In 1976, when I was 14 years old, we moved to the town of Arnhem, in the eastern part of the Netherlands. Although I spoke a somewhat decent Dutch, it was likely nowhere near good enough for me to attend school in Holland. That, coupled with the fact that the much smaller Jewish environment than the one we left in Philadelphia, lead my parents to choose England as a place for me to continue my education. When all was said and done, my parents chose Hasmonean Grammar School in North Hendon, London, as the place where I would continue my schooling.
My first year in London I lived in a house that left a lot to be desired. At 14, and living away from my parents, I needed to be in a home where I felt secure and safe, while being given what I needed to live decently in my new environment. One year into living in London my parents were not satisfied with what they saw from me, so they came to London to find me a new home away from home. To this day, it was very possibly the wisest and most loving thing they ever did for me. They found me the Wilschanskis.
Rabbi & Mrs. Wilschanski spent the next 3 years providing me with a true home away from home. They fed me, looked after me, and were there for me in a way I will never forget. In a time of my life when I needed it most, they were like 2nd parents to me. They were pious, kind, deeply religious people, respected and loved by many in their community.
A short while ago I heard the sad news that Rabbi Chaim Wilschanski passed away at the age of 99. My understanding is that his death was of natural causes and not COVID-19 related. A very emotional piece of news to hear on the 3rd Yahrtzeit of my mother, and one that for me is very hard to see as a coincidence. Rabbi Wilschanski was one of the warmest, pleasant, funny, and kind men I’ve ever known.
Rabbi Wilshanski’s book, “From the Shabbat Table”, is the picture I posted in his honor and memory.
Baruch Dayan Emet.
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