If you ever ask someone who’s of chabad stock if they are chabad, they will generally respond to you that they’re just Jewish and that they don’t like labels. No one likes labels, but for the sake of deciding where to daven, which restaurants you will eat at, or where to send your kids to school, we need labels. Sure, it’s unfortunate that labels transcend the informing that we need them to do and become a way of generalizing and judging, but this doesn’t mean that you cannot be labeled. You can consider yourself whatever you want, but in general your practices will tell another story. This is why I’m slightly disturbed by the latest in this battle against labels, this time in the form of chabad propaganda.
The Jewish Week has an article by an obviously chabad Rabbi (you can tell instantly without even looking at the name or picture) about how he’s not Orthodox. He can say he isn’t Orthodox all day, but this doesn’t make it so. There are general rules as to what is considered Orthodox and it’s safe to say that as a chabadnick he doesn’t violate said rules. If he really wants to transcend those labels, he needs to clearly state that he will eat at non-Orthodox homes, daven at non-Orthodox shuls, and allow women to make kiddush, or motzi, or read from the Torah. He didn’t say any of this, all he is claiming is the classic “we’re not orthodox, reform, conservative, we’re just Jewish”. It sounds great, I wish it were so, but within our religion we have a lot of sub groups, levels of observance, beliefs, and so on.
I wonder if the author would consider those with non-Orthodox conversions to be Jewish? I wonder lots of things, but mostly I wonder why Orthodox Jews feel the need to write such falsehoods in a measure to try and convince us that they are just Jewish, when in reality they are anything but.
These articles always seem to call for unity, but in the end they want everyone to be Orthodox, just without labeling them as such. I know it’s hard for chabadnicks to accept the truth, but they are Orthodox and no matter how stylish, funky, non-insular, and hipster they get, they will still be Orthodox.
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