The Rabbi Who Conquered the World by Akiva Novik
The following article appears in today’s issue of Yediot Achronot
The news of the passing this week of 86-year-old Rabbi Moshe Greenberg z”l made waves throughout the world. In Bnei Brak, where he lived, to Alaska, Texas, Germany and France… That’s how it is when your 17 children run Chabad Houses in 14 cities around the world.
If you have traveled abroad over the last few years, it’s reasonable to assume to you met a member of the Greenberg family. Even though Rabbi Greenberg and his wife, Rebbetzin Devora, brought to the world 17 sons and daughters who have given birth to more than 130 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Rabbi Greenberg only saw his family members in person (and not via a computer screen) on rare occasion.
It is an old tradition of Lubavitcher Chassidim to go on shlichus after marriage to one of the 4000 “Embassies of Judaism” around the globe. “It started in the year 5745 ,” the 5th son Yoska says. “Our oldest sister Rachel put down roots in Austin, Texas, and she’s been there ever since. After a year our brother Yisroel set up a Chabad House on the border with Mexico, and after that we stopped keeping track.”
Somebody who would try to document the journeys of this family throughout the world would find representatives in China, the Ukraine, Germany, France, New York, Ohio, California, Alaska, Michigan and in many other countries and cities. They speak many languages and live in many different time zones. Their chidlren barely see each other, and even the four brothers who do live in Israel run Chabad Houses in Lod and Beitar Illit.
“We received our self sacrifice from our father, who froze for 7 years in a Siberian prison because he insisted on observing Judaism,” explained Yoska from Alaska. “When the Lubavitcher Rebbe blessed me and sent me to Alaska, father told me that he froze in Siberia and I will freeze in Alaska.”