Monday, December 24, 2007


Every (well, almost) Friday when I go to synagogue, I make a point to grab the local Jewish newspaper, as well as World Jewish Digest. One reason I like to pick these up is because there are oodles of interesting ads in them. Most are for Jewish retirement facilities and Kosher catering services, but I also am quite the fan of the interesting Tech Ads that pop up in the newspapers.

One of the interesting ones is KosherNet. What, you ask, is KosherNet? Under their description for what they mean by their use of "kosher," it says:
"Kosher" can also be used to describe other realms of human/Jewish experience. Reading material, entertainment, and parties can all be kosher or non-kosher - appropriate or inappropriate - for a Jew to experience.

So there can be a Kosher or non-Kosher Internet experience too. But, just as with food there are different standards for what is considered kosher or non-kosher, so too with the internet.
So it's basically kosher "parent" controls for the web experience. I guess what I'm wondering, then, is how many people use the service?

Then there's this service called MyFaith, though I can't seem to find a website for it. I read about it in one of the newspapers, and it's basically this service that allows you to upload all sorts of religious technological paraphernalia like wallpapers, ring tones, daily Torah gleanings, etc.

Now we all know there are hundreds if not thousands of sites that allow you to study the Torah or take relevant classes online. You can find websites with the Torah in Hebrew (with and without vowel markings), with the translations, with Rashi's commentary, etc. Likewise, there are plenty of books and websites devoted to living Jewishly amid a growing field of technology (an oft-cited issue is spelling out the name of G-d, and how this is legitimized on the Internet).

There is an interesting story of Rabbi Akiva and his debates with the Roman general, Turnus Rufus. The general asked Rabbi Akiva why Jews circumcise their sons, also asking whether Jews believe they can improve on G-d's creation of man. Rabbi Akiva placed grain and bread before the general and asked him which he'd rather eat. The general made the obvious choice and took the bread, which clearly represented man's improvement on nature. As such, just as baking bread is an act of improving wheat, so is circumcision an act of improving man. The moral of the story is that we are meant to improve on the world; we are partners in creation of all aspects of the world, including technology.

I think it's fascinating to see how special things are made up in order to maintain a "kosher" lifestyle, be this automatic timers, KosherNet, or other technologies that make living Jewishly a little more feasible in an ever-expanding world.

Cheers to you all, and may the week begin with health and happiness!