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Fast Forward

Not sure where on the world wide web to go for Shabbat? This website is your guide.

For some of us, the hardest part about quarantine is missing out on gabfests with friends at synagogue — IRL, not online. Others may be interested in counting the omer, but have no idea how to do it. Still more might not have had a synagogue community before the coronavirus pandemic, and now really wish they had one to kvetch with.

No matter how involved (or not) you were in Jewish life during that time before #quarantinelife, there will probably be something to interest you on JewishLIVE, a new clearinghouse of virtual Jewish events created by the team behind the podcast Judaism Unbound. Longtime denizens of the digital world, the podcast’s creators realized in early March that, like it or not, the entire Jewish community was about to join them online. To help their fellow Jews through this latest migration, they created a platform to collect existing resources, create new ones and, in the words of Executive Director Dan Libenson, serve as “an airport to this new land” of digital Judaism.

If you’re looking to dip your toes into the brave new world of online Judaism, here’s a few features from JewishLIVE that might help.

Live Experiences Calendar

This evolving calendar collates online events hosted by Jewish organizations across the country. Wish you were outside right now? Read Torah with the folks at Wilderness Torah, who wish they were outside too. Tired of watching Frozen with your kids? Sign them up for the Kids’ Tanakh Club (Zoom’s mute function has never been so handy). Is it 11pm and, for some crazy reason, you’re still willing to be on Zoom? Join “ritual maven” Marilyn Heiss for a daily counting of the Omer.

New podcasts

Besides functioning as a directory to events hosted by other organizations, JewishLIVE has started to release its own podcasts. Offerings range from academic explorations of the Torah with biblical scholar Richard Elliot Friedman to a series on diaspora Jewish languages. A show hosted by Sarah Hurwitz, a former speechwriter for President Obama, is in the works.

Jewish Digital Culture Festival

Between content they’ve created and events in partnership with other organizations, the founders of JewishLIVE hope to eventually stream events 24/7. Just like concerts at now-cancelled music festivals across the country, events are held on virtual “stages” devoted to different topics, from spirituality to environmentalism. It’s just (OK, it bears a passing resemblance to) Coachella.

Directory of online services

Who said synagogue shopping has to stop for coronavirus? JewishLIVE’s service-finding feature recommends synagogues known for the sparkling online offerings, and lists smaller events hosted by congregations around the country.

Irene Katz Connelly is an editorial fellow at the Forward. You can contact her at [email protected].


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