MIAMI BEACH (CBS4) — Call it a high-tech service for Rosh Hashanah.
Hours after sundown and the start of the Jewish New Year, nearly 200 congregants at services at the Jewish Museum of Florida were encouraged to send text messages to the Rabbi;-messages such as their transgressions or who’d they’d like to forgive or how they’d like to be remembered.
It was a unique service created by an organization called The Tribe, which wants to attract more young Jewish people in their 20s and 30s to services.
Those texting Rabbi Amy Morrison could see their anonymous messages posted on a five-foot screen. During the service, Morrison tried to respond in person to as many messages as she could. Congregants were also able to text each other as well at the service.
Rebecca Dinar, the Director of the Tribe, told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “This is a time when Jewish people around the world are celebrating Rosh Hashanah. We know there are thousands of Jewish people in Miami with no place to go. We have to use the language of this generation, the technology of texting, and communicating as a way of feeling connected with each other.”
“I think prayer needs to be for people of any age,” said Rabbi Morrison of Temple Beth Shalom who was conducting this new service. “Right now I am blessed with the ability to make this service relevant to our demographic. Traditional Judaism says this is about hearing all of our voices.”
Among those sending texts was Alexander Lewy, who does not belong to a synagogue even though he attends services everywhere and is a Hallandale Beach City Commissioner.
“This is going to prompt discussion in a revolutionary way for me,” said Lewy. “Traditionally you are not supposed to use any electronic devices. So this will be the first time I am doing this.”
Twenty-eight-year-old Romina Naparstek also told D’Oench that she does not belong to a synagogue but she was intrigued by the service.
“It’s a great way to connect with everyone in the room about what I am thinking and feeling,” she said. “This is the way we are communicating nowadays with text messages. Without this, I would not have come here tonight.”
Texting messages to Rabbis has been done at other synagogues in the U.S. but the Tribe says this practice and the Sunday night service at the Jewish Museum of Florida at 301 Washington Avenue was unique in South Florida.
It’s not known if the texting service will catch on at other synagogues in South Florida.
There will be another texting services at the Jewish Museum of Florida in 10 days for Yom Kippur.