Chabad-Lubavitch is a branch of Hasidic Judaism founded by Rabbi Sheneur Zalman in the eighteenth century. Lubavitch is the name of the town in which the headquarters of the movement was based for more than a century during its early history. The word “Chabad” is a Hebrew acronym for the three intellectual faculties of chochmah (wisdom), binah (understanding or intelligence), and da’at (knowledge). Chabad-Lubavitch is now a worldwide movement with membership estimated from two hundred thousand to one million members.
In 1940, Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneerson, the leader of the movement, brought Chabad-Lubavitch from Russia to America. He was later succeeded by his son-in-law, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who assumed leadership of the newly-founded educational and social service organization with the mission of making the Jewish community a force throughout the world. Regardless of location, globally a Chabad House is a Jewish community center in the truest sense of the term, the center of all the educational and outreach activities of the Chabad-Lubavitch lamplighter, serving the needs of the entire Jewish community. The Chabad-Lubavitch website describes the organization as follows: “a vibrant, dynamic force in Jewish life, and its programs touch the lives of millions of people and directly or indirectly affect Jewish life in every community.”
The Chabad-Lubavitch sponsor community programs ranging from adult education to cinema events and host religious events, such as Tu B’Shevat, the New Year for Trees, and Yom Kippur. They express acceptance and tolerance for citizens of different racial and religious backgrounds and have demonstrated broadmindedness for the nation’s gay right’s movement. The programs they sponsor are centered around parenting and geared towards helping parents become better educated on ways to maximize their potential at parenting and their child’s development. Women and children are of great importance to the Chabad-Lubavitch community, and every Chabad-Lubavitch center has programs and activities geared specifically for them. Chabad-Lubavitch initiated the Jewish day-school system in America, with the goal that a full-time Torah learning structure be made available for all Jewish children. In fact, Lubavitch educators utilized the “Released Time” provision of New York State Law to set up a network of classes providing basic Torah-instruction for one hour a week in public schools in 1942,. There are hundreds of Chabad-Lubavitch campuses across the globe promoting a Jewish-based education and community centers numbering in the thousands.
There are six Chabad-Lubavitch centers in Virginia, and one in Richmond. The Jewish Learning center in Richmond promotes education in Kabbalah, Jewish Mysticism, Law, Ethics, and History. The Chabad-Lubavitch center in Richmond is a state recognized institution to provide continuing legal education courses. For the younger generations, the Aleph Bet Preschool serves to educate children in an inventive, compassionate Jewish environment. In the interest of developing and supporting Jewish youth, there is a Lubavitch sponsored Camp Gan Israel. Programs such as Karate, art, sports, and hiking are supervised by counselors for summertime enjoyment. For Jewish families visiting Richmond from distant cities in Virginia, other states, or countries, the Chabad-Lubavitch center hosts lodging at the Farbreng Inn, located at the same address as the community center. They provide a swimming pool and media center as well as a plethora of tourist information about the Richmond area, but they take extra pride in helping families come together for Jewish holidays and special events.
212 Gaskins Road
Profile prepared by Margaret Williams