With great sadness we regret to inform you of the passing of Mrs. Rochel Yehudis Charytan, OB”M, a devoted Shlucha to Winnipeg, Canada, for many years. She passed away on Sunday, Chai Nissan. She was 65-years-old.
She was born in Montreal, Canada, in 1954, and named for her two grandmothers who died al kiddush Hashem in Auschwitz. Her parents, Shraga and Sarah Gottlieb, Holocaust survivors from Hungary and Czechoslovakia, instilled within their three children a strong sense of Yiddishkeit, setting living examples of how to live with true Emunah and Ahavas Hashem.
Her father was an accomplished Talmid Chochom who would use his every spare moment for learning Torah and encouraged many people to make Limmud HaTorah a priority. Her mother worked full time to help support the family, yet would take her children to visit the elderly and sick, bringing them her legendary food and encouragement.
Her parents spared no expense to ensure that their children received a proper Jewish education. She studied at the Beis Yaakov of Montreal where she became close with several Lubavitcher teachers and classmates, eventually becoming fully devoted to the Rebbe and Chassidus. She would constantly refer her children to the Rebbe’s Ahavas Yisroel as a guidepost for how they should think about and interact with fellow Yidden.
In 1975, she and her husband, Rabbi Yitzchok Charytan, a graduate of Tomchei Temimim Montreal, moved on Shlichus to Winnipeg where she raised her family far from the comforts of her childhood. In their Yechidus before moving on Shlichus, the Rebbe handed her three dollars and told her she should be involved in the three Mitzvos of Jewish women. She was very active in managing the Mikvah throughout her Shlichus. She reached out to countless women with her non-judgmental, accepting attitude, guiding many in their times of pain and doubt, with a listening ear and kind encouragement.
After her oldest son was diagnosed with severe autism, she decided with her husband that they would do whatever it takes to raise him within a Jewish environment. This involved keeping him in their care at home while simultaneously managing her other duties with an upbeat, composed demeanor. One of the camp Gan Israel staff who came for two summers in the late 70’s related that Mrs. Charytan gave her marriage advice to “always greet your husband with a smile, no matter what type of day you had.” While it seems simple, it was so meaningful, given the difficulties she observed in having to manage an autistic toddler.
She opened her home every Shabbos for many years to host a minyan and kiddush. While her husband Farbrenged with the men, she learned and Farbrenged with the women. She kept in touch with many community members via weekly emails, reminding them about Shabbos candle lighting and other pertinent information. She baked countless Challos, honey cakes and other delicacies for community members to help them celebrate Shabbos and Yom Tov.
In recent years she suffered from illness, yet she never complained and continued to be there for others to the extent that many in her community were unaware of her situation. Her refrain while going through treatments was “BH all is well, Hoidu L’Hashem Ki Toiv Ki L’Oilom Chasdoi.” Even when she was very ill, she continued arranging the mikvah schedule. She held herself strong throughout and encouraged everyone with her positive attitude.
She is survived by her husband, Rabbi Yitzchok Yaacov Charytan – Winnipeg, Canada, and her children, Mendy Charytan – Winnipeg, Canada; Yossi Charytan – Montreal, Canada; Zalman Charytan – Kennesaw, GA; Naftoli Charytan – Crown Heights; Sholom Ber Charytan – Los Angeles, CA; Leah Blecher – The Woodlands, TX; Chaya Mushka Cunin – Pomona, CA; Sossia Kramer – Crown Heights; and Mattis Charytan – Crown Heights; as well as many grandchildren.
She is also survived by her siblings Yitzchok Dov Gottlieb of Yerushalayim and Chana Blima Friedman of Toronto.
Shiva will take place after Yom Tov. The family requests to strengthen observance or influence others in their observance of the three mitzvos of women l’iluy nishmas Rochel Yehudis bas Shraga Feivel, OB”M.
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Baruch Dayan Ha’emes