Want to Web 2.0 your Yom Kippur? Known as the Day of Atonement, this highest of Jewish holidays now has a hashtag of its own.
In an attempt to attract younger congregants and excite people about embarking on 25 hours of fasting accompanied by a bajillion hours of prayer, congregation Shema Koleinu of Miramar, Fla., will encourage tweeting for forgiveness.
During the services next Friday night and Saturday, Cantor Debbi Ballard will have congregants at the South Florida synagogue take out their phones to ask forgiveness for the year's sins... on Twitter. "Imagine telling your kids to get out their phones and use them during services," Ballard told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "We don't have to do things the way our grandparents did them." You too can play along, tweeting #skhiho13 — Shema Koleinu high holidays 2013. The tweets will stream in real time on a screen during the service.
In many congregations, cell-phone use during services wouldn't fly. After all, Judaism doesn't permit the use of electronics on holidays. Not all Jews observe that rule, of course, but not too many would think of whipping out an iPhone to tweet during the most solemn day of the year. In addition, the hashtag doesn't quite get at the point of asking for forgiveness. "To tweet your inner confession is so typically the me-generation mindset, 'I tweeted, now I'm done.' You're not the aggrieved party," a rabbi from a nearby temple said.
But since we're witnessing the rise of yet another "me generation" and, what's more, live in a social media world, some expect the trend to take off. "I wouldn't be surprised if we hear more of this," Fred Greenspahn, a Jewish studies professor at Florida Atlantic University, said. "There's a sense that things are changing, and synagogues need to address that."
Indeed, as indicated by the latest trends in Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, temples are looking for ways to attract and keep younger Jews. It's unclear, however, if these largely unengaged younger Jews will embrace Yom Kippur's traditions — or, instead, take the authorized cell phone use to sneak in some post Kol Nidre Candy Crush.