From Sinai to Cyberspace, Pt. 2: Thawing out

January 26, 2011
Peter Eckstein reflects in this blog post on the Conservative Movement's Jewish Educators Assembly 39th Annual Conference which centered on "From Sinai to Cyberspace: Exploring the Impact of Technology on Jewish Education". After recapping some of the program highlights that the 200 educators experienced, he raises some important questions about the direction in which Jewish education is headed in the second decade of the 21st century.
Among the presentations at the conference:
Lisa Colton presented the challenges facing Jewish professionals as we reach out to a new generation of Jewish parents.
Caren Levine introduced tools that enhance professional development, all within the context of social media, and opportunities of cloud based collaboration. 
David Bryfman stressed the importance of stepping out of our professional and institutional comfort zones as we look at existing structures, re-visioning them through a process of re-prioritization, discovering  new opportunities we never dreamed of.   
Eckstein writes:
"The new tools that enhance collaborative learning and building school communities reflect the reality that relationships are central to building authentic Jewish lives. What this means is that the digital tools we have available to us today are only means to create a 21st century Klal Yisrael. This idea of unity certainly isn’t new.  It’s just that the way to achieve it, is.
Ultimately, the question that underlies all others, in my mind, is what will Jewish communal life look like the day after tomorrow?  The idea of Social Networking was ubiquitous at the JEA conference. It’s all about relationships and how technology can be a tool to enhance the growth of community. As others have said before me, it’s not about the tech, it’s about the people."
As the Reform Movement centered their Seattle Convention on: "Imagineering Jewish Education for the 21st Century", Eckstein feels:

"They too are exploring the frontiers of technology and Jewish education. I can't help but think that we are at a serendipitous moment, when we all are on the same page of Talmud. We all know what needs to be done, we're just trying to figure out how. I believe now is the time for Jewish futurists, educators, and leaders from all movements to come together and explore tomorrow. If I may borrow Jack Wertheimer's imagery, we need to break down the denominational silos and finally collaborate."

Updated: Feb. 13, 2011