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Chabad.org is the flagship website of the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement. It serves its own members and Jews worldwide. It was one of the first Jewish internet sites and the first and largest virtual congregation.
In 1988, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Kazen, a Chabad rabbi, began creating a Chabad-Lubavitch presence in cyberspace. With the advent of computer communication technology, Kazen recognized its potential for reaching an almost limitless audience, unlimited by geographic and other constraints. Kazen digitized thousands of documents into what became the world's first virtual Jewish library, and enabling thousands of people to learn about Judaism for the first time. Chabad.org served as a model for other Jewish organizations that created their own educational websites.
After Kazen's death in 1998, the site was rolled under the umbrella of the Chabad Lubavitch Media Center directed by Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin. Today, the Chabad Lubavitch Media Center maintains some 1100 websites, including the flagship Chabad.org, specialized holiday sites, and over 1500 customised sites for local Chabad houses.
Jewish knowledge base
Chabad.org has a comprehensive Jewish knowledge base which includes over 100,000 articles of information ranging from basic Judaism to Hasidic philosophy taught from the Chabad point of view. The major categories are the human being, God and man, concepts and ideas, the Torah, the physical world, the Jewish calendar, science and technology, people and events.
Ask the Rabbi
In 1994, Kazen launched the first version of Chabad’s “Ask the Rabbi” website. Today’s version, in which 40 rabbis and educators field questions via e-mail, has answered more than 500,000 questions between 2001–2006, averaging about 270 a day. Many people take advantage of the Web’s anonymity to impart experiences and ask for advice from chabad.org.
In an effort to service a female population, Chabad.org also operates TheJewishWoman.org's “Dear Rachel”, a similar service which is run by women for women.
Chabad.org maintains a number of sub-sites, including
- Weekly Magazine on Torah and contemporary life.
- A search feature that enables the user to quickly find a Chabad House in any part of the world.
- An online Jewish library that contains some 100,000 articles.
- An "Ask the Rabbi" feature.
- A multimedia portal, where users can stream Jewish audio and video downloads.
- A children's section.
- A section featuring reports in the media on the activities of Chabad Lubavitch Shluchim ("emissaries").
- Parts of the site have been translated into many languages.
- An area for children, including some online videos of the "Itche Kadoozy Show", a puppet show starring amongst others a Lubavitch rabbi, Rabbi Kadoozy.
Chabad.org and its affiliated sites claim over 7.6 million visitors per month, and over 365,000 email subscribers.
- What is the secret, organizational and spiritual, of the Lubavitch movement's success? The New York Times January 22, 2000
- Zaleski, Jeffrey P. (June 1997). The Soul of Cyberspace: How New Technology Is Changing Our Spiritual Lives. Harpercollins. ISBN 0-06-251451-2. Retrieved 2007-04-07.
- Rabbi Yosef Kazen, 44; Internet Visionary The Jewish Week 12/11/1998
- Yosef Kazen, Hasidic Rabbi And Web Pioneer, Dies at 44 The New York Times December 13, 1998
- The Soul of Cyberspace - Current Events
- JTA - 'Ask a rabbi' — on the Web: Online rabbis offer answers
- JTA News article
- Wired.com interviews Chabad.org director Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin
- Chabad launches Jewish women’s site
- Rabbi Schneerson’s life for a history-gathering project
- Let my people download! Passover texts available online
- ‘Ask the rabbi’ – online
- Yosef Kazen, Hasidic Rabbi And Web Pioneer, Dies at 44 The New York Times December 13, 1998.