To Blog or Not to Blog…

Riverdale Temple has entered a new stage in the electronic communications era.  One of the benefits of belonging to the Union for Reform Judaism is being able to maintain our website through them.  Since the URJ decided to switch “platforms” (I think that’s the correct terminology) our website had to “migrate” (I think that’s the correct terminology) to the new platform if we wanted to continue with them.  As you can probably see from that sentence, I don’t really know what I’m talking about.  I spend hours every day on a computer – writing, researching, scheduling, ordering books and materials, and all the other things most people do on computers these days.  Yet I have clearly achieved the digital status of dinosaur in my own mind even if I’m sometimes able to pass in the eyes of others.  I realize I’m more comfortable with computers and the internet than some people my age, but I also realize that what I struggle to accomplish on the internet, my children and their generation achieve intuitively.  The internet, smart phones, Facebook, Twitter– these are extensions of the next generation’s minds and fingers, while I can’t remember my password from one login to the next!  I keep thinking of my 90 year old father’s comments about things like what’s happened to the price of a cup of coffee – and since he also uses a computer regularly, and checks our website now and then, I might as well thank him here for giving me the idea for this article.  Thanks Dad.

When Yvette Marrin initiated the renovation of our new website she suggested that I write a blog.  I was happy to comply, but I didn’t know exactly what a blog was.  I have, of course, read many of them, but mostly when I came across them as the result of some specific search.  I’m well aware that many, many rabbis – some even older than I – have blogs, but somehow, I just couldn’t figure out what that was supposed to mean.  I asked my son and daughter (ages 24 and 26) and they said, “no way, Mom, no one will read it!”  I’m pretty sure they won’t be reading this article, but please let’s be clear, it’s not a blog.  It’s just an occasional article I will write whenever I get the chance, or whenever someone inspires me to talk about a particular issue.  So, what’s the difference between this part of our new website and a blog?  Well, as many of you may know (I had forgotten, so I had to look it up!) blog is short for web log (and if you already knew that, it’s very likely that you are not reading this article – according to my kids at least).  The descriptions I’ve found imply a sort of on-line journal that’s meant to be shared with the world; a series of pithy statements about the blogger’s point of view.  Gosh, that’s why I became a rabbi – so I could make pithy statements about my point of view every week in a sermon!  But even though my sermons rarely exceed 8 minutes of delivery time, they are far too long for a blog.  So I’m not going to blog.  If someone tells me they think a particular sermon is worth posting, I may put it up here – though I’m reluctant to do that because the spoken word is so different from the written.  I can’t control my tone of voice through a keyboard.  You may not know when I’m joking, or trying to be ironic, or deadly serious.  But I’m willing to give it a try.  If you have something about which you would like me to sermonize, by all means please let me know.  That’s much easier than trying to come up with something pithy on my own!  

While I do feel like a dinosaur, I am not going to be one of those dinosaurs who complain about what technology is doing to our way of life.  I may not be able to keep up, but I recognize that the world must keep moving forward – and I support that.  I thank Rachel Radna, our President Extraordinaire, who got Riverdale Temple on the web in the first place, and now Yvette Marrin who has taken on that challenge (and puts me to shame with her computer skills), for pushing us to keep up with the future.  Yes, there was a time that a cup of coffee cost a nickel.  And there was a time that people communicated either in person or by sending pieces of paper back and forth.  Time passes.  Things change.  Especially at this time of the year, I often reflect on the Hebrew letters “shin,” “nun” and “hey.”  They are the root (shanah) of two different, unrelated words: to repeat and to change.  Though etymologically they may have nothing to do with each other, they are rich in midrashic potential.  I plan on spending the rest of this summer contemplating how I can help Riverdale Temple repeat the many successes we have enjoyed together, while changing the elements that demand renewal in order to keep up with the present and the future.  I may not have a chance to post my conclusions on this website, but I do look forward to sharing them with you in person at the end of the summer as we gather together to greet the New Year (Rosh Ha”Shanah”).  L’Shanah Tova T’kateivu – May you be inscribed (digitized?) for a good year!