Making a “Shidduch” is certainly a great honor. In our traditional world one usually thinks of a shidduch in marital terms, i.e. of introducing two life partners to each other. Besides the marital bliss shidduch, which I wish I were more successful at arranging, I occasionally have made other kinds of matches. Some matches have been between lawyers and clients, doctors and patients, carpoolers, etc. Recently, however, my husband made one of the most exciting shidduchim of all.
My connection with the South began in 1953 when my cousin married a young lady from Savannah, Georgia. Coming from Boston, Savannah seemed to be so far away from me. As a nine-year-old, I assumed everyone in the South grew cotton in their backyards.
Some fifteen years later in 1968, after a two year stint as a chaplain in the US Army stationed in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and Camp Red Cloud, Korea, my husband, Rabbi David J. Radinsky, became Assistant Rabbi to Rabbi Emanuel Feldman at Beth Jacob Congregation in Atlanta, Georgia. Our lives as Southerners had officially begun.
Two years later we moved to Charleston, South Carolina to our beloved Brith Sholom Beth Israel Congregation, which we served for thirty-four years and, following retirement in 2004, we settled in Memphis, Tennessee. Who would have predicted that this Bostonian and Seattlelite would spend all these years in the South?
When we first arrived in Charleston, it was the only active year-round Orthodox shul in the Carolinas. Since Savannah was “only” a two and a quarter hour drive from Charleston and had the closest Orthodox shul to ours, we drove there frequently to visit with extended family and for my husband to meet with Rabbi Abraham Rosenberg, rabbi of Bnai Brith Jacob Synagogue from 1944-1985.
Rabbi Rosenberg was small in stature with a big personality. He was a Talmid Chacham who created a congregation filled with folks who combined their Jewish and Southern pride. Rabbi Rosenberg was the Av Beit Din of the regional Bet Din on which my husband served. As a founder of NCSY in 1952, he helped create an organization that is over six decades old and has influenced thousands of teens to connect with the joys of a living Judaism.
As the son of the great scholar Rabbi Yehudah Yudel Rosenberg, former Chief Rabbi of Montreal (1919-1935), Rabbi Abraham Rosenberg inherited his father’s Shas, which had his father׳s notes written in the margins. Following Rabbi Rosenberg’s death Rebbitzen Sylvia Rosenberg z”l offered the special shas to our congregant, Paul Garfinkel, who, with Mrs. Rosenberg’s permission, offered it to my husband. My husband was honored to be the recipient of that unique shas, but because of its fragility, he decided to leave it in Charleston at our shul Brith Sholom Beth Israel and did not transport it when we moved to Memphis.
Fast forward to November, 2019 in Memphis, Tennessee when we hosted a Melaveh Malkeh for Asher Finkelstein and Avigayil Rosensweig. Asher, son of Rabbi Joel and Bluma Finklestein, had celebrated his Aufruf in honor of his upcoming marriage to Avigayil, daughter of Rabbi Michael and Smadar Rosensweig and great-great-granddaughter of the renowned Rabbi Yehuda Yudel Rosenberg. Rabbi Finkelstein is the Rabbi of Anshai Sphard-Beth El Emeth Congregation in Memphis. Mrs.Bluma Zuckerbrot-Finkelstein is the Chief Strategy Officer of Jewish Community Partners of Memphis. Rabbi Rosensweig is Rosh Yeshiva and Rosh Kollel Elyon at Yeshiva University. Professor Smadar Rosensweig is a Tanach teacher at Stern College for Women.
Making the Jewish Southern connection between Charleston and Savannah, Rabbi Rosensweig mentioned to my husband that his uncle Rabbi Abraham Rosenberg had been the Rav in Savannah. In turn, my husband told Rabbi Rosensweig about his personal relationship with Rabbi Rosenberg and how he had become the recipient of the Shas that had belonged to Rabbi Abraham Rosenberg and originated from Rabbi Yehuda Yudel Rosenberg. Suddenly the simcha that we were celebrating developed another layer of joy that filled the hearts of those gathered. For years the Rosensweig Family had wondered about the whereabouts of the family shas. Suddenly, they found the answer to the family mystery.
Thanks to my husband’s generosity and the personal delivery by Rabbi Moshe Davis, the Shas will be driven from Charleston to the Rosensweig family in New York. And Rabbi Davis adds,”The irony of it all is that a story about long lost books being returned to their rightful owner sounds like a tale written by R’ Yudel himself!”
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.