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The fruit of Tunisia

Friday, 28 January, 2011 - 1:52 pm

Dear Friends,

It was at Menorah Lighting at the Legislature that I met Yosef for the first time, I invited him to come for Services at Chabad Family Shul.  He came once, and decided that he would make it part of his Shabbat schedule.  I noticed that Yosef was very fluent with the Service - I thought it might be a good story....

Finally, as we were preparing for the Kiddush I had a moment to chat with Yosef. When I heard that he had spent his childhood in Tunisia, I asked if he knew my great uncle who had lived there for many years. 

rabbi pinson.jpgRabbi Nissan Pinson, my grandmother’s brother, grew up in communist Russia, attending underground schools. His father, Rabbi Nachum Pinson, was exiled to Siberia for his commitment to Jewish education, where he ended his short life in great suffering. After World War II, Rabbi Nissan arrived in France, when the Lubavitcher Rebbe initiated the campaign of sending emissaries to strengthen Jewish life around the world. Rabbi Pinson and his wife Rochel accepted the Rebbe's plea and traveled to North Africa, where he became the Chabad Rabbi of Tunisia, serving the community for over 50 years until his very last days.(In the Picture: Rabbi Pinson and his sister, my grandmother, Mrs. Sara Kaplan). 

"Not only do I know Rabbi Pinson,” Yosef responds to my question, "his Shul was a block and a half from my home. This is a part of my childhood memories of Jewish life.”

Rabbi Pinson was of the greatest Rabbis of our time, he was a man of great statue on his own, a Torah scholar, devoted to serving his creator. At the same time he was loved and admired by Jews and non-Jews who knew him, and was able to build infrastructure of Jewish life throughout the country. I met Rabbi Pinson just a few times in my life, but he and his wife always represented for me and my generation the responsibility and the determination of a spiritual leader.

During a week when our eyes were on Tunisia, praying for the safety and well being of the community there - I met Yosef, who grew up with Chabad in Islamic Tunisia, now reconnecting with Chabad in Victoria, BC. 

I'm humbled by the opportunity to see, and perhaps harvest, the fruits of the toil of my great uncle, Rabbi Nissan Pinson.  

Comments on: The fruit of Tunisia

Dayana wrote...

Whoa, whoa, get out the way with that good infortmaion.