The idea was really simple, in terms of technology: Since many Jews could not attend High Holiday rites, why not put microphones in key locations and let them listen on their telephones?
It wasn't as good as being there, but -- for shut-ins -- it was better than nothing.
Decades later, some Jewish leaders mounted cameras in their packed sanctuaries and let people watch High Holidays rites on video. Again, it wasn't the same as being there, but it was better than nothing and, certainly, better than listening on a telephone.
Jewish leaders who tiptoed into these technologies "didn't change what they were doing, they just put a telephone near it," said Rabbi Robert Barr, founder of Congregation Beth Adam, a 30-year-old independent congregation in Cincinnati, Ohio. "When cameras came along, they just aimed cameras at what they were already doing. They didn't change anything."
That isn't what this self-proclaimed "humanistic" congregation is trying to do with it's global OurJewishCommunity.org congregation, which began with High Holidays services in 2008 and has been meeting in cyberspace ever since.