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Hindy Scheiman Touched So Many With Kindness

Hindy Scheiman Touched So Many With Kindness

Hindy Scheiman
Hindy Scheiman

Beloved educator Hindy Scheiman, an unassuming leader in the Chicago and Des Plaines, Ill., area Jewish communities, passed away after a long illness at the age of 54. A Chabad-Lubavitch emissary, she was co-director of Lubavitch Chabad of Niles, Ill.

“She was an extremely soft-spoken woman,” says Rabbi Daniel Moscowitz, director of Lubavitch Chabad of Illinois. “Her life was dedicated to education and the community for over 30 years, since her arrival in Chicago.”

An open home and heart

Scheiman was born in 1958 in Brooklyn, N.Y., to Azriel and Shifra Schanowitz. Her father was involved in Kehot, the publishing arm of Chabad-Lubavitch. “Her childhood home,” according to her husband, Rabbi Binyomin Scheiman, “was always open and filled with guests from all backgrounds.”

He says his wife and her siblings took that to heart, and kept their homes open as well, always welcoming people in. “She would come over to me,” recalls her husband, who together with her established Lubavitch Chabad of Niles in 1987, “and point to someone who looked like he or she did not receive an invitation for the Shabbat meal and tell me to invite them.”

Acquaintances say she ran a home with seemingly no lock on the door. “There is a hospital close by,” explains her brother, Rabbi Yosef Schanowitz, co-director of North Suburban Lubavitch Chabad in Highland Park, Ill., “and her home was open to anybody who needed to stay there overnight, for a few hours or just for a meal.”

The concept of complete faith in G-d epitomized the life of this exceptional teacher and mother.
The concept of complete faith in G-d epitomized the life of this exceptional teacher and mother.

Scheiman would also cook for those in the hospital over a holiday or during Shabbat, and have the families stay with her so they could visit their loved ones.

As the director of Jewish Prisoners' Assistance Foundation and the chaplain of many state prisons, Rabbi Scheiman stayed in touch with many ex-inmates and would often bring them home for meals and counseling sessions. “I am grateful,” he says, “that she made that possible for so many people—not many others would let them into their home, and they were always welcome into ours.”

“From an early age,” adds Rabbi Schanowitz, “she always took responsibility and took charge of difficult situations. She carried others on her shoulders with dedication, placing everyone before her, carrying the burden of others.”

After Scheiman’s passing, family and friends learned of acts of heroism on her part, such as once walking eight miles with a woman who needed to go to the mikvah on Shabbat or the time she picked up stranded passengers at Chicago's O’Hare International Airport in the wee hours of the morning.

“She did everything for others,” says Rabbi Moscowitz, “as if it was normal, as if it was nothing special or out of the ordinary.”

Going the Extra Mile

Rabbi Meir Hecht, director of the Jewish Learning Institute of Chicago, a student of Scheiman’s whose children also became her students over the last two years, tells of how she was dedicated to teaching the young how to read Hebrew. “She had tremendous patience to teach them how to read like no one else was able to,” he says.

Lakey Silber, director of the Seymour J. Abrams Cheder Lubavitch Hebrew Day School's preschool division, where Scheiman taught, says that she gave individualized instruction based on a child’s particular needs: “The kids were connected to her because she was very embracing and very nurturing.”

She says that her care went beyond the students, to the parents. “She always had a nice word for the parents; she was sensitive to everyone’s needs.”

When a mother from the school who lived in a remote neighborhood gave birth, Scheiman sent the family meals; after all, her philosophy was that new mothers need sustenance along with their babies.

In the growing Chabad Chicago community, she also set an example for many who were just learning the basic tenets of Judaism. “There is not a family in the community,” says Rabbi Moscowitz, “who has not been affected by her. Everyone looked up to her as a role model.”

Scheiman exemplified what the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—said about serving G‑d “with faith and genuine joy.” Friends and family say she fulfilled this ideal whole-heartedly, and that this was personified by the fact that very few people realized the extent of her illness.

“No one knew she was sick,” says Rabbi Hecht. “She was with her students, as always, doing everything happily, and no one ever saw any signs of being ill when she was in school, until one day she just stopped coming.”

It’s a difficult time for those touched by Scheiman’s kindnesses. Silber says the community is uplifted by the attitude of the Scheiman family—“everyone is in awe of the faith and positive approach that they have had throughout this ordeal, and that they continue to have.”

She says the concept of complete faith in G‑d epitomized the life of this exceptional teacher and mother, and that Scheiman educated her children to live their lives in that manner, “and this is having a great effect on the entire community.”

In addition to her parents and husband, Scheiman is survived by her children: Rabbi Schneur Scheiman, co-director of Camp Gan Israel of Chicago; Faigy Lison of Montreal, Canada; Henny Brandman, co-director of Chabad of Buckhurst Hill, United Kingdom; Chaim Scheiman and Mendel Scheiman of Brooklyn, N.Y.; Mushka Scheiman; Shterni Scheiman; and Leibel Scheiman.

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Rochel Atkins Chicago, IL May 24, 2013

Such a beautiful article, but entirely inadequate There are just no words to describe how truly wonderful she was. She is sorely missed. Reply

Andrew Stiller Philadelphia May 24, 2013

Her memory should be for a blessing And we can honor her memory even more so, by continuing the great works she accomplished with such tremendous love for HaShem. Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma May 22, 2013

when good people depart from our lives they leave a trail of light behind them. They illuminate the way. No one can explain why the good die young. I have read many explanations. It is said that staying alive is no accident, and this can be read both ways. It's sobering to know, our days are numbered and also that we count. Every one of us. So in leading an exemplary life, this woman affected even those, who, like myself, didn't know her. Something "lifts" off the page, that is of great beauty, that is hers. Reply

Marcia Weiss Skokie, IL May 21, 2013

Yes, as one anonymous person has already said, "There are not enough words to describe what a special woman she was." I was blessed to know her from the Cheder. Although I knew so little about her, she was an inspiring example of a humble, selfless Jewish woman. Now, years later, I can distinctly remember little ways in which she went 'way beyond what was necessary without a second thought -- she just wanted to and did.
I know that there are tears in many eyes as we think of her.
May HaShem comfort her family. Reply

Malka Caplan May 21, 2013

What an inspiring woman!!! She is truly a woman who lived by Torah principles. May her family know only simchas from now on. Reply

Rivkah Taub Chicago May 21, 2013

We were privileged to know and admire Hindy from our early days in Lubavitch through our wonderful connection with her brother Rabbi Yossi Schanowitz and Michla in Highland Park, may they be well, who also reflect this amazing love, humility, and abounding patience. Later, when we moved to the city and began to work with children in the cheder, I got to see her love for each individual child in unmeasurable doses. When my husband and I joined the beautiful Schieman family for one Shabbos for a special program, Hindy;s abundant ahavas was again beheld. She is greatly missed, and because of her model, our community will dedicate ourselves to bringing great simcha to their daughter's chassana, may there be only simchas from now on & the ultimate one! Reply

Anna Mednikov Des Plaines May 21, 2013

Always in our hearts The most wonderful woman and a person I have ever met!!!
Her kindness, understanding, ability to provide knowledge in many directions was only a little part of Hindi. She was such a strong woman, she raised an amazing kids, who are always an example to many families for many generations!
We are always thinking of you!!! Reply

Joel Atkins Chicago May 19, 2013

always thoughtful and helpful Mrs. Scheiman helped us over many years. When we wanted to move to a larger Jewish community, she encouraged us to come to Chicago. After we moved here, we invited us to her house for many shabbosim, and she was always friendly and welcoming when we saw her. Later, when one of our children was sick for an extended period, she made many meals for us. She was always helpful in a quiet and humble way.

Anonymous May 19, 2013

No words... There are not enough words to describe what a special woman she was.
Mrs. Scheiman was a true Tzadeikes and was ALWAYS saying Tehililm in her 'spare' time (literally, red lights included!)
She was totally non-judgmental and never caused anyone to feel uncomfortable in her presence.
No child was too difficult to teach because she had so much patience and cared deeply for every individual.

The word will never be the same until Moshiach comes and brings a complete Nechama to all who knew her. May it be Right Now! Reply

Shayna New Haven May 19, 2013

Thank you for writing this I am from Chicago, and only had the chance to meet Hindy Scheiman once. But once was enough to show that she was incredibly unique. Every opportunity to learn about this lady is an inspiration. Reply

Esther Levin Chicago, Illinois via May 19, 2013

A truly amazing woman In her quiet unassuming way, she accomplished so much and touched so many lives. I was privileged to have known her for over 20 years. She was loved and is now missed by all who knew her. Reply

Anonymous around May 19, 2013

Amazing person One time my car ran out of gas on the freeway. I called one of her children, a friend of mine, and Ms. Scheiman ended up showing up with a full jerry can of gas for me a short while later. She shrugged off my thanks like it was no big deal and nothing out of the ordinary.

I'll also never forget how she cared for one person in particular during his hospital stay. She was there morning and night.

She put everyone's needs before her own. She is an example to live by. Reply

Anonymous Chicago, Illinois via May 19, 2013

The Quiet Tzadekes Beautiful article. Brings tears to my eyes. She was a wonderful wonderful person. It's hard to work at Cheder now and realize she's not coming back.
We know her soul will be at her daughter's wedding in a couple of weeks. Knowing the Scheiman family, it will be a very joyous wedding despite the underlying sadness of her loss. Reply

Zelik Moscowitz Northbrook, IL May 19, 2013

Very special woman indeed. I remember her as my teacher. 3 of our children had the privilege of her being their teacher as well. Reply

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