The Habad movement, formed in eighteenth-century Belarus, has developed into one of the most influential streams of Hasidic Judaism. Drawing on both mystical sermons and legal writings of its founder, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liady (1745–1812), Eternity Now provides the first account of the historiosophical dimensions of early Habad doctrine. Challenging the commonly held view that Shneur Zalman was primarily concerned with supratemporal transcendence, Wojciech Tworek reveals the importance of time and history in his teachings. Tworek argues that the worldly dimensions of Shneur Zalman’s thought were largely responsible for the rapid growth of Habad at the turn of the nineteenth century and fostered its transformation from an elitist circle into a mass movement. Tworek’s readings of Hebrew and Yiddish sources demonstrate the implications of these ideas not only for male scholars but also for non-scholars, Jewish women, and even non-Jews. Philosophical and kabbalistic thought joined together to form a model of religious experience attractive to a broad audience, laying an ideological foundation for the missionary messianism that was to become a hallmark of Habad in the twentieth century.
“The description of Shneur Zalman’s teachings as a ‘dynamic and often inharmonious body that changes and adjusts according to temporal circumstances’ is a thoughtful way of approaching the textual mire of Hasidic sources. Tworek draws upon various corpora without attempting to systematize the teachings into a coherent theological system, revealing their vitality through his analysis of this critical theme.” — Ariel Evan Mayse, editor of From the Depth of the Well: An Anthology of Jewish Mysticism
Wojciech Tworek is Ray D. Wolfe Postdoctoral Fellow at the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto.
Edith Hahn was an outspoken young woman in Vienna when the Gestapo forced her into a ghetto and then into a slave labor camp. When she returned home months later, she knew she would become a hunted woman and went underground. With the help of a Christian friend, she emerged in Munich as Grete Denner. There she met Werner Vetter, a Nazi Party member who fell in love with her. Despite Edith's protests and even her eventual confession that she was Jewish, he married her and kept her identity a secret.
In wrenching detail, Edith recalls a life of constant, almost paralyzing fear. She tells how German officials casually questioned the lineage of her parents; how during childbirth she refused all painkillers, afraid that in an altered state of mind she might reveal something of her past; and how, after her husband was captured by the Soviets, she was bombed out of her house and had to hide while drunken Russian soldiers raped women on the street.
Despite the risk it posed to her life, Edith created a remarkable record of survival. She saved every document, as well as photographs she took inside labor camps. Now part of the permanent collection at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., these hundreds of documents, several of which are included in this volume, form the fabric of a gripping new chapter in the history of the Holocaust—complex, troubling, and ultimately triumphant.
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.