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For 18th-century Jewry in Eastern Europe, the city of Vilna was the bastion of Torah scholarship and the center of Talmudic learning, while Mezheritch was the cradle of Chassidism and deep spirituality. The precedence and relevance of these two foci of Jewish life have been debated for close to 300 years.

Divided for the Sake of Heaven

Divided for the Sake of Heaven

The fraught relationship between the Vilna Gaon and R. Schneur Zalman of Liadi

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Divided for the Sake of Heaven: The fraught relationship between the Vilna Gaon and R. Schneur Zalman of Liadi

For 18th-century Jewry in Eastern Europe, the city of Vilna was the bastion of Torah scholarship and the center of Talmudic learning, while Mezheritch was the cradle of Chassidism and deep spirituality. The precedence and relevance of these two foci of Jewish life have been debated for close to 300 years.
R. Elijah, the Gaon of Vilna, R. Schneur Zalman of Liadi (Alter Rebbe), Chassidism

A panel discussion at Beit Shabtai, home of Eliezer—The Jewish Society at Yale University, Kislev 19, 5774 (November 18, 2013)

Panelists: Rabbi Yanki Tauber, content editor of Chabad.org, and Professor Eli Stern of Yale University, author of The Genius: Elijah of Vilna and the Making of Modern Judaism. Moderated by Shira Telushkin (Yale ’14).

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Richard Philadelphia, a. March 21, 2014

I was brought up in the typical Reform home, ignorant re Judaism, but when I married a girl from a similar background, the two of us changed direction and made a kosher home for ourselves and later, our two sons. They both now, many years later, are officers in their orthodox synagogues and needless to say, have kosher homes. It's a way of life, a way of "being" Jewish in our bodies as well as our minds. Eating traif never killed anyone. (Although it is against the Torah ed note)

but we're Jewish. in our bodies as well as our souls. Reply

Alex Lexington, MA March 18, 2014

Chabad is fully responsible Only orthodox versions of religions are currently recognized in Russia. Besides Ukraine, Chabad expanded into mainland Russia with very little if any other Jewish groups there. So Chabad is practically a face of Judaism in Russia/Ukraine, and thus completely responsible for the way Judaism is perceived by both Jews and non-Jews there. Reply