Rabbi Simcha Zirkind, a longtime Chabad-Lubavitch activist in Quebec, Canada, passed away on the Sabbath in Montreal. He was 76 years old.

Born in New York City to Mordechai and Ada Zirkind, he studied at Chabad-Lubavitch schools in New York; Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Montreal. Following his marriage in the early 1960s to Frieda Chana Liberow, whose parents were emissaries to Morocco, he joined Chabad-Lubavitch in the North African nation of Tunisia as a teacher. He was forced to leave the country after the 1967 Arab-Israel war, when he was accused by the Tunisian government of being a spy for Israeli intelligence.

After moving to Paris and then New York, he was dispatched by the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—to Montreal, where he was active in the founding and growth of Chabad at McGill University, in addition to many programs of the Lubavitch Youth Organization in and around Montreal.

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In the 1970s, he was instrumental in obtaining microfilms of Chabad manuscripts that were then held in a Polish library. Eventually, the entire collection was returned to Chabad-Lubavitch.

With extensive ties to all segments of Montreal Jewry, Zirkind brought many people to the Rebbe for blessing, advice and inspiration. He was active in the work of the Machne Israel Development Fund, which was established by the Rebbe in 1984 to serve as a major financial resource of the Chabad-Lubavitch institutional network.

Over the years, he developed strong ties with political leaders in Canada, including Prime Ministers Pierre Trudeau, Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, advocating for Jewish causes.

In addition to his wife, the rabbi is survived by their children: Rabbi Levy Zirkind of Fresno, Calif.; Rabbi Mendy Zirkind of Montreal; Rabbi Zalman Zirkind of Montreal; Mrs. Devorah Leah Fox of Brooklyn, N.Y.; Mrs. Chaya Rosenberg of Sherman Oaks, Calif.; Mrs. Nechama Dina Turk of Chicago; Mrs. Shternie Litzman of Monsey, N.Y.; Rabbi Yisroel Zirkind of Chicago; and Rabbi Sholom Ber Zirkind of Baltimore.

He is also survived by his sister, Mrs. Peshy Stern of Brooklyn, N.Y.

The funeral procession departed Sunday morning from Montreal and continued on to New York City, where it is scheduled to pass by 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn at 2:30 p.m. The family will return to Montreal on Monday for shiva at 4891 Kent Ave.

Zirkind, third from left, with supporters of Chabad-Lubavitch at a yechidus (personal meeting) with the Rebbe for the Machne Israel Development Fund. (Photo: JEM/The Living Archive)
Zirkind, third from left, with supporters of Chabad-Lubavitch at a yechidus (personal meeting) with the Rebbe for the Machne Israel Development Fund. (Photo: JEM/The Living Archive)