“Neo-Hasidism, Neochassidut, or Neo-Chassidus, is an approach to Judaism in which people learn beliefs and practices of Chassidic Judaism, and incorporate it into their own lives or prayer communities, yet without formally joining a Hasidic group.” Wikipedia
(In general making boxes and narrowly defining groups of Jews or a community is not within the spirit of the Torah. We are One People and our central identity is that which we share with every Jew. As the Zohar teaches us, God is One, the Torah is One and Am Yisrael is One Nation. However, almost two thousand years of exile have diminished our “one-nation identity” and created both practical differences and a spiritual need to identify ourselves in a more sectoral way. Scattered among the four corners of the earth, while staying true to the One Torah, we adapted different customs. Our people divided into Ashkenazim, S’fardim, Tamanim and others. These groups also broke down into many different sub-groups. Chassidic Judaism, which originated in the 18th century in the Ukraine, is an offshoot of the Ashkenazi community.)
Kehilat Oro Shel Adam, under the leadership of Rav Shalom Miller has decided to label itself as a Zionistic, Neo-Chassidic community. Rav Shalom has had two main Chassidic Rebbes that have influenced his approach: Rav Yoel Rackovsky and Rav Shmuel Zucker.
What makes our community Neo-Chassidic?
Before answering that question, let us establish characteristics of the community which in some ways are even more basic than the Neo-Chassidic element. As we established above, we are simply one community within Am Yisrael.
Secondly, Oro Shel Adam is fully committed to keeping and observing halacha as established in the Shulchan Aruch, code of Jewish Law. It should be noted that not every Neo Chassidic group or community is committed to Orthodox Judaism and strict halacha observance. Some of the personalities that influenced the “Neo-Chassidic movement” were not fully observant. It should be plainly obvious that since “Neo-Chassidus” also includes “liberal groups” under its umbrella, the term does not have any connection or association with radical, extremist or fanatical Judaism, as one might be led to believe.
Secondly, Oro Shel Adam is a Religious Zionist community. Most of our community members made Aliyah to Eretz Yisrael and we cherish the privilege to be living in and “being builders” in the Modern State of Israel. We proudly support the IDF and we send our sons to serve in the Israeli army. Oro Shel Adam celebrates the joyous days of Yom Haatzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim. On both days we add Hallel with bracha into our Tfilla.
So what makes the community Neo-Chassidic?
- Part of our Torah learning in the community includes Kabbalah and teachings of the Baal Shem Tov & The Chassidic Masters. Studying Pnimius HaTorah or the Inner Dimensions of Torah is at the core of our identity. We do not shy away from quoting the Zohar or other Kabalistic works. We give classes on Rav Yehuda Leib Ashlag’s Talmud Eser Sefirot, an encyclopedic introduction to Kabbalah. Rav Shalom has been studying and teaching Chassidus for more than 20 years. Likewise, he has been studying and teaching Talmud Eser Sefirot for over ten years.
- Beit Knesset Oro Shel Adam values and emphasizes Chassidic davening. Our Shul has a “Carlebach Minyan” Friday nights. Singing Chassidic niggunim and dancing at appropriate times in ou Beit Knesset is an expression of our joyous worship of Hashem.
- Warm and welcoming community life is central to our existence! The Baal Shem Tov reawakened the centrality of “V’ahavta L’reacha Komocha,” loving every Jew. Coming together is not done out of necessity; we come together in order to be together as a community. In Chassidic terminology we call this Dibuk Chaverim.
- Woman play an active role in our community. In classic Chassidic communities a woman’s role is generally marginalized. Oro Shel Adam has an active woman’s group and the ladies play an important role in community building.
- Open mined approach to life and growth as religious Jews. The Baal Shem Tov came to “open the gates” not to limit or close us off. We proudly do not fall under one specific Chassidic group or sect like Chabad or Breslov. Our members are encouraged to maintain their own family customs and traditions. We do not emphasize a specific style of dress or anything of the like.
These are some of the main characteristics that make us a Neo-Chassidic community.
For any further questions or for more information about Kehilat Oro Shel Adam please contact Rav Shalom Miller at: Rav.miller@Orosheladam.org