The large Chabad-Lubavitch community in France lost an icon Monday with the passing of its first and most important female leader, Rebetzin Bassie Azimov. Described as Chabad's “head shlucha (female emissary) of France,” the wife of emissary Rabbi Shmuel Azimov died Monday morning in Paris.
Rebetzin Azimov came from a renowned rabbinical background; she was the daughter of the famed Rabbi Benzion Shemtov, and is the sister of Rabbis Avraham Shemtov, head Chabad-Lubavitch emissary to Philadelphia, and Rabbi Israel Shemtov of Crown Heights.
All three of her children – Rabbi Mendel Azimov, Mrs. Esther Marasov and Rabbi Levi Azimov – are Chabad emissaries in Paris as well. Her nephew, Rabbi Chaim Hillel Azimov, is an emissary to Cyprus.
Azimov was particularly known for her skill at bringing Jews back to their religious and cultural roots and was instrumental in helping literally thousands of Jews find their way back to their Jewish heritage. The rebetzin also helped establish more than 70 Chabad Houses and institutions during her lifetime, and was very close to the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson and his late wife, Rebetzin Chaya Mushka.
She is survived by her husband, their children and grandchildren.
The funeral was scheduled to set out from her home in Paris on Monday morning and to pass by the educational institution of Beth Chaya Mushka before proceeding to the airport, where her body will be flown to Israel for interment on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. May her memory be for a blessing.