Shalom Life | March 31, 2015

Rosh Hashanah from Your Living Room Couch

High Holiday services offered on Video on Demand.

By: Bev Spritzer

Published: September 7th, 2010 in News » World

Rosh Hashanah from Your Living Room Couch

Shalom TV, a U.S. based non-profit Video on Demand (VOD) service devoted to Jewish culture and public affairs, will offer on-demand Jewish High Holiday services (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) starting September 5th, Interactive TV Today reported.

According to Shalom TV, this marks the first time that Jewish High Holiday services will be available on national cable television. "Each year, we receive requests from our viewers asking if Shalom TV would provide services for the High Holidays and we've always wanted to do something for them," Rabbi Mark S. Golub, president of Shalom TV, explained. "Since Orthodox and Conservative synagogues do not permit the taping of Shabbat and holiday services, we decided to invite them to the services I lead in my home community in Connecticut."

According to Shalom TV, the fact that it is distributed on VOD will allow it to present different parts of the services as separate programs, which will enable viewers to choose which portions of the service (Torah readings, Shofar Service, Kol Nidre, Yizkor Memorial Service, or Rabbi Golub's own sermons) are of most interest to them.

As well, whenever congregational participation is required, Shalom TV plans to display the applicable Hebrew text on-screen, together with a Latin alphabet transliteration, and an English translation. "I want people to feel they can actually participate in our services, not simply watch them on TV," Golub explained.

"My own services are certainly alternative and eclectic," said Golub. "They do not fit any stereotypical service one would find in a mainstream synagogue and appeal both to those who rarely attend a synagogue as well as to those who are traditional in their approach and appreciate that the key elements of the High Holiday service are included while the emphasis is on Jewish learning." Among other things, his services occasionally feature Golub himself playing the accordion.

The Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services were filmed at Chavurat Aytz Chayim in Connecticut, where Golub has led services since 1971.

High Holiday services have never before been aired on-demand on cable television, according to Golub, who maintains the purpose of the recorded services is not to replace live, communal worship.

“Many Jews can’t get to a synagogue anyway,” Golub explained, referring to those who are in poor health, and those who live in more isolated areas. “I am not suggesting that television ever replace a real service. That’s just silly.”

Shalom TV is a U.S. based network, although it has recently secured a carriage deal with Rogers Communications, that sees it offered on Rogers’ Canadian Multicultural On Demand service (channel 800). Rogers' service area includes Toronto, home to Canada's largest Jewish community. According to Shalom TV, the Rogers carriage deal means that it now reaches 37 million North American households.

“If it works well,” he said, “I plan to do the same thing next year.”

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