Rabbi Mordechai Fachler z"l (1949-2010)
Rabbi of the Shomrei Hadath Synagogue (2000-2010)
Rabbi Mordechai Fachler was born on 5 February 1949. His parents were Eli and Chava Fachler, who arrived in Britain as teenage refugees from Germany in the months before World War II. From 1944 to 1971, the family lived in Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire, where Mordechai was born. Letchworth was a remarkable Jewish community that was also home to the Sassoon, Feuchtwanger, Schischa, Bornstein, Roth and Kirsch families. In 1971 the Fachlers moved to London and later, in 1990, to Jerusalem. When Eli and Chava married on their wartime kibbutz in Buckinghamshire, England, in 1944, they made a vow that they would rebuild the family shattered by the Holocaust ("The Vow - Rebuilding the Fachler Tribe after the Holocaust" by Yanky Fachler, Trafford Publishing, 2003). By any objective standards, they have fulfilled their vow. They had seven children (Yanky, David, Mordechai, Chaim, Melanie, Meir and Yossi), twenty-six grandchildren and over eighty great-grandchildren.
Rabbi Fachler was educated in the UK, graduating from Carmel College, before moving to Israel to study at the Be'er Yaakov Yeshiva and the Mir Kollel. He married Naomi Posen in 1969 and moved to South Africa with his young family in 1973 and, after studying in the Johannesburg Kollel Yad Shaul, he took up a series of rabbinical positions. In addition to being a learned and respected Torah scholar, a powerful orator and a tireless communal rabbi, Rabbi Fachler made his mark in the fields of education, counseling and mental health. He headed the Association of Jewish Principals, and he appeared frequently on TV, the radio and the press as a spokesperson for Judaism.
Rabbi Fachler was involved in the Waverley Crisis Centerís Emotional First Aid Station, and was one of the pioneers of the counseling hotline. He was a founding member of the Nechama volunteer group which dealt with bereaved families, and he gained a reputation as a gifted and much-sought-after bereavement counsellor. He trained and supervised generations of counsellors, and as part of his involvement with the Rabbinic Association, he also trained other rabbis in counseling.
After leaving Johannesburg for London, Rabbi Fachler was appointed acting head of Jewish Studies at Hasmonean Grammar School in 1998, before taking up his part-time post as Rabbi of the Shomrei Hadath Synagogue in 2000 (of which synagogue his parents had been members until moving to Israel). Under the energetic leadership of Rabbi and Mrs. Fachler, the community saw a large influx of new members, including young families.
Rabbi Fachler also served as senior consultant/counsellor at the London Clubhouse which catered for disaffected religious teens at risk. As one of the first to recognize the unique challenge of mental health interventions in a segment of the community where mental illness has tended to be stigmatized, Rabbi Fachler built a thriving private practice providing therapy within the ultra-orthodox and other communities. He worked with the Jewish Marriage Council, and he helped introduce the Prepare/Enrich programs into the community. Rabbi Fachler was blessed with a remarkable ability to feel othersí pain, to empathise with others, and to absorb another personís problems. He had a special rapport with the troubled spirit of children and teenagers.
Rabbi Mordechai Fachler had just completed his studies towards an MA in Psychotherapy in 2008 when he fell ill. After a two-and-a-half-year battle, he passed away on 23 of November 2010 at the age of 61 and is buried in Modiin, Israel. He is survived by his wife Naomi, his three sons Dovidi, Chily and Gaby, his ten grandchildren, his parents, his siblings, and by countless individuals who benefited from his unique brand of sensitivity and compassion.
In light of the late Rabbi Mordechai Fachler's pioneering work in recognizing the unique challenge of mental health interventions in an under-served segment of the community amongst whom mental illness and treatment have long been stigmatized, the Family Therapy Unit in the new Multi-discipline Community Mental Health Centre at Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Centre, Bnei Brak, Israel, has been named the Mordechai Fachler Family Therapy Unit.
JCR-UK is grateful to Rabbi Chaim Fachler
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