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Judaism in Online Spaces


I don’t have any easy solutions and yet I hope that the lessons we have learned from this pandemic will push us all to think in new ways about old problems. Let’s commit to radical accessibility, radical welcoming, and making it as easy and compelling to opt into Jewish life as it is to visit a museum in Denmark in pajamas.

The weeks and then the months piled up and most Mondays we opened the new week with a collective deep breath before moving forward with our work, even if how far forward we could plan remained unclear.

It’s hard to believe that it has now been over a year since we had to temporarily close the doors to the Jewish Studio Project’s colorful, light-filled community studio in West Berkeley and, like everyone else, transition our entire organization to virtual.

One of my favorite Jewish ways to mark time is through the annual Torah reading cycle. Each week, Jews from all over the world read the exact same parasha.

They offered me a job to build and be the rabbi of an online congregation. I remember sharing this plan with someone who said, “Okay, I understand what online means, and I understand what congregation means, but what the heck is an online congregation?!”

Of all the things I’ve learned during the pandemic, none amazes me more than this: every day at 12:30 pm eastern time, hundreds of people get onto Zoom, turn on their cameras, close their eyes and meditate quietly together for half an hour.