Rabbi Schneur Zalman Blumenfeld, director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Peru, who served Jewish residents and visitors to Lima for more than three decades by establishing traditional Jewish institutions and programming for residents and visitors, passed away on 24 Cheshvan (Friday, Oct. 29) as thousands of his colleagues gathered in New York at the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries. He was 58 years old.

Born to Rabbi Yerachmiel and Alte Dvora Blumenfeld, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where his father served as the chief rabbi to the city, the young scholar learned in the Machane Yisroel Chabad yeshivah in Petrópolis. In 1983, he was dispatched with a group of advanced rabbinical students to the yeshivah in Casablanca, Morocco, which had been established by the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—three years before.

Following his marriage to Shterna Sara Slonim, the couple moved in 1987 to Lima, the nation’s capital, where they established a Chabad House for the local Jewish community, as well as for the many tourists and business travelers who visit the city each year. Peruvian Jewry dates back to the Spanish colonial period when Iberian Jews, seeking refuge from the Inquisition, made their way to the new world. Today, Peru is home to approximately 2,500 Jews, most of whom live in Lima.


Over the next three-and-a-half decades, Blumenfeld arranged Shabbat and holiday meals, conducted large Passover sedersin Lima, oversaw mega-Seders in the Peruvian Andes, provided relief to the community and backpackers after natural disasters, and organized Torah-study classes and other Jewish activities in a country that had little traditional Jewish institutional presence before they arrived.

Supplying Vital Jewish Supplies to Jews Around Peru

Rabbi Shneur Zalman Blumenfeld.
Rabbi Shneur Zalman Blumenfeld.

Coordinating with Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch—the educational arm of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement—he would arrange for groups of rabbinical students to travel to various cities throughout the country, bringing vital Jewish supplies and a Jewish connection to residents of small communities as well as Israeli backpackers.

In addition to providing for their spiritual and emotional needs of tourists, the rabbi was often involved in helping families locate missing loved ones and providing logistical help to visitors who found themselves in trouble.

Despite the isolation of Peru from other Jewish communities and sources of kosher products, Blumenfeld was noted for providing the highest levels of Jewish standards for the community. In addition to importing kosher meat, dairy products and and other staples, he established a nationwide kosher-certification service, and founded a kosher bakery and restaurant in Lima to allow locals and guests to enjoy fresh bread and meals.

He is survived by his wife and their children: Chaya Raskin of Orlando, Fla.; Mendy Blumenfeld of Israel; Reiza Blumenfeld of Peru; Rivka Pevzner of Brooklyn, N.Y.; Yehudit Carlebach of Peru; Moshe Blumenfeld of Peru; and Yerachmiel Blumenfeld of Peru.

He is also survived by his mother-in-law, Rebbetzin Penina Slonim of Brooklyn, N.Y.; and his siblings, Rabbi Yaakov Blumenfeld of Rio de Janeiro; Chana Scharf of Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Rabbi Yossi Blumenfeld of Brooklyn, N.Y.