Rabbi Azimov, Chabad Leader in France, Dies at 69

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Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries gathering in front of their world headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, Nov. 27, 2011.Credit: Tina Fineberg / Chabad.org

Rabbi Shmuel Azimov, one of the leaders of the Chabad-Lubavitch Hassidic movement in France, passed away at the age of 69.

Azimov, who was born in the former Soviet Union, died in France on Wednesday from an illness that required hospitalization.

“Despite his eminence, this was a man who spoke to his juniors, to everyone, as equals,” recalled Rabbi Avraham Weill of Toulouse. “And though he never sought the limelight, he was the driving force behind the educational revolution of the Chabad movement in France,” Weill said. “He wasn’t just a spiritual father to thousands of Jews, but an actual second father to many of them.”Today, there are more than 450 emissaries in 115 Chabad-Lubavitch centers in 95 cities in France, which the movement’s official website, chabad.org, called “the direct result of his work.”

Azimov studied in the Central Chabad Yeshivah in Brooklyn, New York, where he became deeply connected to the Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, the 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe. In 1968, Schneerson sent Azimov and his wife, Bassie, to Paris to serve as his emissaries there.

Bassie died in 2011. The Azimovs are survived by his children, Rabbi Mendel Azimov; Mrs. Esther Marasov; and Rabbi LeviAzimov, who are all Chabad emissaries in Paris.

His body was brought to burial in Israel on Wednesday.

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