Rashi Minkowicz, Chabad emissary to Fulton County, Ga., mother of eight and mentor to many, passed away suddenly on March 11. She was 37 years old.
Together with her husband, Rabbi Hirshy Minkowicz, she built a vibrant community from the ground up since arriving in the Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta in 1998.
“She was the spine of our community,” recalls Anthony Shapiro, who credits his family’s return to Torah observance to the Minkowicz family. “She was an inspiration, not just as a rebbetzin, but as a mother and a friend—never criticizing for what we were not doing, but pointing out and celebrating what we did do.”
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., to Rabbi Chaim Meir and Sara Lieberman, Minkowicz grew up as one of 17 siblings in a home that was open to long- and short-term guests around the clock. After graduating from Associated Beth Rivkah Schools (directed by her future father-in-law) in Brooklyn, she went on to study at the Bais Chaya Mushka Seminary in Montreal, Canada.
After her marriage, she and her husband set out to bring the passion and joy of Judaism to Alpharetta, an affluent suburb north of Atlanta with a population of nearly 60,000. “When they first arrived, there was no Torah community here,” says Shapiro. “Now there are probably 20 families that keep Shabbat, and many others who have been drawn in due to their teaching and inspiration.”
“She was a leader in so many ways—most often, by gentle example. People would watch the way she did simple things—like how she dressed her kids—and do the same. You could see how people acted differently in her presence," he says. "When my wife, Tracy, and I decided that we were ready to take on the added mitzvah of [eating] cholov Yisroel [strictly supervised kosher dairy items], Rashi brought over a beautiful dish to be used with our cholov Yisroel dairy foods.”
A Real Trailblazer
Minkowicz’s cousin, Levi Margolin, says she was a real trailblazer. “She was the first of our cousins to get married and the first to go out on shlichus,” he says. “Immediately, she started having her siblings, cousins, friends and even strangers visit and help out with whatever was going on. We were—and still are—all so proud of what she and Hirshy were doing. She was a true shlucha of the Rebbe [Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory], and lived every moment for her family and community. It's amazing to see the positive vibe and growth that they have created in Alpharetta.”
An active leader, she led the community in building a beautiful state-of-the art mikvah, which she then operated with pride and care. She also directed the community’s Gan Israel summer day camp and its Hebrew school, as well as planned and executed countless women’s events and holiday programs.
In the midst of preparing Purim celebrations for both children and adults, the busy mother of eight passed away suddenly on Tuesday night.
As the community learned of the news, Shapiro says they are turning to Minkowicz’s example for guidance. “It was just recently that she told us how her grandfather [Rabbi Hersh Gansbourg] danced and sang on Simchat Torah, shortly after losing his wife. Like him, she just wouldn’t want tragedy to get in the way of living life as a Jew and as a Chassid.”
In addition to her husband, Minkowicz is survived by their eight young children: Mendel, Yoel, Henya, Tonia, Naftali, Shaya, Dovid and Alter.
She is also survived by her parents; her in-laws, Rabbi Laime and Shoshana Minkowicz; and 16 siblings: Rabbi Moshe Lieberman (shliach in Newton, Mass.); Rabbi Yossi Lieberman (shliach in West Hempstead, N.Y.); Bluma Marcus (shlucha in Los Alamitos, Calif.); Mendy Lieberman, (Brooklyn, N.Y.); Levi Lieberman (Redondo Beach, Calif.); Esty Majesky (Brooklyn, N.Y.); Henya Friedman (Brooklyn, N.Y.); Shaya Lieberman, (Brooklyn, N.Y.); Doba Raskin (Brooklyn, N.Y.); Mushka Shusterman (Los Angeles, Calif.); Shalom Lieberman; Tirtzah Lieberman; Chani Lieberman; Shmulie Lieberman; Zalmy Lieberman; and Nissi Lieberman.
Her funeral procession will pass by her childhood home, and then Lubavitch World Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway, in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., on Thursday, March 13, at 10:30 a.m. It will proceed to the Old Montefiore Cemetery, where interment will take place at 11:15 a.m.
Those wishing to support Rashi Minkowicz's legacy may do so at a special fund created in her memory..