Cyber Or-19 Virtual Kehillah - Community
Once again Moshe Dror explores the cyber or of the new paradigm shift of participation in ritual.
By Rabbi, Dr. Moshe Dror
When we think of the Synagogue, we often think of its Hebrew term- Bet Knesset. The word Synagogue is from the ancient Greek: meaning The House of Assembly, a translation of the Hebrew: Bet- house; Knesset- assembly.
In other words we conjure up an image of some sort of building. In our cultural memory we think of some sort of bricks and mortar building and the synagogue that we are members of or that someone else is a member of.
This is compounded when we also are knowledgeable enough to also know that we are talking about Bet Midrash and Bet Tefillah.
Bet Midrash is most often translated as House of Study, and
Bet Tefillah is translated as House of Prayer.
Notice that all three aspects of this institution use the word Bet and are all translated as: House of…
But what about the classical phrase of Bet Yisrael- the House of Israel.
What house are we talking about here?
We do not mean the State of Israel.
To confine the meaning of the word Bet to a physical building: house- is just too limiting. If you look at any good Hebrew dictionary you can see many other meanings associated with the idea of Bayit. Of course one of them is a house, but certainly not the only one.
So too, the idea of a Bet Knesset can mean a building, or course. But that is not limited to a building.
Indeed, if you look up the world Temple in a dictionary, you will see that it is derived from the Latin Templum which refers to a space, a sacred space regarded as being occupied by a divine presence. One of the meanings was a building that was built on that sacred space.
So too, the term Bayit, Bet, refer to some space that is significant to a particular community, in our case the Jewish community or the Jewish People.
The association of Bet with space is exactly what we are talking about when we refer to the space of cyberspace or to use another term associated with that is Cyberia. This is a phrase taken as extension of cyberspace.
In other words: the place –space where this stuff happens.
In the past, it was necessary to get the people together physically in order to have a society of people. Now the net Gen is living in a world of Social Networking. What we term the Net 2.0.
Jewschool.com/2009/05/ 05/16111/post-geographic-Judaism/ in an article written by Y-Love and put on the web on May 5th, 2009 suggests that we think of other ways to relate to communities.
“The affiliated Jewish community is made up of people whose connection is not determined by geography, but by community. It is the affinity for Jewish values, texts and concepts that unites the Jewish community…there is an ongoing litany of Jews who are bogged down by the geographically defined community in which they live.
It has become counter-productive to define community and the Jewish community ONLY in terms of geographic location.
It is time for a post-geographic Judaism as well.”
Y-Love (who ever you may be – much thanks)
Goes on to say that:
“A decline in Synagogue attendance and offline affiliation does not necessarily mean the death-knell for Jewish observance when organic, intentional online communities are seen as equally relevant and salient as their offline counterparts.
When we see our online relationships not as “less than” our offline ones, but as differently-structured equally strong connections, our sense of “community” is REDEFINED. In the online realm, a user goes from”unaffiliated” to “connected” in an instant. Every connection is intentional, yet effortless.
This is a phenomenon which can save Judaism”
I do not know if this will SAVE Judaism. I was not aware that Judaism needed “saving” at all.
But it will certainly change it and transform what Jewish community and Jewish People may mean.