Thankfully for many people, me included, the 21st century had opened up new venues of religious participation.
Last year, it was a great moment for me to experience for the first time a free High Holiday Service streamed live online. Behind this innovating initiative is Temple Israel of Memphis, TN.
Thanks to Temple Israel, I was able to experience full Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services right from the comfort of my own home. Best of all, I was able to share it with my two sisters (one in Mexico City, another in South Caroline and me, in Florida) on a Skype conference call we had previously arranged. Because of distance logistics, spending High Holidays with my sisters, had not been a feasible option for years! That is until now!
It takes one group of creative people to apply a little of "out of the box thinking" to make a small step yet with a huge positive impact in people's lives.
Now, students, travelers, sick people in a hospital, a soldier stationed on the other side of the world, or people who just can't afford High Holiday tickets or a synagogue membership can have a piece of the Sabbath and High Holidays community spirit.
Little did I know, this year I will be spending High Holidays services at the same Temple that I participated with online a year ago.
It was a Déjà vu moment, when Rabbi Greenstein was explaining how the service was being watched live by people in Spain, China and numerous part of the world! How cool is that! Yet, Temple was packed! and why wouldn't? Just as a witnessed last year online, High Holiday services at Temple Israel are beautiful perform by three inspiring Rabbis, a Hazzan with a rich tenor voice and a delightful group of musicians.
Although, the overall view and the sound at the Temple's second floor was excellent, (First year here in Memphis. I will make it 30 min. earlier next time), I wish I was able to have a close up of Rabbi Grossman's face as he was delivering his uplifting Rosh Hashanah sermon. He's quite a speaker.
Anyway, I believe a Temple like these is already ahead of the game on the 21st century ways of offering creative ways of community engagement to its congregants and the rest of the world. I call it, "praying with out walls".