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Stuck in a Cab With Reb Dovid

How did Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky find himself stuck in a taxi? What were the 2 questions Rabbi Dovid Raskin OBM would ask his grandchildren? Anecdotes told at the Shloshim event.

By COLlive reporter
Photos by Yossi Percia and S. Tevel

Some 300 Chassidim and bochurim attended a Shloshim memorial gathering two weeks ago for Rabbi Dovid Raskin, a legendary Chossid and activist who passed away at the age of 84.

Held at the Kollel of Crown Heights, it was MC’d by Rabbi Shmuel Butman, who worked under him at Lubavitch Youth Organization (Tzach), and noted Rabbi Raskin’s calm and effective approach in work.

His son Rabbi Yitzchok Raskin of Crown Heights made a siyum in his honor.

Other speakers were: Rabbi Abraham Shemtov, Chairman of Agudas Chassidei Chabad International; The Rebbe’s choizer Rabbi Yoel Kahn, Badatz member Rabbi Avrohom Osdoba, Tzach member Rabbi Pesach Goldman and Nochie Gross, who spoke about his father Reb Eli‘s connection with Rabbi Raskin.

TAXI DILEMMA

One of the many interesting stories told during the event was heard from Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Vice Chairman of Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch.

He recalled how, as a bochur, he asked to share a cab with Rabbi Raskin to his parents’ home.

“Reb Dovid told the taxi driver to stop at 770 and I figured he needed to get something from his office. When we arrived at Eastern Parkway, Reb Dovid signaled to me to get out of the car.

“I told him that I needed to go home, but he said I should leave. And this conversation went back and forth until I specified I needed to go to Carroll Street. He then told me: 770 is your home. If you want to visit your parents, that’s another thing.”

FOOD FOR BODY & SOUL

Rabbi Raskin’s grandson, Yankee Pearson, recalled the period after his mother, Chaya Mushka OBM, was critically wounded in a car accident.

“The doctors gave up and said that since she has no chance of survival, my grandfather should sign a form to donate her organs to science. By then she was 12 weeks in a coma.

“Instead, my grandfather took the form and signed her over to the Rebbe. Soon enough she opened her eyes and lived for another 30 years and had 6 children, including me.

Pearson highlighted his grandfather’s dedication to family all while being at the helm of Lubavitch Youth Organization (Tzach) and Yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim Lubavitch of 770 Eastern Parkway.

In addition, Rabbi Raskin sat on the committees of the umbrella Agudas Chassidei Chabad International, Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch, Machne Israel Development Fund, Associated Beth Rivkah Schools in New York and Vaad L’hafotzas Sichos.

“With all his jobs and responsibilities, he had never made us, his grandchildren, a second priority and we were never a burden,” said Pearson, who grew up in Philadelphia and lives now in Crown Heights.

“He always traveled to Philadelphia to family simches, would come to Parksville to visit us in Camp Gan Israel and would take us along to meetings and events.

“Whenever grandchildren would come visit, he would first check if we had eaten, and would go on to prepare food for us or give us money to buy. His second inquiry when he saw us was, did we learn Chitas and Rambam today.”

SERVING THE REBBE’S FATHER

Another speaker was Rabbi Yitzchok Raskin, Chabad Shliach in Vermont, who spoke about the close friendship and mutual appreciation of his father Rabbi Leibel Raskin, the Shliach in Morocco, and Reb Dovid.

He also told of the two brothers’ connection with the Rebbe’s family while in exile in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where they put on Tefillin with the mekubal Reb Levik Schneerson in the weeks before his passing.

Reb Dovid would personally prepare the Lulav and Esrog for Rebbetzin Chana and RebbetzinChaya Mushka, his nephew said.

“Even after their passing the Rebbe instructed him to keep preparing a Lulav and Esrog and commented once, ‘your name is Dovid – you are connected to Dovid Malcha Meshicha.”