This past month, the Rabbinical Council of Bergen County (RCBC), in collaboration with 14 community schools in Bergen County, has been engaging in a communal cheshbon hanefesh, a self-reflection, so to speak, regarding device usage, through its initiative “Living Connected.” While noting they are not advocating for the elimination of cell phones and devices, they are instead seeking to promote a culture of deeper, more meaningful relationships in our largely device-driven world. They hope we can take the best of what cell phone technology provides, while minimizing its more detrimental effects on ourselves and our children.
The topic is featured on our cover this week with a more detailed article about what the project has yielded, and there are also three articles in the paper this week, by Ma’ayanot’s head of school, CB Neugroschl; SAR’s principal, Rabbi Jonathan Kroll; and Frisch Director of Guidance Dr. Karen Lopata, on pages 17, 22 and 26. This Shabbat, the Bergen County rabbanim also all plan to dedicate some time to speak in their shuls about Living Connected in drashot or other talks.
“The RCBC [and heads of school] have taken a constructive approach to the challenge of technology by asking our community what we can do to positively increase meaningful connections with one another. Rather than saying what we should not do, we are discussing how we can positively live more meaningful and supportive lives with not only our families our friends, and our community, but also with ourselves and within our relationship to Hashem,” said Rabbi Chaim Strauchler of Congregation Rinat Yisrael.
As Rosh Hashanah begins, the leadership of this project is sharing a flyer, presented as an insert in this paper. Operating a bit like an old-fashioned Yom Tov pledge card, it asks the reader to consider living more connected this coming year, and suggests ways to do so. “We want you to look at this carefully. Put it on your fridge, and use it as a jumping off point for discussion at the Yom Tov table,” suggested Rabbi Beni Krohn, of the Young Israel of Teaneck.
The Jewish Link team is proud to support the Living Connected initiative and hopes that the articles and material that have been presented this past month will carry us all into a happier, healthier and above all chesed-driven New Year.
From all of us at The Jewish Link, we wish all in our community at K’tiva V’Chatima Tova.
May you be inscribed for a good and sweet new year. Happy 5783!