20 Ideas to Make Zoom Services Better Than In-person Services.

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"When we feel stuck thinking that virtual offerings are inferior to in-person, I would argue it is a sign that we have fundamentally lost sight of our purpose."


I’ve got a new pet peeve.  I’m seeing and hearing so many conversations about re-opening Temples and synagogues for the High Holidays.  At the crux of many of these conversations, is the idea that virtual services are somehow inferior to in-person services.  That is simply not true.  Are there things that the in-person service offers that are missing from virtual services?  Certainly.  But the opposite is also true.  Virtual services offer a whole new realm of possibilities that are missing from in-person services.  

When we feel stuck thinking that virtual offerings are inferior to in-person, I would argue it is a sign that we have fundamentally lost sight of our purpose.  Our purpose on earth isn’t creating services.  Services are simply the medium.   

We do this work because we are deeply deeply passionate about building community, about fostering Jewish identity and peoplehood, about repairing the world, about spirituality, about pastoral care, about education, and any number of similar reasons.  That is what we want to do.  That is our purpose.  And that hasn’t changed.  Only the medium for accomplishing that has.   

Instead of focusing on how we can no longer use the old medium, we can have fun, get creative, and breathe new life into our offerings by discovering new ways to achieve those same goals.  If you were a sculptor who ran out of clay, would you continue trying to sculpt, or might you pick up a paintbrush and still try to create something beautiful and provocative? 

Is it easy?  Is this how we envisioned our careers? Probably not. But this is the new reality, at least for the time being.  One option is to keep doing what we’ve always done and throw up a “pandacam” as a Rabbi friend recently called it and, in that case, you probably are providing an “inferior” experience relative to in-person. 

Or you can get creative, have fun, and think about all the advantages the new paradigm offers to help you achieve your goals and fulfill your purpose.  I want to help us all reframe the situation in our minds, so I’m sitting down to write “20 Ideas to Make Zoom Services Better Than In-person Services.”   

To demonstrate how fun and easy this really can be, I literally came up with this list as I typed.  Since I’m doing it live, the later ones might be better than the early ones.  After each reason why Zoom services are superior to in-person services, I’ll put an actionable idea based on that Zoom advantage which can be implemented in your community.  Take these ideas and use them, or use this document as a jumping off point for your own brainstorm.  Of course, if you still feel stuck, leave a comment below or reach out to me here.

To download the list, follow this link and submit your email address.

6 comments

  • Ordained Cantors
    Ordained Cantors EVERYWHERE
    Thank you for sharing many of the things that I think and have been doing for my shul! FYI, it would be nice if you included cantors, not just rabbis. You could even use the word "clergy"! Kol HaKavod!

    Thank you for sharing many of the things that I think and have been doing for my shul! FYI, it would be nice if you included cantors, not just rabbis. You could even use the word "clergy"!
    Kol HaKavod!

  • Sheldon Low
    Sheldon Low
    Hi Ordained Cantors - Thanks so much for reading and for this sweet feedback. I went ahead and added the words "cantor" and "clergy"!

    Hi Ordained Cantors - Thanks so much for reading and for this sweet feedback. I went ahead and added the words "cantor" and "clergy"!

  • Rabbi Cantor Robbi Sherwin
    Rabbi Cantor Robbi Sherwin Austin, TX and Sun Valley, ID
    Thanks, Sheldon! Some great ideas here - you are a generous soul to share (of course!) Wishing you peace and energy in your HiHos prep.

    Thanks, Sheldon! Some great ideas here - you are a generous soul to share (of course!) Wishing you peace and energy in your HiHos prep.

  • Sheldon Low
    Sheldon Low
    Hey RC Robbi! Thanks for writing! Peace, energy, love, and safety back atcha! And more music from Sababa please!

    Hey RC Robbi! Thanks for writing! Peace, energy, love, and safety back atcha! And more music from Sababa please!

  • Elana Arian
    Elana Arian Brooklyn NY
    Sending love your way, my friend 💜

    Sending love your way, my friend 💜

  • Sheldon Low
    Sheldon Low
    Thanks for reading, Elana! And sending tons and tons of love back to you and your sweet family!

    Thanks for reading, Elana! And sending tons and tons of love back to you and your sweet family!

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