Beliefs

This is what 4,000 dancing rabbis looks like at New York’s largest sit-down dinner

Rabbis pose for a “group selfie” together with thousands of colleagues in front of Chabad-Lubavitch world headquarters in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014. They are among 4,200 rabbis from around the world who are in New York for the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries, an annual event aimed at reviving Jewish awareness and practice around the world. Photo by Adam Ben Cohen / Chabad.org

NEW YORK (RNS) More than 4,000 Chabad rabbis representing 80 countries gathered on Sunday in Brooklyn for what was described as New York City’s largest sit-down dinner. The group Chabad marked the 20th anniversary of the death of Menachem Mendel Schneerson, known as “the Rebbe,” considered one of the most influential Jewish leaders of the 20th century.

Earlier this year, a new biography of Schneerson landed on The New York Times best-seller list. “Rebbe: The Life and Teachings of Menachem M. Schneerson, the Most Influential Rabbi in Modern History” by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin also was listed for a period in the #1 spot on Amazon’s “Christian leadership” section.

The Chabad movement, which traces itself back to 18th century Russia and is now based in Brooklyn, seeks to deepen the spirituality of Jews globally. Chabad is the largest groups of Hasidim, the most Orthodox of Jews, and leaders of the movement say it is growing every year.

About one in four Jewish households in Miami have engaged with Chabad programming, for example, including 42 percent of Jewish households with children at home, according one study. The survey suggested that nearly half of all Jewish households led by people under age 35 visited a Chabad center or participated in a Chabad-related activity within the past year.

The photos below from Sunday’s gathering illustrate the global reach of Chabad.

All photos by Adam Ben Cohen / Chabad.org

Thousands of rabbis pose for a group photo in front of Chabad-Lubavitch world headquarters in the Brooklyn borough  of New York on Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014. They are among 4,200 rabbis from around the world who are in New York for the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries, an annual event aimed at reviving Jewish awareness and practice around the world. Photo by Adam Ben Cohen / Chabad.org

Thousands of rabbis pose for a group photo in front of Chabad-Lubavitch world headquarters in the Brooklyn borough
of New York on Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014. They are among 4,200 rabbis from around the world in New York for the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries, an annual event aimed at reviving Jewish awareness and practice around the world. Photo by Adam Ben Cohen / Chabad.org

Rabbis pose for a “group selfie” together with thousands of colleagues in front of Chabad-Lubavitch world headquarters  in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014. They are among 4,200 rabbis from around the world who are in New York for the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries, an annual event aimed at reviving Jewish awareness and practice around the world. Photo by Adam Ben Cohen / Chabad.org

Rabbis pose for a “group selfie” together with thousands of colleagues in front of Chabad-Lubavitch world headquarters
in Brooklyn, Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014. Photo by Adam Ben Cohen / Chabad.org

Rabbi Bentzi Sudak, of London, England smiles as he waits to have a group picture taken in front of Chabad-Lubavitch world headquarters in the Brooklyn borough of New York Sunday Nov. 23, 2014. He is among 4,200 rabbis from around the world who are in New York for the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries, an annual event aimed at reviving Jewish awareness and practice around the world. Photo by Adam Ben Cohen / Chabad.org

Rabbi Bentzi Sudak, of London, England smiles as he waits to have a group picture taken in front of Chabad-Lubavitch world headquarters in Brooklyn Sunday Nov. 23, 2014. Photo by Adam Ben Cohen / Chabad.org

Rabbis are seen in this photo among their colleagues at a banquet at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in the Brooklyn borough of New York on November 23, 2014. They are among 5,200 rabbis and guests from over 80 countries in New York for the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries, an annual event aimed at reviving Jewish awareness and practice around the world. Photo by Adam Ben Cohen / Chabad.org

Rabbis join more than 4,000 of their colleagues for a a banquet at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in Brooklyn Nov. 23, 2014. Photo by Adam Ben Cohen / Chabad.org

Rabbis are seen in this photo among their colleagues at a banquet at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in the Brooklyn borough of New York on November 23, 2014. They are among 5,200 rabbis and guests from over 80 countries in New York for the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries, an annual event aimed at reviving Jewish awareness and practice around the world. Photo by Adam Ben Cohen / Chabad.org

1,700 pounds of fish were served to some 5,000 Jewish leaders and guests at a Chabad banquet, described as the largest sit down dinner in New York City. Photo by Adam Ben Cohen / Chabad.org

Rabbis are seen in this photo dancing with their colleagues at a banquet at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in the Brooklyn borough of New York on November 23, 2014. They are among 5,200 rabbis and guests from over 80 countries in New York for the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries, an annual event aimed at reviving Jewish awareness and practice around the world. Photo by Adam Ben Cohen / Chabad.org

Rabbis are seen in this photo dancing with their colleagues at a banquet at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in Brooklyn on Nov. 23, 2014. Photo by Adam Ben Cohen / Chabad.org

Video by Sarah Pulliam Bailey

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Sarah Pulliam Bailey

Sarah Pulliam Bailey is a national correspondent for RNS, covering how faith intersects with politics, culture and other news. She previously served as online editor for Christianity Today where she remains an editor-at-large.

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