Bi-Monthly Comment Box

Bob Schneeweiss, Past Board Member, shares his comments as to how he feels about Zoom and Streaming vs. Live High Holy Day services.

My Observations

     I have attended, in person, the first three High Holy Day services. I was overwhelmed with a feeling of sadness at seeing the lack of people in attendance.

     This morning, I wanted to experience the attraction of the streaming service. So here I am in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, in front of my big TV and participating in the service. 

     I have to tell you that it was a good experience. The closeups of the Rabbi and Cantor Gole translated to our senses very well. The sound is clear (clearer than in person) and everything looks dramatically bright,

     So, did I miss the community experience that I expected?

     Truthfully, No. I’m shocked by that. What I experienced instead was the sound of my own voice (not drowned out or muddled by others) and a clearer connection to the prayers and words.

     So, what’s the solution to the concern about community?

     I think that for Har-El, Zoom and Streaming are the new realities. We are a geriatric congregation and staying home might just be a better option. (There are those for whom driving at night is an issue, among other things). As long as the combined attendance, in person and streaming, is an acceptable number, we should continue. We should take the live service to a smaller venue, if it’s portable, making it friendlier to those in person.

      Between Rosh Ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur, I was in Toronto and in conversation with a member of a large Conserva/dox congregation. I was told that their attendance for Rosh Ha-Shanah was also very low. That was reassuring and also disquieting. 

      About community…I think that Har-El is on the right track in strengthening a sense of community in our congregation. Certainly, the weekly Zoom Friday night service has a regular following. I see many of the same faces every week. Dinners on Jewish festival occasions throughout the year are certainly a social/community happening.

      And to strengthen a sense of community within the congregation, I suggest that we should hold more and different social events. I think what these should be, would grow out of a conversation that ought to take place between some key players.

      Of course, The Galen Har-El Trimester series builds community, too.

      Well, these are some random observations and thoughts from this Har-El member.

      Bob Schneeweiss