Rabbi Mordechai Fachler (1949-2010)

Rabbi Mordechai Fachler was born and educated in the UK before moving to Israel to study at the Be'er Yaakov Yeshiva and the Mir Kollel. He married Naomi Posen in 1969, and in 1972 was asked to be part of the Kollel Yad Shaul in Johannesburg, South Africa. He subsequently held several high-profile rabbinical positions. In addition to being a highly respected Torah scholar, a powerful orator and a tireless communal rabbi, Rabbi Fachler made his mark in the fields of education, counselling and mental health. He was Dean of the Yeshiva College girls high school and head of the Association of Jewish Principals, and he appeared frequently in the print and electronic media as a spokesperson for Judaism.

Rabbi Fachler was involved in the Waverley Crisis Centre's Emotional First Aid Station, and was one of the pioneers of the counselling hotline. He was a founding member of the Nechama volunteer group which dealt with bereaved families, he was director of Yad Ezra, 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 counselling.

In the late 1990s, Rabbi Fachler left Johannesburg for London, and in 2000 he was appointed Rabbi of Shomrei Hadath Synagogue in West Hampstead. He served as senior consultant/counsellor at the London Clubhouse, where he established a special rapport with the troubled spirit of disaffected children and teenagers 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. He was blessed with a remarkable ability to feel others' pain, to empathise with others, and to absorb another person's problems.

Just after he completed his studies towards an MA in Psychotherapy, Rabbi Fachler fell ill. After a two-and-a-half-year battle, he passed away on the 23rd of November 2010 at the age of 61. He is survived by his wife Naomi, his three sons Dovidi, Chily and Gaby, his grandchildren, his parents, his siblings, and by countless individuals who benefited from his unique brand of sensitivity and compassion.

For further information on Rabbi Fachler, please click on rabbifachler.blogspot.com