Global Chabad Accountability

Rabbi Schneerson, the leader of Chabad

Over the last ten years, there have been many hundreds of conversations with Chabad Rabbis all over the world about the custody case of the Schlesinger twins in Vienna. One recurring theme during those conversations was that even if there was a public acceptance by Chabad that Rabbi Biderman’s actions were part of the problem, and causing a public disgrace to Chabad (in many cases directly influencing people to “withdraw their donations from Chabad, because of the way Chabad has behaved in this case“), there is no central Chabad authority able to intervene or discipline Rabbi Biderman in any way.

The head Chabad Shliach in Austria, Rabbi Jacob Biderman has been undeniably involved in the case in support of the father having full custody of the children. In an article in 2012, Rabbi Jacob Biderman told Beth that her husband would be prepared to grant her a get only if she dropped her battle for custody of the children, and was “willing to leave him in peace”.

Chabad Central offices and leadership have been lobbied and after many hours of reluctant conversations over a two year period, this was their response:

“It is ultimately up to Rabbi Biderman to make a determination as how to best address this issue consistent with the facts on the ground.”

Rabbi Mendel Sharfstein from Chabad in Crown Heights
Chabad Rabbi Biderman of Austria

Does Chabad have any central authority from Crown Heights or accountability to their colleagues in other regions?

In 2015, Rabbi Yosef Feldman was removed [from Chabad dot org] after “his controversial comments to the Royal Commission, including his suggestion that paedophiles who had not committed sex crimes for two decades should be treated with leniency.” This was echoed by Manny Waks.

In 2017, a group of Rabbis met with the pope, and a video went viral showing those Rabbis dancing with the pope afterwards. According to the article, “A Chabad dot org list of “official emissaries” no longer contains the address of Chabad of Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn, whose leader, Rabbi Dovber Pinson, was on the trip.”

In 2021, “Rabbi Michoel Green, who is on a warpath against COVID vaccines … has been dismissed by Chabad in Massachusetts and delisted from Lubavitch World Headquarters.”

In 2021 a Chabad house in Manchester, England was removed from Chabad dot org website after being listed for many years. If anyone wishes to know more details, they should contact the Jewish Telegraph .

The opposite is also true. Sometimes, there is pressure from local communities to have the incumbent Chabad leadership step down in favour of a replacement board. Here is an example of Central Chabad in Crown Heights stepping in to intervene.

Letter to the Melbourne community

In a further perplexing example, the head Chabad Rabbi in Russia publicly put pressure on the Swedish government on matters that were totally unconnected to him.

On an informal level Chabad Rabbis from all over the world meet up for their Kinus conference where friendships are cemented, ideas exchanged and favours called in. To suggest that there is no communication between Chabad Houses in different regions is absurd.

In conclusion, it is factually incorrect to say that Chabad Centres around the world are independent. The actions of one Chabad Rabbi will have implications on the Chabad global brand. Chabad can choose to distance themselves from such a Rabbi, as has been demonstrated in other situations, or alternatively, accept that the actions of this Rabbi is representative of what Chabad stands for in practice. If they allow one of their representatives to remain on their Chabad shliach directory, then that is an endorsement of him and everything he has done in his capacity as Chabad shliach.

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