I still remember, as if it was yesterday, the phone call I got telling me to rush back from Israel because you were in the hospital. I had come to Israel two weeks earlier for the birth of my daughter Michal’s baby girl. I had planned to stay another two weeks, and now I had to scramble to get on a flight. The only one available would have me land on Friday. I hesitated, it’s risky to land on a Friday when the days are so short. Maybe I should leave after Shabbos and arrive on Sunday. The calls from each of my children made the decision for me. I did arrive on Friday and my husband picked me up from the airport and drove me directly to Maimonides Hospital.
Your words to me, as I entered your room, are seared into my brain. “My Nechamala, it was worth it to me to be in the hospital to see you once more.” I was shocked and said that he would see me many more times, but he repeated that sentence. And as if he knew, by Sunday he already had lost consciousness and passed away on Monday.
Twenty-two years later the world is a different place. How I wish I could still hear your words of Torah, advising us how to react to everything that is happening so quickly, right before our eyes. I see you in my mind’s eye, sitting in your study, surrounded by your beloved Gemaras learning with that wonderful expression on your face. Tell me Daddy, what is the answer?
Last week I was a Shabbos guest of Chavie Heftler at the Senior Residence, Beit Tovei Hair, where she now resides. Chavie introduced me to everyone there telling them that I was from The Jewish Press. All the people who originally came from the U.S. recalled how they loved the paper and miss it. But the best part for me was seeing Moish Inker and his wife. Moish worked for the paper for years until he retired. He invited Chavie and me up to his apartment and a real surprise awaited me. He had written a book about his life for his children and grandchildren, and he gave it to me to look through.
Moish Inker came to work for you, Dad, in 1948 when you had that little office on Ocean Parkway in the old Tuxedo building, with one linotype machine. I was a little girl then, but I remember going to that office and he would make a slug with my name for me. Of course then it wasn’t The Jewish Press, it was the Brooklyn Weekly. He then chronicled the moves you made to the building in Coney Island and eventually to the very large building in downtown Brooklyn. But the best part was what he wrote about you. He wrote what it meant for him to work for Rabbi Sholom Klass, a Talmid Chacham, steeped in Torah. He never had to worry about taking off for the holidays, nor for leaving early on Friday. Everyone worked hard but it was deeply appreciated. There was a minyan for Mincha and Maariv, and you gave a dvar Torah. He said that you had a photographic mind and everything about you was Torah. He was thankful for all the years that he worked for you. I had tears in my eyes as I read that. Of course it was all true, but to hear that from someone who worked for you, made it very special. And then I remembered something that Arnie Fine said to me about two years after you were no longer alive. I passed his desk one day and he pointed to your picture that he had pasted onto it, and said, “ This is why I am still working for The Jewish Press.”
Today we are hard at work carrying on your vision of a Torah paper. I take care of certain sections, your great-grandson Rafi, writes Torah articles, Michal writes a weekly column, and David is in charge of the website. Shlomo is now the Senior Editor, doing a good job. He has brought in a number of new Torah columns, and other very interesting ones, and Yaacov is the comptroller and working very hard. Jerry has brought back your Tales of the Medrash and the Gaonim to the paper and is redoing all of the pictures that went with it. All together, we are hard at work keeping your dream alive.
One more story, I was talking to my grandson Moshe Shanbaum, Michal’s son, recently and he was telling me that he started his own business and it is doing very well. He decided to help support some of his siblings who live in Israel, and he is giving about twenty percent of his income to them. I told him that is too much and that he is only required to give ten percent. Moshe said, all the stories that he has heard about Zaydie Sholom is how he supported his whole family, brothers, sister, and in-law relatives, etc. “ He is the model for my life. I want to be like him.” I wished him hatzlacha. And he is not the only grandchild and great-grandchild following in the path you set before all of us.
May your neshama have an aliyah and may your name continue to inspire.