked, what Westerner wouldn't be?
No doubt this has happened to many Western travelers in Asia, and no doubt many have gotten the re-assuring answer from tour guides or friends: don't worry, it just means "good luck." Buddhists have been using it as a symbol for luck for more than 2,000 years.
Mario Vargos Llosa, the Peruvian writer who today won the Nobel Prize for Literature, was not Jewish. But he nevertheless often wrote about them: in "The Storyteller," (1989), about a Jewish anthropoligist in Lima who shacks up with a tribe deep in the Amazon; as a contributer to the Commentary; and, recently, as an outspoken critic of Israel.
Given his not infrequent association with Jews, it is worth asking what he actually thinks of them.
Google Images and YouTube videos are helping Jewish educators create new midrash and bring sacred meaning to age-old traditions. Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz created an innovative, interactive experience for the seven hakafot (circles) of Simchat Torah.
Her "Seven Dances for Simchat Torah in the YouTube Era" is available on the Sh'ma Koleinu website. Sh'ma Koleinu is an online center for spirituality and connection from Congregation B'nai Israel in Bridgeport, CT, which seeks to bring sacred meaning to convey something of the deeper meanings of the High Holy Day liturgy.
This past Sunday, the president of New York University issued a mass e-mail apology to students and staff. The day after Yom Kippur might sound like a sensible day for issuing apologies, but the question is whether John Sexton actually needed to make a Mea Culpa.
Robin Chotzinoff reflects in the August/September 2010 issue of Hadassah Magazine about how she observed the Aseret Yemei Teshuvah (the ten days of repentance) last year by answering a series of e-mail questions from 10Q. Ben Greeman, who launched the project in 2008 explains that "we tried to let people tap back into tradition, but without feeling like they have to pass an entrance exam."