As I sit in an overheated hospital room, watching my strong mother’s life slowly ebb away, I think about all she achieved in life. I am amazed at the strength she always showed the world, yet she was vulnerable, and sometimes very insecure.
Everyone who came in contact with my mother ע׳ה ended up telling her their entire history, all their problems, and she always made them feel like they where the only people who mattered.
As her child, it amazed me that even when she was suffering in herself, she still had the time and patience to give to others. She gave with every fiber of being.
My mother was the real power behind all of us. She pushed us, her belief in what was right, and what she knew we were capable of always guided her.
My mother’s beauty, was well known she was like a queen, she could wear a sack and still enter a room and everyone would ask who she was. Yet that beauty was a beauty that radiated from within. Her kindness was so deep. Her pleasure in seeing you, and always making you feel good about yourself, whether by a small compliment or by asking how you were.
Many people knew my mother as an Exercise teacher, many a child will have her “123 lift” as their lullaby. But to my Mother it was more than keep-fit. She received a Brocha from the Pnei Menachem of Gur, to be able to help woman to be healthy and have a space to talk together. She also received a special brocho to teach the laws of taharas hamishpocha.
There was a time that things in South Manchester where she was Rebbetzin, became very challenging. One day my parent’s phone rang and my brother answered it, the renowned Manchester Rosh Yeshiva, Harav Segal Zt”l asked to speak to her personally. My mother ע׳ה thought it was one of her siblings playing a trick, but played along. The Rosh Yeshiva told her that she should never lose her אמונה and to continue the job, as she had a special zechus of teaching kallahs. This was something that guided her constantly through many hard times.
There are many marriages and individuals in our community, in London, in America and in Israel, who can attest to her special wisdom. Her deep understanding that teachers have the responsibility of not only giving lessons, but also making sure that the couple always felt free to talk with their teacher for as long as they needed her.
There was also a special gift to my mother’s brochos, when she gave people a Brocha for children, they would see a yeshua shortly afterwards, we would joke about her witchcraft. But it was really because she felt the pain of not having children very deeply.
This is just the person that you all know from Manchester. But my mother’s life has been so varied, she has born witness to so much change and upheaval. My grandfather, whose yahrtziet it was just last week was a Holocaust survivor, who lost a wife and all his children in the churban. He then met my grandmother who was many years younger than him and together they settled in Lakewood NJ where Ziedy was the Shochet. He had a very close connection with Rav Aaron Kotler Zt”l. They later moved to Boro Park and they davened in the Gerrer Shtieble on 49th. Later they moved to Eretz Yesroil where Bubby married her Bashert, My father Rav Yitzchok Reuven Rubin. My grandfather never spoke about the war as it was too difficult for him to express the deep emotion, but this left a deep impression on his family.
My mother had such an ingrained sense of needing to make her parents proud of her, she tried to be not only a daughter but a daughter he had already lost. She took care of her family marrying off all her siblings, and helping them settle into married life she was a big sister and also a mother to them.
When she met my Father at the age of 15.5 years old, it was a true meeting of minds, they got married in Israel, and after my grandfather told my mother that she should live where her husband will be happy they moved to the lower east side of NY, to be part of the Bobov community. They came to America with $75 in their pocket, 2 very young adults with dreams. My parents had me, their first child when my mother was 17. In today’s world where travel is easy, and telephones are an afterthought, we can’t imagine how hard this must have been for them. But this is how my parents relationship has always been, my mother jumping hoops to make sure my father achieved the promise he had in him, and my father doing everything for my mother in return.
My parents had issues concerning bringing healthy children to the world which they discovered after my birth, they had a little known issue called resus negative, it was only years later that their doctor developed the cure for this. But for them the cure came too late, and my brother Rabbi Moishy Rubin, was a miracle that they almost lost.
After losing their next child my parents could not have the large family they craved. This broke my mother’s heart in particular. It was something she could never really come to terms with.
Even this last year she was still dealing with the after effects of this loss. It shaped her in so many ways, and as her daughter I could never understand how deep her pain ran. Many times we would discuss it and I tried to show my care, but I think the only way she was able to really come to terms was giving her all to helping the woman who asked for advice or her students in the Exercise classes have good birth experience.
After the Lower East Side, my parents moved to Boro Park, to a loft apartment, my mother’s neighbor Mrs Plotzker and Rebbetzin Zoberman were her first real American Neighbors in the full sense of that word, there are many many tales of our times there that are very personal family memories. My mother was very involved with the Neshei Tzedaka parties and I remember her working closely with Rebbetzin Tabak to make these events, I think this time in her life was a time of personal growth and realising who she could become. My Father worked in Be’er Shmuel and it was a newly married life.
The next stage of my parent’s life was when they moved to 53rd St. My father and Rabbi Akiva Silberberg, worked together to build the Council of Jewish Organization. This was a time of great upheaval in boro park, the Jewish Defense League were becoming active and Meir Kahana’s movement was causing a lot strife in the community. There where many hate crimes and the tension was palatable. My Mother influenced my Fathers involvement, in the political sphere. They went to White House events and were the face and voice of the hiemisha community. At this time my Mother was wearing a kerchief on top of her shietel, she always made sure that her impact as a frum woman in the secular world, was one of modesty, beauty and quiet dignity. The great statesmen of Washington and New York would stand in awe of her, and even end up spilling out their personal problems to her.
We are now coming to the end of the second day of shiva for My Mommy Chaiky, Chaya Sora, and reading back what I started writing in the hospital on Sunday, I realise that there is just so many experiences from mother’s life which I know about, these passages in her life where what made her who she was. I have decided that with all of your memories and mine. I will sit down and write a small book about all the beautiful memories that we as a family and you as her second family
had. So that the life lessons she taught by living life to its full will be forever in our hearts.
I know that some of my writing isn’t clear, and may not be spelled or grammatically correct. But the feelings that have been running in my head since my darling mommy , best friend ,teacher and most of all, the dearest dearest love in my life took I’ll I think if I didn’t write this I would break completely.
Hashem took a pure pure neshoma back and left me and all my family’s hearts broken. But as her name says, This is the life of Sora.
May Klal Yisroel know no more sorrow,