By COLlive reporter
Rabbi Refael Nachum Cohen, a Chabad activist who is credited with expanding the network of Chabad centers in Israel, passed away on Monday, 12 Iyar 5774.
He was 67 and suffered from an illness in recent years.
He was born on 22 Kislev 5707 to his parents, the chossid Rabbi Avrohom Hirsh Cohen and Mrs. Rikva Matil (nee Vaisfish) in Jerusalem. He studied in the Tomchei Temimim Yeshiva in Lod, under the noted Mashpia Rabbi Shlomo Chaim Kesselman.
In 5726 he traveled to New York to learn at the Central Tomchei Tmimim Lubavitch Yeshiva at 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, and arranged for the Israel Defense Force to give an official travel exemption.
After spending time near the Rebbe, he returned to Israel in 5727 to learn in the Tomchei Tmimim Yeshiva in Kfar Chabad. Alongside his studies, he was active at the Lubavitch Youth Organization (“Tzach”), headquartered then in Tel Aviv.
He got married in 5731 to his wife Leah Rivka (nee Yungreis) and they settled in the Nachlas Har Chabad neighborhood in the southern Israeli city of Kiryat Malachi.
Cohen continued his work at Lubavitch Youth and in 5747 he was appointed to head the department of branches which oversees the network of Chabad centers in the country.
In his years-long dedicated work, he helped send Shluchim, establish and expand Chabad outposts in major cities, towns and villages, including the Chabad House of Gush Katif in Gaza. His role is now filled by Rabbi Naftali Lipsker.
Since 5741 he took a leading role in organizing the Lag BaOmer parade of Jewish pride and identity around the country. He is credited with coming up with the iconic slogan “Together, all children of Israel.”
“The slogan was accepted by the Rebbe,” he said in an interview, “it received encouragement when the Rebbe mentioned the new slogan a few times during his sicha in front of the children at the parade in front of 770.”
In recent years he lived in the city of Beitar Illit.
He is survived by his wife Mrs. Rivka Leah Cohen, their children R’ Meir Cohen – Beitar Illit, R’ Yossi Cohen – Elad, Mrs. Chana Goldshmid – Netanya, R’ Elchanan Cohen – Elad, Menachem Mendel Cohen – Beitar Illit, R’ Dovid Cohen – Ashdod, Sarah Cohen, Schneur Zalman Cohen and Sholom Dovber Cohen; and grandchildren.
He is also survived by his siblings Rabbi Rabbi Asher Lemil Cohen – Rav of the Chabad community in Beitar Illit; Rabbi Yitzchok Cohen – Beit Shemesh; Rabbi Shmuel Yechezkel Cohen – Kiryat Malachi; Rabbi Sholom Ber Cohen – Rosh Yeshiva Ketana Chabad in Nachlas Har Chabad; Rabbi Akiva Cohen – Rosh Yeshiva Lubavitch of Manchester, England; Rabbi Chaim Shlomo Cohen – Director of MADA Chabad Center in Montreal, Canada; and Mrs. Sarah Sherf – Beitar Illit.
Baruch dayan haemes.