Yehuda Leib "Leibel" Groner (Yiddish: יהודה ליב גראנער; April 25, 1931 – April 7, 2020) was a Hasidic Jewish teacher, scholar, and author. He is best known for having served as the personal secretary to Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, for 44 years.
Groner (left, back turned) with the Lubavitcher Rebbe (right) during the distribution of dollars
Yehuda Leib Groner
April 25, 1931
New York City, New York
|Died||April 7, 2020 (aged 88)|
New York City
|Occupation||Personal secretary to the Lubavitcher Rebbe|
|Years active||1949 - 1994|
Early life and educationEdit
Yehuda Leib Groner was born in New York City on April 25, 1931. His parents were Rabbi Mordechai Avrohom Yeshaya Groner and Menucha Rochel Groner. His brother, Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Groner, became the most senior Chabad rabbi in Melbourne, Australia, and the director of the Yeshivah Centre there. Groner was a direct descendant of Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the founding Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch.
Groner studied at the Central Yeshiva Tomchei Temimim Lubavitch at 770 Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, where he excelled as a student. He often spoke in learning with Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the future Lubavitcher Rebbe, who was then known as the son-in-law of the sixth Chabad Rebbe, Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, and had an office in the building. Groner's connection to Schneerson had begun at Groner's bar mitzvah celebration, where, as a guest, Schneerson had spoken for 1 hour and 20 minutes. In 1949, Schneerson asked Groner to join the team of Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch, working in the Kehot Publication Society, thus adding Groner to his secretariat.
Secretary to the Lubavitcher RebbeEdit
In 1951, Schneerson succeeded his father-in-law as the seventh Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch. After Groner married in 1954, the Rebbe asked him to become his personal assistant. Groner's role working for Schneerson was similar to that of a chief of staff. On April 13, 1984, the Rebbe referred to Groner as "my general". The Rebbe appointed Groner to run the Kupas Rabbeinu charity. Groner maintained his role until the Rebbe's death on June 12, 1994. After the Rebbe's death, Groner became a public speaker, traveling the world retelling many of his encounters with Schneerson.
Writing and teachingEdit
Groner is a co-author, with Rabbi Volf Greenglass of Montreal, of Sefer HaMinhagim, the authoritative book describing Chabad-Lubavitch customs. He was also an editor of Otzar HaChasidim, the editorial group that publishes works on Chabad Hasidut. He taught at Beth Rivkah in Crown Heights, a school for girls who are part of the Chabad-Lubavitch community.
Groner was associated with a number of right-wing campaigns. In 2005 he was part of a delegation along with Menachem Brod who had a "heated debate" with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, pleading with him to not give away land, something he believed the nation of Israel would soon regret.
In 1954, Groner married Yehudis Gurewytz. The couple had three sons and four daughters. Their son Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Groner is the rabbi of Congregation Ohr HaTorah in Charlotte, North Carolina, while another son, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Groner, is a Rosh Yeshiva at the Chabad Yeshiva in Kiryat Gat, Israel.
Groner died on April 7, 2020, aged 88, after being infected with COVID-19 for several weeks. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the funeral took place in a more muted fashion with social distancing procedures in place. The Rabbinical Alliance of America released a statement mourning Groner as "one of the most prominent figures in Lubavitch of the last generation".
- Kaplan, Musia. "Rabbi Leibel Groner, z'l". Hamodia, May 6, 2020, p. 32.
- Zaklikowski, Dovid (8 April 2020). "Rabbi Leibel Groner, Member of Secretariat to the Lubavitcher Rebbe". Lubavitch.com. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
- "Rabbi Yehuda Leib Groner, 88, OBM". COLlive. 2020-04-08. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
- "Australia's Chabad rabbi dies". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 7 July 2008. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
- "Rabbi Yehudah Leib Groner, 88, Aided the Rebbe for More Than Four Decades". Chabad.org. 8 April 2020. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
- Miller, Chaim (29 May 2014). Turning Judaism Outward. Kol Menachem. p. 196. ISBN 978-1934152362. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
Leibel studied in the Lubavitch school and Yeshiva system in New York from its earliest days, and in 1949 was asked by the Rebbe - then the Ramash - to assist with some of the work of preparing Kehot publications for print. When the Rebbe assumed the leadership of Chabad, he asked Groner to assist him at farbrengens. Groner gradually assumed the role, not only of a secretary, but also an assistant who cared for many of the Rebbe’s personal needs.
- Gonzalez, David (12 March 1994). "'A Family in Stress' Over Its Stricken Rebbe; The Unspoken Question Among Lubavitchers: Who Is Going to Succeed Their Leader?". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
- "PM and Chabad Rabbis in a "Very Charged Meeting"". Israel National News. 29 June 2005. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
- "Veteran Confidante of Lubavitcher Rebbe Dies of Coronavirus". Algemeiner Journal. 8 April 2020. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
- Stack, Liam (21 April 2020). "'Plague on a Biblical Scale': Hasidic Families Hit Hard by Virus". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
- "Rabbinical Alliance of America Joins Klal Yisroel in Mourning the Passing of HaGaon HaRav Leibel Groner, ZT'L Faithful Secretary to the Lubavitcher Rebbe". Rabbinical Alliance of America. Retrieved 13 April 2020.