“They really set me on my feet in learning...being surrounded by teachers who are true chassidim and who live with the ideals and teachings of the Rebbe in each moment, has a long-term effect on each student.”
Rabbi Shmuel Altein, great-grandson of Rabbi Yisroel Jacobson, ה"ע ,one the first Chabad activists in North America, was born in chilly Winnipeg, Canada, where his parents Rabbi Avrohom and Mrs. Brocha Altein, have been sharing the warmth of Judaism with the local Jewish community since 1972. When he arrived at Oholei Torah at the age of 19, he was immediately enveloped by the warm atmosphere and brotherly love that characterized the school. Rabbi Avrohom Gerlitzky maintained a personal relationship with him and his fellow students, at the same time encouraging and motivating them to delve deeper into their studies. “He cared deeply about us, and taught with genuine love,” Rabbi Altein recalls. Rabbi Altein and his wife, Adina (née Duchman) joined his parents on shlichus in Winnipeg, adding a youthful dimension and spirited learning to the windswept city. Shortly after their arrival, the community dedicated the new 14,000-squarefoot Chabad center, and Rabbi Altein became an integral part of the community, bringing with him the Jewish Learning Institute, the world’s preeminent provider of Jewish learning in 900 communities across the globe, reaching 250 locals. The Alteins have also initiated annual Shabbatons and other exciting programs, including a most successful Torah Tots school with an enrollment close to 75 young toddlers.
Rabbi Gershon Avtzon began spending his summers guiding and inspiring young students at the age of 18. After he married his wife Fruma (née Simpson) and began to look for shlichus, he realized that his energy and skills would be best utilized in the field of education, and in 2006 he established Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati. Rabbi Avtzon joined the Talmudical Seminary of Oholei Torah in 2000, where he enjoyed the classes given by Rabbi Moshe Wolberg and Rabbi Yisroel Friedman. “They really set me on my feet in learning,” he says. “Being surrounded by teachers who are true chassidim and who live with the ideals and teachings of the Rebbe in each moment, has a long-term effect on each student,” he adds. In particular, Rabbi Avtzon recalls the personal care he received from Rabbi Shmuel Chaim Bluming, which he tries to emulate now in his own yeshivah. When Rabbi Avtzon opened the Yeshivah in Cincinnati, his goal was to give the students a warm and positive education, in an idealistic environment, with the necessary foundations of Torah and yiras shomayim. Rabbi Avtzon has become known for his positive influence on his students, as well as his care for their spiritual and material needs. His lectures are frequently sought, and his publications on Moshiach and redemption have become renowned.
As Rabbi Mendel Azimov knows, living in France, where virulent anti-Semitism is rampant can be difficult and dangerous. His father, Rabbi Shmuel “Muleh” Azimov ה“ע ,the unforgettable director of Chabad in Paris, never allowed the Jewish community to hide. With 36 Chabad houses, across the city, he encouraged the Jewish community to be proud of their Yiddishkeit and to not surrender to anti-Semitism. When he suddenly passed away in 2014, his eldest son Rabbi Mendel, an alumnus of Oholei Torah, took over the reins, including the network of Jewish educational institutions with over 2100 students across four locations. Following in his father’s footsteps, Rabbi Mendel Azimov has continued to expand Chabad activities, adding 15 new shluchim over the past two years, with more in the works. He has continued to bring pride to the streets of Paris, even during particularly difficult times. When, in 2016, Parisian officials wanted to cancel the grand menorah lighting in front of the Eiffel Tower, Rabbi Azimov refused to back down, compelling the authorities to abandon their request. On Chanukah, 1500 locals attended the menorah lighting, basking in Jewish pride.
Every Friday, for many years, the voice of Rabbi Yechiel Baitelman’s grandfather, Rabbi Shalom Ber Gordon, ה"ע ,could be heard on WEVD radio, as he presented a short weekly program recapping the happenings in Lubavitch and a lesson on the Parshah. He always ended the program with a short appeal on behalf of Oholei Torah. From at the age of three, Rabbi Baitelman studied in Oholei Torah, where he was showered with the warmth of chassidishkeit and love for Torah and mitzvos. To this day, when reviewing the Gemara that he learned at yeshivah, he fondly remembers the “good old days.” In 1993, Rabbi Baitelman and his wife Chanie (née Wineberg) founded Chabad of Richmond, British Columbia. Because of the education he received at Oholei Torah, Rabbi Baitelman is able to teach and inspire others to live life as Hashem wills. Today he is a proud father to children who attend Oholei Torah. Following in the footsteps of their grandfather, many of Rabbi Baitelman’s siblings have joined the Rebbe’s army of shluchim, dedicating themselves to the spreading of Yiddishkeit.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Rabbi Mendel Azimov has continued to expand Chabad activities, adding 15 new shluchim over the past two years, with more in the works. He has continued to bring pride to the streets of Paris, even during particularly difficult times.