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.