Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

17 Cheshvan 5764 - November 12, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Mrs. Clare Ziskind o"h
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

On Sunday evening the 8th Cheshvan hundreds of Johannesburg Yidden gathered at the Kollel Yad Shaul for hespedim in memory of Mrs. Clare Ziskind (Kayla bas Avrohom Moshe haLevi) o"h who was niftar on Chol Hamoed Succos in London. She was buried late in the night on Hoshanoh Rabboh in Beit Shemesh where many hundreds of people including roshei yeshiva and bnei Torah attended, paying tribute one who had an effect on so many people's lives.

She had grown up in Cape Town and soon after her marriage to Reb Yitzchok (Ivan) Ziskind ylct"a, accompanied him to England where he was to study at the University of Durham. It was great siyata deShmaya that they found the opportunity to live that time in Gateshead. Here they developed in their Yiddishkeit and established ties with the great rabbonim.

Circumstances forced them to return to Johannesburg, where they played a major role in establishing the Kollel Yad Shaul under HaRav Mordechai Shakovitzky zt"l, which was the primary initiator of the baal tshuva movement in South Africa.

Approximately six years ago Reb Yitzchok closed his architecture business, and took a position at Ohr Somayach in Yerushalayim to work in kiruv. Recently he was asked to move to London to contribute to the efforts of kiruv there. In all these moves he was accompanied and supported in his work by his wife.

The rosh kollel HaRav Boruch Grossnass, in his warm words of appreciation, told how the first recorded hesped ever was for a woman: Soroh Imeinu. In gemora Megilla there are also cases of large community gatherings for hespedim for women.

The husband of the nifteres, Reb Yitzchok, who came to South Africa for a few days to be present at this occasion, raised questions of the significance of such a gathering for a person who grew up in simple circumstances in Cape Town and did not have opportunities and experiences of the famous women of the generation.

An answer to these questions was evident from the picture of those present. There was a cross section of the Johannesburg frum community, chareidi, mizrachi and chassidic, and the majority could tell of the significant impact the Ziskind home had on their paths back to Yiddishkeit. It was often the warmth, genuine concern and empathy that Mrs. Ziskind showed for others, that moved the hearts of those wavering on the brink of new commitments to begin lives of Torah Yiddishkeit.

The av beis din HaRav Kurtstag, a mechuton of the Ziskinds, described the hachnosas orchim of that home and noted that often the children gave up their beds to guests who were in their home to experience a Shabbos or a Yom Tov. It was certainly the woman of the house who carried most of the burden and she did so with total naturalness, as if it was no trouble at all.

HaRav Grossnass told of the numerous sheva brochos he attended there and how on occasion the hosts were not even sure of the names of the chosson and kallah, yet the Ziskinds welcomed these almost-strangers into their home. Numerous other examples were mentioned which explained how so many people were influenced by the warmth of that home to grasp onto the true way of Torah life. In every case it was the nifteres -- sometimes behind the scenes, sometimes with words that reached the heart -- who made the visitors feel so welcome.

Reb Yitzchok, however said that his wife and the family did not see any of what they did for others as especially significant. They all could see their fellow Yidden, groping for life. How could they stand aside and leave them to be lost? He told how the family all felt that their zchus to have raised children and grandchildren who are talmidei chachomim and bnei Torah came from their doing for others. Their life of working with others was full of joy.

What he felt to be significant was how his wife lived the last years of life with her illness, and especially the suffering of the last few months. Her ability to keep it from overwhelming her life, to the extent that they were able to entertain visitors until her last days, is a chizuk to all who saw it. But most significant was how she grew to a level where she, in the darkest days of her illness, could look back and see only brochoh. She was able to sincerely appreciate the words of encouragement of Dayan Lopian who, on a visit, told her that although it is bitter it is not shlecht.

Reb Yitzchok called on all present to take chizuk from the fact that a person with a limited starting point can reach great heights in life.

From humble beginnings, Mrs. Ziskind merited to bring up a family of outstanding bnei Torah, to mekarev many to Yiddishkeit, and to feel simcha, hakoras hatov and emunah, even and especially during her most trying times.


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