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C H A B A D   M A F I A

Fights, Disputes, and Controversies of Chabad-Lubavitch in the USA

Chabad is known by Jewish communities around the world as a trouble maker. Chabad makes trouble and creates Hillul HaShem (desecration of G-d's name) and Sinat Chinam (senseless hatred), every day, wherever they go. Chabad always wants to take full control of the local Jewish community in every part of the world. They fight the local Jewish community, try to steal their members, their schools, and their synagogues. They try to convince the local government that they are the only true and legal representatives of the local Jewish community, and that they speak for the local Jewish community.

In order to achieve their purposes, Chabad emissaries and followers routinely engage in various acts of violence, crime, and deceit. Sometimes, Chabad makes false accusations against the local Jewish leaders in order to discredit them, having them arrested by the local authorities, or even expelled from the local community. And sometimes Chabad members fight amongst themselves over control of a particular territory or property. Many times, money is at the center of those disputes. The following is a very brief summary of some of the Chabad-Lubavitch fights, disputes, and controversies in the USA.

Prospect Heights

In 2006 a dispute over territorial rights erupted in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Rabbi Kasriel Kastel appointed Rabbi Ari Kirschenbaum as a shliach (Chabad emissary) in the neighbourhood. Rabbi Shimon Hecht of neighbouring Park Slope disputed his right to do so, claiming that Prospect Heights was within his "territory". Shortly afterwards Hecht's niece and her husband moved into the area, his son started a Chabad center of his own, and his wife opened a branch of her day-care center in the area. Kastel filed a lawsuit against Hecht in a Beit Din alleging that he has overstepped his boundaries by undermining Kirschenbaum's activities. Kastel says the problem is that there aren't enough up-and-coming areas to go around. "There are maybe 100 or 200 guys who trained their whole lives, and are looking for an opportunity to go. Smaller communities which would never be considered before are getting people." He attributed the case to gentrification of neighbourhoods, which present a tempting prospect to motivated Chabad emissaries. In 2008 the Beit Din Ruled in favor of Rabbi Hecht.


In 2005 two rival Chabad emissaries became embroiled in a public row over who was the bona fide emissary of Chabad to the wealthy community of Woodstock, New York. Rabbi Yacov Borenstein, who opened a Chabad center in Poughkeepsie 20 years ago and has since launched smaller centers in New Paltz, Goshen and Woodstock was pitted against Rabbi Yitzchok Hecht who opened a specific branch for Woodstock in 2005.

Borenstein told the press: "Yitzchok [Hecht] is so upset he didn't get Woodstock, it is a wealthy place and he wanted to get real estate there... The Hechts are looking for power. They think they own Ulster County. They think they own Sullivan County. And, now, they think they own Dutchess County... They told me they would bury me alive. I said, if that's the will of God, I will accept it with love."

Borenstein, a messianist, was fired by the Chabad organisation in the 1990s, according to Hecht, and therefore had no right to establish a Chabad synagogue. Hecht responded saying "he knows he is not authorized and is not part of the system. Anyone can call themselves Lubovitcher and say he is here to do the Rebbe's work, but that doesn't make you part of the system." The dispute came to public attention after both groups attempted to establish a Menorah for Hanukkah on the village green, they subsequently agreed to take turns at lighting the menorah on an annual basis. Borenstein argued that a religious court ruling in 2004 had found that he was Chabad's sole emissary to Ulster County, Hecht argued that the ruling was invalid as the court did not have the authority to rule on cases outside of New York City. Borenstein was involved in an almost identical dispute with the Chabad emissary to Orange County, New York, Rabbi Pesach Burston.


Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America Aaron Rubashkin, a Lubavitcher butcher from Brooklyn, purchased a disused meat-packing plant in the declining town of Postville, Iowa in 1987 and turned it into a facility for the rendition of Glatt kosher meat. The influx of Chabad adherents from New York to manage the facility and to ensure Kashrut led to demographic changes in the staunchly Lutheran town of 1,500 residents. Journalist and Professor Stephen Bloom spent months living amongst the townsfolk and wrote a book on the conflict between the Lubavitchers and the native residents entitled "Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America", that was heavily critical of what he saw as the bigotry and insularity of the Chabad residents, as well as their business practices.

Armed robbery

On September 27, 1991 two married Chabad Rabbinical students who were working as ritual slaughterers at the Postville Plant, Phillip Stillman from Crown Heights and Rabbi Pinchas Lew, son of senior London Chabad rabbi Shmuel Lew, committed a series of armed robberies in the Postville area, one of which led to Stillman shooting and critically injuring a convenience store clerk, Marion Bakken, in Decorah, Iowa. Using a borrowed Oldsmobile, with the licence plates removed, they drove to the town of Ossian, Iowa. When they arrived, Stillman pulled out a .357 Magnum on a retired schoolteacher working a popcorn stand and demanded his coins and bills. They then headed to Decorah where they raided a convenience store. As the clerk, a 50-year-old grandmother, rang a silent alarm, Stillman shot her, leaving a bullet permanently lodged next to her spine causing her ongoing pain.

Stillman pleaded guilty to attempted murder and first-degree robbery. While awaiting sentencing, on March 8, 1992 Stillman escaped from jail but was recaptured within five minutes. Stillman was sentenced to 55 years in jail for three offences, to be served consecutively.

Bloom wrote: "None of the Hasidim denounced the shooting of Marion Bakken. No one apologized to her. They didn't raise money for her. No one from the Jewish community donated anything to her as a token of their sorrow or shame... They didn't even offer her free meat from the slaughterhouse."

Chabad Rabbi Pinchas Lew, whose $200,000 bond had been paid by a "hasidic organisation in Brooklyn", made an Alford plea to conspiracy to commit a forcible felony as part of a plea bargain and was sentenced to 10 years in jail and 5 years on probation for driving the getaway car. After complaining that the food was not kosher, he was released on probation after three months on condition that he attend a religious rehabilitation program. Marion Bakken filed a civil suit for damages. On March 18, 1994, a jury returned a verdict that ordered Chabad Rabbi Pinchas Lew to pay her and her husband $1.43 million plus 10 percent annual interest.

Pinchas Lew

Chabad Rabbi Pinchas Lew gained rabbinical ordination while on probation for the 1991 armed robbery. He subsequently moved to Chapel Hill in 1997 where on the instructions of Chabad leadership he set up a Chabad house, and was the shaliach to the University of North Carolina. After three years, news of his past came to light. Following the publication of Postville many in the community demanded he leave, particularly after it emerged that he had not paid any of the restitution money that the court awarded his victim. In a public meeting at the Duke University campus on May 16, 2001 Chabad Rabbi Pinchas Lew refused to discuss the issue of restitution payments. This and press reports the victim had said that Chabad Rabbi Pinchas Lew had never apologised made some in the community uneasy. By this time Chabad Rabbi Pinchas Lew had five children, and used the name Pinny Lew. The Chabad movement appointed Chabad Rabbi Pinchas Lew as the emissary to Chapel Hill despite being aware of his past, according to Chabad Rabbi Yossi Groner (son of Leib Groner), the emissary in Charlotte. Chabad Rabbi Yossi Groner noted that Chabad Rabbi Pinchas Lew was completely reformed, spiritual, remorseful and "is an excellent person".

In June 2001, Chabad Rabbi Pinchas Lew was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor offence of indecently exposing himself while touching his genitals to his Hispanic housekeeper on May 16, a few hours before he defended himself at the public meeting at Duke. On August 10 the case came to trial.

The maid testified that: "... she and Chabad Rabbi Pinchas Lew were alone in the house on the morning of May 16. After cleaning the bathroom, she asked Chabad Rabbi Pinchas Lew for a new vacuum cleaner bag. When he came down the stairs, he was wearing a green bathrobe. After giving her a bag, he exposed himself to her, touched his genitals and asked, 'Do you like it?' Chabad Rabbi Pinchas Lew then turned the bolt to lock the front door and exposed himself again to her in the foyer, asking, 'Do you like it?'"

Chabad Rabbi Pinchas Lew's attorney argued that the crime of indecent exposure does not apply on private property, and as that had been the police's initial charge the judge dismissed the case on a technicality. Following the case a Chabad Beit Din convened and ruled that Chabad Rabbi Pinchas Lew's position had become untenable and that he would have to retire, and he left his posting in November 2001.

Chabad Rabbi Pinchas Lew subsequently wrote articles for Chabad websites on modesty and family purity on behalf of Chabad of Puerto Rico.

Satmar-Chabad disturbances

On a number of occasions through the 1980s, Chabad and Satmar Hasidim became involved in violent brawls over various issues. In 1983 tensions were elevated and rioting ensued. Chabad spokesman Yehuda Krinsky blamed the Satmars, saying that the attacks were "definitely Satmar. Lubavitch is a victim of brutal attacks by Satmar. Their record of terrorism goes on." In a letter to Time (magazine) he repeated his allegations, arguing that it was false to claim that both groups were guilty.

Hollywood, Florida

A controversy about the right of Chabad to conduct religious services in two adjoining homes in Hollywood, Florida, was termed "the most divisive issue in Hollywood history" by state officials. Chabad activists appealed to the Jews on the zoning commission to vote "with their hearts" and outvote the non-Jewish members of the commission to allow Chabad to continue to use the homes as a synagogue.

Sholom Ber Levitin

In 1989, the chief Chabad emissary to Seattle Rabbi Sholom Ber Levitin was convicted of being part of an international money laundering ring that was headed by Israeli Adi Tal. Chabad Rabbi Sholom Levitin defended his actions, saying that the proceeds were going to Israel: "I was motivated by my desire to help my brethren in need, with funds being transferred to Israel"

Chabad Rabbi Sholom Levitin, one of 11 charged, was sentenced to a $10,000 fine and a 30-day imprisonment.

Control of 770 Eastern Parkway

The synagogue is currently being run by a team of Gabbaim who are elected by members of the Crown Heights community every three years. For many years these people have been exclusively messianist and have set the tone for the building. In 2005, following the plaque disturbance (see below), the Gabbaim, who had incorporated themselves as "Congregation Lubavitch Inc." went to court challenging the right of Agudas Chasidei Chabad and Merkos L'inyonei Chinuch to control the building and the synagogue. In 2006 ACC and MLC won the case over ownership of the building and served CLI with an eviction notice, and in December 2007 the New York Supreme Court upheld the eviction. CLI is expected to appeal this decision.

2004 disturbances

On December 15, 2004 a disturbance erupted in Crown Heights between anti-messianists and messianists that led to nine arrests after the official movement attempted to install a plaque, noting that Schneerson was dead. Gil Schwartz explained the reasoning of the messianists: "He's alive - they are writing that the rebbe is dead!" Another messianist, Meyer Romano, the next day said: "The Rebbe is Superman and [Rabbi] Yehuda Krinsky is Lex Luthor, you understand?"

2006 disturbances

Further disturbances following the Annual emissaries conference in November 2006 led to a number of injuries and damage to the property according to the senior emissary Dovid Eliezire as quoted in the Jewish Week. He wrote an article on the events that was published in Chabad periodicals and online.

2007 ruling

On December 27, 2007 Judge Ira Harkavy of the New York State Supreme Court ruled that the Gabbaim did not have the right to control the synagogue and gave the Chabad organisations that own the building the right to evict the Gabbaim. The Gabbaim expressed their intent to appeal, pending the transfer of a $500,000 bond and an undertaking to maintain the synagogue in the meantime. According to the Jewish Week, it remains unclear how the owners will exercise the rights the court has given them and some are predicting serious violence if any attempts are made to enforce the ruling.

Edward Rudofsky, attorney for the community, warned of violence: "If people are provoked, I guess you can provoke anybody to the point where they don't do what they should do and would do under normal circumstances. If they're provoked enough I don't want to speculate what will happen. I don't want to sound like I'm condoning it, because I'm not."

Contest: A $100,000 US Dollar prize will be paid to anyone who can find even one respectable Israeli Rabbi who says that Chabad is Jewish. You will never find any such Rabbi, but try to find it anyway as an educational exercise if you still think that Chabad is Jewish.


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Disclaimer: Please conduct your own investigation about the issues mentioned in this website. This website is only a brief summary of the problems with Chabad. For more information, please talk to your local community Rabbi. Also, if you really care about being Jewish, come live in Israel and study Judaism.

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