web analytics
April 25, 2015 / 6 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


20 Years After Rebbe’s Death, Jewish Movements Increasingly Emulate Chabad

The Lubavitcher Rebbe

The Lubavitcher Rebbe

Many questions surrounded the future of the Chabad-Lubavitch branch of chassidism after the death of its seventh rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, on June 12, 1994. The Rebbe had no children, and no successor was named. But 20 years later, Chabad is not only alive and well, its increasingly receiving the so-called highest form of flattery: imitation.

Against the backdrop of last fall’s much-discussed Pew Research Center survey of American Jews, many Jewish leaders across the denominational spectrum are turning to Chabad for ideas to strengthen their own movements. Those who spoke to JNSto reflect on the Rebbe’s 20th yahrzeit may not agree with Chabad’s religious outlook or practices,and a number of them cited internal challenges within the movement,but all said that when it comes to outreach, engagement, and Jewish leadership, Chabad is to be emulated.

Ron Wolfson, Fingerhut professor of education at American Jewish University in Los Angeles, recently coined the term “relational Judaism” – using the power of relationships to transform the Jewish community. But such an idea is not new, said Rabbi Steven C. Wernick, executive vice president and CEO of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

“The Rebbe understood much earlier than most the importance of building relationships,” Wernick said.

The Rebbe also understood the importance of sending his shluchim, emissaries, to where the people were – even the most remote of locations – and of teaching those people Torah. Today, according to most reports, there are more than 4,000 Chabad emissaries around the world.

“We all have what to learn from their… going out into the trenches to bring people in,” said Rabbi Pesach Lerner, executive vice president emeritus of the National Council of Young Israel. “If you want to accomplish stuff, you’ve got to leave the building…. That is something [about Chabad] that has to be respected and emulated.”

This concept of outreach is now also being exercised by the Conservative movement, said Wernick, who explained that there is a push to engage, train, and deploy rabbis, cantors, and master educators to population centers where there are young Jewish adults as a first step in re-defining a sense of kehillah (community) for the movement. While outreach may not seem like a unique concept today, “at the time in which Chabad did it, this was a great chiddush [new idea],” Wernick said.

Creating communities without walls has been a secret to Chabad’s success. The Chabad emissary “does not view himself as a rabbi of a congregation, as serving members of a synagogue,” but rather as a community rabbi, said Rabbi Steven Weil, former executive vice president of the Orthodox Union. “As the rabbi of a city he can have much greater impact than just being the rabbi for those who pay dues.”

Rabbi Weil noted that an additional upside presented by Chabad emissaries is that when a Chabad couple is sent to a community, the couple is “there for life.”

“When you look at a lot of communities – Reform, Conservative, Orthodox – the rabbis come for a period of time and their goal is to get a good job and then get a bigger pulpit in a bigger city,” he said, explaining if over a 30 or 40-year period there are six or seven community rabbis, one never really becomes a part of the people’s extended lives.

Chabad emissaries “become a part of the family, there at every stage.”

As Rabbi Weil put it, in the Modern Orthodox community the best and brightest individuals become hedge fund managers; in the haredi community the best and brightest become heads of major yeshivas; in the Chabad movement, the best and brightest become emissaries.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “20 Years After Rebbe’s Death, Jewish Movements Increasingly Emulate Chabad”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Car - A-Tor
Updated: Three Injured in Jerusalem Terror Attack, Ambulances and Mayor’s Car also Attacked
Latest Sections Stories
Food-Talk---Eller-logo

“People who never buy cookbooks are getting this one,” said Victoria. “They read it cover to cover and find it so interesting.”

South-Florida-logo

We have recently witnessed how other minorities deal with even perceived danger aimed at their brothers and sisters. They respond in great numbers.

South-Florida-logo

The Hebrew Academy students took part in all categories and used successful and innovative techniques to achieve their goals.

“The objective behind establishing small communities as places for relocation was a remedy for the excessive cost of housing and education in the large New York metropolitan market,” Mr. Savitsky explained.

Jewish Democrats did not entirely trust the son of Joseph Kennedy, a man broadly considered to be both anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi.

The teenage years are not about surviving. They are about thriving.

Every moment was a gift. I held each one, savoring.

We arrived in Auschwitz on Thursday, January 30, 2014. My seminary was taking us to see where the prisoners were kept. When we got there, I stepped off the bus in complete and total silence. I was in the back, and when we got to the gate I hesitated and started shaking uncontrollably. I couldn’t […]

From the moment Israel was declared a Jewish state, it has been the subject of controversy and struggle.

Now that Pesach is over, we return you to your regularly-scheduled pressing questions:   Dear Mordechai, Can I use a nose hair trimmer during Sefirah? Harry Lipman   Dear Harry, Yes, as long as your nose hairs are so bad that they’re affecting your job. Like if you have a desk job, and they interfere […]

It is very natural for kids to want attention and to be jealous of each other, especially when there is a new baby.

During the Second World War, a million and a half Jewish soldiers fought in the Allied armies, the Partisan units in Eastern Europe, and the anti-fascist underground movements in Western Europe and North Africa. These Jewish fighters won over 200,000 medals and citations. The Museum of the Jewish Soldier in World War II in Latrun, […]

The 2-day real estate event will take place in Brooklyn on April 26 and 27.

More Articles from Maayan Jaffe

More than four months after the end of the conflict, but still early in the grieving process, the bereaved families are working to pick up the pieces.

Alan Gross

Obama’s new attitude, as Gleijeses sees it, may have implications for the U.S. role in the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“My tears choose the side of peace,” she wrote. “We are tired to hear about more killings. We are tired to run every time we the sirens…. Don’t judge, pray. Pray for this to be over.”

Being a parent during war, Day said, means putting your own needs and wants aside. It also means being prepared.

Creating communities without walls has been a secret to Chabad’s success.

Some 22,000 Israeli soldiers have died since the establishment of the Jewish state, including 40 soldiers between March 2013 and March 2014, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/features/20-years-after-rebbes-death-jewish-movements-increasingly-emulate-chabad/2014/06/18/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: