By Shani McManus – South Florida Sun-Sentinel
If there’s one thing that can be said about the Chabad Lubavitch movement, beyond its ultra-Orthodox religious tradition, is its intrinsic use of state-of-the-art technology to get out its message.
Nowhere is that more evident than Chabad’s latest promotional video clip using none other than Larry David of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and “Seinfeld” fame to make a point — and a humorous one at that — about the “high cost” of tickets to High Holy Day services.
The clip is the brainchild of Rabbi Mendy Pellin, a young Lubavitch Hasid from Brooklyn, who makes similar humorous videos for different aspects of Jewish life which can be viewed on his Web site: www.chabadtube.com This particular video for the High Holy Days was offered for a small fee to any Chabad in the country to use as an advertisement to draw the unaffiliated as well as affiliated Jews to services.
“They’re edgy; they are really humorous,” said Rabbi Ruvi New of Chabad of East Boca Raton, who sent the Larry David video out to the synagogue’s membership as well as those on his e-mail list. “It’s harnessing the technology that’s out and using it to promote something that’s really valuable.”
New noted that the feedback he’s received has been positive.
“Many people forwarded it on,” he said. “People said they have a hard time staying on their chairs.”
In the brief video, David expresses a desire to a friend about attending temple services for the High Holy Days, and is told he needed to get his tickets six months ago.
“Why do you need a ticket to go to temple?” David asks. “That’s crazy.”
His friend tells David he’ll make some calls about getting him seats, but calls back to say he couldn’t find any.
“You can always try for a scalper,” the friend tells David.
Next we see a kippa-clad David approach a “scalper” hawking tickets in front of the temple.
“Have any tickets?” David asks.
“I have two fabulous seats right down front,” the scalper tells him. “The cantor will be spitting all over you.”
“How much?” David asks.
“$600,” the scalper answers.
“I’ll give you $300,” David offers.
“I’ll take it,” the scalper says.
In the closing scene, we see David being told by a temple official that his tickets are for “standing room,” and that he has to move to the back.
A voice-over tells those viewing the video, “He should have called Chabad of East Boca — at Chabad, you are family. No scalpers necessary.”
“It makes a good point that you shouldn’t have to pay to pray,” New said.
“I thought it was a very unique and funny way to advertise for the High Holy Days,” said Rabbi Yosef Raichik of Chabad of West Boynton Beach, a newly operational storefront synagogue just getting off the ground that’s a satellite branch of the much larger Chabad of Greater Boynton Beach.
“I think humor is a great tool to keep people smiling. Part of our mission is to make people happy. And [the video] brings the message very well that we are not after your money — we are after your soul.”
Rabbi Yoel Caroline of Chabad of Key Biscayne and South Brickell in Miami-Dade also sent the video out to his congregation.
“I find Mendy Pellin to be very funny,” he said.
Rabbi Yoel Gancz of Chabad of West Palm Beach agreed.
“I used it. Very funny; very original,” he said. “Rabbi Pellin is very creative and original — with a knack for the media.”
Gancz sent the clip to more than 400 people.
“The feedback I got back was great,” he said. “It was a good way to waking people up about the New Year coming.”