Jewish Ethnocentrism

Menachem Mendel Schneerson: The Expedient Messiah, Part 3


When Schneerson assumed the leadership of Chabad, it was a numerically small group, anchored by geographic and cultural boundaries. Like other Hasidim it tried to preserve itself and its version of Judaism by ghettoizing itself, relying on Yiddish as its primary language, dressing in ways that made its members seem attached to another time and place, and sheltering its young in their communities, protected them from the melting pot of the non-Jewish and assimilated-defiled Jewish-American world. The various Hasidic sects proselytized among each other, competing for new followers. The general perception in the United States, as in Israel, was that this sort of Judaism was a relic of the past, destined to fade away in time.

For a cosmopolitan man who aspired to position and prominence, such limitations must have been constricting. Then in 1961, with the launching of John Kennedy’s Peace Corps, it occurred to Schneerson that he could establish a similar organization. Whereas most Hasidic groups remained in enclaves to survive, Schneerson decided to steer Chabad in a new direction: Lubavitch success would occur by engaging the world. A Jewish peace corps with Hasidic volunteers would be sent all over the world, not to serve the world’s poor, but to rehabilitate non-observant Jews. Lubavitchers would not compete with other Hasids for new followers; they would find them outside the Brooklyn Heights ghetto. This global outreach campaign became the hallmark of the Lubavitch sect and the reason for its tremendous success and Schneerson’s vast influence. Read more

Menachem Mendel Schneerson: The Expedient Messiah, Part 2


Settled with and continuing his dependence on his father-in-law, Schneerson no doubt experienced some anxiety about what to do next. Job prospects for a 40-plus-year-old refugee engineer with poor English language skills were not good. A temporary place was soon found for him, however, serving as his father-in-law’s financial emissary to Hasidim in Europe for the next seven years. Sometime during that period it seems to have occurred to Schneerson that he could compete for the plum position of rebbe of Chabad, now that the reign of his ailing father-in-law appeared to be nearing its end. Either that or he underwent an opportunely timed Hasidic born again-experience. Whichever it was, he needed to reinvent himself, to acquire the lingo and gravitas to compete against his brother-in-law, Shmaryahu Gourary, who was Yosuf Yitzchok’s apparent successor. Incidentally, Schneerson’s change of heart from secular to religious, if such it was, is not unusual in middle age. It is a common Jewish experience to identify with secular modernity in one’s youth and return to Jewish collectivism and commitment in middle age.[11]

But first he had to evade the draft. As a legal immigrant resident Schneerson might very well have been conscripted during WWII. But Schneerson no more wanted to serve in the American army than Hasidic Jews in Russia had wanted to serve in the Czar’s or in the Bolshevik army. US law required all men between 18 and 65 to register, with those aged 18 to 45 to be immediately liable for induction. Though lists his date of birth as 1902, Schneerson reported 1895 as his birthdate on his draft card. He was therefore not subject to immediate conscription as he might have been. also claims that he worked as a civilian engineer at the Brooklyn Naval Yard to avoid the accusation that he, in the habit of orthodox Jews, had evaded military service. No documents have been found to substantiate this claim.[12] Read more

Menachem Mendel Schneerson: The Expedient Messiah, Part 1

It is the committed core — made up now especially of the highly influential Orthodox and Conservative  movements- which has always been the critical force for channeling Jewish behavior in the direction of genetic and cultural separatism. … It is the radicals who have reconstituted the Jewish community and have eventually won the day.

Kevin MacDonald, Separation and its Discontents[1]

Now that sixty years have passed since Menachem Mendel Schneerson assumed leadership of the fundamentalist Lubavitch Hasidic movement of Orthodox Judaism and seventeen years since his death, it is well worth giving the Rebbe and Lubavitch Hasidism a closer look. For years bumper stickers and billboards asserting that the coming of the Moschiach (messiah) is imminent, were exhibited everywhere. These are the people responsible for the huge models of Hanukkah menorahs that are still loudly displayed in the public square. Schneerson’s influence during his lifetime extended beyond his Hasidic sect; his legacy may hold broad implications for the future of Judaism.

The Hasidim or “pious ones” in Hebrew are a Jewish sect possessing an extremely ingrained sense of Jewish identity and practicing total ethnic separatism. Hasidism was at its height in the first half of the nineteenth century, and claimed the allegiance of millions in Eastern and Central Europe—perhaps a majority of East European Jews.[2) The present estimate for Orthodox Jews in North America is estimated to be 550–650 thousand. Many of the approximately 165,000 American Hasidim in New York City, the largest concentration, belong to three courts, the Satmar in Williamsburg, the Bobover in Boro Park, and the Lubavitchers in Crown Heights.[3] Many Hasidim distrust all lists and simply ignore the census forms because they consider it bad luck to count people. At the same time, secular Jews underestimate their numbers, because they don’t want the group to appear too influential. The Orthodox converse in Yiddish, and they preserve many of the traditions of pre-war styles of clothing and the religious traditions of Eastern European Jewry. Highly cohesive, collectivist, and authoritarian, they comprise an endogamous, genetically segregated kinship group and generally have very large families. A majority of American Jews are the descendants of East European Hasidim.

Chabad and Lubavitch are now used interchangeably to refer to the Hasidic dynasty   (founded in 1796 in the Russian town of Lubavitch) of which Schneerson became rebbe. Chabad is an acronym for the Hebrew words “Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge,” while Lyubavichi is the name of the Russian town where the sect was first located at the end of the 18th century. The idea of racial superiority, which has been an underlying constant in Jewish narration, appears early in the history of the seven generation dynasty of Schneerson (also spelled Schneersohn) rebbes. Since Chabad philosophy incorporates the teachings of the Kabbalah, the Tanakh, the Talmud and the Tanya (see below), messianic thought and belief in racial superiority are intrinsic to the sect’s dogma.

(A note about the difference between rabbi and rebbe: while a rabbi is hired or appointed by his community, a rebbe’s commission is by acclamation and his position powerful and lofty. He is considered to be an intermediary between the divine and his community; his position accords him an unprecedented role in his followers’ lives and his word about all matters is final.) Read more

Las Vegas Jewish Federation Supports Its Anti-Goy CEO

Finding examples of Jewish ethnocentrism and hostility toward non-Jews is like shooting  fish in a barrel. But this example is interesting because, thus far at least, it is officially supported by the official Jewish community organization in Las Vegas (“FORMER JEWISH REPORTER EDITOR FILES EEOC CHARGES AGAINST JEWISH FEDERATION OF LAS VEGAS“). The editor of the Jewish community newspaper claims that he resigned because of harassment directed against him because he was not Jewish by Las Vegas Jewish Federation CEO Elliot Karp. The employee, Arthur Bloberger, also claims that Karp used racial epithets for Black people. These charges have been corroborated by others. Karp seems to have anger management issues and an abrasive personality: An investigation by a local TV station uncovered “a serious and continual pattern of abuse” of Federation employees by Karp that occurred “with the  blessing” of the Federation’s Board of Directors.

Someone please notify the $PLC.

“During 1917”: Chapter 14 of Solzhenitsyn’s “200 Years Together”

Chapter 14 of Solzhenitsyn’s 200 Years Together (available here) recounts the events of 1917, a pivotal year in Russia. The main impression conveyed throughout the chapter is the sheer energy of the Jews—what I have elsewhere (pp. 24–26) labeled the psychological intensity of Jewish activism.

1917 in Russia was a year of rapid change, uncertainty and chaos—exactly the situation where even a relatively small but well-organized, energetic and highly motivated force may have a very large impact. As an analogy, consider how relatively easy it would have been to influence the structure of the U.S. government in the unsettled period after the Revolutionary War than it is today.

Jews developed a huge range of organizations of all types. Politically, they ranged from the center to the far left.

From the very first days after the February Revolution, central newspapers published enormous number of announcements about private meetings, assemblies and sessions of various Jewish parties, initially mostly the Bund [a socialist-labor party with a strong Jewish identity], and later of Poale Zion, Zionists, Socialist Zionists, Territorialist Zionists, and the Socialist Jewish Workers’ Party (SJWP). Already by March 7 we read about an oncoming assembly of the All-Russian Jewish Congress.

The various Zionist groups were the most popular among Jews; these groups tended to support socialist candidates in the Russian milieu. As an aside, one can’t help but notice the irony in the fact that Jacob Schiff, who had bankrolled Jewish revolutionary groups in Russia (see here, p. 36), announced that he had decided to join the Zionists “because of fear of Jewish assimilation as a result of Jewish civil equality in Russia. He believes that Palestine could become the center to spread ideals of Jewish culture all over the world.”

Would that he had directed all his financial support to Zionist causes rather than at attempts to topple the Czar. Wasn’t it obvious that Jewish civil equality would make assimilation and intermarriage more likely? Read more

Why Mahler? Norman Lebrecht and the Construction of Jewish Genius

2011 marks the centenary of the death of Gustav Mahler. This follows last year’s one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the composer’s birth. In addition to an upsurge in performances of Mahler’s works by orchestras around the world, last year also saw the release of a second book about Mahler by the journalist and music critic Norman Lebrecht entitled: Why Mahler? How One Man and Ten Symphonies Changed the World. This book is the latest in a long line of encomiums by Jewish music critics and intellectuals that have transformed Mahler’s image from that of a relatively minor figure in the history of classical music at mid-Twentieth Century, into the cultural icon of today. Lebrecht wants his latest work to ‘address the riddle of why Mahler had risen, from near oblivion, to displace Beethoven as the most popular and influential symphonist of our age.’[1]

Like his previous book about Mahler (Mahler Remembered) the focus here is on alerting us to fact of Mahler’s towering genius, and how this genius was inextricably bound up with his identity as a Jew. Overlaying this, as ever, is the lachrymose vision of Mahler the saintly Jewish victim of gentile injustice. Lebrecht’s new book is another reminder of how Jewish intellectuals have used their privileged status as self-appointed gatekeepers of Western culture to advance their group interests through the way they conceptualize the respective artistic achievements of Jews and Europeans. Read more

Uri Avnery on Religious Jews

Uri Avnery is an insightful observer of the Israeli scene and Judaism in general. In a recent column, he notes that the early Zionists were anti-religious, at least partly because prominent orthodox rabbis were anti-Zionist. But David Ben-Gurion subsidized “a few hundred” Yeshiva students so they could spend their time studying rather than working or joining the military. Now, these “Torah-shielded parasites”  “constitute 13% of the entire yearly crop of those liable to the draft. Moreover, 65% of all Orthodox male citizens do not work at all and live on the public purse.”

Photo from article on U.S. State Dept. Report criticizing Israel for favoring Orthodox sects (see below). Note the very close social bonds and close physical resemblance among these young men. This doubtless reflects their close genetic relatedness, their similarities accentuated by their common dress. It's an excellent one-picture-is-worth-a-thousand-words snapshot of traditional Jewish collectivism that has become politically and culturally dominant in Israel.

However, a small group of nationalist religious Jews were also encouraged by Ben Gurion. This group has prospered as well, giving rise to Gush Emunim (“the Bloc of the Faithful’), “the ideological core of the settlement movement. Nowadays this camp is directed by Rabbis whose teachings emit a strong odor of Fascism.” Read more