Headline News
ALL US SYNAGOGUES TO CLOSE IN 1999; TO BE REPLACED BY INTERNET CHAT
Pluralism Conflicts Resolved; Each Individual to Have Own Shul

TEANECK, March 2 -- The Jewish world was stunned today by a National Bored of Rabbis announcement that all synagogues in the United States would shut their doors forever, sometime before the end of 1999.

After centuries of conflict among the various forms of Judaism and the frequent formation of new breakaway synagogues, a combination of technologies has finally resolved the interdenominational bickering and made it possible for all Jews to be satisfied by having their very own synagogues located in an Internet chat room accessed from their home. Because chatting in shul has become commonplace across the religious spectrum, there is already a base of experience for the new concept, and most individuals are not expected to feel any difference. Although many issues divided Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, Egalitarian, Chabad, Satmar, Young Israel, Aguda, Ashkenazi, Sfard, and many others, the one point that all agreed on was the need for the synagogue to reflect their own personal viewpoint and for all members to follow their mode of observance. As these modes became increasingly fragmented, even within each movement, the only way to achieve harmony was to let each Jew run his or her own shul.

Two technological achievements are responsible for making this ancient dream a reality: the universal availability of the Internet and the perfection of voice recognition. As a result, beginning in the year 2000, all Jews will be able to connect to their own chat room on the Internet, and by using voice recognition, each will be president of his or her virtual shul. The replacement of the synagogue will solve many problems: the need for a minyan, separate seating, and the height of a mechitza. Congregants will be spared membership dues, and without a regular weekly kiddush to attend, fitness is expected to reach an all-time high. A few thorny issues remain to be settled, and one is why no firm date was announced by the Bored. One issue is the use of the computer microphone on Shabbat. The Reform have no problem with it. Conservatives are expected to accept it, arguing that it is no different from leaving the microphone in their synagogue on before shabbat. For the Orthodox, it will take some more work, but the need for individual shuls has become so acute in recent years that, with a few possible exceptions, the bulk of Orthodoxy is expected to go along. Another problem is what to do with all the suddenly unemployed rabbis, but with the expansion of Internet use, there should be plenty of jobs available as technical support representatives. Still unsolved is how to find an acceptable substitute for kiddush clubs

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