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September 08, 1995 - Image 69

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-09-08

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Quality You Can Build On,
A Name You Can Trust.

Israel With Glitz

Pull up a chair to the latest electronic site
for quality kibitzing.

JAMES D. BESSER WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

S

QUALITY
‘0,-9 CONSTRUCTION

RESIDENTIAL-COMMERCIAL

DESIGN

minammi
INRE CON

BUILD

1-860-421-4141

THE JULIUS CHAJES CONCERT SERIES

presents

DETROIT CHAMBER WINDS

performing the music
of Gounod, Mozart, Molter, & Bizet

Sunday, September 10 - 4:00 PM

Jewish Community Center • West Maple • West Bloomfield

70

Admission: Members $10/Non-Members $12.00
Information call 661-7634

uddenly, the Internet is the
hottest thing since hula
hoops and mood rings. But
for cybernauts who want
their online communication in
more digestible form, the com-
mercial online services still have
a lot to offer.
For the most comprehensive
collection of Jewish and Israel-
related material in cyberspace,
check out CompuServe's Israel
Forum, part of a commercial on-
line service that offers variety and
a glitzy, fun graphical interface
— but at a price: if you really get
hooked, this premium online ser-
vice can cost you a bundle.
CompuServe offers everything
from games and People Magazine
shlock to stock quotes and online
news, as well as special interest
forums.
To get on board, you need to
open a CompuServe account. But
that's a cinch, thanks to easy-to-
install software for Windows and
Mac users that features online
registration, along with a gener-
ous allotment of free time to give
you a chance to try before you
buy. Free CompuServe startup
disks are available at most com-
puter superstores. Or, call Com-
puServe directly at
1-800-524-3388.
Once you're online, navigate to
the Israel Forum by clicking on
the "stoplight" icon, and then typ-
ing the words "Israel Forum" in
the dialogue box. Hit "enter," and
you're on your way.
In the "Library," you can re-
trieve files about Israel politics,
tourism or Jewish cooking, recipe
collectors will delight in the va-
riety. Or you can download reli-
gious tracts representing almost
every point of view in the Jewish
cosmos. And there's software, in-
cluding Jewish calendars and
utilities for Hebrew word pro-
cessing.
But people generally don't get
on a service like CompuServe just
to download; what they really
want is to kibitz with like-mind-
ed people.
CompuServe's Israel Forum
offers message areas dealing with
Mideast politics, food and cele-
brations, Jewish education, ge-
nealogy, Judaic software,
European Jewry, and religious
life — to name just a few.
CompuServe is a highly graph-
ical system, which means that
you get around by clicking on
icons — little pictures that some
computer geek decided are easi-
er to use than word-based menus.
So to send a message, click on
the picture of a pad and pencil; to

go to the library, click on a little
stack of books. Some icons are a
little hard to decipher; it took me
a while to figure out that the head
with fingers stuck in both ears
lets you shut out people who
might want to chat with you.
The chat function is one of
CompuServe's strong points. As
you poke around, you'll occasion-
ally be interrupted by boxes in
the middle of the screen with a
name on top, which means that
someone wants to gab. The top
half of the box presents their mes-
sages to you; type your reply in
the bottom, hit "enter," and
presto, you're engaging in real-
time conversation.
So on my first visit to the Is-
rael Forum, I was interrupted by
Jeannie, a lawyer in London who
calls the Israel Forum as a pleas-
ant break from work. "I'm a Jew,"
she writes, "so this is my natur-
al territory. I talk to Jews in
places like Israel, Germany, the
United States and Brazil almost
every day."
Somebody else pops in: a Jew-
ish woman on the West Coast. I
ask a few questions about what

The Israel Forum is
like a local bar, and
we're the regulars,
all sitting around on
our electronic bar
stools.

she gets out of CompuServe; she
asks about my height and hair
color. It suddenly occurs to me
that this is cyber-flirting, anoth-
er wonder of the electronic age.
Next, I chat with Naomi, who
lives near Israel's dangerous
northern border. "I don't have a
lot of people to talk to here," she
writes. "I live in a kibbutz with
400 people, all of whom I've
known for 17 years. I love them
well, but after 17 years, one does
get to know what they're going to
say next."
Naomi is a "section leader" on
the forum — which means that
her job is to stimulate conversa-
tion. I naively ask her how she
does that from her remote com-
puter work station in Israel.
'What do you think I'm doing
now, chopping liver?" she asks.
One of her friends on Com-
puServe said that "the Israel

ISRAEL page 72

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