By COLlive reporter
Rabbi Tzvi Yosef Kotlarsky OBM, one of the remaining Chassidim of the Rebbe Rayatz and first Chassidim of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, has passed away on Monday at the Maimonides hospital in Brooklyn, New York. He was 91.
Born in Poland, he was one of the few remaining survivors of the legendary Tomchei Temimim Yeshiva the Previous Lubavitcer Rebbe established in the city of Otvotzk. There, Rabbi Kotlarsky befriended his life-long friends with which he struggled to survive Communism and World War II.
Learning in Otvotzk introduced him to the Chassidic philosophy and Chabad’s high spirits, even in those gloomy days (he learned in the famed Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva earlier).
In Shanghai, China, where many found temporary refuge during the war, he kept to his studies. When the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe wanted to build the Chabad community in Canada, Kotlarsky was one of the nine Shluchim sent to Montreal.
He later moved to New York and was long active in the United Lubavitch Yeshiva in Brooklyn as a Chaver Hanhala (board member) and thus, one of the first Chassidim of the current Lubavitcher Rebbe.
When his son Yaakov David passed away in Montreal, the Rebbe turned to Kotlarsky at a farbrengen in 770 and noted, “he is sitting in Gan Eden and is listening to Chassidus from the father-in-law.”
His wife Golda Kotlarsky passed away many years ago. They are survived by Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Vice Chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, overseeing the Shluchim network from New York; Nechama Hershkop, Crown Heights; Esther Wilishansky, Morristown, NJ; Sarah Perlman, Kingston, PA; R’ Mendel Kotlarsky, Crown Heights; Fradel Hershkowitz, Crown Heights; Chana Shemtov, Tucson, AZ.
The Levaya will leave TODAY from Shomrei Hadas at 1pm and pass 770 at 2pm.
May he rest in peace.