Chabad computer 88 248.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Always eager to reach Jews in new and creative ways (see Manhattan's succa-mobile, or Seder eve in Kathmandu), the Chabad Chassidim have created one of the most formidable archives of downloadable and on-demand audio content focusing on Jewish teachings. It can all be browsed at chabad.org/6230. Under Chabad.org director Zalman Shmotkin and audio section editor Rabbi Shmuel Lifshitz (pictured, courtesy photo) and aided by a myriad of volunteer field recording farmers the world over, the site now offers some 11,500 files totaling close to 5,000 hours of audio, which enjoy about 250,000 plays per month - and that's without counting their video content. The sect's web model mirrors that of its organizational structure, with over 1,100 locale-specific affiliate websites distributing local Beit Chabad-specific content and simultaneously serving as syndicates of audio teachings. Classes both controversial ("Evolution vs. Creation") and trendy (heaps of Kabbala-themed lectures) are among the most popular items on offer, but seasonal content makes a big splash as well. Passover-themed audio, on offer at chabad.org/1923, includes iffy renditions of songs from the Haggada, bite-sized insights on the spiritual aspects of the holiday and in-depth guides to its laws and customs. Here, Ontario's Rabbi Mendel Kaplan rebuts Gershwin's "Aint Necessarily So" in arguing that "The Ten Plagues" really happened, England's Rabbi Nissan Dovid Dubov offers an analysis of "The Four Sons," and Montreal's Rabbi Moshe New examines the symbolisms of the bread of affliction with "Rich Matzah Poor Matzah." According to Shmotkin, new frontiers for the site include a live broadcast schedule, advanced-level courses, more focus on what he calls "classic texts" and delving into contemporary fields like meditation and medical ethics.