Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Why Donors Like Chabad Part 2

December 1, 2011 11:25 am 0 comments

The annual Chabad convention of emmisares. Photo: Baruch Ezagui.

When attending the annual conference of Chabad emissaries in New York, I am frequently tempted to contrast it with similar conventions whose attendees are mandated with securing the Jewish future. Particularly the Jewish Federations’ General Assembly comes to mind as it often takes place around the same time.

Last year, following the Chabad conference, in an article entitled ‘Why Donors like Chabad,’ I pointed to a structure that secures almost immediate ROI for venture philanthropists free from red tape and bureaucracy. This year, surrounded by over 4000 emissaries at the grand banquet, I was inspired to expand on this idea from a different angle.

Chabad’s rapid growth and unbridled success is undeniable, as Britain’s Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks expressed in his keynote address to the gathering, “You, the Shluchim (emissaries) are among the most important people in the Jewish world today.” Even for many of the other successful Jewish outreach groups that have emerged since the era of Chabad dominance, admittedly or not, it has been through a borrowed page from Chabad’s book. So what is the secret to Chabad’s success?

Since as early as the Israelite slavery in Egypt, the greatest threat to Jewish continuity hasn’t been physical, but spiritual. Today, it is well known that far more Jews are lost to assimilation and out-marriage than to Islamic terror or any other threat.

In dealing with this crisis, two divergent groups emerged among activists. One group, pioneered by the founders of the Haskala movement argued that Judaism had to be brought to the people. The laws needed to be loosened, and the rituals modified to suit the more cosmopolitan zeitgeist. For the Orthodox, the opposite was true. The only way to secure the Jewish future they argued was to double down, expel all external influences and distractions, and create closed communities of Jewish observance and tradition.

The founders of the Chabad movement recognized the strengths and weaknesses in both schools of thought combining the ideologies in a winning formula. The Jewish principles of faith could never be diluted; after all, the process of dilution never ends. As such, Chabad maintains absolutist principles of authentic Jewish traditionalism. For some adherents they are practical, for others aspirational, but the core ideals are sacrosanct.

However, Chabad vigorously opposes isolationism, and endeavors to hand-deliver its messages to every single Jew on whatever level of practice they are comfortable with. The flexibility is within the Jew, not within Judaism.

Chabad has got it. Chabad has categorically answered all the questions and has understood the secret to guaranteeing the Jewish future. Now, their only focus is on the task at hand, getting the job done.

It is interesting to note, that at most grand Jewish conventions, the vast majority of attendees are donors. Conferences and banquets are peppered with organization staff. At the Shluchim convention however, donors are by far in the minority, illustrating the centrality in Chabad of the mission over the means.

Last Friday, commemorating three years since the horrific attacks on Mumbai that left a Chabad emissary and his wife dead, the Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed by Warren Kozak. He wrote, “In another community, the violent deaths of such a young and promising couple might have sent shivers through the leadership, prompting them to pull other emissaries from the field. But Chabad’s leadership did the opposite, immediately sending another couple to take their place,” This bold act demonstrated yet again the degree of commitment and dedication that the movement’s followers have ascribed to their mission.

Investor Warren Buffett famously said, “Wide diversification is only required when investors do not understand what they are doing.” Chabad donors understand exactly what they are doing.

The Author is the director of the Algemeiner Journal and the GJCF and can be e-mailed at defune@gjcf.com.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Blogs Book Reviews Can ‘Islamic Reformation’ Work? (REVIEW)

    Can ‘Islamic Reformation’ Work? (REVIEW)

    It is cocktail hour on an April afternoon in 2004. The sun is hot on Amsterdam’s canals, and I am sitting at Café den Leeuw on the Herengracht with Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Hirsi Ali is still a member of the Dutch Parliament, and we talk about Islam. Specifically, we talk about the concept of “moderate Islam,” or what she calls “liberal Islam.” And she has one word for it. “It’s absurd,” she says. “It’s complete nonsense. There is no ‘liberal […]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity A Look at the Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook (REVIEW)

    A Look at the Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook (REVIEW)

    Everybody knows that cooking varies from country to country. There are Italian restaurants, Chinese restaurants, etc. We associate different styles of cuisine with different languages. Do we also think of the association of different cuisines with different dialects? We should, because cooking also varies from region to region. Litvaks and Galitsyaners have their own traditions of preparing gefilte fish. Marvin I. Herzog, in his book The Yiddish Language in Northern Poland: Its Geography and History (Indiana University, Bloomington, and Mouton & Co., The […]

    Read more →
  • Relationships US & Canada Analysis: Jewish Women Less Likely Than Catholics to Take Husband’s Name

    Analysis: Jewish Women Less Likely Than Catholics to Take Husband’s Name

    An analysis of New York Times wedding announcements showed that women married in Jewish ceremonies were less likely to take their husband’s last names than those married in Roman Catholic ceremonies, the Times reported on Saturday. The largest gap between the two groups was in 1995 when 66 percent of Catholic women took their husband’s names and 33 percent of Jewish women did the same. Nearly half of the women featured in the publication’s wedding pages since 1985 took their husband’s name after marriage, while about […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Jerry Lewis, Legendary Jewish Comic and Humanitarian, Stays Relevant at 89

    Jerry Lewis, Legendary Jewish Comic and Humanitarian, Stays Relevant at 89

    JNS.org – Through appreciation of both his comedy and humanitarian work, legendary Jewish entertainer Jerry Lewis is staying relevant at age 89. The only comic to ever be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, Lewis added another award to his trophy case in April, when he received the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). Gordon Smith, NAB’s president and CEO, said the organization was “honored to recognize not only [Lewis’s] comedic innovation, but also his remarkable […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Israeli Gymnasts Win Bronze, Silver Medals at 2015 European Games in Baku

    Israeli Gymnasts Win Bronze, Silver Medals at 2015 European Games in Baku

    Israeli athletes marked a successful day on Sunday, as gymnasts won multiple bronze and silver medals in the 2015 European Games in Baku. The Gymnastics team won two silver medals and one bronze in group events, while Neta Rivkin, an Israeli Olympic gymnast, won bronze for the Solo Hoops event. Sunday’s gymnastics wins follow Sergey Richter’s bronze on June 16 for the Men’s 10 meter air-rifle, and Ilana Kratysh’s silver for women’s freestyle wrestling. The 2015 European Games in Baku are […]

    Read more →
  • Theater Report Highlights Success of Russian-Jewish-American Ballroom Dancers

    Report Highlights Success of Russian-Jewish-American Ballroom Dancers

    Russian-American Jews are some of the most successful ballroom dancing competitors in the U.S., South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB) Radio reported on Thursday. Jonathan Sarna, a professor of Jewish history at Brandeis University, said their success can be traced back to Jewish discrimination in the former Soviet Union. Because of the prejudice they faced, Russian Jews had to perform better than their peers in every field, including dancing, in order to have a chance of getting ahead. “They knew that if they […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Dancer With Shofar, Prayer Shawl Wows ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Judges (VIDEO)

    Israeli Dancer With Shofar, Prayer Shawl Wows ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Judges (VIDEO)

    An Israeli dancer made use of Jewish props in an extraordinary routine that left judges amazed when he auditioned for season 12 of TV dance competition So You Think You Can Dance on Monday. At first, the panel of judges appeared confused when Asaf Goren, 23, began his audition in Los Angeles with a tallit (prayer shawl) over his head and the blowing of a shofar, which he explained “opens the sky” for people’s prayers. However, as soon as he started his “Hebrew breaking” performance, […]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Jewish Hoops Fairytale Falls Short as David Blatt’s Cavaliers Drop Game 6

    Jewish Hoops Fairytale Falls Short as David Blatt’s Cavaliers Drop Game 6

    JNS.org – A fairytale ending to Jewish basketball coach David Blatt’s first season in the National Basketball Association (NBA) was not meant to be, as the Blatt-led Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night dropped Game 6 of the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors, 105-97, to lose the best-of-seven series 4-2. Blatt, who just last year coached Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv franchise to a European basketball championship, failed to finish a second straight hoops season on top. But after the Cavaliers began the NBA […]

    Read more →