ittel — her very name meant goodness. Rebbetzin Gittel Kaplan was a woman of wisdom and love and humor and graciousness. A woman with a commitment to bringing Torah into the world, to helping Klal Yisrael, who expanded herself to include not just her children, not only her friends, but everyone, everywhere.
Avigail Sharer, Targum Press coworker
I met Gittel at the right time in my life. I was a young mother, in Eretz Yisrael without family. Twenty years ago, we young marrieds were at a crossroad. We had been brought up in an old world, but had stepped into a new one. How to navigate the divide? How to build a bridge, take chubby hands in our own, and lead them over to the other side? And how to do so with clarity and confidence, without angst or guilt? Without dropping hands or losing our selves?
Gittel sat behind her computer.
“I knew the woman,” she said, typing, formatting, figuring out proofreading marks, “who used to make the cholent for the yeshivah.”
I imagined a huge, battered pot sitting on the gas stove in her small kitchen.
“She’d throw two packages of margarine into the pot, just to add richness.”
Gittel looked up for the tiniest second, enough for our eyes to meet and for both of us to grimace and burst out laughing. It was clear. Abandon the margarine. Keep the cholent.
On another occasion, she taught me to abandon something far more entrenched. A friend was going through a hard time, and I was keeping the stiff upper lip, Britishly respecting her space.
“Why don’t you go and talk to her?” Gittel chided me.
“But what should I say?”
“It doesn’t matter what you say. You’ll work it out. But she has to feel like you’re there for her.”
Abandon aloofness. Leave behind the angst about saying exactly the right thing. Embrace warmth, caring. You may take a wrong step or two, but people will feel that you care, and that’s what counts.
We were both brought up in homes with stay-at-home moms — “I never did a thing when I was a girl,” she used to tell me — and together we learned to navigate the working-mother scene.
Sometimes I got frustrated. Overwhelmed by the demands of little children, pregnancy, work. Frustrated by the banality of endless chores. I took my woes to Gittel. In between healthy doses of empathy, she built me.
“You’re so clever,” she would tell me. “Use it in your home. Figure out ways of making it work for you.”
Gittel was utterly unashamed of using shortcuts. “Being at home” was never about being the perfect homemaker — it was about making a home where her children were cherished, a home open for talmidim, a home where her husband, Rav Nissan Kaplan, could learn and shteig and be mashpia.
Not that she ever said that, of course. I knew she had many, many guests on Shabbos. Gittel never made much of this.
“My husband’s the sociable type,” she said.
Not, he’s a mashpia, he’s surrounded by talmidim, we have an open home.
At work, we knew the names of all her children. Her ambitions were in the sphere of home and family; she’d make sure that all the cogs ran smoothly so that she could devote herself to them. Though she would never have used the word devote. Gittel would have said, “So I could sit and schmooze to them. Have fun with them.”
And then, all of a sudden, there would be no irony, just absolute seriousness.
“It’s not like in the old times,” she said. “Our parents had kids and knew that they would turn out okay, even without getting deeply involved. We can’t do that anymore.”
Through snippets of information, she would show me what to do. Send this one to dancing, she advised me. And when her daughter performed, she invited me along with my girls — it would be so much fun to go together, she told me.
What she didn’t say outright, but I learned from watching her, was: Treat your daughters, go out together, make fun events part of their lives.
At one point, she told me she’d stopped taking on freelance work. “It wasn’t good for my family,” she told me. “When I’m home, I just need to be home.”
Finding the right outlet helps kids get through tough times, she showed me. Invest in their clothing — girls need to feel good in what they wear. (This expenditure was despite the fact that for years she had an old, worn-out couch, until she received a new one as a gift.)
One year, she vacationed near my home, and I went to visit her. There was a 1,000-piece puzzle spread out on the table, some kids were in the swimming pool in the garden, there were books and space and absolutely nothing on the agenda apart from having fun together and enjoying each others’ company. I was jealous.
Piece by piece, she showed me how to invest in my children, listen to my children, have fun with my children, make their emotional and social and spiritual welfare my primary concern. If Gittel could do it, couldn’t I?
This didn’t end when her children were older. In a phone conversation, she told me how she had gone with her daughter to a job fair: “She needed not just a job, but to work with nice people,” she told me, cued in to her children’s wellbeing.
Gittel loved pretty things and we rolled with laughter as she regaled us with stories about her diet group. Once she was wearing a new necklace and I complimented her on it. She proudly pushed back her sheitel and showed me the matching earrings. Her daughters had picked them out, she told me.
She encouraged me with my writing. She read everything I wrote, and told me what worked, what didn’t, where I should focus. What I was good at. And then, when my writing was published, she told me that she was so proud to be my friend — when it was I who was proud, and it was I who was grateful.
So much joy, in so many small things. So much humanity.
So much greatness, in such a humble, warm, wise guise. She let you think you were just like her, that she was just like you.
“We’re ten years apart, but I don’t feel it,” she’d tell me.
And there was truth in that. But there was also something more, something beyond. This was about the way she connected to everyone she met.
When she was first ill, I went to see her in her home. We sat and schmoozed for a while, and she told me how she had been coping, about the children.
“But what about inside, Gittel?” I asked. “You need to talk about it, process it.”
“I know. And I do. But really, my main thing right now is that I’m so grateful.”
Oh, I thought, so life isn’t about finding meaning in suffering. It’s about finding meaning in joy.
Nechama Emanuel nee Lopian, first cousin
I arrived in Eretz Yisrael as a newlywed, braving a strange country and a new language. Neither I nor my husband had any local siblings to help us settle in. But Gittel stepped in, as if she were an older sister, inviting us for Shabbos at least once a month and offering constant encouragement and sound advice. She helped me navigate the joys of finding a job, sticking with it (!), and juggling it with running a home and living the “Eretz Yisrael life.”
We so enjoyed spending Shabbosim in her home. It was a hub of activity, with bochurim, neighbors, and friends constantly popping in, as well as her own lively young family. We’d sit on the couch and watch as the men came home from shul, with the expected eight to ten bochurim turning into twelve to fifteen or more. And Gittel smiled and welcomed them all in. She’d ensure everyone round the table had what they needed, while always seeing to it that her children were taken care of.
When we’d leave her house on Motzaei Shabbos, she’d pack her Shabbos leftovers up for us. “It’s not enough for my family,” she would say, “but for you two it’s a supper. Please take it!”
When we ended up in Terem for hours one year on Purim, it was Gittel (on what was likely her busiest night of the year) who made sure we received a cell phone so we could make calls easily.
Gittel was so family-minded, so warm. She loved everyone and everyone loved her. You could count on her being at every family simchah despite her busy and demanding schedule. Gittel took care of everyone. Siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins, cousins’ children, bochurim and sem girls — everyone was made to feel part of the family.
Her chashivus for Torah was something to marvel at. She lived and breathed Torah, took pride in being able to continue the legacy with which she’d been brought up. We’d discuss yichus and what it really meant. “Yichus is an expectation of us,” she would say, “not a means of getting away with it.”
Gittel would arrange siyumim at the drop of a hat, then invite us over. She was a role model of an eishes chayil, standing behind Rav Nissan’s every endeavor and project, all with a contagious simchas hachayim.
Being with Gittel was fun; everyone felt so comfortable with her. Her sense of humor and nonjudgmental attitude enabled everyone to be themselves. “Nechama, we can’t judge,” she’d tell me. “We don’t know the whole story.”
She told me how grateful she was that Hashem had given her the koach to do all that she accomplished every day. Indeed, she achieved so much — most of it kept under wraps, done discreetly.
No tribute to Gittel can adequately portray her essence, but for me she will always remain an example of a devoted wife, devoted mother, and a true ambassador of Torah, chesed, and kiddush Hashem.
Tziri Weiniger, wife of a talmid
Gittel taught me priorities.
I remember the first time I made Pesach. We had two little children then, and I’d cleaned my house from top to bottom, scrubbed every toy and puzzle piece. I was exhausted.
We went to the Kaplans for the Seder, and Gittel was as calm as could be. How did she do it? I wondered. Then she told me her secret — she’d sold anything she didn’t need for Pesach. Her toy cupboards, her books — they were all locked up.
“Why make ourselves crazy?” she asked me. “That’s not what Hashem wants from us.”
Gittel managed to juggle work, children, and guests, leaving each with the feeling that they were the most important. Any time we visited, she’d act as if there were nothing in the world she wanted to do more than spend time with us.
The Kaplans made our shidduch, and my husband was one of Rav Nissan’s first talmidim. They worried about us as if we were their children. Did we have parnassah? How were our children? They’d invite us for Shabbos, give us baby gifts when our children were born.
When we had sh’eilos, we’d usually go to their house at around 11 p.m., so Rav Nissan could give us his full attention. Gittel would serve us food and drinks as if it were four in the afternoon, as if it were no bother.
Gittel never let us call her rebbetzin; she looked at herself as a regular person. And in a way she was: we could discuss normal issues — work, kids — with her, and she’d empathize. We felt that she was grappling with the same issues we were, and this helped us connect. Yet behind the scenes she was holding up her home so that Rebbi could learn, teach, and give to his talmidim, just as she wanted. Because we were’nt just their talmidim, we were their children.
Miriam Zakon, Targum Press coworker
It was cold, that night on Agassi, when close to 1,000 people gathered in front of Rebbetzin Gittel Kaplan’s home for her levayah. Finger and toes and bones were cold; hearts were frozen in sadness and disbelief. Only the tears were hot, pouring out of so many eyes.
We came, all of us, to listen to the sob-wracked hespedim from her illustrious family, to say goodbye to Rebbetzin Kaplan.
To say goodbye to Gittel.
Almost immediately after the levayah I wondered: As someone who was privileged to work with Gittel for almost two decades, should I share my memories in writing? Would Gittel, that paragon of humility, want her accomplishments and, yes, her greatness, revealed?
Rebbetzin Gittel Kaplan ran away from kavod, and it now pursues her. Within days of her passing the tributes were everywhere — letters, articles, blog posts, “Gittel stories.” The secret was out: her chesed, her compassion, and her total dedication to Torah and to her family (a family that included thousands of talmidim, neighbors, friends, strangers).
With all those voices proclaiming the praises of this eishes chayil, how could I remain silent?
She was, indeed, Rebbetzin Kaplan, devoted helpmate of her husband, Rav Nissan Kaplan shlita, the rebbetzin who gave guidance, comfort, and an open house to all those in need.
But to me, to all of our Targum family — she was Gittel.
Gittel sometimes talked about how she “grew up” in Targum Press. She came as a newlywed, a quiet girl from Gateshead who was going to do the typing. (Typically, she never mentioned her yichus; I only found out much later, and not from Gittel herself.)
Within a short time she became the center, the caring heart of an office whose workers were like family. We went through good times and rough ones, and always there was Gittel, ready to offer a piece of cake or a piece of chizuk, whatever we needed.
And some time during those years, the quiet newlywed became the mother of a wonderful and large family, wife of a gadol b’Torah, and… Rebbetzin Kaplan.
We worked together for close to 20 years, and were neighbors for almost three decades. Yet except for that one unforgettable time when she almost gave birth in my car (long story) I don’t have any jaw-dropping “Gittel stories” to share. There are, instead, flashes of memory, random encounters that together create a tapestry of friendship that makes me smile (and cry) when I think of them.
Long schmoozes in the aisle of our local makolet. Gittel’s kitchen on a Thursday night: a hive of frantic activity, kugels cooling on the shayish, the smell of cakes baking and meat roasting, daughters flying around at warp speed, little kids and big kids and neighbors and friends — and, in the center, Gittel, cooking for 20 hungry bochurim and talking books with me, calm, poised, sheitel and clothes perfect.
Gittel, strong, vibrant, always on-the-go Gittel, sick? I remember her telling me, quietly, almost tranquilly, that her disease had progressed. She turned down my offers of help and smiled that infectious smile of hers as she shared the news.
The last time I saw her was about ten days before her petirah. It was a Friday. I didn’t know what to expect from someone in critical condition, someone who, I was told, was fighting for her every breath.
She looked (as I told her, evoking a giggle) like a Hollywood star. Her daughter, a talented makeup artist, had just finished doing Gittel’s makeup for Shabbos. Though her face was a little swollen from steroids, she looked like the Gittel I knew — laughing, caring, regal, and just so alive.
It was hard to say goodbye.
Miriam Dombey, Targum Press coworker
The last months of Gittel’s life, I came to appreciate the sheer power of her character. Several months ago, I attended her daughter Yudit’s wedding. I came early, so I had a glimpse of the family’s last minute preparations.
The Kaplan girls flitted about in and out of the dressing rooms like princesses, adjusting their gowns and makeup while Gittel herded them about, looking radiant, cheerful, and elegant.
Only now, after her death, did I hear that on the day of the wedding, Gittel found out the cancer had started spreading aggressively.
Chaya Baila Lieber, Targum Press coworker
Gittel was such a good listener. She was everyone’s confidant — from our boss, Rabbi Dombey, and down. She always stayed out of the limelight, in the background of meetings, never making a big deal of the fact that she was a rosh yeshivah’s daughter or the wife of an up-and-coming maggid shiur.
She never made a fuss about anything that she did; it was all done matter-of-factly. But she wasn’t a martyr, either. If something didn’t work for her, she’d say so.
Neighbors, friends, relatives — they all knew different sides of Gittel. But there’s something unique about working with someone day in and day out, that allows you to get to know them in ways no one else does. Gittel was so unassuming, so down-to-earth, that most people didn’t know a fraction of all she did. I’m sure we didn’t know much either.
But we knew Gittel. She was real, she was our friend, and we loved her.
Ita Olesker, Targum coworker
I think of Gittel, and I think of her nobility. She was a singular force, truly noble in the sense that she didn’t define herself in terms of how others saw her. She was simply herself — and she was royalty.
Gittel met everybody on their level and at the same time pulled them up. Although she was higher and stronger and greater than “normal” people, she had a way of shedding light on our normality and raising it a bit closer to G-dliness.
Suri Brand, Targum Press coworker
When I celebrated my oldest son’s bar mitzvah, I mentioned to my coworkers how I wished I could buy a new sheitel; I hadn’t bought one since I got married, but simply couldn’t afford it. Gittel came to the rescue. She put me in touch with her sheitelmacher cousin, who helped me purchase a sheitel at cost. And called later to check that the arrangement had worked out.
There was the time when I was in my seventh month of pregnancy. I wasn’t feeling well and worried I’d overdone it. Gittel took me home, made me lie down, brought me tea and food. This is while she had children coming home for lunch and myriad other things to do. I felt so cared for.
Gittel didn’t “do” chesed because one is supposed to do chesed. She did it because if someone needed something, she had to help. She couldn’t stand to see anyone in pain.
Dovid Hamelech famously said, “Va’ani tefillah — I am prayer.” Every day, with every breath, Gittel declared, “V’ani chesed.”
Channa Buxbaum, good friend
If you walked into Gittel’s house, she’d greet you with an exuberant, “Hello, how are you?” You could feel the warmth that radiated from her, you could tell she really cared. It was a talent. Some people draw, some sing. Gittel had warmth and friendliness that glowed from her, a magnetic personality.
She was a delight; the nurses in the hospital were dazzled by her. She’d lie there, made up, joking, “You think I’ll make it out?” always with a bright smile. And she was so positive, so alive, that it was fun to take her to treatment — people were jealous of whoever took her to the hospital.
At one of her simchahs, the caterer, who was new to the business and excited to be catering a simchah for Rav Kaplan, wanted to make it special, so he covered all the chairs. She walked into the event half an hour before it began and gasped. “Everybody,quick,we need to take off the covers!”
Many people would be happy to get an extra perk they hadn’t paid for, but to her, it was so clear that es pas nisht. She was the daughter of a rosh yeshivah, her husband gave shiur. This wasn’t for her. She didn’t want to raise the standard for others. At the same time, she believed kids should look good and dress nicely. She always looked beautiful. But nothing was over the top.
We took her into the ER on Sunday morning, when she couldn’t breathe. Yet she was on the phone calling America, ordering a breakfast for my kallah, telling me, “Chana, let’s get this done now.” That’s who she was. It didn’t matter where she was or what was going on; she did what needed to be done.
Half a century of greatness
Born on 22 Cheshvan 5731/1970 to Gateshead rosh yeshivah Rav Avrohom Gurwicz and his wife Rebbetzin Sarah (n?e Lopian), all young Gittel ever saw was Torah: a father who sat and learned and a mother who stood at his side.
Her two grandfathers were Rav Leib Gurwicz and Rav Leib Lopian. They were brothers-in-law — Gittel’s parents ybdlch”t are first cousins — and the famed mussar giant Rav Elya Lopian was Gittel’s great-grandfather from both sides.
Gittel was the sixth of ten children, but the one her siblings claim “bound them all” with her spunk and spirit and deep understanding of others. And nothing would get in the way of the one overarching value Gittel’s upbringing had instilled in her: the importance of Torah above all else.
No one was surprised when her husband, Rav Nissan Kaplan, son of Rav Naftali and Rebbetzin Chaya Kaplan of Bayit Vegan, was already giving shiur at the Mir at the young age of 25.
Rav Nissan’s shiur quickly became the first choice for many chutznik bochurim attending the Mir. It remained that way for years, attracting some 300 bochurim at a time. Throughout it all, Gittel held down the fort at home.
Gittel’s diagnosis five-and-a-half years ago didn’t change much at first. By then, she had 11 children; her oldest daughter had recently married. Gittel had just started managing Salesforce, a key software program, at Ichud Hatzalah; prior to that, she’d worked at Targum Press and then as a freelancer. Her husband’s shiur at the Mir was as popular as ever. Life had to continue.
Which it did. Between Gittel’s surgery and the treatment that followed, Rav Nissan and Gittel made several simchahs. Rav Nissan opened his own yeshivah, Daas Aharon, for Israeli bochurim, and became rav of the kehillah of Givat Hamivtar. Since the family lived in Har Nof, this meant Gittel packing up the family and the entire Shabbos every other week so that they could all be together. (Later, as Gittel grew sicker, the family would remain home and Rav Nissan would walk back to Har Nof on Friday night.) At Ichud Hatzalah, Gittel continued making her mark; while she encouraged them to train in someone new, they told Gittel she was indispensable.
It was on the morning of their fourth child’s chasunah, on Lag B’omer last year, that they received the dreaded news: the cancer had spread significantly. But despite the devastating news, Gittel danced like she never danced before. No one seeing her would have known that she was sick, let alone received such hearbreaking news that morning.
Time passed and complications set in. It was too difficult for Gittel to breathe on her own and she needed to be hospitalized; however, the doctors believed this was only a temporary setback. But then, after three weeks of ups and downs, on Motzaei Shabbos Parshas Vayeira, Gittel’s family was called to her side.
For another two days, Gittel remained conscious, calling in her children one by one, saying goodbye to her siblings, speaking to innumerable friends, Skyping her parents in Gateshead to thank them for the life they had given her. By Tuesday afternoon, 21 Cheshvan, mere hours from her 49th birthday, Gittel’s body surrendered to make way for her neshamah.
Gittel leaves behind her husband, 11 children, and three grandchildren. May her neshamah be a meilitz yosher in Shamayim and may Hashem be menachem her family and all of those who knew her and loved her.
Devorah M., friend
My earliest recollections of Gittel go way back to those good old days in Gateshead; Gittel’s infectious giggle stands out amid my hazy childhood memories.
Fast forward to when I lived in Eretz Yisrael, just down the street from Gittel. The highlight of my week was Thursday, when I’d stop by her apartment. Her young children were all sleeping and her choshuve husband was out till late giving shiur. I had Gittel all to myself.
We’d schmooze, giggle, sample Shabbos food, fold laundry, and rock kids back to sleep. Memories of her sweet potato kugel that she knew I loved and her fresh chicken soup that she maintained needed just a spoonful of sugar to bring out the flavor still flood my senses.
Many years have passed since my days in Har Nof, but if I close my eyes, I can still hear the sound of Gittel’s happy laughter. It was this simchas hachayim that she displayed when Hashem handpicked her for her nisayon. She remained upbeat, positive, and full of humor despite her difficult situation.
While Gittel made no big deal of her illness, I was privy to her strength. I, too, climbed a medical mountain, and when I was diagnosed, it was Gittel who reached out and lifted the curtain of her carefully guarded secret, who reminded me to remain positive.
While Gittel initially wanted to keep her battle quiet so as not to unsettle her children (especially her son, who’d just started mesivta — she wanted him to learn unburdened), she overrode her desire for privacy to help me.
“We don’t know why Hashem sends us these nisyonos,” she wrote to me in an email, “but we have to just go through them… one day at a time and BE POSITIVE!!! For me, that was the way I survived. I kept on telling myself I’m not sick and im yirtzeh Hashem I’m going to be fine, and my kids and husband need life to be as normal as possible. Im yirtzeh Hashem, we will celebrate our recoveries together! Keep smiling and im yirtzeh Hashem this year will bring a new bill of health!!”
Our emails back and forth, written from hospital beds and infusion chairs, were ones that inspired hope, lightness, and yes, even humor. Underneath the lightness was exhaustion and fatigue, but that was never the focus.
It was those emails that I turned back to when the call went out for tefillos on Gittel’s behalf. As I reread her messages, I couldn’t process the fact that she was in a desperate situation. I penned a heartfelt card to her, thanking her for holding my hand.
My words didn’t reach Gittel in time, but perhaps they will reach her huge circle of admirers. As I cry over the loss of a good friend and the beautiful family she’s left behind, my only nechamah is to draw on her very own words of chizuk.
Eli Beer, United Hatzolah founder and president
Gittel ran the data department of Ichud Hatzalah. We have 1,600 to 1,800 emergencies a day, each one generating data — how fast responses were, what was treated — all of which is recorded. Gittel was in charge of the entire data system, and she did it incredibly.
She was a tzadeikes, but in addition to being a tzadeikes, she was very smart, an expert in her work. Her husband was a rosh yeshivah, and she was an amazing analyst. Hatzolah can’t make mistakes; our work is about saving lives. The reason we’re so successful is because we had her doing the job, and she did it perfectly.
She loved her work; even when she was very sick, she was sending people emails at 2 a.m. from her hospital bed. When people are sick, they usually forget about everything, but she said her work kept her alive — she knew it was helping to save lives.
We’re a big organization, with over 200 employees and 6,000 volunteers — but everyone loved her. She was friendly with everyone, it didn’t matter how religious they were. It was amazing how professional and beloved she was.
Unfortunately, we’ve had employees who have passed away before, but I’ve never seen anything like this. Some people had to take time off, they couldn’t focus. Everyone felt like they’d lost a family member.
Elisheva Luger, United Hatzalah coworker
My first day working at United Hatzalah, I met Gittel. Just Gittel. Not Mrs., and not Rebbetzin. She insisted on being called Gittel.
For years, we shared a small office with one other woman and the three of us became quite close, sharing our thoughts, feelings, and struggles. At the time, I was still single and after every date, I’d discuss it with Gittel.
“Elisheva, I know you can’t imagine it,” she’d tell me, “but before you know it, we’ll be discussing chadarim and Bais Yaakovs for your children!”
Well, one year later, there I was engaged. Gittel knew my mother had passed away when I was in high school and that my chassan had lost his mother less than a year prior. Although she was so busy — her own daughter was engaged at the time — she stepped in to fill our voids.
“Did you get linens? Should I come with you for your sheitel appointment? Where are we [we?!] holding with a gown? What else needs to be done?”
The morning after my wedding, we heard a knock at the door and my husband of nine hours opened it to find a large bag of breakfast with a note. Gittel knew no one else would think of such a small detail, but she did.
Years later, after a very difficult birth, I was overwhelmed with caring for my toddler, my newborn, and my own recovery. Once again, we heard a knock. A minute later my husband came into the room. I didn’t need to guess who’d dropped off breakfast.
“Gittel,” I once asked her, “I don’t understand. You have a large family and you work outside the home. How do you manage?”
“What do you mean?” she asked. “I get help. Nobody just manages.”
Eerily — this was before her diagnosis — she added, “When I die, they might write about me because I happen to be married to my husband. Don’t let them say that I did everything, because it’s simply not true. You can’t raise a family, work outside the home, and stretch yourself for your husband’s learning, all without help… It’s the best thing in the world to stretch yourself for your husband’s learning and help him fulfill his tafkid, but you have to be realistic.”
That was Gittel. Stretching for her husband, for his learning and his yeshivah, for her children, for her friends, and even for me, while also being the most down-to-earth and relatable woman I ever met. But for her, chesed, tzniyus, and chashivus haTorah were never a stretch — they were her essence.
Toward the end, I asked Rav Nissan if people from the office could come visit. He said whoever feels close to her should come. The entire United Hatzalah staff showed up.
A few days before her petirah, I went to visit. She opened her eyes for a moment and said, “Elisheva, im yirtzeh Hashem, I’m going to get out of here.”
As I left the hospital, I received a phone call to schedule our son’s cheder interview. Okay, Gittel, I thought. You were right. It did happen before I knew it. I was sure she’d also be right about getting out of the hospital.
And she was — just not in the way I’d thought.
Two days later, I returned to the hospital. I looked to my left and saw women outside reciting Tehillim, tears streaming down their face. I looked to my right and saw a sea of men screaming and crying Shema Yisrael. Gittel’s neshamah was about to return to the Olam Ha’emes.
She was surrounded by family, all talmidei chachamim, yirei Shamayim, lomdei Torah, and baalei chesed. Her son made a siyum, recited the Hadran and Gittel bas Rav Avrohom’s neshamah parted from her guf and returned to its Maker.
Gittel, not only taught me how a Jewish woman could live in this world — but how a Jewish woman could be zocheh to leave it as well.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 673)