‘Zaidy From New York is Now in Heaven’

From the COLlive inbox: R’ Yosef Janowsky of Toronto, Canada, writes about his conversations with his mechutan Rabbi Avrohom Lieder OBM and what he told their grandchildren about his tragic passing. Full Story, Photos

By Yosef Janowsky

It was at the Ohel, nine years ago, when I first met my mechutan, Avrohom Yoel Lieder. My son was getting engaged to his daughter. I walked into the Ohel reception area, walked over to him, and with a big smile he put his arm around me and hugged me, wishing me a warm mazel tov. Then he said with such warmth, “Eli,” and he gave my son a warm embrace. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

I called him this past Thursday to wish him a good year. He told me that he hoped to come for Sukos. I remember when I sat with him on the first night of Sukos last year, in my son’s Sukah in Thornhill. The meal was over, and the two of us sat farbrenging. He talked about things he was doing, and we reminisced. He told me that one time, when he asked the Rebbe for a brocho for others, the Rebbe said, “Es zol zein a yeshua bikoroiv” – the salvation should come quickly.

We talked then about how we were seeing so many miracles. The Arab Spring had caused certain Arab countries to be much weaker and much less of a threat to Israel, while other Arab countries (who were afraid of Iran) had become friendly with Israel. And about how the world in general was more peaceful than ever, with no military battles between major powers.

I was looking forward to farbrenging with him in the Sukah this year, and to talk about new miracles that are happening. The Rebbe quoted from Sefer Daniel, that in the end of days, “Yisboriru viyislabnu,” things that were hidden will become clear. Indeed the world now recognizes the ‘soft power’ danger that is coming from China, and numerous countries are now pushing back against this, and are calling China to task for their oppression of the Uyghurs and others. And in the last few months, China was hit with devastating floods.

And recently there is much peace making going on, including formal recognition between Israel and other Arab countries. It proved to the whole world, that peace can be made without giving away land.

It is now Sunday night, Motzei Yom Tov. My son and daughter-in-law are on their way to New York, and I’m baby sitting. The two older boys asked me to come upstairs and sit with them, while they fell asleep. So I went up, wearing a mask, and keeping a distance. I wanted to hug them, but I couldn’t, so I threw them a kiss.

And they asked about their Zaidy in New York. And I told them words that I remember the Rebbe saying and writing. I told them that their Zaidy is in shomayim – in heaven, and that he is davening for them for everything good, and that when they are happy, and do Mitzvos, then that makes him happy, and that by doing Mitzvos we can bring the Geula Sheleima very soon, and then we will see Zaidy again, and everyone will be very happy.

And maybe even this Sukos, I’ll farbreng again with the mechutan.


On the first night of Rosh Hashana, Rabbi Lieder, the great heart behind the “Ahavas Chesed” organization, who for 35 years dedicated his life assisting others with medical emergencies, literally saving lives of thousands, suddenly passed away at the age of 61.

A fund has been launched at charidy.com/rabbilieder to raise $1,000,000 for the Lieder family. Every donation makes a difference.

We ask that you please join and give to a family amidst grief. Your gift helps the Lieder family know they are neither alone nor forgotten by their community as they navigate tremendous loss.

Click here to donate now.

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