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Rabbi: Schneerson One of Great Jewish Leaders of All Time

By Bill Hoffmann   |   Thursday, 26 Jun 2014 05:18 PM

History will reflect Menachem Mendel Schneerson as one of the world's most endearing and dynamic Jewish leaders of all time, according to biographer Rabbi Joseph Telushkin.

Schneerson — who died in 1994 at the age of 92 and was the last Rebbe of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement — led his followers from a modest office in Brooklyn, New York.

"He headed a Hassidic group called Chabad that when he took the leadership of it in 1951, was a rather small group,'' Telushkin told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

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"He turned it to the most dynamic group in modern Jewish history. [It] has representation now in 48 of the 50 American states and 80 countries.

"He had a mission, as Jonathan Sacks the former Chief Rabbi of England put it, [that] if Hitler hunted down every Jew in hate, he wanted to hunt down every Jew in love.''

Telushkin is the author of "Rebbe: The Life and Teaching of Menachem M. Schneerson, the Most Influential Rabbi in Modern History," published by HarperWave.

He said Schneerson employed Chinese philosophy to engineer the goals of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement.

"He set up the idea — when John Glenn first circled the world and John Kennedy announced that by the end of the '60s there would be a man on the moon — [that] a Chinese proverb teaches a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,'' Telushkin said.

"He knew that any step a person took — it could be lighting Chabad candles it could be giving charity — could lead people on an enormous journey back to Judaism.

"They needed positive things to do things that brought a sense of sanctity and purpose into their lives and he then appointed emissaries to go out throughout the world.''

Ironically, Schneerson himself was reclusive.

"He never left his office in Brooklyn except in rare occasions, but he had emissaries going everywhere,'' Telushkin said

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