This book presents the first full-length study of a vast and complex visual tradition produced, revered, preserved, banned, and destroyed by the Hasidic movement of Chabad. This rich repository of visual artifacts provides the archaeological data for an analysis of how the movement consolidated its influence during a period of political and economic transformation and survived its immigration to America in the wake of the Holocaust. As one of the most self-documented and media-preserved modern Jewish movements, Chabad’s rich material culture, including the hand-held portrait, the “rebbishe” space, the printer’s mark, and the public menorah, afford scholars a wider range of interpretive strategies for understanding the movement and the role of the visual experience in religion.
Part I. The Face of Hasidism: The Life and Afterlife of Rebbe Portraiture: 1. Hasidic master portraits: new context for conventional portraits; 2. The Rebbe-heir portrait; 3. Yosef Yitzchak and the Rebbishe photograph; 4. The present Rebbe: marketing the Messiah; Part II. The Object of Hasidism: Ancient History and Modern Media: 5. The geography of the Chabad world map; 6. The court in America: branding buildings and building brand; 7. Counter-Zionism: the battle of the Jewish arts; 8. Trademarks of faith: Chabad and Chanukah in America; 9. Postscript: inside/outside Chabad visual culture.
"I hope this book will set an agenda for scholarship on both Jewish visual and material culture, as well as on the Chabad movement and the ongoing development of its visual world. While the book teaches us about the power of visual representations, its quality also reminds us of the strength of good textual representations." --Michal Kravel-Tovi (University of Michigan) H-Judaic (August, 2011)
"The Visual Culture of Chabad is filled with fascinating readings of individual images."
Books and Culture
"Balakirsky Katz does a masterly service and provides a penetrating portrait of visual culture and Chabad."
Yoel Cohen, Communication Research Trends