Jan 12, 2018
The Donor Who Said Thank You

Colel Chabad's Rabbi Sholom Duchman writes about Australia's giant of tzedakah Ronnie Tatarka OBM and his Chanukah last year.

Rabbi Sholom Duchman - Director of Colel Chabad

I am heartbroken. This past Shabbos we all lost someone irreplaceable. For me, the loss is profoundly personal.

Ronnie Tatarka was larger than life, yet so quiet, so humble, so unassuming that few people had an inkling of the depth and breadth of the tzedakah and chesed for which he was singlehandedly responsible. His open-hearted love for every Jew extended far beyond Australia.

Indeed in Israel, there are so many needy households and single widows or orphans who received so much from this modest man who many never heard of and he did not know them.

Ronnie was on the board of Colel Chabad of Australia, but his reach extended to many communities in Israel where there are poor folk and widows with fatherless children. There was no limit to what Ronnie would do, no limit to his love for those widowed mothers and their orphaned children.

During his visit to Israel last Chanukah he participated in a retreat for widows and orphans and showed his personal love. To watch him give Chanukah gelt to the orphaned boys and girls was incredible and truly a lesson in how tzedakah and chesed should be done. He would approach each child individually, introduced himself and asked their name with a hug. He wanted to know each and everyone so that their names and faces could be engraved on his heart and so that they would know they were loved.

VIDEO: Ronnie Tatarka Giving out Chanukah Gelt to Orphans

Ronnie made it possible for us to arrange food deliveries to hundreds of orphaned families on a monthly basis. Yet instead of us thanking him, he thanked us over and over again thanking us for the opportunity we gave him to do tzedakah and chesed.

His home in Australia was an open house, a way station for anyone in need of hospitality, and he supported those in need regardless of whether they were religious or not, man or woman, affiliated or unaffiliated. No wonder everyone who met him loved him.

It was a lesson for us all how this successful businessman would attend Mincha services on Sunday. As no one was on hand to collect the trash and clear the tables after all the Shabbos activity, Ronnie would simply do the job himself, collecting the coffee cups, bagging the trash, straightening things out. What a role model, what a giant.

Our meetings together didn't take place in Australia in his office or home but took place while he was overseas on business trips, during family simchas and family vacations. A time when most of us tune out and are strictly busy with ourselves. He was there, welcomed us, and gave us the time, energy and the support for the above.

There is hardly a cause in Australia that he was not involved with. He had a special feeling and sensitivity to help individual people, friends in a quiet, secretive way. Paying their bills without them knowing about it, giving large loans for failing businesses and always with a smile and with gladness of heart.

As Director of Colel Chabad for 40 years, I spend my life in the trenches of tzedakah. I have met many truly wonderful people all over the world from all walks of life who give generously to help us in our holy work. Ronnie Tatarka stood out as a shining beacon of light from distant Australia, a heart that knew only to love every fellow Jew and a hand that only knew to give.

May his dear wife Sarale and their children Avi, Leah, Shmuly, Ely, Chaya and Dina, and his siblings Sam and Rosaline know no more sorrow even as we sit stunned and brokenhearted by this irreplaceable loss.

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Opinions and Comments
Amazing Gentleman
(1/13/2018 7:31:18 AM)

BDE a superman of Tzedakah a true 5 star general in the Rebbe MHM army to bring Geulah Now Now Now!!!!!!!🔞 2018 20 Chai
(1/13/2018 11:08:48 AM)
Over the course of the past week many stories have begun to surface about Ronnie's incredible acts of chesed

I would like to share three. I know Ronnie shunned the publicity. However if these stories will inspire others I am hoping Ronnie will forgive me for sharing.

The erev shabbos prior to his passing he rang a member of anash to see how his new buisness venture was fairing. The individual said he felt somewhat uncomfortable as he still hadn't returned the loan that he had received from Ronnie. Ronnie immediately extended the terms of the loan. After hearing how the buisness was going. Ronnie told him that the following week he would call a number of people to help him expand his business.

The yungerman told me, he has had to take interest free loans from many different people. However Ronnie was unique.He was the only one who would call him to see how things where going and to see how else he could help him.

Who will make that call now?

In Melbourne most houses are sold by on site auction on a sunday morning. Ronnie would often tell his wife Sorole that he was going to an auction. She never understood why since he wasn't buying any houses.

This week she discovered why.

The person told me he was bidding at an auction for a house. At a certain point he stopped bidding. Ronnie who was at the auction went over to him and asked why he had stopped bidding?
He informed Ronnie that his bank had set a limit how much they would lend him to purchase the property and he had reached his limit. Ronnie told him to keep on bidding. He bought the property for an extra $25000. Ronnie took out his check book and wrote the guy a check for the full amount.

Recently a member of anash made a chasuna. However he didn't have $10000 to pay the caterer. Ronnie found out and immediately wired the money to the caterer.

I was asked the following question during shiva. Two yungerleit organised every year that those of anash who couldn't afford matzoh and wine could purchase them at a vastly reduced rate. The person who subsidized it had one condition that no one should know.
You guessed it. It was Ronnie. They wanted to know if they could now publicise who the anonymous donor had been all these years.
I answered they must.

If you are thinking, I am not as wealth as Ronnie. Ronnie was not the wealthiest member of anash.

Ronnie taught us two things. He never thought the wealth he accumulated was his and he had a heart of gold he really cared about people.

May he be a source of comfort for his family and all who knew him

Your dear friend since we were ten yrs old

Yanki Barber

(1/13/2018 2:35:44 PM)
BS"D Beautiful tribute Rabbi Duchman. May his family be comforted if that be possible and may his family carry on his Good works if possible
(1/13/2018 5:56:10 PM)
Daniel Altman
A true tzadik.
(1/13/2018 9:13:16 PM)
Another person helped by ronnie
Beautifully written.
At a very difficult time in our lives when we were waiting for a settlement, but it wasn't going places and we had been left without any income or money, Ronnie ah of his own accord stepped in and saw to it that the ball got rolling and the settlement was finalised. He didn't stop there - he went out of his way to get us back on our feet including giving us 2 years free rent. We weren't part of his close social circle - we are simply another family in Melbourne that Ronnie saw was in need of help. Ronnie was a giant of a person with a giant of a heart. May his family take comfort in all the incredible stories of his chesed and tzedokoh that are coming to lighg.
(1/14/2018 6:52:01 AM)
More Stories
Thank you Yanky.

Everyone. Please keep the stories coming.
(1/14/2018 11:24:47 AM)
Short story.
I was a bochor in yg around 20 years ago. I was all alone from the other side of the world. On shabbos we would often eat by anash. I would stay in yeshiva as I was shy. One time a whole group of bochrim went to Ronnie for the shabbos meal so I joined.
When we got there Ronnie came over and ask my name and made me feel so comfortable that I ended up going a few times. His wife was also so kind that we felt like family. He was always smiling and so casual.

I am so shocked and heart broken by this sudden loss. May we all be reunited very soon with Moshiach now.
(1/15/2018 7:17:12 AM)
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