(Chabad.org) London’s Jewish Tribune printed a full-page tribute to Rabbi Benzion Shemtov, a highly-respected Chabad-Lubavitch educator who maintained underground Jewish institutions behind the Iron Curtain in Russia, established schools throughout England, and later traveled throughout the world on behalf of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory.
Monday was the 37th anniversary of Shemtov’s passing on the fifth day of the Hebrew month of Tammuz.
Born in 1902, “Reb Bentche” Shemtov studied at the Tomchei Temimim yeshiva in the town of Lubavitch. Following the Russian Revolution and the Communist rise to power, he was one of a group of young men chosen by the Sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, of righteous memor, to “make a covenant [and] not to be deterred in the establishing and maintenance of yeshivas and Talmud Torahs.”
Such efforts sparked the ire of the authorities, who imprisoned Shemtov in Siberia. After his release, he continued his underground activities, married, and in 1947, successfully left Russia fo London. There, he established Talmud Torahs in the East End and in Hackney, and was instrumental in the development of Lubavitch educational institutions throughout the country.
He traveled to North and South America and Israel on behalf of the Rebbe, and in 1975, went to the central Israeli village of Kfar Chabad to establish a printing and bookbinding cooperative for Russian immigrants.
His life was cut short during the Kfar Chabad visit when he was run over by a car.
One of his sons-in-law, Rabbi Nachman Sudak, is the principal of the Lubavitch Foundation of Great Britain.