Thursday, November 19, 2009

Chabad in The TLS


Sir, – In his review of Dana Kaplan’s Contemporary American Judaism (In Brief, October 2), Simon J. Rabinovitch misleadingly implies that the Chabad-Lubavitch movement is well beyond the pale of mainstream Judaism when he labels it as a “messianic, proselytizing . . . sect”.

If by “messianic” Rabinovitch is referring to the hope that Chabad’s deceased leader, Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, will return as the Messiah, this has never been part of Lubavitch’s public outreach programme as it has always been a matter of great controversy within the organization. Rabinovitch also should have exercised greater caution in employing the term “proselytizing” in a secular forum like the TLS, as readers might actually think that Chabad seeks the conversion of non-Jews. Reintroducing Jews to traditional forms of religious practice can hardly be qualified this way.

Department of History, Trinity University, One Trinity Place, San Antonio, Texas 78212

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