Rabbi Lipa Schapiro, a senior member of the Chabad-Lubavitch rabbinical committee, died at the age of 97.
Schapiro studied Jewish law in secret in the Soviet Union as a young man, following his teachers as his school moved from location to location to elude Communist authorities.
Following his marriage in 1937, Schapiro and his wife, Chana, moved to Leningrad, where he could more easily teach Torah and hide from the authorities. The rabbi’s Judaic teaching was discovered by the authorities and he spent three years in hiding, wandering from city to city, separated from his wife, who returned to her parents’ home.
Schapiro escaped from the German Army’s Great Siege of Leningrad, which began in September 1941. He spent two years searching for his wife and her family as they stayed ahead of the Nazis.
The Schapiros escaped from Russia at the end of World War II, finally landing in Paris. In 1953, they moved to the United States.
Though they had wanted to be close to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Schapiros were sent to Cleveland, Ohio, where Schapiro filled the Jewish community’s need for a shochet, or ritual slaughterer. He also taught students from the Telz Rabbinical College and organized classes in Chassidic thought.
The Schapiros left Cleveland when the rabbi was no longer able to continue in his position as shochet. In New York, he became the rabbi of the Empire Shtibel in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights and served as a member of the Central Committee of Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbis of the United States and Canada.
He died on Sunday.