Men in black: Thousands of Hasidic Jewish scholars gather for photo in Crown Heights, setting record, leader says

Rabbi reunion: Some 5,600 ultra-conservative rabbis gathered outside Chabad Lubavitch’s Crown Heights world headquarters on Sunday to take a class picture as part of a several-day religious conference in the borough.
Brooklyn Daily
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

This picture is worth more than a thousand rabbis!

Some 5,600 ultra-Orthodox rabbis belonging to a Brooklyn-based religious organization met in Crown Heights on Sunday to pose for an annual class photo, setting the record for the largest gathering of the conservative Hasidic leaders ever, according to a rep for the faith-based group.

“It was the largest gathering of rabbis — period,” said Rabbi Motti Seligson, a spokesman for Chabad Lubavitch, which extols the values of Hasidism to followers and potential converts.

The picture, which Chabad officials promoted as a “Where’s Waldo of rabbis” in a press release, was taken outside of the organization’s world headquarters on Eastern Parkway between Brooklyn and Kingston avenues.

Only a few of the thousands of spiritual leaders, all of whom are men, are looking at the camera in the panoramic shot — many are gazing into their smart phones, some are talking amongst themselves, and others are distractedly glancing elsewhere.

But most of the rabbis wore an identical uniform of black suit and hat, and nearly all sported impressive, flowing beards.

The photo session was part of an annual conference that began last week and concluded on Monday, during which the conservative scholars attended dozens of workshops across the borough where they discussed issues both sacred and secular before returning to their communities to share the lessons they learned in Brooklyn, Seligson said.

Some rabbis who reside in parts of the United States and other countries recently hit by natural disasters — including hurricane-ravaged locales such as St. Martin, Puerto Rico, Texas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands — used the Kings County coming together as an opportunity to collect much-needed items for people back home, the spokesman said.

“A lot of them stocked up on supplies and sent things back home to help their communities recover,” Seligson said.

And the well-attended conference may sound like a tremendous boon for the borough’s hospitality industry, but local hoteliers didn’t benefit much from the event, according to the rabbi, who said most visiting attendees prefer to crash with friends, family, or members of the neighborhood’s greater Chabad community.

“Every year the local community in Crown Heights swings their arms wide open, and welcomes thousands of guests and graciously puts them up and takes care of all their hospitality needs,” Seligson said.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Posted 12:00 am, November 24, 2017
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reader feedback

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

Community News Group

Don’t miss out!

Stay in touch with the stories people are talking about in your neighborhood:

Optional: Help us tailor our newsletters to you!