Charna Gross

I have so many stories, although I only knew him for 3 years.

I remember one night I was walking Shterna home from something, and Rabbi Rodal was asleep on the floor by the front door, so he’d be there to let her in.

I love hearing them tell the story how how they met, their first date, how they’d heard about it each other. It never got old. It was a magical story. I remember Sterna saying that she was sitting on a bench with Rabbi Rodal – second date? – and he asked to change places with her. When she asked why, he said it was because the sun was in her eyes, and he didn’t want it to bother her.

I remember all the meals at their tish, almost every Shabbos, and how all of sudden, Rabbi Rodal would say, “Charna, I have a question for you!” And it would be impossible to answer, and it always ended up with a pun, that also taught me something.

I remember his saying “Vashons!” to signal that it was time to wash – a combination of French and Yiddish. I still say it today.

I remember him showing me whatever new creatures were in his menagerie. I remember spending a Yom Kippur in a bedroom where my roommate was a large size iguana.

I remember seeing him riding his bike impossible distances – to the LA public library in downtown.

I’ll always remember his warmth, his humor, his love of life, his love of Torah and HaShem, and his smile.

His loss is too much.

Avrohom Rothman

When I received news of his passing, the visual that immediately came to mind was that of his face at the news of his father’s passing.  By Divine Providence, I had slept over that night – and awoke to the scene of Rabbi processing the loss in real time.  It was very raw but in a strange way, also calming. It lent an air of acceptance and procedure to an otherwise incomprehensible occurrence for a pre-teen – I don’t remember the date but I could not have been bar mitzva yet.
But that look of consternation – not anger – just a raw grief coupled with immense disappointment (as I recall it), reminded me of another event that I remember fondly with immense Hakoras Hatov to this day.
Our 6th grade class was tasked with raising funds for a tool shed in the Rabbi’s house – as well as to fund a class trip to Toronto. Some context: The penguins were deep into playoffs – perhaps even Stanley Cup round. And some texture – at Niagara Falls, while intently gazing at the phenomenon, Rabbi’s arms suddenly took hold of me as he triumphantly proclaimed, ” I saved you!”.  Of course, I was fine the whole time – but somehow it felt like indeed he did save me.
Anyway, let’s just say, that of the many childhood features that stayed with me, I’m not particular fond of sales calls today – and I certainly wasn’t effective at age 11-12. A family friend had rachmonus on me and that was the extent of my bike-a-thon fund raising haul. There was no monies for the toolshed,  probably insufficient even for the cost of the trip itself and most certainly not enough for any spending money.
Rabbi Rodal was a nice guy – so I was hoping in the back of my mind he would find a way to “take care of things” for me.  I didn’t give it too much thought – but as we packed into the van in front of PZ – I handed him my envelope and asked quite frankly if I could use some of the funds from the trip cost for my own spending wishes ie “canteen money”.  I wasn’t particularly cognizant that there were classmates mulling around – but there were – and Rabbi (with that same expression/face I remember from his father’s passing” raised his voice and let me know in no uncertain terms that that was out of the question – he needed this to cover the cost of the trip itself etc etc.
Ouch.
Sometimes a patch hurts.  Sometimes there is accompanying shame and embarrassment that prolongs the suffering of the initial sting.  This was not one of those times.  I was saddened and slightly embarrassed – but I knew he was right  – and as the trip wore on, I came to terms with the reality that I would not have any spending money – and that was that.
At one of the rest stops, Rabbi caught me alone – in the parking lot and discreetly handed me the envelope with all of the cash I had given him for the cost of the trip. All of it.  He then explained that because the others were standing next to me (at PZ), he had to reject my request as he did so that no one would feel it was unfair etc.
I was floating.  And it wasn’t just the money. I felt a love. A wise, deep love.
At different times of my life, this story came to mind. I don’t think I ever thanked him (outside the original moment). But I am immensely grateful for his wisdom and for that particular act of kindness and the lessons it conveyed. So thank you Rabbi Rodal.  May your memory be for a blessing.
And may G-d’s blessings rain down upon your family. Apparent and abundant.
Respectfully,
Avrohom Rothman

Shawney Fine

We first met Rabbi Rodal at the home of our daughter and son-in-law, The Taylors.  Of course he rode there on his bike!   Without even breaking a sweat!!

What joy he always exhibited as he taught our beloved grandsons Noam, Ezra and Gavriel.  Rabbi Rodal’s love of Torah and science was continually sweetened with his contagious sense of humor and the twinkle in his eyes.

Rabbi Rodal prepared Noam so beautifully for his Bar Mitzvah, giving him confidence to lein our Holy Torah.

We remember with glee when Rabbi Rodal made our grandsons very happy little farmers when he brought them baby chicks to care for.

We are grateful to HaShem for the wonderful memories of this very special man.

May his memory be for a blessing!!

With warm regards,

Shawney and Richard Fine, M.D.

Nechoma Goldman

I went to camp in CGI Detorit since i was  a very young girl. my parents would have sent me at like 6 but i was too worried about leaving home! my first summer was in 82 and i went every single year even as staff and head staff.
Most of the years I was there Rabbi Rodal was the camp Rabbi and Mrs Rodal the camp Mommy
but they were both so much more to everyone in camp , most important they were our Shadchan 🙂
Rabbi Rodal was so humble and unassuming that it’s hard to think of him as someone one would praise and tell stories about, he’d probably feel so uncomfortable but i guess in עולם האמת all is revealed and there is nothing to hide.
Most likely the two famous things about Rabbi Rodal are the animals he brought to camp and his kickball coaching, i also fondly recall the songs we would sing ” Rabbi Rodal he’s our man if he can’t do it, no one can!” also “Rabbi Rodal is the Rabbi of us all…”
If i remember correctly at every meal there was a Devar Torah by Rabbi Rodal something pertaining to that day. he also taught the halachos of the season such as the three weeks or Tisha B’eav or chodesh Elul and of course he would blow the shofar for us.
I recall one time Rabbi Rodal somehow found out i misunderstood his teaching in Halacha about rinsing ones mouth on a fast day and he sought me out during supper to explain it to me.
Of course i always loved playing sports (in frum girls style in the lawn of school) it was with great enthusiasm that i participated in the annual kickball competition against another all girls jewish camp.
we had so much fun practicing and getting better at the game i cant believe that Rabbi Rodal coached a bunch of us teenage frum girls that were pretty clueless about playing a competition with anyone other then our friends and we won! (at leas the first year)
i did it in CIT and AJC and loved every second of it.
Rabbi Rodal of course coached us in an איידלע and צניותדיקע way that seemed like -of course the Rabbi coaches kickball!
the animals were for sure a favorite – i couldn’t believe that no one every showed us how chicken’s hatch from eggs! Rabbi Rodal kept these little cages or incubators in a dark area of the A-frame and let kids come look at it at various times.
one day in the dining room he said to a few of us ” come i have to show you something?” i was a little concerned.. turned out he had the lights off and had a flash light to show us how the baby chicks are growing in the eggs..
I will not analyze  or try to talk about any of Rabbi Rodal’s qualities, you all know him much better then i do, one thing is for sure he  always had joy and the best (corny) jokes ( when i saw the book Rabbi Riddle speaks , i thought for sure it was published by Rabbi Rodal, was it?) he would randomly stop one of us and ask a question in all seriousness and we had to come up with an answer and shortly realized it was a joke or riddle!
May all the sweet and precious memories carry you through this extremely difficult time…may Hashem  bring you comfort with Moshiach.

Esther Wiener

   It was impossible to feel unhappy around Rabbi Rodal. My family came to the Rodal’s for many Shabbosim and Rabbi Rodal always made us feel so genuinely welcomed,loved  and appreciated with his smile,warmth and of course jokes. He treated everyone at his table with love, respect and patience and it was plain to see that he deeply loved and cherished his wife. Once Shterna read something she had written and I mentioned to Rabbi Rodal how good it was. “Everything she touches,everything she touches” he responded. The way Rabbi Rodal and Shterna routinely treated and interacted with each other was inspiring and motivating. When my husband and I remarried,Rabbi Rodal loaned his kittel to my husband for the chupah. Rabbi Rodal gave over beautiful,harztigke divrei Torah and delighted in showing us new additions to his animals. I also got to see Rabbi Rodal in action,as  a master mechanech,  when he’d come to our school with various animals. It was plain to see the reverence,delight and wonder which Rabbi Rodal held for Hashem’s brios and the love he had for the kinderlach.  When my son Yakov was still a teenager,Rabbi Rodal told me he’d like to be my son Yakov’s  mashpia. Yakov ended up working for Rabbi Rodal in his camp one summer. Yakov thoroughly enjoyed it and came home exhausted everyday.
                                        Moshiach Right Now, with love and appreciation,
                                                                  Esther Weiner

Leib Miller

Dear Rodal family,
I am so sorry to hear that Rabbi Rodal was niftar.
Please excuse me, but my memories of Rabbi Rodal are limited, yet I still hope worth sharing.
Rabbi Rodal was a mythical figure of our childhood. I left Yeshiva Achei Temimim and Pittsburgh in 5751/1991, I have few memories of the Rodal family and in general fading memories of a childhood spent in Yeshiva A.T.
Yet I wanted to share three poignant Rabbi Rodal memories:
1: The smile(s); Behind the moustache, there were infinate versions of rebbi’s smile. The loving,  the knowing, the appreciative, the sympathetic, the humorous, the scolding, and best of all the unmitagated joyful smile. Rebbe could convey it all with love,  with simcha, without saying a word.
2: Geshmake in Gemara: i was in Rabbi Rodal’s 6th grade gemara class in 5750/1989/90. I don’t distinctly recall many specific limudim from my childhood (I spent a lot of time horsing around or in Rabbi Rosenblums office), but I clearly remember how Rebbi taught us the sixth perek of Bava Kamma ~ Hakoineis. So Geshmake. He conveyed that there was nothing more enjoyable than learning Hashem’s Torah. I actually remember him teaching certain Rashis (explaining tam and muad and why one is chayiv in shemiras memono), making certain jokes (which quarterback is mentioned in this daf? Montana/’maan’ ‘tanah’). In the intervening 26 years, I’ve learned through shas several times but my most beloved gemara is Hakoines. Girsa Diyankisa. A Rebbe’s lasting influence.
3: Sports: Of course a distant third to the others, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Rebbis passion for sports. From infusing us with Hockey to the patented ‘Rabbi Rodal pass’ which was to look one way while accurately passing the other on the rock strewn playground on 5th ave.
Years before we reached his class, everyone looked forward to having Rabbi Rodal. Most importantly, Rebbi was relatable. This hugely bearded, ever smiling, fun loving, Yiddishkeit embracing, almost childlike  tzaddik, who we all wanted to emulate.
Maybe Today’s mechanchim are trained not to bring in an actual sheep fetus or cow lung, not to make jokes during Gemara, or not to take kids to hockey games on their own time and $.
Maybe you can’t make a chinuch course that teaches genuine simchas hachaim, but they don’t make Rebbeim like Rabbi Rodal anymore.
Hamokom yinachem eschem bisoch shaar aveilei tzion Yerushalayim
Sincerely,
Leib Miller

Marcia Zlochower

Dear Stherna and family
You ask us to share memories of Rabbi Menachem Rodal, who along with you – may you be spared for 120 years – was such an integral part of the Pittsburgh Yeshiva community, for so many years.  That’s a pretty overwhelming task.  Rabbi Rodal – or as I think of him – Menachem – was such a good and caring friend.  His warm smile and sense of humor, made it a simcha just to encounter him.  Just seeing him casually at Koshermart and hearing his latest pun gave a lift to my spirits.
So let’s talk memories and stories.  I remember how fascinated Menachem was with nature, especially the animal world.  He taught the children that appreciating the beauty and complexity of nature was such an important part of serving and appreciating Hashem.  We used to say that Rabbi Rodal should have been a biology teacher along with being a rebbi.  And of course, he was also a soccer coach.  I remember how he coached my Devorah’s class in soccer, or maybe it was basketball.  He used to show up at Motzei Shabbos games wearing his kapote and cheering on the girls.  They were called “the Skirts”  They did not win very often, but they had a marvelous time and knew that they had a unique coach and mentor.  I think that Menachem’s clothing choice made it easier for them to accept how differently they were dressed compared to the competing teams -a true Kiddush Hashem!
As I visualize Menachem I see that bright smile, never hidden at all behind his rather massive beard.  Menachem was such an exemplary Chassid, such a man of true chessed.  As I said before, his smile and cheerfulness was so uplifting – I know I am repeating myself.
We had a funny experience with Menachem.  When my son Dovid was little, Rabbi Rodal appeared at our living room window and quite unintentionally frightened Dovid, who was about two.  Menachem used to then come to our house with little treats for Dovid so that he would see Rabbi Rodal as a friend and a caring person.
Shterna – you and I share so many memories.  You came to Pittsburgh as a newlywed, and we became such close friends.  Do you remember the hours we spent on the phone, how we shared the names of authors that were kosher, the many times that we spoke about personal struggles and triumphs?  You and I had many light-hearted conversations and also deep spiritual conversations.  You were a really important part of my life.  May Hashem grant you and your wonderful children long life, good health and nechama in this sad time.  You need to know that the hearts of all of us who knew Menachem and loved him are temporarily broken.   Temporarily, because hopefully we will all soon be reunited with those we have lost
Hamakom yinachem eschem b’soch she’are aveilei Tzion v’Yerushalayim
Fondly – Marcia

Susan Hirsch

Dear Rabbi Rodal’s Family,
        My heart was deeply saddened this week when I learned that Rabbi Rodal OBM had passed away. Rabbi Rodal A”H was a respected and much loved educator. Our children who attended Yeshiva (Chabad) in Pittsburgh all adored him. My eldest son (Rabbi Jonathan Hirsch, Hollywood,FL) was shocked and saddened when I informed him of Rabbi Rodal’s passing. I had the pleasure of studying Yiddish at Pittsburgh’s JCC with Rabbi Rodal. It was amazing to watch how Rabbi Rodal was able to relate to every student in the class (the adult students in that class came from all shades of Judaism). He answered all of the class’s questions with expert knowledge, respect for the the questioner and of course his own brand of humor (when applicable).
        I fondly remember when Rabbi Rodal came to our home (in December 1983) to serve as the Cohain for our son Jonathan’s pidyon ha-ben. This was an unusual pidyon ha-ben. I was not raised in a religious home and at the time of Jonathan’s birth, I was unaware of the need for him to have a pidyon ha-ben. Only after enrolling Jonathan in Yeshiva Day School (and attending various classes) was I made aware of what a pidyon ha-ben was. Because I “missed the boat” when Jonathan was a baby, it was decided that Jonathan would have to do his own pidyon ha-ben once he became a bar mitzvah. We had a lovely pidyon ha-ben (at our home on Hobart Street) and Rabbi Rodal OBM was the Cohain for the ceremony. He carefully explain everything and Jonathan had his long overdue pidyon ha-ben. Rabbi Rodal A”H was a unique man and an amazing educator who truly loved teaching and was able to see the good in all of his students.Most of all, I remember that Rabbi Rodal OBM always had a wonderful smile on his face and that his happy demeanor easily spread to everyone around him. May we all emulate Rabbi Rabbi OBM and may his memory always be a blessing for all of us.
Susan (Tova) Hirsch— Jerusalem, Israel

Caryn Gale

I was so saddened to hear the news that Rabbi Rodal passed away.  He really had a strong influence on me and my path to religion and Judaism.
Many, many years ago when the Pittsburgh Public Schools went on strike my parents sent me to the Yeshiva.  It was a shock to me.  I had almost no Jewish upbringing to that point.  I was only in the 4th grade.  And all the sudden I was trying to learn the Aleph Bet, to daven, to learn Torah, and to understand what being Jewish meant.  Many teachers didn’t have the patience or ability to teach on such a low level or to make it exciting to want to be able to learn all that was so important to know.
But Rabbi Rodal’s class was the highlight as I continued my studies at the Yeshiva.  He always, always had a smile and his eyes lit up from teaching us Torah.  I would say that even his eyes smiled when he taught Torah.  He understood my thirst to learn more and assisted me in buying many many seforim to build my own collection – most that I still have to this day.  He would recommend seforim that would be important for me to have and then purchase them and I would reimburse him.  I am happy and proud to own them today.
My Mother, Faith Weinstein wasn’t so thrilled with me becoming religious.  She felt very threatened by it all.  And preferred that I remain non religious.  There were a few women and Rabbi’s in the community that really reached out to my mother and tried to open her eyes to religion.  Rabbi Rodal and Shterna were among the few that my mother truly respected and listened to.  She always spoke very highly of both and that really made a big difference on helping me follow the path to religion.
I am proud to be dati today.  I made aliyah almost 23 years ago – a true dream.  I have 3 beautiful children – my oldest daughter is married, is a nurse and bli ayin hara has 5 beautiful children, my next is married, a graduate of the Technion in Air and Space Engineering and works for the Israel Ministry of Defense to help protect our country.  My ‘youngest’ just started his army service in the Air Force.  I feel very grateful and fortunate to have found this path and I definitely think back to that Pittsburgh Public School strike and believe that Hashem was sending a message to all of us to wake up and appreciate who we are and where we come from.  I attend a weekly Shabbat shiur for women that is sponsored by the local Modiin Chabad.
And I am thankful that my life is as full as it is and that those teachers that made such a good impression on me and showed me joy and happiness in religion were truly a gift.  And so yes, Rabbi Rodal was a gift from Hashem to helping me and others see the beauty of the path to religion and meaning in Judaism.  He always was full of energy and excitement that was so contagious to those he wanted to teach.
My heart goes out to you and I hope that time and good memories will help you heal.  May his memory be a blessing and may you be comforted among the mourners of Tzion and Jerusalem.
Thank you!
Caryn Weinstein Gale
(My father Sherman Weinstein owned the kosher bakery in Pittsburgh for years – he is retired now and still living in Pittsburgh).
My Mother Faith Weinstein became very active in the Jewish community and was the Director of the Pgh Israel Bonds office.  She sadly passed away over 11 years ago.

Eli Seidman

Rabbi Rodal AH was our baal koreh at Charles Morris for many years. He read the Torah beautifully. But even more than that, he was kind and sensitive to the residents he met here. He often brought his students along with him. They enjoyed walking with him and, on the way back, they would climb over the slag heap. Quite an adventure!

Boruch Dayan Emes.

 

Rabbi Eli Seidman

Jewish Assoc on Aging