Around the year 1740, in the Ukrainian town of Mezhebuzh, a Rabbi named Yisroel Ben Eliezer began attracting disciples. Yisroel claimed to have received revelations from G-d while taking long walks in the woods. His unorthodox inspiration, stressing an ecstatic emotional communion with G-d, led to the founding of Judaism's most "orthodox" movement: Hasidism.
Many followers of Chabad believe a former leader who died in 1994, the Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson, is the promised Messiah. As time goes by, hope in the Rebbe Schneerson's eventual resurrection loses favor.
If you have a giant menorah in your home town, like mine in Baltimore, it's likely the property of your local Chabad chapter. As the last night of Hanukah approached, I decided to hop on the free Circulator bus to the Inner Harbor to watch the sunset lighting ceremony (and grab some Chipotle). To my great pleasure, I encountered a caravan of Chabad-House Hanukah-mobiles along the way, each decked out with an electric menorah on the roof.
Colby's ultimate ride: a minivan big enough to take dumpster diving with an extra set of headlights on the roof. If only I were kosher enough to take the wheel.