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TORAH

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ews worldwide are mourning the loss of Reb Meir Schuster, ]W¡O D OHJHQGDU\ Ă€[WXUH DW WKH Kosel who devoted almost forty years of his life to introducing Jews of all stripes to the beauty of their Jewish heritage. R’ Schuster, who suffered from Lewy Body disease, a degenerative and incurable neurological disorder, passed away in Jerusalem at age 71. As many as tens of thousands of baalei teshuva credit R’ Schuster with their return to religious observance. Rabbi Meir Tzvi Schuster was born to Holocaust survivors Morris and Mary Schuster in Milwaukee on January 22nd, 1943. A public school student, the young Meir’s main connection to religious observance was his grandmother, until he began attending an afternoon Hebrew school at age 11, run by Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski. “I knew Meir before his Bar Mitzvah,â€? Rabbi Twerski remembers. “He learned for his Bar Mitzvah in my father’s shul. He was a very sweet, but a very withdrawn child. If anybody had told me at that time that he would EH WKH RQH WR Ă€OO WKH EDDO WHVKXYD yeshivos, I would have said they were crazy.â€? Despite his reserved nature, Rabbi Twerski recalled that the young Meir possessed a special charm which became the basis for his unbelievable success in the kiruv world. “Hashem gave him unbelievable cheyn, and the people he would meet

at the Kosel would follow him like the Pied Piper,� said Rabbi Twerski. “I knew him as Stanley and whenever I would go to the Kosel and would see him from a distance I would call out ‘Hey, Stanley!’ and he knew it was me. Whenever I was at the Kosel, he would be there, too.� In retrospect, Rabbi Twerski said

of special tzaddik.â&#x20AC;? The young Meir went on to study at Beis Medrash Lâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Torah in Skokie in 1958, moving on to Baltimoreâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Ner Israel Rabbinical College just two years later, where he would wake up the other bochurim each morning and spend his entire Shabbos learning in the Beis Medrash. Los Angeles resident Rabbi Avi Stewart, a Ner Israel alumnus, recalls that even years later, the yeshivaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rabbeim still spoke fondly of Râ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Schusterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time at the yeshiva. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We heard over stories about how he used to have a taanis dibbur every Shabbos when he was a bochur and how he would give out cookies to those in the beis medrash at 1 or 2 AM on Friday nights,â&#x20AC;? said Rabbi Stewart. Râ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Schuster married his wife, Esther *DUĂ&#x20AC;QNOH RI 0RQWLFHOOR 1HZ <RUN in 1967 and they traveled to Israel in March 1968 to spend a year immersed in learning. It soon became readily apparent that one year in Israel was nowhere near enough for the young that Râ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Schuster actually experienced couple, who settled permanently in WKHĂ&#x20AC;UVWJOLPPHUVRIKLVIXWXUHHDUO\LQ the Ezras Torah section of Jerusalem. life. Râ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Schusterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s metamorphosis â&#x20AC;&#x153;Meir used to come to me before from an introverted, quiet individual his Bar Mitzvah and tell me how to the man who would approach Hashem spoke to him,â&#x20AC;? said Rabbi total strangers at the Kosel and fan Twerski. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t a psychiatrist the light of Yiddishkeit that burned then, but if a kid would tell me now deep inside them took place shortly that he hears voices I would say there after his arrival in Israel. On a trip to was something wrong. I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t see the Kosel with an old yeshiva friend, anything wrong then so I just set it Chaim Kass, the two observed a young aside, but now I believe it is true. I can man with a backpack, who was clearly only conclude that he was some kind moved by his visit to the holy site.

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