24 Friday, January 10, 1986
THE DETROIT JEWISH"NEWS
THE REBBE S EMPIRE
The Lubavitcher Rebbe
And His Empire
BY JOSEPH BEN ZVI
Special to The Jewish News
Twice it year the Rebbe
carries'a bag• of prayers to
read atjais fathe•indaw's
grave. It is the only time
he leaves Brooklyn.
It is the Holy Brooklyn Empire.
An empire, like that of Rome in its hey-
day, upon which the sun does not set. An
empire with outposts that span every cor-
ner of the world, with emissaries stationed
around the globe. An empire that employs
computers and satellites and anything-else
modern technology can offer. An empire
whose literature is filled with talk of cam-
paigns and calls to arms and ultimate
But it is an empire not interested in land
or booty or world domination. It is a
Jewish empire. Its name is Lubavitch. Its
goal is to bring Judaism to every Jew on
"Lubavitch Hasidim are engaged in a
war," read one of its journals. "A war
against assimilation. The fighting is fierce
and the stakes are incalculably high. It is,
in truth, a war to save the Jewish people."
Some critics say it is a war to divide the
Jewish people, and contend that Luba-
vitch tactics are harmful to Jewish unity.
Both sides see the struggle as a war, and
because it is a war, all young boys and girls
who join the effort are made members of
Tzivos Hashem, the Army of God, and
ordered to work their way up through the
ranks They and all others who make up
the faithful — about 100,000 /strong —
take as their motto, Uforotzto. It's a Heb-
rew word which means to spread forth, an
idea that says, "conquest is one of the ser-
vices a Jew must perform. We have to con-
quer the personal world of each individual
to make it a fit dwelling place for God."
It is a battle for no less than the hearts
and minds of every Jew everywhere.
The headquarters from which the battle ►
is being waged looks like something out of
a war zone. To get/there, one has to drive
through the Crown Heights section. of
Brooklyn, through a scene more remini-
scent of Beirut than Jerusalem — block
after block of abandoned buildings, boarded
up storefronts and rubble. ,
There, right in the middle of the black
slum that Crown Heights has become, you
find .a converted three-story hospital build-
ing. Its address is 770 Eastern. Parkway.
To postal carriers and zoning planners, it's
just another number. But to those who call
themselves Lubavitchers, it is the center
of the earth and the place that gives the
empire direction and meaning. Whatever
order comes forth from 770 will be followed
immediately and without question. For
770 isthe office of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
While many people can be called rabbis,
only a very few can be rebbes. It's a title
bestowed upon a man considered to_be not
only pious and scholarly but thought by
his disci les to be closer to God than they
are. And use of that, the man given
the title by a gr up of followers receives
complete and ut r loyalty.
Though Luba hers refer to him only
and always, as 'the Rebbe,' his name is act- '
ually Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneer-