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Lubavitch-Chabad Hasidim

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson

Brooklyn’s Lubavitch Community: A Culture Captured by the Ultimate Outsider

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Originally published on New York Times by Sara Trappler Spielman

The grand rabbi of the Lubavitch-Chabad Hasidim

One day during Hanukkah 26 years ago, the grand rabbi of the Lubavitch-Chabad Hasidim briefly turned away from the hundreds of men gathered before him in synagogue to cast his eye toward the women’s balcony. Then he extended an arm, offering someone there a roll of nickels. That recipient, in turn, was meant to fulfill the rabbi’s design by giving the coins to charity.

It was rare enough for Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson to direct his attention to the women’s section, which was kept separate in accordance with Orthodox practice. Rarer still was the rabbi’s target: a female photographer who was not Lubavitch, not Hasidic, not Jewish, not religious, not even American.
That photographer, Chie Nishio, stood in the lobby gallery of the Brooklyn Public Library one morning last week, regarding the picture she took of Rabbi Schneerson’s long-ago gesture. She is 84 now, a widow, living by preference without a cellphone or email account. Yet an extraordinary collection of her visual art is now receiving its belated recognition.Read More »Brooklyn’s Lubavitch Community: A Culture Captured by the Ultimate Outsider