Friday, December 5, 2014

Brooklyn’s Lubavitch Community: A Culture Captured by the Ultimate Outsider

By Samuel Freedman
Rabbi Menachem Mendel extended an arm, offering someone there a roll of nickels in 1988.
NEW YORK---One day during Hanukkah 26 years ago, the grand rabbi of the Lubavitch-Chabad Hasidim briefly turned away from the hundreds of men gathered before him in synagogue to cast his eye toward the women’s balcony. It was rare enough for Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson to direct his attention to the women’s section, which was kept separate in accordance with Orthodox practice. Rarer still was the rabbi’s target: a female photographer who was not Lubavitch, not Hasidic, not Jewish, not religious, not even American. That photographer, Chie Nishio, stood in the lobby gallery of the Brooklyn Public Library one morning last week, regarding the picture she took of Rabbi Schneerson’s long-ago gesture. [link]

Chie Nishio, a photographer born in Japan, for years chronicled the lives of
Lubavitch-Chabad Hasidim in Brooklyn. Credit Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times