The Sideshow

Text the rabbi: high-tech service for Jewish new year

The Sideshow

Happy New Year, LOL. A congregation celebrating the Jewish new year tried something a little different: Texting while in service.

Normally cell phones are a big no-no, but for those who attended a service at the Jewish Museum of Florida, in Miami Beach for Rosh Hashanah, which started after sundown last night, high-tech gadgets were encouraged.

Rabbi Amy Morrison asked attendees to take out the phones and text as a way to engage. Anonymous messages started going up on a five-foot screen to the rabbi, like "let's sing," "we are excited to be here," and "what a unique way to start the year."

Congregants could also text each other. The event was organized by a Miami-based group called the Tribe, which promised a high holiday exclusively for Jews in their 20s and 30s. The Tribe also provided a Twitter feed of the service with posts that included:

"#ShanaTova! Dipping our Apples in Honey for a sweet new year." And "Amazing crowd at our #HighHoliday Experience! #TribeHH12."

The organization explains on its website how its services are different: "Help lead the conversation at our creative celebration combining a traditional service with new technology" and promises a rabbi "armed with an iPad and references to pop culture."

Rabbi Morrison of Temple Beth Shalom, who led the high-tech service, said, "I think prayer needs to be for people of any age. Right now I am blessed with the ability to make this service relevant to our demographic. Traditional Judaism says this is about hearing all of our voices."

Fans of the service may want to come back for Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, in 10 days, to text their transgressions to the rabbi. As long as they are 144 characters or fewer.

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