Sunday, January 10, 2010

Exclusive! Kabbalat Shabbat translated into OMG!

Inspired by our seventh graders, last Friday night we davened the Kabbalat Shabbat service exclusively in text-ese - specifically the language of "OMG!" A group of about a dozen in the class tracked the number of OMGs that they had received or sent over the ten days of vacation, and the count exceeded 240. OMG is “mysterium tremendum” with a mouse pad, an expression of fearful and fascinating mystery. Unlike old-school words like “Lord,” OMG is not a noun but an exclamation, a statement of radical awareness of life’s wonders.

What you’ll see at are some examples of the first crude effort at such a translation, I’m sure the first of many, and it may have come out more Valley Girl than OMG. OMG rarely addresses the Eternal One directly, but testifies emphatically to the daily miracles of life, ascribing those miracles, ultimately, to God – or, more precisely, to “G.” OMG is spontaneous prayer at its best. If you are on Twitter subscribe to OMGfacts, which will provide you with a steady stream of seemingly pointless but amazing trivia all day long.

Did you know that John Wilkes Booth’s brother once saved the life of Abraham Lincoln’s son? That it takes about 20 seconds for a red blood cell to circle the whole body? That Vultures can fly for 6 hours without flapping their wings? The point of it all is to be amazed, to connect with the rhythms of the universe in deeper ways, and to sum it up with a loud “OMG,” again and again and again.

So this new age of instant text communications has developed its own language. But rather then bemoan the loss of good ol’ fashioned English, we need to reach out to the kids where they are at and recognize that God-talk comes in all shapes and sizes.

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