Material Religion

Barbara Kirschenblatt Gimblett, NYU
Mitzvah Kinder figurines, right to left: Malkeleh, Moishy, Totty (Father), Mommy, and Baby Chaim. “The ‘Mitzvah Kinder’ has been designed to represent a Yiddishe family in the world of children’s play and imagination. Our charming characters made of soft lightweight rubber, makes them safe, durable and irresistible. So make the ‘Mitzvah Kinder’ part of your family.”
The Working Group on Jews, Media, and Religion at NYU’s Center for Religion and Media is contributing to a special issue of Material Religion dedicated to Jews edited by Jeffrey Shandler and Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett. The articles in this issue examine the role that material culture plays in the intersection of Jews, media, and religion. Our goal in this endeavor is to explore the range of material culture–the designing, production, dissemination, collecting, inventorying, and use of things–as media in Jewish religious life, past and present, broadly defined. A core concern is the materiality of phenomena as key to understanding their value in Jewish life. Contributors include Judah Cohen (materiality of music), Jeffrey Shandler and Aviva Weintraub (December Dilemma greeting cards), Jeremy Stolow (“Holy Pleather,” on the materiality of books produced by the Orthodox publishing house ArtScroll), Chava Weissler (material culture and gift shops of the Jewish renewal movement), and the volume will also include a virtual roundtable discussion of the new Jewish Children’s Museum, a project of Lubavitcher Hasidim, in Crown Heights, New York.
» For more information about the working group on Jews, Media and Religion, see