By COLlive reporter
Rabbi Nachman Sudak, Head Shliach of Great Britain who led the growth of Chabad-Lubavitch in United Kingdom and beyond, passed away on Sunday, 17 Sivan 5774.
He was 78.
Born in the Soviet Union to to R’ Pinchas and Chaya Basya Sudak and educated in Israel once his family was able to immigrate, Rabbi Sudak studied at Chabad yeshivos there.
In 1954 he arrived in New York to study at the central Yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim Lubavitch at 770 Eastern Parkway, which he was privileged to be near the Rebbe and even hold conversations with Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson OBM.
As a bochur, he was of the first to hear the Rebbe’s revolutionary plan to establish a worldwide Chabad outreach network. “The Rebbe spoke at that time that just like there is Merkos Shlichus during the summer, the Rebbe wanted to develop that Shlichus should be for life,” he recalled.
In 1958 (Kislev 5719) he was engaged to Fradel Shemtov, who was running a children’s Cheder that was established by her father, Rabbi Benzion Shemtov, the devoted chossid and legendary activist who was tasked with organizing a Chabad-Lubavitch presence in England.
Not sure who to go on Shlichus and open to any suggestion (even Turkey, at one point), Rabbi Sudak waited until his was finally told by the Rebbe: “The wedding in London, settle in Europe.”
“At that time, it wasn’t like now with Chabad Houses and you know what to do…” he recalled of that period. “Where in Europe? I don’t know. Europe is not a small town.” The Rebbe then chose London and wrote a letter of recommendation to the community there.
“What should I do when I get to London?” Rabbi Sudak asked. The Rebbe raised both of his hands and said, “What should I tell you? There are thousands of things to do… thousands of things!”
And indeed, following the work of his father in law, Rabbi Sudak worked to establish a wide network of institutions and programs including synagogues, schools, campus outreach, women’s organizations, youth programs, camps and publications.
He was joined by dedicated personalities such as the late Rev. Aron Dov Sufrin and Rabbi Faivish Vogel.
In 1959, a building was acquired in Stamford Hill – soon to be augmented and rebuilt. The Lubavitch Junior and Senior Schools for boys and girls were founded. The senior Boys School, opened in 1963, was located in Kingsley Way, Hampstead Garden Suburb. In 1967, when Lag B’Omer fell on a Sunday, more than a thousand children took part in the Parade, from 30 centers around London.
In 1968 there was the official opening of the new building, Lubavitch House. The Rebbe blessed that its children “should continue to forge the golden chain of their ancestral tradition to the point of veritable self-sacrifice for the preservation of the Jewish way of life, the way of the Torah and Mitzvos.”
Shortly after the opening, a new Lubavitch Youth Centre was opened in Manchester, soon followed by the establishment of Lubavitch in Glasgow. Today there are also centers in Birmingham, Bournemouth, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Nottingham, Oxford, Radlett, Salford and Sheffield. Within easy reach of the UK is Lubavitch of Dublin, Eire.
Meanwhile, in London itself, apart from Stamford Hill and Hampstead Garden Suburb there are now Lubavitch Centers in Central London, Ealing, Edgware, Golders Green, Hampstead, Hendon, Ilford, Islington, Shoreditch, Southgate and Wimbledon.
Rabbi Sudak was a member of the inner Executives of the Agudas Chassidei Chabad International, the central governing committee of the global Lubavitch movement. He is also on the Executive Board of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch and Machne Israel, the educational and social services arms of Chabad-Lubavitch.
He was part of the 10 Shluchim who helped found the Shluchim Office, the global Chabad-Lubavitch resource center, at the suggestion of the Rebbe and efforts of his Chief of Staff Rabbi Mordechai Hodakov.
Queen Elizabeth II included Rabbi Sudak in her New Year’s Honours List of 2001, personally awarding him an OBE, the Order of the British Empire honor, in recognition of the wide-reaching Lubavitch UK activities concerning Youth.
At the ceremony at the Buckingham Palace, Rabbi Sudak gifted the queen with a Mezuzah to have in her Palace to serve as reminder of the ultimate ruler of this world.
Britain’s then Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks extended his congratulations and said it was well deserved. “His contribution, and that of the Lubavitch movement, has been a major factor in the revitalisation of our community, and it is one to which Elaine [Mrs Sacks] and I feel personally indebted.”
His accomplishments and the work of the Shluchim around the commonwealth was later recognized when the Jewish Telegraph newspaper compiled a list of the Top 10 Influential British Rabbis and placed Rabbi Sudak as number 2, after Chief Rabbi Sacks.
In 2010, he spearheaded the opening of Lubavitch Children’s Centre in Stamford Hill, a £1.5 million building which houses a nursery, family services, adult education facilities and the Lubavitch Central Library, stocked with 15,000 books.
Asked in 2003 how he defines teshuva, he told the Jewish Chronicle that he defines teshuvah more as “return” than “repentance,” saying: “It’s when we resolve to go back to G-d.”
He is survived by his wife Mrs. Fradel Sudak, their children Rabbi Leivi Sudak – Edgware, UK; Mrs. Bassie Raskin, wife of London Dayan Levi Raskin; Mrs. Esther Kesselman – Southgate, UK; Mrs. Chanie Alperowitz – Bournemouth, UK; Rabbi Kasriel Sudak – Crown Heights; Rabbi Mendy Sudak, Stanmore, UK; Rabbi Sholom Ber Sudak – Stamford Hill, UK; Rabbi Zalman Sudak – Edgware, UK; Rabbi Bentzi Sudak – London; and grandchildren.
He is survived by his siblings Mrs. Batsheva Schochet, wife of Toronto’s Chabad Rabbi Dovid Schochet and Mrs. Bracha Bogomilsky, wife of Crown Heights Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky.
His brother-in-laws are Rabbi Berel Shemtov, Head Shliach of Michigan; Rabbi Shmuel Azimov, Head Shliach of Paris, France; Rabbi Abraham Shemtov, Head Shliach of Philadelphia and Chairman of Agudas Chabad International; and Rabbi Israel Shemtov of Crown Heights.
The levaya will take place on Monday, 2:00pm from Lubavitch House in Stamford Hill for burial at Adath Yisroel Synagogue & Burial Society in Enfield, England.
Baruch dayan haemes.