Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson

Chaya Mushka (Moussia) Schneerson (March 16, 1901 – February 10, 1988), referred to by Lubavitchers as The Rebbetzin, was the wife of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the seventh and last Rebbe (spiritual leader) of the Chabad-Lubavitch branch of Hasidic Judaism

Born: March 16, 1901 Russia
Died: New York, 1988

Chaya Mushka (Moussia) Schneerson (March 16, 1901 – February 10, 1988), referred to by Lubavitchers as The Rebbetzin, was the wife of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the seventh and last Rebbe (spiritual leader) of the Chabad-Lubavitch branch of Hasidic Judaism. She was the second of three daughters of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn. She was named after the wife of the third Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn.

Rebbitzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson's gravesite
Born in Babinovitch, near the Russian city of Lubavitch on Shabbat, the 25th of Adar of the year 5661 (March 16, 1901). Upon request of her grandfather, Rabbi Sholom Dovber Schneersohn, she was named Chaya Mushka after her great grandmother, the wife of the Tzemach Tzedek. She lived in Lubavitch until the autumn of 1915 when due to World War I, she and her family were forced to flee to Rostov. In 1920, on the passing of her grandfather, the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom Dovber Schneersohn, her father became the sixth Rebbe of Lubavitch. In the spring of 1924, due to increasing dangers for the Jews in Rostov, she and her family moved to Leningrad. In the autumn of 1927 her father was imprisoned for disseminating Torah observance, and she participated in efforts to have him released that were ultimately successful. Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak’s harsh sentence was first commuted to exile,[2] and Chaya Mushka accompanied her father to Kostroma.[3] After his release, the Schneersohn family left the Soviet Union and moved to Riga, Latvia.

In 1928 she married Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson in Warsaw, and they went to live in Berlin, Germany, where he studied in the local University. After the Nazis came to power in 1933 they fled to Paris, France. When the Nazis invaded France in 1940 they managed to escape from France on the Serpa Pinto, which was the last passenger ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean before the U-boat blockade began. They settled in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York, where many Lubavitcher Hasidim had already settled. However, her younger sister Shaina Horenstein and Shaina's husband, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Horenstein, were trapped in Poland and murdered by the Germans in the gas chambers of Treblinka.

In 1950 her father died. According to the Chabad biography, Rabbi Menachem Mendel initially did not want to take on the mantle of leadership, but Chaya Mushka (along with many of her father's Hasidim) persistently urged him to reconsider, and in 1951 he was formally appointed as the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Chaya Mushka had no children, however once, when a child visiting her house asked her, "Where are your children?" she answered, "The Chassidim are my children."

She saw her role as wholly subordinate to her husband's mission of Jewish leadership. In public, she always referred to him as "the Rebbe." When she relayed an answer from him to those seeking his guidance, she always repeated his exact wording and made sure that the listener knew it, invariably refusing either to interpret or elaborate upon his advice. She resisted efforts among the Lubavitchers to bestow public honors on her.

During the court case held against her husband over ownership of the Chabad Library, Chaya Mushka testified for the federal court, saying, "My father, along with all his books, belong to the Chassidim."

Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka passed away on February 10, 1988, 22nd of Shevat, 5748, after a brief illness, and was buried in the Old Montefiore Cemetery in Queens, New York, next to her mother, Rebbetzin Nechama Dina, and grandmother, Rebbetzin Shterna Sarah, and near her father.

Soon after her death, her husband founded a charitable organization in her name. The organization, Keren Ha'Chomesh (Chomesh is an acronym of Chaya Mushka Schneerson), serves a variety of causes, primarily those related to women's religious, social and educational programs. A campus of the Bais Rivka girls' school ("Campus Chomesh") was also named in her memory, as were many other institutions. After her death, when the Rebbe was asked about the extent of the Rebbetzin's greatness, he remarked, "Only Hashem knows."

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