The story surrounding the purchase of the Jewish world’s most iconic address
Few contemporary structures carry the same iconic status as the Lubavitch Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway. From keychains to judaica to actual replicas in cities around the world, the image of its famous facade evokes instant recognition.
Yet in spite of the familiarity with this edifying edifice, the details surrounding its origins remain relatively unknown.
A new short film from JEM uncovers the history behind the purchase of 770 and its selection as the new center of the Chabad movement and its global mission.
Built in 1920 and initially used as a medical facility, the neo-gothic structure was purchased for the previous Rebbe in 1940, several months after his arrival to the U.S. The house would function not only as his residence but also as a synagogue, and most importantly, a yeshiva.
The choice was significant for several reasons. To begin with, the affluent neighborhood was hardly conducive to become the seat of a dynamic chasidic movement, and establishing its presence there reflected the previous Rebbe’s insistence on changing the prevailing attitude that Jewish life in the “New World” should be any different.
Furthermore, as the Rebbe has often pointed out, 770 is the numerical value of the hebrew word “foratztah — spread out,” a word which represents the approach of Chabad leaders to spreading authentic Torah Judaism even in the trenches of assimilated American Jewry.
As the 21st of Elul marks 80 years since 770’s inauguration by the previous Rebbe, this production provides ample evidence of the scope of his vision and the endurance of its cause.