“Chabad’s site is an open gym, but the exercise is religious education and practice”

The gym may be open 24 hours. This allows those who work, have families, or go to school to still be able to address their desire for physical fitness. Chabad’s site is an open gym, but the exercise is religious education and practice. By having interaction be possible worldwide, there is always someone to engage and connect with at a convenient time for the individual. There is juxtaposition, since individuals want to make these religious decisions about prayer, customs, and practice on their own, but they want to connect with someone in the process; they want a community. If an online site cannot find the balance between the individual and the community, then its resources will not fit the needs of its visitors. Chabad.org has made sure that individuals feel like they get their Judaism a la carte, despite traditional Judaism’s ideology of following religious laws to the closest of one’s ability. This ideological compromise is also engaging for those who want a Jewish traditional communal connection without actually being traditional themselves. They can be connected to Chabad without becoming a “Chabadnik.” The movement gains a higher number of followers, creating more cultural and social acceptance of their ideas. This alters the community because it creates a wider base of knowledge, from the curious and newly affiliated, to those who have spent their entire life with Chabad’s religious education. This also increases the appeal because there is a myriad of levels, making it acceptable to see learning as a process. It also provides a buffer. Coming into a community where there is a natural assumption that there are those learning and those teaching means there is room for growth, and not everyone is on the same level of practice. However, since the goals are the same, they are united as a community despite their different paths.

Rachel Schiff, “Jewish Subcultures Online: Outreach, Dating, and Marginalized Communities” (Master’s thesis, California State University, Fullerton, 2016), 28-29.