New Voices goes Inside Chabad

Chabad, the ubiquitous Jewish movement best known among American Jews for its outreach on college campuses, is in many ways a mystery. Why, unlike most ultra-Orthodox, do the Lubavitch reach out to rather than reject secular Jews? What do they get when you put on t’fillin? Are they Zionist or anti-Zionist? What do they think of mainstream Jewish movements and what do those movements think of them? Do all Lubavitchers even share the same views on these issues?

A new issue of New Voices, the national Jewish student magazine, addresses these questions, exploring the less known—and often troubling—aspects of Chabad. “As one JTA staffer noted,” writes Ben Harris of the JTA, “it’s pretty ‘ballsy’ of NV to take on Lubavitch, though takedown is probably a more accurate description.”

Takedown or not, New Voices has done what no other serious Jewish publication has dared do: subject Chabad to the same journalistic scrutiny every powerful, religious movement deserves. Here’s their preview:

So, who are these bearded men with their bewigged wives? In the following pages, you will find the story of a Chabad rabbi’s struggle with Hillel at Princeton , the story of a Chabad House in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank , and the story of an ex-Chabadnik who fought in Iraq before joining the anti-war movement . We have coverage of the scandal that rocked the world of Kosher meat this summer, an interview with a Reform rabbi about the place of Chabad in the religious life of secular Jews, a critique of non-Orthodox support for Chabad, and an exploration of the contemporary meaning of 770 Eastern Parkway. Plus, book reviews , music reviews , and a comic . Enjoy.

—Jeremy Gillick
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4 responses to “New Voices goes Inside Chabad

  1. How about this story about Saudi clek favoring one eye viel http://arefe.wordpress.com/2008/10/06/saudi-cleric-favours-one-eye-veil/#commentsk in

  2. Dude, that’s not called journalistic scrutiny, it’s an attempt at sensationalizing an issue at the very best. If it were journalism they would present both sides of an argument.

    If this is what they call journalism today the bar has just dropped really low and it’s only in the public’s best interest to see the industry die.

  3. Your article has one truth in it. Many people do not understand Chabad. That can be the only justification for calling the New Voices edition on Chabad cutting edge Journalism. Chabad is not a monolith. The articles highlighted in New Voices deal with a periphery of Chabad. None of these articles analyze the mission, methods, or means of the shluchim.

    The only article to come close was that of the editor. A former Chabad member who is a veteran of the Iraq war? That is taking on Chabad? Why not interview someone who once attended a Reform Hebrew school and works for Blackwater to understand the reform movement.

    There are some great stories waiting for the journalist who wants to research Chabad. But, the New Voices magazine did not deliver.

  4. Chabad of Redondo Beach, California, reached out to my Mom, who lived too far away to attend our Sephardi Temple in L.A. My Mom became a regular there. She loved Rabbi Yossi, the beard, the black hat, THIS WAS A RABBI! Even though she did not speak English well enough to understand everything he said, I know she was happy just being with other Jews, going to Temple, the Passover dinners, and when my nephews, from an interfaith marriage decided to be “real Jews”, she was beside herself. One of my nephews was Bar Mitzvahed @ Chabad, and that was one of the happiest moments my Greek-Jewish Mom experienced in her life. Yes, I thought @ one time that Chabad was for “weirdos”, but from my experience, I know that it’s not! People are made to feel welcome @ Chabad. There is a joke someone told me, about what are the 4 most spoken words in a Temple? They are, “you’re in my seat”. Not @ Chabad. That’s why Jews are beginning to worship @ Chabad, come in your bluejeans and deck shoes, you don’t even have to wear socks, they don’t care, just as long as you show up. Coming from a Sephardi background I prefer these services to a reform service anytime. You can see the devotion and spirituality, and even more, you can feel it in the warmth of hospitality of every member of the congregation.

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