B"H. Beis Moshiach Magazine is powered by:




Giving Our Heart & Soul
By Menachem Ziegelboim

Every summer for 19 years, a bar mitzva celebration was held in Kfar Chabad for the children of the war heroes who had died in Israel’s wars * Thousands of people participated in these moving events * Behind this project was a woman named Shifra Golombovitz of Kfar Chabad * For the first time, Beis Moshiach tells the full story behind the amazing work done on behalf of widows and orphans.* Part 1 of 3

The Six-Day War broke out. Dovid Morosov was drafted along with thousands of other soldiers, both regular and reserves. He volunteered to serve in the motorized corps and went south with his unit to the Egyptian front. Back at his peaceful country home, he left his wife about to give birth and two small daughters. Dovid was not afraid of hardship. He had never been afraid. He threw himself into battle.

Twice he saw the specter of death right before his eyes. The first time was when an artillery shell landed right on the jeep in which he was traveling with his friend. The two were thrown from the jeep. His friend was killed instantly. Dovid was miraculously saved.

The second time was on the third day of the war in Sinai, in one of the most difficult battles of that war, which took place in Bir Jifjaffa, where Dovid’s unit was fighting. A direct hit landed on the armored transport in which he was traveling. His friends fell and were killed and the transport went up in flames along with his tallis, siddur, and two pairs of t’fillin.

One day Dovid received a telegram announcing the birth of his first son. He was thrilled and tried to rejoice in the midst of the terrors of war. He received special permission to attend the bris and went to Kfar Chabad. He went home for the first time in forty days.

When the war ended, Dovid returned to the front lines although the battles had been won already. On Thursday, the 28th of Sivan, he returned to his battalion to continue to serve.

On Shabbos Parshas Chukas, 29 Sivan 5727, he wrapped himself in his tallis and davened Shacharis and Musaf. He didn’t forget to add Hallel in honor of Rosh Chodesh. After davening, he went over to take his place in position near the machine gun. Near him stood Uri Wissler, his commander, who joined Dovid’s position after his own machine gun malfunctioned.

Suddenly the Egyptian shelling resumed. Somebody had to leave the position and go up on top in order to determine precisely where the enemy’s mortars were located to be able to send the Israeli planes after them. Dovid volunteered and jumped to the task along with Uri, the commander. The two were visible to the Egyptians. Suddenly the shrieking of a shell could be heard, which landed four meters away. Another shell was aimed at them and made a direct hit. The force of the explosion threw them both into the air.

One of the soldiers described it: "Our shock was enormous. Heroes, tough and brave battle warriors, cried like small children. The tears didn’t stop." Two days later the coffin arrived in Kfar Chabad.

The funeral took place on Monday, 2 Tammuz 5727. The elder Chassidim, mashpiim, and all the residents of Kfar Chabad were in attendance. All sobbed bitterly over the terrible tragedy. A young life had been snuffed out, a life of holiness and Chassidus, of humility and modesty, a life built on Torah. The elderly rav of Kfar Chabad, Rabbi Shneur Zalman Garelik, burst into tears and said, "Be a proper intercessor for your son, Elchonon."

In addition to Dovid’s widow, Shifra, there were hundreds of other suffering widows. When people overcame the first shock, they went back to their daily lives and forgot the widows with their sorrow and worries.

At that time a letter arrived from Rabbi Chadakov to Rabbi Yisrael Leibov, the director of Tzeirei Agudas Chabad. Rabbi Chadakov noted in his letter (apparently based on orders from "higher up") that the souls of the slain want a proper education for their orphans. "Try to draw the orphans to a proper chinuch," the letter said, "as the souls of their fathers in the World of Truth desire."

Tzach didn’t know what to do with the letter, for up until that point they had had no connection with the families. Rabbi Leibov tried to get a list of the war heroes, but encountered difficulty. Meanwhile, Rabbi Chadakov continued to send a number of letters on this topic.

One day, R’ Itche Gansburg, a well-known activist, asked R’ Dovid’s widow, Mrs. Shifra Golombovitz to take on the project. Despite her own sorrows, she agreed. "I didn’t think about an organization at the time," she recalls. "I thought about starting on a personal basis."

Shifra received a list of the widows from the I.D.F., and despite the three little ones she had at home, she began going from family to family. Wherever she went she encountered mourning and sorrow. The wounds were still fresh. Since that time, the name Shifra became known to thousands of women around the country. When you said "Shifra," you said it all.

What did you talk about when you visited someone’s house?

"I knocked on the door and simply said, ‘Hello, I am Shifra from Kfar Chabad.’ I came to encourage them and I spoke to them as one woman to another. I told them we were in the same boat and that we had to go on in life. Sometimes we just chatted for the purpose of getting people’s hearts to open.

"I once went to the home of a widow with six children. She was Persian and hardly knew any Hebrew. The woman sat on the floor near the paraffin stove, sad and dejected. I asked her for the best way to make rice, because my rice didn’t come out right. I saw a spark ignite in her eyes and her heart opened up."

Didn’t you talk about Yiddishkeit?

"No. I didn’t discuss Judaism at all, just the situation. One day Mrs. Itta Ginsberg asked me whether I discussed Judaism with the women. I told her I didn’t and said I wasn’t able to. She said that wasn’t right and that I had to talk about kashrus and candle-lighting, and in general to bring Yiddishkeit into their homes. I insisted that I couldn’t speak about that. "I speak to them as a woman with children." She said that she would soon be traveling to the Rebbe and that she would ask him about this.

"She had a yechidus and the Rebbe said, "No, don’t speak about Yiddishkeit. You have to speak as one woman to another, and then you’ll get to the Yiddishkeit." Almost exactly the way I had put it.

"I visited homes and the women began trusting me. At first I spoke about rice, and then when I asked that the children attend camps and have a bar mitzva, they happily agreed."

Shifra devoted herself to her holy pursuit. Despite her little children, she would leave her house from morning until evening traveling from home to home in order to reach as many families as possible.

"It wasn’t easy," she remembers. Despite her personal pain she didn’t sink into depression. She threw herself into her work. For Rosh HaShana 5728, she sent a letter to each of the women with whom she had already made a connection, suggesting that they arrange a trip on Chol HaMoed Sukkos to the holy sites that were recently liberated. She doesn’t have a copy of the letter, but she remembers that it was a touching letter that aroused the interest of the Ministry of Defense. "I remember the following sentence from the letter: ‘Leave the children with the neighbors and don’t forget to bring pictures of your little ones.’"

Many women responded. It was the first time they had allowed themselves to go out and enjoy themselves since their husbands had died.

A great miracle took place on that trip. "We traveled to the Kosel and then went on to Gush Etzyon where Chanan Porat, later to become a Knesset Member, welcomed us. He explained to us about the place and then at a certain point I said to him, ‘Chanan, we have gone overtime by ten minutes.’ He said it didn’t matter and we arrived at the Me’aras HaMachpela ten minutes late. In those ten minutes, there was a mighty explosion near the Me’ara in which four people were killed and over twenty people were severely injured. When we arrived, the ambulances had just started coming and the scene looked terrible. I saw what was going on and told the drivers to head back."

What does a trip like that accomplish?

"I took it upon myself to support and encourage the widows, and that is what I did. The situation was very sad. Many widows were pregnant. We arrived at the Kosel and the women poured their hearts out. The trip brought about a strong connection among the women. One woman was from Yerushalayim, another from a kibbutz, a third was the mother of one child and a fourth the mother of six. They spoke to each other for hours and poured out their hearts and a connection was made and kept up."

The trip was just the first of many events with the I.D.F. widows. The connection deepened over that year, and for Chanuka 5728, the women were invited to a Chanuka party with their children. Shifra had gotten a generous contribution of toys from a man who had a toy factory. She prepared a list for him of the children and their ages and took care of all the details. A short while later a huge amount of age-appropriate toys arrived.

The party took place in one of the halls of the vocational school in Kfar Chabad. Emotions ran high. "I remember that one of the mothers hesitated about whether to come with her son or not. In the end, she decided to bring him. At the end of the party the boy said to his mother, ‘Ima, people love us here.’"

There were warm responses. "You managed to do in a couple of days what we haven’t managed to do in months and years," said the Ministry of Defense. They couldn’t understand how Lubavitchers had managed to get all the women out of their homes and had given them some motivation.

What was the secret?

"Giving our heart and soul."

* * *

The yearly programming expanded. On Purim, mishloach manos were sent to all the women by Tzach, and on Shavuos a flower and explanatory material were sent to each of them. Before every Yom Tov the women received a letter and explanatory material. They were constantly kept in mind.

"Once R’ Shmuel Segal and Rabbi Ginsberg of Kfar Chabad went to bring mishloach manos to a widow and her family who lived in Ohr Yehuda. They arrived at her house just moments before sunset. Afterwards they received a letter from her which said, ‘I was afraid you wouldn’t come, but after you came we felt like Eliyahu HaNavi had entered our house.’

"Even non-Lubavitchers were involved in sending the mishloach manos. It was a directive we received in a long conversation I had with Rabbi Chadakov, to get outsiders involved too. For years, Bnei Akiva students in Netanya brought mishloach manos to widows on behalf of Chabad.

"But the highlight of the year was Pesach. All the women and their children were invited to Kfar Chabad for the seider. It actually wasn’t a seider for the war widows, but a public seider, which many families in Kfar Chabad attended. Whoever came from the outside didn’t know who was a widow with her orphans and who was a regular family.

"Many families in Kfar Chabad rose to the occasion. It was a particularly moving experience," Shifra relates. "The guests slept at the homes of people in the Kfar who opened their homes to them, although the houses were small then and there were many children.

"In those days there was no catering service to prepare the food. Neither were there disposable dishes. The women of Kfar Chabad cooked it all themselves for days in advance.

"The Rebbe enjoyed great nachas from this project. One year, as the Rebbe distributed matza to the shluchim, he said that he had great nachas ruach, for at that moment there was a public seider in Kfar Chabad for the war widows."

Were there women who didn’t want to be categorized as war widows?

"Yes, though very few. I once received a letter from a woman who wrote, ‘I don’t want to belong. Don’t send me any mishloach manos. Don’t do me any favors.’" Shifra understood. She wrote a warm letter back to her saying, ‘You are permitted not to want, and if at any time you do want – by all means. To each his own.’ A few years later I received a letter from her saying, ‘Really, why shouldn’t I join you?’ and she joined."

Shifra explained, "First of all, not everybody wants to be classified as widows, despite the reality. Secondly, there were women who feared we would interfere with their lives, but after realizing it came from the heart and was real, they agreed."

What was the Rebbe’s connection to your work?

"A very special one. Our motto can be found in a conversation I had with the Rebbe during a yechidus in which the Rebbe said to see each woman as a daughter of Sara, Rivka, Rochel, and Leah. That was the Rebbe’s motto, and it truly was an important point.

"Every year the Rebbe sent a letter to the children of the war heroes. I remember that when the Rebbe announced that girls should light Shabbos candles, I said that if we want the girls to light candles we had to give them candlesticks, otherwise they wouldn’t have a reason to do so.

"Tzach agreed to give each girl a candlestick, but I explained that these girls had to receive two candlesticks, otherwise it would look like a yartzeit candle. Tzach refused and a debate ensued. Finally they asked the Rebbe and the Rebbe supported my position of giving the girls two candlesticks, but said we should explain that they should only light one. That was during Chanuka and the Rebbe also said they should give the boys a siddur in his name – "but the latkas are not in my name."

"The women appreciated this very much. After Gimmel Tammuz 5754, I received a letter from a woman living on Kibbutz Mizra, saying that she was ‘joining us in our sorrow.’ They all felt like one family with the Rebbe."

(Click here to continue.)


The giant central dais

 Soldiers lifting up one of the bar mitzva boys




"I visited homes and the women began trusting me. At first I spoke about rice, and then when I asked that the children attend camps and have a bar mitzva, they happily agreed."





"I remember that one of the mothers hesitated about whether to come with her son or not. In the end, she decided to bring him. At the end of the party the boy said to his mother, ‘Ima, people love us here.’"


Home | Contents | Archives | Contact Us | Subscriptions | Submissions | Interactive | Chat | Advertise

©Copyright. No content may be reprinted without permission.