New Encyclopedia of Religion in America Includes Entry On Chabad Movement


New Encyclopedia of Religion in America Includes Entry On Chabad Movement

Photo credit: Baruch Ezagui

Historian Dr. Jonathan Sarna lectures on the emergence of American Judaism the National Jewish Retreat, Reston, VA.

by Mordechai Lightstone

September 6, 2010

(lubavitch.com)The newly released Encyclopedia of Religion in America, edited by renowned scholars in the field and published by CQ Press, includes an entry on Chabad-Lubavitch touching on some of the movement’s keystone achievements.  

The Encylcopedia, says its publisher, will examine how “religious history and practices are woven into the political, social, cultural, and historical landscape of North America.” 

While previous encyclopedias have been published on the subject of religion in America, this four volume series will prove groundbreaking, reflecting changes in scholarship and emergent trends in America over the last two decades. Especially unique among other encyclopedias is the Encyclopedia of Religion in America’s new scholarly research and analyses of issues in the post-9/11 era. 

According to Professor Jonathan Sarna, the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University who served on the encyclopedia’s editorial board, this new scholarly offering is “set to be the new standard for reference for the 21 century.” 

The encyclopedia’s coverage of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement focuses on the movements transition from an Eastern European pietistic group to a modern Jewish movement in the public sphere under the leadership of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, and his successor, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. The entry was written by Sarna with the approval and at the behest of the editorial board. 

According to Sarna, this is the “first in any major encyclopedia of religion in America” to include Chabad, a sign of the movement’s unique role on the American Jewish scene. 

“There are few communities in the country that don’t have a Chabad presence.” Sarna says. “If the encyclopedia is truly meant to discuss important themes on American religion, then Chabad  must be included.” 

Highlights of the entry include: Chabad’s visible presence in the public sector through the Rebbe’s mitzvah campaigns, its utilization of technology and the internet to disseminate Jewish thought, its social and humanitarian work in the former Soviet Union, and the establishment of the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute as “the largest provider of adult Jewish education in the world.”

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