The coronavirus pandemic claimed one more Jewish religious leader on Tuesday, with the announcement that a veteran aide to the late Lubavitcher Rebbe had passed away after contracting the disease.
Rabbi Leibel Groner — who served on the staff of the renowned late Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe — was 88 years old.
An obituary of the rabbi published by the Chabad Lubavitch movement on Wednesday noted that Groner was a direct descendant of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of Chabad Lubavitch. Born in Jerusalem, he began working with Rabbi Schneerson in 1949, footnoting, indexing and compiling religious texts for publication by the Kehot Publication Society.
According to the obituary, Rabbi Groner was “one of the aides who conveyed the Rebbe’s responses to countless people who had written to the Rebbe seeking his advice. He also acted as a gatekeeper to the Rebbe, managing his numerous appointments which often ran well past midnight. Rabbi Groner thus saw tens of thousands of individuals come for private meetings with the Rebbe.”
Groner’s funeral took place on Wednesday morning. Despite the streets being deserted because of coronavirus-related restrictions, the rabbi’s cortege first drove through Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood in tribute, with residents looking at the scene from the windows of their homes.