High-tech holy days: Ditmas Park shul beams Yom Kippur services to your iPad

High-tech holy days: Ditmas Park shul beams Yom Kippur services to your iPad
Courtesy of the Kloners

Ditmas Park residents can spend the holiest day of the Jewish calendar atoning on their comfortable couches now that a Marlborough Road synagogue is streaming religious services on the internet.

Temple Beth Emeth, a reform synagogue near Church Avenue, offered congregants who couldn’t make the trek to shul the option of watching Yom Kippur services online — a high-tech way to reach religious shut-ins clergy members say came about by accident.

“We want people to come if they can,” Rabbi Heidi Hoover said. “But there are people who can’t come. This is our way of giving them an opportunity to participate.”
More conservative Jewish houses of worship require members refrain from using electronics on the high holy days, but Hoover decided to stream this year’s Rosh Hashana, Kol Nidre, and Yom Kippur services with her techie husband’s help after an elderly congregant informed her that he had broken his hip over the summer and wouldn’t be able to make it in.

“What’s new about being able to broadcast the services is how straightforward it is,” said Rabbi Hoover’s husband Michael Rose, who used his iPhone to set up a livestream through the popular website UStream.tv, which was a favorite of the Occupy movement. “What we’re trying to do is provide baseline access to the service.”

Hoover said that a number of visitors tuned in once the synagogue publicized the livestream feed on its website and Facebook page

Courtesy of the Kloners

Seven people watched the Kol Nidre service on the night of Yom Kippur, and another 15 tuned in for Wednesday’s service — including a Ditmas Park college student living in Cape Cod.

William Kloner, the Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Beth Emeth, used his iPad to log on from a senior center in Cobble Hill.

The service worked well: it showcased clear video and audio and ran uninterrupted except for a bizarre moment when UStream.tv threw up a commercial for an all-terrain vehicle.

Everyone loved the live-streaming services, but Hoover said she created it for those who could not make it to the synagogue — not to be a digital takeover of Jewish services.

“I wouldn’t want to see Judaism looking like everyone streaming with me here speaking into a camera by myself!” Hoover said.

Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Beth Emeth in Ditmas Park, pictured here with his wife Elizabeth, was able to watch the Yom Kippur service he was unable to attend on his iPad.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.