THE Jewish community is mourning Rebbetzin Devorah Groner, who passed away on Sunday at the age of 92.
The wife of the late Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Groner, was born in Russia in 1926, and as a child, migrated to the US, where her parents fostered Chassidic Judaism.
Rabbi Shimshon Yurkowicz told The AJN his late mother-in-law “was a very modest, dedicated, devoted shlucha [emissary]. She was sent from New York to Australia, which was very far and very difficult”.
“Her husband had a very high profile in the community and she was the woman behind the scenes who was always there.
“She always had a smile on her face, her home was open, she had guests every Shabbos,” he said.
The rebbetzin’s granddaughter Chana Slavin recalled “a lot of home visitors, guests living in their house for months at a time – people going through troubles, people who had just moved here, needing somewhere to stay”.
“She was a very religious woman but she had no judgment of anyone else and no expectations of anyone else. She always saw the good in people,” recalled Slavin.
Rabbi Groner initially visited Australia from the US in 1947 and Rebbetzin Groner and their children arrived in Melbourne in 1958 to develop the fledgling Chabad community.
Her gentle persuasion helped her husband commit to a long-term leadership role in Australia, after “a strong letter encouraging her” from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, said Slavin. (The letter has become a classic reference for inspiring the work of Chabad emissaries).
The Groners would ultimately make Australia home for the rest of their lives, leaving an indelible stamp on their movement. Rabbi Groner passed away in 2008.
On behalf of Yeshivah-Beth Rivkah Colleges (YBR), Chabad Institutions of Victoria and the Yeshivah Centre, Jeremy Gold, YBR COO, said Rebbetzin Groner “will be sorely missed by her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and the entire Yeshivah community in Melbourne. She leaves behind a tremendous legacy, not only to the Chabad community, but to the wider Melbourne Jewish community”.
Rebbetzin Groner is survived by her Melbourne children Miriam Telsner, Rabbi Yossi Groner, Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Groner, Rivkah Yurkowicz, and Rabbi Mendy Groner, as well as children in New York and South Africa, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A funeral was conducted in Melbourne on Sunday, however Rebbetzin Groner will be laid to rest next to her late husband on Har Hazeitim (Mount of Olives) in Jerusalem.