Rabbi Moshe Weiss
Growing up, I didn’t have any grandparents; they had all perished in the Holocaust. As a matter of fact, none of my friends or contemporaries in Los Angeles did either. In our community of Hungarian immigrants, almost all of the adults were survivors so I never even knew what a grandmother or grandfather was.
My father, Berel Weiss, was a successful entrepreneur in the nursing home industry as well as a devout chasid and a very spiritual person. We would walk to shul each week on Shabbat, and he would tell me stories about the Baal Shem Tov and the Rebbe. “He is our grandfather,” my father would say.
Although there were very few Lubavitchers in Los Angeles then, my father had gone to meet the Rebbe in 1962, and it was a seminal moment in his life. He had a very emotional meeting with the Rebbe, and then a formal audience. He only brought my older brother Yona Mordechai along, but he did write my name in the note he handed to the Rebbe. The Rebbe read the note, and when he reached my name, he underlined it.
“Your younger son, Moshe Aron, where is he?”
“He’s too young,” my father explained. I was just two at the time.
When I turned three and had my traditional upsherinish, or hair-cutting ceremony, there was a chasid there by the name of Rabbi Shlomo Aharon Kazarnovsky. He was a very warm man who would periodically visit us in Los Angeles, and he delivered a gift. For my upsherinish, the Rebbe had sent me a little Chabad siddur. (more…)