Mohamed Karmoune, the Moroccan consul in New York, visited the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, N.Y., this week to pay his respects to the family of Rabbi Shlomo Matusof, who passed away during the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries. In the visit, the diplomat gave credit to Chabad-Lubavitch as a major contributor to the country's educational system and the maintaining of Jewish life in North Africa.

"Between my diplomatic missions, I've heard about the Chabad activities in Morocco," said Karmoune. "I would really like to preserve the connection, because we all know what great educational work you've done and your contribution to my country."

Accompanied by Maurice Perez, vice president of the Moroccan Netivot Yisrael community in Brooklyn, Karmoune praised the late Matusof, who died at the age of 91 after decades spent as a Lubavitch emissary to Morocco.

Matusof, a Russian native, was dispatched to Morocco in 1950 by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, to shepherd the Jewish community in North Africa. He arrived one year later and eagerly established a vast network of yeshivas that counted some 70 branches, many in remote villages.

"I heard that our father used to often travel to the various yeshivas," Rabbi Menachem Matusof, executive director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Alberta, Canada, told the consul general. "Some of the villages were rundown and had no access to them by paved roads. So he used to take a donkey and travel from town to town just to make sure Jewish children got a proper education."

Upon hearing this, his brother from Madison, Wis., Rabbi Yona Matusof, added: "I was lately in a visit to Israel visiting a former student of father and he showed me a photo of father riding on a donkey during one of these visits."

To this, Karmoune responded: "I want you to know that the Moroccan government sees you not only as an integral part of our past, but also our present and future. You are men of Morocco and part of the Jewish community, which is bearing the fruit of your father's activities."

The consul general spoke to Matusof's widow, Pessia Matusof about her partnership in her husband's efforts. They even reviewed some historic photos of community events.

Despite Matusof's warm relationship with Morocco's royal family, particularly the late King Hassan II, they had difficulty finding a photo of the two men together.

"Rabbi Shlomo was a simple man," explained Rabbi Lazer Avtzon, a nephew who spent two years in Morocco. "He acted like a soldier of the Rebbe. He had a mission and he stuck to it. All his life he escaped honor and fame, so we don't have many photos of him."