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The Man Who Changed Judaism

URL: http://www.jewishjournal.com/books/article/the_man_who_changed_judaism_20100719

Sociologists Samuel Heilman and Menachem Friedman, authors of “The Rebbe: The Life and Afterlife of Menachem Mendel Schneerson” (Princeton University Press: $29.95, 400 pps.), have both traveled radically different roads than the subject of their compelling new biography, which focuses on the life of Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson. Schneerson spent almost half a century transforming the scattered remnants of the Lubavitcher movement after World War II into something unexpectedly grand. Yet, the reader can’t help but sense that there still exists a tremendous allegiance between all three men. In their own ways, they each carry upon their shoulders the sorrow of the Jewish people, and each has manifested his grief in a different way. It is this intensity and sense of purpose that fuels Heilman and Friedman’s well-researched narrative and allows them to critically approach the Rebbe with equal amounts of awe and disdain.

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