Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Rav Yehuda Chitrik ע”ה

From Shmais:

With profound sadness we inform you of the passing of the world’s oldest Chossid Harav HaChossid Rabbi Yehuda Chitrik at age 106.

Rabbi Chitrik was born in 5659 (1899) in Krasnaluk, a small Jewish shtetl in Russia, to a prominent Lubavitch family that traces it's roots to the foremost Chassidim of the Alter Rebbe. At the age of 14, he began studying in Yeshivas Tomchei Tmimim in Lubavitch. For the next 12 years, together with the Yeshivah, he traveled to many different communities, for the difficulties caused by World War I, the Bolshevik revolution, and the economic pressures to which the Jews were subjected compelled the Yeshivah to shift locale frequently.

In 5686 (1926) he married the daughter of Rabbi Aharon Tomarkin, Chief Rabbi of Kharkov, and began to serve as a shochet until the Russian government forcefully shut down the ritual slaughterhouses. In the subsequent years, he struggled with self-sacrifice to maintain the Chassidic spirit within his home and community, inspiring many others with his knowledge and personal example, despite the dangers of Communist repression and later, the Nazi invasion in World War II.

In the turmoil that followed that tragic episode of our history, he and his family moved to Belgium with the intent of continuing to the US. The previous Rebbe, however, recognized Reb Yehuda's unique gifts and asked him to remain in Belgium to spread Yiddishkeit and Chassidic warmth among the many refugees from the war who had settled in that country.
In 5709, he moved to Montreal where he was appointed Mashpia in the branch of the Lubavitcher Yeshivah established there. After the passing of his wife Kayla A"H, he moved to the home of his eldest son, Reb Tzvi Hirsh Chitrik in Crown Heights.

Rabbi Chitrik was the eldest Chossid and served as a source of knowledge and inspiration for many. He will be missed by all, especially his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.