By COLlive reporter
Rabbi Yitzchok Ezagui, longtime community leader and member of the Montreal Chabad community, passed away a few days shy of his 88th birthday, on Erev Shabbos, Rosh Chodesh Tammuz 5781.
Rabbi Yitzchok Ezagui was born in Tangiers, Morocco, where he and his father Shlomo, a Chacham and Shochet, dedicated themselves to the needs of the Sephardic community. It was in Tangiers Morocco where Rabbi Yitzchok Ezagui came in touch with Chabad teachings through the study of Tanya with the Shliach of the Rebbe at that time, Rabbi Michael Lipsker.
He arrived in Montreal in the 1950s and immediately set upon developing the foundation and spiritual support network for the rapidly expanding Sephardic community.
Rabbi Ezagui was zoicheh to have many Yechidus and letters of guidance from the Rebbe. In one of these Yechidus, Rabbi Ezagui expressed an interest in moving to Eretz Yisroel. However, the Rebbe directed him to focus his efforts in Montreal. As a result, he and his father founded the Anshei Castilla minyan on Park Ave, the first of its kind for the Sephardic Jews in Montreal. This minyan later migrated to the Lubavitch Yeshivah on Westbury Ave while they fundraised for the location on Legare St and named the shul Merkaz Sepharade.
Working with Rabbi L. Kramer, Rabbi Ezagui spearheaded the education of Sephardic children within the newly opened Lubavitch Yeshivah, which then evolved into an independent institution. In addition, Rabbi Ezagui recruited other leaders to Montreal, culminating in the founding of the Sephardic Rabbinate of Montreal. At one time, Rabbi Ezagui offered to mortgage his home for the sake of Jewish education for the Sephardim in Montreal.
Although he operated a clothing business for many years, Rabbi Ezaguis’s “business” was immersed in spreading Yiddishkeit in every possible way. One specific example was the production of a periodical called “Lecture,” which was distributed to community centers and to the many French-speaking high schoolers who otherwise had no direct access to Yiddishkeit. The Rebbe gave blessings and guided this program, explicitly encouraging the inclusion of Halacha.
If you visit Montreal today, you will find a vibrant Sephardic community with an extensive supporting network; many of these founders got their start in the Merkaz Sepharade led by Rabbi Yitzchak Ezagui under the auspices of the Rebbe.
Rabbi Ezagui devoted more than half a century to disseminating Torah and Chassidus with all his heart and soul, and with joy. He leaves behind his wife Sarah, mother to an extensive family, many on Shlichus of the Rebbe, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. His brother Dovid in Israel, and a pre-deceased brother Yosef and sister Miriam.
The levaya will take place on Sunday, passing by 770 at 2:30 PM and 3:45 pm at Old Montefiore Cemetery.
Shiva will be at 706 eastern Pkwy #4E
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Baruch Dayan Ha’emes.