Rabbi Abraham B. Hecht, an Ashkenazi who led a Sephardic congregation and was also closely affiliated with the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, died Saturday night at 90. He was a passionate advocate of traditional Torah values and strict interpretation of halacha.
Rabbi Hecht was leader of Congregation Shaare Zion in Midwood, Brooklyn for over 50 years and rabbi emeritus of that congregation at the time of his death. He was also the longtime president of the Rabbinical Alliance, founded in 1942, which now has 900 members who are “religious teachers, chaplains, heads of Jewish organizations and communal leaders united in their commitment to traditional Orthodox Judaism,” according to its Web site.
Rabbi Hecht and his brother, Rabbi Jacob J. Hecht, who died in 1990 were part of a dynasty that was and remains deeply involved in the Crown Heights-based Chabad movement and were closely tied to the late Lubavitcher rebbe, Menachem Schneerson.
According to the Lubavitch site COLlive, Rabbi Hecht served as a Chabad emissary in Boston, Buffalo, Newark and New Haven.
In November, 1995, following the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, Rabbi Hecht was placed on leave from Shaare Zion because of comments he had earlier made that seemed to endorse such a killing, saying “that by handing over Israeli land and property, Israeli leaders are betraying Jews to non-Jews.”
The rabbi insisted his comments were taken out of context by reporters and that he was referring only to Biblical times. Last April, members of the congregation apologized to Rabbi Hecht for the congregation’s response to the incident, according to Arutz Sheva.
Rabbi Hecht is survived by nine children and their families and his brother, Shalom. His funeral took place Sunday morning at Shomrei Hadas chapel in Borough Park.