People don’t like to think very far into the future. I understand that: I can barely think about next week, let alone a decade from now.
But if the Tribe is going to survive, we need to learn to adapt. Judaism came from a pre-modern era. Now, more than ever, we need to find creative ways to use technology to bring the Tribe into the 21st Century…kicking and screaming if we have to.
So here are five technological innovations, which I feel will greatly improve Jewish life and further the Jewish People.
Twitter Minyans: I brought this up in my last article on Judaism and Marketing. It makes no sense to me that technology and prayer have not been fused together. Most of the prayers are short enough that they will work in Twitter, and we can shorten the other ones to fit in the 150 character box.
Digital Shabbos Candles: There’s nothing that requires a Shabbos candle be a physical candle (haters beware, I did look in Code of Jewish Law for this), so we can assume that a candle screen saver would work just as well for Friday night. If you want something a little more low-tech, a simple flashlight would work just as well. But remember that if you do that, you have to let the battery run out, as switching the light off is "work."
Robot Shabbos Goys: Need a Shabbos goy but don’t want to bother the nice Christian family next door? In the future, we’ll have robots to do that for us. Even today, modern conveniences like the Roomba by iRobot take away any pressure to work on Shabbat.
Kosher iPhone: The future is here and it’s called the iPhone. iBlessing and ParveOMeter are two amazing iPhone/iTouch apps to appease the yiddishkeit desire to introduce efficiency into the Jewish lifestyle. Future apps that I would like to see include the Modeh Ani alarm clock and a call-your-mother app that sends pre-recorded voicemails to your mom, letting her know you haven’t dropped out of med school (yet)!
Insta-Conversion: Utilizing the power of the Internet, we can completely re-think how new Jews are brought into the Tribe. The general requirements are a pre-interview, some kind of Judaism 101 class, Bet Din, bris, mikvah and a public ceremony. If we break this down, we find that most of this can be done quickly and efficiently, utilizing e-technology. Pre-conversion interviews between rabbi and convert can easily be done via IM or Skype. Classes can be modeled after distance learning with e-books to read and online exams. The Bet Din can be turned into a teleconference, or again, another Skype adventure. The bris (for men) and mikvah would need to be in person, but as far as I’m concerned a public ceremony could be a mass update on your Facebook/Myspace/Twitter. We could also use webcams to broadcast this event.
Stay tuned; I am sure I’ll come up with more.