Ruth with her grandchildren, Shneur Zalman, Levi Yitzhok, Shmuel and Zlota
Fourteen years ago, my son Yisrael Moshe announced he was going to Hadar Hatorah and sending me his furniture. I would travel to Crown Heights to "check it out". As I entered the Yeshiva up the worn steps, I met Yaakov Silberstein and Rav Goldberg in the office. Since my son was learning all day, I volunteered to do his wash at the corner laundromat. I also learned that one should not throw tzitzit into a washing machine and dryer. I remember frantically trying to untie all the knots before my son would see them. I felt so foolish until this woman came into the laundry, calmed me and tried to help. With not much to do, I announced in the office that I would return during Parents' Weekend. This was met with silence. Is there no Parents' Weekend? Well, you should have one. Everyone should come to see and learn about Hadar Hatorah. I volunteered to completely do the project myself. It took awhile for this idea to be accepted. Maybe they realized that I wasn't going away but would continue to quietly persist with this request.
Finally there would be the first Parents' Weekend in February, 1999. I was so happy and decided to accept whatever date was given. Forget that I live in Florida and cold is something I avoid. I would do it happily in February. I remember one year on Sabbath morning, the sidewalks were dangerously slick with ice. Afraid to walk, I spent all day in the hotel. Another year I held onto every bush trying to make it to the Yeshiva. Finally after a number of years I was brave and said it must be changed to spring. It is now in April, before Passover.
The memories I have of all the families I called and met through the years are so special. The young men and their stories are amazing. The bond I have with all of them is strong. All the families in Crown Heights, who open their homes every year to the parents, have become friends. I realized that if this weekend helps build a bridge between the young men and their families, where it is necessary, it is worth any and all effort. Each weekend has held a special memory. Once the heat was not working and Friday night's Shabbos dinner was held in the freezing basement. Not one parent left. No one complained. Matisyahu was our entertainment after Sabbath at the Melave Malka for two years. The noted speaker Miriam Swerdlov spoke at our first Parents' Weekend. The famous Chassidic artist Michoel Muchnik allows us to meet yearly in his home where we are honored to see his artwork. And there is so much more to tell about.
This will be the thirteenth Parents' Weekend. Each year I have spoken to all the parents of the young men in the Yeshiva from all parts of the United States and beyond. I have called France, Hungary, England, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Israel, and just about everywhere. I often quip and say that I am the only woman whose son went to a Yeshiva and left his mom behind. Thank you Hadar Hatorah for all the years of memories. I look forward to many years ahead.