By COLlive reporter
The decision by Shlucha Shterna Wolff to remain living in Hanover even after the tragic passing of her husband Rabbi Benny Wolff OBM is being viewed as exemplary of the Chabad way of life.
The couple, both raised in Israel to the large families of Wolff and Greenberg, arrived in Northern Germany in 2005 and established the Chabad Jewish Center, serving people from all walks of life. As common in Shlichus-life, the couple worked as a team.
With his passing at the age of 43 due to complications from pneumonia, Mrs. Wolff was faced with a decision where he should be buried, and where to continue her life with her 8 children, aged 3 to 19 years old.
Her decision, made in midst of grieving and sorrow, was to have Rabbi Wolff buried at the local Jewish cemetery and to expand her role as the full-time Director of Chabad in Hanover.
Rabbi Zusha Wolff, a brother of Rabbi Benny, called his sister-in-law’s decision “heroic.” He said it places her “in line with female role models throughout the Jewish history whose actions have been engraved in the golden pages of the Jewish people.”
“Chabad boys and girls will be educated on your actions during these days,” he wrote to her in an open letter. “Books will be written, plays and songs in Chabad summer camps will be composed” about the decision.
The bold decision was announced by the family during the funeral on Sunday. Only a handful of people were allowed to physically participate due to the current pandemic, but thousands tuned in to a live feed on Zoom, Facebook and COLlive.com.
“They were sent there so they are staying there,” Rabbi Eli Wolff, an author and older brother of Rabbi Benny, explained is the thinking behind her decision. “She is going to fill his role and the family is continuing forward (with activities and programs).”
“This was her thinking throughout Shabbos since his passing on Friday night,” Rabbi Eli told COLlive.com.
“After Shabbos ended, community members arrived and asked whether she will be staying. When she said she isn’t leaving and saw the powerful impact her decision had on them, it gave her renewed strength,” he added.
Rabbi Yehuda Tiechtal, rabbi of the Berlin Jewish community and director of Chabad in the German capital, was one of the rabbis that were present at the funeral.
“After Shabbat, when people found out the news, one of the first questions in Hanover was: Are they staying?” Rabbi Teichtal told Chabad.org. “You can see the Wolff family’s answer: They are here to stay.”
He said that the decision of the Wolff family to remain serving the Jewish community in Hanover “is absolutely a statement of what Benny wanted and a testament to who his wife and family are.”
“We need to hug the family, strengthen them, and we need to make sure the work continues. Jewish life in Hanover needs to double, triple,” said Rabbi Teichtal. “There’s no doubt Benny would tell everyone to never give up.”
A fundraising campaign titled “Benny’s will” has been set up to support the family and their communal activities with a goal of 1 million euros – charidy.com/wolff.
“Rabbi Benny’s last wish was, that his Shlichut in Hanover should carry on!” organizers announced. “We are committed to continue Benny’s life mission and ensure that Benny’s family will not carry that responsibility alone.”
“We all feel like we must remain here and continue the work, the community needs to live on,” said Rivka Chaya Kamenetski, a local community member. “This was Binyamin’s life, this was his mission; we’ll be here no matter what.”
To donate, visit charidy.com/wolff