With great sadness we inform you of the passing of Rabbi Shlomo Schwartz, OBM, AKA “Schwartzie,” a well-known and beloved rabbi, entertainer, inspirational speaker and founder of the Los Angeles-based Chai Center. He was 71 years old.
Schwartzie, a product of a Chabad yeshiva and a devoted follower of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s teachings, ventured where no rabbi has gone before. A onetime bongo-thumping Greenwich Village beatnik, he frequents rock concerts — flowing beard, yarmulke, Mickey Mouse suspenders and all — and will on occasion lace a wedding ceremony with lyrics from the Grateful Dead’s repertoire.
Born in Atlantic City, NJ, he was the son of a “Conservadox” cantor, who had fled Vienna in 1939. Schwartz found his natural calling at UCLA’s Chabad House, the first of its kind at any American university.
He quickly became a highly visible campus figure, setting up his stand on the main student thoroughfare. “I could identify nine out of 10 students as Jews just by their looks,” Schwartzie once quoted as saying in a news article. “The other one was either Armenian or Italian.”
Schwartzie always had the last word. “I’ve been called a Reform Chassid and God’s court jester, but whatever the label, I do believe that to bring Jews back into the fold one must serve God with joy.”
He is survived by his wife, Olivia, and children: Chana (Los Angeles, CA), Shalom Yishaya (Crown Heights), Rivka Sara Chein (Crown Heights), Mayshe Schwartz (Brookline, MA), Hindel Swerdlov (Jerusalem, Israel), Mendel Schwartz (Los Angeles, CA), Nechama Dina Schallman (LA), Yosef Schwartz (Miami, FL), Aura Rosenblatt (Los Angeles, CA), Shmuel Asher Schwartz (Los Angeles, CA), Berry Schwartz (Crown Heights) and Cobi Schwartz (Los Angeles, CA).
Levaya information will be posted when it is announced.
Boruch Dayan Hoemes