Friday, March 23, 2007

The Rebbe

The Lubavitcher Rebbe

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn was born April 18th, 1902 (the 11th of the Hebrew month of Nissan). In the Ukrainian town of Nikolaiev, he received rabbinical ordination from Rabbi Yosef Rosen. He also studied mathematics at Yekaterinoslav University and at a university in Berlin. In 1928, he married Chaya Mushka Schneerson. In 1933 he and his wife moved to Paris. There, he studied engineering and received a diploma in electrical engineering with a license to practice. In 1941 he left France, arriving in America. He soon found work as an engineer at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
He became active in his father in law’s religious movement, Chabad, also known as the Lubavich Hasidim movement. A year after his father in law, Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneersohn died in 1950, he was named the successor to lead the Lubavich movement.
The Rebbe organized an outreach baal teshuva program. His followers sought out non-affiliated Jews to return to the faith. Many of his group also engaged in secular studies and professions in the sciences and engineering just as the Rebbe had. Others became ordained rabbis and religious teachers. They traveled all over the United States and throughout the world seeking to bring Jews closer to the faith.
At the “Lubavich World Headquarter” building at 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, people would come from around the world. They would ask and receive his advice and blessing on personal matters. He would give out a dollar to each person to be used for charity. An insurance agent in Israel related to me in 1982 how he had flown to New York, taken a cab to the 770 building and met with the Rebbe for advice. He then returned directly to the airport by cab and flew home. The insurance agent did not stay overnight or see any more of American than the view from the taxi window.
The crowds of visitors grew so large that, from 1986, the Rebbe began greeting people in a receiving line. He continued to hand out a dollar to each visitor. After his wife pass away in 1988, he moved into the “Lubavich World Headquarter” building at 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn.
In 1992 he suffered a serious stroke. He was paralyzed on his right side and unable to speak. His health continued to deteriorate. During the last two years of his life, some of his followers declared him the moshiach. They further claimed that he acknowledged agreement by the movement of his hand and head. His ability to communicate at this point was minimal He died June 12th 1994. A successor has not been chosen. They believe that he is still their leader.

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