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A mystic and scholar, he wrote commentaries on the most esoteric texts. As rabbi of a major Ukrainian city, he struggled valiantly to strengthen Judaism, in spite of Soviet intimidation.

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson (1878–1944)

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson (1878–1944)

The life and legacy of the Rebbe’s father


Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, of righteous memory, father of the Rebbe, of righteous memory, was considered one of the greatest Talmudic and Kabbalistic scholars of his generation. He served as the chief rabbi of the city of Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, during the bloody Bolshevik revolution and the subsequent Communist oppression. Despite terrible persecution directed at religious leaders in those days, he remained fearlessly defiant in strengthening Jewish learning and practice in his city and throughout the Soviet Union. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak was eventually arrested, tortured, and subsequently banished to exile in a remote village in Kazakhstan. His spirit, however, was not extinguished, even while his body was broken and eventually gave way to his early passing.

His selfless efforts for Jews and Judaism even in the face of a sadistic superpower regime determined to leave no trace of them were later tenderly nurtured by his son and disciple, the Rebbe. The Rebbe conducted Soviet Jewry’s affairs clandestinely from afar, and eventually saw the decades of his father’s effort blossom into full bloom upon the fall of the Iron Curtain and the public resurgence of Jewish life there.

Soviet Jewry, however, is not alone in the debt of gratitude it owes to Rabbi Levi Yitzchak. His personal example, demonstrating how Judaism will survive against all odds and how we must adhere steadfastly and proudly to its ideals, serves as a shining beacon of inspiration for all of us today, and for all generations to come.

We are likewise collectively indebted to Rabbi Levi Yitzchak and his life’s partner, Rebbetzin Chana, of righteous memory, for giving us the Rebbe, whose application of their teachings and way of life to all the rest of us changed the very course of world Jewry.

His Life and Times
A collection of first-hand accounts, stories, and even the rebbitzen’s personal diary chronicling Rabbi Levi Yitzchak’s valiant struggle to maintain Jewish life under Soviet oppression.
His Torah Teachings
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak was a profound kabbalist and a renowned Talmudist. Here are a few vignettes of his prodigious scholarship.
The Rebbe Speaks
On the 20th of Av—yartzeit of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak—the Rebbe would dedicate special talks to the teachings and legacy of his illustrious father.
The Rebbe Writes
Translations of surviving letters the Rebbe wrote concerning his father, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson.
The Rebbetzin Remembers
Read the diary of the woman who shared Rabbi Yitzchak’s life. These personal entries paint a vivid picture of the valiant struggle to strengthen Judaism in the face of the harshest oppression.
Memories of the people who knew Rabbi Levi Yitzchak, as well as a number of addresses by his son, the Rebbe.
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak's Niggun
This joyous tune traditionally sung at the hakafot was a favorite of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak. Here you can watch it sung by the Rebbe, his son.
Yekaterinoslav Today
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak fought courageously to uphold Jewish life in Yekaterinoslav, where he served as rabbi. Now, renamed Dnipropetrovsk, it has experienced a Jewish renaissance beyond belief.
A mystic and scholar, he wrote commentaries on the most esoteric texts. As rabbi of a major Ukrainian city, he struggled valiantly to strengthen Judaism, in spite of Soviet intimidation.