Tuesday, November 19, 2013

New Media/New Jews - Shandler

This is Shandlers section on contemporary affects of media and the Jewish religion. He discusses that new media is often viewed as one extreme or the other in religious terms, either a miracle or a devil. People often jump to conclusions instead of just waiting it out and actually see the affects. One of his examples was the CD of the Talmud, in which one of his prof’s was certain would result in Talmud being out of a job, which was not the case, things are rarely that transformational. And although it also became online, this is digitalized form only goes so far. The Talmud is even available with podcasts and programs from websites. This online source has taken away the traditional study of the Talmud, to where a person had to know the entire book and remember details as small as where on the page was the information located, and on what page. Though digital forms take away this aspect, it does not remove the difficulty of the content of the book, and is still extremely hard to master. Therefore this digital form changed the ways of teaching and testing the students, not the actual mastery or job of the Professors of Talmud
Many positive views of new media encourage a change of the way of life. New media is different ways of socializing, connecting and engagement with others. It also serves as new ways to enter Judaism, and alters their spiritual journey. For example the book Judaism Online: Confronting Spirituality on the Internet by Zakar and Kaufmann, displays the media’s impact on converting to Judaism.  Open Source Haggadah is another example of this (Haggadah is text that you read before Passover Seder, a commandment of teaching your children the stories). Also Jewish forms of programs, matchmaking for dating and worship is available online and even a 3-D website of virtual Jews (Second Life) which has synagogues, holocaust memorials, museums, etc online. Second Life is an online world, a second realm for Jews and Non Jews to better understand, a way to reinvent themselves as Javatars as they call it. This program is intended to facilitate interest in Jewish culture and heritage, but its affects are yet to be determined.  Second Life also has a matchmaking business, but it is uncertain that those people seeking love are Real Life Jews.  Their purpose was to recreate the Jewish debate, and stimulate interest in the culture. For others, they claim they aren’t different between realms, and that Second Life simply offers and extension of the Jews they already are
Another virtual Jew are the ones in Germany, though they play Jewish music, do Jewish theater, etc they aren’t actually Jewish, developed by desire instead of actual facts or traditions.

Some may say that these medias inhibit information, and end humanity, but others argue that it enhances it, and “increases centrality of the body”, intensifies their life and culture and grows the Jewish network. However, Shandler wants to emphasize to not take extremes, and find peace “somewhere in the middle”, new media gives us options. A negotiation, a compromise in the community a way for the observer to play a role in participating/experiencing the Jewish life and obstacles, and see new possibilities for practices.

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