Thousands of mourners attended the funeral of Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, a leading light of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement last week (June 5).

Vice chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, Chabad’s educational arm, and chairman of the International Conference of Shluchim, Rabbi Kotlarsky, 74, passed away after a long illness on June 4.

A pioneer of Jewish life, Rabbi Kotlarksky was spearheaded Chabad’s global reach with 6,000 emissary couples in over 100 countries.

Renowned for extolling the messages from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M Schneerson, his passion to develop initiatives are longstanding.

The funeral procession began at Rabbi Kotlarsky’s home Brooklyn close to the Chabad headquarters to the Old Montefiore Cemetery in Cambria Heights, Queens. He was laid to rest near the Ohel of the Rebbe. Tens of thousands streamed the procession online via live broadcast.

Kotlarsky was emcee at the annual conference in New York City. In 2023, 6,500 emissaries attended.

Rabbi Kotlarsky was born on May 29, 1949 in Brooklyn to Holocaust survivors from Poland, Rabbi Tzvi Yosef and Golda Kotlarsky. His father studied at Yeshivat Chachmei Lublin then Tomchei Temimim-Lubavitch in Warsaw and Otwock before escaping.

Rabbi Kotlarsky was raised in Crown Heights and attended yeshivah in New York and Montreal. An advocate of the Rebbe’s mitzvah campaigns, following his marriage to Rivka Kazen, his work at the Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch began in the 1970s and continued to throughout his life.

Rivka was active with the Rebbe’s mitvah campaigns and the Kotlarsky’s were renowned for welcoming visitors around the world.

During his travels Rabbi Kotlarsky advised communities on strengthening yiddishkite.

He expanded Chabad’s students programming during the summer with initiatives, helped found Chabad on Campus International and the Rohr Jewish Learning Centre, chairing both,

Initiatives included CTeen, CKids, Chabad Young Professionals and Chabad on Call.

During his annual report on Chabad’s recent expansion he said: “We know we have a great deal of work still ahead,” he said. “The Rebbe once said, you could have 1,000 people in your community. If only 999 have been touched and one wasn’t … the mission has not yet been accomplished.”

He is survived by his wife, Rivka, nine children Chanie Wolowik (Woodmere, N.Y.), Rabbi Mayer Kotlarsky (Boca Raton, Fla.), Sarah Benjaminson (Glenview, Ill.), Nechama Greenberg (Vista, Calif.), Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Rabbi Sruly Kotlarsky (Lafayette Hill, Penn.), Rabbi Levi Kotlarsky (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Rabbi Dovid Kotlarsky (Chicago, Ill.), Goldie Perlstein (Gainesville, Virg.), grandchildren and great-grandchildren.