[Congressional Record Volume 140, Number 74 (Tuesday, June 14, 1994)]
[Page S]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]

[Congressional Record: June 14, 1994]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]


  Mr. MOYNIHAN. Madam President, Jews throughout the world are in 
mourning today for Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the charismatic 
Lubavitcher rebbe who was buried next to his venerable predecessor and 
father-in-law, Rabbi Joseph Schneerson, yesterday afternoon in New York 
  Much has been said and written about the rebbe's remarkable 
contributions, particularly by the tens of thousands of us who were 
privileged to meet with him during his more than 40 years of leadership 
of the Lubavitch Chassidic movement. Each of us has our own memories of 
this special man. One of my lasting memories is of my last visit with 
the rebbe, in the spring of 1990, when I brought him a gift from the 
Jewish community of Morocco. We spoke at the time about the small 
Jewish community of Morocco, and about the connection between this body 
and the Lubavitch movement, a bond that has its roots in the 
relationship between the Rabbi's predecessor and one of this century's 
towering Senatorial figures, the late William Borah of Idaho.
  Some Members of the Senate may not be familiar with the role that 
Senator Borah played in securing the release of Rabbi Joseph Schneerson 
from a Soviet prison and the emigration of his entire immediate family, 
including the current rebbe, from Stalin's Russia. The intervention of 
Senator William Borah of Idaho on behalf of this beleaguered Chassidic 
family stands as a noble example of courageous moral leadership. All of 
us in public life would do well to ponder Senator Borah's oft-repeated 
explanation as to his ``motive'' in leading an international campaign 
to save an apparently obscure religious leader in a faraway land: ``I 
like to do things that get me votes in the next election in Idaho but 
every so often I do something that assures me of votes in that final 
election will we will all have to stand for someday.''

  I thought of Senator Borah in January 1990 when I visited Morocco in 
my capacity as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's 
Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia.
  When I met with the Jewish leaders of Morocco and toured several of 
their synagogues and civic centers I discovered two pictures in every 
building--His Majesty King Hassan II and the Lubavitcher rebbe, Rabbi 
Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
  This should not surprise anyone who is familiar with the rebbe's 
historic role in supporting Jewish education and Jewish continuity 
throughout the world. The Members of the Senate are familiar with 
Lubavitcher activities in their own States but Lubavitch is also deeply 
involved in over 100 nations around the globe--including many where it 
is the only official Jewish presence and the only source of Jewish 
educational and religious training. And, some day, hopefully soon, the 
full story will be told of Lubavitch's heroic role in keeping Judaism 
alive in lands of cruel tyranny where teaching the Bible is a crime and 
uttering a public prayer is rewarded with a prison sentence.
  For over 40 years these remarkable activities--the publicized and the 
clandestine; the Chanukah lamp lighting on television and the 
underground matzah baking under the noses of Communist secret police, 
the young women giving out Sabbath candles on Fifth Avenue, and the 
Yeshiva schools in Arab lands--have been directed and inspired by Rabbi 
Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
  At the end of my meeting with the Moroccan Jewish leadership they 
gave me one of their most precious possessions, a rare Hebrew 
prayerbook, one of the first ever printed in their country. They had 
one request: to give this heirloom to the Lubavitcher rebbe as a token 
of their appreciation for ``caring about us when almost everyone else 
had forgotten.''
  When I visited the rebbe and gave him the prayerbook he kissed it 
gently and told me that ``they are very kind, but how can I not care 
about them.''
  For 44 eventful years he cared. He taught and inspired several 
generations of Jews on all continents while helping to write a major 
chapter in contemporary Jewish history. New Yorkers of all faiths are 
proud that the rebbe lived among us for all these years. He will be 
missed. I ask that I may place in the Record a brief biography of Rabbi 
Schneerson and a description of his career prepared by the Lubavitch 
Youth Organization. I am sure that the entire Senate joins me in 
marking the passing of this exceptional spiritual leader who lived his 
life with an eye on that ``final election'' which Senator Borah alluded 

                               The Rebbe

       The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, 
     world leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch Movement, has been 
     described as one of the most respected Jewish personalities 
     of our time. To his hundreds of thousands of Chassidim and 
     numerous followers and admirers around the world, he is ``the 
     Rebbe,'' today's most dominant figure in Judaism and largely 
     responsible for stirring the conscience and spiritual 
     awakening of world Jewry.
       From his office at Lubavitch World Headquarters in New 
     York, the Rebbe generates a constant flow of optimism, 
     strength and instruction that unites and inspires world 
     Jewry. Indeed, many of the Rebbe's innovations are so deeply 
     ingrained in Jewish life today that they often are no longer 
     identified as Lubavitch in origin.

                              early years

       Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson is seventh in the dynastic 
     lineage of Lubavitcher leaders. The Chabad-Lubavitch Movement 
     was founded in the 18th century by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of 
     Liadi (1745-1812), author of the basic work of Chabad 
     philosophy--Tanya, and the Schulchan Aruch--the Code of 
     Jewish Law.
       The Rebbe was born in 1902, on the 11th day of Nissan, in 
     Nikolaev, Russia. He is the son of the renowned Kabbalist and 
     Talmudic scholar, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, and 
     Rebbetzin Chana, an aristocratic woman from a prestigious 
     Rabbinic family. He is also the great-grandson of the third 
     Lubavitcher Rebbe, and his namesake, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of 
     Lubavitch. At the age of five he moved with his parents to 
     the Ukrainian city of Yekatrinislav, now Dnepropetrovsk, 
     where his father was appointed Chief Rabbi.
       From early childhood the Rebbe displayed a prodigious 
     mental acuity and soon had to leave the cheder because he was 
     so far ahead of his classmates. His father engaged private 
     tutors for him, and after that, taught him himself. By the 
     time he reached his Bar Mitzvah, the Rebbe was considered an 
     illuy, a Torah prodigy. He spent the rest of his teen years 
     immersed in the study of Torah.
       The Rebbe met the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Usaf 
     Yitzchak Schneersohn, in 1923, in Rostov, Russia. In 1929 
     Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, married the second daughter 
     of Rabbi Usaf Yitzchak Schneersohn, the late Rebbetzin Chaya 
     Moussia, in Warsaw.
       He later studied in the University of Berlin and then at 
     the Sorbonne in Paris. It was there that his formidable 
     knowledge of mathematics and the sciences began to blossom.

                           arrival in u.s.a.

       In 1941 he emigrated to the United States. His father-in-
     law, who arrived in the United States a year earlier, 
     appointed him to head his newly founded organizations: Merkos 
     L'inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of the Lubavitch 
     movement; Machne Israel, the movement's social service 
     organization; and Kehot Publication Society, the Lubavitch 
     publishing department.
       Shortly thereafter the future Rebbe began writing his 
     scholarly notations to various Chassidic and Kabbalistic 
     treaties, as well as a wide range of response on Torah 
     subjects. With publication of these works his genius was soon 
     recognized by Jewish scholars the world over.


       After the passing of Rabbi Usaf Yitzchak Schneersohn, on 
     the 10th Shevat, in 1950, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, 
     ascended to the leadership of the flourishing movement. 
     Labavitch institutions and activities soon took on new 
     dimensions. The outreaching philosophy of Chabad-Labavitch, 
     based on the biblical: ``and you shall spread forth to the 
     West and East and to the North and to the South'' (Genesis 
     28:14) was immediately translated into action as Chabad-
     Lubavitch Centers were opened in dozens of cities across the 
     United States.
       Motivated by a profound love for the Jewish people, the 
     Rebbe launched an unprecedented program to reach every Jew. 
     His shluchim--the Lubavitch emissaries--were charged with 
     establishing Chabad-Lubavitch centers in every corner of the 
     world. These dedicated men and women reflect the commitment 
     of Lubavitch to the entire Jewish people. With open minds and 
     open hearts, they respond to the needs of their respective 
     communities through religious, educational and social-service 
     programs. It is no wonder that, for many communities, Chabad-
     Lubavitch has become the central address for Yiddishkeit.

                      one thousand points of light

       During the Rebbe's four decades of inspired leadership 
     Lubavitch has become the world's largest Jewish outreach 
     organization, maintaining centers in almost every Jewish 
     community on the globe.
       Today, some one thousand Chabad-Lubavitch institutions span 
     dozens of countries on six continents, and those countries 
     and communities that have no Chabad-Lubavitch institution in 
     place are visited and cared for by the closest existing 
       These educational and social-service institutions serve a 
     variety of functions for the entire spectrum of Jews, 
     regardless of background or affiliation. Indeed the programs 
     geared to humanitarian endeavors reach out beyond the Jewish 
     community to all mankind.
       In the United States alone, more than 180 centers serve 
     every state in the Union.
       In Israel, the ``Chabadniks'' are particularly endeared to 
     all. Their programs reach all segments of the community, and 
     enjoy the respect of the population, regardless of 
     affiliation. From the soldier stationed at the isolated army 
     post to the farmer on the kubbutz--all have come to admire 
     the personal attention given to him by Rebbe through his 
       Kfar Chabad, near Tel Aviv, is one of several Lubavitch 
     cities in Israel, and serves as the Lubavitch headquarters 
     there. Its unique educational institutions and outreach 
     facilities have become a lifeline of spirituality for tens of 
     thousands of Israeli citizens.
       It was in Russia that Chabad-Lubavitch was born more than 
     200 years ago, and since nurtured there by its Rebbes in each 
       The heroic efforts of Chabad-Lubavitch in maintaining 
     Judaism there under the most difficult conditions before and 
     especially after the Bolshevik revolution are legion, and 
     have yet to be told.
       Those knowledgeable as to the maintenance of Judaism in the 
     Soviet Union during the past century know that Lubavitch and 
     its Rebbes played a major role in keeping the fires of 
     Judaism aglow under the most oppressive and excruciating 
     circumstances conceivable.
       Now that perestroika has arrived, the work continues 
     publicly. The Rebbe has established more than twenty 
     institutions for Jewish learning. Dozens of emissaries have 
     taken up residence there, and as soon as developments will 
     allow, Jewish institutions under the aegis of Lubavitch will 
     begin to mushroom throughout the U.S.S.R. and Eastern Europe.
       In other countries, Lubavitch institutions have been 
     established in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, 
     Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, England, France, Holland, Hong 
     Kong, Hungary, Italy, Morocco, Paraguay, Peru, Scotland, 
     Soviet Union, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Tunisia, 
     Uruguay, Venezuela and West Germany.
       These institutions monitor the pulse of Jewish life in 
     their respective communities, and contribute to their 
     spiritual vitality and stability. Directors report regularly 
     to Lubavitch World Headquarters in New York, so that the 
     Rebbe is constantly aware of what is happening in Jewish 
     communal life around the world.
       Under the Rebbe's guidance, the Lubavitch publishing house, 
     Kehot Publication Society, has become the largest Jewish 
     publishing house in the world. It publishes and distributes 
     millions of books, pamphlets, cassettes and educational 
     materials in Hebrew, Yiddish, English, Russian, Spanish, 
     French, Portuguese, Italian, Arabic, Farsi, Dutch, and 
       The central library and archive center of Agudas Chassidei 
     Chabad-Lubavitch, at Lubavitch World Headquarters, is one of 
     the world's most precious repositories of Jewish books and 
     literature, containing a collection of rare books and 

                           reversing the tide

       The Rebbe has often been heard saying that ``we dare not 
     rest until every Jewish child receives a Jewish education.''
       The Jewish day-school system, of which Lubavitch was the 
     pioneering force, has displaced across a wide spectrum the 
     once-prevalent ideology that Jewish education was a kind of 
     dutiful appendage to the real business of acquiring a secular 
     education. Jewish day schools have since been accepted and 
     fashionable. This, as well as some of the outreach programs 
     of Chabad-Lubavitch have served as a guide for others to 
       The Rebbe has continually emphasized the need to reach out 
     to alienated youth and young adults to bring them back to 
     their Jewish roots. He has seen to the establishing of 
     special educational facilities for them.
       From full-time yeshivas for Jewish men and women with 
     little or no background in Torah study to literally tens of 
     thousands of classes at Chabad-Lubavitch centers and 
     synagogues around the world--the Rebbe has been, and 
     continues to be, the vital life-force behind an outreach 
     process that has affected the entire spectrum of Jewish life.
       His widespread Mitzvah and festival campaigns, have ignited 
     in the masses a flame of devotion and commitment to Judaism, 
     and has created a virtual spiritual revolution among those 
     previously alienated from Judaism.
       The Lubavitch Mitzvah-Mobiles, of the ``Jewish Tanks to 
     combat assimilation,'' as the Rebbe refers to them, have 
     become a familiar sight on the streets and by-ways of urban 
     and suburban communities around the world. Offering 
     ``Mitzvahs on the spot for people on the go,'' these 
     ``tanks'' encourage their visitors to participate in a 
     Mitzvah, and prompt them to come closer to their precious 
     Jewish heritage.
       From Melbourne to London, Casablanca to Los Angeles, 
     through the many Lubavitch schools, youth centers, 
     institutions, agencies and activities established and 
     maintained through the Rebbe's efforts, countless Jews have 
     found their way home.

                            CONCERN FOR ALL

       There is a story told about the Rebbe's early life that 
     seems to be almost symbolic of much that was to follow. When 
     he was nine years old, the young Menachem Mendei, dived into 
     the Black Sea to save the life of another boy who had fallen 
     from the deck of a moored ship. That sense of other lives in 
     danger, seems to dominate his conscience. Jews ``drowning,'' 
     and no one hearing their cries for help; Jewish children 
     deprived of Jewish education; Jews on campus, in isolated 
     communities, under repressive regimes--all in need of help.
       The Rebbe continually strives, ceaselessly and untiringly, 
     to reach out to all Jews. He moves and motivates all those 
     whom he reaches to take part in this task to reach out to 
     others, to help them, to educate them and bring them 

                         REVOLUTIONARY THINKER

       The Rebbe is a systematic and conceptual thinker on the 
     highest level. His unique analytical style of thought has 
     resulted in a monumental contribution to Jewish scholarship. 
     His brilliant approach to the understanding of the classic 
     Biblical commentary of Rashi, for example, has revolutionized 
     Bible study.
       More than 125 volumes of his talks, writings, 
     correspondence and response have been published to date.
       For all this scholarship, he consistently exhorts that 
     intellectual understanding must bring to action and good 

                       LETTERS AND CORRESPONDENCE

       The Grot Caddish series, a chronological collection of the 
     Rebbe's correspondence and response, is now in the midst of 
     publication. Volume 16 has just been published, and brings 
     the total of letters published to more than 6,000, written up 
     to the winter of 1958. The series contains only his 
     correspondence in Hebrew and Yiddish; his prolific 
     correspondence in English is now being prepared for 
       The writings in the Grot Caddish series shed some light on 
     the Rebbe's genius and the success of Lubavitch under his 
     leadership. His correspondents include Rabbinic scholars and 
     statesmen, homemakers and educators, chief rabbis and Bar/Bat 
     Mitzvah youngsters, scientists and laborers, communal leaders 
     and laymen, men and women from all walks of life.
       The breathtaking sweep of topics covered in these letters 
     encompasses every sphere of interest, and every field of 
     human endeavor. They range from mysticism, Talmud and 
     Classidic philosophy, to science and world events, from 
     guidance in personal matters to advice in education and 
     social and communal affairs.
       It is a veritable treasure chest of profound Rabbinic, 
     Talmudic, Kabbalistic and Chassidic teachings, exuding 
     encouragement, inspiration and direction, reflecting the 
     Rebbe's remarkable insight into human nature.
       It is perhaps the case that his fame as a leader and 
     innovator of widespread mitzvah campaigns and communal 
     projects is a result of his originality as a thinker, and his 
     ability to unite the conceptual with the pragmatic. 
     Essentially, with the Rebbe these two facets are one--the 
     comprehensiveness of his thought and action are part of 
     the same drive: the unity of Torah, the unity of the 
     Jewish people, the unity of mankind in fulfilling the 
     ultimate purpose of creation.


       A ``Farbrengen,'' Chassidic gathering at which the Rebbe 
     speaks publicly, is an unforgettable experience.
       The Rebbe speaks extemporaneously, usually for hours, 
     without referring to any notes, on a wide range of subject 
     matter, from profound Talmudic and Chassidic teachings, to 
     matters affecting the quality of Jewish life, to events of 
     vital national and international concern. The Rebbe teaches, 
     guides and elevates.
       During the brief intermissions in the Rebbe's talks the 
     thousands in attendance join in Chassidic signing, and raise 
     their cups in greetings of ``L'Chayim'' to the Rebbe.
       Amidst the thousands of Chassidim in attendance at a 
     Farbrengen at Lubavitch World Headquarters in New York, one 
     can find people from literally all walks of life, young and 
     old, communal leaders and plain folk, rich and poor.
       When the Rebbe speaks on weekdays his talk is transmitted 
     live via satellite to Chabad-Lubavitch centers and to cable 
     TV stations across North America and parts of South America, 
     and often to Israel, Europe, Africa and Australia, bringing 
     the Rebbe's message into millions of Jewish and non-Jewish 
       A special telephone hookup system also relays the Rebbe's 
     talk live to Lubavitch Centers around the world.
       A simultaneous English translation of his talk in Yiddish 
     is provided for the television audience. Those personally 
     attending the Farbrengen can use wireless receivers providing 
     simultaneous translations in English, Hebrew, Spanish, French 
     and other languages as well.
       The Rebbe's Farbrengen has been described as a ``unique 
     blend of intellectual profundity and joyous celebration; an 
     uplifting experience that enlightens and motivates.''

                            PILLAR OF LIGHT

       Those who consult or visit the Rebbe for the first time--
     usually do so because of his reputation as a man of 
     encompassing vision. They tend to emerge somewhat unnerved, 
     taken by surprise. They might expect, the conventional type 
     of leader, imposing his presence by the force of his 
     personality. What they find is difficult to define. The 
     Rebbe, despite the enormous complexity of his involvements 
     and concerns, is totally and humbly engaged with the person 
     he is speaking to. It is as if nothing else exists.
       Every Sunday morning, huge crowds of men, women and 
     children gather at Lubavitch World Headquarters and patiently 
     wait their turn to meet the Rebbe face-to-face, whereupon 
     they receive his blessing. The Rebbe gives each individual a 
     crisp, new dollar bill to be given to a charity of their 
       This custom attracts people from all walks of life who 
     sometimes travel thousands of miles just for this momentary, 
     yet profoundly special, unforgettable encounter.

                           UNIVERSAL MESSAGE

       Responding to the demands of the time, the Rebbe has 
     reached out beyond the Jewish community with a universal 
     message to all peoples of the world.
       The Rebbe has consistently called for greater awareness of 
     the crucial importance of education of all mankind, stressing 
     that the goal of education is not only to provide a child 
     with information, but more essentially to develop a child's 
     character, together with his intellectual ability, with 
     emphasis or moral, spiritual and ethical values. Only as a 
     result of such education will individuals recognize the need 
     to abide by fundamental human rights and societal 
       The Rebbe has continuously maintained that modern, secular 
     man has an enduring need for moral values and religious 
     philosophy by which to live.
       He often speaks of the obligation of all humankind to 
     adhere, and live by, the ``Seven Noahide Commandment''--the 
     universal code of Biblical morality and ethics, given go all 
     at Sinai. This, the Rebbe insists, is of the utmost necessity 
     to bring sanity and stability to a perplexed world.