The New York Jewish Week

Rabbi Yehuda Leib Raskin, a legendary Chabad figure who served more than 40 years as the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s emissary to Morocco, died last week of cancer in Montreal. Rabbi Raskin was 71.

Raskin was born in Russia in 1933, and during World War II escaped with his family to Kazakhstan, where he met Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, father of future rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson. The elder Rabbi Schneerson had just been released from prison and exile, and the young Raskin often helped him with his religious and physical needs.

After the rebbe's ascent to Lubavitch leadership in 1951, Rabbi Raskin moved from Israel to Crown Heights where he became known as one of the rebbe's "Russian boys," rising to prominence in he movement.

In 1960, the rebbe directed asked Rabbi Raskin, who’d been working in Paris, to be his emissary to Morocco, where Chabad had more than 70 educational institutions.

Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, administrator of Chabad-Lubavitch, said, "Rabbi Raskin raised two generations of Moroccan Jewish children, now spread around the globe, to love and respect their Sephardic Jewish heritage and loved each of them like his own child. His gallantry in serving his community, while risking physical danger, served as an example to all of us and stood his community in very good stead.” Rabbi Krinsky added that Rabbi Raskin “was a mentor to thousands of rabbinic leaders worldwide who looked to him as a model of self sacrifice.”

Even as Moroccan Jewry shrunk from 250,000 to less than 5,000, Rabbi Raskin stayed in Casablanca almost until his death, working closely with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee to maintain services for the remnant.

He had famously good relations with the late King Hassan II, and after anti-Semitic bombings in 2002, King Mohammed VI sent assurances to the Jewish community via Rabbi Raskin.

Within Chabad, Rabbi Raskin was one of the elder statesmen who stated that the messianic extremists were misinterpreting the rebbe's teachings.

Rabbi Raskin was buried in the Old Montefiore Cemetery in Queens, near the rebbe’s tomb.

Rabbi Raskin is survived by his wife, Reizel, four brothers and sisters, and six children who serve as emissaries in Vermont, Montreal, Maine and California.