By Dovid Zaklikowski for COLlive and Hasidic Archives
Rabbi Hillel Pevzner, a survivor of Soviet oppression, arrived in Paris in 1946. He studied at the famous Lubavitch Yeshivah in the Paris suburb of Brunoy, where he received rabbinical ordination and married his wife, Esia.
In 1952, Rabbi Pevzner accepted the position as rabbi of the Chabad-Lubavitch community in Paris and its vicinity, and shortly thereafter began teaching at the Brunoy yeshivah.
In 1965, he established a Jewish day school. He would go door-to-door in Jewish neighborhoods and recruit students and raise funds for the newly founded school.
This level of activism did not come easy for him. By nature, he was not outgoing, and his involvement in many communal activities depleted his time for personal Torah study.
During a private audience with the Rebbe in 1965, the Rebbe encouraged him to get involved in yet another aspect of Jewish life in Paris. Rabbi Pevzner complained, “Rebbe, it is too much for my introverted personality!”
The Rebbe responded (paraphrased): “Take a lesson from my actions. By nature, I am introverted; nevertheless, I knew it was essential, and reluctantly accepted it upon myself to be active in public life.”