By Alter Jacobs
Translated by Baruch Benmosche
Rabbi Yaakov Noach (“Yankel”) Kranz was born in Zamusz, Poland. His family which narrowly escaped the Nazis, emigrated to the Unites States and settled in Danielson, Connecticut.
When he was 13 years old, two rabbinical students visited Danielson as part of the summer Merkos Shlichus program, and as result of this visit, Yankel travelled to New York and was enrolled in the Lubavitcher Yeshiva on Bedford Avenue, in Brooklyn.
Young Yankel studied diligently and excelled in his studies. In a very short time he outpaced his classmates, and several years later was teaching and mentoring younger students.
In 1964 he married Fay, the daughter of Rabbi Yaakov Moshe Friedman, of blessed memory. Immediately after their sheva brochos, the couple took up a position on shlichus in Detroit Michigan, as rabbi of Congregation Mishkan Israel.
Rabbi Kranz created various programs for the community, one of which resulted in numerous girls leaving public schools and joining yeshivot. Many are now mothers and grandmothers of religious and chasidic children and grandchildren.
After many years in Detroit, Rabbi Kranz founded Chabad of S. Diego, California. In the mid 70’s Rabbi Kranz was appointed as head shliach to the Virginias. His extensive experience served him well as he made inroads into the Richmond community and beyond with numerous innovative programs.
Rabbi Kranz was blessed with a magnetic personality. He was erudite, thoughtful, methodical, and thoroughly dedicated to the Rebbe and shlichus. His congeniality and persuasive manner endeared him forever to the thousands of people who encountered him during his short, yet productive life.
During the annual shluchim conference, as shluchim from all over the world gathered at 770, Rabbi Kranz stood out, not only with his physical height and build, but with his radiant character. Yankel, as he was affectionately called, was a source of advice and inspiration for many fellow shluchim.
In 1991, after a short illness, Rabbi Kranz passed away in his office at the new Chabad-Lubavitch center he had built. His children continued their father’s shlichus and have expanded and grown the institutions he founded.
His son, Rabbi Yossel Kranz, who took over the Chabad Center in Richmond, says “It’s already been 18 years since his passing, but not a day goes by that I do not hear from someone – in every walk of life, Jew and non-Jew – that they knew my father and were touched by him.”
May his memory be a blessing.