Every synagogue minyan (daily prayer group) has the one person who always seems to be there. In some congregations, this might be the gabbai (a ritual director of sorts). In other shuls it might be the rabbi. And in others it might be a lay person who is very dedicated and wants to ensure there is always a minyan (quorum of 10) so others can say the Mourner's Kaddish. Some minyans have a group of dedicated individuals who make it a point to always attend -- regardless of rain, sleet or snow.
The first time I heard about a "virtual simcha" was in the late 1990s. Detroit was hit with a massive snowstorm and the 8-day old baby boy's aunt who was to play the role of rabbi was stuck at the airport in New York. The rabbi improvised and she officiated at her nephew's bris via speaker phone.
Of course, if this happened in 2010 and not in the late 1990s the bris would have been officiated by the rabbi through Skype, and she would have seen the simcha and been seen by the attendees.
Using technology to add people to a simcha is becoming more common. An increasing number of grandparents and great-grandparents are attending their grandchildren's wedding in the virtual world.
Just last month I officiated at a wedding that was being streamed live to Israel so that the bride's elderly grandparents could "be there." Through Ustream.tv, the grandparents felt like they were at the wedding even if it meant staying up late into the night in Israel.
Email is like a cat. I don't know if it has nine lives, but people still use this form of communication even though it's been pronounced dead many times in recent years.
The general consensus among experts in online communication is that social media is killing the medium of email. Just as companies and organizations are getting pretty good at making their email newsletters look professional, it seems that more people are rendering email as the means of communication from a bygone era (sorry ConstantContact.com!).
Jewish techie Ari Davidow listened in on JESNA's recent "Technology and Jewish Education" conference and posted some of his observations on the Jewish Women's Archive blog. JESNA's conference is run through its Lippman Kanfer Institute.
In the midnight hour, a chasid sitting in Shlomo Carlebachís parlor told his master that he just couldnít sleep. ìHey brother,î commiserated Reb Shlomo, ìthe holy King David never had a good nightís sleep in his life.
In old Jerusalem, a north wind blew through the palace window of the rebbe-king, plucking the strings of Davidís lyre as it hung by his bed, waking the son of Yishai, who wrote Psalms to the music of the breeze.