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Mayer Rivkin

Mayer Rivkin

Mayer was born in Paris, France, to a family of Chabad Chasidim that had recently managed to escape from the Soviet Union. Both sides of his family are of distinguished ancestry. His father, Reb Elchonon Rivkin, of blessed memory, was a descendant of Rabbi Mordechai Pevzner, brother of the Alter Rebbe, founder of Chabad-Lubavitch, who were direct descendants in the male line from the renowned MaHaRaL, Rabbi Yehuda Liva (Loewe), of Prague. His mother, may she live and be well, is a granddaughter of the outstanding Chossid, Rabbi Mayer Simcha Chein of Nevel (after whom Mayer is named). Both distinguished families are known to descend from the royal house of King David. When he was a small child, the family moved to New York, and Mayer grew up in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, close to the Rebbe's shul. He was present at most of the Rebbe's farbrengens, and the Rebbe's dynamic personality and powerful message for today's generation left a profound impression upon his life. To this day Mayer lives with the Rebbe's spiritual presence as absorbed at those farbrengens.

From an early age, Mayer showed a keen ability to master Chassidic melodies with his strong, sweet, heartfelt voice. During the summer months, at bungalow colonies in the Catskills, it was a common sight to see Jews at the colony gathering beneath the Rivkins' windows to hear Mayer and his father singing Shabbos z'miros (table hymns) and the songs he had learned at Camp Gan Israel as a camper. As a youngster, Mayer sang on a number of the official Lubavitch recordings (issued by Nichoach, "Niggunei Chassidei Chabad" - "melodies of the Chabad Chassidim") including several solos. Later, as head life guard at Camp Gan Israel in Detroit Michigan, Morristown, NJ, and Parksville, NY, Mayer would often be seen playing the guitar, participating and leading the singing during the Shabbos z'miros and “color war” song presentations. During his tenure at Camp Gan Israel in Parksville NY, he went on to become the first Labavitcher Water Safety Instructor licensed & accredited by the American Red Cross, teaching water safety and life saving courses to many campers and staff members.

During his teens, Mayer often participated in “tzach peulos” — visits by Lubavitcher Chassidim to youth groups and college campuses, where he lectured, sang and explained the origins and significance of Chabad melodies, along with other Chassidic concepts. In the early 1970's, Mayer launched and served as senior editor of The Uforatzto Journal, published by Lubavitch Youth Organization. Issued until well into the 1980's, this was the first professional quality magazine of Chabad-Lubavitch. Its attractive format and colorful pages and content brought the movement's rich history, ideals and manifold activities to a far wider public than had ever been reached before. It set the standard for all Chabad magazines and periodicals appearing since then around the world in a multitude of languages. After several years as a jeweler, Mayer became a builder and developer of properties in areas such as Kings Point, NY, the Five Towns in Long Island, Borough Park, Brooklyn, and New York City. He has built homes for such personalities as Avrohom Fried, the famed Chasidic singer, and wine maker Joseph Zakon of Keser Wines. He has done major renovation work for developer Shaya Boymelgreen and Meyer Eichler of Eichlers Judaica and Liberty Pointe Bank.

Mayer takes great pride in the shuls he has built in Queens and Brooklyn. He is especially proud of his involvement in the new building of the Shluchim Office, the center for Chabad-Lubavitch representatives worldwide, and in the major renovation of the central Lubavitch shul - the Rebbe's shul - and Lubavitch World Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway, Crown Heights, Brooklyn. His crowning achievements as a builder are the magnificent 120,000 square foot Campus Chomesh of Beth Rivkah Girls School Lubavitch , and the over 70,000 square foot dormitory and dining facilities building of the Central Lubavitcher Yeshivah, both in Crown Heights.

In 2002, Mayer moved with his family to Bay Harbor Islands, Florida. As an occasional chazan and baal tefila (leader of the prayers) at The Shul of Bal Harbor, he inspires many with his sweet, heartfelt rendi