Johnny Solomon

Connecting to our homeland through our cellphone

The Red Alert app is one way for Jews and friends of Israel around the world to keep up with the current war
Screenshot of Red Alert, the Israeli app that warns locals of incoming missile attacks. (Courtesy)
Screenshot of Red Alert, the Israeli app that warns locals of incoming missile attacks. (Courtesy)

When I met my wife just over 13 years ago she was already in a relationship, and despite my requests for exclusivity, she was not prepared to give up on her other relationship. Truthfully, I found it difficult to ignore the fact that even when we spent time together, she would speak to him, and so it came to a head when I asked her to decide – either me or the cellphone!

Thirteen years later and my wife is still in a relationship with her phone, but not long after we married, I accepted my fate and also got a cellphone. However, I have always been an advocate of cellphone etiquette. For example, other than when my wife was in a labour ward, my phone was always on silent when teaching, praying or in a meeting.

However, this war has changed things. Many of us have downloaded the Tzeva Adom (Red Alert) app on our cell phones, and throughout the past few weeks, I’ve been checking my phone on a moment-by-moment basis (and with the facebook messages, whatsapp groups, sms messages, emails, facetime, hangout and calls about the situation, I’ve never been so busy!). Additionally, those who do not live in Israel have developed an even more real sense of what it means to live under fire.

But aside from all this, what has changed during this war is how cellphones have been used by public figures to add a further dimension to their message. Last week, Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor played the wail of Israel’s Code Red air raid warning from his cellphone to the United Nations, and this week, Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer referred to the alerts on his Tzeva Adom app while being interviewed by Bob Schieffer.

While sociologists may already be writing dissertations about what this tells us about our culture and our people, I believe we can learn three simple things from these developments:

1. Israel continues to lead the way as the start-up nation.

2. Even if you are a public figure, you should occasionally side-step the rules of etiquette and show the world a little Israeli chutzpa to get your point across.

3. While Heinrich Heine was correct in describing the Bible as the Jews’ portable homeland, our cellphones are now our portable connection to the land we call home.

About the Author
Rav Johnny Solomon is a Seminary teacher and a Jewish Education Consultant.
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