Rabbi Sholem Dov Ber Gutnick, who served as rosh yeshivah and head of the rabbinic court in Melbourne, Australia, and was instrumental in building Judaism throughout Australia, has passed away at 94.

As a 3-year-old child, his parents and older brother Chaim, who also would become a prominent rabbi in Australia, fled an increasingly hostile Soviet Union in 1927 and immigrated to the Holy Land. A year later, following the advice of the sixth Rebbe—Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, of righteous memory—they moved to London, England, where their father, Rabbi Mordechai Zev Gutnick, who had studied in the Chabad yeshivah in the town of Lubavitch, served as a rabbi before passing away at the age of 31.

After eight years of study at the Etz Chaim yeshivah in London, Sholem Gutnick learned and taught at the yeshivah in Montreux, Switzerland, and received advanced rabbinic ordination from some of his generation’s leading Torah scholars. The sixth Rebbe warmly encouraged his efforts, and upon returning to London in 1947, Gutnick was appointed rabbi of the Chevra Shas congregation, where he gave popular English-language lectures and Torah classes.

During an audience with the sixth Rebbe in New York in 1948, the young rabbi was instructed to move to Australia, which had recently permitted the immigration of tens of thousands of refugee European Jews who had survived the Holocaust. He immediately traveled to Sydney with his mother, where he gave classes in Talmud and counseled new immigrants who had experienced unimaginable loss.

In 1952, he married Devorah Feiglin, whose extended family had been a bulwark of Jewish tradition and Chassidic warmth in the Australian outback. He soon was appointed rabbi of Caulfield Hebrew Congregation in Melbourne, which had become a haven for European Jewry and eventually became the largest synagogue in Australia. The shul was later renamed Ahavas Sholem in honor of their beloved rabbi.

A year later, he was appointed as a judge and later as chief justice of the Melbourne Beis Din (rabbinical court), where he served for almost 50 years.

In 1966, the Yeshiva Gedolah of Melbourne was established, and the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—requested that Rabbi Gutnick be involved in the growth and strengthening of the yeshivah.

Gutnick was a gifted orator who traveled around Australia and Tasmania to spread Yiddishkeit. He was credited with making the first ”sukkah mobile” in Australia.

The rabbi is predeceased by his wife. He is survived by their children: Rabbi Motty Gutnick of Melbourne; Rabbi Meyer Gutnick of Brooklyn, N.Y.; Rabbi Moshe Gutnick of Los Angeles; and Rabbi Yossi Gutnick of Melbourne; in addition to grandchildren and great-grandchildren.