Ask A Jew: Online Gathering Places?
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Is there an online gathering place for Jews to meet one another and find community during COVID?
There are many outlets online for Jews to find community. With the necessary changes due to Covid, some synagogues and Jewish organizations are exploring whole new ways to foster community virtually.
There are many Jewish Facebook groups. If there’s a particular interest or a particular branch of Judaism you’re looking to connect with, try searching for combinations of those words on Facebook and see what groups you can find. There are groups for Jewish people interested in all sorts of things. From Talmud to Science Fiction to Fandoms in general, you’ll find many different groups for Jews of all interests.
Jewish organizations have had to take a whole new approach to services and classes as a result of the threat posed by Covid-19. Many are meeting that need by offering classes online via Zoom or other meeting options. While Zoom creates some halachic issues for Shabbat and holidays, classes, celebrations, and morning services (sometimes with some alterations) are being held online. This has been helpful both for staying connected with local Jewish communities and for connecting to others around the world. We have the unique opportunity to take classes offered by a synagogue in another state, take a morning yoga class streamed online with a JCC hours away, take a Zoom cooking class with Cantors from different states, or had kids sing Chanukah songs at a Zoom Chanukah party hosted by the local synagogue.
Locally, Chabad of Spokane recently hosted via Zoom a talk by Holocaust Survivor Martin Judovits. Temple Beth Shalom is hosting all services via Zoom. According to their Facebook, they recently hosted the Global Day of Jewish Learning and Introduction to the Talmud online and they have an upcoming series Great Jewish Thinkers, Great Jewish Ideas series. On Dec. 13, they’re hosting a community Chanukah party via Zoom. According to their calendar, Chabad has class offerings via Zoom including a weekly review of the Torah portion for those who can’t be at services.
There’s also the opportunity to find classes and services in other areas. If you’ve belonged to a synagogue in the past and moved away, now is a great time to reach out to your old synagogue or JCC and find if they have virtual options available. You can connect with old friends that way. You can also explore brand new Jewish communities too. If you’re interested in a certain topic, you can search or ask in Jewish Facebook groups to see which synagogues are offering classes or discussions on those topics virtually. Antisemetic attacks on Jewish Zoom services and classes have proven to be a problem, so many places aren’t publicly sharing all their information about Zoom options. After checking social media and the organization’s website, you may want to reach out directly via e-mail to introduce yourself and ask about virtual offerings.
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