You’ve probably heard your Chabad outreach rabbi (shliach, missionary) say it: “A Jew, is a Jew, is a Jew”. It’s a phrase designed for outreach consumption to imply full acceptance, and inspire feelings of unity among outsiders toward the Chabad organization. What a wonderful ‘Jewish validation’ one gets when a formally dressed “chossid”, with a black hat, and long beard implies that the T-shirt and jeans Jew is accepted among them. It’s a fantasy. Enjoy it while it lasts. The fact is Chabad sees their outreach targets as substandard Jews that need improvement. So much so that becoming ‘one of them’ would take generations; three or more in the opinion of many in Chabad-Lubavitch.
In my years with Chabad I heard the phrase “A Jew, is a Jew, is a Jew” hundreds of times. What I never heard there was the word “yichus” (pedigree, family lineage). Chabad rabbis don’t share that with most outreach targets since there is a real interest in shielding newcomers from Chabad’s underlying feelings of elitism. And it’s assumed outreach targets have no pedigree. For an example of this Chabad elitist attitude, see the recent case of Velvel Butman, who feels working is ‘beneath’ him.
Within the last couple of months, while reading some forums discussing “yichus,” I came across a term relatively new to me: “gezhe” (or geze). I didn’t know what it meant or how it related to yichus. My Chabad rabbis never used the term even when they would brag about their familial relationships within the movement.
Sites like Jewish English Lexicon will explain things to you in seconds that your Chabad rabbi won’t reveal in years.
gezah, gezhe, geze, gezha
- n. good lineage, adj. having good lineage. people from the right families that go back generations within a given Orthodox community
- “(Geza is the word for people whose families are chabad all the way back)” (http://www.imamother.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=1256952)
- “Have been told off by “gezha” chasidim in the past but nobody can explain why we DON’T do it when it is minhag haolam.” (http://www.chabadtalk.com/forum/showthread.php3?t=12255)
Languages of Origin
Textual Hebrew, Yiddish
Who Uses This
North America, Australia / New Zealand
from the Hebrew word for “race”