Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Jewish Responses to Media


In week 7 we will explore Jewish responses to media by investigating how different Orthodox Jewish groups have responded to television.  We will read a chapter from Jeffrey Shandler’s book, Jews, God and Video Tape-Religion and Media in America, and look at the impact of various media technologies on American Judaism. His chapter explores how the American Chabad community has used audio, video, and the Internet to transform their former leader, Rabbi Menachem Mendel, into a “virtual rebbe”. David Cromer’s short article, ”The Polluted Image: The Response of Ultra-Orthodox Judaism to Israel Television, reflects on a very different approach to media by religious Jewish communities, consider religious critiques of the use of television within Orthodox communities. Together these reading provide an interesting comparison of Orthodox embrace and resistance of media.

11 comments:

Tamsyn Morison said...

In Shandler's article "New Media/New Jews" I found the concept of ‘javatars’ very interesting. It is a great way for Jews all over the world to compare the ways they practice their religion and at the same time strengthen their own personal faith and create a stronger community. I personally haven’t seen this being done to the same extent in any other religion.
In David Cromer’s article, ”The Polluted Image: The Response of Ultra-Orthodox Judaism to Israel Television” I found it interesting that right of the bat ultra-orthodox Jews saw television as a threat. They didn’t even give it time to show that not everything shown on TV is sinful and un pure. Its interesting how they’ll go to the extremes of plastering the walls with poster in the hope to persuade residents to stop watching TV.

Paige Dusthimer said...

It was interesting to me that in David Cromer's article, he emphasizing the use of media rather than the typical all together ignoring of media. He touches on the subjects that these Jews pay attention to the media and its influence and put their concentration on ending any negativity or evils that is has associated with it. It is profound and quite a different perspective to read about these Jews who genuinely view television as an evil thing in society. It provokes questions to me as why some cultures and religions embraced this new technology while others refer to it as "defilement". I am curious whether both sides are being to narrow minded. Groups who are very susceptible to suggestibility immediately picked up the technology without question, but is that a good thing? Also, those groups who immediately disregarded technology, are they narrowing themselves away from an advancing world? Won't they be left on the outside? But they might be better off there anyway....

Lynna Jezek said...

I was very surprised by the fact that ultra-orthodox Jews faced punishment for something as "normal" as watching TV. As Americans, I don't think anyone - whether Jewish, Muslim, Christian - could imagine their lives without television. The Jews in Cromer's article seemed very fearful of the media and what it can do.

In Shandler's article, the idea of a Jewish dating site was not a surprise to me, but rather the fact that members did not have to proclaim themselves as Jewish to use the website. Although there is no way to enforce a "Jews-only" policy, I did find it strange that non-Jews would be appealed to using this type of dating site.

Karlie Willbern said...

In chapter six of Shandler's "Virtual Rebbe" the one point that stuck out most to me was when he was discussing why hasidic and haredim jews dislike televison. He states that TV "leaves a much deeper impression than reading a newspaper or book does, sitting in front of the screen you no longer think for yourself..." For some reason this struck me, maybe I had never thought of the situation from this point of view but they are right. When reading a text it is up to the reader to decide what and how they feel about the text, but on screen all of that is done for you. I can see how the more orthodox practices of Judaism would find this troublesome considering most representations of jews on television are anything but traditional.

Rachel Ann said...

After reading both articles, I was drawn to the article about the Ultra-Orthodox views on television. Deeming television the "modern day devil," I can't believe that something that is present almost anywhere people go today, from restaurants to church, is banned from a community. Television is used to convey message, not just crime or violence, but even places of worship use tv to promote the word of God. I can't help but wonder, them having never watched television without the chances of being shunned by the community, do they really know how helpful it can be? I did further investigation on the "Zamoora" case mentioned where a man committed a terrible crime and then proceeded to sue the companies of the shows that he had been watching on Tv. He claimed that he was "drunk on television" and that the violent crimes he had watched on tv drove him to commit murder. How long can a community hide their members from something that in a sense is taking over the world?

Claire Levatino said...

I also found the article " New Media/ New Jews" interesting because before hand we were given the idea that the jewish community was not in support of technology. I feel that the gaming website talked about in this article is a way that Jews can see that technology is not all bad, but can also be used in a positive way to promote jewish values. However, the second article by Cromer presented the opposite view on technology that we are more familiar with. Cromer depicts an Ultra- Orthodox Jew society where they will go to extremes to stop people from watching tv. In the end the battle of good and evil with in technology comes down to the traditional jews and the more radical modern jews. Is preserving the jewish culture holding them back from competing economically int he 21st century?

Daniel Humada said...

The thing that i found most interesting to me was how the ultra orthodox jewish sects immediately found tv to be a evil entity. it is intriguing how without even taking into account the positive capabilities that television has, they instantly tagged it as "evil". i personally cant live without watching college football on tv so i find concept very surprising. With that being said, television also usually misrepresents jews by making them stereotypes and has shows that depict immoral activity, so the ultra orthodox jews do have some ground to stand on when they claim it is evil

Jordan Brooks said...

The use of internet technology to express ones views is relatively new to the Jewish world. There are pros and cons to it, but I think it is a positive influence for them. This way, they have more access to information regarding their beliefs which may solidify them.

RachelFay said...

After reading the articles, the one discussing the Ultra-Orthodox Jews dislike of television was the one that left the biggest impression on me as well. However, I think it did so for a different reason than everyone else, because I think that Tv is mostly a bad influence on people.
I read the comments before mine, and I find it surprising how many people see television and mass media as a basically good thing. I think television shows are a form of brainwashing. I wont deny that I watch Tv as much as the next person, but I question it's morality with shows that promote sex, drugs, and violence. I mean can we really blame a culture whose very core values are formed in a set code of ethics including peace and compassion to be adverse to this? Ultra-Orthodox Jews are just trying to protect their culture and way of life. It could be argued that the measures they're taking lean to the side of extremes, but it could also be argued that these attempts are the best way for them to preserve their religion for future generations.

Zachary Lix said...

With the many advances in technology throughout the past 100 year culture has had to change too keep up. this is also true with religion, in this article I found it quite incredible the advances religion took between the 1980's and 1990's, specifically with video tapes communicating messages not only to followers but a reversal as communications from followers went to leaders. Also the idea of using a CD as a amulet, the creativity and ingenuity utilized to harness such ideas is pretty incredible.

Delma Ramirez said...

An interesting concept presented in this article is the evolution, transformation, and adaptation technology has made on jewish practices. Reading on how reformed and orthodox communities have adjusted to this change is very intriguing especially thinking about the future generations and how much technology impacts our lives. The overall concept of watching TV and getting reprimanded for it was a surprise, especially the extremes they go to in order to enforce this.