Skip To Content
Get Our Newsletter
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe

Ahead Of 25th Anniversary Of Death, Chabad Rebbe’s Grave Draws Crowds Of Disciples

Chabad rebbe schneerson's grave

At the grave of Scheerson and his father-in-law, November 2018. Image by Getty

Saturday marks the 25th anniversary (on the Hebrew calendar) of the passing of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the last rebbe of the Lubavitcher Hasidic group and the leader of the world-wide Chabad movement. Ahead of his yartzeit, or death anniversary, his grave in Queens, New York, has seen large crowds over this past week, the AP reported.

The grave is an international landmark for people in the Chabad movement and many others for whom Schneerson is a spiritual and religious guide. It is located in a sprawling cemetery in outer Queens, bordering a quiet residential neighborhood. Schneerson rests beside Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson, his father-in-law and the previous rebbe of Chabad.

The graves are rimmed by a stone wall, around which disciples and visitors pray and write notes, which they then toss into the middle. The notes pile up, creating a small sea of pleas, requests and messages of gratitude.

Chabad rebbe schneerson's grave

Visitors at the grave site in 1996. Image by Getty

“It’s not a tourist site,” Rivky Greenberg, 19, told the AP. “It’s very rare that people will come and not feel something.”

Chabad estimates that over 400,000 people visit the grave annually — 50,000 alone around the time of the anniversary. It is open 24 hours a day, six days a week.

Politicians have visited the grave as a gesture of goodwill to the Chabad constituency and on the eve of elections, for good luck — Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner visited two days before the 2016 presidential election.

Chabad emissaries and other followers of the movement will frequently time their travels in New York City so that they can squeeze in a visit to the grave site, sometimes visiting in the midnight hours before going to the airport for an early morning flight.

To accommodate the crowds this year, Chabad has set up additional tends by the cemetery with air conditioning and refreshments.

“It’s authentic. It’s not contrived,” said Marc Stein, visiting from South Africa. “There’s no pretense here.”

Ari Feldman is a staff writer at the Forward. Contact him at feldman@forward.com or follow him on Twitter @aefeldman

Engage

  • SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK

  • UPCOMING EVENT

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free under an Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives Creative Commons license as long as you follow our republishing guidelines, which require that you credit Foward and retain our pixel. See our full guidelines for more information.

To republish, copy the HTML, which includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline, and credit to Foward. Have questions? Please email us at help@forward.com.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.