Also published in the Jewish Week's Fall Education supplement.
Many 30- and 40-year-olds will remember when a cart with a computer and monitor was wheeled into the classroom and students formed a single line waiting for a chance to use the device for a few minutes. Perhaps it was typing out a few lines of code in BASIC to move the cursor several inches along the screen, or perhaps it was creating an elementary art design.
Yesterday's Detroit Free Press ran a cover story detailing how social media is being used by religious leaders. In his article "What Would Jesus Tweet?," religion editor Niraj Warikoo looks at how houses of worship are using Facebook and Twitter to reach out to its membership and potential members.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) likes to think of itself as the the Jewish AP. The JTA is a non-profit news service that disseminates the happenings in the Jewish world as soon as they happen. Ideally, they try to scoop all the other news agencies and print media.
NOTE: The following is a post about an iPhone application that provides suggestions for what parents should say to their children to prevent them from intermarrying. It is not a product review of the application, but rather a news story. Neither the blogger nor The New York Jewish Week endorses this iPhone application. We realize the controversial nature of this application and hope you will leave your opinion in the comments section.
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.
As the Apple iPhone has become even more popular and an increasing number of Apple fans have picked up the iPad, there has been a wave of new applications created for these devices. Some are good and useful, while others... well, let's just say I'm not going to take the time to write a bad review.
Rabbi Eli Garfinkel, now calling himself "The App-ter Rebbe," has announced the publication of a new commentary on the Torah for Apple’s iOS devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
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!).
As someone who not only keeps kosher, but also works as a mashgiach(kosher supervisor), I often find myself away from the computer and searching for kosher food options. There are two good iPhone apps that help users locate the closest kosher options, whether it's a box of cereal or an Italian restaurant you're looking for .
RustyBrick's kosher app links to the largest kosher database on the web at the Shamash site. With over 2,000 restaurants in the database, the Jewish Kosher App for the iPhone or iPod Touch looks up the nearest kosher place to eat from your current location, using the iPhone's GPS features. (If GPS or localization isn't on or available, a location or name can be typed in.) Additionally, a kosher symbols database is available to quickly look up what kosher symbols are backed by which organizations or rabbi. As a bonus feature, all of the food blessings and prayers in Hebrew are included in this app so one can give proper thanks before and following the meal.
Another new iPhone app to help the kosher eater locate food is called My Grocery Master. It allows users to browse and search a database of over 100,000 Kosher, gluten-free and lactose-free items across the United States, meeting the user’s lifestyle and dietary requirements. Created by Nosh Maven LLC, My Grocery Master enables people following kosher diets to find acceptable food near their location.
Twitter may very well be the social media site that everyone counted out as not having any utility, but is actually thriving. That is because Twitter users are finding new and innovative ways to use the application.