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

Jef­frey Shandler
  • Review
By – September 9, 2011

Amid-20th cen­tu­ry TV, com­plete with rab­bit ear anten­nae, sits swathed in an ethe­re­al green light. The only image fill­ing its round­ed screen is a close­up of a sheet of mat­zoh. This instal­la­tion by artist Melis­sa Shiff adorns the cov­er of Jef­frey Shandler’s Jews, God, and Video­tape, and sug­gests that the sub­ject mat­ter will be schol­ar­ly, decon­struc­tive, and focused on the medi­um as much as the mes­sage. Thank­ful­ly, for the gen­er­al read­er, this is not the case. Instead, Shan­dler deliv­ers a series of inter­est­ing essays on var­ied areas of Amer­i­can Jew­ish life shar­ing only some con­nec­tion with mod­ern media. 

Shan­dler sheds light on for­got­ten trends such as can­to­r­i­al music in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry, as well as Jew­ish themes on main­stream Amer­i­can radio in the 50’s, the phe­nom­e­non of bar mitz­vah videos, and the use of media and the Inter­net by the Chabad move­ment. His writ­ing is clear, well-researched, and thought­ful. Illustrations.

Jeff Bogursky reads a lot, writes a lit­tle and talks quite a bit. He is a media exec­u­tive and expert in dig­i­tal media.

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