On Motzoei Shabbos, the Jewish community mourned the passing of Rabbi Abraham B. Hecht. He was 90 years old.
A devout Lubavitcher chassid from a well-known Lubavitch family, Rabbi Hecht was the beloved leader of Congregation Shaare Tzion, a Sephardic congregation, for five decades. He was also the long-serving president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, known as Igud Harabbanim.
“He was a man who wore many hats,” recalls Rabbi Pesach Lerner, vice president emeritus of the National Council of Young Israel and a second cousin of Rabbi Hecht. “He was Chacham of the Syrian community for over 50 years, a true talmid of numerous Lubavitcher Rebbes, and a mekurav of Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, former Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel.” The family relationship assisted in their professional relationship since the NCYI, under the leadership of Rabbi Lerner, and the Igud Harabbanim, under the leadership of Rabbi Hecht, often worked together on issues affecting Klal Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael.
“He wore the hat of concern for every Jew and every Torah cause,” says Rabbi Lerner. “He never backed off from saying and doing what he felt was the Torah way. He never let any of us forget our obligations to Klal Yisrael; and following the direction of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt”l, and Gedolim in Eretz Yisrael, he was a relentless fighter for kedushas Eretz Yisrael and a greater Eretz Yisrael.”
Rabbi Hecht was mechabed his colleagues, young and old. He had words of praise and encouragement for any rabbi he encountered; he was a “rabbi’s rabbi.”
“His guidance and enthusiasm will be missed,” said Rabbi Lerner.
“He was very well-liked and served his congregation with complete devotion,” remembers Rabbi Moshe Handelsman, assistant to the Rosh Yeshivah at Mir Yeshiva in Brooklyn, who knew Rabbi Hecht for 45 years.
“Every year, the Mirrer Yeshiva would have a fundraising drive in his shul. He was always very cooperative and received the Roshei Yeshivah with great respect. He was a true friend of mosdos haTorah.
“He was very much into kiruv, and he was very successful in being mekarev the Sephardic youth to adhere to mitzvos and maasim tovim and follow in the ways of their forefathers,” Rabbi Handelsman added.
Rabbi Hecht is survived by a family of true bnei Torah — Rabbi Eliyahu Hecht, Rabbi Yosef Hecht, Rabbi Aharon Hecht, Rabbi Yehoshua Hecht, Rabbi Yisroel Hecht, Mrs. Nechama Kantor, Mrs. Esther Kaplan, Mrs. Rochel Weinberg, Mrs. Shoshana Fasten, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A full tribute will appear, iy”H, appear in the weekly edition.
Yehi zichro baruch.