Volume 44 Number 02
                    Produced: Mon Aug  9  7:14:54 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Andy Goldfinger]
Chabad and Nusach
         [Ari Trachtenberg]
         [Susan Shapiro]
Lubavitch acceptance/tolerance
         [Leah S. Gordon]
Lubavitch as a minority within a minority within a minority ....
         [Carl Singer]


From: Andy Goldfinger <Andy.Goldfinger@...>
Date: Fri, 6 Aug 2004 08:21:10 -0400 
Subject: Re: Chabad

I am not a Lubavitcher.  In fact, I follow a very different derech in
many ways.  I also disagree with some Chabad positions.  Having said
that, let me say the following:

(1) There are literally thousands of people whose lives have been saved
by Lubavitch run programs.  Chabad's activities in dealing with
substance abuse in the Jewish community were (to my knowledge)
pioneering, and are still among the most helpful and effective.  I also
know of people with other significant problems who have been accepted
into the Lubavitch community and helped to achieve normal lives.

(2) Rav Soleveichik often spoke in public about the Lubavitcher melamed
(teacher) he had as a child.  He said that, although his intellectual
approach came from his father, his emotional attachment to Torah and
Judaism came from this melamed.

(3) To the best of my knowledge, there are many Chassidim who
self-designate themselves as following the "Chagas" approach.  It is in
no way an appelation of denigration.

And Finally ...

(4) A few months ago, I was on a business trip to a city with virtually
no observant Jewish community.  I became suddenly ill, and required
emergency surgery.  The surgery occurred on a Friday afternoon.  What
could I do about food?  Shabbos?

        The answer was, of course, obvious.  I simply looked in the
local phone book for "Chabad," and found the local Lubavitch Shaliach
who had been sent to that area to help Jewish inmates in the local
prison.  He was in my hospital room with help about an hour later.  I
will not embaress him by mentioning his name here, but my gratitude to
his family and the entire Lubvatch movement is intense.

-- Andy Goldfinger

P.S.  Just an item of interest:

Here, in the US, there is a national "spelling bee," a contest in which
grade school children selected by individual state competitions are
challenged to spell difficult words.  If the contestant misses only one
word, they are eliminated.  This year, a non-Jewish student from one of
the midwest states (I seem to remember it being either Iowa or Nebraska)
was doing pretty well until he was asked to spell the word "Lubavitch."
He couldn't do it, and was eliminated.


        Some of us think that this was an unfair word to put in the
spelling bee.  The student spelled it without the "t."  Oh come now --
it is a tranliterated word from Cyrillic, isn't it?


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Fri, 06 Aug 2004 10:54:10 -0400
Subject: Re: Chabad and Nusach

> 1 - the ONLY individuals I have ever seen try to "take over" the nusach
> or minhagim of an established shul were Lubavitchers. That is, on more
> than one occasion, I have seen Lubavitchers try/insist on davening
> nusach ari from the amud, or using the Lubavitch style hagbah even
> though that is clearly NOT the established minhag of the shul.

My experience davening from the amud in two different Chabad shuls is
that I have been explicitly told to daven with whatever nusach I feel
comfortable (which is *not* nusach Ari).  Maybe then what is really
happening is that Lubavitchers mistakenly assume that people give them
the same leniency in nusach that they give others.

Ari Trachtenberg,                                      Boston University
http://people.bu.edu/trachten                    mailto:<trachten@...>


From: <SShap23859@...> (Susan Shapiro)
Date: Fri, 6 Aug 2004 09:54:56 EDT
Subject: Lubavitch

In reference to your comment:

      2 - Lubavitch seems to consistently allign itself with modern
      orthodox [I don't mean to imply here a judgement of modern
      orthodox, merely that the choice of Lubavitch to align this way
      seems counter to their basic philosophies] and non-observant
      jewish groups instead of other chassidic groups. this has a number
      of weird effects:

I don't think anyone is stopping the other "black hat Orthodox" from
affiliating.  I have seen Ohr Sameach groups spring up in cities and
make a very similar impact in those cities.  Go for it.

You wrote:

      b. in many communities Lubavitch choose to avoid whatever
      non-Lubavitch right wing school is available. Then they either
      send the kid to the "community" school or (and especially as the
      kids get a bit older - say 8 or 9) send the kid to another city to
      attend a Lubavitch school there. I don't have a strong opinion
      over the community vs right wing school question - but it seems to
      me bizarre and troubling that they choose to send their young
      children out of town rather than send them to the right wing
      school available to them.

I know, and seen and heard, from Lubavitchers who have gone to "non
Lubavitch" schools that they have been told they are WRONG for some of
their customs, and that Lubavitch is NOT right, and it becomes quite
difficult for the student.  I think if the only school in town was a
Conservative school, it would not be seen as a problem that we send our
kids "away" because it wouldn't be teaching the same standards/levels we
keep at home.

Why would one send a kid to a non Lubavitch, non "supportive" school
when one CAN send one's child to a school that teaches the Hashkofa we
believe in?

I know there is tremendous animosity (in our community) from the Litvish
school towards Chabad, have heard it from many non affiliated people who
have swapped schools, and you will never hear a bad word about "them"
from "our" mouths. I know that for sure, because I mix closely with the
"long timers" in our town.

You wrote:

      One of the things that distinguishes Lubavitch (and this is a
      topic for a whole separate thread perhaps) is how soon the
      "newbie" becomes a representative of the movement.

I think you quite correctly pointed out that this "newbie" phenomenon
happens everywhere, and if someone realizes that it is a newbie, they
need to use their OWN intelligence to realize that this is not
representative of the movement.

You wrote:

      In the final analysis it is difficult to get at what is "really"
      Lubavitch theology, and what is merely the overactive advocacy of
      young inexperienced converts who are personally excited and do not
      have the balance that comes with time and experience.

One could ask and find out rather than condemn a whole group for one or
two individuals one comes into contact with.

I personally have been affiliated with Lubavitch for 30 years, and have
seen many different people in the group, Chabad from Birth, all the way
to brand new Ba'alei Tshuva and see that each individual does NOT lose
their personality or individuality when they become frum.  As in any
group, there are the "good" ones and the "less than good" ones.

I personally don't need the whole world to become Lubavitcher Chassidim.
Ahavas Yisroel would be kinda cool, though!

Susan Shapiro


From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Fri, 06 Aug 2004 05:30:45 -0700
Subject: Lubavitch acceptance/tolerance

>make any sort of generalizations, I think Lubavitch is at least as, if not
>more so, accepting of others who are different from them than the typical
>Aguda / Lakewood yeshiva type.
>Avi Feldblum, Moderator

I totally agree with Avi.  Many a time we have relied on Lubavitch for a
local kosher reference or place to daven [pray].  I have gone to
Lubavitch camp, and I considered sending my son to Lubavitch school.
And everyone on this list knows I a not exactly a poster child for

(I did *not* consider sending him to the right-wing Orthodox school,
because in my experience that community is very unaccepting of those who
might be different from them.)

I will add that in my childhood summer camp experience, Gan Yisroel
(Lubavitch camp) always emphasized derekh eretz [appropriate manners]
and tzedakah [charity] in applied ways.  I wish I could say the same
thing about my experiences at B'nei Akiva [modern Ortho] camp.

Another really important fact about Lubavitch is that their
representatives fully understand that it is possible (and how it is
possible) to make a religious Jewish life outside of major metropolitan
areas.  I grew up in a small town's Jewish community, and frequently
big-city-based-Jews act kind of disbelieving that such a community could
be really worthwhile or acceptable.  But I have never had such a
reaction from Lubavitch, who make a point of going to small communities
and building up Judaism.

I have objections to some Lubavitch points of view, don't get me wrong,
particularly around women's issues, and some about science.  But there
is no doubt in my mind that Lubavitch are the kindest, most tolerant
group of haredim with which I have come in contact.

--Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Fri, 06 Aug 2004 08:25:38 -0400
Subject: Lubavitch as a minority within a minority within a minority ....

> a. many non-observant jews assume that Lubavitch speaks for the orthodox
> community, and that the Lubavitcher Rebbe z"l was the rabbinic leader of
> the orthodox community.

I would extend that to general (non-Jewish) community.  There often
seemed to be a Lubavitch Rebbe showing in public as such a
representative (even at the Presidential level.)

With a preface that one of the women that my wife was Mekarev many years
ago married a Lubavitcher and they are a wonderful family -- and that
some of my neighbors are Lubavitch and they are fine neighbors ....

I believe that Lubavitch as a minority within the whole of Torah
observant Judaism can suffer from the same issues of perception that
Torah observant Judaism suffers within the whole of Judaism or -- to
draw a third parallel -- Jews in general within a diverse world
population.  Got it -- recognizable minority within a larger population.

Thus the actions of one or few get characterized as representative of
the whole minority.


When Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald -- general response -- why did a
Jew have to be in the middle of this?

When some bearded person (sometimes identified as a "Rabbi") is arrested
for a financial scandal -- how do you feel?

I was introduced to a Lubavitch Rebbe as "Doctor Singer" -- he
immediately went into the "what's your specialty" -- and when my
response didn't start with Neuro .... he was already half way across the
room (true story!)

Contrast that with the members of a Lubavitch Shtiebel where I've
davened who although they thanked me for donations, never solicited a

Some young man comes in spouting Rebbe Moshiach rhetoric -- another
Lubavitcher says that "those (Lubavitcher) are not mainstream"

The Lubavitch Rebbe at a certain college thinks vodka is the beverage of
choice for all, including underage (21) students.  Most Lubavitch I know
drink moderately like you and I, and don't serve to minors.

Let me close with a thought that nearly 30 years ago when I was on staff
at the University of Arizona and before that at the University of
Michigan -- Lubavitch were the only ones who would seek our really lost
Jewish kids (druggies?) and try to help them.  We can carp all we want
about their tactics and minhagim -- and today there are many other
groups reaching out to not yet observant Jews -- but Lubavitch has had a
major positive impact on many now observant Jews.  But the metamorphous
isn't always complete -- you take a brilliant mathematician who becomes
Lubavitch and you now have a brilliant Lubavitch mathematician.  You
take a seriously mentally disturbed young person who becomes Lubavitch
odds are you'll have a seriously mentally disturbed Lubavitcher.

Carl A. Singer


End of Volume 44 Issue 2