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Rabbi Beryl Epstein, 59, Introduced Chassidic Life to More Than 200,000

Rabbi Beryl Epstein, 59, Introduced Chassidic Life to More Than 200,000

Popular walking tours of Crown Heights were inspired by his own journey

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Rabbi Beryl Epstein
Rabbi Beryl Epstein

Rabbi Beryl Epstein, a native of Chattanooga, Tenn., who introduced Chassidic life in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., to more than 200,000 visitors since 1982 through walking tours he called “living Judaism,” passed away on Shabbat, April 15, in New York. He was 59 years old.

An affable, soft-spoken Southerner, Epstein organized visits to hospitals and prisons as well. He was also a key figure in “encounter with Chabadpegisha Shabbaton weekends as a staff member of the Lubavitch Youth Organization in Brooklyn.

Epstein would quip that while he was raised in a loving Jewish home: “At my bar mitzvah, there was more bar than mitzvah.” A visit to Crown Heights in 1977 and a farbrengen with the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—inspired him to move there and study in a yeshivah, he once told CNN. Before long, he felt the need to educate the world at large about the community and its residents.

“It’s one thing to have people speak about Chassidim. It’s another to have Chassidim themselves speak,” he said.

Epstein would host groups of all nationalities and religions. In one 2011 visit, he addressed questions from a group that included curiosity seekers from nearby, and as far away as Texas and South Africa. The tourists told CNN that they asked about everything from the definition of “kosher” to the role of women in Judaism and even what Chassidic Jews do for fun.

“My hope is for people to incorporate a little bit of this community back into their own lives,” said Epstein.

He is survived by his children: Chaya, Yosef and Mendy. He was predeceased by his wife, Dena.

The rabbi is also survived by siblings Mordicai Epstein (Pittsburgh); Eron Epstein (Chattanooga, Tenn.); Rachel Epstein (Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.); and Yocheved Schechter (Baltimore).

The levaya will take place on Sunday, leaving Shomrei Hadas in Boro Park at 1 p.m. and passing by 770 Eastern Parkway at 2 p.m.

A charitable fund has been established to help the family with funeral and medical expenses.



By Chabad.org Staff
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Yoel seliger May 23, 2017


I fondly remember Rabbi Beryl obm and his brother Mordechai from Morristown. They were the first of my acquaintances and exceptional in their warmth. They made a lasting impression of the beauty of Yiddishkeit and Chassidus on me. We should all live by and be inspired by his example. Reply

jim dallas April 28, 2017

to the families and friends of these two wonderful rabbis, deitsch and epstein, condolences and thanks be to you and HaShem for their lives...much to be aware of! Reply

John E Bibish Toledo April 27, 2017

I am a gentile who had the good fortune of meeting Rabbi two summer's ago. I was part of a tour group of which he acted as a guide through temple and neighborhood. I asked Rabbi if he would recommend one book to me I promised to read it cover. He recommended, "Towards a Meaningful Life". I not only have read it, I refresh my memory of it periodically. It has also led me to"Daily Wisdom". While I don't plan switching teams Rabbi did help improve my spiritual life greatly. In my tradition I will pray for the repose of soul. Reply

Anonymous Klein April 20, 2017

By the Grace of G-d April 20, 2017
I am a strong Lubavitcher Chossid that was also a new Bal Teshuva, (Returnee to Torah and its Commandments), around the time that Rabbi Berl Epstein learned in Yeshiva. Although, Rabbi Berl Epstein learned, if I recall correctly, in Tiferes Bachurim in Morristown, New Jersey, and I learned in Hadar HaTorah in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. And I definitely remember Rabbi Epstein. He had a very pleasant and Chassidicly happy personality. All I can say to Rabbi Epstein's family is that I am sure you will make your Father and Mother very happy by being strong in your connection to HaShem(G-d), the Rebbe, all the other Rabbei'im, ALL Lubavitcher Chassidim, and ALL other Yidden(Jews). Also, be comforted by the FACT that your Father and Mother are in Gan Eden (G-d's Heaven) and we will ALL be together again with Techias Ha'Masim, the Ressurection of those that have passed on, with the coming of the True and Complete Redemption with Moshiach Reply

Anonymous Chabad Solano April 19, 2017

B"H Rabbi Epstein, you are awesome! May Hashem continue to lift your soul as you have done for me and so many others! B"H Rabbi Epstein, you will be missed. A wonderful tour we had with Rabbi Epstein and our shluchos and guests. Rabbi Epstein explained laws and practical judaism in a clear and concise manner. I particularly enjoyed his mikvah tour in Crown Heights where he discussed the importance of mivkah focusing on the husband and wife's unity and purpose as partners in creation with Hashem. Just a beautiful neshama. So grateful to have met you, thank you for always answering my questions with thought and sources, Rabbi Epstein. Blessings always. Reply

Rozanne Dittersdorf April 19, 2017

Beryl,and I were wonderful friends for many years. A great and highly inspirational man. So,sorry to hear of his passing. I will miss him. No more sorrow for his family. RIP Reply

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