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My mother, Rebbetzin Peggy Weiss, passed away two days before Yom Kippur. While still in shock at her sudden passing, I was forced to make arrangements for our immediate trip to Eretz Yisrael for her kevurah. Having rushed into my parents’ house after receiving the horrible news, I had forgotten to bring my reading glasses with me. I found a pair of my mother’s glasses (with roughly the same magnification that I use) in the kitchen, and, with my father’s permission, I wore them to look up information and dial phone numbers. I continued to use those glasses to say tehilim at the cemetery and to daven on Yom Kippur.
To this day, I continue wearing my mother’s glasses. At some point I came to realize that the glasses provide me some nechama during this emotionally painful time. I love the feeling of having something so personal of my mother’s – something that she wore on her face – now resting on my face. Somehow it’s as if I am still connected to my mother, whom I miss dearly, through her glasses.
Of course the symbolism of my mother’s glasses isn’t lost on me. Just as glasses clarify blurry words on a page, my mother had always shown me the clear path in this uncertain world. She taught me to love learning Torah; to realize the power of tefilah; to appreciate the beauty of Shabbos; to support our homeland, Eretz Yisrael; to treat all people with respect and kindness; to be an active member of klal Yisrael; and to live my life in a way that would make a kiddush HaShem.
But my mother’s glasses hold an even deeper significance for me. They are a physical reminder that I should try to view the world through her eyes:
– My mother was a woman of fierce bitachon. She never questioned the Ribono shel Olam, knowing that everything that happens, no matter how difficult for us to understand, is part of His divine plan.
– My mother was a trailblazer who defied stereotypes by becoming the first female regional director of NCSY. As long as it was within the confines of Halacha, my mother never let being a woman hold her back.
– When it came to people, my mother had an incredible knack for seeing what was special about each person that she encountered. This incredible gift allowed her to connect with all types of people: from the elderly to children, and especially teenagers; from great rabbis to the not (yet) frum, and even to non-Jews; from close relatives to casual acquaintances. Her ability to connect with people is one of the things that made her incredibly successful in being makareiv so many people to yiddishkeit, both as a Rebbetzin in Brockton, MA and as the New England director of NCSY.
– My mother appreciated the good that other people did for her, no matter how small the act. She always expressed her hakarat ha-tov with warmth and sincerity.
– In order to improve herself, my mother learned, read seforim and went to shiurim. My mother’s learning was never just about increasing her Torah knowledge, but about applying that knowledge to become a better person.
– My mother valued her family more than anything. She was a devoted daughter, an adoring wife, a loving sister, a nurturing mother, and a beloved grandmother. She cherished the time she spent with all her family, including her aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews. And how blessed we all felt to be the beneficiaries of her genuine caring and thoughtfulness.
My mother’s glasses evoke thoughts of all of these qualities: her ability to see Yad Hashem in everything; her being a visionary regarding the role of Jewish women; her insight into people; her ability to look at the good that other people do; her introspection towards self-improvement; and her focus on family.
My mother was an amazing, vibrant woman whose absence leaves an immense void in so many lives. I feel fortunate to have found some solace, however small, in my mother’s glasses.
Rebbetzin Peggy Gopin Weiss was niftar on 8 Tishrei, 5775. She is survived by her husband Rabbi Saul Weiss, children Ariela Balk, Adina Broder, Menachem Weiss, Bracha Marcus, 23 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. Tributes may be posted at Donations in her memory can be made to NCSY.

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Professor Adina Broder, MS, JD, teaches at Touro Graduate School and Shulamith High School. She presents for the OU Women’s Initiative and authored Meaningful Kinnos, Meaningful Viduy and Viduy Booklet for Kids.