Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rebbe

18651997

Today’s nonfiction post is on Rebbe by Joseph Telushkin. It is 642 pages long and is published by HarperCollins. The cover is a picture of the Rebbe in front of his home. The intended reader is someone who wants to know more about the Rebbe, Chabad, or Jewish life in general. There is no strong language, no sex, and no violence in this book. Anyone can read this book. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- From a small synagogue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, the late Rebbe Schneerson affected the policies of US presidents and politicians, counseled some of our greatest thinkers, and spread his teachings of love and righteousness to the far corners of the world. An ambassador for Jews globally, his role was unprecedented within a fragmented religion, made up of diverse, often divided, sects. May Jews- especially those involved in Chabad- believed that the Rebbe was the messiah while he was still alive.
Drawn from the Rebbe’s private correspondence, Rebbe is a rich and illuminating portrait of this remarkable man who was a devoted spiritual leader and tireless counselor; a controversial advocate for women’s rights and community openness; and an accomplished scholar fluent in dozens of languages. Joseph Telushkin illuminates the Rebbe’s rich private life and chronicles his achievements, from his close bond with his congregants to his influence on presidents, including Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. Throughout, Telushkin pays tribute to the Rebbe’s legacy- his teachings, of love, education, and respect- which have become engrained in millions of Jews and non-Jews alike.

Review- This was an engaging and interesting biography. I personally know very little about Jewish life much less about their individual leaders. The Rebbe was quite a man. He was educated at European universities before World War 2, he experienced losses because of the war, he believed in love for all Jews but start with your neighbor and so much more. I enjoyed this book because Telushkin does not hold back from the reader. We see the Rebbe from many different sides. We have personal letters, dairy entries, sermons, and newspaper articles; not just what the Rebbe wrote himself but what was written about him. At the end of the book there is a very helpful timeline of the Rebbe’s life from birth to death with what he was doing in each year. It helps to place everything in the book in context. This was a moving and hopeful about a man who had seen the worst that humanity can do but still believed in our best traits.  I recommend this book.

I give this book a Five out of Five stars. I was given this book by HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.