We made Aliyah [moving to Israel] from Hamilton, Ontario, fifteen and half years ago. Although making Aliyah is the start of new beginnings, we left behind family and many good friends.
One couple in particular that we said good-bye to was Rabbi Zev Eisenstein ad120 and his dear wife Esther zt”l.
Rabbi Eisenstein was the principal of the Hamilton Hebrew Academy, the day school that our three children attended and where I worked in the preschool for seventeen years.
Esther was the Baalanit [in charge of the mikvah] for our city and she looked after the mikvah with love and devotion. She taught many kallahs [brides] the Halacha [Jewish laws] of Tahara HaMishpacha [family purity] and introduced the beauty of using the mikvah to women who were becoming Baala Teshuva.
Her kind words, warm smile and gentle eyes made the mitzvah very inviting. Esther respected everyone and she never considered herself better than anyone else.
Although we keep in touch by e-mail, the other day I had the opportunity and pleasure to speak on the phone to Rabbi Eisenstein, who was visiting his children here in Israel. It was very nice to catch-up.
We moved from Chomedey [suburb of Montreal] to Hamilton, Ontario in the summer of 1977. This is when we met the Eisenstein family, Rabbi & Esther and their children Chaim, Chani, Bitzy and Shayna who was just 6 weeks old. Today all the children are married and Rabbi E. is B”H the Zaida to many grandchildren.
Our daughters were enrolled in the day school and we came to have a look around. Rabbi Eisenstein gave us the tour of the school and spoke about its qualities. He welcomed our daughters so warmly that they were really excited to go to a new school.
Since this is a small world, I must mention that both the Rabbi & Esther were mentors to my sister-in-law also Esther when she was a teenager in St. Louis Mo. several years earlier. Rabbi E. was my sister-in-law’s principal and he married my brother Yitzchak and Esther in St. Louis.
For several years, once a week a group of women would meet at the Eisenstein home and the rabbi would teach us Chumash. [5 books of the bible]
Every Shabbat afternoon our daughters loved to go to 'the Rabbi's Shabbat groups.' They would come home and tell me, "we heard the best Shabbos story today."
On a personal note, the Eisenstein’s were good friends of my husband and myself. Esther and I spent many hours on the phone [Bell Canada must have loved us]. We spent many Shabbat afternoons enjoying Seuda Shlishi [the third Shabbat meal] together. Since we lived in an apartment building and didn’t have a sukkah, for years they would invite us to their home on the second night of Sukkot.
We celebrated together their sons Bar Mitzvahs and our daughters Bat Mitzvahs, Chani & Moish’s wedding and when our son’s adoption was finalized, his bris and seuda mitzvah.
Rabbi, you and Esther are in many ways responsible for who I am today and I will always be grateful to you both.
Our family wishes you many more years of nachas and simchas from your children and eyniklekh.[grandchildren]
Come home sooner than later!
Until next time.............