WASHINGTON – On the most somber day in the Jewish calendar, many listening to Rabbi Michael Feshbach’s Yom Kippur services will be miles, or even continents away from the Temple Shalom sanctuary.
The Reform Jewish congregation in Chevy Chase, Md. will be livestreaming its Day of Atonement service, making it available for temple members unable to attend or anyone interested in listening.
“It brings a sense of connection when somebody wanted to be there, but can’t,” says Rabbi Michael Feshbach, senior rabbi for Temple Shalom.
The congregation streams services, music, culture and talk, around the clock.
Feshbach says the streaming was the idea of congregant Michael Richards, who has a background in radio.
“There are people who have listened from other continents to their grandchildrens’ Bar or Bat Mitzvah,” says Feshbach.
Feshbach says he’s had to remain aware of technological considerations while on the bemah, or pulpit.
“I have to repeat the questions, so others can hear them,” says Feshbach.
“I have to be sure to turn off my microphone while singing, since I sing with far more enthusiasm than talent,” jokes Feshbach.
The popularity of streaming has surpassed Feshbach’s expectations.
“We envisioned this as being for shut-ins, but its reach has been much greater,” says Feshbach. “We’ve had listeners in Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Syria.”
Other local synagogues, including Temple Sinai stream services.
Feshbach says offering the free streaming services is especially important during the High Holy Day services.
“We want to lower any barriers so people may find family and community in our midst,” says Feshbach.