Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Judaism in Second Life

There's been a number of articles in recent days about the Jesuits moving in to Second Life. At some point I will check it out, but tonight my travels took me to the Holy City sim, which turns out to be a simulation of the Temple in Jerusalem. It is a construction designed for people of the Jewish faith, particularly those in the Low Countries. To quote the profile of Rabbi Writer: "The 1stLife Jewish congregation has members living all over The Netherlands and Belgium, and so meeting in a 1stlife shul is a problem. Holy City was created to provide a virtual meeting place, a virtual shul, for all of us. And what better synagogue could we possibly have than the One and Only Temple in Jerusalem?"

I'm not big on religion myself, having elected to follow a Godless path many moons ago. But that doesn't mean I can't relate to those who do follow a faith. I admire the effort that has gone into this sim, though as we shall see, I do have some reservations.

The build appears to be at an advanced state of completion - but not quite ready for a public opening. It seems to consist of 2 principal buildings. First, and by far the smaller, is (what I take to be) a model of the synagogue of Delft. The accompanying notecard gave me some background: "In 1942 the German occupiers transported all members of the congregation to death camps. The interior was destroyed by the Dutch during the harsh winter of 1944-1945, and used for heating. After the liberation of Holland from Nazi-rule the synagogue was used as storeroom for the Red Cross. later on the conservatorium used it. In the 1990 local Jews organized and managed to buy the synagogue. They then collected money and had the building restored. Money to reconstruct the interior was not raised. After the restoration several times orthodox prayer services were held, but these did not raise enough interest. In Januari 2006 the Open Jewish Congregation Klal Israel began with monthly services, conservative/egalitarian style. Since january 2007 services are held every two weeks, alternately on friday evenings and saturday morning, with adjustments for holidays." It is a modest building, with some careful detailing to give a feeling of depth and substance.

The second building is, of course, the Temple itself. This dominates the sim, and provides a number of notecards giving information about the various structures within the Temple compound, including the tantalising prospect of discovering the Ark of the Covenant. The effort that has gone into the construction is impressive, but I would suggest that the builder(s) look again at some of their textures. Many seem to be stretched too broadly across their prims, resulting in a high degree of pixellation when viewed up close. Using larger texture images may reduce or eliminate this. Also, some of the wall textures seem too repetitive, and could also do with a degree of rework to make them more realistic. However, these are not big issues to address and overall I like the site. Here's a few snaps I took:


Before I sign off this post, I thought you might be amused to see what can happen when you use the SLeek SL client. SLeek is great if you don't always have access to a machine capable of running the full client. It gives you chat and IM, but lacks a graphical interface. My friend, Team Mascot, uses it when away on business, as his laptop is not able to manage the full SL viewer. Last night, we found it now seems to have an odd side-effect. Given that Team normally sports a beard, and is usually to be seen wearing a leather jacket and jeans, can you spot the difference?


Kafka said...

Interesting entry. Just for your information, there is actually a lot Jewish stuff in Second Life and even a magazine dedicated to Judaism, not only as a religion, but also as a culture.

Aleister Kronos said...

Follow this link to Kafka's blog if you want more on Jewish faith and culture in Second Life: