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“My Embassy Is Open”

Dina Spira

Exuding warmth, yet cool, calm, and collected when the need arose, the Bluzhever Rebbetzin’s giving heart and quick thinking saved many Jews during the Holocaust. After the war, too, the rebbetzin was involved in countless chesed activities and her home was open to all. A daughter-in-law remembers.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

passports and trainNervously, I climbed the narrow dark stairs. Behind me followed my prospective chassan, eager for me to meet his parents. I hesitated at the door. How do you greet a distinguished Rebbe and Rebbetzin? How would they receive me? But I had nothing to fear. The door opened and my future mother-in-law engulfed me in a warm hug, loudly proclaiming that she was giving me the schlissel (key) to the house. I turned to my not-yet-chassan with a look of alarm; after all I hadn’t said “yes!” But it was all settled pretty quickly. I called my parents, they came over, and before I knew it, I was a kallah.

Thus began a 40-year relationship. Bobby Bluzhever, as my kids called her, had a warm heart, a good eye, and loved every Yid. As someone once remarked, she had both strength and compassion — qualities that don’t usually go together.

She had to make many dramatic transitions in her life, but she adapted to her changing roles with grace and equanimity. Once she confided in me, very quietly, that it had not always been easy to forge on. But, she remarked, “ich bin alemuhl geven a tzefreedener nar” — I was always a happy fool. When the Rebbe was in the hospital for a year-and-a-half, she would give out bulletins for those concerned, saying “as es iz nisht erger is shoin besser” — if things are not worse, it’s already better. This positive attitude helped carry her through all her life’s trials.


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