web analytics
September 2, 2015 / 18 Elul, 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
Jewish blood libel cartoon posted on Facebook sometime in 2014 by an UNRWA teacher in Jordan.
UNRWA Teacher in Jordan Promotes Hatred of Jews on Facebook
Latest Sections Stories
West-Coast-logo

Though each member of Meira Academy’s 2015 graduating class was accepted to a university, all of the girls have chosen to spend a gap year in Israel to attend seminary before they head to college.

The two Torah giants spent hours discussing a variety of Torah topics, some of which went well beyond subjects normally dealt with in Lithuanian yeshivas.

Lunchbox Restaurant in Tel Aviv.

Bringing your own sandwich to a restaurant would appear as the height of chutzpah, but not any more—at least not at Lunchbox…

Last year, OneFamily published a cookbook in Hebrew featuring the bereaved mothers’ recipes.

How did an unresolved murder case turn into an accusation of ritual murder?

Excerpted from The Apple Cookbook (c) Olwen Woodier. Photography by (c) Leigh Beisch Photography with Food Stylist Robyn Valarik. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.

The flag had been taken down in the aftermath of the Charleston shooting and was now back and flying.

A light breakfast of coffee and danishes will be available during the program.

A variety of glatt kosher food will be available for purchase at Kosher Korner (near Section 1).

Jewish Press South Florida Editor Shelley Benveniste will deliver a talk.

Corey Brier, corresponding secretary of the organization, introduced the rabbi.

The magnificent 400-seat sanctuary with beautiful stained glass windows, a stunning carved glass Aron Kodesh, a ballroom, social hall, and beis medrash will accommodate the growing synagogue.

Even when our prayers are ignored and troubles confront us, Rabbi Shoff teaches that it is the same God who sent the difficulties as who answered our prayers before.

I’ve put together some of the most frequently asked questions regarding bullies, friendship and learning disabilities.

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: