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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Yom Kippur Service on the Web

Last night, I watched a live Web cast of the traditional Kol Nidre service that marks the beginning of Yom Kippur, the solemn Day of Atonement in Judaism. It was the second year that the Jewish Television Network has broadcast an online version of the prayer service, even though some rabbis feel Jewish worship is a communal act that is meant to be experienced surrounded by others in a synagogue.
But the online service, this year led by Rabbi Naomi Levy (who has appeared on Oprah), is designed to attract Jews who aren't affiliated with a synagogue, are unable to leave their homes, or may have become disconnected from the faith. In 2004, Levy founded Nashuva, a Jewish community of prayer and action in Brentwood, California, which wants to reach out to unaffiliated Jews; it doesn't have dues, membership, or even a building (services are held at Brentwood Presbyterian Church, and the two congregations work together on interfaith projects), and the community is committed to social action, critical thinking, learning, and dialogue. It was expected that about 50,000 people would watch Nashuva's prayer service online.
"With the Kol Nidre service, we recognized that it's an opportunity to democratize Jewish life," Jay Sanderson, CEO of JTN Productions and JewishTVNetwork.com, told the Los Angeles Daily News. "This service is very universal and we want to get it out there to as many people as we can." —Heather Wax