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Open Home, Open Heart

Margie Pensak

Miriam Lowenbraun’s untimely passing two days before Shavuos plunged thousands into mourning. Miriam was not only born into Torah royalty, she perpetuated it. As her uncle Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski said, “Mimi… taught us what it means to have a firm emunah in HaKadosh Baruch Hu.”

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Miriam was 17 when she was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer, and was told she had between 30 and 60 days to live. She lived another 50 years. Her uncle, Rabbi Aaron Twerski attributed this gift of life to the tefillos of her esteemed grandfather, the Hornosteipler Rebbe, Rav Yaakov Yisrael Twerski ztz”l of Milwaukee. Daily facing her own mortality, and often experiencing excruciating pain, Miriam trained herself to focus on the wellbeing and needs of others. When Miriam’s daughter, Shulamis Weinreb, asked her mother just weeks before her death if she was afraid to die, she responded, “No. When you live your life the way HaKadosh Baruch Hu wants you to, you are not afraid of the Malach Hamaves.” Together with her husband ybdlch”t Rabbi Yitzchok (Itchie) Lowenbraun, Miriam infused her home with her father’s teachings. Her intellectual brilliance was combined with a love for her fellow Jew. Paying tribute to the tens of guests she routinely hosted, Rav Aharon Feldman said that her dining room table should be made into an aron. Rabbi Lowenbraun, national director of AJOP (Association for Jewish Outreach Programs) and former regional director of NCSY (National Conference of Synagogue Youth) Atlantic Seaboard Region, reflects on their marriage: “There was one condition of our marriage — to have a house like her father’s, open to everyone. It meant totally giving up privacy. Thirty people sleeping over at a time, using floor space. Yom Tov at my father-in-law’s house was otherworldly — you never came back the same person. “The Zeide from Milwaukee always said, ‘Your gashmiyus is my ruchniyus.’ She lived by that. She was taught by her father that the Beis Hamikdash was the world’s biggest kitchen and our table was like a mizbeiach. My wife took this seriously. One Erev Pesach, in the kitchen, she was all dressed up inYomTov clothes and wearing makeup. I remarked that it was so nice of her to look her best for me. She said, ‘Of course I want to look good for you, but today I am preparing forYomTov.’ To her, this was a holy endeavor — she got dressed up, as a Kohein would in theBeisHamikdash.”

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