Lubavitchers are one of the largest groups of ultra-orthodox, or Hasidic, Jewish groups, and number about 100,000 worldwide. In 1940 the Lubavitchers purchased a small Collegiate-Gothic style Brooklyn building (once a medical clinic) at 770 Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, for the sixth Rebbe, Yoseph Yitzchak Schneerson, who had recently immigrated to the United States to escape Nazi persecution. In 1951, a year after his passing, his son-in-law Menachem Mendel Schneerson officially accepted the title of the seventh Lubavitch Rebbe, and inherited a congregation decimated in numbers by the holocaust.
The Rebbe established the tradition of Chabad centers, places of community and outreach, and the Shluchim, young families that go to distant parts of the world to set up and manage these centers. The Shluchim’s goal is to reach lapsed and secular Jews and spread the mitzvith, the 613 commandments of Jewish behavior. Because of the Rebbe’s charisma, energy and the devotion of his followers, the building in Brooklyn has become a kind of holy ground for Lubavitchers. It has been replicated worldwide, with varying degrees of precision, mostly as Chabad centers. The international franchising of this building serves three purposes: as the Rebbe’s home, it is a familiar place for his return to earth since his passing in 1994; as the Lubavitch headquarters it is a well-known landmark and meeting place for insular international travelers; and it is a sign of the importance placed by the Rebbe on his Shluchim.
Pictured here are twelve 770’s, including the original, in 2005. The number of replicas has been growing: there are now three in the United States, at least five in Israel and one each in Canada, Italy, Ukraine, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Australia.
Robbins/Becher – 2005/2014