September 22nd, 2010 by Alisha Kinman – New Voices (blog)

Compiled of 304,805 letters, 42 lines on each page, and parchment sewn together, a Torah is born (Chabad). But what if that Torah could be created and shipped to you in a matter of minutes. Enter the Kindle.


With four weeks into school, I’ve seen JanSport backpacks look lighter, and paperbacks become obsolete. Inevitably, Amazon’s wireless Kindle has become every bookstore’s worst nightmare. For a grand total of $139, the new Kindle offers books, magazines, newspapers and blogs to buy, and save directly to the lean and sexy portable device.


After marveling at how people can switch from decades of physically holding a hardback to then switching to an eBook, I wondered if any sacred Jewish texts could be found for the Kindle.


Curious and impatient, I rushed to my laptop to search for my synagogue’s prayer book on Amazon’s website. Sure enough, I was given the option to tell the publisher that I would like “Siddur Sim Shalom” to be available on the Kindle. What was my next search item? You guessed it. But to my surprise, I didn’t find the Torah as a Kindle book option.


It then started to make me question, well, a lot of things. On Chabad’s website, it says that, on average, it takes a year to write an entire Torah scroll. Keeping in mind that this is dependent on every letter being written without error.


I started to think whether having a siddur or the Torah on the Kindle would be a bad idea. On one hand, everyone could own an electronic version of the Torah. One click, and virtual scrolls of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy could pop up on a screen. It would cut synagogue costs of having to purchase the scrolls and would save Rabbi’s the hassle of searching for each Torah portion. On the other hand, would anyone come to Shul to kiss the Torah? More importantly, would the Sefer Torah remain as sacred as it is now?


With unanswered questions, I left it with these thoughts:


At 6:30 p.m. every Friday, students at the University of Florida Hillel go to the second floor for Shabbat services. Almost subconsciously, each student grabs a siddur from a rolling cart and flips to the appropriate page. But that tiny, insignificant action is what Judaism continues to thrive on.


Tradition.


Regardless as to whether the Torah becomes the next iPad app or Kindle sensation, there is no substitution for the two heavy scrolls that we read, lift, carry and kiss every week.



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