Chabad’s Growing Role in American Judaism

Dec. 19 2014

One of the most important recent changes in American Jewish life has been the gradual mainstreaming of Chabad Hasidim. After years of reaching a constituency consisting mainly of college students, Israelis, those on the fringes of Jewish communal life, and Orthodox Jews living in remote places, Chabad is increasingly playing an important role in the lives of affiliated Jews other than the Orthodox. Shmuel Rosner writes:

[The majority of] Chabad participants in Miami are not “Israeli” or “Orthodox.” In other words: do not fall for the common prejudice about Chabad’s constituency. According to [a recent Miami survey], 25 percent of them are indeed Orthodox, but 32 percent are Conservative, and 19 percent are Reform (23 percent are “just Jewish”—more in line with common thinking). This means that more than half of the participants in Chabad activities come from a progressive Jewish background (you can add to that the 1-percent Reconstructionist). Think about it this way: a movement that is in many ways a part of the ultra-Orthodox world is able to attract Jews that are supposedly the archrivals of ultra-Orthodoxy. Of course, that is the genius of Chabad—without giving up on being ultra-Orthodox, it is able to convince other Jews that it is not really ultra-Orthodox.

Read more at Jewish Journal

More about: American Jewry, Chabad, Hasidism, Miami, Orthodoxy

Russia’s Alliance with Hizballah Is Growing Stronger

Tehran’s ongoing cooperation with Moscow has recently garnered public attention because of the Kremlin’s use of Iranian arms against Ukraine, but it extends much further, including to the Islamic Republic’s Lebanese proxy, Hizballah. Aurora Ortega and Matthew Levitt explain:

Over the last few years, Russia has quietly extended its reach into Lebanon, seeking to cultivate cultural, economic, and military ties in Beirut as part of a strategy to expand Russian influence in the Middle East, while sidelining the U.S. and elevating Moscow’s role as a peacemaker.

Russia’s alliance with Hizballah was born out of the conflict in Syria, where Russian and Hizballah forces fought side-by-side in an alliance with the Assad regime. For years, this alliance appeared strictly limited to military activity in Syria, but in 2018, Hizballah and Russia began to engage in unprecedented joint sanctions-evasion activities. . . . In November 2018, the U.S. Department of the Treasury exposed a convoluted trade-based oil-smuggling sanctions-evasion scheme directed by Hizballah and [Iran].

The enhanced level of collaboration between Russia and Hizballah is not limited to sanctions evasion. In March 2021, Hizballah sent a delegation to Moscow, on its second-ever “diplomatic” visit to the country. Unlike its first visit a decade prior, which was enveloped in secrecy with no media exposure, this visit was well publicized. During their three days in Moscow, Hizballah representatives met with various Russian officials, including the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. . . . Just three months after this visit to Moscow, Hizballah received the Russian ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Rudakov in Beirut to discuss further collaboration on joint projects.

Read more at Royal United Services Institute

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Lebanon, Russia