The Rebbe and Gertrude Stein

On Menachem Mendel Schneerson’s time in Paris:

“Hotel Max [where the Rebbe lived] was located moments from the junction of the boulevards Raspail and du Montparnasse, where at a cafe called Le Select one could find the most outrageous bohemian behavior; the Scheersons had chosen to live in what was an extremely colorful area.  The other nearby cafes –– places like La Coupole, a favorite of Sartre and de Beauvoir, Le Dome, and La Rotonde –– were also gathering places for existentialist writers and surrealist artists.  Until 1939, this neighborhood teemed with writers and artists from all over the world.  Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas held court at 27 rue de Fleurus, only a five-minute ride away.  Philippe Halsman, the photographer, had opened a studio in Montparnasse in 1934 where people like Gide, Chagall, Malraux, Le Corbusier, and many other writers and artists came to have portraits made.  Between the wars, rue Campagne-Premiere, two blocks from where the Schneersons lived, was the haunt of such artists as Picasso, Modigliani, Miro and Kandinsky.  Could the Schneersons and the Horensztajns have remained completely ignorant  of this life around them?  Did they want to be?  Did they never walk the boulevards, stop in the cafes, visit the galleries, or feel the energy around them?  Had this couple who stayed out late in Leningrad while they were courting and who may have attended the theater there become homebodies in interwar Paris?”

The Rebbe: The Life and Afterlife of Menachem Mendel Schneerson by Samuel Heilman and Menachem Friedman

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