Dear Readers,

Two Sundays ago, on the 19th of Shevat, my world changed forever. My father, my anchor, my foundation, R. Dovid ben R. Dov Yehudah Schochet, left this world, leaving behind a void that can never be filled.

He was a towering giant of a man and a devoted chassid, sent by the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—when he was 25 years old, almost 67 years ago, to create a vibrant Jewish community in the city of Toronto.

He was ‘the Rav,’ the address for providing guidance in all areas of life. At all hours of the day (and night!), he patiently answered calls from the larger Toronto community, and also from the four corners of the world.

The official week of shiva is over and I'm supposed to go back to work. But, for me, nothing will be the same anymore.

I grew up in his loving presence and, for most of my life, lived a 10-minute walk from his home. We saw each other and spoke regularly. He was a loving, supportive, and kind father. He was an involved grandfather in my children’s (and grandchildren’s) lives.

I thought I knew Daddy.

But over the last short while, I was humbled to gain a small window into his impactful influence. I can’t fathom how he found the time, how he instinctively understood who needed his counsel, or how he remembered everyone’s names and situations.

Over and over, from across the globe, individuals are reaching out about how central he was in their lives. How he helped them choose schools for their children. How he helped them solve their marital conflicts or family issues. How he was a shoulder to cry on during their most devastating moments. How he bestowed life-saving, miraculous blessings. How his sage advice changed the direction of their lives.

He was my loving Daddy, but he was a father figure to hundreds, thousands.

With his vast knowledge, he answered intricate halachic queries with creativity and confidence. But even more than the detailed answers he gave, he is remembered for how he responded. How he made you feel. His smile. (“Even through the phone line, you felt his beaming smile!”). The twinkle in his eyes. His inimitable sense of humor. His gentle inquiry about how you are before hanging up the phone.

Over and over, people tell me, “I thought I was the only special one to have such a relationship with him.” Somehow, he managed to find the right words to teach, uplift, and encourage because he saw beyond human faults, social status, or a person’s current standing; he saw right through to the core soul.

Compassion, respect, and humility were his hallmarks.

I keep thinking I should call him to share a story that someone told me during shiva before catching myself. I can no longer hear his comforting voice; the void is gaping.

Vehachai yitein el libo, “Those who are alive must take to heart.”1 Torah was his life and guiding principle. I know he would be encouraging us now to do more, to be more.

Please take it upon yourself to study more Torah, connect to someone today with warmth and compassion, and do an extra mitzvah in his merit, l’iluy nishmat R. Dovid ben R. Dov Yehudah.

Chana Weisberg
Editor, TJW