Britain’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis wrote:
“I was shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of Dayan Yehuda Yaakov Refson z”l. It has been my privilege to work with this outstanding scholar and educator, who, for the past 44 years, was the devoted, caring and principled head of the Leeds Jewish community.
“Dayan Refson’s humility and kind-hearted nature endeared him to his community and many well beyond Leeds. He leaves behind him a most wonderful legacy. Our memories of him will provide ongoing inspiration.”
Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said:
“I was very saddened to hear of the untimely passing of Dayan Rabbi Refson who was such an important figure in the Leeds community. My thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”
Moshe Vecht, a youth leader at Leeds Jewish Orthodox Youth (LJOY) wrote:
“Dayan Refson stood as head of the Leeds Beth Din. He also founded, together with Mrs. Refson, the Leeds Menorah School. Together they have run the school for over 40 years, and our Yedidyah has had very good experiences in the warm environment they have created and maintained. He was also an emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
“But above all, he was a great guy. A mentch. He welcomed everyone pleasantly, addressing their individual needs with love and compassion. His house and heart were open to those that were in need.
“The Refsons hosted us for Yom Tov meals on Succot, and Pesach, and Succot… and I was already anticipating a meal together this Pesach…
“He was quiet and humble. I consulted the Dayan on several occasions, both for general halachic inquiries and at times of crisis. He would always listen very carefully and patiently. Ask questions to better understand the situation. Then give an answer. Calmly. Firmly. Wisely. And when I had the chutzpah to dispute his ruling, he would pleasantly discuss it with me. Never retracting his ruling, but always explaining his logic and reasoning.
“It is a great loss. A loss to the Leeds Jewish community and to us personally. Our thoughts and prayers are with our beloved Mrs. Refson, and the entire family. May we only hear positive news, and rejoice at happy occasions.”
A joint statement by the Hanhollo of Chabad Lubavitch UK and Chabad Lubavitch Leeds, read:
“We are broken-hearted from the news of the passing away of Dayan Yehuda Refson, one of the elder Shluchim of Chabad Lubavitch UK, Av Beis Din of the Leeds Beth Din and Principal of the Leeds Menorah School.
“Our sincere condolences are extended to his wife Rebbetzen Etty Refson, sons Rabbi Abba Refson, Rabbi Yossi Refson, Rabbi Michoel Refson, Rabbi Sholom Dovber Refson, Rabbi Zalman Refson, daughters Soro Jaffe, Devora Leah Wolf, Chavi Steiner and brother Rabbi Dovid Refson.
“As we are unable to comfort the family in the traditional manner at this time we would like to suggest that people take on a resolution to do a good deed in his memory, particularly in the fields of Torah Study, Prayer and Tzedokah.
“If you would like to participate in the study of a volume of the mishna in memory of Dayan Refson – Horav Yehuda Yaakov ben Reb Avrohom Abba you may do so at https://www.lzechernishmas.com/signup.php?id=7236