Kehot Publication Society and Merkos Publications, the publishing divisions of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, were established in 1942 by the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn. Under the leadership of his successor, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Kehot claims it has become the world's largest publisher of Jewish literature, with more than 100,000,000 volumes printed to date in Hebrew, Yiddish, English, Russian, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, German, Persian and Arabic.
The name Kehot (קה"ת) is an acronym for Karnei Hod Torah ("the rays of the Torah's glory"), and the three Hebrew letters feature in the publishing house's logo. The letters also refer to the Hebrew year, 5505 (תק"ה), in which the founder of Chabad, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, was born.
In its early years there was a shortage in the USA of basic Jewish books, such as Mishnayot and Gemarot, so Kehot published these works. As other publishers began to make such works available, Kehot withdrew from the field, and concentrated on its core mission, which is to publish the teachings of Chabad Chassidus. With some exceptions, such as Rabbi Chaim Hezekiah Medini's Sedei Chemed, Rabbi Nissan Telushkin's "Taharas Mayim" it no longer publishes works unrelated to Chabad Chassidus.
Kehot has started to host an annual book-a-thon with the purpose of promoting Jewish literacy as well as helping to build Jewish libraries.
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