Rabbi Yehuda Yaakov Refson

Rabbi Yehuda Yaakov Refson was remembered as being "devoted, caring and principled."(Courtesy of Chabad.org)

(JTA) — Rabbi Yehuda Yaakov Refson has been a vital part of the Jewish community in the British city of Leeds for more than four decades, earning a reputation for being “devoted, caring and principled.”

On Sunday, Refson died of the coronavirus, The Jewish Chronicle reported. He was 73.

Refson was the seniormost emissary of the Chabad movement in Leeds and headed the regional rabbinical court since 1976.

Only a handful of close relatives will be allowed to attend his funeral.

British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis wrote in a statement that “it has been my privilege to work with this outstanding scholar and educator.” Mirvis called Refson the “devoted, caring and principled head of the Leeds Jewish community,” which has a few hundred members.

Refson, a native of Sunderland in the United Kingdom, was the rabbi of the Shomrei Hadass Synagogue and the co-director of the Leeds Menorah School.

As of Tuesday, the death toll from COVID-19 in the United Kingdom was 422.