Downstairs in the synagogue, elderly women prayed with eyes closed. In the nearby yeshiva, young Lubavitch students learned of their Jewish heritage stretching back more than three millennia.

But upstairs, in a room filled with high-tech gadgets, Rabbi Yosef Y. Kazen gazed into his computer screen, looking to see how many "hits" he'd already gotten. (That's computer lingo for how many users have tuned into an Internet site.)

"I have a very unique pulpit - the Internet," laughed Kazen, who oversees the "Chabad-Lubavitch in Cyberspace" outpost in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. "It's the only real pulpit I have, a pulpit around the world."

Yesterday, Kazen and the entire Lubavitch community in Brooklyn were captured on film and sent out on the World Wide Web as part of the "24 Hours in Cyberspace," a $5 million effort by California entrepreneur Rick Smolan. Smolan, his sponsors and a staff of more than 150 photographers are creating a "digital time capsule," immediately accessible on the Internet, showing how the Internet is affecting society.

A sampling from this smorgasbord of computer-related events showed a mixture of old and new, religious and secular, and commercial and non-commercial - and just about everything else in between. Some of the first on-line dispatches told of a Tanzanian bush pilot who uses the Net to keep track of local missionaries, and Inuit tribes in the Arctic getting wired for the first time.

In the first 12 hours of operation, more than 1 million computer users called up the project's home page, said spokeswoman Patti Richards.

"So far," she said by late afternoon, "it's going better than I thought it would."

Richards said photos from Tipper Gore, who recorded the day's activities of her husband, Vice-President Al Gore, were posted early on the site.

But most pictures from the United States weren't expected to be on-line until late last night, she said.

Images and text from the site, located on the Worldwide Web at cyber24.com, took five to 15 minutes to download. The site will be up throughout the weekend, and information from it will be published as a book and CD-ROM next fall.

Yesterday, most of the early photos posted on the site came from Asia and Australia. One photo essay featured a painting at Singapore's Virtual Reality Museum. Another chatty profile illustrated the world of Japanese star Reiko Chiba, who hawks video games.

Back in Brooklyn, Kazen and his 13-year-old son, Michoel, who helped design the Lubavitch home page, smiled with delight as free-lance photographer Andy Levin snapped away at him. "I maintain the page, the scripts - it's very interesting," Michoel said.

Levin took pictures of the Lubavitchers in early morning prayer, went to a motzah bakery on Albany Avenue, and visited the grave of Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, who died last year. "This is my first photo that will appear in cyberspace," said Levin, a veteran of top magazines.

Levin also snapped pictures of a Brooklyn chess whiz playing over the Internet with a California player. Later, Levin said his photos would be scanned and sent by modem to the large computers in Sausalito, Calif., where Smolan's group assembled the "24 Hours in Cyberspace" display. Kazen said the international effort already has stirred more interest in Lubavitcher's own home page, located at (http://www.chabad.org/), with messages sent from places like Finland, Japan, Gilbratar and Palestine, Texas.

"We get messages from all over, from Jews and Gentiles, who want to know more," says Kazen, who sits at the control booth where a daily Torah reading is offered. He says many Internet users ask him for religious guidance, seeking a spirituality that may be missing from their lives, especially in faraway places. "I tell them, `Don't call me rabbi, call me Y.Y.,' " he smiled.