CCAR April 2012 Newsletter - (Page 1)

C N F F R E N C E O AME C EC ET R A L LC O O N E E R E N C E O FF A M E R I C A N R A BBBBI IS S N NTRA A N R A Founded In April 2012 1889 Dear Chevrah, NEWS F Publication of the Central Conference of American rabbis ‫ניסן אייר תשע”ב‬ ‫איגוד הרבנים המתקדמים‬ Volume 59 – Number 7 From The PubLishiNg TeChNoLogy mANAger Rabbi Dan Medwin, MAJE or over 500 years, since the invention of the printing press, there hasn’t been a significant upgrade to our sacred text containers until now. Visual T’filah (VT) and the new Mishkan T’filah app, iT’filah, are great examples of how the CCAr is utilizing contemporary technological tools to increase the accessibility of our liturgy and facilitate modes of interaction never before possible. While there are a handful of siddurim apps, some dating back to early PdAs, none of them have the focus or intention of reform Judaism, including the myriad of creative readings and alternative prayers found in Mishkan T’filah. VT and iT’filah represent a significant advancement for the reform movement and the Jewish people. As with all technological upgrades (e.g. stone tablets to parchment, scrolls to books), there is a necessary period of adjustment as well as an excitement in determining how to best utilize new technologies to transmit our ancient liturgy. in the case of iT’filah, one of the challenges and opportunities is translating the innovative layout of Mishkan T’filah into a digital tablet. The tablet screen displays one full page beautifully, and this means that displaying a two-page spread leaves the text too small to read. our initial attempt at translating the printed book to the digital tablet involved a one-to-one translation, placing each individual page after the other. however, the downside to this approach was that it took twice as many page turns (i.e. finger swipes) to navigate the siddur. We decided to adopt the model pioneered by early digital publications, and move the left side content below the prayer with which it is associated. This approach, only possible with a digital device, allowed for a second dimension of navigation, unlocking a great deal of potential. (Print books allow for one dimension, left or right. This digital solution also allows up and down.) We could retain the ease with which one can navigate the siddur (one page turn brings the reader to the following prayer) while also allowing for an infinite number of additional readings and content below the prayer. Admittedly, this novel approach to siddur navigation will take adjustment comparable to the period of adjustment which was necessary when Misktan T’filah introduced its innovative structure. And most of us can agree it was well worth it! other elements of iT’filah, such as the menu in the margin indicating the current prayer and its location in the larger section, were much less challenging to implement and offered even greater possibilities. in this case, the entire order of the service can be summoned from a tab in the margin and tapping any prayer name or page number brings the reader right to the desired location. iT’filah also contains elements that were simply not possible with a print medium, such as included audio files of the prayer being read or chanted. Another feature, which is popular among the visually impaired, is the ability to enlarge the size of the text on the screen with a simple pinch-zoom. All of these features and more make iT’filah an exciting new development in liturgical innovation. When iT’filah was first launched, it contained the Friday evening service,; recent additions (Continued on page 5) From The PresideNT Jonathan A. Stein he economic downturn has taken its toll on every one of us as well as the congregations, schools, organizations and institutions that we serve. The rapidity of the events of just a few short years ago—the collapse and near-collapse of huge and venerable American companies, our government’s bailout programs, cutbacks in the labor market, plunging interest rates, the downturn in the stock market— are fresh in our minds and the minds of our lay leaders as well. And while the economy appears to have stabilized, the unemployment rate is down and consumer spending seems to be on the uptick, we live with a nagging fear and dread that somehow it’s really not over. many of the places we serve have experienced a loss of membership and financial support during this period, typically accompanied by cutbacks in staff and programs. some colleagues have endured reductions in compensation, and many have had their salaries frozen or benefits reduced. Plans to hire additional staff are often still on hold despite the recent better news in our CCAr Placement offerings. And the number of our colleagues who are unemployed and underemployed has risen. The uncertainty of these past few years has also given rise to an unfortunate sense of an adversarial relationship between too many rabbis and their lay leadership. rabbinic salaries are sometimes the largest single expenditure in congregational budgets and, in medium and larger synagogues, professional salaries as a whole often comprise the majority of a congregation’s expenses. Facing potential shortfalls and deficits, lay leadership has, in some places, taken these facts as ‘the problem.’ A few lay leaders have engaged in ‘rabbi-bashing’, seeing us as the problem rather than as a partner in helping to forge appropriate and equitable solutions. Luckily this more extreme response is the exception, but (Continued on page 5) T 1

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CCAR April 2012 Newsletter

CCAR April 2012 Newsletter