The chief rabbis of three nations issued official communiqués to their constituents on the 20th yahrtzeit of the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—which this year was commemorated on July 1, or Gimmel Tammuz, the third day of the Hebrew month of Tammuz.

The rabbis, whose Israeli counterparts had earlier issued their own calls about the day’s observances to Israeli Jews, reflected on various aspects of the Rebbe’s life, applying their lessons to contemporary times.

In his message to Anglo Jewry, Britain’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis pointed to the fact that “throughout his life, the Rebbe sought to make each individual aware of his or her unique potential and responsibility to the Jewish people.

“At times,” the chief rabbi continued, “the Rebbe’s approach seemed daring. Yet 20 years after his passing, his legacy continues stronger than ever, [and] his vision and passion are emulated well beyond the confines of [Chabad Chassidism].”

Chief Rabbi of South Africa Warren Goldstein lauded the Rebbe’s work on behalf of his own country, emphasizing that “many people took great strength from” the Rebbe’s optimistic assurances about the country’s future.

“He always declared his belief in the future success and viability of South Africa,” the rabbi said, as well as “the South African Jewish community, [which] benefited enormously from [his] leadership and vision.”

French Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia expressed his own nation’s pride for hosting the Rebbe during the 1930s, when he studied at the prestigious École Spéciale des Travaux Publics and the Sorbonne University, both in Paris, while devoting himself to Torah learning and “elevating the mundane to the holy … [thereby] connecting heaven and earth.”

The newly elected Korsia, who also acts as the Jewish chaplain of the French army, borrowed from the words of Pirkei Avot: Ethics of the Fathers when he opined that though “the Rebbe was a ‘cemented cistern that did not lose a drop’ of his learning, his even greater characteristic was being a ‘spring that gushes ever stronger’ in both Torah teaching and deed.”

In their messages, the rabbis also touched upon ways that Jews everywhere could learn from the Rebbe’s example and teachings:

“The Rebbe’s love to everyone everywhere, [his efforts] to illuminate even the darkest recesses of a desolate heart … are a guide to all rabbis worldwide,” said Korsia.

“The Rebbe’s pioneering vision for Jewish outreach and pride, conveyed with his trademark unconditional love, have outlived him,” asserted Mirvis. “His penetrating insights remain as fresh and relevant today as they have ever been.”

Said Goldstein: “The Rebbe’s breadth of vision and optimistic belief in the eternal power of Hashem’s Torah and in the future of Klal Yisrael [has] brought the light of Torah learning, of chesed, and of Jewish solidarity and pride to so many people. … Even long after his passing, [his] kiruv efforts and communal work here in South Africa—and indeed across the world—have only increased and been blessed with the greatest success.”

“On this anniversary yahrtzeit,” he continued, “it is appropriate for the South African Jewish community to grasp the opportunity to express our gratitude for everything that the Lubavitcher Rebbe did for our community through his leadership and his emissaries. May Hashem continue to bless all of these holy efforts for the sake of His children.”

Letter from Britain’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
Letter from Britain’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis

Letter from Chief Rabbi of South Africa Warren Goldstein.
Letter from Chief Rabbi of South Africa Warren Goldstein.

Letter from Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia of France.
Letter from Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia of France.