Monthly Archives: June 2005

NY Jewish Week On The Fight For 770

The New York Jewish Week reports on the fight for control of the main Chabad-Lubavitch synagogue in Crown Heights:

The two camps — the anti-messianists run the Chabad worldwide outreach, while the messianists, a smaller but very active gorup, control the street in Crown Heights — have waged a simmering war since 1994, when the Lubavitcher rebbe died. But in recent weeks the battle has intensified over who controls the main synagogue at 770 Eastern Parkway, Lubavitch headquarters and home to the messianists.

In actuality, the messianists control the Chabad street in Israel, Crown Heights, Russia, France, California and many other locations and are far and away the largest grouping within Chabad. Further, the so-called "anti-messianists" believe exactly what the messianists believe – the argument is over whether or not to publicize the belief, not over the belief itself.

So what takes place in Chabad’s main synagogue?

During a recent visit to 770 several men downstairs, having just finished the afternoon prayers, were passionately singing the chant that has become the messianists’ slogan: “Long live our master, our teacher, our rabbi, King Messiah, forever and ever!”

One man clutched a fistful of small plastic yellow flags with the messianic crown on it. A few others danced around during the song. Many of the men in the sanctuary, however, did not participate.

“It’s very inspiring davening at 770 because everyone davens with special power because the rebbe is there,” said Michael Rosenthal, a 24-year-old Lubavitcher who works for the emissary in Great Neck, in an interview outside.

Now for the two dumbest quotes, one of them from frequent commenter Ariel Sokolovsky:

Rabbi Ariel Sokolovsky was among the men arrested [in a riot sparked by police attempting to protect 770’s dedication plaque from defacement by messianists] Nov. 3. The Boston resident is an ardent messianist who visits 770 several times a year.

“I describe the rebbe as alive,” Rabbi Sokolovsky said in an interview. “The body of moshiach does not die, even if it appears to be so. A tzaddik [righteous person] can materialize himself in the world if he needs to. “Concealment does not mean that the rebbe has an invisible body,” he said. “It has to do with people’s readiness to see it. It’s people’s perception.”

Rabbi Sokolovsky said he has met people who have seen the rebbe in person since he died.

That perspective offends some. [Some?!? A more appropriate choice would be "many."]

“For so-called Orthodox Jews to say this undermines a basic argument against Christianity that’s been going on for over 1,000 years,” said Rabbi Berger. “It’s a betrayal of the Jewish belief in messianism, whose parameters have been defined to exclude the possibility that the messiah would declare the redemption is coming in his generation and die without completing the task.”

That’s really pathetic. On one hand we have a guy who believes the Rebbe still walks this earth. On the other, we have a guy who defines the Jewish belief in a messiah by what it is not – for Rabbi Berger, it’s all  about anti-Christian polemics, not positive Jewish theology. Sad.

Miriam Shaviv’s take on this can be read here.



Filed under Chabad Theology

The Forward Goes To Crown Heights

The Forward has coverage of the split within Chabad over how to react to Disengagement:

Hundreds of Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidim gathered in New York City last week to rally community opposition to Israel’s plan to dismantle settlements in Gaza and the northern West Bank.

The rally, held June 23 at the movement’s worldwide headquarters in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, featured Arieh Eldad, a Knesset member from the National Union Party, who is calling for massive civil disobedience to obstruct the removal of the settlers. The event was dominated by a faction of the Chabad community that believes that the movement’s late rebbe or grand rabbi, Menachem M. Schneerson, who died in 1994, will return to life as the messiah.…

Within the Chabad movement, individual leaders, particularly those from the messianic faction, have been in the forefront.…

The neutral stance of the central Chabad leadership has caused anger among some movement members. They "feel like they have to dance at two weddings," said one attendee at last week’s rally, speaking of the Chabad leadership. "The titular heads of the movement have basically marginalized themselves. Whether or not they’re on the train, the train has left the station a long time ago and is going and going and going."

… Last week’s rally in New York featured several leaders of official Chabad institutions, and was advertised as sponsored by both the Beit Din, or rabbinic court, of Crown Heights, and the local Vaad HaKohol, or community council. The council earlier had passed a resolution to adopt the Gush Katif settlement bloc in Gaza as a sister city.…

And the Vaad HaKohol’s president is…


Filed under Chabad Theology, Israel

Was It All About Extortion? Why Russia Really Tried To “Ban” The Code Of Jewish Law

The JTA reports:

Following a storm of protest from Jewish groups and Israeli politicians, Russian officials have dropped a probe into a Russian Jewish group for publishing a religious Jewish book.

But Russian and U.S. Jewish officials warn that those interested in human rights should remain vigilant to prevent similar incidents in the future.

“The fact that the prosecutors have been seriously considering that case for a long time, isn’t that a reason for us to be concerned?” said Rabbi Zinovy Kogan, chairman of the [non-Chabad] Congress of Jewish Religious Organizations and Communities of Russia, the group that was the subject of the probe.…

The probe was opened after an anti-Semitic letter was circulated earlier this year attacking the text of the Shulchan Aruch legal code as extremist and anti-Christian. The congress has published a short version of the medieval Jewish text.

The probe astonished Israeli officials and heads of international Jewish groups, who said it reminded them of religious persecution under the czar and of religious disputations foisted on Jews by the Catholic church in medieval times.

Mark Levin, executive director of NCSJ: Advocates on Behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States & Eurasia, said it’s still unknown what prompted the incident.

“We’re all pleased that the investigation was dropped, but it doesn’t answer the question of why the investigation was started in the first place,” he said. “This is the type of issue that shouldn’t occur in a society that is trying to promote tolerance and pluralism.”

Levin said his group will emphasize in its meetings with Russian government officials that these types of probes are unacceptable.

Direct pressure on Russia from Israel, local and foreign Jewish groups led to the decision to drop the case, observers in Moscow suggested.

Israeli and Russian media also noted that the news on dropping the probe was released during a visit to Moscow by Israel’s trade minister, Ehud Olmert. Olmert was in Moscow for talks on economic relations between the two countries.…

Again, do the math:

  1. No probe could have been launched if Putin objected.
  2. Putin’s government reacted weakly to the probe as it has to other antisemitic incidents.
  3. The announcement of the probe and of its "dropping" were timed to coincide with Olmert’s visit.
  4. Olmert’s visit was about trade between the two countries.
  5. Most graft and skimming done by senior Russian government officials is done from trade revenue.

Something’s rotten in Moscow and Chabad’s "chief rabbi" is covering for it.

UPDATE: The Forward’s coverage does not mention Olmert’s role or the timing of the probe. It does, however, appear to give Lazar undue credit for ending it:

The controversy over the investigation comes amid reports of growing Russian antisemitism and claims that government authorities have failed to mount a serious enough response to the trend. Some critics blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin, with a few observers even suggesting that the Kremlin had hoped to demand something from Israel in return for halting the investigation. But the leading Chabad official in the former Soviet Union and one of Russia’s two chief rabbis — Berel Lazar — has forged close relations with Putin. At least in this case, the rabbi’s influence appears to have paid off.

"We spoke to the prosecutor general of Russia and we explained it to him clearly, that in today’s age, to come out with such claims on Jewish texts… it’s really senseless," Lazar told the Forward. "In no way does [the code] affect today the relationship between Jews and non-Jews."

Lazar, who heads the Chabad-dominated Federation of Jewish Communities of the former Soviet Union, intervened even though the organization under investigation is aligned with the rival Russian Jewish Congress and includes Reform, Modern Orthodox and secular components.…

Lazar also used his interview with the Forward to cover for Putin:

Lazar, however, claims that Putin is committed to the Jewish community.

"I think it’s not a secret of the relationship the president has with the Jewish community in general," Lazar said in a telephone interview with the Forward. "I must say that lately, after his trip to Israel and me standing by him throughout the visits, it’s not a secret here in Russia."

So, Berl Lazar becomes the "hero" of this sorry episode, Israel’s role is reduced to a minor footnote, and Lazar uses his "stature" as a "hero" to promote (i.e., kasher) Putin. Does this sound familiar?



Filed under Chabad Theology, Court Jews & Quislings, Jewish Leadership, Thuggery and Dirty Tricks

Chabad Rabbis Meet With Prime Minister Sharon – Rabbis: We Can Barely Exert Our Authority Over Chabad

An account of Prime Minister Sharon’s meeting with Chabad rabbis (from Arutz 7):

The meeting began in a friendly atmosphere, but tensions gradually rose, and at certain points it was "almost on the verge of an explosion." So said today one of the participants, Chabad Spokesman Rabbi Menachem Brod, to Arutz-7’s Yosef Meiri.

Participating in the meeting were Rabbi Yehuda Leib Groner, who was the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s secretary, Chabad Israel Rabbinical Court Director Rabbi Yitzchak Yehuda Yaruslavski, his deputy Rabbi Menachem Glocobosky, Binyamin Regional Council Rabbi Shimon Elituv, and other senior rabbis.

The 90-minute meeting began with the recounting of stories about Prime Minister Sharon’s meetings with the Lubavitcher Rebbe and the warm ties between them. Left unmentioned was the fact that the Rebbe once advised Sharon not to enter politics altogether.

The Chabad representatives told the Prime Minister how strongly the Lubavitcher Rebbe always opposed any concession over any part of the Land of Israel. “While we do not have your experience and knowledge," Rabbi Brod told him, "we do have the Rebbe and we are certain that he is right."

Prime Minister Sharon explained what he felt were the advantages of his plan, the circumstances that led him to initiate it, and the importance he ascribes to the settlement movement. He spoke against violence – with the full agreement of his guests – and against refusal to fulfill disengagement-related orders. Some leading Chabad rabbis have called for such refusal.

"True, it is difficult and painful," Sharon said, "but the State of Israel has decided – we are leaving Gaza. Even if it is difficult, the Plan will be implemented. The Plan will be implemented because it is the right thing for the State of Israel.”

Rabbi Brod told Arutz-7 that the rabbis decided to meet with Sharon after he said that if he could speak with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, he would persuade him of the correctness of his plan. "We showed him that the Rebbe’s opinion, which is the opposite of Sharon’s, corresponds perfectly to the situation and dangers as we see it now," Rabbi Brod said. Sharon asked to see the Rebbe’s words in writing, and the rabbis said they would send him the relevant passages.

Sharon himself admitted that the Rebbe had been more precise and accurate in his analysis of the shortcomings of the infamous Bar-Lev Line [a chain of fortifications built by Israel along the Suez Canal after the Six Day War, which was easily overrun by attacking Egyptian forces on the first day of the Yom Kippur War – ed.] than IDF experts.

Rabbi Groner told Sharon, "You feel that the plan will be beneficial to Israel, but you yourself cannot be certain that things will develop the way you want them to. We tell you with absolute certainty, in light of the Rebbe’s clear words, that this plan will cause the exact opposite."

"It will lead to a most grave security deterioration, will bring terror to inestimably high levels, and will increase international pressure on Israel," Rabbi Groner continued. "If you think that giving up Gush Katif and northern Shomron will save the settlement blocs, the exact opposite will occur; it will serve as a precedent and proof that it is possible to dismantle even the large settlement blocs."

Asked if there were any arguments that seemed to make Sharon more uncomfortable than others, Rabbi Brod said, "When we talked about the danger to Jews that the plan was likely to bring, we could see that this was not pleasant for him to hear."

The Prime Minister said, "The country cannot accept violence against policemen and soldiers, and Chabad people who do this cause damage to Chabad." The rabbis responded that the disengagement plan causes such great pain and unrest in the public that they can barely exert their authority over them in these areas.

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Filed under Chabad Theology, Israel, Jewish Leadership

Iowa County Again Rejects Rubashkin Bid To Open Massive Factory Chicken Farm

An Iowa county has again rejected a Rubashkin bid to open a massive factory chicken farm:

[Rabbi Sholom M.] Rubashkin is manager of Agriprocessors, meat packing plant, which would take the broilers raised by Cottonballs. The Environmental Protection Agency has filed a lawsuit against Agriprocessors claiming the company repeatedly exceeded legal limits on pollutants discharged from its plant into a municipal wastewater treatment facility.

Because Rubashkin is involved with facilities found in violation, [county supervisor John] Logsdon said points should be reduced. He also cited a district court decision issued last week that reversed a wastewater discharge permit for Agriprocessors.

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Filed under Kosher Meat Scandal

How To Oppose Disengagement Thug (And Chabad) Style

How to oppose Disengagement thug (and Chabad) style. Note the sick use of small children:

Several dozen protesters, all of them children and teenagers, dashed into the road and stopped traffic in both directions. Police dragged about 10 protesters into a van. The protesters resisted and several escaped.

A few minutes earlier, children under the age of 10 sat on the road, chanting "Jews do not evict Jews," the slogan of the pullout opponents, slowing traffic.

…Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had instructed police and security forces to take all the necessary measures to prevent road blockages and publilc disturbances by right-wing activists.

"We will not allow a fellowship of gangs to drag the country downhill," Sharon told ministers during a cabinet meeting earlier Wednesday.

… "If there is one weak, dangerous, loose link that is guilty of this whole violent struggle, it is the Yesha Council," said Sharon aide Lior Horev. "They are acting like ostriches, looking the other way and taking no responsibility for the people whom they sent to the Gaza Strip, to that bloody hotel, and that girl who kicked the soldier in the head at the beginning of the week today, and today, people who are endangering people’s lives."

One of the drivers whose tires were punctured, Gilad Levy, a resident of the West Bank settlement of Kedumim and an opponent of the disengagement, voiced strong criticism of the activists’ actions.

"There are not the people of Yesha. These are members of the extreme right, with whom Yesha has no connection. They want to inflame passions like those whom are occupying the hotel in Gush Katif," a reference to young activists, many of them from the West Bank, who have barricaded themselves in former hotel in a settlement area of the Gaza Strip.

"They’re guys with simply nothing to do, guys who are bored."

The oil and nails were strewn at two sites on the highway, one at the Shappirim junction, the other near Kfar Chabad, a focal point of anti-disengagement activity.


Filed under Chabad Theology, Israel, Thuggery and Dirty Tricks

Rubashkin Ready To Open New Nebraska Slaughterhouse

“We are excited to work with our local partners in Nebraska and South Dakota to make Local Pride a full part of the Gordon community,” Sholom Rubashkin, whose family owns Local Pride, said in a press release. “For us, this effort represents the best of all worlds: The Gordon plant is a great business opportunity that will allow us to better serve our customers who rely on us for kosher meat products prepared according to the tenets of our faith. And in Gordon, we have found a place this business can call home, where we can be part of a great community and join with our neighbors in making it even greater.”

More here. Background here and here.


Filed under Kosher Business?, Kosher Meat Scandal