he world lost one of the brightest lights of our generation to heaven Feb. 8 with the passing of Rabbi Shlomo Schwartz, better known as “Schwartzie.”
Schwartzie wasn’t just a rabbi; he was one of the greatest teachers, mystics and human beings that have been blessed to walk this world in the last century.
Recognized around the globe by tens of thousands of people whom he had directly influenced, he is known by Jews everywhere. His joy, wisdom and love affected more people than can be imagined.
As David Suissa, president of The Jewish Journal, so eloquently said, “We can only thank God that everybody has a Schwartzie story.”
Through his teachings, classes and the amazing events he led around the world, his presence seemed to be everywhere. His Chai Center reached out to Jews in creative and inspiring ways: At Shabbats; at the Cannes and Sundance film festivals; at dinners for 60 strangers at his home, where he would introduce young singles to each other; at his Purim celebrations at The Laugh Factory, or on Venice Beach, where he would sit inviting Jews to learn “Jewish astrology.” There was always a story that each person would have after spending time with him.
I first met Schwartzie in the mid-1970s a few years after he came to Los Angeles to join Rabbi Shlomo Cunin in founding the first Chabad House in the nation at UCLA. I was at Camp Hess Kramer, and this red-bearded Orthodox rabbi came and spoke to us about Hasidic Judaism. I still remember him singing, “Puff, the kosher dragon, lives at Chabad House.” His joy was infectious, and it was clear he truly cared deeply about every one of us there. continue...