Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The 10th of Shevat - Remembering the Rebbe

Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, assumed leadership a year on this date after his father-in-law, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson, the previous leader of the movement, passed away on this date.

I just received an email about this occasion, which Chabadniks celebrate worldwide, and I want to share its message with you.

All Jews in our generation, and in recent memory, have been affected by the Rebbe, even if you don't realize it.  The entire concept of Jewish outreach was developed by this individual.  Think about it:  you could go on quietly living your life, going to synagogue, doing your rituals, keeping kosher, doing everything routinely - OR - you can do something to INCREASE the growth of Judaism.

Think about it:  Judaism is an incredibly rich culture and heritage that, even if you just skim the surface, has something for everyone.  The simple beauty of the Rebbe did was to find that spark within each person and connect it to Judaism.  Interested in healthy living?  Judaism has something to say about that.  Interested in moral justice?  Judaism has something to say about that.  Interested in growing your business?  Judaism has something to say about that.

The Rebbe realized that Judaism will not grow if people keep Judaism to themselves, living their quiet lives.  Judaism will ONLY grow if we DIRECTLY engage with it, debate and discuss it, and ultimately, learn from it and apply it to our lives.

That's why the Chabad style of outreach has been so successful:  they follow the mantra I learned in my MBA program - what's in it for me?  Once this question is answered, walls are broken down.

This was a huge upheaval 60 years ago, when the Rebbe assumed leadership.

So, now fast-forward 60 years - we have young adult programs, eco-Judaism programs, Tot Shabbat programs, Jewish cooking and crafting programs, business ethics learning, medical ethics learning, daily learning, weekly learning, on-the-phone learning, webcasts, podcasts, and on and on and on, and not just coming from the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, but many many outreach organizations, Federations, and community-based organizations throughout the world breathing new life into Judaism, making the ancient relevent again.

And all thanks to a simple idea driven by one man, who never tired of the challenge.

Click here to watch a most inspirational video about the Rebbe's drive.

"...[w]e must never be satisfied with what [w]e achieved yesterday..." - Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson

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