As long as I can remember, Rabbi Waldman was an important person in my life. After the Yom Kippur War, my mother’s passion for Israel was ignited and she became close friends with the activists of Gush Emunim like Rabbi and Mrs. Levinger, Rabbi and Mrs. Waldman and Geula Cohen. In my early years, Rabbi Waldman would come to L.A. to fundraise for his fledgling yeshiva. He would stay in our home, and in the evenings he would take out his recorder and we would sit around listening to the beautiful songs he played. It was uplifting and peaceful. He came to L.A. frequently and his presence was always welcome and would fill our home with a piece of Israel that my parents longed for!
When I grew a little older and we’d come to Israel in the summers, we were equally welcome in the Waldman home. It was always fun as their daughter Shulamit was my age and was my friend. I would run around the playgrounds in Kiryat Arba with her, enjoying the freedom children in Los Angeles didn’t have.
On Friday nights we would go down to Ma’arat Hamachpela. We would walk down in a large procession with Rabbi Waldman and his family, and my parents somewhere in the crowd, but we knew our way down the road to the me’ara and would run ahead, navigating the twists and turns of the alleyways. We always waved to the soldiers. We felt confident and proud. Shabbat was always filled with zemirot and words of Torah.
When my mother was ill, Rabbi Waldman was there. He came to L.A. a few times, always providing words of chizuk to my mother and to me. Even when I was a young girl he cared so much. He would look at me with his blue eyes, and in his calm tone offer warm words of chizuk. He made sure to be there for all the milestones in my life – graduations, wedding, britot and bar mitzvot.
He always provided words of Torah in his gentle manner. He spoke at my father’s funeral. They shared such a close friendship, my father always regarding him with the utmost honor.
A few days ago I had the opportunity to see Rabbi Waldman for the last time. He was in the hospital, already very sick. I was able to talk to him and thank him for all he has done for me and my family. He opened his eyes and looked straight at me but this time he could no longer speak.
Rabbi Waldman, our journey together has come to an end. Thank you for accompanying me. Your words of wisdom and comfort live on.