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Farewell to dear friends

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In the recent days we offered farewell wishes to two dear friends, who left our community in their 90s, from a generation of giants that is slowly disappearing.

I got to know Samuel Paul a few months after our arrival to Victoria. Sam was a "mentch", a great friend and a real gentleman. One little story that stands out in my memory, representing his fine character.. Living in Nanaimo, Sam was a regular to our events in the area. It was on the first phone conversation I had with him regarding a Sukkah Mobile visit. "Rabbi" he said, "why would you come to my house? I will meet you at the mall, perhaps I'll be able to "shlep"some of the Israelies who are working there, to do the Mitzvah too". Sure enough, it was the five of them, a few days later, making the blessing in the Sukkah outside Woodgrove Centre in Nanaimo.

Sam was an efficient, organized and strong willed person. Even when he was ninety years old, he still climbed up the pickup truck to say a blessing in the Sukkah. It wasn't an easy task but he didn't complain. "Kveching" wasn't in the Jewish lexicon of Reb Shmuel of blessed memory.

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Max Yas was a man who lived in Victoria, but breathed Israel. He was deeply connected to the homeland of the Jewish people and to our tradition andheritage.For many years he would send emails to friends against the unfair wayIsrael was being treated. His message was very logical but filled with love and passion. 

It was on the last day of Pesach a few years ago when he showed up for “Yizkor”. In the Kiddush following the services, Max walked over to me with a handmade round Matzah in his hands. “Last time I ate this kind of Matzah was 80 years ago, as a little child in Belarus”. Max wiped the tears in his eyes, “everything is different now, but the Matzah is the same”. This was a line most fitting for Reb Moishe z"l, since "Netzach Israel" (‘the eternity of Israel' and 'the victory of Israel') was from his top concerns for all the years I have known him.

My bubby

Please allow me to tell you today about a very special woman in my life and the lives of my family - my grandmother, Rebbetzin Chaya Liberman.

photo (21).JPGThere is much to say about her life, as wife of the Rabbi of Antwerp Belgium, as partner in their great accomplishments and as role model for her community, but I'd like to tell you about my bubby.

My bubby’s life was her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. While she has many descendants - she was connected to each and every one of them, concerned at times, proud at others, but always thinking the best for us.

She was very modest in her own life; not only wasn't she looking for luxury for herself, but she would save and spend very little even on her necessities, so she can give to her children and grandchildren in abundance.

Her wish was that her descendants should make a difference in the Jewish world. She had the merit to see her grandchildren leading communities in every continent of the globe. She has grandchildren from Melbourne, Australia, and Ko Samui, Thailand through St. Petersburg, Russia, Zhitmoir, Ukraine, Nuremberg, Germany, Istanbul, Turkey and across Israel, all the way to Eastern US and Canada till Victoria, BC. While for her own sake she would have liked us to be closer to her - she cared much more for her grandchildren’s spiritual achievements than for her own comfort and pleasure.

There is one occasion when the cousins come together - for the convention of Chabad Rabbis and the convention of Chabad Rebetzins, when most of us would come to spend inspiring times with colleagues in New York.

Three months ago during the weekend of the Rabbis’ conference, my bubby showed up unannounced with my grandfather. She explained that she had decided on Friday to travel that Saturday night for a couple of days, to take advantage of the opportunity and see her grandchildren who she loved so much.

That was the last time she saw most of us, as this past Tuesday she suddenly passed away in her home in Antwerp, Belgium.  

I will remember my bubby for many things, but above all - for putting her family before herself, for traveling across the ocean in her old age to say hello to her grandchildren. Hello and goodbye. 

May her memory be of a blessing to our family and to all the Jewish people. 

How do you manage?

Since the birth of our new baby boy - Shalom Ber, many have asked Chani and me time and again "how do you do it? How do you manage with seven young children?!"

Instead of answering the question let me share with you a snapshot of what's happening right now (Friday, 12:53pm) in our home:

Chani is tending to the baby, Mussi (9) is preparing a cake for dessert, Rivky (8) is cleaning her room, Leibel (7) is peeling a yam for the Shul's cholent, Mendel (5) is making lunch for himself, Rochel (3) is licking the leftover batter of the cake while helping Shaina (1.5) with her lunch, and I can sit quietly (relatively...) in the office and write this blog...

Please don't get me wrong, our children are not angles, they can fight with each other and they can be difficult, but they are also the best friends of one another, and the greatest gift that we could have wished for.

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