In 1972, the FBI compiled a report on the Rebbe, following the visit of many chassidim who had recently immigrated from the USSR. The report, recently uncovered, notes the large group of guests for “the Rabbi’s birthday.”
By Anash.org reporter
A recently uncovered FBI file on the Rebbe from 1972 notes the large groups of chassidim who would visit on special occasions, among them “the Rabbi’s birthday” – Yud Alef Nissan.
The files, which state that they were “prepared by Mr. John II Adams, Vice Consul, Office of Consul General, U.S. Embassy, Tel Aviv, Israel,” were recently uncovered after a Freedom of Information Act request. Parts were first published on Twitter, and subsequently sent by the FBI’s Information Management Division to Anash.org.
The files seem to have been compiled following the visit of many chassidim who had recently immigrated from the USSR. At the time, the Cold War between the USA and the USSR was at its height, and it seems that there was concern in the American intelligence agencies over the number of former USSR citizens who were now visiting their shores.
The memorandum from the Tel Aviv Vice Consul to the FBI Director reads as follows:
“From information developed through visa interviews, the following has been determined concerning Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, known as the Grand Rabbi of Lubavitch, spiritual leader of the Chabad Movement of Hassidic Judaism.”
The memo then continues with a short biography of the Rebbe, replete with mistakes and misunderstandings.
“Schneerson was born in a town in the Ukraine, the USSR, on March 26, 1902. He reportedly left the Soviet Union in 1921 and went to Paris where he obtained a degree in marine engineering from the Sorbonne. In 1925 he immigrated to the US where he has resided to the present time. He supposedly worked for the US Navy as a marine engineer during World War II and did not go into rabbinical work until after the war. His father was reportedly a leader in the Chabad Movement and he apparently succeeded him after his father’s death.
“Schneerson is married but has no children. He resides at 770 Eastern Parkway in the Crown Heights area of Brooklyn, New York, where he received his followers.
“Schneerson is highly revered in the Chabad Movement and his advice and counsel are regarded without question by his followers. An immediate goal for most of the Chabad members arriving in Israel from the USSR seems to be an audience with the Grand Rabbi. While details concerning the funds for such trips to the US are quite vague, it appears that more prosperous members of the movement in Israel make personal loans to the new immigrants, which are paid off over a long period of time.
“Room and board during their stay in New York is apparently provided by American members of the movement, so that expenses are minimal.
“The stay in Brooklyn averages three weeks during which time one private audience is scheduled with the Rabbi. Several group sessions for men only are also arranged. The balance of the time is spent in prayer and study at the nearby Yeshiva which is associated with the movement.
“Schneerson has never come to Israel as there is reportedly a philosophic objection to recognizing the State of Israel before the arrival of the Messiah. As a result, his followers including Israeli President Shazar, travel to New York to see him.
“Most adherents who have applied for visas are of Russian origin with a large percentage coming from the Georgian area. They generally appear to be simple, hard-working peasants who have an abiding faith in the Rabbi’s wisdom which apparently knows no bounds. There are, however, some professional
and educated adherents in the movement.
“Washington and Moscow name checks are conducted on all: Soviet immigrants who apply for US visas. To date, no derogatory information has developed concerning any of the Chabad members. While precise numbers concerning those who have visited Schneerson are not maintained, there have been approximately 110 immigrants from the USSR who have made the trip between September, 1971, and the present time. While there is a steady flow throughout the year, larger groups tend to travel for such special occasions as the Rabbi’s birthday and the Jewish holidays.”
A second, separate memorandum released by the FBI details information about the phone numbers associated with 770 Eastern Parkway, including the Rebbe’s secretariat, Kehot Publication Society, Macgbe Israel, Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch, National Council for Mesibos Shabbos, and United Lubavitcher Yeshivoth, Musifta [sic] Division. This document may indicate that a phone tap was placed on the phone lines of 770 by the FBI.