Sara Schatz, Current MMY Student

The scene was comical at best: around ninety seminary students, exhausted from a jam-packed Shabbat of spirit and inspiration, dispersed across the stone-paved streets of Tzefat, selichot books in hand. As I shivered in the cool midnight air and stared drowsily into the tinted windows of the local Hesder Yeshiva, I couldn’t help but ponder MMY’s reasoning behind sending us to such an impractical, tiring event that we could have easily accomplished back in local Baka Shuls. Attempting to keep my eyes open, my frustration grew as I pictured my cozy bed back at the MMY dorms.

All those thoughts of irritation left in an instant as symphonic voices begin to rise from the yeshiva windows.

Sitting there in awe, I inched closer as I listened to harmonious call for G-d’s forgiveness in the most uplifting, impassioned tone I’ve ever heard. The sheer kavanah in their voices was implacable.

It was at that moment that I suddenly felt what everyone had been reiterating all Shabbat long: sometimes G-dly connection can come from the most unanticipated places.

Read more: Learning in Unconventional Ways

RabbanitEstherWagner             Weisbergfamily

Rabbanit Esther Rivka Wagner with her daughter Malky,

and her grandchildren,

Rabbi Shalom Weisberg (current MMY faculty), and Michal


On the 17th of Iyar, May 25th, 2016, I paid a visit to Mrs. Malky Weisberg, who graciously invited me to her office on the Yad Vashem campus. Little did I know the significance of that date.


Rabbanit Esther Rivka Wagner (nee Willig) A”H, Malky’s mother, had passed away just two months prior at the age of 92. Rabbanit Wagner, a holocaust survivor and an impressive woman of her own right, had been a long-time MMY witness on our annual Heritage trip to Poland. Her passing was a tremendous loss for all of us too. Just two weeks after her passing, MMY 5776 embarked on yet another voyage, attempting a glimpse at a horror that was. With all this happening in succession, one after the other, I reached out to her daughter to try and connect with the history and memories that much of the MMY family feel so intimately a part of. I sat with Malky, and asked her to give me a taste of the inspiring life of her mother, and the legacy that she left behind.


When Malky spoke, there was no pomp or ceremony. She spoke simply, yet poignantly, and I began to get an idea about the woman who raised her. She started at the very beginning of Rabbanit Wagner’s story, providing me with background and painting a picture of the piety of her mother’s origins. Forty-five minutes later, we were both crying.

Read more: “שמע בני מוסר אביך ועל תטוש תורת אמך”- A Heritage of Hope

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