Remembering Australia’s “Chief Rabbi”

By staff

Rabbi Schneur Chaim Hacohen Gutnick passed away on this day in 5764/2003.

Born to Rabbi Mordechai Zev Gutnick, a talmid of Tomchei Tmimim in Lubavitch and a shliach of the Rebbe Rashab to the Republic of Georgia. Later the Gutnicks moved to Eretz Yisroel and then to London. Young Chaim lost his father at a very young age; Reb Mordechai Zev had been out in the cold and rain trying to dissuade Jews from doing business on Shabbos. He got very sick and passed away on Yud-Tes Kislev, 5692/1931, at the young age of 35.

As a bochur Chaim studied in the Schneider’s Yeshiva in London, as well as in the Telzer Yeshiva in Lithuania. His mother remarried Rav Osher Abramson and the family settled in Sydney, Australia after the war. The Gutnicks maintained their connection to the Frierdiker Rebbe, who advised them to stay in Australia and work to help spread Yiddishkeit.

Rabbi Gutnick served as rov of the Elwood Talmud Torah Hebrew Congregation for over 45 years. Shortly before his passing, he retired. The Australian Jewish News then said that “in many ways, Rabbi Gutnick is the unofficial Chief Rabbi of Australia.”

Rabbi Gutnick merited to have very long yechidusen with the Rebbe, who sent Rabbi Gutnick on many shlichusen all over Australia and its environs.

He passed away on 29 Tishrei, 5764/2003.

Photos: courtesy of JEM

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