THE leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement in Australia, Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Groner, died on Monday morning after a lengthy illness.
It is expected that he will be buried in Israel alongside members of his family, but a memorial service will be organised in Melbourne in his honour.
Rabbi Groner, 83, arrived in Melbourne in 1958 from the United States as the head shaliach (emissary) of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
He built up the Chabad community to its current sizeable population.
The Chabad community now includes the 1000-student Yeshivah and Beth Rivkah Colleges, the Yeshivah Gedolah and countless Chabad synagogues and learning institutions around Melbourne.
Rabbi Groner’s children are continuing his work in spreading Yiddishkeit. His sons lead Chabad House of Glen Eira and Ohel Devorah and his daughter and her husband run Chabad House of Malvern.
His son-in-law, Rabbi Zvi Telsner, was appointed assistant rabbi of Yeshivah during Rabbi Groner’s illness.
Rabbi Groner’s work has been acknowledged across the Jewish and general communities.
On the occasion of his 80th birthday, then Prime Minister John Howard said “his service to the spiritual needs of countless members of the Jewish community, as rabbi, mentor, counsellor, or friend, has seen him develop the enviable reputation as the people’s rabbi”.