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
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
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
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.