Here are some examples of the intersection between Jewish values, Jewish education, and the Digital Age.
Our tradition teaches us that there are shivim panim laTorah, seventy faces (facets) to the Torah, expressing the idea that there are multiple ways to interpret our most sacred text (BaMidbar Rabbah 13:15). This idea has found a virtual world in the website www.psookim.com. With the Bible in English and Hebrew, this site gives anyone the opportunity to comment on any verse. These comments can be text, pictures, videos, or other up-loadable content. Mixed in with the contemporary interpretations, are the writings of traditional commentators. Still in its infancy, this project has the potential to create a modern cross-cultural Jewish conversation available to anyone with an internet connection.
In Pirkei Avot 2:5, Hillel teaches us al tifrosh min hatzibur, “do not separate yourself from the community” and the internet has the potential to change our understanding of community. Focused on creating a virtual community, www.metroimma.com is a social network for Jewish mothers. Although the site is centered on the New York City Jewish scene, it has postings on raising children, cooking, travel, health and wellness, starting a business, and all things connected to being a Jewish mom wherever you find yourself. The site has regular contributors as well as guest postings, and members can post their thoughts freely. This site is just one example of a way to get connected to a larger Jewish community, tailored to a specific audience, without leaving your couch.
Deuteronomy 6:7, recited each day at as part of the Shema, reminds us that parents are responsible for teaching Judaism to their children. The internet can assist with websites such as www.babaganewz.com. This interactive site gives kids the chance to watch videos, read articles, or play interactive games on many Jewish topics. The site also includes a section for teachers with sample lesson plans on many subjects.
Ever since the revelation at Mount Sinai the Jewish people have had a special connection to the written word. Our books may have started on stone tablets, but now you can explore them digitally by pointing your web browser to www.jbooks.com. This is an online community for exploring Jewish books and their authors. It has separate sections for fiction, non-fiction, and children’s books, as well as sample first chapters of newer books to see if they should go on your reading list.
Long ago are the days when you needed a guide to help you jump into exploring Jewish life. Here are just four examples of virtual roads leading to an armchair Jewish journey. You just need an internet connection and a little time to surf the Web.