A team of Brooklyn, N.Y., translators and scholars is moving forward with the release of the memoirs of Rebbetzin Chana Schneerson, mother of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, digging in to the collection’s storied second volume, a collection of episodic recollections penned in Yiddish, Russian and Hebrew.
Written in New York in the final decades of Rebbetzin Chana’s tumultuous life, the memoirs provide a fascinating window into the Rebbe’s childhood home and the self-sacrifice of his parents, particularly Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, of righteous memory, said Lahak Publications director Rabbi Chaim Shaul Brook.
A noted Talmudic scholar and Kabbalist who became the chief rabbi of Yekatrinoslav – today, the Ukrainian city of Dnepropetrovsk – Rabbi Levi Yitzchak sparked the ire of Soviet authorities, who in their quest to stamp out Jewish life decreed his exile to Kazakhstan, from which he passed away in 1944.
Rebbetzin Chana’s memoirs not only offer a peek into the courageous thoughts of a strong woman who survived such horrors and sought to retell them, but also of a mother whose son transformed the Jewish world, said Brook, a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary whose team has been releasing, week by week, portions of the complete memoirs in Yiddish, alongside translations in English, Hebrew, Russian and French, both in published form and online at the Judaism website Chabad.org.
“This second volume contains stories that we never heard before,” he said. “We also see that she writes repeatedly about how she derives such pleasure from the Rebbe’s leadership in all facets of Jewish life.”
Part 29: Birthday Memories
Iyar [5710 (1950)]:
It was recently our youngest son’s birthday. This reminded me of a certain period of his father’s life.
It was the eighth year that we were living in the home of my parents, who supported us while my husband studied Torah full-time. The time had come to think about seeking a source of livelihood. Meanwhile, although my husband was indeed preparing to “enter the material world” and accept some obligation for his livelihood, he was still immersed in his studies and the writing of his Torah insights.
My father, who supported us, was not a wealthy man. He was a Rav, about whose love of fellow Jews and his fine character qualities one could write so much. He truly exemplified “mine is yours, and yours is yours.”
I recall that as soon as he would receive his monthly salary as a Rav, he immediately made a reckoning of how much he needed for his sisters, brother-in-law and brother. There was always someone who needed assistance. First he deducted what had to be given to them, leaving only a small portion for his family. Consequently, it was always necessary to obtain loans to cover our family’s expenses for the month. That was how my father conducted all facets of his life.
In any case, it became difficult for my husband to remain without some independent source of livelihood. It was necessary to consider seeking a position as a Rav. He was offered a rabbinic position in a certain city, but to be accepted there he needed a diploma equivalent to five years of college study.
He spent several months studying Russian, intoning what he studied with the same tune traditionally used for Talmud study, but he was deeply upset to be spending time on this.
The examinations were to be held in Kiev. He traveled there and arranged for board and lodging. Upon arriving, however, at the examination commission, he saw that the curriculum required study of Old Church Slavonic and knowledge of the Christian scriptures. He didn’t even register for the examinations, and left town that same night for home, arriving on the day of our son’s brit.
For the full diary entry please visit: http://www.chabad.org/1850727