On Monday 17 Adar I, 5774, HaRav Meir Tzvi Schuster, a gentle man who touched thousands, passed away in Jerusalem. He was buried that evening on Har Hazeisim.
Born 71 years ago to Polish Holocaust survivors, Meir Tzvi grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was one of the first students of the Talmud Torah opened there by HaRav Avrohom Yehoshua Twerski. At the age of 14, he went off to learn in Hebrew Theological College of Skokie, Illinois, and then went on to learn in New Israel Yeshiva in Baltimore.
When I arrived in Ner Israel in the middle of high school in 1965, Meir Tzvi was already one of the older bochurim in the yeshiva. I soon had regular contact with him as I worked as his agent to sell cake for Shabbos to other boys in the high school. I do not have any special stories to tell about him, but that is really the most surprising fact of them all. He was a gentle, soft-spoken and very quiet person — and certainly among the last people anyone would have guessed would go on to accomplish the wonderful things that he did.
After his marriage, R' Meir and his wife moved to Eretz Yisroel in 1968. Within a few years he became famous as "the man at the wall." By the time I moved to Eretz Yisroel in 1979 he was an established presence.
He went over to thousands of people of all ages at the Kosel and, in his low-key way, brought many of them to lives of Torah and mitzvos. One of the keys to his success was the extensive follow-up work that he did. He kept extensive records and maintained contact with people over many months and years, helping them and guiding them along life's paths. For many, he somehow turned up at critical times to help them with important decisions.
He founded Heritage House in the Old City, that offers hospitality and education to seeking Jews. He also established branches that reach out to Israelis.
He is survived by his wife and three children, as well as many thousands of men and women whose lives were transformed by their contact with him.