Monday, December 8, 2014

"It's a Beautiful Day!"

   In Memory of my Friend and Mentor. 

photo: Hhaalumin Hamilton Facebook page

As the school bell rang to start the new day, Rabbi William Zev Eisenstein z”l, principal of Hamilton Hebrew Academy stood at the front door with a warm smile.

 “It’s a beautiful day”, was the Rabbi’s catchphrase as he greeted all the children. And with a little bop on the nose, the school day started.

On November 26th, after a very long and difficult illness, our beloved Rabbi returned his soul to his Maker. His funeral was held at Adas Israel Synagogue in Hamilton and burial was in Bet Shemesh, Israel.

We learn that every person is given a purpose in life. Rabbi E., as I called him, together with his lifetime partner Esther a”H, lived their lives fulfilling their purpose.  The many neshamas [Jewish souls] they woke- up to the true calling of a Jew is countless.

Rabbi E. was a principal, a teacher, a father figure, a mentor and a friend. He loved his students and many a recess you would find Rabbi E. outside playing baseball or some other game with the kids.  Every June, Rabbi E would escort the grade 8 graduation class on a camping trip.

He was a wonderful story teller. Rabbi E.'s Shabbat groups were the highlight for many children. For some, coming to the groups was their introduction to Yiddishkeit. Today, these children are all grown-up and many live a religious life.

And what would a simcha be if the Rabbi didn’t do his broom or bench balancing act to the delight of all the guests. 

photo: memorial page

In 2011 the Hamilton Hebrew Academy made a tribute dinner honoring Rabbi Eisenstein. Tribute dinner

On the memorial Facebook page former students and teachers posted their warm memories of their days at the HHA and their relationship with Rabbi Eisenstein.
Facebook memorial page

I posted on the page: Baruch Dayan HaEmet

Dear Chani, Chaim, Bitzy and Shayna

You Dad z"l was a beautiful man who lived his life caring about everyone. He was never without a smile and a nice word. From the first time I spoke to him when we moved to Hamilton in 1977, I saw how special he was. 

Your mom a"H and Dad z"l were a guiding light for our family. Both your parents were very special and were my friends and my mentors.

It is so hard to believe he is gone and now is joining your Mom in Gan Eden.

May your good memories be a source of comfort to you on these dark days and may you be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem and may you know no more sorrow.

To do justice for Rabbi Eisenstein, volumes would have to be written.  

From his earliest days growing up in the lower east side of New York, to the turning point in his life, his relationship with Rav Moshe Feinstein z”l, as a yeshiva student rescuing children who were placed in monasteries and no family to claim them. 

To his motorcycle days, his university days, his marriage to Esther a”H and the beautiful family they raised. Life in Israel, Seattle, St. Louis, and Hamilton. And much, much more.  

Chani, Chaim, Bitzy, Shayna, your spouses and to all the grandchildren, your loss is tremendous. I personally will never forget your parents.

Your father was so proud of each of you. He loved being a Zeidy and visiting you in New York and Israel. 

He once told me when he visiting in Israel that he didn’t realize how much fun it was to take the eyniklekh [grandchildren] to school and to babysit.

I know that your parents are watching over you from Gan Eden and shepping nachas from their beautiful family.

On January 5, 2010, I wrote a blog called Friends 
dedicated to Rabbi and Esther z”l. I have reposted this blog.

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 z”l.

Rabbi Eisenstein is 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 Balanit [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 and 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 Zeida 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 and Esther were mentors to my sister-in-law Esther when she was a teenager in St. Louis Mo. 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 & Moishe’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!

That's all for now. Feel free to comment and share.