Part of a series on
Rebbes of Lubavitch
1. Shneur Zalman of Liadi
2. Dovber Schneuri
3. Menachem Mendel Schneersohn
4. Shmuel Schneersohn
5. Sholom Dovber Schneersohn
6. Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn
7. Menachem Mendel Schneerson
770 Eastern Parkway · 19 Kislev · Ohel
Chabad library · Crown Heights riot · 11 Nissan
Brooklyn Bridge shooting · 3 Tammuz
Agudas Chasidei Chabad · Chabad on Campus
Tzivos Hashem · · Kehos · Library
Gan Israel · Sheloh · Jewish Relief Agency
Children's Museum · JLI · Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch
Ohr Avner · Colel Chabad · Kol Menachem
Notable figures
Hillel Paritcher · S. Z. Fradkin · Itche Der Masmid
Yoel Kahn · L. Y. Schneerson · Nissan Neminov
Leib Groner · C. M. Schneerson · Herman Branover
Manis Friedman · Yehuda Chitrik · Yehuda Krinsky
Berel Lazar · Z. M. HaYitzchaki · C. M. A. Hodakov
Shemaryahu Gurary · Yitzchak Ginsburgh
Crown Heights · Kfar Chabad
Tanya · Shulchan Aruch HaRav
Tehillat HaShem · Maamarim
Hayom Yom · Likkutei Sichos · Igrot Kodesh
Tomchei Temimim · Morristown Rabbinical College
Oholei Torah · Hadar Hatorah ·Mayanot
Yeshivah Gedolah · Beth Rivkah · Bais Rivka
Machon Chana · Bais Chana · Ohel Chana
Yeshivah College · Ohr Avner
Mitzvah Campaigns · Chabad house
Chabad on Campus · Mitzvah tank · Tefillin
Public menorah · Noahide laws · Shliach
Chitas · Mashpia · Meiniach · Farbrengen
Nusach Ari · Choizer · Chabadnitze
Other Chabad groups
Strashelye · Kapust
Messianism · Library controversy
Moshe Schneuri · Malachim
v · d · e

Chabad-Lubavitch[1] is a Hasidic movement in Orthodox Judaism. One of the world's larger and best-known Hasidic movements, its official headquarters is in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York. The organization is believed to be the largest Jewish organization in the world today.[citation needed]

The name "Chabad" (Hebrew: חב"ד) is an acronym for Chochmah, Binah, Da'at (חכמה, בינה, דעת): "Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge."[2] "Lubavitch" is the only major extant branch of a family of Hasidic groups once known collectively as the Chabad movement; the names are now used interchangeably. The only other existing branch of Chabad is the Malachim. Other branches such as Strashelye and Kapust have rejoined the main fold.

Chabad was founded in the late 18th century by Shneur Zalman of Liadi. The Lubavitch branch takes its name from Lyubavichi, the Russian town where the group was based until the early 20th century. Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn the sixth leader fled war-torn Europe for New York in 1940,[3] where he established a synagogue. His son-in-law, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, turned the movement into a powerful force within Judaism.

Chabad maintains institutions in over 1000 cities around the world,[4] and in the early 21st century there were an estimated 3,300 Chabad institutions around the world[5][6][7] in 70 countries,[8] providing outreach and educational activities for Jews through Jewish community centers, synagogues, schools and camps. 1,350 institutions were listed in the Chabad directory as of 2007.[9]

The movement has over 200,000 adherents,[10][11][12][13] and up to one million Jews attend Chabad services at least once a year.[14][15] Chabad's adherents, known as Chabadniks (Hebrew: חב"דניק‎)[16] and/or Lubavitchers (Yiddish: ליובאוויטשער), follow Chabad traditions and prayer services based on Lurianic kabbalah. As "Hasidim", they follow the Chassidus of Israel ben Eliezer.


Philosophy of Chabad

Portrait of Shneur Zalman of Liadi (1745–1812) founder of Chabad and author of Tanya and Shulchan Aruch HaRav.

In a break with early Hasidism, Chabad philosophy emphasises mind over emotions.[17] The founder of the Chabad philosophy, Shneur Zalman of Liadi, developed an intellectual system and an approach to Judaism intended to answer criticisms of Hasidism as anti-intellectual. Through an approach based partly on Kabbalah, Chabad philosophy methodizes an understanding of God.[18]

Chabad philosophy incorporates the teachings of Kabbalah as a means to deal with one's daily life and psyche. It teaches that every aspect of the world exists only through the intervention of God. Through an intellectual approach and meditations, Chabad teaches that one can attain complete control over one's inclinations.[18]


According to Shneur Zalman's seminal work Tanya, the intellect consists of three interconnected processes: Chochma (wisdom), Bina (understanding), and Da'at (knowledge). While other branches of Hasidism focused primarily on the idea that "God desires the heart," Shneur Zalman argued that God also desires the mind, and that without the mind the heart was useless. With the Chabad philosophy he elevated the mind above the heart, arguing that "...understanding is the mother of...fear and love of God. These are born of knowledge and profound contemplation of the greatness of God."[19]

According to Jonathan Sacks, in Shneur Zalman's system Chochma represents "the creation in its earliest potentiality; the idea of a finite world as was first born in the divine mind. Binah is the idea conceived in its details, the result of contemplation. Da'at is, as it were, the commitment to creation, the stage at which the idea becomes an active intention."[20] While in Kabbala there are clearly delineated levels of holiness, in Chabad philosophy these are grounded in the mundanities of people's inner lives. So in reality — according to the Chabad analogy — Chochma is the birth of an idea in the mind, Binah is the contemplation, and Da'at is the beginning of the actualisation of an idea. Sacks argues that this provided a psychological formulation that enabled the hasid to substantiate his mystical thoughts. "This was an important advance because bridging the gap between spiritual insight and daily behaviour had always been a problem for Jewish mysticism."[20]

Chabad philosophy argues that man is neither static nor passive nor dependent on others to connect to God.[20] Shneur Zalman rejected all ideas of aristocratic birth and elitism — he argued for meritocracy where all were capable of growth, every Jew — in his view — was capable of becoming a Tzadik.[21]

Chabad can be contrasted with the Chagat (Chesed, Gevurah, Tiferet) school of Hasidism. While all Hasidim have a certain focus on the emotions, Chagat saw emotions as a reaction to physical stimuli, such as dancing singing or beauty. Shneur Zalman, on the other hand, taught that the emotions must be led by the mind, and thus the focus of Chabad thought was to be Torah study and prayer rather than esotericism and song.[20] As a Talmudist, Shneur Zalman endeavored to place Kabbalah and Hasidism on a rational basis. In Tanya, he defines his approach as "מוח שליט על הלב" ("the brain ruling the heart").[22]


Tanya, Shneur Zalman's magnum opus, is the first schematic treatment of Hasidic moral philosophy and its metaphysical foundations.[20] The original name of the first book is Sefer Shel Beinonim, the "Book of the Intermediates." It is also known as Likutei Amarim — "Collected Sayings." Sefer Shel Beinonim analyzes the inner struggle of the individual and the path to resolution. The philosophy is based on the notion that man himself is not evil; rather, every individual has an inner conflict that is characterized with two different inclinations, the good and the bad.[23]

Some have argued that Shneur Zalman's moderation and synthesis saved Hasidism from becoming a Jewish breakaway movement, keeping it within the fold. Avrum Erlich writes: "Shneur Zalman was instrumental in the preservation of Hasidism within mainstream Judaism. It allowed for some of the mystically inclined Hasidim to reacquaint themselves with traditional scholarship and the significance of strict halakhic observance and behavior, concerns with which other Hasidic schools were sometimes less exacting. Shneur Zalman also provided the opportunity for traditionalists and scholars to access the Hasidic mood and its spiritual integrity without betraying their traditional scholarly allegiances."[24]

Torah study

Shneur Zalman fought against the perception that was prevalent in the early years of Hasidism that the movement neglected Talmudic study by focusing too heavily on mysticism and obscurantism. He emphasized that mysticism without Talmudic study was worthless — even dangerous.[21] Without Talmudic study, he argued, the mind could never be elevated — and if the mind is not elevated, the soul will starve. On the other hand, he argued that while Torah was to be the focus of all study, it was also important to integrate the Torah's teachings into one's life. In a letter to Joshua Zeitlin of Shklow, Shneur Zalman wrote: "The Hasidim, too, set aside time for study. The difference between them and the Misnagdim is this: the latter set time for study and they are limited by time, whereas the former make the Torah their path of life."[21]

Shneur Zalman taught that Torah must be studied joyously — studying without joy is frowned upon. He provided a metaphor: when a mitzvah is fulfilled an angel is created. But if the mitzvah was joyless then the angel too will be dispirited. Thus, while Shneur Zalman emphasized that Hasidism focus on traditional Jewish scholarship rather than on mysticism, he was emphatic that this must be done with zeal and joy.[21]

Role of a Rebbe

In its earlier formulations, Hasidic thought had elevated the Rebbe to a level above that of typical hasid. A rebbe was closer to God, his prayers were more amenable to Him, and a hasid should satisfy himself with attachment to the Rebbe and hence indirectly to God. A rebbe was to be a living example of perfection and would concern himself with intellectualism on behalf of the followers.[20] According to Sacks, Chabad stressed the individual responsibilities of every Jew: "The rebbe...became more of a teacher and adviser, recognising the vocation of each of his followers, guiding them towards it, uncovering their strengths, and rejoicing in their achievements."[20]

In Chabad thought, as formulated by the Alter Rebbe the Rebbe was not an intermediary. The role of the rebbe was closer to that of a traditional community Rabbi, a supervisor rather than a superior. The Alter Rebbe's focus was on training his followers to become spiritually self-sufficient and to turn to their Rebbe for instructions rather than intercession with God, miracles or blessings.[21]

Role of a Hasid

Hasidism traditionally demanded that every Hasid personally participate in the dissemination of Torah and Judaism to one's surroundings and seek out the benefit of one's fellow Jew. Sholom Dovber Schneersohn said: A Hasid is he who surrenders himself for the benefit of another.[25] Beyond this, Chabad demands pnimiyut (inwardness / sincerity): one should not act superficially, as a mere act of faith, but rather with inner conviction.[26]

M. M. Schneerson's philosophy

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson strove, in his writings and lectures, to attain unity between opposites. He aimed to unite the mundane aspects of the world with the aspect of "godliness" in the world. Schneerson emphasized the concept of creating an abode for God on this world. Consequently, he sought to unite the modern world with the teachings of Judaism. He felt that the world was not a contradiction to the word of God, and it was to be embraced rather than shunned.[17]

Schneerson taught that modern technology does not contradict spirituality. For that reason, Chabad has consistently utilized modern technology to spread its message. Since its inception, Chabad have used the radio, and later television, satellite feeds, and the Internet to spread its message.[27]

Role of the Rebbe

In a continuation of longstanding Chabad tradition, Rabbi M.M. Schneerson demanded that each individual exert themselves in advancing spiritually, and not rely on the Rebbe to do it for them. At the communal gathering in 1951 commemorating the first anniversary of his predecessor's passing, and wherein he is considered to have formally accepted the mantle of leadership, he announced:[28] "Now listen, Jews. Generally, in Chabad it has been demanded that each individual work on themselves, and not rely on the Rebbeim...... One must, on their own, transform the folly of materialism and the passion of the 'animal soul' to holiness... I do not, God Forbid, recuse myself from assisting as much as possible, however; If one does not work on themselves, what good will submitting notes, singing songs, and saying lechayim do?!"


Schneerson looked to Torah law for the appropriate view of the Israeli-Arab conflict. He maintained that as a matter of Jewish law,[29] any territorial concession on Israel's part would endanger the lives of all Jews in the Land of Israel, and is therefore forbidden. He also insisted that even discussing the possibility of such concessions showed weakness, would encourage Arab attacks, and therefore endanger Jewish lives.[30]

In USA domestic politics, Schneerson supported government involvement in education and welcomed the establishment of the United States Department of Education in 1980, yet insisted that part of a school's educational mission was to incorporate the values espoused in the Seven Laws of Noah. He called for the introduction of a moment of silence at the beginning of the school day, and for students to be encouraged to use this time for such improving thoughts or prayers as their parents might suggest.[31]

Schneerson demanded in 1981[32][33] that the USA achieve energy independence by developing solar energy, as the dependence and resulting subjugation to foreign nations could cause the country to compromise its principles.


Schneerson became infused with a drive to "accelerate the coming of the Messiah". He instructed his followers to become active in kiruv, literally meaning "bringing close", the act of helping another Jew embrace his Judaism more.[21] To this end, his slogan become Ufaratzta (from Genesis 28:14), a Hebrew word meaning "you shall spread out," imploring his followers to hasten the Messianic Age by "saving" Jewish souls from the secularist path of abandoning one's faith.[20]

Chabad outreach/"Kiruv"

Schneerson instructed his followers to become active in kiruv — "bringing close" secular Jews to Orthodox practice. This approach to outreach became known as Ufaratzta (from Genesis 28:14), a Hebrew word meaning "you shall spread out" to implore his followers to hasten the Messianic Age by spreading Jewish observance.[34]

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, it sometimes seemed, commanded the largest Jewish "army" outside of Israel. His followers regarded him as their commander in chief and obeyed all his orders. Hasidim routinely would uproot their families and move to whatever city the Rebbe directed them... The loyalty to this mission continued even after the Rebbe's death,so that there are now Lubavitcher representatives in over a thousand cites throughout the United States and the world. One of the great figures of Israeli Orthodoxy, Rabbi Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman is reputed to have said: "I have found two things in every city I have visited, Coca-Cola and Lubavitcher Hasidim".[35]

Because of its outreach to all Jews, even the most alienated from religious Jewish tradition, Lubavitch has been described as the one Orthodox group to evoke great affection from large segments of American Jewry.[36]

History of Lubavitch

The Rebbes of Lubavitch

Sholom Dovber Schneersohn, the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe

The movement originated in Ukraine in Eastern Europe, then part of Imperial Russia under the Tsars. Chabad traces its roots back to the beginnings of Hasidic Judaism.

  • Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (1745–1812), was the youngest student of Rabbi Dovber of Mezeritch and founded the Chabad dynasty (he is known as the Alter Rebbe). He defined the direction of his movement and influenced Hasidic Judaism through his two most famous works the Tanya and the Shulchan Aruch HaRav. Tanya is primarily mystical and expounds upon the Zohar. The Shulchan Aruch HaRav is an authoritative work on Jewish law. The names "Schneersohn" and "Schneerson" began as patronymics by Rabbi Shneur Zalman's descendants. The first form of this name was "Shneuri" (Hebrew for "of Shneur"). This was later changed to "Schneersohn".
  • Rabbi Dovber Schneuri (1773–1827), son of Rabbi Shneur Zalman. Known as the Mitteler Rebbe. He authored many works, which aimed to categorize and render accessible mystical pursuits, particularly the various states of meditation in prayer. His magnum opus Sha'ar HaYichud aims to systematically explain the concept of God's unity with the universe.
  • Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn (1789–1866), grandson of Rabbi Shneur Zalman and son-in-law of Dovber, known for his responsa named Tzemach Tzedek. He was a major hasidic posek of his time. He also edited and annotated many of the Alter Rebbe's works, as well as authoring a vast amount of his own mystical works. He was politically active in resisting the Haskalah in Russia, and to this end forged an alliance with Rabbi Yitzchok of Volozhin, a major leader of the misnagdim.
  • Rabbi Shmuel Schneersohn (1834–1882), youngest son of Rabbi Menachem Mendel, known as "The Rebbe Maharash". His most famous saying is Lechatchile ariber — don't bother trying to go around or under obstacles, go right over them.[37] He was politically active in defending Jewish interests against antisemitic elements in the Tsar's government.[38]
  • Rabbi Sholom Dovber Schneersohn (1860–1920), son of Shmuel, known as "the Rebbe Rashab". He is known for founding the Tomchei Temimim yeshiva network and his opposition to secular and religious political Zionism. His long essays on Chasidus (Ma'amorim) are studied in all Chabad yeshivas as central to a proper understanding of Chasidus.
  • Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn (1880–1950), only son of Sholom Dovber, known as the "Rebbe Rayatz" or the "Frierdiker Rebbe" (Yiddish:Previous Rebbe). He was the first Lubavitcher Rebbe to visit and later settle in the United States. Following the tradition of his predecessors, he wrote lengthy complex ma'amorim, but also dedicated much time to more basic ma'amorim suitable for beginners. He kept a diary in which he recorded Hasidic stories he had heard; many excerpts of this diary have been published, and these are a major source of knowledge about both general Hasidic history as well as Chabad history in particular.
  • Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson[39] (1902–1994), fifth in paternal line from Menachem Mendel and son-in-law of the previous rebbe, Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn. He was successful in expanding the ranks of Chabad and spreading Orthodox Judaism in general. Even after his death he is revered as the leader of the Chabad movement.

Shneur Zalman of Liadi

Shneur Zalman of Liadi (also known as the Alter Rebbe) was the founder of the Chabad school of Hasidism. He became involved in the early Hasidic movement. His background as a youth had been in traditional Talmud study rather than hasidism.[21] He was a prominent as well as the youngest disciple of Rabbi Dovber of Mezeritch — principal disciple and successor of the Baal Shem Tov, founder of general hasidism — and was appointed Rabbi in the town of Liozna, later Liadi. Over time Chabad branched out into a number of dynastic groups in towns such as Lubavitch, Liadi, and Kapost. Doctrinal differences between these groups were minimal. Since the early 20th century, the other dynasties have ended and Lubavitch alone remains as a cohesive group.[40] The Alter Rebbe became not only the leader of his own hasidic movement but a prominent figure in Hasidism in general through his writings. He was the first to codify the philosophy of Hasidism in a comprehensive way and the first to put the customs and halacha of hasidism into book form.[20] He was the most prominent exponent of Hasidism throughout his life, and his influence on the movement was profound. He directed the movement away from obscurantism and towards more traditional forms of study. Chabad as a school of thought changed Hasidism, and this gave the Chabad movement prestige.[21]

He was twice arrested by the Russian authorities of suspicion of sedition or spying[41] – the exact details remain contended to this day, although the accusations against him were certainly false.[42]

He supported the Tsar against Napoleon in French invasion of Russia (1812)[43] arguing that the emancipation of the Jews would lead to laxity in observance.[44] His death in 1812, while fleeing from Napoleon left the question of succession open.[45]

Dovber Schneuri

Schneuri moved with the followers who preferred him to the small border town of Lyubavichi. He established a Yeshiva in Lubavitch, one of the earliest Hasidic yeshivas.[45]

Like his father he was the subject of an arrest in 1826. DovBer began a campaign (in 1822, or 1823) to urge Jews to learn trades and skilled factory work. He continued in his father's philosophical path, encouraging the study of kabbalah alongside traditional halachic texts. He served as the Rebbe for 15 years, dying in 1827.[46]

Menachem Mendel Schneersohn

Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, a grandson of the Alter Rebbe, born in 1789, is known as the Tzemach Tzedek, the title of his responsa.[47] In 1806 he married his first cousin, Dovber's daughter Chaya Mushka, also born in 1789. Upon Dovber's death, he became the prime candidate for succession; after a 3-year interregnum during which he tried to persuade the chasidim to accept Dovber's son Menachem-Nachum, or brother Chaim-Avraham, he accepted the leadership in 1831.[48] He was active in the opposition to the Haskalah (enlightenment Jews). In retaliation, the maskilim slandered him to the government several times between 1840–1842. However his services to the crown earned him the title "hereditary honored citizen". He served as Rebbe for 35 years until his death in 1866. He is buried in Lubavitch.

Shmuel Schneersohn

Shmuel Schneersohn, the seventh son of Menachem Mendel, took over for his father following his death and served as Rebbe of the movement until his own death in 1882. As a leader of a prominent Hasidic grouping, he became active in fighting Anti-Semitic decrees and pogroms in Russia and beyond. He traveled widely to places such as St. Petersburg, Kiev, France and Germany to this end.[49]

Sholom Dovber Schneersohn

Sholom Dovber Schneersohn, Shmuel's second son, rose to prominence interceding on behalf of the Jews in a number of issues including the May Laws. Although he fulfilled many of the functions of Rebbe after his father's death in 1882, he didn't officially accept the leadership until 1892, after his elder brother, Zalman Aharon, had moved from Lubavitch to Vitebsk. In 1897 he established the Tomchei Temimim yeshiva.

He was a fierce critic of secular Zionism and a proponent of Jews taking on factory work and farming. He kept the Lubavitch movement out of the World Agudath Israel when it formed in 1912. He died in 1920, after almost 40 years of stewardship of Lubavitch.[50]

Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn

The previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn

Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, the only son of Sholom Dovber took charge of the movement on the death of his father and led it until his death in 1950. He fought against the Bolsheviks by attempting to preserve Jewish life in Russia. In 1927 he was arrested and imprisoned in the Spalerno prison in Leningrad, and sentenced to death for spreading Judaism. After international protests his life was spared and he went on a world tour in the early 1930s. He returned to Warsaw in 1934, disillusioned with the secularism of the United States. He stayed in Warsaw with his Hasidim through 1940 and the capture of the city by the Nazis. A desperate struggle to save his life ensued. Ultimately he was granted diplomatic immunity, and arrived in New York in March 1940,[3] reputedly with the help of Admiral Wilhelm Canaris.[51] Most of the Chabad Yeshiva system was destroyed by Bolshevik governments and the Nazi invasion in 1941, and many of its students were killed.

His ten years in New York saw the seeds of Lubavitch emissary work, and its messianic drive that was later taken on by his son-in-law and successor Menachem Mendel Schneerson. In 1948, on his instruction Kfar Chabad was established in Israel.


He had three daughters, the oldest, Chana, married Rabbi Shemaryahu Gurary (1898–1989). The second daughter, Chaya Mushka (March 16, 1901 – February 10, 1988), married Menachem Mendel Schneerson. The youngest daughter married Mendel Hornstein, and died alongside him in the Holocaust. Schneerson and Gurary became the candidates for succession on Yosef Yitzchak's death. Schneerson was considered modern, while Gurary was problematic as his only son, Barry Gurary was not very religious at all.[45] One year after Yosef Yitzchak's death Schneerson was chosen and turned the movement from a fairly prominent Hasidic sect into a large organization with a presence throughout the world.[45]

Menachem Mendel Schneerson

Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who had been living in Rostov, Berlin, and Paris, France, since 1928, escaped from Paris via Nice in 1941 and joined his father-in-law in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York City.

Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Last Lubavitcher Rebbe

On Menachem Mendel Schneerson's accession to the post of Rebbe a year after his father-in-law's death, he began turning the movement into a powerful force in Jewish life. His policies led to the establishment of Chabad institutions in over 900 cities around the world. He inspired many of his followers to dedicate their life's work to Chabad by talking of the impending messianic redemption.[45]


Schneerson's regular talk of the coming of the messiah, led to speculation by some that he was going to reveal himself as the messiah. The belief that he was the messiah, first openly professed by Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpo[52] in a 1984 book, became commonplace the movement in the years leading up to Schneerson's death.[53]

Some believe that Schneerson's lack of offspring or a clear primary student exacerbated the messianism, and his death in 1994 was followed by a split in the Chabad movement between the messianists, who believe that Schneerson is the messiah, and the anti-messianists who either don't believe this, or believe that this should be a private belief.[45] The fragmentation in the movement from the top down into rival camps has not seriously impeded Chabad's activities around the world – indeed, it continues to open new institutions on a regular basis.[45] As of 2007 the Chabad directory listed over 1,300 institutions in 65 countries.[9]

Current activities


Chabad is currently thought to be the third[54] or fourth largest[55] Hasidic movement in Orthodox Judaism in terms of numbers of adherents. There are more than 200,000 adherents to the movement,[10][11][12][13] and up to a million Jews attend Chabad services at least once a year.[14][15]


Global Chabad headquarters in Crown Heights
Group photo of Chabad-Lubavitch Shluchim (emissaries)
Chabad Bais Sonia Gutte Campus, Los Angeles

According to the Chabad movement online directory there are presently around 1,350 Chabad institutions around the world, when Schools and other establishments are taken into account. There are Chabad emissaries in 65 countries around the World according to their listings. In the USA there are over 600 establishments,[56] 300 in Israel, 90 in Russia, 80 in France, 60, in Canada, 50 in the Ukraine, 40 in Australia and 30 in each of Argentina, Brazil, and the United Kingdom. There are around 15 each in Germany and South Africa; around 10 in Italy, Austria, Belarus and Belgium and Holland. There are 6 in China and Uzbekistan; 5 in Thailand and Kazakhstan. There are 3 in Spain and Sweden - and one in Copenhagen, Denmark. Another 40 countries have a small Chabad presence. In total, according to their directory, Chabad have a presence in 950 cities around the world. 178 in Europe, 14 in Africa, 200 in Israel, 400 in North America, 38 in South America, and about 70 in Asia (excluding Israel, including Russia.)[9]


Following the initiative of the sixth Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson spurred on the movement to what has become known as shlichus ("serving as an emissary [performing outreach]") after becoming Rebbe in 1950–1951. As a result, Chabad shluchim ("emissaries", sing. shliach) have moved all over the world with the stated mission of encouraging non-observant Jews to adopt Orthodox Jewish observance. They assist Jews with all their religious needs, as well as with physical assistance and spiritual guidance and teaching. The stated goal is to encourage Jews to learn more about their Jewish heritage and to practice Judaism.[57]

The movement, motivated by Schneerson, has trained and ordained thousands of rabbis, educators, ritual slaughterers, and ritual circumcisers, who are then accompanied by their spouses to many locations around the world. Typically a young Lubavitch rabbi and his wife, in their early twenties, with one or two children, will move to a new location, and as they settle in will raise a large family who as a family unit, will aim to fulfill their mandate of bringing Jewish people closer to Orthodox Judaism and encouraging gentiles to adhere to the Seven Laws of Noah.[57]

Chabad Houses

A Chabad House or Center is a form of Jewish community center under their own religious auspices, often serving as the nerve center of all the educational and outreach activities of a shliach (emissary) rabbi and his colleagues or allies in any given community. Often until the community can support the building of its own building for a Chabad house, the "Chabad House" is located in the shliach's home, with the living room being used as the "synagogue". The term "Chabad House" originated in California with the creation of the first such outreach center on the campus of UCLA by Rabbi Shlomo Cunin.[58]

The centers are informal in setup. They primarily serve both educational and observance purposes.[59] Effort is made to provide an atmosphere in which the nonobservant will not feel intimidated by any perceived contrast between their lack of knowledge of Jewish practice and the advanced knowledge of some of the people they meet there.[60]

In the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the local Chabad house was targeted.[61][62] The local Chabad emissaries, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka, and four other Jews were brutally murdered. Chabad received condolences from around the world.[63]


As of 2007 there are 3,300 Chabad institutions around the world.[5][6][7] As of 2006 there were Chabad centers in 75 countries.[8]

Outreach activities

Mitzvah campaigns

The Rebbes of Chabad have issued the call to all Jews to attract non-observant Jews to adopt Orthodox Jewish observance, teaching that this activity is part of the process of bringing the Messiah. Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson issued a call to every Jew: "Even if you are not fully committed to a Torah life, do something. Begin with a mitzvah — any mitzvah — its value will not be diminished by the fact that there are others that you are not prepared to do".[64]

Schneerson also suggested ten specific mitzvot that he believed were ideally suited for the emissaries to introduce to non-observant Jews. These were called "mivtzoim" — meaning "campaigns" or "endeavors." These were: lighting candles before Shabbat and the Jewish holidays by Jewish women; putting on tefillin; affixing a mezuzah; regular Torah study; giving Tzedakah; purchasing Jewish books; observing kashrut (kosher); kindness to others; Jewish education, and observing the family purity laws.[citation needed]

In addition, Schneerson emphasized spreading awareness of preparing for and the coming of the Jewish messiah, consistent with his philosophy. He wrote on the responsibility to reach out to teach every fellow Jew with love, and implored that all Jews believe in the imminent coming of the Messiah as explained by Maimonides. He argued that redemption was predicated on Jews doing good deeds, and that gentiles should be educated about the Noahide Laws. Chabad has been a prime force in disseminating awareness of these laws.[citation needed]

Schneerson was emphatic about the need to encourage and provide strong education for every child, Jew and non-Jew alike.[citation needed]


Chabad has set up an extensive network of camps around the world, most using the name Gan Israel, a name chosen by Schneerson although the first overnight camp was the girls division called Camp Emunah. There are 1,200 sites serving 210,000 children — most of whom do not come from Orthodox homes. Of these, 500 camps are in the United States.[65][66]


In recent years Chabad has greatly expanded its reach on university and college campuses. Chabad Student Centers are active on over 100 campuses, and Chabad offers varied activities at an additional 150 universities worldwide.[67] Professor Alan Dershowitz has said that "Chabad’s presence on college campuses today is absolutely crucial", and "We cannot rest until Chabad is on every major college campus in the world".[68]


Distribution of Jewish religious literature. Kehot Publication Society (the Chabad publishing house) has promoted this by translating books into 12 languages, providing books at discounted prices, and hosting book-a-thons. Kehot has traditionally distributed books either transcribed from the Rebbeim, chassidim, or those on practical law penned by rabbis and authors.


Setting up, one of the first Jewish educational websites[27] and the first and largest virtual congregation.[69][70] It serves not just its own members but Jews worldwide in general.[71] According to, is currently the largest Jewish educational website worldwide.[72]


Funds for activities of a Chabad center rely entirely on the local community. Chabad centers do not receive funding from Lubavitch headquarters. For the day to day operations, local emissaries do all the fundraising by themselves. Sue Fishcoff writes:

Emissaries in the field may sink millions of dollars into their center, synagogues and Mikvahs, but their own homes are modest, again patterned after their Rebbe's lack of personal ostentation.[73]
The needs of fundraising, therefore, led to the development of a utilitarian streak in even the best and most loyal hasidim, and challenged the ability of the movement to publicly express more controversial elements of its ideology.[74]


Chabad pioneered the post-World War II outreach movement, which spread Judaism to many assimilated Jews worldwide, leading to a substantial number of baalei teshuva ("returnees" to Judaism). The very first Yeshiva/Rabbinical College for such "baalei teshuva", Hadar Hatorah was established by the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Chabad followers have had a notable influence on Jewish entertainment. Composer and rabbi Shlomo Carlebach began his outreach work as a representative of Chabad (he later moved away from the movement), Avraham Fried is also an adherent.

According to Steven I. Weiss, Chabad's ideology has dramatically influenced non-Hasidic Jews' practice with regard to Jewish outreach issues.[75]


Chabad has specific minhagim ("customs") that distinguish it from other Hasidic groups. For example, they do not wear the fur hats common among other hasidim. Until the 1950s, most wore the Russian kasket; now most wear a black fedora. Almost all American Chabad Hasidim pronounce Hebrew according to the Lithuanian dialect. However, many native Israeli Chabad Hasidim pronounce Hebrew according to the Modern Israeli Hebrew dialect. Like many other Hasidic groups, Chabad attaches importance to singing Chabad Hasidic nigunim ("tunes"), usually without words, and following precise customs of their leaders.[76][77]


Chabad from its inception by Shneur Zalman of Liadi has been a counter-cultural movement within Hasidsim, and has an interesting and varied history of controversies dating back to the 18th century.

Menachem Mendel Schneerson, his philosophy, deeds and legacy are often debated with the study of Judaism. Schneerson was criticized by some contemporary Jewish leaders, for his messianic focus.


In Tanya, Shneur Zalman of Liadi defines "Chabad Hasidism" as "מוח שליט על הלב" ("mind ruling over the heart/emotions").[78] Chabad Chasidism considers this emphasis to make it fundamentally different from other forms of Hasidism, which are referred to as "Chagas";[79] this acronym refers to the emotional attributes of Chesed ("kindness"), Gevurah ("power"), and Tifereth ("beauty"), and implies that relatively speaking other Chasidic groups place a lesser emphasis on intellectual comprehension of Chasidic philosophy than that found in Chabad teaching.[citation needed]

Chabad is sometimes written as Habad in English and in all the phonetic equivalents of the name in all the countries they operate in. Thus, as an example, Jabad is the Spanish form.

In Hasidic Judaism, a dynasty normally takes its name from the town in Eastern Europe where it was based. Lyubavichi (called לובאוויטש Lyubavitsh in Yiddish, which is usually rendered Lubavitch in English) is a small town now in Smolensk Oblast, Russia, (then Imperial Russia). The movement was founded in Liozna, and then moved to Liadi, but it moved to Lubavitch after the Napoleonic War, and was based there for 102 years.[citation needed]

See also


  • Hayom Yom. "Kehot Publication Society. 1994. ISBN 0-8266-0669-5. 
  1. ^ Also Chabad, Habad or Lubavitch
  2. ^ "About Chabad-Lubavitch on". Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  3. ^ a b Altein, R, Zaklikofsky, E, Jacobson, I: "Out of the Inferno: The Efforts That Led to the Rescue of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn of Lubavitch from War Torn Europe in 1939–40", page 270. Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch, 2002 ISBN 0826606830
  4. ^ "Jewish Literacy", Telushkin, William Morrow 2001, p.470
  5. ^ a b Gelbwasser, Michael, Sun Chronicle, March 31, 2007
  6. ^ a b Religion today, by Emily Fredrix, December 6, 2007 Associated Press
  7. ^ a b About Chabad-Lubavitch on the official Chabad website,
  8. ^ a b Drake, Carolyn, National Geographic Magazine, February 2006
  9. ^ a b c "The directory of Chabad Institutions throughout the world". Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  10. ^ a b The perfect matzo a matter of timing, Associated Press April. 12, 2006
  11. ^ a b "Wertheimer, Jack. A People Divided: Judaism in Contemporary America. New York: Basic Books (A Division of Harper Collins) (1993); pg. xiv–xv". Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  12. ^ a b Occhiogrosso, Peter. The Joy of Sects: A Spirited Guide to the World's Religious Traditions. New York: Doubleday (1996), Chapter: Judaism; pg. 250.
  13. ^ a b Andryszewski, Tricia. Communities of the Faithful: American Religious Movements Outside the Mainstream. Bookfield, Connecticut: Millbrook Press (1997); pg. 95.
  14. ^ a b Slater, Elinor and Robert, Great Jewish Men, Jonathan David Publishers 1996 (ISBN 08246 03818). Page 279.
  15. ^ a b Sharon Chisvin (5 August 2007). "Chabad Lubavitch centre set for River Heights area". Winnipeg Free Press. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. 
  16. ^ Cohen, J. Simcha (December 28, 1999). How Does Jewish Law Work?. Jason Aronson. p. 329. ISBN 0765760908. Retrieved September 4, 2009. 
  17. ^ a b Weiner, Hebert, 9½ Mystics (ISBN 00206-81607).
  18. ^ a b Stroll, Avrum, ‘Encyclopedia Judaica’’, Second Edition, Volume 18 pages 503–505 (ISBN 00286-59287).
  19. ^ Tanya', Shneur Zalman of Liadi, Chapter 13.
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i The Encyclopedia of Hasidism, entry: Habad, Jonathan Sacks, pp. 161–164
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h Hasidism: The movement and its masters, Harry M. Rabinowicz, 1988, pp.83–92, Jason Aronson, London ISBN 0876689985
  22. ^ Tanya, ch. 12
  23. ^ The Encyclopedia of Hasidism, entry: Tanya, Jonathan Sacks, pp. 475–477 (15682–11236)
  24. ^ The Messiah of Brooklyn: Understanding Lubavitch Hasidim Past and Present, M. Avrum Ehrlich, Chapter 2
  25. ^ Sefer Hasichos 5700 p. 33
  26. ^ The Mystical Dimension vol. 3 by Jacob Emanuel Schochet. Kehot Publication Society 1995 p.198.(ISBN 0826605303)
  27. ^ a b Zaleski, Jeffrey P. (June 1997). The Soul of Cyberspace: How New Technology Is Changing Our Spiritual Lives. Harpercollins. ISBN 0062514512. Retrieved April 7, 2007. 
  28. ^ Toras Menachem vol.2 p.212-213
  29. ^ Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim, 328
  30. ^ Essentially his argument was apolitical seeking merely the position which would prevent loss of lifeFreeman, Tzvi. "Should I Pray for the Death of Terrorists? – Ethics & Religion". Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  31. ^ Hayom Yom, p.A29
  32. ^ "Website video link". Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  33. ^ " website video link". 1981-04-15. Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  34. ^ Hayom Yom, p.A38
  35. ^ "Jewish Literacy", Telushkin, William Morrow 2001, p.470
  36. ^ "Jewish Literacy", Telushkin, William Morrow 2001, p.471
  37. ^ "Sefer HaToldos Admur Maharash". Retrieved March 8, 2008. 
  38. ^ Anti-Semitism and the Russian Government; excerpt from Challenge
  39. ^ He dropped the second 'H' from his name.
  40. ^ The Messiah of Brooklyn: Understanding Lubavitch Hasidim Past and Present, M. Avrum Ehrlich, Introduction, KTAV Publishing, ISBN 0881258369
  41. ^ On learning Chassidus, Brooklyn, 1959, p.24
  42. ^ Kerem Habad, Kefar Habad, 1992, pp.17–21, 29–31 (Documents from the Prosecutor Generals archive in St. Petersburg)
  43. ^ Should Napoleon be victorious...": Politics and Spirituality in Early Modern Jewish Messianism, Hillel Levine, Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought 16–17, 2001
  44. ^ Napoleon u-Tekufato, Mevorach, pp.182–183
  45. ^ a b c d e f g Leadership in the Chabad movement, Avrum Erlich, Jason Aronson, 2000 ISBN 076576055X
  46. ^ Hayom Yom, p.A10
  47. ^ The words "Tzemach" and "Tzedek" have the same gematria as "Menachem" and "Mendel" respectively.
  48. ^ Chanoch Glitzenshtein, Sefer Hatoldos Tzemach Tzedek
  49. ^ Hayom Yom, p.A14
  50. ^ Hayom Yom, pp.15–16
  51. ^ Altein, R, Zaklikofsky, E, Jacobson, I: "Out of the Inferno: The Efforts That Led to the Rescue of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn of Lubavitch from War Torn Europe in 1939–40", page 160. Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch, 2002 ISBN 0826606830
  52. ^ The Revelation of Melech HaMashiach (King Messiah), "Yechi HaMelech", Sholom Ber Wolpo, "The Committee for Fulfilling the Rebbe's Directives"
  53. ^ "The Lubavitch Messianic Resurgence: The Historical and Mystical Background 1939–1996", Rachel Elior in Toward the Millennium: Messianic Expectations from the Bible to Waco ed. Peter Schäfer and Mark Cohen, 383–408. (Leiden: Brill, 1998)
  54. ^ Gall, Timothy L. (ed). Worldmark Encyclopedia of Culture & Daily Life: Vol. 3 — Asia & Oceania. Cleveland, OH: Eastword Publications Development (1998) pg. 776.
  55. ^ The Messiah of Brooklyn: Understanding Lubavitch Hasidim Past and Present, M. Avrum Ehrlich,ch.15, note 5. KTAV Publishing, ISBN 0881258369
  56. ^ Note: Figures are rounded the one significant figure.
  57. ^ a b Fishkoff, Sue, "The Rebbe’s Army", Schoken books 2003 (ISBN 08052 11381)
  58. ^ Challenge
  59. ^ The New York Times, December 16, 2005.
  60. ^ Passover Seders, Around the World, ‘‘The Associated Press’’, March 19, 2007
  61. ^ Jewish Center Is Stormed, and 6 Hostages Die
  62. ^ By Joshua RunyanNov 30, 2008 (2008-11-30). "Funeral Preparations for Chabad House Victims Under Way". Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  63. ^ Obama sends condolences to Chabad, Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA), December 4, 2008.
  64. ^ "The Rebbe's 10-Point Mitzvah Campaign". Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  65. ^ Chabad camps electrify many Jews, not just Lubavitch Friday September 1, 2000 Julie Wiener Jewish Telegraphic Agency
  66. ^ "Camp Gan Israel Directory". Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  67. ^ "Directory of Chabad on Campus". Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  68. ^ "Oxford Chabad website quoting Dershowitz". 2005-11-27. Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  69. ^ Rabbi Yosef Kazen, 44; Internet Visionary The Jewish Week 12/11/1998
  70. ^ Harmon, Ami (December 13, 1998). "Yosef Kazen, Hasidic Rabbi And Web Pioneer, Dies at 44". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 January 2010. 
  71. ^ What is the secret, organizational and spiritual, of the Lubavitch movement's success? The New York Times January 22, 2000
  72. ^ " Traffic Details". 1994-01-14. Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  73. ^ Fishkoff, Sue, ‘’The Rebbe’s Army’’, Schoken books 2003 (ISBN 08052 11381) pages 160–161.
  74. ^ The Messiah of Brooklyn: Understanding Lubavitch Hasidim Past and Present, M. Avrum Ehrlish, p.134,
  75. ^ Weiss, Steven I. "Orthodox Rethinking Campus Outreach", The Jewish Daily Forward, January 20, 2006. (originally) Accessed April 7, 2007
  76. ^ By DovBer Pinson (2010-01-16). "Pinson, D: "Kabbalistic Music — The Niggun"". Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  77. ^ Freeman, Tzvi. "Freeman, T: "Nigun"". Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  78. ^ Tanya, ch. 12.
  79. ^ Reference of the Rebbe Rayatz to Chassidei "Chagas". Reference of the Rebbe

Further reading

  • Feldman, Jan L. Lubavitchers As Citizens: A Paradox of Liberal Democracy, Cornell University Press, 2003 (ISBN 0-8014-4073-4)
  • A Faith Grows in Brooklyn, photographs and text by Carolyn Drake. National Geographic February, 2006. For the online version click here..
  • Fishkoff, Sue. The Rebbe's Army: Inside the World of Chabad-Lubavitch, Schocken, 2003 (ISBN 0-8052-4189-2)
  • Heilman, Samuel and Menachem Friedman. The Rebbe: The Life and Afterlife of Menachem Mendel Schneerson (Princeton University Press; 2010) 400 pages
  • Hoffman, Edward. Despite All Odds: The Story of Lubavitch. Simon & Schuster, 1991 (ISBN 0-671-67703-9)
  • Jacobson, Simon. Toward A Meaningful Life: The Wisdom of the Rebbe, William Morrow, 2002 (ISBN 0-06-051190-7)
  • Ehrlich, Avrum M. Leadership in the Habad Movement: a Critical Evaluation of Habad Leadership, History, and Succession, Jason Aronson, 2000. (ISBN 076576055X)
  • Lessons in Tanya (ISBN 0826605400)
  • Challenge: an encounter with Lubavitch-Chabad, Lubavitch Foundation of Great Britain, 1973 ISBN 0-8266-0491-9
  • Mindel, Nissan. The philosophy of Chabad. Chabad Research Center, 1973 (ISBN 082660417X)
  • Schneerson, Menachem Mendel. On the Essence of Chasidus: A Chasidic Discourse by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson of Chabad-Lubavitch. Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch, 2003 (ISBN 0-8266-0466-8)
  • Weiss, Steven I. "Orthodox Rethinking Campus Outreach", The Forward January 20, 2006.
  • Simon Dein, Lorne L. Dawson, "The 'Scandal' of the Lubavitch Rebbe: Messianism as a Response to Failed Prophecy," Journal of Contemporary Religion, 23,2 (2008), 163-180.
  • Maya Balakirsky Katz, "Trademarks of Faith: "Chabad and Chanukah in America"," Modern Judaism, 29,2 (2009), 239-267.

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