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My Bubby

Thursday, 19 May, 2011 - 9:42 pm

My Bubby passed away last week on Wednesday in her honor, I am posting an article about her life instead of my weekly thoughts.

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Mrs. Henya Chasha Schusterman, a respected member of the Chasidic community and the matriarch of a prominent Chabad family, passed away Wednesday, May 11, 2011. She was 90.

Born in Shumyachi, Russian, Henya endured the terror of Soviet religious oppression.

When Soviet purges became more frequent, Shumyachi’s Jews fled to the larger cities of Moscow and Leningrad, where they could more easily practice their religion, but Henya’s father Zusman Fradkin, remained behind. A schochet, (ritual slaughterer) and thus the sole provider of kosher meat for the Jews of Shumyachi, he felt a obligated to remain. The Fradkin children were the only religious family to remain in the shtetle, and Henya the only girl.

On  a trip to Moscow, Henya’s mother Feigel met Mordechai Schusterman, a young student of the clandestine network of Lubavitcher Yeshivos. He was soon introduced to Henya, and on July 15, 1940, they were married.

When the Germans invaded their Soviet allies in June of 1941, in what would be known as Operation Barbarossa, the Schustermans fled deep into the Russian interior. Arriving in Uzbekistan, they reunited with other Lubavitcher Chasidim in the cities of Tashkent and Samarkand, where, at a relatively safe distance from the watchful eye of the Kremlin, conditions for practicing Judaism were somewhat easier.

In 1945, an opportunity to escape the Soviet Union presented itself to Russia’s Jews. With WWII’s end, the thousands of Polish Jews that had fled the advancing Nazi army, were able to return to their homeland. Under the guidance of legendary chasid Rabbi Mendel Futerfas, hundreds of Chabad Chasidim, including Mordechai, Henya and their two daughters, crossed the border as well, entering the Ukrainian town of Lviv in 1946.

From Poland, they traveled to Poking, a German DP Camp, until they could find a more permanent home. Finally in 1947, the Schustermans came to America, settling in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. There Mordechai worked as a printer, as well as an expert Torah reader for Shabbat and Holiday services, while Henya taught in the local schools.

Henya became active in communal affairs, taking special interest in newcomers to the Crown Heights community, helping them integrate into the community.

Her grandson, Rabbi Kushi Schusterman, the Chabad emissary to Harford County, MD, recalls a modest woman dedicated to helping others.

“My grandmother never looked for self-aggrandisement,” Schusterman recalls. “She was a woman of immense personal strength, completely dedicated to helping others.”

She is survived by her children Mrs. Laya Klein, Mrs. Miriam Nemenov, Rabbi Gershon Schusterman, Mrs. Faigy Wolf, and Mrs. Zysel Gurevitz. Her daughter Nechoma Greisman, a noted writer and Chabad emissary to Israel, passed away in 1992. She is also survived by a few hundred grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren, many of them Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries. (Lubavitch.com)


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