By Dovid Zaklikowsky
Rabbi Shimon Raichik, a highly respected chossid who served both as a Shliach of the Rebbe since his youth and was a beloved rov and moreh hora’ah, passed away on Wednesday, 20 Kislev, 5782.
He was 68.
Always ready to answer a call with a question for advice or Jewish law, to assist another, without any personal interests, he will sorely missed by many.
A twin, Rabbi Raichik was born in 1953 to the legendary Rabbi Shmuel Dovid and Rebbetzin Lea Raichik. Holocaust survivors, who at the direct instructions of the Rebbe Rayatz, and his son-in-law and future Rebbe, headed to Los Angeles, California, to build Jewish life on the West Coast.
The twins were preemies and their bris was pushed off. In the interim, the Raichik’s father asked the Rebbe what they should name them. “From Above they give the father and mother the idea of which name to give their children, as befits their soul,” the Rebbe wrote. “You should call the children whatever names you agree upon with your wife.” Thus, they named the twins Shimon, after Rabbi Raichik’s father, and Yosef Yitzchak (“Yossi”), after the Rebbe Rayatz.
The Raichik children were raised witnessing the self-sacrifice their parents had for another Jew, just as for their personal mitzvah observance.
To have Cholov Yisroel milk, someone would have to go to the farm to oversee it. Cholov Yisroel cheese was unavailable, and the Raichik children simply grew up without it.
Rabbi Raichik would tell how his mother would Kasher the chickens herself, even when the butcher offered to do it for her. When he saw beef for the first time, he asked, “why is the chicken so dirty.” He had simply never seen it before.
At age 11, when Rabbi Raichik went to New York for Tishrei, he beheld kosher cheeses, chocolate, pizza, and hamburgers, foods that didn’t exist at all in Los Angeles. “It was quite a revelation,” he would later say.
Fred Schwartzman, who lost his faith during the Holocaust, visited the Raichik home, he felt it beginning to return. He called his visit to their home a “great present.”
He wrote that to hear the way the Raichik children said the brachah on fruit brought back many memories from his childhood. “It was bringing G-d back to my heart,” he wrote at the time.
Rabbi Raichik was deeply influenced that with his father’s constant running around to do a favor for another Jew, he said that he had no memory of his father ever going to bed.
“If I awoke in the middle of the night,” Rabbi Raichik later said, “I would find him at the table, learning.”
He said that he learned what it means to give up of your personal needs to help another from his parents. Rabbi Raichik recalled that many times on Pesach, the family would have to ration the matzah during the last few days because the elder Rabbi Raichik had given so much away.
In 1970 he learned at the Lubavitch yeshivah in Montreal, and from there left on Shlichus to Melbourne, Australia. In 5741 (1981) Rabbi Shimon and his wife, Chana Lieba (nee Gansburg), moved back to Los Angeles from New York to assist his father. Father and son worked together for close to two decades, during which time Rabbi Raichik had ample opportunity to observe his father’s extraordinary dedication and to benefit from his wisdom.
After teaching at the yeshivah Ohr Elchonon Chabad, as the Chabad community in Los Angeles grew, Rabbi Raichik became the rov of the Levi Yitzchok Shul in the La Brea neighborhood. Together with the unforgettable businessman Reb Berel Weiss, he built a flourishing community, where chessed and Torah study were at its center.
Rabbi Raichik had a particular love for the laws of Shabbos, and authored a book on it, which he was finishing off for publication.
While he understood the challenges of the day, Rabbi Raichik did not take the approach to admonish those he thought were veering from the path, but instead tried to inspire them with stories, anecdotes, and love. In this vein, he worked for many years on a book about his father, which he felt would inspire a new generation of chassidim.
Over the years, even if there were personal reservations about a person, he would place his personal ego on the side and make every effort to help them and constantly tried to amicably deal with issues.
Rabbi Mendel Duchman, who runs the Kol Yaakov Yehuda – Rebbe’s Diamond Daveners at Rabbi Raichik’s Shul, said: “Today is a very sad day for the city of Los Angeles and the world over.”
“Rabbi Raichik was there for everybody throughout everything – good or difficult,” he told COLlive.com. “No matter what was happening, Rabbi Raichik was at the forefront of uplifting adults and children not only in his shul but for all Lubavitchers around Los Angeles.”
He is survived by his wife Mrs. Chana Liba Raichik (nee Gansburg), their children Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Raichik – Boynton Beach, Florida; Mrs. Simi Ghods – Los Angeles; Rabbi Yisroel Noach Raichik – Crown Heights; Mrs. Sterna Sarah Gurary – Los Angeles; Rabbi Moshe Raichik – Brooklyn, NY; Mrs. Chaya Mushka Zaltzman – Toronto, Canada; Rabbi Avrohom Abba Raichik – Los Angeles; and grandchildren.
He is also survived by his siblings R’ Abi Raichik – Los Angeles; R’ Elazar Raichik – Crown Heights; Mrs. Devori Wilhelm – Portland, Oregon; Mrs. Suri Klyne – Los Angeles; R’ Levi Raichik – Los Angeles; Rabbi Sholom Raichik – Gaithersburg, Maryland; R’ Yanky Raichik – Los Angeles; and Mrs. Chanie Hanoka – Pasadena, California; nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by his brother Rabbi Yossi Raichik OBM, Shliach of the Rebbe who lived in Kfar Chabad and spearheaded the saving of Jewish children from Chernobyl, Ukraine.
The levaya will be held in Los Angeles on Thursday, at 11 am at Congregation Levi Yitzchok, and then passing by YOEC, Ohel Chana, Bais Chaya Mushka, and Cheder Menachem. Kevurah at Mt. Olive Memorial Park.
Baruch Dayan Ha’emes.