Will Google+ Change The Kaddish On Accident?

Google is about to change the way you pray.

A new software called Google+ is currently in beta testing before release. Google+ is an integrated system that, in theory, will kill Facebook and all other social networking websites through a series of small killer apps, my favorite of which is Hangouts.

With Hangouts, the unplanned meet-up comes to the web for the first time. Let specific buddies (or entire circles) know you’re hanging out and then see who drops by for a face-to-face-to-face chat. Until teleportation arrives, it’s the next best thing.

Here’s the Jewish part: Hangouts supports up to ten people at a time.

Ten people getting together face to face. Does that remind you of something? Kaddish!

If Google+ works, it could completely eliminate the need for a physical minyan. Granted, you could pull this off with OneShul (which we do) or any other kind of webcam software, but the ease of use and the fact that anyone can lead without having to download anything means that your everyday shmo could pray in a quorum with nothing getting in the way.

Hangouts would have one downside: online synagogues like OneShul or OurJewishCommunity host around thirty or more people at a time…something you couldn’t pull off with Google’s software.

Still, leave it to Google to revolutionize Judaism. Should put us all to shame.

Photo stolen from here.

  • http://myurbankvetch.com EstherK

    There are (at least) two reasons someone would seek out a minyan – 1) to pray with a minyan because daily prayer with a minyan is a value to that person, and 2) to pray with a minyan because that’s how many people you’re supposed to have in order to say kaddish. Hangouts might satisfy either of these technically, but as someone who’s currently saying kaddish daily, I can tell you that one of the main reasons to do it is because after someone you love dies, you need structure and motivation to get out of bed and out of the house, and that feeling of responsibility – to the person, to the place, and to the minyan in its physical incarnation – makes it easier to motivate toward getting out of the house and prepares the mourner for reconnecting to community and re-entering society in some small way. I really doubt hangouts would be as psychologically important, although I do acknowledge that for moments when an in-person minyan is not possible, this might fill a gap. But I do believe it’s not an ideal choice.