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Rebbe
Cover of Rebbe
Rebbe
The Life and Teachings of Menachem M. Schneerson, the Most Influential Rabbi in Modern History
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"One of the greatest religious biographies ever written." – Dennis Prager

In this enlightening biography, Joseph Telushkin offers a captivating portrait of the late Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, a towering figure who saw beyond conventional boundaries to turn his movement, Chabad-Lubavitch, into one of the most dynamic and widespread organizations ever seen in the Jewish world. At once an incisive work of history and a compendium of Rabbi Schneerson's teachings, Rebbe is the definitive guide to understanding one of the most vital, intriguing figures of the last centuries.

From his modest headquarters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, the Rebbe advised some of the world's greatest leaders and shaped matters of state and society. Statesmen and artists as diverse as Ronald Reagan, Robert F. Kennedy, Yitzchak Rabin, Menachem Begin, Elie Wiesel, and Bob Dylan span the spectrum of those who sought his counsel. Rebbe explores Schneerson's overarching philosophies against the backdrop of treacherous history, revealing his clandestine operations to rescue and sustain Jews in the Soviet Union, and his critical role in the expansion of the food stamp program throughout the United States. More broadly, it examines how he became in effect an ambassador for Jews globally, and how he came to be viewed by many as not only a spiritual archetype but a savior. Telushkin also delves deep into the more controversial aspects of the Rebbe's leadership, analyzing his views on modern science and territorial compromise in Israel, and how in the last years of his life, many of his followers believed that he would soon be revealed as the Messiah, a source of contention until this day.

"One of the greatest religious biographies ever written." – Dennis Prager

In this enlightening biography, Joseph Telushkin offers a captivating portrait of the late Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, a towering figure who saw beyond conventional boundaries to turn his movement, Chabad-Lubavitch, into one of the most dynamic and widespread organizations ever seen in the Jewish world. At once an incisive work of history and a compendium of Rabbi Schneerson's teachings, Rebbe is the definitive guide to understanding one of the most vital, intriguing figures of the last centuries.

From his modest headquarters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, the Rebbe advised some of the world's greatest leaders and shaped matters of state and society. Statesmen and artists as diverse as Ronald Reagan, Robert F. Kennedy, Yitzchak Rabin, Menachem Begin, Elie Wiesel, and Bob Dylan span the spectrum of those who sought his counsel. Rebbe explores Schneerson's overarching philosophies against the backdrop of treacherous history, revealing his clandestine operations to rescue and sustain Jews in the Soviet Union, and his critical role in the expansion of the food stamp program throughout the United States. More broadly, it examines how he became in effect an ambassador for Jews globally, and how he came to be viewed by many as not only a spiritual archetype but a savior. Telushkin also delves deep into the more controversial aspects of the Rebbe's leadership, analyzing his views on modern science and territorial compromise in Israel, and how in the last years of his life, many of his followers believed that he would soon be revealed as the Messiah, a source of contention until this day.

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About the Author-
  • Joseph Telushkin is a rabbi, scholar, and bestselling author of eighteen books, among them A Code of Jewish Ethics and Words That Hurt, Words That Heal. His book Jewish Literacy is the widest-selling work on the topic of Judaism. He lives with his wife, Dvorah, in New York City, and lectures regularly throughout the United States.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 12, 2014
    Telushkin (Jewish Literacy: The Most Important Things to Know About the Jewish Religion, Its People, and Its History) gives an engaging account of the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe from his seemingly unlikely beginnings in engineering in Berlin and Paris, and his reluctant acceptance of the title, up to his later years when many followers came to believe he was the Messiah. Telushkin also offers a compelling view of the principles behind Schneerson's building of the Chabad movement in the United States and around the world, which since his death has sustained itself and even grown in scope and influence. The book is rich with accounts of encounters with the Rebbe, including, besides his own followers, Jews of many denominations, secular Israeli leaders, American politicians, students of philosophy, and non-Jews. What stands out is Schneerson's engagement with the principles by which he managed to wield a considerable and controversial influence upon the American cultural scene and the Jewish world. An admiring but honest look at Schneerson and his legacy, this book should also interest those who view the Rebbe's methods and worldview more critically. Agent: Richard Pine, Inkwell Management.

  • Kirkus

    May 15, 2014
    A biography of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994), whose influence on Judaism and the Jewish people is still coming into focus.One of America's leading rabbis, Telushkin (Hillel: If Not Now, When?, 2010, etc.) is well-qualified to write about his subject: While he is not a Lubavitcher, he has been an affectionate observer of the movement for his entire life, and his father served as Schneerson's personal accountant. Less a traditional biography and more a compendium of mostly lighthearted anecdotes, the book progresses thematically, highlighting Schneerson's thoughts and quips on a wide variety of subjects. Telushkin draws on Schneerson's public statements as well as his voluminous correspondence and his thousands of private audiences, with his followers and others, both Jewish and non-Jewish, memorably held in the middle of the night. Broadly educated, Schneerson spent eight years studying engineering at prestigious universities before seeking rabbinic ordination, and each morning he read the newspapers in four languages. His far-reaching secular interests were evident in his humanistic mindset and lateral thought processes; he praised the astronauts after the moon landing, saying that he "discerned in [their] disciplined lifestyle...lessons with which Jews-particularly the sort who would not instinctively accept the demands of the Torah-could inspire themselves to be more observant." Schneerson had no heirs ("Never spoken of in public, we can only imagine what a great tragedy and disappointment this was"), and his death was so keenly felt that his followers found the idea of appointing a successor unthinkable. Many clung to the hope that he was the Messiah, creating a deep rift in the Orthodox world. Telushkin concludes that those who believe this "do not mean what people think they mean...the Messiah issue is, in the final analysis, a non-issue."An approachable and admiring introduction appropriate for readers interested in modern Jewish thought.

    COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from June 1, 2014
    The subtitle's claim that Schneerson, of the Chabad-Lubavitcher sect of Orthodox Jewry (and thought by some of his followers to be the Messiah), was the modern world's most influential Jewish religious leader is proven throughout this highly readable book. He was visited by everyone from Robert Kennedy to Cory Booker, had a warm correspondence with Ronald Reagan, and received a Congressional Gold Medal. With outreach programs that extended far beyond his tiny sect, he made the love of one's fellow Jew a visible symbol throughout the world. Telushkin introduces the Rebbe through the stories and memories of those who knew or were touched by him. A wide range of topics is discussed: Schneerson's connection with his family, his congregation, and other Jewish denominations; his position on Israel; his outside-the-box thinking on a number of religious issues. Although this account doesn't contain any real critical assessment, it is not hagiography. Rather, readers are left to draw their own assessment from the wide-ranging portrait. For instance, what to make of the fact that though Schneerson was highly trained in the sciences, he insisted that the sun revolves around an earth that is less than 7,000 years old? For those who wish a more ordered look at the Rebbe's life, the author provides a detailed time line. Extensive notes bolster the text. Fascinating.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2014, American Library Association.)

  • Wall Street Journal "[An] excellent new biography of Chabad's great 20th-century leader... For all his immense achievements, the Rebbe's power ultimately came from a simple message that anyone can appreciate. As Mr. Telushkin puts it: 'Love your fellow, and not just those who agree with you....' Mesmerizing."
  • Huffington Post "Through his clear and unambiguous prose cultivated from many sources, Telushkin recounts how the Rebbe fundamentally transformed notions of human potential, as he believed individuals were capable of much more than we imagine for ourselves... Rebbe will be a staple of rabbinic biography for years to come."
  • Booklist (starred review) "The subtitle's claim that Schneerson was the modern world's most influential Jewish religious leader is proven throughout this highly readable book... Readers are left to draw their own assessment from the wide-ranging portrait... Fascinating."
  • The Jewish Week "A vivid, panoramic view of Rabbi Schneerson-in each of his many roles as dynamic spiritual leader, inspiring teacher, and even motivating life coach and management guru... Telushkin's Rebbe is a man in constant motion, a non-stop whirlwind of faith-driven energy and action possessed of a spiritual calm."
  • Publishers Weekly "An admiring but honest look at Schneerson and his legacy... What stands out is Schneerson's engagement with the principles by which he managed to wield a considerable influence upon the American cultural scene and the Jewish world... An engaging account."
  • Kirkus Reviews "Well-qualified to write about his subject, [Telushkin] draws on Schneerson's public statements as well as his voluminous correspondence and his thousands of private audiences, with his followers and others, both Jewish and non-Jewish. An approachable and admiring introduction appropriate for readers interested in modern Jewish thought."
  • Dennis Prager, national talk show host and New York Times bestselling author of Still the Best Hope "One of the greatest religious biographies ever written. Generations from now, Rebbe will be read by people of every faith."
  • Ruth Messinger, President, American Jewish World Service "An iconic figure comes alive in these pages, a man of wisdom and learning, yes, but also of deep personal caring and kindness... An astounding personal biography."
  • Alan M. Dershowitz, professor emeritus, Harvard Law School, and author of Taking the Stand "Whether you are a believer, an admirer or a respectful skeptic, you will learn much from this deep and accessible account of a truly great man by a great writer."
  • Commentary Magazine "Joseph Telushkin's earthbound study introduces 'the most influential rabbi in modern history' by documenting the incremental process through which his influence was acquired... Illuminating."
  • The Jewish Daily Forward "Telushkin offers a rounded portrait of life in the shadow, or the sunlight, of the Rebbe. We meet dozens of followers and hear their stories, get a feel for the texture of their devotion, for why they loved him... It is worth studying how and why his method worked."
  • Front Page Magazine "[Rebbe] should be in the personal library of Americans of every faith."
  • Chicago Jewish Star "[Rebbe] is an enjoyable book to read, with insights and perspectives as well as details that inform and engage, shedding light on a towering, influential figure."
  • Jewish Herald Voice "With this book, the Rebbe no longer is incomprehensible. Spend some time getting to know the Rebbe. You'll be glad you did."
  • NY Journal of Books "Rebbe is that extremely rare thing: a perfect book about a perfect man. [It] brings the great man alive and gives the reader powerful motivation to examine his own life... The Rebbe touched the lives of millions; through Telushkin's book, he will touch the lives of many more."
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Rebbe
Rebbe
The Life and Teachings of Menachem M. Schneerson, the Most Influential Rabbi in Modern History
Joseph Telushkin
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