Jews, God, and Videotape: Religion and Media in America

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $1.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 92%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (10) from $1.99   
  • New (2) from $20.91   
  • Used (8) from $1.99   


Engaging media has been an ongoing issue for American Jews, as it has been for other religious communities in the United States, for several generations. Jews, God, and Videotape is a pioneering examination of the impact of new communications technologies and media practices on the religious life of American Jewry over the past century. Shandler’s examples range from early recordings of cantorial music to Hasidic outreach on the Internet. In between he explores mid-twentieth-century ecumenical radio and television broadcasting, video documentation of life cycle rituals, museum displays and tourist practices as means for engaging the Holocaust as a moral touchstone, and the role of mass-produced material culture in Jews’ responses to the American celebration of Christmas.

Shandler argues that the impact of these and other media on American Judaism is varied and extensive: they have challenged the role of clergy and transformed the nature of ritual; facilitated innovations in religious practice and scholarship, as well as efforts to maintain traditional observance and teachings; created venues for outreach, both to enhance relationships with non-Jewish neighbors and to promote greater religiosity among Jews; even redefined the notion of what might constitute a Jewish religious community or spiritual experience. As Jews, God, and Videotape demonstrates, American Jews’ experiences are emblematic of how religious communities’ engagements with new media have become central to defining religiosity in the modern age.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“In this richly detailed study, Shandler examines the complex and multivalent relations between Judaism and media in the US . . . Highly recommended.”


“The new book Jews, God and Videotape reveals the many ways in which text-oriented Judaism, at least on an unofficial basis, has adapted to the digital media age.”

-Religion Watch

Publishers Weekly

The impact of the media on American Jews is the subject of this badly written work. Author Shandler, a professor of Jewish studies at Rutgers University, starts his presentation with cantors, discussing their recordings and their participation in movies and operas. He then proceeds to radio broadcasts, analyzing a program called "The Eternal Life," claiming that its rise and fall paved the way for linking broadcasting and Judaism. Other chapters are devoted to Holocaust remembrance, photographing and videotaping Jewish life-cycle events from circumcision to funerals, television programs related to the juxtaposition of Christmas and Hanukkah, and use of new media by ultra-Orthodox Jews to promote their agenda. From this potpourri of examples, Shandler concludes with the baffling assertion that the impact "of new media on a community's religious life [is] not at its extremes but somewhere in the middle." Apparently, he is asserting that the media affect Jewish religious practice, a self-evident proposition. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Shandler's insightful analysis of the impact of modern media on religious beliefs and practices primarily focuses on American Judaism since 1945. Although many American history textbooks give short shrift to religion in 20th-century America, Shandler (Jewish studies, Rutgers Univ.) demonstrates how religious institutions, such as the Jewish Theological Seminary, used radio after 1945 to broadcast religious messages, which were positively received by both Jews and gentiles. Shandler's analysis goes beyond the various Jewish denominations and provides important interfaith comparisons. Of particular interest is his explication of how film, radio, and television inform American Holocaust remembrance. Shandler is more sympathetic to TV and film coverage of the Holocaust than many other commentators who are often distraught at the redemptive message of many American productions (i.e., a happy ending to a Holocaust story). Shandler points out that redemptive messages are found in both the Exodus story and the Christian Passion narrative, while turning tragedy into triumph also reflects American optimism. That many American media outlets run Holocaust programs on the eve of Passover, therefore, is not too surprising. Recommended for all libraries.
—Frederic Krome

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814740682
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeffrey Shandler is Professor of Jewish Studies at Rutgers University. His books include While America Watches: Televising the Holocaust, Adventures in Yiddishland: Postvernacular Language and Culture, and (with J. Hoberman) Entertaining America: Jews, Movies and Broadcasting. He lives in New York City.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Author’s Note
1 Cantors on Trial
2 Turning on The Eternal Light
3 The Scar without the Wound
4 Observant Jews
5 A Stranger among Friends
6 The Virtual Rebbe
New Media/New Jews? An Afterword
About the Author

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)