Schneerson, Menachem Mendel

Schneerson, Menachem Mendel,

1902–94, American rabbi, b. Nikolayev, Russia (now in Ukraine). The son of a prominent rabbi, he studied at the Univ. of Berlin and the Sorbonne, immigrating to the United States in 1941. In 1951 he became the rebbe (spiritual leader) of the Brooklyn-based Lubavitcher HasidimHasidim
or Chassidim
[Heb.,=the pious], term used by the rabbis to describe those Jews who maintained the highest standard of religious observance and moral action. The term has been applied to movements at three distinct times.
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, a branch of mystical Orthodox Judaism. Seventh in the line of Lubavitch rebbes, he succeeded his father-in-law and transformed the relatively obscure sect, which was nearly destroyed in the HolocaustHolocaust
, name given to the period of persecution and extermination of European Jews by Nazi Germany. Romani (Gypsies), homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, the disabled, and others were also victims of the Holocaust.
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, into an affluent and religiously and politically influential group. By the year of his death, the movement had some 200,000 followers, some of whom considered the charismatic rebbe to be the Messiah, and it subsequently split into factions—one believing that he would be resurrected as the Messiah, the other rejecting the idea.


See biography by S. Heilman and M. Friedman (2010).

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