Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Nine Lives of Chabad

This article, published in The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, was written two years ago by former Melbournite Gabby Wenig. For most readers here the article doesn't say anything new but I like her take on where Lubavitch is today.

Talking about Shlomo Cunin of California:

Cunin’s full-steam-ahead attitude is indicative of the way that Chabad has bloomed since Gimmel Tammuz. While Cunin and others admit that Gimmel Tammuz was the most difficult challenge the movement ever faced — far more difficult than say, surviving the czarist and communist prisons that incarcerated its previous leaders in the 19th and early 20th centuries in Russia- after Gimmel Tammuz Chabad did not disintegrate, as many predicted it would. Instead, it flourished.
In the 10 years since the Rebbe’s passing, the number of shluchim (emissaries) sent around the world to help Jews find Judaism has almost doubled, from 2200 to over 4000; there is now a Chabad campus initiative funded by philanthropist George Rohr that has put Chabad houses on more than 70 different college campuses in America; there are websites-,, that receive hundreds of thousands of clicks a day. In California, in terms of numbers of new buildings (42), institutions (84), shluchim (112), and dollars raised ($125 million), Chabad has grown more in the past ten years than it has in any other decade of its history. And though he is not physically present, the Rebbe remains a vital and iconic figure in Chabad.

With regards to the Rebbe's philosophy regarding Lubavitcher chassidim:
Instead of keeping themselves holy, he taught, they should elevate the world around them and make that holy. He also taught that every Jew, religious or not, had infinite potential and a divine mission in this world. He encouraged traditional, Orthodox observance and sent emissaries out all over the world on lifelong missions to teach Jews Torah and thus hasten the coming of the Messiah.

And Shimon Raichik (who was a YG shaliach about 30 years ago) has the last word:
"The connection between a Hasid and a Rebbe is not a physical bond, but a spiritual bond," said Rabbi Shimon Raichik of Chabad of Hancock Park. "And that is why there are people who are now connecting with to the Rebbe even more than when the Rebbe was with us physically."
Let's hope that this continues to be the case.