Holy photo! There are 2,000 rabbis in that selfie

Orthodox rabbis attending an annual conference take their traditional group picture the newfangled way, with a giant selfie stick, a wide-angle lens and a drone to capture the whole thing.

Leslie Katz Former Culture Editor
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Leslie Katz
2 min read

There are selfies, and then there are selfies. (Click to enlarge.) Chabad.org/Chaim Perl

Thousands of rabbis walk into a conference with a selfie stick...

Sound like the setup of a joke? It's what happened Sunday when a group of rabbis gathered for an annual meeting in New York and snapped a giant selfie -- the world's biggest, they claim.

Some 2,000 rabbis appear in the photo, taken at this weekend's International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries, the annual gathering of Lubavitcher rabbis that this year drew 4,200 from around the world.

Every year since 1983, rabbis attending the conference have gathered for a group shot, but this year the traditional picture got a few techy twists.

Two rabbis held up a 30-foot Nodal Ninja boom extended to 15 feet, clearly not the sort of selfie stick the average selfie-loving rabbi tosses in a backpack. They stuck a Canon EOS 5D Mark 3 dSLR camera with a wide-angle lens at the end, and got to snapping the sea of rabbis standing on risers in front of a Crown Heights building.

Local photographer Chaim Perl helped compose the shot, and Chabad coordinated it, at least in part, through WhatsApp and Twitter. The organization even set aloft a remote-operated quadcopter drone to take an aerial picture of the group shot. Divine intervention may or may not have been involved.

On Saturday, the Microsoft Lumia Bangladesh team used similar tactics to snap a massive selfie, of 1,100 people, with the Lumia 730's 5MP camera. Participants were asked to register to produce an accurate head count for the picture, which some touted as the world's largest selfie before the rabbi shot came along.

Some Orthodox rabbis have decried excessive selfie snapping as detracting from the study of sacred Jewish texts. However, the Hasidic movement of Chabad -- which last year employed a robot for a San Francisco Hanukkah candlelighting ceremony -- is known for embracing technology as a way to bridge the ancient and the modern.

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