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Creepy? Perhaps. Technically unfeasible? Maybe. But effective? You bet!
I would love to see how often my fellow Jews are able to achieve spiritual clarity. What keeps people on the road of morality? What is the best time for Jewish learning? I would love to learn how others experience these things. I might even emulate them.
If Jews aren’t ready for this kind of individual measurement and online comparison, we could start at the organizational level. I would love to have tracking data on a variety of key components of communal life. In a sense, we already do this with major charitable gifts. Every organization publishes a list of its top givers in dinner programs. Do they do this to thank the givers? No. They do it to shame the non-givers or the too-little-givers.
We need to apply this principle on a broader level, and with deeper impact on other aspects of Jewish organizational life.
For example, what is the average sermon length of every rabbi in my community? What is the error rate among their Torah readers? What is the average carbohydrate count per portion at the Kiddush luncheon? These kinds of facts interest me. I suspect they would interest others.
If the information were posted publicly and in real time, think of what that would reveal about American Jewish life. We wouldn’t have to wait every few years for some big census underwritten by the federation. We could do away with lists of important Jews — such as the one published in this newspaper — and see just who is doing measurably important things.
We could simply self-report our growth or diminishment as a people, one person at a time. We might learn something.
Noam Neusner is a principal with the communications firm 30 Point Strategies. He was a speechwriter for President George W. Bush. Follow him on Twitter @Glutens.