Douglas Rushkoff is credited as the ideologue behind the “digital Sabbath.” He’s a smart guy: Professor of Media Theory and Digital Economics at CUNY; media commentator; author; first coined the terms “digital natives,” “social currency,” and “viral media”… yada yada… his whole bio is on Wikipedia if you want it.
Several years ago, he argued that people needed to take time away from digital media. And because he was into the Jewish thing at the time, that idea morphed into the notion of a “digital Sabbath.” And then something called The National Day of Unplugging was established by ReBoot. (ReBoot is an organization built on an annual gathering which Rushkoff helped to convene, initially. But he now calls it elitist.) The National Day of Unplugging exists to encourage people to take their own digital Sabbaths, all on the same day.
Now, Rushkoff says he doesn’t like the idea anymore. From the Guardian, Douglas Rushkoff: ‘I’m thinking it may be good to be off social media altogether’:
I came up with this thing which I now don’t like: the digital sabbath. It feels a little forced and arbitrary, and it frames digital detox as a deprivation. I would much rather help people learn to value looking into other people’s eyes. To sit in a room talking to people – I want people to value that, not because they aren’t being interrupted by digital media but because it’s valuable in its own right.
That’s novel, I suppose. (Though I’m pretty sure Ari Kelman wouldn’t think so.)
If you’re the type of person that’s interested in grappling with some of the… um… stickier parts of the Hanukkah story, the past few years have seen a bumper crop of impressive writing on the topic.
I’ll write more later about my own take on all this. But for now, check out all this good stuff.
Jews eat dairy on Shavuot because the ensuing discomfort makes us appreciate the gifts we do have — like Torah — while we pay for those we don’t — like the enzyme that digests lactose.
Maybe that’s why Jenny’s Cuban-style flan was such an amazing addition to this evening’s wrestling match with text. Or maybe it’s because it was shiny and delicious. (But seriously… who cares why?)
Geoffrey Canada is an inspiring educator and activist. If you watch 60 Minutes, listen to This American Life on the radio, or pay attention to American Express commercials, you’ve heard of Canada’s brainchild, the Harlem Children’s Zone, which seeks to use the educational system to “break the cycle of generational poverty” in a small neighborhood in New York. What makes Geoffrey Canada’s vision unique and revolutionary is that he doesn’t focus on helping families break out of poverty. Rather, he accepts that it is almost impossible to pull young and poor parents out of the cycle, but that the chain of poverty can be broken if resources are poured into children. The Harlem Children’s Zone is a cradle-to-college program that starts working with mothers before their children are even born, and works with children from birth through pre-school, elementary school, middle school, high school, and college. Geoffrey Canada believes that the key to a neighborhood’s redemption is its children.
This week is a special Shabbat, called Shabbat HaGadol, a special day that always falls on the Shabbat immediately preceding Pesach. To mark the occasion we read a special haftarah, an excerpt from the book of Malachi. The haftarah parallels the story of redemption from Egypt with a narrative about Messianic redemption, but it’s the final verses that really reminded me of Geoffrey Canada and the Harlem Children’s Zone.