Tzemach Yehudah Richter

A Special Tribute To The Late Rabbi Tzemach Cunin Of Los Angeles

If one picture says a thousand words, then after what Rabbi Cunin and the whole Chabad Community have experienced these past few months no words can express.This picture shows both Rabbi Cunin and Rabbi Feller with other Chabad Shaliachs at the White House in 1984 presenting President Reagan with a Menorah


Like most of you, I also did not know Rabbi Tzemach Cunin, who passed away on Beit Tammuz, and for the first time watched his father speak during Lori Kaye’s funeral.  But there were many people who were touched by Tzemach’s kindness and willingness to help his fellow Jew whenever he could. I have gathered a few comments from those many people who did know him, which appear below-

Jeff wrote:

I will never forget the night Rabbi Cunin invited me in for Shabbos dinner.

I had moved to a big city for the first time and I was having a very rough time just getting by day to day. I also had had a night where someone had been very harsh with me. I’ll never forget, I was crying on a street corner in the rain, thinking of jumping in my car and driving back to my hometown that night. Rabbi Cunin was walking out in the rain and he invited me to walk with me. He didn’t ask me anything about who I was or what was wrong. He didn’t even say where we were going. He just brought me into his home and made everything feel like it was going to be ok.

You meet people along the way in life who are so good that you feel like they could live forever. He was one of them. That was the only time I met him, if I knew he was going to be gone this soon, I wish I would have seen him again. It’s time like this that the world can really feel unjust. May G-d bless his family in a tremendous hardship and may his memory be for a blessing.


Eric Golub wrote:

I did not know Rabbi Tzemach Cunin that well. His brothers Mendy (Chabad Larchmont) and Chaim (Chabad Westwood) have been friends of mine for over 25 years. I just put on Tefillin with Chaim a couple days ago.

The father of this family, Rabbi Shlomo Cunin is a legend in Chabad circles. He is the one who puts on the Chabad Telethon every year.

The Cunin family has brought so much joy to so many people for so long. In fact, a young man with the same name of Tzemach Cunin (Mendy’s son) just got engaged a few days ago.

May Hashem shine his light on this wonderful family during this most awful of times.

God bless them all, and God bless the Chabad Century City community. May we all have a peaceful Shabbos.

Eric Golub


I am in shock…I just saw Tzemach at a Chasunah a couple weeks ago in NY, and a couple weeks before that in Shul on a visit to Los Angeles. He came from an illustrious family, and he could have felt above others, but he was the exact opposite. He loved to talk to people, with so much warmth, and kindness making one feel they were above him. The truth is he was the one who was above and beyond.

A tragic loss for his parents, wife, siblings, children, and in laws, and also for his Chabad House community, and anyone who ever met him or could have met him.

I was fortunate to know him a little, and to spent time schmoozing with him, and I will forever cherish those special moments. I already miss him, and I know that my next work trip to LA will not be the same – it will be without the smiling face and the warm and friendly schmooze with a very humble but giant of a Yid and Shliach.

Tzemach, On one of my trips last year you told me how you were working vigorously to save a Jew from Cremation Chas V’Shalom. I know this may be a lot to ask, but wherever you are now, please put in the same and even more effort to get us all out of Golus NOW…before Gimmel Tammuz .

May we all be Zoche, especially your parents, your wife and children, to celebrate together with you the Geulah Shleima even before Shabbos!


During Lori Kaye’s funeral, Tzemach’s father wanted to give a message to the world that they should now act as Kaye’s arms and legs, and do mitzvot and good deeds in her name.

Though her soul remains whole, as it was before, “she won’t have an arm to light Shabbat candles,” said Cunin. “So I say to all of you ladies and girls, light those Shabbat candles … and when you do, close your eyes and say ‘Lori, I am doing this for you … ’”

I was not at Tzemach’s funeral but can imagine that Tzemach’s father would want to give the same message to all the boys and men, to put on those Tefillin and after you say your brachas, just to add : Tzemach, I am doing this for you.

The name Tzemach means sprout or plant. My paternal grandfather’s English name was Sam, but his Hebrew name was Tzemach, who I am named after.

The Rebbe always said that Tzemach was one of the names of Moshiach, It is interesting to read  that Rabbi Shlomo Cunin’s son Mendy also has a son named Tzemach who is expected to be married soon.

But here in Israel, many Israeli’s would not consider naming their children Tzemach, because in modern Hebrew a person who suffered from the same condition as Ariel Sharon, is referred to as a Tzemach. I find that hard to understand how a name of Moshiach can have such a negative connotation here in Israel. And therefore I always prefer to look at my name as having a positive connotation which the Rebbe clearly has said.

I have a good friend who I met in South Africa named Tzemach Mendelow. He and his wife Mendelle have always been very welcoming, especially when I landed in South Africa five days before my wedding. Tzemach worked in his father’s office as a lawyer and when I arrived Tzemach and his father had prepared papers for me to sign which complied with all South African legal documents I required before getting married.

I am forever grateful for all the help he and so many other South Africans gave me when I was first married. The Chabad Community in South Africa were very welcoming and I must give them a special thanks for all they have done for me and all fellow Jews.

Oh yes, I did not mention that Tzemach’s English name is Charles. So here we have the only Tzemach I met in South Africa whose name was the same as the one associated with the Richter Scale. And to the best of my knowledge, Charles Richter was not Jewish. Further proof, that English and Hebrew names don’t always correspond.

Despite all the Emunah and Betochen one has in Hashem, I still find it hard to believe that a person with the name of Moshiach, and from such as well known family as the Cunins, would be taken away from us so soon, so unexpectedly.

But we all must accept that Hashem runs the world, and its Hashem who is the master planner. Although we don’t understand why many things happen and when they happen, our Emunah and Betochen dictate  that we must do our part to perform Mitzvahs and help our fellow human being to bring Moshiach speedily in our days.

May the Cunin family be comforted amongst the mourners of Tzion and Yerushalaim.


About the Author
Born and raised in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park. Married to a South African, we lived in Johannesburg from 1979 to 1996. Made Aliyah with our seven children on Parshat Lech Lecha. BSB Accounting Degree from the University of Minnesota. Investment Portfolio Manager /Fundamental And Technical Analyst. Wrote in-depth research on companies, markets, commodities for leading financial publications. Served in the US Army Reserves Semi Retired spending quality time with my wife, children, grandchildren and attend Kollel while analyzing current events as they relate to Torah and Mitzvahs.
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