In 2013, a boy with special needs used the video game Minecraft to deliver the sermon at his bar mitzvah at a Reform synagogue, an apparently unique ritual phenomenon to this day. Using a narrative inquiry approach, this article examines two rabbis’ negotiations with new media, leading up to, during, and upon reflection after the event. The article explores acceptance, innovation, and validation of new media in religious practice, drawing on Campbell’s (2010) framework for negotiation of new media in religious communities. Clergy biography, philosophy, and institutional context all impact the negotiations with new media. By providing context of a set of factors influencing a particular negotiation and validation of a ritual and educational innovation using new media, the article intends to demonstrate the importance of clergy narrative for understanding new media negotiations in religious settings, and in particular in progressive religious communities.

Publication Date

Fall 10-2020

Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

School of Interactive Games and Media (GCCIS)


RIT – Main Campus