Home  / 2725

Chabad on Ice: Jewish encounters with fundamentalism in Finland


Publication Name

Publication Date


The article examines the Finnish branch of Chabad Lubavitch as a fundamentalist and charismatic movement that differs from other branches of ultra-Orthodox Judaism in its approaches to outreach to non-observant Jews. Whilst introducing the history of Chabad Lubavitch in Finland and drawing on historical and archival sources, the authors locate the movement in a contemporary context and draw on 101 semi-structured qualitative interviews of members of the Finnish Jewish communities, who either directly or indirectly have been in contact with representatives of Chabad Finland. The material is examined through the theoretical concept of ‘vicarious religion’. As the results of the article show, whilst Chabad very much adheres to certain fundamentalist approaches in Jewish religious practice, in Finland they follow a somewhat different approach. They strongly rely on people’s sense of Jewish identification and Jewish identity. Individuals in the community ‘consume’ Chabad’s activities vicariously, ‘belong without believing’ or ‘believe in belonging’ but do not feel the need to apply stricter religious observance. Whilst many of them are critical of Chabad and their activities, they do acknowledge that Chabad fills the ‘gaps’ in and outside the Jewish Community of Helsinki, predominantly by creating new activities for some of its members.



Geographic Coverage

Copyright Info

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Original Language



Page Number




Link to article including link to pdf, Chabad on Ice: Jewish encounters with fundamentalism in Finland

Bibliographic Information

Czimbalmos, Mercédesz Viktória, Tuori, Riikka Chabad on Ice: Jewish encounters with fundamentalism in Finland. Approaching Religion. 2022: 38-58.  https://archive.jpr.org.uk/10.30664/ar.112800