By COLlive reporter
Photos by Levi Percia/COLlive
Family and friends stood outside Lubavitch Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, remembering the frequent visits and the impact of the legend who was being laid to rest.
The funeral of Rabbi Zalman Posner, who served for 53 years as the rabbi of Congregation Sherith Israel in Nashville, Tennessee, took place on Friday. He was buried at the Old Montefiore Cemetery in Queens, NY.
Beginning from the 1960s to the 1980s, Rabbi Posner would travel regularly to New York, where he was the featured speaker at the “Encounter with Chabad” weekends held in Brooklyn for men and women seeking spiritually and learning about Judaism.
With his signature wit and erudition, he not only entertained and educated his audience of curious college students and young adults, but taught an entire generation of Chabad rabbis the mastery of the pulpit by example, Chabad.org wrote.
Rabbi Manis Friedman, a world-renowned author, lecturer and philosopher, recalls that he used to sneak out of yeshivah to attend every one of Posner’s talks.
“Rabbi Posner’s ability to present Chassidic concepts in English was revolutionary,” says Friedman, who is himself regarded as one of the foremost teachers of Chassidic thought.
“No one thought it could make sense in English. You needed a specialized language to convey these thoughts. He showed that it could be done. It was like bringing Chassidism to this hemisphere for the first time,” he told the website.
Friedman says that the most important lessons he learned were to speak softly with confidence, to encourage questions and to never underestimate the intelligence of the audience—if anything speaking slightly above their comfort zones.
“I recall one time when he spoke about the inner meaning of the mitzvah of tefillin, discussing many metaphysical ideas in a wonderful, lucid manner. When he finished speaking, he asked if there were any questions. There were none; everyone was just sitting with open mouths. Finally one student asked, ‘Is this what you meditate about every morning?’ He responded, ‘Nah, I just put them on.’ That made an even bigger impression,” says Friedman.
As Friedman developed into a teacher and lecturer in his own right, he says he learned the tricks of the trade from Posner, adopting his comforting, friendly tone, informal style, and absolute faith in the truth of the Torah ideals he espoused.
Rabbi Posner is survived by his children: Mrs. Shifra Deren of Stamford, CT; Mendel Posner of Atlanta, GA; Mrs. Sussi Denebeim of Palm Springs, CA; Mrs. Mimi Liberov of Porto Alegre, Brazil; and Rabbi Shimon Posner of Rancho Mirage, CA; grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
He is also survived by his siblings, Rabbi Yehuda Leib Posner of Crown Heights, Mrs. Rivka Sasonkin of Avital, Israel; Mrs. Bassie Garelik of Milan, Italy; and Rabbi Zushe Posner of Lod, Israel.
The family will be sitting shiva at 1378 Union Street in Crown Heights. (Rabbi Shimon Posner will be there until Monday night. Tuesday he will be in Nashville and Wednesday in Rancho Mirage).
Condolences may be sent to RZPcondolences@gmail.com.