A campaign is picking up steam to support the widow and children of a beloved Russian-born rabbi and former Refusenik, remembered as “a truly rare breed of Chossid and Mekushar.”
When Rabbi Gershon Giter passed away tragically last month, he left a grief-stricken family and a devastated community. Now his colleagues and friends are trying to “pay him back” for his years of selfless devotion, leadership and love.
A GoFundMe campaign started just yesterday has already raised more than $19,000 for the family of the Minnesota rabbi. Organizers are turning to the global Chabad community to help them reach the first $80,000 milestone to ensure his widow and children celebrate Tishrei in dignity.
“Rabbi Giter was a strong leader, an incredible father and a truly rare breed of Chossid and Mekushar,” remembers Rabbi Manis Friedman, a close friend and one of the campaign’s organizers. “He found far more joy in helping others than in serving himself.”
PLEASE DONATE NOW: GoFundMe.com/giterfamily
At one time a Refusenik from Leningrad, Gershon Giter was told by the head of the KGB “you are going to rot here”. Miraculously, after not giving up on his dream to leave, he made it to the USA just 6 months later.
With the Rebbe’s Brochos and guidance, Rabbi Giter founded Congregation Bais Menachem, the center for Russian speaking Jews in Minnesota that he led until his passing.
He worked hard to support his family every day to his final day. Yet, his illness over the past few years saw him in out of hospitals, rehabs and treatment centers and unable to provide. His family must now count on the brotherhood of Chassidim to help them survive.
A close friend and supporter describes a man with an enormous heart and unswerving principles. “He was a joyous Baal Tzedakah whose smile was constant. His spirit was always lively, he was always ready with a friendly joke to relax everyone around him, and yet at his core, he was intensely serious about his Yiddishkeit, his responsibility to teaching others and his obligations to the Rebbe.”
Many owe their Jewish education to Gershon Giter. Often, after committing to cover Yeshiva, summer camp or seminary tuitions, he would end up paying out of his own pocket. The GoFundMe campaign can reciprocate in a small way.
As a highly knowledgeable person, Rabbi Giter was able to provide advice and assistance in many different areas. He saved marriages, led many teens away from drugs and saved countless immigrants from despair. He was a brilliant scientist and inventor, a hard-working businessman, and sensitive, dedicated Chossid whose love for the Rebbe knew absolutely no bounds.
Rabbi Friedman marvels at the joy and gratitude with which Rabbi Giter lived. “We never heard a word of complaint about the difficult years he spent behind the Iron Curtain as a Refusenik,” he says.
Those who were near Rabbi Giter during his final struggle with a terrible disease, affirm that the same inner strength displayed itself. “His will to live never died, never even wavered. The stubborn spirit that brought hundreds home to Yiddishkeit, inspired countless men and boys to get a Bris, and gave him no rest in his quest to always become a better and more connected Chossid animated this unique man literally until his last day.”
Please donate generously today: GoFundMe.com/giterfamily.
Today Mrs. Giter is left to care for the beautiful family of strong and good children that she raised with her husband. She is turning to the community of Anash and Shluchim to help her provide for her family through Tishrei and into the New Year.
The Giter Family fund is administered by Machane Israel and Rabbi Shlomo Friedman of Lubavitch Youth Organization, and overseen by the following committee:
Rabbi Manis Friedman
Rabbi Hershel Krinsky
Rabbi Yehoshua Borenstein
Rabbi Shua Brook
Mr. Pinchos Fershtman