The decision by Shlucha Shterna Wolff to remain living in Hannover even after the passing of her husband Rabbi Benny Wolff, OBM, is being viewed as an example of the Chabad way of life.
The couple, both raised in Israel by the large families of Wolff and Greenberg, arrived in northern Germany in 2005 and established the Chabad Jewish Center, serving people from all walks of life. As common in shlichus, the couple worked as a team. Rabbi Wolff is listed as the center’s director and Mrs. Wolff as the co-director.
With his passing at the age of 43 due to complications from pneumonia, likely caused by COVID-19, Mrs. Wolff was faced with a decision where he should be buried, and where to continue her life with her eight children, aged 3 to 19 years old.
Her decision was to have Rabbi Wolff buried at the local Jewish cemetery and to expand her role as the full-time director of Chabad in Hannover.
Rabbi Zusha Wolff, one of Rabbi Benny’s brothers, called his sister-in-law’s decision “heroic.” He said it places her “in line with female role models throughout the Jewish history whose actions have been engraved in the golden pages of the Jewish people.”
“Chabad boys and girls will be educated on your actions during these days,” he wrote to her in an open letter. “Books will be written, plays and songs in Chabad summer camps will be composed” about the decision.
The decision was announced by the family during the funeral on April 26. Only a handful of people were allowed to physically participate due to the current pandemic, but thousands tuned in to a live feed on Zoom, Facebook and COLlive.com.
“They were sent there so they are staying there,” said Rabbi Eli Wolff. “She is going to fill his role and the family is continuing forward (with activities and programs).”
“This was her thinking throughout Shabbos since his passing on Friday night,” Rabbi Eli told COLlive.com.
“After Shabbos ended, community members arrived and asked whether she will be staying. When she said she isn’t leaving and saw the powerful impact her decision had on them, it gave her renewed strength,” he added.
Rabbi Yehuda Tiechtal, rabbi of the Berlin Jewish community and director of Chabad in the German capital, was one of the rabbis that were present at the funeral.
“After Shabbat, when people found out the news, one of the first questions in Hannover was: Are they staying?” Rabbi Teichtal told Chabad.org. “You can see the Wolff family’s answer: They are here to stay.”
A fundraising campaign titled “Benny’s will” has been set up to support the family and their communal activities with a goal of 1 million euros – .
“Rabbi Benny’s last wish was, that his shlichut in Hannover should carry on!” organizers announced. “We are committed to continue Benny’s life mission and ensure that Benny’s family will not carry that responsibility alone.”
“We all feel like we must remain here and continue the work, the community needs to live on,” said Rivka Chaya Kamenetski, a local community member. “This was Binyamin’s life, this was his mission; we’ll be here no matter what.”
Story via COLLive