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  • Five Rosh Hashana Videos that Get the Job Done

    Posted on September 11th, 2012 Ruth Abusch-Magder No comments
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    It is a busy time of year, a Hebrew school classes, choir rehearsals, service plans and sermons. Yet no small number of Youtube videos with holiday themes keep popping up and demanding my attention. There are the inevitable holiday parodies and pop songs that can’t be missed, the video instructions for braiding round challot, and numerous holiday greetings from that of President Obama to that of our very own President Ellenson. But among these types of popular holiday videos are also those put out by synagogues to help connect with community and prepare for the season. Here are a few of my favorites with an explanation of what I think they are doing well.

    While it is easy to imagine a synagogue based video as a sort of infomercial for their community all my favorites moved beyond the most obvious approaches and broadened out the message. Temple Emanuel of Beverley Hills for example, embraced the message that a new year is like a new book. This fairly somber effort set the tone for the holidays but the inclusion of clergy as well as staff including the custodial workers serves as a reminder that this message is for everyone and the video quality suggests a well run professional place.

    Temple Judea in Tarzana took a more light hearted and direct approach. Carrying on their tradition of musical riffs on popular songs, they redid one of the summer’s most popular hits with a parody that hits on many important holiday themes –family, shofar, the challenge of services- while not being shy about promoting their approach to Jewish life. The impression left by the video is of a place that is open and playful about modern Jewish living.

    Ikar the non-affiliated community in Los Angeles forsook the direct branding almost completely. I was not wowed by this video, it is simply a series of shots of a person in a hoodie blowing shofar. But it made my shortlist because it took the Jewish action out of the synagogue and engaged many different people in different settings in the actions of Jewish life. Without explicitly saying so, it offers an inclusive and expansive vision of community.

    Lastly, I came across this video by Rabbi Eric Yanoff of Adath Israel outside of Philadelphia. Yanoff has a whole series of videos that feature him talking straight on camera hoping to engage the community. In this edition, he invites the community to help him crowd source one of his High Holiday sermons. He does a good job of succinctly explaining the concept and providing concrete instructions on how to get involved. Did it work? I don’t know, as of this writing I had yet to reach him for comment but maybe he is just too busy sorting through the myriad of submissions.

    Finally, a bit of fun. This offering from the Aliyah department for France is a Jewish take on the summer hit Call Me Maybe. Even with my limited high school French, it is a catchy tune, with familiar themes, beautiful people and beautiful views.

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