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Rabbi Issachar Levi Schneerson speaks out about the extremely distant relationship he had with his father Chassidic grand rabbi ‘The Rebbe’ Menachem Mendel Schneerson. They were 5,862 kilometers apart, had a single phone call once every three months, and only two meetings in forty years. His father passed away in 1994 but today Issachar still does not know why his father kept him at bay.
He was the grand rabbi’s only son and it would have been in line with Chassidic tradition if he had succeeded his father, but his father did not even allow him inside his movement. His father even kept his existence a secret from most of his followers! Was his son’s extramarital birth an embarrassment after all? Or did he want to protect his son from the religious fundamentalism and messianic frenzy that came to hold his movement in an ever tightening grip?
As an adolescent Issachar felt rejected by his father and as an adult he was hurt time after time by his father’s aloofness. Had he not done everything he could to adjust? He had converted to Judaism the Orthodox way, he observed the Jewish rites and rituals, he married a Jewish woman, he studied Judaism, and he even moved to Israel so his children would grow up in an entirely Jewish environment! He had done nothing wrong, so why would his father not have him? Until his father passed away on June 12, 1994, he continued to hope that one day his father would call him, make his existence public, acknowledge him, but then his last hope was dashed and he became desperate. He broke down and underwent psychological treatment. He recovered somewhat, but gradually traumas from his work in the Dutch security forces took over his life and in 2007 he had to stop working. In the summer of 2014 he published his story, this book.

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