OneShul. Yeah.

Without commentary–or editing–here are the notes I typed while “attending” the online Kabbalat Shabbat at OneShul.org.

30 second ad for the new james cameron film, sanctum.

there’s a logo up. the service has not started. unfamilar guitar-camp sort of music is playing. there are 9 other viewers. i can log in to chat. i refrain.

now we’re at 10. a minyan has arrived.

below the screen and the chat field, there is a siddur called “OneShul Community Siddur” it’s the same thing as indie yeshiva pocket thing. which i will be attempting to use. not that koren is far out of reach, but i’m making an effort here.

we’re down to 9 viewers. back to 10. back to 9. back to 10. up to 11! what is going on? and 13.

Google ads keeping popping up.

holy crap, the tune is country roads.

down to 12.

oooh. it’s starting. and it’s stopping. and it’s starting? and it’s stopped again.

it’s very choppy. there’s lots of discussion of how choppy it is. and it’s better. and now the whole thing is gone.

Well, in the midst of all the choppiness, we were all welcomed and they mentioned that they were about to do something involving a Shabbat dinosaur.

Thankfully, I think we missed that due to the choppiness and the outage because we’re back and this guy Michael is doing candle lighting. interesting, that we can all sort of light candles together, in a way. I already lit mine, which are now burning next to the computer.

The Shabbat dinosaur is back. It’s a little girl in a blue dino outfit.

And the nusach their using to light the candles is for Chanukah. *facepalm* Then Michael reads the bracha again in English.

After some puttering about and brief discussion, we’re singing Shalom Aleichem. I feel a little silly sitting in my dorm room singing along with this.

Patrick Aleph says, “Adonai Malach yirgzu amim.” Now Michael is reading it in English.

Now Michael is doing a devar and Patrick has joined the chatroom. “lets talk smack during the dvar” he says. AviEarnest says “Michael needs a dinosaur prayer shawl.” Goodness gracious.

Michael is talking about how Mishpatim takes slavery, a despicable institution, and tames it.

“michael is more spiritual than me in this way. he can take text and really work it well” patrick writes.

There are 18 viewers by now.

Michael is done now. Patrick says they’re gonna take some questions from the chat.

coco765: “How can you look for G-d?? I’ve been doing that all my life and I haven’t found G-d. Any ideas????”

Michael, apparently in Rabbinical school, answers.

I’m struggling to be open-minded right now. Realllly stuggling. Oh my goodness.

20 people now. comments are flying.

coco says, “PunkTorah=my new bff!!”

Michael is talking about Art Green. In theory, this goes from 7 to 8. (michael mentions reb zalman now.) It’s already 7:25 though.

can we get on with this service? one or two more questions, Michael says.

aaaand we’re on the barchu.

we’re halfway through maariv aravim. I’m gonna leave it there and tune out from the service. This is not Shabbat-conducive. The amount of judge-y in my head right now is no good.

Shabbat Shalom.

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10 responses to “OneShul. Yeah.

  1. Shabbat shalom! I hope you finished out your kabbalat shabbat with a peaceful mind.

    I am curious how you would do an online kabbalat shabbat? What are your specific, snide-free (well, you can leave the snide in, I would!), criticisms?

    You seem to imply that the talking going on during the service is a problem, but I’ve never been to a service in a reform shul that didn’t have talking throughout. I admit that I typically find the talking and note passing a turn off and disrespectful, but I tried to get into the low-key, informal nature tonight. I see you caught my comment about a dinosaur prayer shawl. :)

    I think it’s a shame that you didn’t log in and stay until the end. There was the emergence, flickeringly, of a real conversation and learning. I think we could have greatly used your input!

    Shalom!
    Earnest

    • Well, first of all, the thing wouldn’t let me log in. I tried to say hey at the beginning, but I couldn’t register from some reason.

      I am curious how you would do an online kabbalat shabbat?

      Well, I wouldn’t. I also don’t have much basis for comparison because this is the first time I’ve ever tuned into such a thing.

      You seem to imply that the talking going on during the service is a problem, but I’ve never been to a service in a reform shul that didn’t have talking throughout.

      Reform? I’ve never been to any shul that didn’t have talking throughout! It was an interesting element of the service, actually. Normally, you wouldn’t formally encourage talking during the service–rather, it’s just sort of tolerated. But in this case, you have to recognize that there’s no way for people to talk during the service other than putting a little chat up. I didn’t mean to imply that the chat forum was a bad idea in an of itself. I just thought the general comments were sort of odd and random.

  2. Reform? I’ve never been to any shul that didn’t have talking throughout!

    Ah! Well, I’ve never been to a Conservative service, so I can’t speak to that, but the only Orthodox and Chabbad services I’ve been to had no chatting of which I was aware. Of course, these were sparsely attended.

    It was an interesting element of the service, actually. Normally, you wouldn’t formally encourage talking during the service–rather, it’s just sort of tolerated. But in this case, you have to recognize that there’s no way for people to talk during the service other than putting a little chat up.

    I wonder if encouraging the chatting is a means to encourage a feeling of ‘normalcy’, per your observation that chatting is typical in all types of shuls. Also, I thought it was a decent way to encourage comfort and a feeling of community.

    I didn’t mean to imply that the chat forum was a bad idea in an of itself. I just thought the general comments were sort of odd and random.

    Yes, I felt the same, but I contributed to it myself. It was a first attempt and I think that some of us were unsure how to behave. I expect it will evolve.

    Moving on, I have read and understand your criticisms of the siddur (although I do not agree that all of your criticisms are valid). I assume that the siddur aside, you have other issues with PunkTorah (besides the amazingly silly logo, but I assume the purpose is for the logo to be utterly non-threatening and welcoming to the folks that recognize the various elements).

    I was wondering if you would mind elucidating your problems with the project, the concept and/or the participants.

    My understanding of the project is that it is a sort of self-directed and self-focused, autodidactic Jewish outreach. As such it is assumed to be a bit imperfect (like any other gathering of 1 or more people) and a bit chaotic. Still, I believe there is a real, valid purpose for it and movements like it. Here in southern California there are many small groups like this. They spring up for various and sundry reasons: synagogue fees are too high (some are astronomical); the children of Jewish fathers want to convert, but feel unwelcome in traditional settings; gay and lesbian Jews want a more traditional Judaism than Reform, but feel unwelcome elsewhere (or even in many Reform communities); etc, etc.

    That this one is online gives a unique opportunity to the participants. Once it has some momentum and a larger following, OneShul will be able to allow various groups to hold their own kabbalat shabbat and other services within the framework of the PunkTorah system. In other words, you and I may prefer a more traditional siddur, but for whatever reason not belong to a local synagogue – OneShul gives us a setting in which to find each other, and others like us, with which to form our own online subset of Jews who do not wish to become disaffected.

    Now, I understand that there are some concerns with whether or not a minyan can be formed via the internet, and while I am not 100% satisfied with the arguments for it being valid, I am nearly satisfied and I believe that an imperfect minyan is better than no minyan. An imperfect siddur is better than no siddur. And it is on this theory that I believe PunkTorah operates: bring your level of observance to this group, and they’ll accept and encourage you. Hopefully you will grow more comfortable and knowledgeable in your understanding of Judaism, and maybe become more observant. It’s not a requirement, but it’s encouraged.

    I have a hard time seeing this as a bad thing or deserving of derision. :)

    Shalom.

  3. David,

    I don’t think you’re the target audience for this.

    coco, OTOH, is.

    I’m not sure what the intentions behind it are, but I see in it huge potential as a gateway for disaffiliated Jews to reconnect.

    And as for the Shabbat dinosaur? Are you not familiar with the Kabbalat Shabbat Piyyut for the under-7 set called “There’s a Dinosaur knocking at my door, and he wants to spend Shabbos with me?”

  4. Ha! I’m pretty sure Coco will be coming back.

    This review was even more interesting than I’d expected. I don’t agree with the validity of an online minyan (or talking during minyan, for that matter, but I’ve got to get over that one lest I grow to hate everyone), but I do think it’s better than nothing. You have to start somewhere, I guess.

  5. I don’t think you’re the target audience for this.

    Clearly. Though if this can be an entry point for unaffiliated/disinterested Jews, it may be beneficial.

    I’m curious as to how online services can foster Jewish growth, and if there is a plan on the part of the organizers to encourage continued engagement. I don’t believe online services in this context should be a substitute for in-person prayer, though if they can meet people where they are and bring them to a higher level of engagement, I’d like to see some reporting on that.

    • Online services help foster Jewish growth by, simply, allowing people to attend or observe them in a way that is less intimidating. Someone who is curious about Judaism can observe a Shacharit service without feeling judged for watching. I’m not saying that any “brick and mortar” shul would judge a gentile or non-observant Jew for just watching, but it helps relieve that feeling, online. Of course, in-person prayer is always better, you can’t substitute direct contact, however, some people don’t have that option. I like to engage some of the daily services just for the interaction, as the closest Jewish community to me is 90 minutes away (with about 100 people, no rabbi, and inconsistent Shabbat services). Also, it should be noted, that Patrick and Michael (who help run Punk Torah, One Shul, and New Kosher) do physically travel for presentations and conferences; Michael is actually speaking at TribeFest, this year.

      • Cool. Do you have any stats or anecdotal stories on how many people make the transition from online to in-shul services? Would be interested to hear.

        I’ll be at TribeFest… looking forward to hearing what Michael has to say!

        • I don’t really have any stats or stories, but Patrick and Michael might. I live 90 minutes from the closest Jewish community (a tiny one with irregularly scheduled Shabbat services) so I’ve used One Shul and Punk Torah as an online community. I don’t attend their Shabbat services, but their daily services did help get me back in the habit (I daven on my own, but try to join in on their services as well, to help promote the community). Their may be some people who will use it as a replacement for a physical shul, but most of those people would probably not attend shul, otherwise.

  6. David,
    Thanks for trying out the service and openly writing what you thought of it. I haven’t attended it and I’m not sure if I ever will. I attend many of their daily services to help promote a minyan for the site as I feel it is an honorable movement (and I often enjoy the discussions after the services). As someone who lives in a rural town (I honestly don’t know if there are any Jews here), an online minyan allows me to be a part of something for Shabbat (I “attend” services at OurJewishCommunity.org because I love how Rabbi Barr and Rabbi Baum conduct the services). I still light my candles separately and use traditional blessings, though. You tried the One Shul service, you gave your honest opinion, and you still have my respect.
    L’Shalom

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