(lubavitch.com) Jewish communities and individuals worldwide joined French Jewry in mourning the passing of a leading Rabbi, Rabbi Hillel Pevzner.
Rabbi Pevzner, 85, served for almost six decades as the chief Rabbi of Lubavitch in Paris. In that position, he founded the city's first Jewish educational center and served as a leading authority on Jewish law.
Rabbi Pevzner, himself the child of shluchim, was born in Belarus in 1922. The seeds for a lifetime of altruism were sown at his father's knees. The elder Rabbi Pevzner, charged by the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe to spread Judaism, was arrested several times for his efforts. He ultimately died in Soviet hands. It was on his deathbed that he shared his last wish for his children, to receive a proper Jewish education. To that end, his widow sent their son to study in the famed Lubavitch yeshivas of their day. There the young Pevzner cemented his love of learning, and it was there also that his teachers quickly grew to respect his erudition.
Rabbi Pevzner took his experiences with him to Paris, where he settled soon after the Second World War. Together with his wife, he helped inspire a depleted and dejected Jewish community. In 1965, Rabbi Pevzner founded the first Jewish school in Paris since the Nazis stormed the city. From a small beginning with only 20 students, the school's appeal quickly caught on, growing to become Sinai-Lubavitch, one of France's largest Jewish school systems.
In addition to his educational contributions, Rabbi Pevzner was one of the great halachic arbiters of his day. He is survived by his wife, Echka, and their six children. Rabbi Pevzner was laid to rest in Israel.