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Jews Against Jumbotrons

The Reform movement’s exploration of Protestant mega-churches as a potential model for reinvigorating Jewish worship doesn’t have everyone kvelling. The problem, as some see it, is that the mega-church model just isn’t, well, very Jewish.

Blogger Daniel Burstyn comments on the use of “jumbo-trons” at the Union for Reform Judaism’s recent biennial follow this line of argument:

Jumbotrons are all well and good for large gatherings of non-Halakhic Jews, like the Biennial and Craig Taubman’s Friday night live kind of things. They might be ok for other environments, like camp. Maybe when the Temple is rebuilt, there will be Jumbotrons.

But they really go against the grain of the “do it yourself” aspect of Judaism, as it has developed since the publication of the Jewish Catalog in the early 1970s. So much so that I would suggest that they aren’t really very meaningful in my experience of worship – I mean, I won’t be installing one in my living room to replace the siddur that I hold in my hand. Nor will my 25 family congregation ever need one on a regular basis.

All that razzle dazzle has really razzled and dazzled you Biennial-goers, hasn’t it. And if you come from Congregations that are Biennial sized, you might be considering using them. But it’s so far from the experience of small congregations, you apparently have forgotten to remember that you have no idea how disempowering this all is. I was at a service yesterday that tanked as soon as the Rabbi left. When there will be jumbotrons and only a bevy of Levi-techies will be able to run them, and the Rabbi-Kohanim are the only ones who know how to turn on the “uplink” – then the Jews in the Pews will be far far farklempt!!

If Joe or Jane Jew can’t walk onto the bima and run a worship service as well as s/he can run a committee meeting or an awards dinner, then something is broken. There should be no “little man behind the curtain,” nor flashy light show on the bima in Judaism.

Hat tip: Jewschool

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