Monday, September 14, 2009

Dancing Rabbis

Yesterday, when I couldn't sleep, I flipped through my TV channels and what did I see? Dancing Hasids! Yes, guys like the one you can see here on my left, even if this one is virtual.
What I witnessed was the Chabad Telethon. I never watched a Telethon and for those of you who are not American, a Telethon is a very American experience, a little bit of shopping channel, a little bit of light entertainment ("Borsht Belt humor"), and everything about fundraising. Last year, the Chabad Telethon brought in over eight million dollars. This year's results are not out yet.
The Chabad Telethon is a real American experience, and it attracks not only Jews. Having this event on television underlines (at least to me) how all American orthodox Jews are, and it seems not strange to have them dance on the streets of Los Angeles to raise money for welfare programs.
In-world, even if not that visible, Jews are also part of main stream Second Life culture. You don't believe this? Well, I do. If you look at the membership of the Second Life Synagogue, you'll see that over 1,000 avatars joined the group. Yes, I know, not everyone is still in-world, maybe some avatars belong to the same RL person, etc., but this is true for any group, and if you compare SLS with other religious groups, you will see that not so many (if any) can proudly state that they have over 1,000 people registered.
As the founder of SLS, Beth Odets (Brown in RL) has been featured in many interviews and was recently at the Second Life convention in San Francisco. NPR, the American National Public Radio, had two years ago an interesting story about Online Religion and she was one of the people interviewed. In case you missed it, here a link. Even if nearly two years old, many things could have been said just yesterday.

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