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A Tribute to Rabbi Zionce

I had the great opportunity to work with Rabbi Chezi Zionce for much of his tenure at Beit Rayim Synagogue.  He was my rabbi, mentor and friend.

The rabbi, better known as Chezi to many, started with us six years ago when we were struggling with a declining membership of 180 families.  Rabbi Zionce was a game changer for Beit Rayim.  Within two to three years he more than doubled our membership and quadrupled our synagogue attendance.  He achieved this by infusing energy, humour and fun into shul services. His passion for Torah, Israel and Judaism in general was infectious. Rabbi Zionce had a unique style with the ability of bridging traditions of generations gone-by with the modern-day world of Judaism.  His sense of humour was unparalleled.  Rabbi Zionce was far from bashful with a strong opinion…on any subject matter.  He was warm and personable which he demonstrated by frequently getting up from his chair at services to greet attendees.  He would never miss personally welcoming a new person to our community. 

Beit Rayim members benefited from the rabbi’s deep knowledge of  Torah and his sermons.  The rabbi had an abundance of compassion and empathy for others. Even  after his recent heart attack, with severe physical limitations, he insisted on performing two funerals for our members.  The affected families were highly appreciative for Rabbi Zionce going above and beyond during their time of crisis.

Rabbi Zionce was a good fit for Beit Rayim and Beit Rayim was a good fit for Rabbi Zionce.  Beit Rayim members loved their rabbi and he loved us.  He had confided that Beit Rayim had given him a second chance at life.  Rabbi Zionce was proud of the relationship and role he played in helping strengthen the Beit Rayim Kehillah.

I will miss the rabbi “interjecting” during my announcements from the bimah, his reminders of “Wake up Jewish People!”, his repeated requests to increase our voices when responding “L’chaim” at kiddushes and many more of his well-known quips.

The passing of Rabbi Zionce is tragic for his family, friends and members of Beit Rayim.

He will be missed by so many. 

תהא נשמתו ומחותלים בצרור החיים הנצחיים

May his soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life


Irv Siegel



Wed, 24 July 2024 18 Tammuz 5784