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