Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin, a spokesman for Chabad, describes the behavior of people like Kanevsky as “more painful than words”—an abuse of the rebbe’s message.
The nerve center, however, remains 770 Eastern Parkway, which has such cachet because it was the home and synagogue of Schneerson, the Chabad-Lubavitch’s head rabbi from 1950 until his death in 1994.
He is credited with turning a demoralized group of Lubavitch Jews that had moved to Brooklyn in the wake of World War II into a multimillion-dollar global empire that spans more than 70 countries, boasts hundreds of thousands of devotees, and has established beachheads on more than 100 American college campuses.
Others say it violates the monotheistic religion’s prohibitions against idolatry.
And some think it cultish or just too simplistic—a caricature of Jewish teachings.
She says that in the time of redemption, all rules are reversed.