Chassidic American Values

Thursday, 3 June, 2021 - 2:32 pm

On Monday, June 23, 1941 the US Congress voted to expand the holiday of July 4th as a paid holiday for all federal employees, extending the scope of the federal holiday declared previously in 1870. On that same day, the SS Serpa Pinto docked at Staten Island, NY carrying, among many, two very important passengers, the Rebbe and Rebbetzin, then daughter and son-in-law of the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe. It coincided with the Hebrew date of Sivan 28 eighty years ago. Immediately upon the Rebbe’s arrival, his father-in-law placed him at the helm of three central Chabad institutions that had just been established. These three institutions became the foundation for what Chabad would accomplish over the next 80 years.

The Rebbe usually spoke of this day in the context of the role these newly established institutions played in transforming the American Jewish scene. In fact, in 1991, in connection with the 50th anniversary of his arrival in the USA, the Rebbe received a congratulatory letter from then President George H.W. Bush. The Rebbe replied to the president (the full letter can be viewed at and wrote the following:

“I welcome especially your remarks, my dear President, as a tribute to the Lubavitch Movement which I am privileged to head. That it has grown and flourished in this country is a testimony to the conducive climate and responsive human nature that combine to ensure that all positive efforts are abundantly fruitful.

By Divine Providence your kind letter was dated on the morrow of the anniversary of the Nation's birthday. It is well to remember that the founders of this Nation considered Independence Day as "a day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to Gd Al-mighty." By Divine Providence also my arrival in the United States in 1941 coincided with the declaration by Congress that year, making July 4th a legal public holiday.”

The Rebbe saw the ideals and culture of the USA as a favorable environment for the success and development of the Chabad movement. The spirit and fundamental values upon which the USA was founded are fertile ground the teachings and inspiration of Chabad. Indeed, Chabad enjoyed phenomenal growth in and from the USA.

As we reflect on this special anniversary next week, we should commit ourselves to furthering the activities that the Rebbe began 80 years ago, thereby bringing our world to complete and final Redemption through Mashiach.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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