This Shabbat (3 Shevat on the Hebrew calendar) marks five years since the untimely passing of our dear friend and partner, Rabbi Yonah Avtzon, director of Sichos in English.

Sichos in English began as a small-time operation in 1977, a side project for the teenage Rabbi Avtzon and fellow yeshivah students. They worked together to translate the Yiddish talks of the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—into English and distribute them in pamphlets to many thousands of eager readers around the world.

In time, with the Rebbe’s blessing, the operation expanded to include the writings of other Chabad rebbes and chassidim. Even as SIE burgeoned into a major publishing operation (with multimillion-dollar projects, such as translations and elucidations of the Alter Rebbe’s Code of Jewish Law and Selections From Likkutei Sichos), Rabbi Avtzon remained focused on his goal: getting high-quality Jewish content into the hands of as many people as possible.

To that end, the prices were always kept low, and almost all content has been made available for free online.

In keeping with guidance he received from the Rebbe, Rabbi Avtzon took it upon himself to personally edit every single book that the organization published.

When Rabbi YY Kazen began sharing Jewish content on the nascent internet in the mid-90s, Rabbi Avtzon was one of his early partners, eager to dispatch the texts he was producing to ever-widening audiences in an entirely new medium.

This relationship has continued to blossom and evolve, and we are honored to work hand in hand with Rabbi Shmuly Avtzon who now directs the growing SIE team.

As his yahrzeit approaches, we extend our prayerful wishes to Rabbi Shmuly, the Avtzon family, and the countless readers whose lives continue to be touched by the life work of Rabbi Yonah Avtzon.

May his memory be a blessing.

The Team