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Legacy of Laughter

Malkie Schulman

If there was one way to characterize Shami (Shlomtzion) Reinman, who passed away last month at age 64, it’s that she was adored by everyone she came in contact with. For Shami, it was a thrill to dress up in a funny costume, to sing and make jokes, to create joy. That love of laughter and simchah defined her, from the time she was a young child to the pain-racked days at the end of her life.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Raised in Boro Park, Shami came from a rebbishe family, descending on both sides from great chassidic rebbes. Her joie de vivre came from her parents, Rabbi Esriel and Mrs. Chanala Rubin. Rabbi Rubin was a gentle man who imparted life lessons by how he lived, relates Shami’s daughter Devoiry Follman. A chazzan who davened for the amud every Rosh Hashanah in Blushev, he taught his children to harmonize at a young age; his eyes would crinkle with joy when they sang together. Rabbi Rubin loved humor and would encourage his children to find laughter in every situation. Whenever anyone would crack a joke, he would rate it on his personal “laughing meter” from zero to ten. Perhaps the most poignant lesson of all came when Rabbi Rubin tragically lost his beautiful singing voice to throat cancer in his 60s. He wouldn’t allow his inability to sing to steal his joy of Shabbos zemiros — he would click with his tongue to the beat, eyes shining with delight. Shami was also close to her mother, a lively woman full of spunk and, like her well-matched husband, humor. The mother-daughter duo would speak several times daily. If Shami didn’t call one day, she’d get a message pulled from the famousMosheYess song: “Go call your mother, you were only given one, please call your mother, you will never never have another. Please call your mom....” Even as a child, Shami was tenacious and persistent. The ideal she lived by was that problems were there to be solved — you only needed to look hard enough for the solution. Her generosity was also well known. “When my mother was seven, she came home from camp with an empty trunk,” shares Devoiry. “ ‘Where are your clothes?’ my grandmother asked. Turns out my mother had given them to a poor girl in her bunk.” 

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