The Chabadification of Judaism: How did this one sect get so big?

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If you’ve ever wondered why it seems like there are more Chabad houses than Starbucks in Canadian cities, there’s a reason: With their enormous menorahs and frequent sidewalk stalls, the Chabad movement easily represents the most prominent Jews in the public square. On campus, on the street, in smaller communities and online, their ubiquity is undeniable.

How did they get there? Why is this small Hasidic sect succeeding while other denominations are losing ground—especially when so many Jews who take part aren’t even Orthodox?

We talk to sociologist Samuel Heilman about the roots of this phenomenon and what it means for the future of Canadian Jewry. Plus, Phoebe and Avi discuss tidiness, piles of books and the Jewish angles of Marie Kondo’s recent confession.

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  1. The last leader of Chabad, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, was considered “King Messiah.” In many ways the Chabad Lubavitch became a personality-driven cult.

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