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What exactly is Chabad?
Is it a synagogue, a school, or an outreach organization? Does it service the observant or the non-observant community? Who are the people at Chabad?
These and many similar questions are constantly asked of Chabad. Many voice these questions verbally, while others ponder it and remain uncertain - is Chabad for my family and me?
First of all, some definitions:
Chabad is synonymous with Lubavitch. Chabad describes the philosophy of the movement, whereas Lubavitch is the name of the, city in Russia where the Chabad Rebbes lived and taught for 102 years. Chabad is an acronym for three Hebrew words - Chochma, Binah and Daas - wisdom, understanding and knowledge.
It signifies the philosophy of the movement, which states that in addition to serving G-d through joy, simple, faith, trust and sincerity, one must try, in accordance with their abilities, to "know" G-d through intellectual comprehension as well and to generate true feelings of love and fear of G-d. Chabad philosophy expounds rationally the profound mystical concepts of G-d, Torah and Israel.
In our generation Chabad Lubavitch is guided by the renowned leader, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe. He was the teacher and mentor of countless Jews throughout the world. It is with his direction that so much has been accomplished in "reaching out" to Jews. It would take volumes to describe the scope of his activities and what Chabad-Lubavitch under his leadership and guidance has accomplished over the past 50 years. Suffice to say that he is the one person, more so than any other individual, that has stirred the consciousness of millions of Jews.
The Chabad Objective:
The Rebbe sent Shluchim (emissaries) to all parts of the world (now over 3,000), with the objective to help all Jews regardless of age, background, or affiliation, emphasizing our equal background as children of Avraham, Yitzchak & Yaakov, Sara, Rivka Rachel and Leah, offering a Jewish helping hand to all, encompassing both their physical and spiritual needs.
'We believe that every Jew is valuable, Every Jew counts,' says Rabbi Yossi Laufer Director of Chabad of West bay, at Chabad it is not a question of 'converting' people to a certain brand of Judaism; it is not an issue of 'becoming a member'. At Chabad the objective is to inspire every Jew to find more meaning and excitement in their Jewish heritage. Watch the excitement on the faces of the hundreds who partake in Chabads programs and you begin to feel an incredible sense of community.
In light of the above, we can say that Chabad is a movement, a philosophy, an ideal, and an organization. Each Chabad center, although they are locally supported and may differ according to the need of the respective communities, is part of the same movement and shares the same philosophy.