Tuesday, June 12, 2007


We called him The Rabbi and he was our rabbi and our friend. He passed away yesterday.

Windsor, Ontario always housed a small Jewish community. When I was growing up there, there were 750 Jewish families. Today there are less than 2,000 Jews and 34,000 Muslims.

When I was growing up we were all Windsorites. Today we are Jews and Muslims. But not everyone knows that yet.

Rabbi Stollman was the rabbi of the 'big shul', the Shar HaShamayim (Gates of Heaven) and it is still a lovely shul. We had the big shul, the little shul and then the Temple. When my mother's father, my Zaidi AH decided to rebuild the little shul we moved there to daven. The little shul was special but the big shul...well it was the big shul.

We weren't religious. We were traditionalists. We celebrated every holiday. My brother and I went to Jewish school every day after school. I wanted to be a Brownie. My mother said that Jewish kids went to Jewish school and that was the end of the Brownies.

My mother was right. But that is another story.

My Dad AH and the Rabbi were friends. They liked each other. They respected each other.

When I moved to Jerusalem, I was thrilled to find that Debby and the Rabbi were here too. We didn't see each other that often but we always stayed close. I send this blog to them every day. When my parents came to visit for a couple of months every year, we always met with the Stollmans.

I have pictures of my parents, and the Rabbi and Debbie and my youngest standing outside of a restaurant with our gas mask kits during the Gulf War.

The Rabbi passed away yesterday. He wasn't young...he suffered a lot his last years...but he was THE RABBI. Smart, and kind and generous, and that twinkle in his eye always gave away the fact that behind his somber face was a man who knew how to laugh and loved life.

I loved the Rabbi and he loved me. He laughed at my stories. He comiserated with me during my hard times. He was my friend too. I will miss him.

Here is one of my favourite stories. My husband and I got married by the Rabbi in my house in Windsor. There were 18 people at the ceremony.Then we all went to the Jewish Center for the reception where close to 300 people were waiting for us. And that was only MY side. My husband's family were all back in Jerusalem. No one had that kind of money those days. And the plan was that we get married in Windsor and have a big party and live in Jerusalam afterwards.

My friend the Guv was a sport and went with me to the mikvah before the wedding. I'll tell you that tale another time. I knew that in Israel you had to go to the mikvah or ritual bath before a wedding and wanted to make sure that I had all the proper papers to have our wedding approved when we got back to Israel.

Little did I know. My husband and I went to the Rabbinute...the supreme Jewish religious governing body in the State of Israel...to register our marriage so that when we had kids there wouldn't be any problems.

I figured it would be a sinch. My husband had three witnesses to verify that he was Jewish and had never been married before and I had my three witnesses to verify the same.

I wore my Rabbinute dress...long sleeves and long skirt. I didn't want to offend anyone and felt that this would be appropriate attire, even though I was into minis at the time. Sigh.

We were escorted into a room where three rabbis sat at a dias way up high...well it looked like that to me. Awe inspiring is all I can say. No one cracks jokes at the Rabbinute.

All went well until one of the rabbis said, 'I see you have witnesses for the bride and for the groom. But where are your witnesses for the Rabbi?'

I said, 'WHAT?'

He said, 'How do I know that you had an orthodox wedding? That your Rabbi is orthodox.'

I said, 'Rabbi. We got married in Windsor, Ontario. Rabbi Stollman is the Rabbi from the Shar HaShamayim Shul. It's an orthodox shul.'

Then I looked over at my husband.

A few seconds later, the rabbi said, 'Upstairs in the archives is one of our rabbis who just came back from North America. Maybe he heard about your rabbi.'

Then we started to climb. Up rickety stairs we went higher and higher until I figured that we were as close to God as I wanted to be that day. Inside a litte room pilled high with books and papers sat an old rabbi.

I told him our plight and he said, 'Of course I have heard of the Stollmans. Wonderful family.'

And he signed the papers. And our marriage was kosher.

I will miss The Rabbi. We all will. May he rest in peace.

Have a good day...stay safe...and thanks for dropping in.


At 7:13 PM, Blogger muse said...

He must have been so special.
a very fitting post

At 9:46 PM, Blogger Penless Thoughts said...

Thanks for sharing this information about someone you loved and also about your wedding.

At 11:16 PM, Anonymous Tim said...

Great story. I love it. Who would have thought you needed a witness for a Rabbi? Not I.

Be blessed.

At 1:30 AM, Blogger Leann said...

sorry to hear someone you loved is gone.its hard to lose someone so close.but we who believe know they are always with us in our hearts.one never is without those we loved and cared about.

At 4:18 AM, Blogger torontopearl said...

Marallyn,it's wonderful that Rabbi Stollman, a'h", was such an important part of your life, your family's and the Windsor community. I've never been in Shaar haShamayim in Windsor, but I recall seeing it from the outside when my brother was a student at U of W and took me around to see the "sights." That shul was on the tourist attraction list for me!
May the good rabbi rest in peace.

At 6:15 AM, Blogger Val said...

Sorry for your loss.

At 11:24 AM, Blogger marallyn ben moshe said...

thanks muse...he was

stories are good to tell, no susan?

shalom tim...one of my favourite around the table tales...tx

you are right leann...sad

thanks pearl...it is as lovely inside that shul as it is impressive outside

At 11:39 AM, Blogger marallyn ben moshe said...

thanks val...sad when they go...not a tragedy...just sad

At 12:28 PM, Blogger PortraitofPeter said...

A treasured memory of such a wonderful and caring friend and Rabbi.

May you always retain such fond memories.

Blessings and in thoughts.

At 10:07 PM, Blogger Pam said...

Thanks for sharing this lovely story about your wedding. I find it all so interesting. I enjoy any piece of Jewish tradition I can glean from your blog.

At 3:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi: My sister Anne and brother-in-law Kiva were members of the Shaar and considered the Rabbi and Debbie their friends. They attended the Rabbi's Sunday night couples group and even though I live in Toronto my sister would relay to me what was discussed. What a nice way to learn.

At 6:00 PM, Blogger jazzzz said...

Hi Marilyn: this is a voice from your past. Hope you remember Bobbi Leiderman. Heard that the rabbi died and found your blog. thank you for the wonderful stories which I very much appreciated and it brought me back to my childhood which was a wonderful time in my life.

Harv and I live in Toronto and have 3 boys. Hope life has been good for you. How is your brother David. Thanks again for putting a smile on my face. Bobbi Lewin

At 11:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was wonderful and brought me back to a wonderful time in my life. The rabbi married Harv and me and I remember him fondly. Is Debbie still alive. Please say hi to David. Hope you and your family are healthy. Sincerely Bobbi Lewin
also known as Bobbi Leiderman

At 9:03 AM, Blogger marallyn ben moshe said...

shalom jazzzz and bobbie...how absolutely wonderful to hear from you...and david is fine...he and his family live in colorado...if you have a moment i'd love to hear from you... marallyn@gmail.com
shabbat shalom


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