(In parts excerpted from/inspired by my JTA post, available in its entirety here.]

The non-techheads among you might not know what Second Life is. But people in the know are aware that Second Life is a 3-D virtual reality world that lives online รขโ‚ฌโ€œ it’s completely user-generated and is thriving. In October, Second Life registered its millionth inhabitant, and today there are more than 5 million users, with more joining every day.

But what would any alternate universe be without Jews, a minority in numbers, but prominent in business, media and industry? Well, Second Life’s first synagogue opened in September (see Forward article here), and today one can find a replica of the Western Wall, a yeshiva, a JCC and even a Holocaust museum. This April, the Jewish Media Corp. of Switzerland (JMAG) launches the first Jewish media headquarters (insert your own media conspiracy joke here), and 2Life, the first Jewish magazine in Second Life. 2Life‘s editor, Kafka Schnabel, has his own blog, where he records his RL (real-life) thoughts about SL (Second Life).

The JMAG office building contains a cafe (The Aufbau Cafe) and an art space (The Tachles Gallery), where monthly events will be held. The first of these will be “PresenText,” a virtual exhibition that mirrors the words-and-image exhibition created by PresenTense Magazine and shown at New York University’s Bronfman Center in January.

What should be really interesting to see, as I noted in the JTA post, is if the online Jewish community repeats the mistakes of its real-world (and blogospheric?) counterparts. Alternately, this alternate reality could also potentially provide some real suggestions that might have an impact on our daily, reality-based Judaism. I guess we’ll have to (join Second Life) wait and see.

About the author

Esther Kustanowitz

For more posts by Esther, see EstherK.com, MyUrbanKvetch.com and JDatersAnonymous.com.


  • O Canada, how much time do you have? What I mean is basically that the “old guard” keeps doing things the “old way,” without incorporating change, technology, or taking into account what today’s Jews need…

  • I always pop into the Second Life shul when I go into second life. Sometimes I run into a colleague there, but it is just so peaceful. And I can pretty much trust that no avatars are going to put cybersex moves on me… so it feels safer than most of second life.

  • It’s amazing isn’t it? And now the Open Society Archives (OSA) together with the Svenska institutet (Swedish Institute) decided to place contents related to Raoul Wallenberg’s work and life in Second Life. Their current debate: can avatars recognize the sound of a typwriter in Second Life? ๐Ÿ™‚

    background: Sweden just purchased an island in SL and will open their official state embassy in June (this will be the first state embassy in Sweden).

    (judapest.org, Budapest)