Virtual Judaism: Jewish response to the Coronavirus

The novel corona virus necessitates a new approach to Judaism based on the concepts of “Virtual Judaism” (VJ) and “Virtual Jewish Experience” (VJE) and “Virtual Shabbat” (VS) and “Virtual Tzedakah” (VT).

The outbreak and spread of the novel coronavirus necessitate a creative re-imagining of Judaism. Rather than an in-synagogue or in-shul or in-minyan experience; it is necessary for Judaism to be a “virtual Jewish” experience using the Internet based in individual homes.

To prevent the spread of the coronavirus; it has become necessary to engage in some degree of socio-cultural isolation. The concept of “Virtual Judaism” enables Jewish communities to practice the Jewish faith using online resources such as Chabad.com and Aish.com and other Jewish-centered sites.

It is imperative for shuls, synagogues, yeshivot, seminaries, and minyans to establish first-rate websites and utilize high technology like “Skype” to engage Jewish congregations.

“Virtual Judaism” are the new “code words” and “trigger phrasings” to be used by Jewish leadership.

  1. VIRTUAL JEWISH EXPERIENCE (VJE)

The utilization of high technology created by companies such as: Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Oracle, Intel, Skype, and Microsoft should be employed to enhance “Virtual Jewish Experience” (VJE). This is the new “code phrasing” to be utilized and employed by Jewish communal leaders.

The overarching goal is the ensure the continuation of the “Jewish experience” utilizing “virtual technology”. It is encouraged for Jewish communities to broadcast online using such high-tech apps as “Periscope” and “YouNow” and “Twitch”. These technologies allow near simultaneous broadcasting, interacting, and engaging with communities around the globe.

II. VIRTUAL SHABBAT

For non-Orthodox Jewish communities, high technology and the Internet should be utilized and employed to ensure the continuation of the “Shabbat” or “Sabbath” experience for Jewish communities worldwide.

Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson of Chabad Lubavitch sent “shluchim” (“messengers/emissaries) around the world in order to promote and enhance Jewishness and the Jewish faith around the world. We can all learn from the Lubavitcher Rebbe. We can utilize the “Internet” and “high technology” as the mechanism of our “Virtual Jewish Emissaries” i.e. online Jewish experiences.

For non-Orthodox communities there should be a “Virtual Shabbat” utilizing “YouTube” and “Periscope” and “YouNow” technologies. The idea is to bring about the “Kiddushah” (Holiness) of Shabbat using “Virtual Reality”.

III. VIRTUAL BAR (BAT) MITZVAH (VBM)

We must utilize “virtual reality” in order to organize Bnai’ Miztvah ceremonies online. Whereas the “Brit Milah” ceremony cannot be held using “virtual reality”; our “Bar and Bat Mitzvah” services can be utilized using cutting edge high technology.

IV. VIRTUAL KASHRUT AND VIRTUAL KOSHER (VK)

We must utilize online services and online stores to order kosher supplies and deliver those supplies to Jewish families who keep kosher. We can launch partnerships with Walmart and Amazon to ensure the timely delivery of kosher items to Jewish families.

V. VIRTUAL TZEDAKAH (VT) AND VIRTUAL GIVING (VG)

We must enhance our online giving and online membership payments allowing Jewish communities to give easily and securely using the Internet and high technology. Jewish organizations and synagogues are encouraged to enable “PayPal” to be utilized for online giving and online membership payments.

VI. CONCLUSION: ONLINE JEWISH LEARNING

Jewish communities must utilize online resources to facilitate Jewish learning and Jewish practice. Jewish academies (Yeshivot) such as Ponevizh Yeshiva in B’nai Brak; Slobodka Yeshiva in B’nai Brak; Rabbi Aaron Kotler’s Yeshiva in Lakewood, New Jersey; Ner Israel Yeshiva in Baltimore; must use online and virtual technologies to facilitate Jewish learning and further Jewish tradition.

During the coronovirus pandemic, I recommend the Jewish community worldwide adopt the following slogan or motto: By standing together, no Jewish person stands alone.

About the Author
Licensed Attorney. I earned a Doctor of Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. I am a military veteran of both the United States Army and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). I am a financial donor to following: Harvard Law, Yale Law, Stanford Law, Berkeley Law, UC Hastings College of the Law, UC Davis Law, Columbine High School, Choate Rosemary Hall, Phillips Exeter Academy, Sidwell Friends School, Viewpoint School, Beverly Hills High School, Eton College in the United Kingdom, Special Olympics, Children's Defense Fund, Obama Foundation, Clinton Foundation, Barbra Streisand Foundation, and the British Red Cross. I am former special assistant and staff attorney to Governor Pete Wilson of California. I was public affairs assistant to US Senator Barbara Boxer and Mayor Ehud Olmert of Jerusalem.
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