Sixteen years later, I can still hear the sudden gasp, followed by a loud, spontaneous and mournful wail that erupted from the thousands gathered outside 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn when the simple wooden casket carrying the remains of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, emerged from the movement’s headquarters on June 12, 1994, corresponding to the third of Tammuz (this coming Tuesday).
‘The Life and Afterlife of Menachem Mendel Schneerson’
humanizes the Lubavitcher Rebbe, but is its premise flawed?
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
Special To The Jewish Week
‘The Rebbe: The Life and Afterlife of Menachem Mendel Schneerson” by Samuel Heilman and Menachem Friedman (Princeton University Press) fills a considerable void in the biography of one of the towering religious figures of the 20th century. But on reading it, one wonders whether the object of the biography is the same Lubavitcher Rebbe the world came to know and admire for pioneering Jewish outreach in the modern age and for being arguably the figure most responsible for the global resurgence in Jewish affiliation.
Rash of recent prosecutions may leave community open to political backlash.
Assistant Managing Editor
In the wake of recent scandals involving local Orthodox Jews, some sociologists think there could soon be a backlash against the political power of what has long been one of the most sought-after voting blocs.
“Situations like this have a cumulative effect,” said William Helmreich, a professor of sociology at City College and director of the Center for Jewish Studies at Queens College.
American-born settler Jack Tytell is charged with multiple murders and hate crimes. A look into his upbringing in the U.S. reveals some surprises.
Special to the Jewish Week
His fellow students at Akiva Hebrew Day School, a Modern Orthodox yeshiva in the Detroit suburb of Southfield, Mich., had Jack Tytell pegged.
He was “creepy,” one remembered, someone with “crazy eyes.” Another recalled Tytell walking through Akiva’s halls acting out imaginary combat scenes and jumping over tripwires that existed in his head only.
As their “Last Will and Testament” in the Akiva Class of ’90 yearbook, his classmates left him an “Uzi and a grenade ... and a Valium.”
The grand rebbe of the Satmar chasidic sect, who presided over its huge expansion and its split into two factions, lay near death in Mount Sinai Hospital this week with his two contending sons at his bedside.
Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum, who assumed leadership of the world's largest chasidic sect in 1980, was rushed to the Upper East Side hospital on March 30, according to Satmar sources.
A population shift of dramatic proportions is changing the face of New York's Jewish community as Russians and the Orthodox (many of them poor) now comprise nearly four in 10 Jews in New York City, according to the 2002 New York Jewish Community Study.
While the overall Jewish population in the city, Long Island and Westchester has remained stable in the last decade at 1.4 million, the makeup of the 643,000 households in which they live is radically different than in 1991, suggesting major changes in the city's political landscape and the Jewish community's funding priorities.
Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam, a Polish-born Holocaust survivor who revived his Bobover chasidic group in Borough Park and helped turn the Brooklyn neighborhood into one of the largest American bastions of Orthodoxy, died there Wednesday in Maimonides Medical Center. He was 92, and had been in poor health in recent years.
By the time Jonathan Nierenberg walked into the Young Israel of Woodmere one recent Saturday morning for shacharit in the main sanctuary, the men's section, seating about 375, was nearly full.
He was a few minutes late: his 3-year-old son, Benji, had tripped on the way.
In the coatroom Nierenberg exchanged Shabbat greetings with congregants arriving for a second shacharit down the hall in an already crowded study hall: and with members coming for the "Not Just for Beginner" introductory service in the gymnasium/social hall.
Bathed in light, wrapped in a tallit and kittel, the soul of a middle-aged New York Jew speaks to his earthly body on a Queens side street late one night last week.
“Chaim, Chaim,” calls the soul, flanked by a pair of large menorahs, an ark of Torah scrolls behind him, “good Shabbos. Did you have a good week?”
A plaintive voice — of Chaim himself, who is mentally disabled — is heard answering, “Nobody likes me.”
Don’t despair, answers the soul. “Soon it will all be over.”
The day after the death of Rabbi Naftuli Halberstam, rebbe of the Bobov chasidim, his half-brother Benzion sat at the Bobover rebbe’s designated place of honor — the raised platform in the middle of the sanctuary — for the Megillah reading at the central Bobov synagogue in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn.