In the Age of Zoom, Synagogues Can Be a Bastion of Human Interaction

In 2020, during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Mosaic published a series of essays about how Jews, and Orthodox Jews in particular, responded to the possibility of holding the Passover seder over Zoom. Nearly four years later, the pandemic is in the past, but every Jewish denomination has adapted to using videoconferencing in synagogue events—even if they reject it for prayers, or on Sabbaths and holidays. Elliot Cosgrove, the rabbi of a large Manhattan synagogue, explains the benefits, and the perils, that come with such new technologies:

Fast-paced and far-reaching in its transformations as the digital age may be, it has also revealed itself to be a moment of great opportunity. It’s important to see, however, that this opportunity is by no means simply about going online along with the rest of our culture—because the digital era has unexpectedly brought the countercultural value proposition of synagogue life into full relief. As so much goes online, our present moment reminds us of all that can occur only in person—and that must continue to do so. Online prayer will never match the power of in-person worship.

Pastoral care is made sacred not only by physical proximity, but because of relationship capital accumulated over a lifetime of joys and sorrows—something extraordinarily difficult to build across screens. Be it a cantor’s concert, a tikkun olam project, or a kibbitz at kiddush, there are riches of communal life that are enjoyed most fully in person. Counterintuitive as it may seem, our shift to digital has strengthened our in-person offerings, but only insofar as we have, in the main, answered these questions successfully.

Read more at Sapir

More about: American Judaism, Judaism, Synagogue, Technology, Zoom Seder

As Hamas’s Power Collapses, Old Feuds Are Resurfacing

In May, Mahmoud Nashabat, a high-ranking military figure in the Fatah party (which controls the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority), was gunned down in central Gaza. Nashabat was an officer in the Gaza wing of the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a terrorist outfit that served as Fatah’s vanguard during the second intifada, and now sometimes collaborates with Hamas. But his killers were Hamas members, and he was one of at least 35 Palestinians murdered in Gaza in the past two months as various terrorist and criminal groups go about settling old scores, some of which date back to the 1980s. Einav Halabi writes:

Security sources familiar with the situation told the London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that Gaza is now also beleaguered by the resurgence of old conflicts. “Many people have been killed in incidents related to the first intifada in 1987, while others have died in family disputes,” they said.

The “first-intifada portfolio” in Gaza is considered complex and convoluted, as it is filled with hatred among residents who accuse others of killing relatives for various reasons, including collaboration with Israel. . . . According to reports from Gaza, there are vigorous efforts on the ground to contain these developments, but the chances of success remain unclear. Hamas, for its part, is trying to project governance and control, recently releasing several videos showcasing how its operatives brutally beat residents accused of looting.

These incidents, gruesome as they are, suggest that Hamas’s control over the territory is slipping, and it no longer holds a monopoly on violence or commands the fear necessary to keep the population in line. The murders and beatings also dimension the grim reality that would ensue if the war ends precipitously: a re-empowered Hamas setting about getting vengeance on its enemies and reimposing its reign of terror.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Fatah, Gaza War 2023, Hamas