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Jews, God, and VideotapeReligion and Media in America$
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Jeffrey Shandler

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780814740675

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814740675.001.0001

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The Virtual Rebbe

The Virtual Rebbe

(p.230) 6 The Virtual Rebbe
Jews, God, and Videotape

Jeffrey Shandler

NYU Press

This chapter explores how Lubavitcher hasidim, based in Brooklyn, New York, have used broadcasting, video, and the Internet, among other media, to advance their distinctive mission during the past half of the century. Unique among ultra-Orthodox Jews, the hasidim deploy media extensively in their outreach campaigns, which strive to encourage other Jews to become more observant of traditional religious precepts. Media also play a provocative role in the group’s messianism, which has become more complicated since the death, over a decade ago, of the last Lubavitcher rebbe, who left his followers without a successor to his leadership. Consequently, the extensive inventory of media documentation of his public appearances has come to serve many of his followers as a “virtual rebbe,” providing them with a source of devotional inspiration and solidarity as an international religious community.

Keywords:   Lubavitcher Hasidim, ultra-Orthodox Jews, media, outreach campaigns, traditional religious precepts

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