By COLlive reporter
Photos by Itzik Roytman
Ari Hausman, an MA/MBA Candidate at the Hornstein Program for Jewish Professional Leadership at Brandeis University, thinks he figured out the secret behind the global success of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement.
Hausman was one of the 13 students who traveled with their Brandeis Associate Professor Mark Rosen and spent a full day with the Jewish community in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights area, home of Chabad’s headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway.
“Going into the afternoon, I wondered what could possibly explain the growth of Chabad over the last 20 plus years, ignoring the possibility of Divine intervention,” said Hausman, a former youth leader at the conservative Temple Emunah in Lexington, MA.
At the conclusion of the day – during which the group toured 770, the Rebbe’s room, the Agudas Chassidei Chabad Library and the Shluchim Office – Hausman says he might have found his answer.
“Everyone at Chabad shares the same mission statement, whether they’re working for Chabad on Campus or as a Doctor,” he says. “The constitution is the Tanya. Entrepreneurial spirit is encouraged because everyone believes in the same mission.”
The group learned about Chabad’s various activities from their discussions with veteran Philadelphia Shliach Rabbi Menachem Schmidt, President of Chabad on Campus International, Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin and Rabbi Motti Seligson of Chabad.org and Rabbi Avraham Berkowitz of Chabad Lubavitch Headquarters.
Hausman points out that “it is only the programmatic implementation that changes from place to place, allowing the maximum flexibility to respond to whatever needs or challenges they have.”
Hausman added, “There is no ‘work-life balance’ because work and life have the same mission, and it’s a mission that is taught from birth. It is no wonder that Chabad does as well as it does. The only question that remains is how much more successful will they be in the next 20 plus years.”
The visit was coordinated and accompanied by Mrs. Batya Lisker, of Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters, executive assistant to Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, Chairman of Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch and Machne Israel, Chabad’s educational and social services arm.
The ‘behind the scenes glimpse at Chabad’ tour concluded at dinner at the home of Rabbi Shmaya and Rivkah Krinsky, where they met Rabbi Alexander Namdar, Director of Chabad Lubavitch of Sweden.
Rabbi Namdar and his family are in the midst of a legal battle to home-school their children and he spoke about the challenges, miracles and wonders of Shlichus, as well as the growing fears of anti-Semitism in Europe.
“While I can’t speak for everyone, I feel comfortable saying this: We felt welcomed. We felt accepted. We felt valued,” commented Erica Goldman, studying for a MBA at Brandeis’ Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.
“We did come with a specific lens: to look at the structure and workings of Chabad as an organization – we came with our Organizational Behavior professor, after all,” Goldman stresses and says that this was “a truly interesting part of the experience for us.
“No one can exactly explain how Chabad works but it clearly does, no one would design an organization to work this way and yet it succeeds, none of us has experience with such a wide group of people so truly guided by a mission that the general answer to a question about rules is vague puzzlement because rules aren’t needed when everyone is driven by the same overarching principles all the time,” she said.
“It was enlightening and enriching to hear from so many different people about these questions of structure and to get the chance to view headquarters from a few different angles instead of just one,” she added.
The group of students had other visits to Jewish organizations and institutions in New York City scheduled, but Goldman said that “we’ll go on discussing our experience for days, you can be sure of that. We’ll refer back to today’s visits as we visit other Jewish organizations this week, I have no doubt.”