Lubavitch Hasidism, which is generally presented through its organizational arm called Chabad, is a Jewish Haredi Hasidic
Chabad Lubavitch adherents are referred to as "Lubavitchers" or "Chabadniks."
Lubavitch is the name of the town in Russia that served as the movement's headquarters for over a century. In Russian, the word Lubavitch means the "city of brotherly love." Lubavitchers claim the name Lubavitch conveys the essence of their movement, which stresses reaching out with love toward every single Jew.
The word Chabad is a Hebrew acronym for the three intellectual faculties of wisdom (chochmah
), comprehension (binah
) and knowledge (da'at
). Lubavitch Hasidism stresses the use of the intellect to guide the emotions.
Chabad Lubavitch Hasidism was formed from the writings of Rabbi Shneur Zalman in the 18th century. Schneur Zalman was succeeded by seven other Lubavitcher Rebbes, each designated by his predecessor. Lubavitcher Rebbes served as spiritual, intellectual and organizational leaders. They delved into Jewish mysticism, encouraged Jewish learning and practice, and worked for the betterment of Jewish life everywhere.
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson became the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe in 1950. In this post-Holocaust period, Schneerson - referred to simply as the Rebbe - succeeded to create an amazing array of programs to serve Jews worldwide.
In 1994, Schneerson died childless and with no designated successor. Chabad leadership decided that Schneerson would be the final Rebbe. The decision has led many who think of Schneerson as the Messiah, and thus been controversial.
Since the Rebbe's death, Chabad, which is headquartered in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York, has expanded. Today Chabad hosts an international Jewish outreach movement with thousands of emissary couples working in more than 100 countries worldwide. The emissaries aim to encourage Jews to return to traditional practices.