Golan, Oren, and Nurit Stadler. “Building the Sacred Community Online: The Dual Use of the Internet by Chabad.” Media, Culture & Society (early view; online first).
Religious communities have ongoing concerns about Internet use, as it intensifies the clash between tradition and modernity, a clash often found in traditionally inclined societies. Nevertheless, as websites become more useful and widely accessible, religious and communal stakeholders have continuously worked at building and promoting them. This study focuses on Chabad, a Jewish ultra-Orthodox movement, and follows webmasters of three key websites to uncover how they distribute religious knowledge over the Internet. Through an ethnographic approach that included interviews with over 30 webmasters, discussions with key informants, and observations of the websites themselves, the study uncovered webmaster’s strategies to foster solidarity within their community, on one hand, while also proselytizing their outlook on Judaism, on the other. Hence, the study sheds light on how a fundamentalist society has strengthened its association with new media, thus facilitating negotiation between modernity and religious piety.