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Friday, March 25, 2005

CHABAD DECLARES MODERN JUDAISM TO BE ‘NOT A RELIGION’

CHABAD DECLARES MODERN JUDAISM TO BE ‘NOT A RELIGION’

Chief Rabbi of Russia States the Faith of Majority of World Jews to be ‘Opposite to Torah’ and a ‘Club’; Reform/Progressive Rabbis Worldwide Seek Apology and Dialogue

World Union for Progressive Judaism Press Contact:
Jonathan Hirshon
408-969-4888
jh@horizonpr.com

Jerusalem, Moscow, London, New York, Sao Paolo, Melbourne – March 31, 2005 – In a coordinated response from Jewish leadership around the globe, the World Union for Progressive Judaism – representing the largest body of affiliated religious Jews – today condemned statements that strongly disturbed the world Jewish community. In an article authored by Rabbi Berl Lazar, the Chief Rabbi of Russia for Chabad-Lubavitch, it was stated unequivocally that Reform Judaism (also known as Progressive Judaism) is ‘not a religion’. Reform Judaism represents the faith of the majority of North American Jews.

Rabbi Lazar’s article was printed in the February ’05 issue of “L’Chayim,” the lead magazine of the Chabad-controlled Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (FEOR). With a total circulation of 84,000 and a motto of ‘Connecting All Jews As They Are’, the magazine published an article by Rabbi Lazar which stated:

“Reform Judaism…personifies an approach…which is opposite to the approach of the Torah. Reform Judaism can’t be labeled as religion if we take religion seriously! Indeed, religion is trusting in God, reverential trust, understanding of the concept that all the human actions should follow the commandments of God. Reform Judaism treats the Torah as an anthology of laws created by man for his own convenience. God has no place. What Reform Judaism is are clubs to meet their interests and it seems odd to me that the directors of these clubs call themselves ‘Rabbis’.”

Quotes

Rabbi Uri Regev, Executive Director for the World Union for Progressive Judaism, noted: “It is regrettable that Chabad - which professes to ‘connect all Jews as they are’ - so easily returns to its old, hateful bashing of Reform Judaism. It is bad enough for a sectarian religious movement to lose sight of Klal Yisrael - but it is totally unacceptable when it comes from the leader of a movement that claims to be representative of all Russian Jewry. We hope that Rabbi Lazar will re-evaluate his partisan religious concepts and expect leading international and North American Jewish organizations to take note of his public views and draw the necessary conclusions. A movement guided by such views cannot be a partner to pluralistic, inclusive Jewish organizations such as the Presidents Conference of Major Jewish Organizations and the American Jewish Congress, who have been approached by Chabad in recent times. Reform Judaism does not need Rabbi Lazar to validate its Jewish authenticity - Rabbi Lazar needs to partner with Reform Judaism if his claim for wide representation is to be taken with any shred of credibility. The World Union for its part will continue to serve the wider Jewish community through the congregational, youth, and educational work of its constituents in 41 countries based on a commitment to tolerance, Jewish renewal and human dignity.”

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism stated: “Rabbi Lazar cannot request American Jewish support for his work and profess to speak in the name of all Russian Jews while simultaneously proclaiming that Reform Judaism is not Judaism and Reform rabbis are not rabbis. He is speaking the language of a Chabad functionary and not of a Russian Jewish leader.”

Rabbi Janet Marder, President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, had the following statement: “The words of Rabbi Lazar shamefully deride the spiritual commitment, scholarship and devotion to Torah that all Rabbis share through the different streams of Judaism. While we extend an open hand of camaraderie to our Chabad peers, we expect no less from them as we should be standing united in our vision of service to the Jewish people and devotion to Torah.”

The full text of Rabbi Lazar’s article (in translation) may be found at www.wupj.org. A response letter from Chabad, should one be forthcoming, will also be posted in its entirety at this location. In the event that Chabad leadership issues an announcement on this issue, the World Union will communicate the positive or negative developments to the world Jewish community. If there should prove to be no response by April 30, 2005, the World Union will assume Chabad has no intention of clarifying its position on this matter and will take the appropriate next steps.

WUPJ Information

The World Union for Progressive Judaism www.wupj.org was established in London in 1926 and serves congregations and communities in 41 countries, encompassing more than 1,200 Reform, Progressive, Liberal and Reconstructionist congregations and more than 1.5 million members, making it the largest body of religious Jews in the world. With international headquarters in Jerusalem and regional offices in London, Moscow, New York, Melbourne and Sao Paolo, WUPJ stands for pluralism, egalitarianism and social justice for all Jews

8th Day

There was once a king who made a seven-day banquet for all his subjects, but asked his closest friends to stay a little longer and make an eighth day. Our Sages apply this image to explain the difference between the seven days of Sukkot and the concluding festival, called Shemini Atzeret, the "eighth day."

Jewish mysticism says that the number 7 alludes to nature and the number 8 alludes to above nature. Nowadays it’s still us and them, but on the 8th day it’ll be just you and me, and when the sun won’t set, you’ll know it’s my eighth day, and when your songs won’t end, you’ll know it’s my eighth day. I really need your last string in my collection, so put me in the eighth string direction.

There was once a king who made a seven-day banquet for all his subjects, but asked his closest friends to stay a little longer and make an eighth day. Our Sages apply this image to explain the difference between the seven days of Sukkot and the concluding festival, called Shemini Atzeret, the "eighth day."

Jewish mysticism says that the number 7 alludes to nature and the number 8 alludes to above nature. Nowadays it’s still us and them, but on the 8th day it’ll be just you and me, and when the sun won’t set, you’ll know it’s my eighth day, and when your songs won’t end, you’ll know it’s my eighth day. I really need your last string in my collection, so put me in the eighth string direction.

From kosher yukarist

2/25/2005
New York Story #3: 770 Eastern Parkway
Filed under: La Vita dell'Università G-d 'n Stuff— Michael @ 5:18 pm E-mail Us
770 Eastern Parkway, the worldwide headquarters of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, is smaller than I thought it would be – but as far as level of activity, it’s like a campus bar that never shuts down. A steady stream of Lubavitchers is always going in and out, no matter if you’re walking by at 3 in the afternoon or 3 in the morning.

The Tulane delegation went inside for Kabbalat Shabbat services on Friday night. I have never seen a building so densely packed – and even more impressive was that every single person there was wearing the exact same outfit. A ceaseless flood of black coats, white shirts and black fedoras. Eventually, we elbowed our way into the main sanctuary. I was not prepared for what I saw.

Massive banners are plastered on every wall of the sanctuary, and every one reads the same thing: “Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu Rebbeinu Melech Ha-Moshiach L’Olam Va’ed.”

Or, in English, “Long live our Lord, our Teacher, our Rebbe, the King Messiah, forever.”

I like Lubavitchers. But I don’t like that. Apparently 770 is now the exclusive hangout of the meshichists, Lubavitchers who believe in some way that the Rebbe is Moshiach. The meshichists run from believing that the Rebbe was Moshiach, but died and left the final redemption up to us, all the way up to the people who believe that the Rebbe is Moshiach and is, in fact, still alive. Most of these extreme Lubavitchers are Israelis, who seem incapable of doing anything (other than their own country) halfway.

Services were raucous and entertaining, but I couldn’t really shake the almost-creepiness of the Yechi banners. It was a feeling that intensified as I wandered around Crown Heights and saw all the posters in shops and homes emblazoned with a picture of the Rebbe the phrase “Baruch Ha-Ba Moshiach” (Welcome, Messiah). Or the mitzvah tanks parked on the street with “Moshiach Has Come!” on the side. Every time somebody has claimed to be the Moshiach, from Jesus to Shabtai Tzvi, the outcome for the Jews has been not so good. And I personally cannot accept that the Moshiach is someone lying underground in Queens. I believe the Lubavitcher Rebbe was a great man, perhaps the greatest of his generation, but believing anything more than that to me smacks of cultishness.

And now, as I prepare to go to the Chabad House anyway, I will wish you a Shabbat shalom.

13 Comments »
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I’m envious. I have yet to step foot into my local Chabad. I think I’m secretly afraid that they’ll notice I’m *not* a Jew.

Comment by InsanePreschoolMom — 2/25/2005 @ 7:54 pm

Well, uh…no offense, but if you’re not a Jew, why go to a Chabad house? I mean, I don’t go to mosques or Buddhist temples or anything.

Comment by Michael — 2/26/2005 @ 10:54 pm

Because I am a Noachide and we have no other place to go. Chabad welcomes us. Many synagogues do, too, but Chabad is known to be welcoming and open to Noachides. that’s why

Comment by InsanePreschoolMom — 3/1/2005 @ 9:33 pm

So what exactly does a Noachide do? I mean, I know the commandments, but there’s no liturgy or anything as far as I know..

Comment by Michael — 3/2/2005 @ 12:50 am

there’s not a liturgy or anything, you’re right. We’re basically on our own. Chabad is one place that is very welcoming, though. Since we are forbidden beginning our own private worship (that would be equivalent to starting a new religion), we’re kind of in the middle here. so Noachides don’t do much. We do have the benefit (if you see it that way) of being able to do things Jews can’t do, such as tell about G-d’s commandments over cheeseburgers and milkshakes (I saw someone relate it this way before).

Comment by InsanePreschoolMom — 3/5/2005 @ 11:58 am

I am not envious of your ventures to 770, though my desire to see the inside, exactly as you have described it, increases everytime i am in crown heights. the vivid description of the inside of the building was really cool!

imust one be muslim to go to a mosque? certainly not. is it possible that all forms of worship will live side by side, house by house?

they do in brooklyn. a tree grows in brooklyn. the bigger picture is a new jerusalem.
are not the many ways g-d has chosen to reveal himself not beautiful?

my compliments to your blog. i think the joruney of our people, in these times, for people hearing the same “call"–i think the judaic interpretation described by the rebbe of “birth pangs” was an excellent description of the transformation.

i bet you are going to have an amazing time in israel. i hope it is in my future as well.

shalom

Comment by khartoum — 3/16/2005 @ 2:55 am

I know what you mean and feel, I am a Lubavitcher and very seldom do I step into 770 downstairs. I wish the situation would be different.

Comment by Hershel — 3/20/2005 @ 10:13 pm

To InsanePreschoolMom:
I think you should feel free to attend your local Chabad House. Just make sure that you tell the Rabbi that you are a Noahite and that should be fine.

Comment by NafOz — 3/21/2005 @ 5:36 am

Hi, you claim:
“Massive banners are plastered on every wall of the sanctuary, and every one reads the same thing: “Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu Rebbeinu Melech Ha-Moshiach L’Olam Va’ed.”
There is only about 3 big banners, and noone really pays attention, everybody is used to it, and by the way, most people that daven downstairs are regular lubavitchers-NOT big Yechinik’s, they keep their feelings to themselves, just because you see a few loud isrealis screaming, it dosent ruin the whole atmosphere of the shul, everybody enjoys the cozy and homy atmosphere of 770.
you write:
“Services were raucous and entertaining, but I couldn’t really shake the almost-creepiness of the Yechi banners.”
why can everybody else -most people praying downstairs keep it cool and you cant,once again MOST people downstairs are NOT big mishichists,i’m telling you because i daven there. c’mon get used to those few big signs.
you write:
“It was a feeling that intensified as I wandered around Crown Heights and saw all the posters in shops and homes emblazoned with a picture of the Rebbe the phrase “Baruch Ha-Ba Moshiach” (Welcome, Messiah).”
dont you get “intimidated” when election times come around and people hang up nasty posters in/outside their house/store that curse out the party you dont like??!!
These people are living in their own community and just want to express their opinions/faith freely, if they cant do it in their own community, where else CAN they do it?!
you write:
“Or the mitzvah tanks parked on the street with “Moshiach Has Come!” on the side.”
Actualy it dosent say moshiach HAS come, and it is by the way a very nice state of the art NEW mitzvah tank that attracts MANY passerny when doing it’s work in the city.
you wrote:
“Every time somebody has claimed to be the Moshiach, from Jesus to Shabtai Tzvi, the outcome for the Jews has been not so good. And I personally cannot accept that the Moshiach is someone lying underground in Queens. I believe the Lubavitcher Rebbe was a great man, perhaps the greatest of his generation, but believing anything more than that to me smacks of cultishness.”
i suggest you do some research into the Mishichist opinion before critcizing it, it’s easy to critcize something you are not educated about…
Please dont take my above comments offensive, i just wanted to inform you of some facts.
May we merit the arrival of moshiach NOW
Thank you

Comment by shmiel — 3/21/2005 @ 9:55 pm

Where did I say that they didn’t have the right to express their opinion? I never said meshichists shouldn’t hang signs and banners. I just said that it creeped me out a little. And I stand by that. Why argue with someone on the validity of their feelings?

And I said “anything more than that to me smacks of cultishness.” Which is a very subjective statement, and realizing that I’m not especially educated about the issue, I presented it in a way that stressed it was my opinion and not a denouncement of Chabad.

I remember a mitzvah tank saying Moshiach has come. I don’t know, I didn’t have my camera with me, I could be wrong.

I don’t really know what else to tell you, but I agree with you on one thing: may we merit the coming of Moshiach, b’imhera v’yameinu.

Comment by Michael — 3/21/2005 @ 10:12 pm

shmiel,
i dont understand why you attack him like that when all he was doing was giving his personal andobjctive opinion. Maybe it should be an eye opener of how people understand and react to whats going on,when they visit.Be sensitive to their views.

Comment by mendel — 3/22/2005 @ 9:10 pm

I wanted to comment here- first of all the tank on Kingston says ‘Moshiach is *coming*!’ and not ‘*has* come’. Secondly, ‘Adoneinu’ does not mean ‘L-rd’ but ‘master’. This expression is something that has been said for many many years right in front of the Rebbe and the Rebbe’s before him. Only now it has the words ‘Melech Hamoshiach Leolam Vaed’ as well. So if someone is shocked at the phrase, then they might have been just as shocked fifteen years ago.

Regarding a comparison to Shabtai Tzi etc… Might I ask you this: What if he IS Moshiach, why can there only be ‘fake’ Moshiachs and not a *real* Moshiach? In several places in Torah it is mentioned Moshiach in this way, so according to Torah you cannot rule it out.

Do you have to agree and say Yechi as well? I dont think that you must Al Pi Torah. But to critize someone else for saying… I dont believe this is the way to go…

In the end of the day, the Rebbe said that Moshiach is truly coming now. He said that HaShem wants us to demand the complete redemption and do all we can to bring it.

MIght I remind you that in Judaism, the Moshiach is just that- ‘the annointed one’. This means that it is someone that is of flesh and blood who is annointed by G-d to lead the Jewish people and all of humanity in the era of the redemption. Contrary to the xtian notion, the Moshiach is not G-d, Heaven Forbid.

Also the sign saying ‘Baruch Haba Melech Hamoshiach’ or ‘Lets welcome Moshiach’ and a picture of the Rebbe on it- this has been printed for many many years and did not imply who Moshiach might be. As a matter of fact many Shluchim who are not comfortable with Yechi etc. have these signs because it is basically showing the Rebbe’s message to the world: ‘the time of your redemption has arrived’ and ‘Moshiach is on the way!’

IN the end of the day, we need Moshiach in a physical sense that we can see and we need the Geulah immediately. We have to pray for this and do our part- as the Rambam says that every person should look at the world as half meritorious (sp.?) and half the opposite, and with one good deed he can tip the scale for the good and bring about a great help and merit to the entire world.

Best of wishes to you, and may we merit the Geula immediately!

Meir

Comment by Meir — 3/23/2005 @ 2:52 pm

This is what we call “splitting hairs.” Lord and master not only mean pretty much the same thing, I also always see “Adon” translated as “lord,” therefore “Adoneinu” = “our lord.”

I think you refute your own argument here: “Only now it has the words ‘Melech Hamoshiach Leolam Vaed’ as well. So if someone is shocked at the phrase, then they might have been just as shocked fifteen years ago.” Well, no, if someone is shocked (and what I said was creeped-out) at the phrase, it’s because it has the whole “King Messiah” thing tacked onto it, which wasn’t there fifteen years ago.

And if you’ll notice, I never directly criticized the Yechiniks. I said I didn’t like the Yechi, I said it creeped me out, that I personally did not believe the Rebbe to be Moshiach, and that it seemed cultish. You’ll notice these are personal observations, and I’m confused as to why people are getting upset at me for my impressions of what I saw.

I never called anyone names, I never said that the meshichists were bad Jews. I said that the general atmosphere of meshichism creeped me out. And you know what? It still does. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy my time in Crown Heights or that I’ll stop associating with Chabad. I mean, if Lubavitchers can believe the Rebbe wasn’t the Moshiach, why can’t I? I really don’t want to get into arguments with my fellow Jews about this. If the Rebbe is the Moshiach and the Geulah happens, then I’ll admit I’m wrong, but even if the Rebbe is the Moshiach, it’ll be those good deeds, doing mitzvot, that will bring Geulah, not singing Yechi. And I can do good deeds and tip the scales without Yechi, and so can all the Jews in the world who aren’t meshichists.

Geulah akhshav.

Comment by Michael — 3/23/2005 @ 6:00 pm

Mediagenic psychoses - messianic expectations aroused among the followers of the Rebbe of Lubavitch

Harefuah. 1994 Jul;127(1-2):13-6, 63. Related Articles, Links


[Mediagenic psychoses]

[Article in Hebrew]

Talmon Y, Abrahams A, Guy N.

Psychiatric Service, Kaplan Hospital, Rehovot.

Disturbances of psychotic intensity resulting from external trauma at times of crisis and tension have been described in the literature, particularly in combat reactions, including the Saddam syndrome. Acute psychoses as reactions to mystical-religious fervor have also been described. We describe 2 clusters of patients admitted with an acute, delusional, psychotic picture against the background of the Vanunu treason trial and later the strong messianic expectations aroused among the followers of the Rebbe of Lubavitch. Both of these events received extensive coverage in the Israeli press and electronic telecommunication media. The emergence of the mental disturbances and the content of the psychoses were linked to the particularly strident and dramatic media coverage of these 2 events. The impact of the reports of wide-spread messianic fantasies in the contemporary news bulletins on those with preexisting premorbid sensitivity was sufficient to trigger the psychoses. The delusional content was topical, and not that of the traditional psychotic delusions such as that of being Napoleon. This emphasizes that not only an authentic major external trauma such as a war is capable of triggering psychosis, but also emotionladen, stressful news items, frequently repeated in the media (such as reports of espionage or messianic fervor), may have similar effects.

Publication Types:
Case Reports

MeSH Terms:
Acute Disease
Adult
Delusions
Disease Outbreaks*
English Abstract
Female
Humans
Israel/epidemiology
Judaism
Jurisprudence
Male
Psychotic Disorders/epidemiology*
Psychotic Disorders/etiology*

PMID: 7959379 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

heard in the mikveh

heard in the mikveh