Zooming In and Out of Virtual Jewish Prayer Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Elazar Ben-Lulu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

This netnographic study examines Reform Jewish rituals transmitted by virtual platforms, Facebook and Zoom, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Reform Judaism, which supports modern liberal theology, has adopted the usage of technology for Shabbat services. The transition from the physical space to the virtual one challenges the performance of the ritual: Rabbis change the ritual's structure, and during online services, the congregants have different feelings toward the congregation and their own spiritual worship, made manifest in changes in their usual religious gestures. A positive result of the move to the virtual space is that though the Reform Jewish congregations, as non-Orthodox communities, have been excluded by the state, virtual prayers further expose Reform services to Israeli society. However, this might hinder societal support if it is shown that the community can conduct its services without an actual formal space. This study illuminates the intersection of virtual space, religious praxis, and political conflicts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)852-870
Number of pages19
JournalJournal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Volume60
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Facebook
  • Israel
  • Reform Judaism
  • Zoom
  • coronavirus
  • internet
  • prayer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies

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