The Conspiracy

iJew: Observing the Sabbath in the 21st Century

Gmail. Facebook. Twitter. University of Florida e-mail. I’ll admit it, I’m addicted.

As a student at the University of Florida, Monday through Friday I see students plugged in, tweeting, texting, spacing out and status updating (for what has to be the fifth time in an hour). On the bus or at the Southwest Recreational Center, you sometimes wonder if the earphones ever come out.

Then comes Friday evening: Shabbat. And what do we do as Jewish students in the 21st Century? Keep on status updating.

In the South Florida Jewish Journal, David A. Schwartz wrote about tech-savvy rabbis who have to sacrifice 24 hours of their Blackberrys and iPhones for the Sabbath and, for this week in particular, Yom Kippur.

In Schwartz’s article, Rabbi Yaron Kapitulnik of Temple Judea in Palm Beach Gardens wrote,  “We need to step away from our normal selves. We need to step away from those things that blur our awareness, that prevent us from connecting to our inner selves.”

Rabbi Donald Bixon, the rabbi at Beth Israel Congregation in Miami Beach said, “I think it’s nice that we have an opportunity to disconnect from the rest of the world and connect to God [on Yom Kippur.] It’s a good opportunity for us to go offline and online with God.”

But disconnecting ourselves from the rest of the world isn’t as easy as we’d think. iPad. iTouch. iPhone. Blackberry. Droid. You get the point. It’s a question as to how much longer we can power off our daily tool for a day of davening.

On the other hand, Rabbi Dan Levin of Temple Beth El of Boca Raton said “he thinks that with so many smart phones and other personal communication devices in use, the introspection and contemplation the High Holy Days demand can be more powerful now than they were a generation ago.”

Personally, I think Rabbi Levin strikes a good point. If Steve Jobs keeps inventing a new toy each month, it might help us create a stronger one-on-one connection with G-d. Making us focus on why we’re at Shul and less about what we’ll tweet next isn’t just a task but a high-tech challenge.

Click here to read more of Schwartz’s article.

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