Printable version


Harav Y.  Reuven Rubin Shlita

Where to start, how can I even try? Taking pen to paper after such a loss feels diminishing. The Rebbetzin Chaiky Z’L was my closest loved one for fifty five years. We were youngsters when we married, she 16 and I 19. We started with nothing but our dreams, and it was Chaiky who drove me to any success we had. Born from a post holocaust marriage of a Litvisha mother and a Firediker Gerrer father, she carried the traits of passionate determination, and total betochen in the Eibishter. Her entirety was Yiddishkiet, and life took her into far flung places where she could bring this awareness to thousands who had never experienced it before. This is not in any way an obituary, the column is named ‘A Rabbi’s Journal,’ and as such not to share some of my thoughts at this difficult time would be a disservice to the title I work under. Incidentally, my very writing came about thru the Rebbetzin’s wishes. The Rubin family has historically celebrated Ziedy’s birthday on Pesach. The fact is that it is a month later, but family sitting together for Yom Tov is an opportune time for adding yet another celebration. When I turned fifty things seemed as usual. We came home from Shul and I went about setting up the final touches to the Seder table. Opening up the Matzo bag I found a pair of M&S pyjamas with a ribbon exclaiming ‘Happy Birthday.’ I was bemused, after all 50 is kind of a landmark, pyjamas just don’t ring many bells. Lifting them up, a gold antique pocket watch slithered out, its golden chain glistening. Attached to it was a card with a clear message from my wife “Happy Birthday, Its Time To Start Writing.” With this clarion call I did just that, and now 24 years later I am still picking out words on my keyboard. The Rebbetzin had confidence in me that I didn’t have, and she was going to make sure I was going to stretch myself and succeed.

Her will that we create Kiddush Hashem in life was always the driving force of our accomplishments.

However, there was a world that she created that I had nothing to do with. Her exercise sessions became something of legend with her touching the lives of thousands of hiemisha ladies over 40 years. Hers were not just a period where ladies did exercise movements that helped their bodies, it was about so much more. She was a Mommy, friend, doctor, mentor, and Rebbetzin all rolled into one. In her uniquely passionate manner, she cared for ‘her girls’ and was there for them no matter the challenge. They would never know the hours of tefillos she expended on their behalf. Her caring advice, her brochos, her segulahs, her sheer determination that ‘her’ Yiddisha techter should have sound hearts and bodies, was something that occupied her heart constantly. This all came upon the shoulders of a wife, mother, grandmother and full time Rebbetzin of a large vibrant community. Her Emunas Tzaddikim was astounding, and in return she received brochos from Tzaddikim that lived far from Manchester, yet they’re holy hearts cared what this honest devoted woman was doing.

She had been given strong brochos by the Pnei Menachem of Ger that she do this avodah so that Bnos Yisroel should be gezunt. The Manchester Rosh Yeshiva ZTL personally phoned her at one time to give her chizuk, not only for the keep fit, but for her teaching of kallahs. In this realm she was outstanding. She taught young ladies from across the community, both in South Manchester and in hiemisha Salford. To each Kallah she became that very special confidant, it was more than just the lessons, it was the gift of total Yiddishkiet that she gave.

I haven’t touched on her work in South Manchester, and this is not meant to be a full history. This young woman from Boro Park Brooklyn became an example of dignity, style and flair to ladies who were leaders of the secular world, judges, doctors, business owners and more. They would look towards her entry into her seat every Shabbos morning with a sense that royalty had entered. She carried this with a pride of her Yiddishkeit, never compromising, but rather showing that Torah life was the greatest attainment a Jewish woman could ever aspire to.

And the chesed, the warmth, I can’t begin to share it all. The time she went to visit a sick woman in hospital who had lost all her hair whilst battling her illness. The carers had given her a simple cheap wig that made her loss of dignity even more pronounced. Rebbetzin Chaiky spoke to her and felt her broken heart, so, she gently took her own sheitel off and expertly rearranged it on the patients head, walking home with the ill-fitting hospital head covering. She was a member of the chevra kedusha in America as a young wife in her early twenties, teaching others this holy act in Tzefas, Eretz Yesroil and then in the South.

I skim the surface, my pain is too raw and my ability to concentrate too fragile to say more. The week of Shiva taught me so much about her that I could never have known. She would never tell me what went on in the realm of ‘Chaiky’s keep fit’, but the ladies came in the throngs, weeping, telling stories, breaking our hearts with the wonder of what a true Aishes Chayil can do even in our day and age.

To mark the shloshim we will be holding a night of hisoreros for ladies here in Manchester, I hope as many of my readers as possible with attend. We will speak more at length of the astounding Rebbetzin we all had in our midst. I told a group of visitors at the shiva that as much as they felt thanks for what the Rebbetzin did for them, I wanted to thank them for giving her a place to pour her love, her chesed, and her devotion for Hashem’s children.

We were all truly blessed, this lady from Boro Park who spoke to Princes and world leaders, yet who could in the same day lay on the floor of a Salford home giving life to Bnos Yisroel, this special star that came our way.

She was niftar suddenly, in the middle of our conversing she just left us, but her illumination lives on in all our hearts. My son, Rabbi Moshe Rubin of Glasgow made an interesting observation. We had asked if the levaya could drive past our Shtieble, something they did without our knowing. He remarked ‘it makes no difference, Mommy was a Rebbetzin for so much more than just our Shtieble.’

Let me just end with thanks from all our family to all the many who have sent letters and called, sharing in our pain. May we all see no further pain and sorrow and be zoche to our total redemption soon and in our days. May Chaya Sora Bas Shlomo Yechiel Z’L be a Melitz Yosher for us all.

Did you enjoy this content? Share it so that your friends can enjoy it too!