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The Rescue, Relief, and Resistance Activities of Rabbi Zalman Schneerson

Does it Count as a Rescue When a Jew Saves a Fellow Jew?

Harriet Jackson

Keywords: RABBI ZALMAN SCHNEERSON OR ZALMAN CHNEERSON; HADASSA CARLEBACH; MATERIAL OR SPIRITUAL RELIEF; JEWISH RESCUE; FRENCH RESISTANCE; VICHY CHAPLAINS

This article explores the relief, rescue, and resistance activities of Rabbi Zalman Schneerson and the Association des Israélites pratiquants (AIP) in Vichy France. The rabbi's prior experience in clandestine activities and spiritual resistance in the Soviet Union served as a training ground for the resistance work he eventually undertook in Vichy. Schneerson and his family were able to shelter, feed, and educate more than eighty children during the war, save at least fifty-three children from deportation, and help smuggle at least thirty-five children to Switzerland. That Schneerson and his family survived and rescued Jewish refugees in Vichy France, a regime that willingly deported nearly half of its foreign Jewish population to death camps, demonstrates that he and his wife Sara were not novices in clandestine work. Indeed, their staunch resistance to Vichy antisemitism was largely a legacy of Hasidic resistance to antisemitism under Soviet rule.

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