Mrs. Roza Hindy Weiss, oldest daughter of Reb Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin, was one of the family members most involved in the efforts to free her father, from raising funds for his legal defense to working to achieve support from leading legal and political figures.
Five days after her father’s release — despite another extremely busy day, with visits from well-wishers and numerous phone calls, in addition to her duties as a mother — Mrs. Weiss took the time to speak with Hamodia about the family’s ordeal over the past eight years, and the joy experienced over the past few days.
What have the past five days been like?
It’s been unbelievably, amazingly hectic and crazy! There has been an amazing outpouring of simchah and love and excitement and every other [good feeling] you can imagine.
Have you been with your father at all during his many visits and events?
I was not zocheh to be at every stop, but I was at many of them.
When were you and your family informed that your father would be freed?
Pretty much the same time you all were informed; maybe a few minutes before.
Where were you?
At my grandparents’ home, in Boro Park.
I’ve heard that your grandmother said the entire sefer Tehillim every day for the past eight years?
My grandparents owned Crown’s Restaurant in Boro Park, at which she helped lots of people with free food.
After the raid at the Iowa plant, she could no longer sustain the restaurant, and it closed. So she decided that she would say the whole Tehillim every day for my father, and Hashem answered her tefillos.
She had tremendous bitachon; she really knew and believed that there would be a great yeshuah, that my father would come home. So much so, that when we told her, she was mamesh not shocked! People of that age, you’re sometimes scared to give them shocking news.
I was driving in the car with my kids, and I heard them in back of the car talking about Serach bas Asher — my ears perked up, and I heard them saying that they’d have to be Serach! They’d become very close with my grandmother over the years, with us living in Boro Park, and they said, “Who’s going to break the news to her? We’re going to have to make a song and sing it to her, just like Serach did.”
But she had such emunah and bitachon that he’d come home that when we broke the news to her, she was totally unfazed. My aunt told her, and she simply said, “Yes, so when is he coming?”
How is your grandmother doing, health-wise?
Baruch Hashem. We focus on the positive, and we’re grateful for the koach that Hashem gives her. Hashem should give her lange gezunte yahren, in zechus of all the good [she does].
Although you all were informed of your father’s release only shortly before the news was publicized, I understand that family members and those involved with the case knew something was in the works and would be happening sometime soon, right?
We “knew” that for many years — there was always something in the works.
But you didn’t know now that something real was happening?
We didn’t know that Wednesday would be the day, if that’s what you’re asking.
No, my point is, you did know that he was being freed sometime; it’s not like it came totally out of the clear blue sky?
We knew but we didn’t know. Because there were false rumors so many times; it wasn’t the right time, obviously, so many times. There were numerous times when we felt, “This is it, it has to be it,” and it wasn’t it.
When it did happen, it was not a shock because we had bitachon that it would happen, but it was sort of an exciting shock at the same time, you know.
Since his release, your father has been on a whirlwind tour. Right after he was freed, he went home to Monsey, then to your grandparents’ home in Boro Park, and then to Crown Heights.
When he came home to Monsey, that was supposed to be just a pit stop.
It doesn’t look like he’ll be able to take any “pit stops” for a long time!
Right! He could barely get through the crowds from the car to the house.
Then he went on to Boro Park, and 770 in Crown Heights…
Then he slept in my uncle’s house for, I don’t know, maybe an hour, and went back to 770 for Shacharis, where he bentched Gomel. It was very special, very moving.
After that he ate breakfast. It was a very special, emotional time; some of our family members had flown in for a quick l’chaim.
I guess that was the first meal you all had together?
Yes, it was together, but it was a lot of people, a small place, and a lot of excitement! It wasn’t “together” in the sense that we have not had anything that was just our family, our siblings, yet.
Has the family had any private time with him? It seems that wherever he goes, even when he’s home, it’s crowded.
No, we haven’t. It’s been hectic ever since he’s come home; everyone feels very much a part of the simchah, and we feel like everyone is part of the simchah. We really believe that this simchah would not be without everyone’s efforts. We believe this very strongly — this has been in our blood throughout the past few years — that the way my father would come home would be with all the achdus and all the tefillos from everybody.
So, on Shabbos, when my father stayed at my grandparents’ home in Boro Park, the door was open, and according to Shemirah, there were 4,000 people who came to the door just to say mazel tov, besides all the families who came from out of town and were staying there. Everyone is so excited — this is something Klal Yisrael has been waiting for and davening for, and giving their hearts and souls for, for so long. Wherever I go with my father, nobody can contain their excitement, their joy. It’s a tremendous feeling.
Yesterday we were by the tziyun of the Satmar Rav in Kiryas Yoel, and there were some Israelis there. They knew about my father, and they were so excited and couldn’t believe that we had come there, and that they were able to say mazel tov to us. Everywhere you go, every type of Yid is celebrating and feels it is their simchah, too.
Yesterday, while we were in Kiryas Yoel, my sister sent us a video clip: A group of bachurim had just pulled up in front of the house in Monsey, gotten out of the car and started dancing in front of the house!
Numerous people from various groups have been involved. You had a big part in raising money for your father’s legal defense, and I understand there were others in the group from many different sects?
Yes. The achdus is not a new thing.
And it’s interesting, because when my grandmother would give a brachah for my father to come home, she often would say, “Nisht nahr ah mameh vet tantzen; di gantzeh velt veht tantzen!”
She was right!
She was right, and we all knew it. I always said, “The world is going to go crazy with this news; everyone will be so excited.” But we never imagined the magnitude, the intensity of the simchah — it’s like [the arrival of] Moshiach!
On the subject of the many groups who helped to raise money: I heard that one of the groups was almost entirely comprised of people named “Yoeli.”
When my father was first arrested, the effort to free him started with Chabad askanim. We are Lubavitcher Chassidim, and in a time of need, you turn to the people you know.
When things first started happening, we were hit by surprise. I called my mother and said, “Should I come to Iowa?” She replied, “I think you better stay there and figure out how you can help us.”
The next thing that happened, my brother got a call from Rabbi Zvi Boyarsky of the Aleph Institute who said he’d seen the news of my father’s arrest, and that he’d do anything he could to help. He gave us advice of what he felt could or should be done, and we followed that advice. Around the same time, he was in Brooklyn, and he tried to get together with us and help out, and from that day, he’s been a tremendous askan in this case, literally around the clock at times, with a team of people.
Rabbi Pinny Lipschutz was also involved right away.
In the beginning, it was more one person getting involved at a time. But as time went on, more and more people found out about it, and more askanim climbed on board, from all different places. Every community started wanting to do asifos and show their support. As people knew more and more of the story and saw it for what it was, everyone viewed this as a Klal Yisrael issue and wanted to join and help out in any way they could.
So, there were a tremendous number of askanim who were involved in helping my father. We are so indebted to them all, and that’s why I don’t really feel comfortable naming specific [people].
Regarding the specific group you asked about, yes, Pinny and a core group of Satmar askanim worked together. But throughout this all, there were so many askanim, working in many different areas and from numerous organizations. I would venture to say that every Jewish organization and every leader has, at some point over these years, had a hand in helping free my father. And every Yid does, as well, because of all their tefillos and financial support that we needed throughout this nightmare, throughout this journey, to make it happen. Everyone is really part of it, but it is indeed interesting that the core group was a group of Satmar askanim led by Pinny.
So many legal giants in America were advocating for your father’s release. Who was responsible for assembling all these people?
Many of our connections have come through Rabbi Zvi Boyarsky of Aleph Institute. There was a lot of networking, and just trying to figure out, “How do we get to this one, how do we get to that one?” Zvi was really a powerhouse in that regard. If we needed someone and did not have a connection to him, he tried to get their number and figure out how we could. And some of them — even some of the most prominent people — were really cold calls. It was like an investigative team, all the networking, trying to figure out what to do in order to get what we needed.
And then Zvi made the connection with Gary Apfel, who became the lead attorney on the case. I remember meeting Gary in the Philadelphia airport; he was flying in for business. He had read on the plane some documents that we had sent him, and when we met, he said, “I would love to help.” After that meeting, he ended up jumping in. Seeing the terrible injustice there touched his heart.
Any final thought?
I have one message: “V’habotei’ach baHashem chessed yesovevenu.” Everybody goes through their tzaros in life, and they need to remain strong and know that Hashem hears our tefillos and answers our tefillos — we just have to daven hard and connect to Hashem in whatever way we possibly can. And get chizuk from those around us and from Torah and mitzvos, and do everything we can to help each other, and stay strong and have bitachon and daven hard and know that Moshiach is going to be here any second.
We have to do all we can, and keep up this achdus, and it will happen!