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February 1, 2015 / 12 Shevat, 5775
 
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A Letter to my Father, Rabbi Sholom Klass, on his 14th Yahrzeit

Rabbi Sholom Klass ZL

Rabbi Sholom Klass ZL

Dear Dad,

You have been a role model and an inspiration to us from as far back as I can remember.

When Hindy and I were very young we only saw you on Shabbos. Those were the lean years, when you were working practically around the clock just to make a living. Of course, to you “making a living” didn’t mean only supporting your immediate family. You carried your whole family on your shoulders – your parents, your brothers and sister and their families, and Mom’s father and sister as well.

But on Shabbos you were like a king at our table. We were young girls but we thrilled to your Torah stories from the parshah, from the Midrash, from the gaonim and from the Gemara. When you weren’t sitting with us at the table you were in your den learning Gemara. Every Shabbos afternoon for well over 50 years you walked to the Young Israel of Brighton Beach where you gave a Gemara shiur.

So what did Hindy and I learn from all this? We learned to love the Torah and its way of life and to appreciate dedication to its study. We also learned a work ethic. We learned how hard a person has to work to support his family, but even more than that we learned to appreciate what family means and how important it is to take care of each other.

The years passed and as we grew up you were just beginning to realize another of your passions – doing something for Klal Yisrael. You had been in the newspaper business for quite some time with the Brooklyn Weekly but when you saw your chance to follow your dream you grabbed it and started The Jewish Press.

Your goal was to have a weekly newspaper in English that would spread Torah, help Jews wherever they were, and support Israel.

In those years, yours was the only one. There was only one Jewish Press and everyone read it. Jews who had trouble with the Sunday blue laws (Jews who closed their businesses on Shabbos but could not open on Sunday) turned to The Jewish Press for help. Jews who faced discrimination in the workplace because they had to leave early for Shabbos observance looked to The Jewish Press for help. The list of causes was a long one, and you reached out to politicians and found a way to make a difference.

I still meet people today who tell me that because of The Jewish Press they kept their job or were helped in some other way. Best of all are those who tell me that through the Torah pages of The Jewish Press they became observant.

You also championed the cause of the agunah and were instrumental in freeing some agunot. This is something The Jewish Press is still doing to this day.

When it came to politics you were definitely right wing regarding Israel.

You championed Torah articles and gave young Torah Vodaath students a platform in your newspaper. And we learned from you how important it is to take a stand on issues that affect our people and our homeland.

Outspoken personalities such as Rabbi Meir Kahane, Hyd, and Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis became known to the public through the pages of The Jewish Press. Rebbetzin Jungreis is still writing her very popular column for us.

Your grandchildren felt the strong influence both you and Mom had on our lives. Your grandsons and granddaughters take joy in learning Torah and some of them (girls as well as boys) give Torah classes. It was as a result of your always asking “Avu shtayt?” (“Where is it written?”) that my sons were well aware they had better know chapter and verse when giving a dvar Torah.

About the Author: Naomi Klass Mauer is associate publisher of The Jewish Press.


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