I found a link to my blog from the blog “Rabbi 2.0” where Leah Jones asks:

How many gadgets do your congregants schlep with them to meetings and religious school? How many of your b’nei mitzvot students use a fancier phone than you?

Mobile internet is a way for you to connect with your congregation or membership. Is your organizations site mobile friendly? Can I get directions and today’s events from my phone? Could you do a daily text message to stay connected to the youth you work with?

Good point! Our website is certainly NOT phone friendly — unless it’s the iPhone (which I fell in love with a couple weeks ago when a couple I’m working with toward their wedding showed me. They knew I’d like it, knew I like gadgets. That’ll be my next phone, I bet.)

So I wrote this in response:

Happens that I use a Treo 700p. It surprises me how impressed my b’nei mitzvah students are when I pull it out to check on when their next lesson is, or to have them count the number of weeks until bar/bat mitzvah (when they’re not practicing enough!), or to look up the Torah portion for a particular date. I think it gives me some extra credibility in the eyes of some (mostly male) congregants, too — I know not only about Tanach but about Treo and text messaging, too.

In fact, I started teaching Mishnah to 7th and 8th graders yesterday and I had hit upon the idea that Mishnah is kind of like a text message — terse, short, and uses special vocabulary. I may possibly give them an assignment later this year to translate a mishnah into a text message and send it to me!

In my experience, being conversant with new technology is as useful in making personal connections with Jews as it is for its “real” purpose.

But then again, so is driving a pickup truck and being comfortable with paintbrushes and power tools; loving camping and folk music; and being an ex-math major. There are lots of people who come to Judaism and the Jewish community with baggage that makes them feel or worry about being excluded. The more I can connect with them around something that’s “theirs,” something that they think has nothing to do with Judaism and so feel comfortable with, the easier it becomes for them to stay present in the conversation when we talk about Judaism too.