Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Myth # 9: Chabad accepts all kinds of Jews

If there’s one thing that Lubavitchers love highlighting, it’s our openness to Jews of all walks of life, Jews of every observance, style, color, political bend and affiliation.

With pride, we will proclaim, “We love all kinds of Jews!”

Oftentimes, this is how we win the hearts of the people who comprise our Chabad Houses. With our “Chabad is into all types of Jews!” proclamation, people feel they are dealing with a revolutionary new Jewish group, one that hails openness as their genuine creed.

And then we get them to declare the same: “Come to the Chabad House,” they will tell their friends. “The Rabbi is so accepting.”

But the whole thing is a total misunderstanding.

In truth, Chabad is quite far from embracing types of Jews.


What everyone loves about Chabad - that image of openness that draws us in – is not their tolerance of peoples’ differences, not their acceptance of various types of Jews.

Rather, it is Chabad’s insistence on seeing what’s all the same.

Chabad barely hears the people that try to say that they’re a different type.

“Rabbi, I’m reform,” the young man will say.

The Shliach is like, “What? Huh? Come again?

“I’m just a different kind of Jew,” she says.

But the Rabbi doesn’t understand this language.

“What’s a Reform Jew? Huh? Kind of Jew? What?”

The Rabbi is utterly confused.


While Chabad House guests often feel accepted for their differences, it’s all a guise. The deeper feeling that makes them feel so at home is Chabad’s allergic reaction to typifying - their blindness to distinctions.

It is not because of openness to all kinds of people that Chabad Houses open their door to both the bearded and the dreadlocked. Rather it’s a lack of openness to seeing a Jew as anything but, well, a Jew. What makes us different is not our liberalism, our welcoming of types of Jews. It is our refusal to see anything but the soul. So the best Chabad Houses are run by people who know that Jews don’t really come in all sorts of flavors. Deep down, there’s just one kind of Jew.

While other Jewish sects accept kinds of Jews, Chabad stands out by refusing to do so.

So, yes, while Chabad House communities do seem made up of Jews from a spectrum of backgrounds and lifestyles, it’s because when a Jew is all you see, the diversity among them is embraced as part and parcel of their very core. Every thing that makes them unique is embraced more fully than if you saw their “type” before their essence.

This is where other so-called “kiruv movements” fail. They try to bear an openness that Chabad has, not realizing that what seems to be openness is really just a deep understanding of what it means to be Jewish. Their openness is in reality insular, while our intolerance allows true acceptance to reign. They say, “We love dreads like we love beards” while Chabad says, “Um, we love Jews!”

That’s the revolution. That’s the genuine creed. That’s Chabad.


Anonymous said...

This one stirs up good memories of my covering for a shaliach in a largely traditional Bukharan minyan 12 years ago Simchas Torah morning in Moscow. I didn't speak their language; their customs were unusual even though I am familiar with other Eastern communities, and because it was Moscow very few of the people in the minyan were "frum" in our sense.

So I made kiddush on a large glass of some particularly vile and strong Israeli brandy, took off my glasses, and said something like the following but in Russian: "When the Rebbe looked at Jews, he saw exactly what I see right now! He did not see who has a beard and who doesn't, who's dark and who's light, who's wearing what, and who has what on their heads. And if we look at each other the way the Rebbe told us to, then we are doing everything we can to bring Moshiach!" I then screamed out "Maan Dalaam Moshiach Mechot" - "We Want Moshiach Now" in Farsi which most Bukharim understand (and then said that it does not matter if you say that in English, Russian, Georgian, French or anything else) - and after that we spent most of the day singing and making more lechaim!

Yes, that is our open secret! For the Rebbe there are no rechoikim - we are all close because we are all from the same source!

Chana said...

Right on target, Mimi. These mythbusters are great. Breaks things down to their essential core.

the sabra said...


jim said...

I can't get enough, thanks for the serving, I always want to hear more!

Anonymous said...

every word is a diamond!!!!!

keep up the great work.


me said...

Brilliant, simply brilliant.

Mimi said...

"ME," who are you?

My father always says that the only one who can call himself "me" is Hashem :)

Anonymous said...

lol mimi - your/your father's comment reminds me of the Yom Tov Ehrlich song "Ich" ("I") from the first Yiddishe Oitzros album (Avremel).

A freilichen Purim - and how do you know me 17.03.2008 is not Hashem? After all we all have chelek eloiko memaal mamash!!!!

Thinking said...

If I say anonymous, it could be any anonymous. When I look back, I'll know which I wrote cause it says "me" lol.
You're father has a point though... Hmm... Let's see, instead of "me", I'll think of something.
In the mean time, I really did enjoy this post, I think it's brilliant, and at a Shabbos meal I went to this week, I quoted you on it.

Perel said...

Miriam (wink wink) , this is soo well written, and so true, it is my favorite "Miriam writings" so far, no kidding, I am forwarding it to a few friends btw.
Since you are one of my top favorite writers I need to poin out sthing:
The article would have been perfect without one line: "This is where other so-called “kiruv movements” fail", as much as i liked the article, the line bothers me...could you explain? I just don't want to reply to a non existant offense?
A git shabbos!
See u Monday i"y"H?

menucha fwheel said...

i really like your writing style, this article opened my mind about this.... thanks for showing the real essence to blind eyes..

SHLOIME said...


John Galt said...

My initial reaction to this write up was: 'false dilemma alert'. On second thought though i think it would be more accurately termed as a half-truth. Chabad accepts and loves all Jews despite their differences precisely because we give primary credence to the true essence of a Jew's existential condition - the soul [cit. ch. 32 Tanya].

But don't fool yourself for a moment into thinking that those difference do not exist. They exist, we recognize them, and in fact we 'celebrate' them.

According to the Shelah one is specifically obligated to Daven with a Tzibur because a Tzibur is an acronym for 'Tzadikim Benonim and Reshoim'. It is only when every spiritual level of our people are represented that we attempt to approach G-d in prayer.

In Chassidic thought the Jewish people are called 'Tzivos Hashem' 'Tzivos' having the same root word as 'Tzivyion' [colorful], for it is only when we have the diversity of our differences blended and synthesized into one entity do we attain true collective beauty.

There are numerous sources both in Talmudic and Kabbalistic literature supporting the notion that the Jewish people have always and will always be made of different factions comprising one great organism.

It isn't a myth nor is it a misconception. It's the reality and the truth. We don't reject or hide from it. We accept and celebrate it.

Anonymous said...

We still accept "reform rabbis" as Jews - there are some well known cases of such clergymen who participate(d) in Chabad events and are accepted as Jews with no regard to their supposed positions.

After all, we accept Jews who are guilty of just about every capital offence listed in Torah, without judgment and on their level.