Rabbi Menachem Mendel Deitsch, who served as a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in France and Israel, passed away last Shabbat in Jerusalem as the result of injuries sustained last October in an anti-Semitic attack in Ukraine. He was 64 years old.
Deitsch had been active in strengthening Jewish life in the former Soviet Union for many years, and was a central organizer of hospitality and programming at the burial site of Chabad’s founder, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, in Haditch, Ukraine. He was attacked at the central train station in the city of Zhitomir after spending Rosh Hashanah in Haditch.
The rabbi was discovered the morning after the attack and was admitted to the intensive-care unit at a regional hospital, where he was diagnosed with multiple head injuries and brain trauma.
Deitsch underwent emergency surgery in Zhitomir while the victim’s family in Israel urgently worked with the Israeli government and emergency-services organizations in Jerusalem to arrange an airlift to Tel Hashomer hospital in Ramat Gan.
Later that month, it was reported that the police in Ukraine arrested four suspects for the brutal beating and robbery.
According to local press reports, two men and two women from the Carpathian Mountains region attacked Deitsch, 63, near the central train station in Zhitomir on the night of Oct. 6, or in the early hours of Oct. 7. They then fled the city with the rabbi’s cell phone and cash, leaving him bleeding and unconscious under a bridge near the station. The suspects returned to the city a week after the attack.
The rabbi had been in a coma since the time of the attack, and his condition began to deteriorate in recent weeks.
He is survived by his wife, Shterna Sara; and their children, Menouha Friedland, Aubervilliers, France; Rabbi Shnieur Zalman Deitsch, Minsk, Russia; Mrs. Chana Appelbaum, Migdal HaEmek, Israel; R’ Yisroel Deitsch, Jerusalem; R’ Levi Yitzchok Deitsch, Jerusalem, Yehudis Fradkin, Rechovot, Israel; R’ Yosef Eliyahu Deitsch, Krayot, Israel; and Shlomo Yehuda, Shmuel, Yocheved and Dovber.
He is also survived by his brothers: Rabbi Chaim Sholom Deitsch; Rabbi Shneur Zalman Deitsch; and Rabbi Moshe Deitsch.
The funeral took place on Sunday in Jerusalem.