Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik

Today Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik will be buried here on the mount of Olives where his wife Rabbanit Ella was interned not long ago

Rabbi Soloveichik was the man who opened the door for anusim to return His letter was what generated everything that followed He was a man who feared no other man but God alone He spoke his mind clearly on any matter pertaining to halakha And he had at his side a woman whose strength and love held him and raised many many women in Chicago She left us not long ago

I became close to the Rav and the Rabbanit as a result of my work for anusim My fatherinlaw who knew him from Yeshiva times went to visit him and my involvement on behalf on anusim came up He said immediately that they must be encouraged and helped and the letter came when I returned from Portugal The handwritten original is here with me

Since then I had the ear the time and the appreciation of the Rabbi and his wife It was very confirming to me and a privilege I treasured

Some anusim were personally helped by them When a rabbinic courst in Israel would not give a reutrn paper to a young man who was promised it it was Rabbi Soloveichik’s letter from Chicago that solved matters A couple of Casa Amistad members a group of anusim in Chicago – actually went with me and met these wonderful people On one occasion Rabbi Soloveichik said that the people of Israel must think and feel toward the anusim as a husband who has been longing for his wife while she was away

I called from Mexico when I needed his help I came by with any question and felt at home I shared poetry with the Rabbanit a poet and was able to give a copy of her poems to her son at the shiva for her He knew about them but hand not seen any

Rabbi Soloveichik was our champion He took the anusim and put them back at the center of rabbinic attention We lost the greatest rabbinic mind in the US the most courageous rabbinic mind of our time and a man whose heroic effort kept his mind and spirit going despite his ailing frame tormented by a severe stroke years ago But it was his incredible wife Ella who held him anchored to this earth When she left he could hold no more

May their memory remain as a great inspiration among us always We must never forget what they have done for the anusim In some years I hope that children of anusim making their journy back will hear that there once was a rabbi in Chicago who was more brave and more wise than any other and who loved the anusim as a real part of him And this rabbi broke the walls of ingnorace and cowardice and thus was the road paved for our return

There are no “hespedim” on hol hamoed and so we will not hear any of his greatness at his graveside I had to get this out though

Schulamith C Halevy

Web site: wwwanusimorg

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