By COLlive reporter
Rabbi Leibel Groner, one of the most prominent figures in Lubavitch of the last generation who served as a secretary and one was of the closest people to the Rebbe, passed away.
He was 88 and was infected by coronavirus.
Rabbi Groner was born on 8 Iyar 5691 (1931) to a family that is descended of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the Alter Rebbe and founder of Chabad-Lubavitch. His parents were R’ Mordechai Avrohom Yeshaya and Menucha Rochel Groner.
His connection with the Rebbe began at a very young age, when the Rebbe, then known as the Ramash, attended his Bar Mitzvah and spoke for an hour and 20 minutes. At the conclusion, the Rebbe asked, “Leibel, did you understand what was said?” When he didn’t reply, the Rebbe added, “don’t be embarrassed, many of the people around didn’t either understand.”
Despite his humility at the time, Rabbi Groner learned in the Central Yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim Lubavitch at 770 Eastern Parkway and become an immense Talmid Chacham.
His knowledge was partly reflected in Sefer HaMinhagim, the authoritative book of Chabad-Lubavitch Customs that was authored by himself and Rabbi Volf Greenglass, the Mekubal and Mashpia of Montreal. For many years, he was a teacher at Beis Rivkah of Crown Heights and was an editor of Otzar Hachasidim, the editorial team that publishes Chabad Chassidus.
In 1949, the Rebbe asked Rabbi Groner if he would like to assist him in his “spare time.” Rabbi Groner agreed and began working in the Kehot Publication Society, a branch of Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch which the Rebbe.
In 5711 (1951), when the Rebbe officially assumed leadership of Chabad-Lubavitch at an inaugural farbrengen, the Rebbe asked Rabbi Groner to stand by him in case he would need anything. Rabbi Groner has stood by the Rebbe’s side ever since.
After he got married, Rabbi Groner continued his work in the Rebbe’s secretariat (mazkirus) for over 40 years. He was arguably the most visible mazkir as he stood by the Rebbe during davening, Yechidus and later when the Rebbe distributed dollars to charity on Sundays.
His devotion to the Rebbe and his directives and institutions were reflected in the Rebbe’s comment about him during the distribution of the Tanya on 11 Nissan 5744: “My general.” The Rebbe also appointed him to lead the Kupas Rabbeinu charity.
After Gimmel Tammuz, Rabbi Groner did not assume an official position at Lubavitch Headquarters but has turned into one of the most recognizable and beloved figures in the global Chabad-Lubavitch community. He has traveled extensively around the world and led hundreds of farbrengens and community events. He spoke about his experiences with the Rebbe, insights from the Rebbe’s teachings and how people can live a better life through Torah and Chassidus.
He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Yehudis Groner (née Gurevitz), their children Rabbi Yossi Groner – Charlotte, North Carolina; Rabbi Menachem Mendel Groner – Kiryat Gat, Israel; Mrs. Gitty Levin – Ft. Lauderdale, Florida; Mrs. Sara Tennenbaum – Crown Heights; Mrs. Chaya Sandhaus – Crown Heights; Mrs. Sheina Wilhelm – Crown Heights; Rabbi Aron Groner – Pomona, NY; grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The levaya will take place Wednesday, passing by 770 at 9:30 am and will go through the streets of Crown Heights. It will leave to the Ohel at 10:30 am.
Baruch Dayan Ha’emes.