The Messiah of Brooklyn: Understanding Lubavitch Hasidism Past and Present

Avrum M. Ehrlich, Author, M. Avrum Ehrlich, Author . Ktav $35 (0p) ISBN 978-0-88125-836-3

This biography by Ehrlich, a rabbi and philosopher of religion, is an exhaustive and painstakingly researched study of Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the charismatic Habad-Lubavitcher rebbe who died in Brooklyn in 1994. The book's first section uncovers the history of Hasidism and its influential subculture, Habad, as well as Schneerson's pre-rebbe life and his succession to leadership. Parts two and three deal with his activities as the rebbe, including a detailed examination of Habad institutions and Schneerson's unique style of managing them from his headquarters in Brooklyn. Finally, the book concludes by analyzing the contentious issues that have arisen since Schneerson's death; after 45 years in office, he left no apparent heir. The book contains many references to the question of whether Schneerson or his predecessor were (or are) the Messiah. Both this discussion and the entire presentation are marred by repetition, often preceded by tiresome reiterations of "as has been seen" and "as will be seen." Sensible editing might have rendered the book of interest to a wider readership by eliminating irksome duplication and broadening the subject. Its appeal is now limited to those who want to carefully study one important segment of Hasidism. Others would do better to peruse Sue Fishkoff's far more readable book The Rebbe's Army. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 09/27/2004
Release date: 10/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
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