By COLlive reporter
Rabbi Henry (Chaim Chanoch) Okolica, survivor of the Holocaust who led a long career as a pulpil rabbi in the United States, passed away on Monday, 5 Tishrei 5778.
He was just shy of his 104th birthday.
Born on Nov. 27, 1913 in Germany, Okolica began attending minyan as a boy, returning home many times with a hungry friend or stranger to share his meager breakfast, the Jewish Ledger reported.
He knew early on that he wanted to be a rabbi, he said in an interview in the Hartford Courant in 2003. “It was my calling since I was a little boy,” he said in the interview.
“I entered the job to save people – not only Jewish people, all people. God took care of me. I didn’t escape Germany to live my own life. I escaped because God commanded me to be his helper.”
Okolica studied at yeshiva in Germany, where he became a rabbi, traveling great distances to teach and lead services. He met his future wife, Leah, when he was hired to teach her English.
He arrived in New York in 1940, and the couple married the following year. They settled in New Britain in 1960, raising a son and three daughters. Okolica took the pulpit of the historic Congregation Tephereth Israel in New Britain, Connecticut.
In 1970, Okolica created and hosted a weekly TV show, “Jewish Life,” for WVIT-Channel 30, which ran for more than 30 years.
Serving in the position for over 50 years, he and his wife merited many brochos from the Rebbe, including a brocho not to leave his post and to be the machnis oreich of his city. Rabbi Okolica and his wife raised four generations of frum committed Jews.
He survived by his children Mrs. Naomi Futerfas of Crown Heights, Rabbi Daniel Okolica of Monsey, New York, Mrs. Betti Toron of Cincinnati, Ohio, Mrs. Rivka Minkoff of Crown Heights, and many children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
The levaya took place on Monday in Monsey. Shiva will take place at the Futerfas home at 643 Empire Blvd starting Tuesday.
A minyan for mincha / maariv will be Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 6:45 PM.
Baruch Dayan Haemes,