The Jewish world, like the world civilization that hosts it, is awash in new technologies. Appropriately, there is a great deal of attention paid to how to improve the Jewish world and Jewish identity through technology. Paradoxically there is a paucity of literature characterizing the relationship of Jews and Judaism to technology. This article examines this relationship through a portrait of a 3-year Covenant-Jewish Education Center of Cleveland project entitled Text Me: Ancient Jewish Wisdom Meets Contemporary Technology. Seven areas of future research are suggested out of the exploration of these two sources.
The nearly 4 years directing the Covenant Foundation’s Text Me: Ancient Jewish Wisdom Meets Contemporary Technology has afforded me the privilege and pleasure of working in a dozen different North American Jewish communities and with hundreds of Jewish educators, parents, and students in day, synagogue, and community schools. The project was initiated as a series of multigenerational dialogues about the uses of technology in our lives. Originally centered in Cleveland, the project has taken on a national scope with seminars having been held in San Francisco, New York, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, Madison, and Milwaukee. As explained later in the article, it also has added to its tapestry adult learning and professional development threads.
I have chosen to suggest a research agenda out of the moments in the project when I have been “pulled up short” (Gadamer, 1964; Kerdeman, 2003) and astonished that I had not seen the depth of reflection required about an arena of technology in Jewish education and Jewish life. These moments of surprise (and sometimes distress) about what we don’t know about our relationship to the fast-moving technologies of today provide the matrix of possibilities for a suggested agenda for future research.