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.