Our Community is the Coolest in the World”: Chabad and Jewish Nation-Building in Contemporary Russia
In the early 2000s, the Russian branch of Lubavitch Hasidism embodied in the Federation of Jewish communities of Russia became a self-proclaimed speaker for Russian Jewry. The paper argues that the Federation is a nation-building project which succeeded in constructing a rather limited and imported real religious community as well as a large and amorphous “imagined community” and tries to offer some inclusive agenda for Russian Jewry as a whole. Most importantly, the Federation switched from the traditional lachrymose concept of the Jewish nation, and suffering as a core of Jewish identity, to the idea of Jewish and Russian Jewish success, achievement, and heroism. The paper seeks to demonstrate that the reason for this ideological innovation lies in Lubavitch mentality (part and parcel of which is the concept of miracle and ardent messianism) as well as in surrounding all-Russian trends. The Federation’s success story and development of optimistic memories and narratives has been parallel to Russia’s “rising from its knees.” The cornerstone of the Federation’s victory on the Russian Jewish scene - its effective and continuous alliance with Kremlin - shows the same pattern: on the one side, it follows the traditional Lubavitch path; on the other, it reflects the traditional Russian idea of state-church “symphony” and dependence of the latter on the former. The attitude to Judaism on the part of the Russian Jewry that supports the Federation may be defined as “vicarious religion,” and may be compared to the “light burden” of Orthodoxy undertaken by the majority of Russians.
Main Topic: Other Chabad-Lubavitch Politics Umbrella Bodies Representation Jewish Organisations Orthodox Judaism
Link to article (paywalled), Our Community is the Coolest in the World”: Chabad and Jewish Nation-Building in Contemporary Russia
Our Community is the Coolest in the World”: Chabad and Jewish Nation-Building in Contemporary Russia. 2018: 1-31. https://archive.jpr.org.uk/10.1007/s12397-018-9250-0