Rabbi Moshe Greenberg zt”l, survivor of the Soviet Gulag, as well as an activist for Jewish education under Communist rule and when he arrived to live in Israel, passed away on Tuesday at age 84. He was the director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Bnei Brak, Israel.
He was born into a Chassidic family in Kishinev, Moldova, where his father secretly taught him Jewish studies until he was 14. At that age, his parents sent him to the clandestine Chabad-Lubavitch Yeshivah in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
It was there that he first heard of the plan of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn to establish a network of rabbis and activists to keep Judaism alive under the oppressive Communist regime.
Those who knew him at the yeshivah told of how he would diligently study Torah no matter the hardships entailed in doing so.
At the end of World War II, Greenberg and several friends tried to escape the Soviet Union to Poland; they were caught, and he was sent to Siberia for seven years. There, he was said to have never eaten a morsel of food that was not permitted by kosher dietary laws, no matter how great his hunger, nor did he work on Shabbos.
Since he refused to work on Shabbos, each week he went into solitary confinement for the day. Local Jews who heard about this felt sorry for Rabbi Greenberg and would bribe local officials, asking that he be deemed too ill to work and sent to the hospital on Shabbos instead. This apparently went on for years.
Shortly thereafter, Rabbi Greenberg married Devorah Chazan. He continued his activities on behalf of Jewish education, including making sure his own children received a solid Jewish education.
In 1967, the family was permitted to immigrate to Israel; they moved to Bnei Brak.
Shortly after his arrival, he opened a school in the city. He also spread Torah to the religious, hoping to inspire them.
His legacy continues as part of the work of his 17 children, many of them Jewish leaders across the globe.
He is survived by Rabbi Naftali Greenberg of Lod, Israel; Rochel Levertov, co-director of Chabad Lubavitch of Austin, Texas; Rabbi Yisroel Greenberg, co-director of Chabad Lubavitch of El Paso, Texas; Rabbi Yosef Greenberg, co-director of Lubavitch Jewish Center of Alaska; Rabbi Zushe Greenberg, co-director of Chabad Jewish Center of Solon, Ohio; Batya Shemtov of Brooklyn, N.Y.; Rabbi Schneor Greenberg, co-director of Chabad of Commerce, Mich.; Rabbi Shmuelik Greenberg, co-director of Chabad Jewish Center of Clark County, Vancouver, Wash.; Rabbi Baruch Greenberg, co-director of Chabad of Oceanside, Vista, Calif.; Rabbi Shalom Greenberg, co-director of Shanghai Jewish Center; Rabbi Avraham Greenberg, co-director of Chabad of Pudong, Pu Dong, Shanghai; Chaya Wolff of Chabad of Odessa, Ukraine; Rivka Azimov of Beth Loubavitch of Neuilly, Neuilly Sur Seine, France; Shterni Wolff, co-director of the Chabad Jewish Center, Hannover, Germany; Esther Shaikevitz of Kfar Chabad, Israel; Rabbi Chaim Yehudah Greenberg of Beitar Illit, Israel; and Chava Kastel of Rechovot, Israel.
Yehi zichro boruch.
Read more at Chabad.org.