Wednesday, November 30, 2011

770: A Visit to Chabad's Headquarters

In August of 2008, I took a trip to New York on my way to the west coast, and stopped over at 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, a sort of headquarters of Chabad Lubavitch. I was taken on a tour by Rabbi Dov Ber Berkowitz, a Chabadnik friend of mine from my pre-aliyah days, and now the rabbi at Chabad of the Delta (back in California.)

770 Eastern Parkway, Chabad's Nerve Center
770 started out life as just another building.  Purchased by the Lubavitch (Chabad) Hassidim, it became the residence of the Rebbe, a synagogue, and eventually, the geographical center of Lubavitch's outreach movement.  Who would have thought that this insignificant-looking building would be the center for thousands of outreach centers worldwide.

At the time of my visit, it was the three weeks (a period of mourning for the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem) when we don't shave.  By the time I landed in New York, I was sporting a full beard.

Donning tefillin in 770

The basement of 770 has been completely excavated.  Later, Chabad purchased the adjascent buildings and  merged all of their basements into one giant underground synagogue.

The Beit Midrash at 770
Later, when the Rebbe passed on, the Mishichists (those who believe that the Rebbe is still alive and is the Moshiach) took over the Beit Midrash and decorated it to taste, while the above-ground portions remained under non-Mishichist auspices.

Mishichist Decorations and Declarations in 770

Immediately after the Shoah (Holocaust,) as the survivors of Europe's brutality straggled into the United States, Lubavitcher Hassidim began to regroup.  Originally, all of them could daven in this small Beit Midrash, not to be confused with the enormous Beit Midrash in the basement.

The Original Beit Midrash
It's hard to believe that the Chabad of today, with its tens of thousands of followers, could have started from such modest beginnings.

Outside of the Beit Midrash is a small plaza where weddings are held.

A Plaza at 770 where Lubavitch weddings are held

And across the street is the newly opened Chabad Children's Museum.

The Chabad Children's Museum
Entrance to the Chabad Children's Museum

This being Chabad, you can always find hard liquor, even at 9 o'clock in the morning.

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