“Exceptions to the Rule: Chabad-Lubavitch and the Digital Sphere.” Journal of Media and Religion, 2014.

Sharrona Pearl

This article explores the tension between the inside and the outside in Chabad practice as represented by the digital sphere. Drawing on a close reading of Chabad Web sites, as well as archival and theoretical sources and biblical and rabbinic analysis, Chabad's relationship to media generally and the Internet specifically is explored. I find that Chabad's institutional use of the Internet is as a space to disseminate information rather than create community. The Internet is, for Chabad, a temporary space designed to bring people together in the real world rather than to create a virtual community. The Web site is designed to encourage people to seek out in-person encounters with Chabad Rabbis, whose recruitment techniques rest largely on personal charisma and interactions.

Published in Volume 13, Issue 3, pages 123-137