Apr 23, 2012
How Can I Thank You Now?
The Levaya for Rabbi Schtroks at 770 on Monday
Rabbi Zalman Teitelbaum writes about his beloved teacher Rabbi Yeshaya Schtroks obm: "I always thought that I would somehow be able to repay you for all you taught me, and the imagined repayment was always in staggering levels."
By Rabbi Zalman Teitelbaum, Shliach to Albert Einstein College of
I remember the first day that Rabbi Schtroks walked into our classroom. It was the room with the large multi-paned windows facing the circle, and he sat in a chair in the back of the room observing Rabbi Haller teaching. I remember afterwards discussing excitedly how he didn't see Rabbi Haller put a "freeze" on our points, and indeed, that part of Rabbi Haller's point system did not make it into Rabbi Schtroks' classroom.
Rabbi Schtroks came into a fledgling community school, staffed primarily by parents of students and faculty of the local yeshiva who were guilted into offering time to keep the cheder running. Each teacher and staff member gave a special character and added a unique aspect to our education, but it is safe to say that our rowdiness was a good study in the value of hiring professional educators. In one year, no less than eight teachers walked out on us. (not counting Rabbi Haller, whom we loved dearly, who moved to a shlichus position in South Africa). All of this changed with Rabbi Schtroks' entry into the school, and into our lives.
It's humbling to write about a teacher as influential as Rabbi Schtroks, because the more I write the more I realize how much I owe him. Rabbi Schtroks was much more than a teacher, Rabbi Schtroks was an educator - par excellence. What Rabbi Schtroks gave us was above and beyond information, it was seder, respect, diligence, chassidishkeit and above all, mentchlikeit. We learned more from the way that Rabbi Schtroks taught then from the lessons themselves. The comprehensive 'teitch' sheets with perfect lines and meticulous handwriting. the endless diagrams on the board (and Rabbi Schtroks blowing the chalk dust off of his finger tips after each entry :). I can still list to the quarter tefach every item in the mishkan and the details of their construction. When I sit down with my son to teach him trup, I make sure to find the notes listed in the order as Rabbi Schtroks taught us, and as I read them, his voice sings along with me in the background.
Likely the most difficult element to describe is his blend of strict discipline with a warm smile. I remember a conversation with a fellow classmate, Dov Greenberg, now a Shliach in Stanford University and a world renowned lecturer and writer. It was summer and we were talking about how much we liked having Rabbi Schtroks as a teacher. The conversation was focused on how now in the summer we were thinking about how much we liked him, but just watch, as soon as school starts we are going to remember how strict he is and we'll quickly forget. Looking back I know that it wasn't that way. It is hard to remember him teaching without seeing his warm smile or a light laugh that he would let escape from time to time. Yes, he 'controlled the classroom' but he used that as a platform to lovingly open our hearts and minds to reach a potential he saw reaching well above the goals we had set for ourselves.
Rabbi Schtroks would join us by recess and often join our games. He was a phenomenal pitcher. We grew up with a pitcher qualifying by facilitating hits, not preventing them, and Rabbi Schtroks could lob a ball so precisely that even the most challenged batter could make contact. Perhaps most relevant to a group of young boys playing sports during recess, he was a consistently fair referee.
Rounding out our education were the many extra-curricular topics that Rabbi Schtroks not only taught, but imbued in us. The beautiful sidrei nigunnim, the stories of the Rebbe told with true feeling, the lessons about minhagim and mostly the underlying element of actual chassidishkeit which came accross between the lines - a gift that he gave us which became part of us that is impossible to ever truly thank him for. Rabbi Schtroks taught our class for four or five years. I've always seen him not as a teacher but as a founding element in who and what I am.
As I write this, the reality of his passing is slowly sinking in. There is a knot in my stomach when I think that he will never read these words, that the next time he will smile and extend his rock-solid handshake will be with Moshiach, but at the same time there is a certain respect to the knowledge that he worked tirelessly, invested endless effort, and saw time and again and again the fruit of his labor. His students, who often entered his class bouncing off the walls, are now shluchim in every corner of the globe. He saw them when they came back to Morristown for the Yomim Tovim with their children around them and they, acting as he taught them, as devoted husbands and fathers.
Rabbi Schtroks, it is difficult to thank someone for a meaningful gift, but I now face the impossible: How can I thank you for giving me everything that I am proud of about myself? This is a moment of truth, a time to honestly think where I would be without your influence, and I must say that I find your impact in every aspect of my life. To find words to express this is impossible so instead I pray with all my heart that hashem repay you for your efforts with us, and give your children the strength to continue in your ways. To give you the joy and the nachas, as you watch from Heaven, to see them follow in your footsteps and to make you, the Rebbe and the entire Jewish nation proud.
I always thought, in the back of my mind that I would somehow be able to repay you, and the imagined repayment was always in staggering levels. Some life-saving act, some truly life-altering introduction or something along those lines. Sadly I will never be able to even tell this to you personally, however, as I sign this with great difficulty, I commit, as I'm sure do all of your talmidim across the globe, that should your children ever need anything, if there should ever be a way that we can help, we will jump to the opportunity to give back a tiny bit of what we owe to you.
With love and heartfelt appreciation,
Shiva Information for the Schtroks family:
Mrs. Suri Schtroks and his children Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schtroks, Mrs. Tzippora Klyne, Mendel, Sholom Ber, Shneur Zalman, Shmulik, and Levi
and siblings: Rabbi Falik Schtroks, Mrs. Bluma Perl, Mrs. Sheindel Levertov, and Mrs. Nechama Reinitz will be sitting at 12 Tikvah Way, Morristown NJ
Shacharis: 6:45, 8:15, two minyanim at 9:15, two minyanim at 9:45
Mincha: two minyanim at 2:00pm, two minyanim at 3:00pm and two at 7:30pm
Mrs. Sheindel Levertov and Nechama Reinitz will be sitting in Crown Heights at 1572 President street on Friday and Motzei Shabbos until 10:30 pm.
Mrs. Bluma Perl will be sitting in her home - Chabad of Mineola, 261 Willis ave, Mineola Friday and Motzei Shabbos: until 10:30pm
Rabbi Yossell and Mendel Schtroks and Mrs. Fruma Weg will be sitting in London, England
call 44 208 806 1674 for location
As of now his mother and parents-in-law have not been informed yet. Please use caution when speaking with the family
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