Since his unexpected death Sunday, Rabbi Eliezer Lipman (Lipa) Dubrawsky has been described as a teacher, a leader and most of all a friend.
Dubrawsky was only 56 at the time of his death, making his sudden passing that much more difficult for his family and widespread circle of friends in Vancouvers Jewish community and around the world.
Originally from Crown Heights, New York, Dubrawsky had been a teacher, lecturer and counsellor at Chabad Lubavitch of B.C., located at the corner of Oak Street and West 41st Avenue, for more than two decades. Dubrawskys longtime friend and student Michael Livan said the rabbi had an open-door attitude in both his teachings and personal life.
I attended his classes, said Livan. But the times I enjoyed the best were when my wife and I would sit down for a Sabbath meal with him. His one rule was that everyone had to be comfortable. I dont think we were ever there when there were less than 10 people at the table.
On Monday, a huge levaya (funeral) was held at Shomrei Hadas Chapel in Borough Park, a neighbourhood of Brooklyn New York, with hundreds in attendance. In Jewish tradition the dead must be buried within 24 hours, so after his passing Dubrawskys body was immediately flown to New York.
The levaya was attended by many shliach, or emissaries who leave their home to serve in locations around the world to teach Judaism, which was Dubrawskys calling. Livan said Dubrawsky was respected and loved not just in Vancouver but also around the world.
Everyone loved him because he was such a genuine person, said Livan. He loved righteousness and he was a righteous person. You cant say that about a lot of people today, even in religion.
Rabbi Shmulik Yeshayahu of the outreach centre Ohel Yaakov Community Kollel on Broadway said Dubrawsky led by example.
He was an example of dedicating your life to others, said Yeshayahu. He was dedicated to sharing his knowledge and wisdom.
Yeshayahu said Dubrawsky was an inspiration who believed in his calling, which was to bring the Jewish community together by spreading the word and teachings of Judaism.
He had a very soft and gentle personality so he was very easy to speak to, said Yeshayahu. That also made it very easy for people to confide in him.
Dubrawsky and his wife Dena Dubrawsky began their work in Kitsilano in the 1980s and the rabbi was soon known for his teachings of the Torah. Prior to that, Dubrawsky worked in the Rebbes Agudas Chasidei Chabad Library in Brooklyn.
Dubrawsky is survived by his wife Dena, their many children and grandchildren, his mother Asya Dubrawsky and several siblings. Dubrawsky is the son of the late writer R Hayshke Dubrawsky of Crown Heights, New York.
There was no word of a Vancouver levaya prior to the Couriers press deadline.