More than 50,000 people visited the gravesite of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson—the seventh and final leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch branch of Hasidism, most commonly known as "the Rebbe"—for the 21st anniversary of his death last weekend.
The Rebbe's yahrzeit was marked at a site known as the "Ohel" (translated as tent in Hebrew) in the Old Montefiore Cemetery in Queens, N.Y. The June 20 anniversary—coinciding with the third day of the Hebrew month of Tammuz, the date of the Rebbe's death on the Hebrew calendar in 1994—came just weeks after the Chabad leader's resting place garnered headlines for being visited by jockey Victor Espinoza before he rode American Pharoah to horse racing's first Triple Crown since 1978.
Schneerson's 21st yahrzeit also serves as a reminder that a full year has passed since the milestone 20th anniversary of his death, an occasion that was covered by JNS.org comprehensively and from multiple angles. At the time, I authored this piece on two new biographies of the Rebbe. One of the biographies, by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, asserted in its subtitle that Schneerson was “the most influential rabbi in modern history.” We also published this article about how the Rebbe's emphasis on relationship-building and outreach served as a blueprint for Chabad's emergence into a movement that today is emulated far and wide by others in the Jewish community. Finally, later in 2014, we further covered Chabad's penetration into mainstream Jewish life—ranging from the preschool to college levels—in this story.
May the Rebbe's memory continue to serve as a blessing for Jews of any background and all citizens of the world.