The event to launch Libby Kahane’s book, Rabbi Meir Kahane: His Life and Thought, at the Young Israel of North Netanya was organized by Rebbetzin Rachail Morowitz, the wife of the synagogue’s rabbi. In view of the controversial nature of the book’s subject, I considered it a remarkable act.
This gesture only added to my appreciation of Rebbetzin Rachail Morowitz’s unique contributions to educating our fellow Jews about Jewish values.
One such occasion was a Tu B’Shvat Seder in her home, a festive day to celebrate the first blossoming of fruit trees in Israel. Firstly, Tu B’Shvat Seder is a custom of Sepharadi communities not of Ashkenazi Jews, in whose ranks the Rebbetzin, her family and congregation, belong.
“How come you have a Tu B’Shvat Seder?” I asked, amazed. “That’s only a Sephardic minhag.”
“I came across this minhag from Sephardi friends and found it very beautiful, and meaningful,” she answered simply.
But the proposition is other than simple. Different religious customs and rites like this have separated our people, heirs to different backgrounds and traditions, and have driven an often unbridgeable gap between the different segments of our national body. However, Rebbetzin Rachail Morowitz, not only found another group’s custom “beautiful and meaningful” and unhesitatingly adopted it, she compiled an amazing, colorful “Haggadah for Tu B’Shvat” for the occasion. It was designed after the Passover haggaddah, replete with quotations from traditional sources and modern lyrics for melodies.
The evening in Rachail Morowitz’s home was deeply moving and left a lasting impression of hope.
Rebbetzin Morrowitz was born Rachail Sklar on New York City’s Lower East Side where she graduated from Bais Yaakov elementary and high schools. Later she attended Brooklyn College, receiving a B.Sc. degree in Nursing and received a double Master’s in Nursing and Education from NYU.
She met Natan Morowitz at a meeting in Bnei Akiva when she was only ten years old. Fourteen years later she became his wife.
Rabbi Natan Morowitz and his Rebbetzin first made their home in Rockland County, N.Y. where the young Rebbetzin became a public health nurse, simultaneously serving as lecturer of nursing at the Bronx Community College.
They soon became the parents of daughter Sheina (now Mrs. Berlin) who, as the mother of eight, follows in her mother’s footsteps and works as a nurse in Carnei Tzur, near Hebron. Their second daughter, Menucha, a mother of two, owns a beauty salon in Netanya. The third daughter, Vita, is a mother of four and a physiotherapist in Efrat. Son Mosh, father of two, is a master carpenter in Netanya. The youngest, Menahem, father of five, is an electrician in Elazar.
The Morowitz family left Monsey, New York, and made aliyah in 1979, settling in Netanya, a Mediterranean resort north of Tel Aviv. Rabbi Morowitz founded and is the rabbi of the Young Israel of North Netanya and fundraiser for the Laniado Hospital. The Rebbetzin founded the Tessler School of Nursing at Netanya’s Laniado Hospital. Besides becoming the institute’s first director, she served as its teacher for twenty-two years. In addition, she ran the synagogue’s Keren Tzeddakah and helped run the “Boutique,” a second-hand clothing outlet to raise funds for various charities.
Her involvement in charity was just one element of Rebbetzin Rachail’s vital function as builder of bridges among the various segments of Am Yisrael.
The Rebbetzin sadly passed away in 2016.