In online debates and private discussions, leaders of all faiths have been weighing pros and cons and diagramming the boundaries of acceptable interactions: Should the congregation have a Facebook page, or should it be the imam’s or priest’s? Should there be limited access? Censoring? Is it appropriate for a clergy member to “friend” a minor?
Some recoil at the informality and unpredictability of the crowds marshaled by social media, and at their seeming immunity — even hostility — to the authority of established institutions. More deeply, some in the clergy see a basic tension between the anonymous world of online life and the meaning of religious community.
“In Judaism, we believe that God resides in the community — among people in the same room at the same time, hearing each other’s voices and looking in each other’s eyes,” said Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik of the Forest Hills Jewish Center in Queens, who also wanted it known that he carries an iPhone and a laptop and is talking with his congregation about a Facebook page.
“But can you tweet a minyan?” he asked, referring to the quorum of 10 people required for most Jewish devotions. “I don’t think so.”