Smartphone Addiction Inspires New Maccabeats’ Shabbat Video

“I wish there was a thing like Shabbat … a worldwide day where we’re not on our phones … an actual day of real rest.” This quote comes from a rather unexpected source: Katy Perry, in an interview with Cosmopolitan. The quote also appears in the opening shot of a new music video — not a video by Katy Perry, but one by the Jewish a cappella group the Maccabeats.

This video was produced by the organization Jew in the City. According to its website, the group’s mission is to “break down stereotypes about religious Jews and offer a humorous, meaningful look into Orthodox Judaism,” which the group describes as being “just as relevant today as it ever was.” The Maccabeats’ video demonstrates this point by juxtaposing the quiet isolation a of a cell-phone-obsessed society with the robust joy and interconnectedness of Shabbat.

In the video, our technologically imposed solitude is aptly played out against the backdrop of the Maccabeats’ rendition of the 1960’s Simon & Garfunkel classic The Sound of Silence. Some of the lyrics are so spot-on that it is shocking to think they were composed over 50 years ago. For example, “People talking without speaking” is a perfect description of texting or communicating via social media. And, “the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they made” conveys our dependence on our devices.

In contrast, the joy of Shabbat is depicted in the video during the singing of Lecha Dodi — “Come, My Beloved,” which is the traditional song for welcoming Shabbat. During this part of the video, every sound is audible, from birds chirping to children laughing to glasses clinking. Alluding to the mitzvah of intimacy on Shabbat, the song ends with a tender moment between husband and wife and the tagline “Turn off the Sound of Silence. Turn on the Sound of Shabbat.”

This video was shared by Rabbi David Levin, the Radmal, on his Jewish Relationships Initiative blog. The video is covered by the Standard YouTube License.

Should My Husband’s Text Messages Be Private?

— by Aron Moss, rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and a frequent contributor to Chabad.org. Reprinted with permission of Chabad.org, the Judaism website.

Question: Are text messages private? My husband and I have a major disagreement over this. He gets furious when I look at his phone, saying I have no business reading his private messages. I feel that as a married couple we should have nothing to hide from each other. I am not saying I am at all suspicious of him, I completely trust him. But should his inbox be totally out of bounds to me?

Answer: The answer to your quandary is right there in front of you — on your finger. Just look at your wedding ring.

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Letting People, Not Computers, Find the Right Person for You

Throughout its history, Simantov International, which is based in Frankfurt, Germany, has successfully advised and guided thousands of Jewish singles in their quest for a true life partner. Founded by traditional matchmaker Denise Kahn with the goal to help Jewish singles across Europe meet, marry and rebuild European Jewry, the service is today proudly helmed by matchmaker Jose Weber, who is personally responsible for hundreds of successful matches and marriages.

More after the jump.
The boutique matchmaking service relies on a team of qualified coaches and matchmakers, all holders of Master’s degrees, MBAs and PhDs. The team works with Jewish communities across Europe and around the world, helping Jewish men and women find a person who is right for them. In association with its international partners, Simantov serves clients in English, French, German, Spanish, Russian and Hebrew, and offers each client a personalized treatment.

According to Weber,

People who come to us are often disheartened and frustrated. They have often spent months or even years on online dating services and have nothing to show for it. Our service is completely different in that we take the time to talk to the client and really get to know his or her personality, values, tastes and worldview and understand his or her needs and desires in a relationship. Unlike the algorithms used by many dating websites, our matchmaking process is human.

To thoroughly get to know each new client, the matchmaker first conducts a face-to-face or Skype-relayed interview (in the language of the client’s choosing). The matchmaker then reviews his database of thousands of Jewish singles around the globe for compatible matches. In the following weeks, clients and matchmakers work closely together, with the clients offering feedback on dates. The matchmaker continues to introduce the client to new potential partners until a match is made.

Celebrating its 36th year in business in 2013, Simantov International is today Europe’s most experienced Jewish matchmaking service.

Purim Study Guide: 1st in Women, Relationships, Jewish Texts Series

Rabbi Goldie Milgram in Purim Mask— Ann Rose Greenberg

Washington, DC – Jewish Women International (JWI) announces the release of the first in a series of study guides related to Women, Relationships and Jewish Text. Rethinking Purim is designed to spark new conversations about relationships by offering a fresh look at old texts. The guides are a project of JWI’s Clergy Task Force on Domestic Abuse in the Jewish Community, a group of prominent clergy committed to promoting Jewish responses and resources that end violence against women. Three more guides will be released in the coming year, each relating to a Jewish holiday.

More after the jump.
Rethinking Purim takes a thematic approach to the story of Purim, and uses text of the megillah, midrash, and modern commentary to encourage conversations about relationships. Each section of the guide discusses a characteristic of healthy relationships: developing a voice of one’s own; cultivating the conscious use of self; and striving for parity. The guide is designed for use in both formal and informal settings including synagogues, study groups, book clubs, or simply by a group of friends getting together.

Rabbi Richard Hirsh, co‐chair of JWI’s Clergy Task Force said:

This guide combines a respectful reading of classic texts with provocative and perceptive insights, questions and ideas that can help shape healthier relationships. It can help raise awareness of the ways in which issues of gender and power intersect with and can be addressed through such Jewish values as k’vod ha‐briot (respect for the dignity and integrity of each person) and kedusha (sanctification), among others.

According to JWI Executive Director Lori Weinstein:

We know that unhealthy relationships happen in our community, but we so rarely take the time to talk about what makes a relationship healthy. We hope that by sparking these conversations we can help women find their voices and speak out to perpetuate a cycle of safe homes, healthy relationships and strong women.

Rabbi Donna Kirshbaum, lead author of the guide said:

Jewish women today are making a new kind of ‘noise’ on this holiday by using it as a time to speak out against the mistreatment of women and against abusive relationships. We decided to go a step further and see what Purim could teach us about healthy relationships. Although the topic of healthy relationships is a serious one, we hope that — in the spirit of Purim — those using the guide will have a little fun, too.

JWI thanks Rabbi Amy Bolton, Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin, Cantor Katchko‐Gray, and Rabbi Donna Kirshbaum, all members of the members of the Clergy Task Force, for their thoughtful participation in the project.

The guide is available for download, free of charge.

JWI’s Clergy Task Force on Domestic Abuse in the Jewish Community is a multi-denominational group representing all parts of the Jewish community and committed to providing leadership by speaking publicly, developing and disseminating resources and training, and providing guidance to clergy working with families experiencing abuse. As with all of JWI’s task forces working on domestic abuse issues, this one includes survivors of domestic violence.

Jewish Women International is the leading Jewish organization empowering women and girls through economic literacy, community training, healthy relationships education, and the proliferation of women’s leadership. Our innovative programs, advocacy, and philanthropic initiatives protect the fundamental rights of all girls and women to live in safe homes, thrive in healthy relationships, and realize the full potential of their personal strength.