Monday, October 7, 2013

In Shandler's article "New Media/New Jews" we see how the emergence of the Internet for research and socialization is affecting the Jewish people. First and foremost, religious texts are now very much more accessible through CD or Internet articles. The Talmud notably is now readily available, which is a compilation of rabbi's teachings on all facets of life and the basis of Jewish law. Referred to as "The Oral Law" this text is the central instrument in the training and teaching of rabbis. This availability however does not make instructors obsolete, because to read, analyze, and comprehend the Talmud in the proper fashion is greatly assisted by the assistance of a professor rather than reading it on the Internet by yourself. Shandler's main focus in the article was the fascinating presence of an organized Jewish  community unmatched in real life in the character role playing game online titled Second life. In this alternate virtual reality people create avatars to their liking and can navigate an expansive world filled with other people from around the world ready to chat and socialize about real world and second life topics. There is a large community of what has been nicknamed "javatars" that frequent an area of the world that features Jewish temples, sites of remembrance, and even sites of Jewish affiliation that couldn't exist in real life. An example of this would be a sort of Passover theme park that users of the site have created. Not everyone who has a javatar is necessarily a Jew. This is really a representation of modern European culture though with people who aren't practicing Jews, but practicing Jewish culture in the medium of food, music, and theater.However, for many practicing Jews this alternate virtual reality is an outlet to extend their faith whether it is by conversing with people of similar backgrounds or creating Jewish temples within the site. This seems to be the general trend of the article being that while new technology changes access and networks of the faith for the most part new innovations are being used as tools to enhance people's religious lives. Shandler's seems to be very grounded in a theory of cultural midpoints where in technology new mediums of connectivity are opened in education and new Jewish online connectivity.      

1 comment:

ModernDayFreyja said...

I found the article really intriguing in terms of the preservation of Jewish traditions and practices. Before the widespread use of modern technology, it seems the responsibility of passing down the culture and religion was left to religious leaders and Jewish families who were actively participating and practicing. Nowadays, like with the virtual world of Second Life, not only can anyone be able to experience Judaism without converting or attending a physical location, but they can help pass down its culture by sharing and spreading their interactions.