Preparing Rosh Hashana Packages for Distribution in Ukraine
Preparing Rosh Hashana Packages for Distribution in UkraineCourtesy of Chabad of Poland

No, this isn't intended as an attack on the Chabad movement or the American Orthodox, G-d Forbid. Chabad has played a crucial role in rebuilding our community from the devastation of the Holocaust. Even after October 7th, they continue to perform incredible work for World Jewry.

This discussion doesn't solely focus on Chabad; it involves all forms of mainstream and Orthodox Judaism across the diaspora, particularly in America.

However, I chose the title deliberately to capture your attention, and I appreciate you reading this far into the third paragraph.

Perhaps you find my title somewhat offensive or confusing. It might be confusing because when people usually think about the Reform Movement, they associate it with a perception of watered-down Judaism. It's seen as a form of Judaism where essentially "anything goes": intermarriage, mixed services, women cantors and rabbis, women getting Aliyahs, and donning tefillin and tallitot. Reform Judaism recognizes Jewish descent regardless of whether the child is born to a Jewish mother or father. So just to be clear.. When I say that Chabad is the new Reform, I am NOT talking about Jewish Practice, G-d Forbid.

Jewish Education in Reform circles is often diluted, and services differ greatly from mainstream Orthodoxy. I once attended a Bar Mitzvah in Los Angeles where, during the Torah Reading which included the admonitions in Deuteronomy Chapter 28, the Gabbai (Rabbinical Assistant), clad in a Los Angeles Dodgers towel as a tallit, abruptly packed up the Torah and returned it to the Ark. The congregation seemed unaware of what had just happened, treating it as business as usual.

These occurrences may not surprise many of us from traditional Jewish homes, but what concerns me is specifically how the Reform Movement began and why I worry about all forms of mainstream Orthodoxy in the diaspora, not just Chabad.

Rabbi Ken Spiro of Aish, in his "History Crash Course #54: The Reform Movement" article, explains the origins of the Reform Movement in Germany in the early 1800s. The German Jews who initiated this movement aimed to maintain some connection to Judaism while embracing the newfound rights and freedoms in European society. They perceived traditional Jewish practices and national identity as obstacles to integration, leading them to discard key aspects of traditional Judaism.

Their most significant departure was the belief that the Torah was given to Jews by God at Mount Sinai. For 3,000 years, Jews never questioned this belief. However, the Reform Movement challenged this, along with altering Shabbat (at first) from Jewish Saturday to Christian Sunday and renaming their synagogues as "temples" to emphasize their shift away from Jerusalem and the dropping of any desire for the rebuilding of "The Temple."

Reform leaders even disavowed any allegiance to the Land of Israel or the Hebrew language. They considered themselves "Germans of the Mosaic persuasion." The philosophy evolved further at conferences held in Brunswick and Frankfurt in the mid-1800s, expressing allegiance to their country of residence while dissociating from the Land of Israel and Hebrew language.

So, is Chabad similar to Reform? It might seem so when observing the prominence of New York over Jerusalem and the significance given to 770. Why doesn't Chabad have an active and serious Aliyah program? Have they ever hung an Israeli flag on the front of 770 or any of their Shuls? Sung Hatikvah? Has Chabad also shifted its focus, prioritizing American identity over Jewish principles?

Chabad has the power (if it so desires..) to influence 1 Million Jews to make Aliyah this instant. What an effect it would have on all of us and the world.. Not just Israel. But instead, their focus, much like the German Reform Jews of Yesteryear.. Is to further expand 770, even if that means building tunnels under it.

But Jews in the diaspora also need to decide for themselves where their own loyalty and patriotism lie… How important to them is the re-constitution of Jewish Nationalism in it’s ancient Homeland? Hashem opened the gates in 1948. You would think that after 2,000 years of holocausts and pogroms after 75 years behind us, we’d be running to Israel in droves… Wishful thinking.

Learn from the mistakes of the past. Pick up, pack up, and come HOME. Truthfully speaking you might soon not have a choice… How so?

Well, just as the Jewish People were chased by the Egyptians right up to the Sea, so too in the End of Days the antisemites won’t let you leave America so fast… They will do whatever they can to try and stop you. For you are guilty of “colonizing Palestine”. And good luck trying to catch a plane when they’re already half-running… Hashem is closing the gates…

Hitler hated the Jews, particularly the assimilated ones as depicted in Nazi propaganda films. With the firm belief that “Germany is our homeland”, six million Jews later, now, in America, incidents like 9/11, flash floods and a significant rise in antisemitism have taken root in New York… History is repeating itself..

I hope that the events of October 7th will eradicate the "anti-Zionist" or "apathy to Zionism" mindset across the entire diaspora and within all streams of Judaism. There were certain rabbis and individuals who, at the time, attempted to dissuade me from making Aliyah. Even if they didn't voice it explicitly, their expressions spoke volumes. They said I have to wait for Moshiach. Did Nachshon wait for anyone before jumping into the sea? In today’s generation, Hashem is looking for the “Nachshonim”. Be a Nachshon!

In such critical times, not considering Aliyah or having plans for it reflects a lack of responsibility to one's nation (with all due respect). Ultimately it is brought down that all Jews will eventually return to The Holy Land. The question is… Will that include you?

So I pose my original question to Chabadniks: Has Chabad unintentionally become a parallel to the Reform Movement? It's something to think about.



1. Ken Spiro, "History Crash Course #54: The Reform Movement," Ken Spiro (blog),