Monday, November 13, 2006

My Encouter with the Rebbe

(a friend and blogger that attended the premiere writes to me:)

Last night I attended the premiere of JEM's latest production, "My Encounter with the Rebbe: The Early Years II (1931-1938)"

Buy It Here, Watch the Intro to Part I

Unlike the first DVD (that I did a bit more work on) I had very little idea of what this edition contained as far as specific interviews and information. I generally enjoy this kind of thing, and I found it to be tastefully done and interesting. The intro is the same as the first, and although it's understandable – perhaps necessary – to dramatize it, I'd rather that it was more understated (I have an allergic reaction of sorts to PR and hype) – nevertheless I applaud the project and the product.

On my way out someone asked me if I thought Jews in Boro Park or Flatbush would buy it. I wonder – I don't really know if non-Lubavitchers have much of an interest. I think that an oral history project – like this – has real value, but as a marketable production, do people that belong to other groups and communities care? Lubavitchers care (although, I don't know how many buy these things) and this, of course, raises a number of questions about what Lubavitch means to anyone outside of Lubavitch, but from an objective standpoint what does a DVD like this really mean?

For starters it's not about documentation of factoids – these are interviews with people repeating personal information that they, or their families, share. They definitely try to find both Lubavitcher & non-Lubavitcher voices, and they try to be as accurate as possible about the facts, but I am sure that the critics will question and reject whatever doesn't fit their perception. Does the fact that the segements contain inviduals who were there, or at least not far removed from the Baal HaMaayseh, make this stronger than a lifeless bit of black & white information? I suspect it depends on what the viewer's preconcieved notions are.

I wonder, though, since history is basically a collection of subjective stories anyway, why would or wouldn't a project this be as compelling as personal experiences related about any man? Would it be possible for people to lay aside the axes they have to grind for a minute to hear it? I dunno. I hope that all us "experts" in the blogosphere will at least seek out a copy and give it a look; I'm curious to hear what you think!

Some of the highlights from this production:

* We heard about how the Rebbe made R' Baruch Ber cry.

* We heard that the Frierdiker Rebbe insisted that the Rebbe continue and complete college in Paris, when the Rebbe was ready to devote his time to Torahdike pursuits (after Berlin).

* We heard that the Rebbe was kvater and babysat on at least one occasion.

* We heard how the Rebbe passed 20-25 shuls in Berlin to daven by the Dombrover Rebbe – and held him in high esteem (does that makes Lubavitchers supporters of the M.D.U camp in Bobov?).

* We found out that the Rebbe preferred a French studio apartment over a fully furnished larger living quarters.

* We learned a lot more about the Rebbe's college affairs in France, and that he managed to fair well, excelling in mathematics, while missing an enormous amount of class time.

*I noticed that the Rebbe's college documents in Berlin list his name Schneersohn, and in France the name was written Schneerson...

Some photos from the "premiere": HERE


Really dosent matter said...

If we make a DVD about [your favorite Litvishe gadol here] would you be impressed? Nooooo, you'd say it's "artscrolled" or some such gobeldy-gook. Why should I care about this latest propaganda piece from the Lubavitcher PR wing? You expect it to be credible?!
I see that SSD's stuff was never given much credibility, and now many of his statements have been borne out. Ill stick with the unbiased history, thank you very much.

zezmir said...

Thats what I figured you'd say.

Really dosent matter said...

Oh? You dont even know who I am...

zezmir said...

It dosen't matter who you are personally, genious. I mean the voice of all the antis that drei zich here...

avi said...

SSD borne out???? Thats news.

fan said...

You can see segments from Vol 1 here:

Anonymous said...

R' Baruch Ber cry? Nu, do tell!

And that's R' M.D.U. to you.

And if you were in France, would you want to live in a full-blown apt? I think that in a studio at least i'd feel like I dont really LIVE in this sick town

Why did the Rebbe miss an enormous amount of class time?

Was the name spelling by the Rebbe or school administration?

Hirshel, were you at teh primere?

Hirshel Tzig said...

a bunch of loonies fighting.....

Shimmy Deutsch has been discredited countless times. Please stop using him as your source.


Why DID Reb Boruch Ber cry? Can we at least have a hint?

Who does the talking in this segment, any "heavy hitters"?

The Schneerson vs. Schneersohn talk is a bit lame, don't you think?

Hirshel Tzig said...

me? at the premiere? no.

I guess I'm not part of the "vast Lubavitcher conspiracy" after all, eh?

Hirshel's friend and blogger said...

SSD?! Man, you never know who's name will get pulled off the scrap heap of history on this site brother.

Why did he cry? I may have said too much already, Buy the DVD. It would hardly be mentchlach for me to spill the details and ruin it for everyone else.

I'm sorry if you found the Schneerso(h)n talk lame. I thought it was interesting (especially if you read mentalblog last week).

Anonymous said...

Who is the cool guy next to Yudel Krinsky in the pics? I love the shirt, we should make it the new standard.

zezmir said...

The pictures link dosent work anymore?

Anonymous said...

Its a sweater, not a shirt.

my bad said...

My mistake - In the picture that I was talking about, the beard covered the collar. My bad.
The pics:

zezmir said...

I saw the first one - and found a number of the interviewees really fascinating.
But really, If the goal is to win over the BP or Flatbush crowd, they should quit before they start. Forget about that, and focus on doing positive things. people that do good work win respect of others, people who try to debate their merits and convince other to repect them undermine their entire goal and acomplish nothing.
The DVD is obviously only going to interesting to us who repect the Rebbe already.

Itzik_s said...

SSD - ROTFLMAO - he's busy with his archaeology and is forgotten as far as Chabad is concerned.

The disk really is more for Lubavitch and mekurav audiences than for other frum communities.

simche said...

BTW - SSD has a highly acclaimed column in Homodia. There were complaints, so they took it out one week, but the readers wanted it... so they put it back.

SB said...

acclaimed? he writes about old coins and jugs, not about actual people.

SB said...


Why do you say that? Why can't it be appealing to Frummies as well?

Itzik_s said...

I'm not sure other communities are into a DVD of this type. Modern types could care less for kosher DVD's except light entertainment like Miami Boys Revach or the HASC stuff, and I just don't see the black hat world going for it quite yet.

I'd have to see it myself (I am among those who isn't into DVD's and videos even of the Rebbe) to really judge.

yomtov said...

I actually would buy it, though I'm no Lubab kool aider, I just love history and though I know you won't get any 'history',not from Lubab at least, you get to hear and try reading between the lines.
About Shimmy Deutsch:Wrote a very good biography of the Rebbe, the details are well researched.Hirshel back up any statements you make that he has been 'discredited'.Remember to bring objective stuff, not Lubab kool aid, you are dealing here with people who have a good backround in Lubavitch history.
While you are at it, try and do a tenth of the chesed the guy does..

Snag said...

The only history that is permitted in Looby one that shows the Holy Family (tm) in a impossibly holy light.

Unfortunately for them, when they needed to use the goyishe courts to win an internecine dispute, the family's own testimonies showed this supposed exalted levels of holiness to be a myth.

Lasagna is good for you said...

hey! I got it! JEM should get SSD to review the DVDs in his column!

Breslover said...

I'm a big believer in documentation. Sounds like a great project!

abe said...

I repect the idea of the undertaking here. However, I must say that if there was a sense of honesty they would have taken an independent third party to make this project (and they wouldnt need to give up all authority; it would be understandable that they maintaion some oversight). It looks from here to be run by the establishment with strong negios (unless I am mistaken. I see all the establishment figures, so I assume this is a decidedly establishment product).
Thats not to say that it is without merit. I will look for it, at least out of curiosity (yes, teasing us with some of the content works as a sales pitch almost every time).

Hirshel Tzig said...


Do we ask "an objective 3rd party" to author all those Rosh Yeshivah biographies? what about the countless books written on the Chazon Ish? the Satmar Rov? the Brisker Rov?

do we get a guy from Mercaz HaRav to do it? how about a Ponovizher to do the Rebbe's biography?

abe said...

I dont dispute that - all Im saying is that if you are getting a skewed version of history (whoever the culprit) then it loses some credibility.

Anonymous said...

I think the Dvd will speak for itself, but it reveals ssd lies in the fact that 1)Fr wanted the rebbe to stay in College 2) the Rebbe learnt in Sorrbonne 3) His over looking all the Chdushey Torah from the Rebbe during that time (Reshimout).

zezmir said...

The Sorbonne issue is one issue that SSD got almost right, but that's old news.

The DVD speaks of the Rebbe and his studies registered at ESTP, the polytechnical school for engenring specializing in electronics. The Rebbe was not enrolled at the Sorbonne.

See the Wikipedia entery for the Rebbe:

In 1933 Rabbi Schneerson moved to France. According to hagiographies authorized by Lubavitch and eyewitness reports, he attended classes at the Sorbonne in Paris. Israeli anthropologist Menachem Friedman, on a visit to France in 1996 was unable to find any documentation from the Sorbonne records, but found that from 1935 to 1938 he studied at the École spéciale des travaux publics, du bâtiment et de l'industrie (ESTP), a Technical College in the Montparnasse district. He completed a diploma in electrical engineering , and received a licence to practice. [2] He lived for most of his time in Paris at 9 Rue de Boulard in the cosmopolitan 14th arrondissement in the same building as his brother-in-law Mendel Hornstein [3]. They also studied together at ESTP, but Hornstein failed the final exams. He did not escape the Holocaust and ultimately perished in Treblinka. [4]

Hirshel Tzig said...

According to hagiographies authorized by Lubavitch and eyewitness reports, he attended classes at the Sorbonne in Paris.

The term "hagiography" has also come to be used as a pejorative reference to the works of contemporary biographers and historians whom critics perceive to be uncritical and even "reverential" in their writing.

It seems like haters have taken full advantage of Wiki. They now decide what is and isn't true regarding the Rebbe. And then they wonder why Lubavitch isn't part of their "Mainstream Judaism".

Excuse me while I -------------

Never mind.

Anonymous said...


stop with the self-righteous nonsense. Every family or Yeshivah commissions a writer to say what he wants about their great one.

zezmir said...

Sorry, H, I wasnt trying to emphasize the choice of wording. It is a proven fact at this date that the Rebbe attended various classes at the Sorbonne, although he was not a registered student. He was, however, enrolled at and graduated from ESTP. I am told that the DVD covers rime spent at ESTP.

zezmir said...

sorry, "rime" should have been "time"

yomtov said...

You amaze me sometimes.Do you honestly believe that you''ll get actual historic facts from someone who has a bias in any direction??Lubavitch have an understandable bias about the Rebbe, I think they take the bias to the 'nth degree, though.Whatever the case your screaming that we should only get 'history' from Lubavitch sources not 'haters' is not very logical.
We can have a discussion whether 'artscrolling' rabbis is good or not, but how can you be angry at Artscroll biographies that always give a positive spin to the rabbi involved and at the same time promote Lubavitchs' biased historical versions?
With this dvd I see no problem, it's various people telling their own views on the Rebbe, it's not a history book and even I don't expect Lubavitch to interview people who have an axe to gring and publish it.Just don't call it history and don't attack Shimmy Deutsch, who published a book whose veracity is not challenged by anybody who knows the facts.
I''ll remind you bderech remiza, that lately a book from an UNBIASED individual came out with clear cut historical proof on certain historical facts that Lubavitch covered up

Hirshel Tzig said...


you see? that's where you're totally wrong. You've been taught to believe that Lubvavitch "covers up" by the fact that facts and hallucinations get out about the Rabbeyim. The fact is that most of this info was available to those that bothered just a bit to find out.

That's very different when it comes to the G'deylim and their families. They lie, distort, and cover up. When the truth does get out they condemn and burn books.

bpunbound said...

Mr. UNBIASED has been clearly established to be on "the take"

Anonymous said...

shimy deutsch is muchzak a liar and a kook from his yeshiva days and from his writings in Kfar Chabad,I remember when he made himself into a laughing stock bytranslating a quote of the tzemach tzedek in to english,

for the obssesed Chabad haters any crazy that will write against chabad, is legit and is a profesional schooled biographer, and chabad is guilty on arrival,

Anonymous said...

who's Mr. UNBIASED?

Hirshel Tzig said...

Listen to more "facts" that are taught to unsuspecting Jews:

I once bought a tape in the summer of '93 at a Mikveh in the Catskills. The title of the tape was something to the affect of "משיחי שקר" and featured Menashe Phillip of Satmar.

For those of you who may not know he's the official policy wonk in Satmar, educating the masses in all aspects of the Shitoh HaKedoyshoh. Usually he attacks Zionists and Agudists, but after Yud Shvat 5753 he held a speech on what had transpired in 770, and re-inforced the warning to avoid Lubavitch.

Here are some of the "facts" that he presented in the lecture:

ער האט זיך געדרייט 25 יאר אין קאלעדזשעס אין פאריז אהן כשר'ע עסן און
אהן חלב ישראל

זיין שווער האט געבעטן ר' מיכאל בער ווייסמאנדל אז ער זאל לערנען מיט אים רמב"ן אויף בראשית ווייל עס פעלט אים אין אמונה

וכהנה רבות

Which is interesting because Reb Michoel Ber z"l was known to be very emotionally affected by the Holocaust, so maybe they confused the Mashopia and Mekabel here. This is typical of the Character assassination the Rebbe endured throughout his life. How many 1000's of Satmarer Kelblech believe this nonsense? How many Snags ate this stuff for lunch, eagerly buying this junk from their newfound friends the Satmars?

Then when Lubavitch puts out a biography about the Rebbe these same Kelblech scream revisionism!

yomtov said...

What biography did Lubavitch put on the Rebbe?
I also heard the mayseh with R'Michoel Ber.
You are actually proving my point:History cannot be learned from people with biases.R'Menashe Fulop has an anti Lubavitch bias and you have a pro Lubavitch bias.Although you twisted yourself into a pretzel, all the taynos you have against Artscroll can be said against Lubavitch.
..And all this has nothing to do with the Jem dvd:It's peoples personal interactions with the Rebbe, it's not portrayed as 'history', why are you working so hard to explain this:I'm on your side in this nekudah

yehupitz said...

I know the story of how the Rebbe made R'Boruch Ber cry. It is takeh an amazing story and believable l'kulei alma.

Hirshel Tzig said...

let's hear your version, please.

yehupitz said...

I heard it directly from the person who relates it on the DVD, who heard it from a Litvish RY, a talmid of R'Boruch Ber who was also present at the encounter.

It's a rather long story that took place when the two encountered each other at R'Chaim Ozer's house (or Beis Medrash) in the 30's. If I have time, I'll continue...

Friend of the Tzig said...

Let di leiners pay the money and buy the DVD.