R’ Hirschel Pekkar, a Chossid who was renowned for his silver works and who built the large menorah that is lit in 770 each Chanukah, passed away on Thursday, 27 Menachem Av, 5781. Update: Levaya Friday at 2:45 PM.
Hirschel Pekkar, a Chossid who was renowned for his silver works and who built the large menorah that is lit in 770 each Chanukah, passed away on Thursday, 27 Menachem Av, 5781.
He was 85 years old.
Hirschel was born in 1936 in Ukraine, in the city of Dnepropetrovsk (formerly known as Yekaterinoslav), where the rabbi was Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, the Rebbe’s father. Hirschel never got to know him because, when he was only three years old, he was arrested for his activities on behalf of Judaism and was exiled by the Soviets to Kazakhstan, where he passed away, five years later.
After World War Two – during which Hirschel’s father, a soldier in the Russian army, was killed – his mother took her young son and escaped to Germany, where they stayed for a time at a displaced persons’ camp near Bergen-Belsen. At age ten he was sent to live with a relative in England and attended the Gateshead and Manchester yeshivahs there.
After Hirschel finished his schooling, he became a jeweler, eventually settling in London.
“Although I was leading the life of a religious Jew, I felt something was missing in my life,” he recalled in an interview with JEM’s My Encounter.
When Hirschel was 18 years old, he began to study Torah with a Chabad rabbi named Yankel Gurkov who introduced him to Chassidus and told him about the Rebbe.
“I felt drawn to the Rebbe since his father was the rabbi of my hometown, so I wrote to him, asking for a blessing for three things: proper intelligence, a good livelihood, and the right woman to marry,” he recalled in the interview. “Very soon afterwards I got a reply, in which the Rebbe said he would mention me in his prayers and wished me to share good news soon. Sure enough, two weeks later I met my wife. Just two weeks later!”
In 1962, Hirschel came to New York along with a group of Jews from England as part of a trip organized by Mr. Zalman Jaffe. At that time, he had his first audience with the Rebbe. “I felt that this was the connection that I was looking for,” he said.
During that audience, he discussed the issue of his livelihood with the Rebbe. The Rebbe asked him “Are you doing piecework or timework?” He encouraged Hirschel to take time to improve his skills as a jeweler and pointed out that the only way that he could do that would be if he was doing piecework and was not pressured timewise. Because of his advice, Hirschel set up a little workshop in his home.
During another yechidus, the Rebbe told Hirschel, “Zolst nemen fun danet oif gashmiyus un oif ruchniyus mit zich – You should take with you from here the physical and spiritual [sustenance].”
Hirschel said to the Rebbe, “Ich hub gevolt nemen der Rebbe mit zich – I want to take the Rebbe with me.”
The Rebbe replied: “Az du nemst fun de ruchniyus fun danet, nemst du mir mit zich un az du nemst mir mit zich zolst mir ois nutzen oif gute zachen – If you are taking from the spiritual from here, you are taking me with you, and if you take me with you, you should use me for good things.”
Sometime later, while on a visit to New York, Hirschel took a job in Manhattan, for a company that asked him to do jewelry designs. “I worked hard on this, but after a while, I felt that I was beginning to work too hard for money. So, at my next meeting with the Rebbe, I decided to give it all to him,” he recalled.
Hearing what Hirschel had to say, the Rebbe smiled, and then he peeled off a one-hundred-dollar bill from what he gave him and said, “Since this money is mine to do with it whatever I like, I want you to take it and spend it as follows … It’s customary for you to bring back a present for your wife, so buy it with this. And with the change, buy Jewish books for your children.”
Four days before Chanukah, in 1982, Herschel was approached by two bochurim who asked him to build a menorah with all the details described in the Torah and especially with straight diagonal branches, as the Rebbe had recently explained that that is how the menorah in Bais Hamikdash appeared. After 10 days and two nights of hard work, it was done and the large gold-plated menorah is used in 770 every Chanukah until this day.
He is survived by his wife, Tzivia and children, Chana Hurwitz – Crown Heights, Devorah Shagalov – Florida, Moshe Pekkar – Florida and Yossi Pekkar – Mexico.
The levaya will take place on Friday, passing by 770 at 2:45 PM and continuing on to kevura at Old Montefiore Cemetery at 3:45 PM.
Shiva will be at 781 eastern Pkwy 2B.
10am-1pm and 3pm-8pm
Baruch Dayan Ha’emes.