R Dovid Winiarz z’l
by Meir Goldberg
After the holocaust, the broken survivors of the Nazi concentration camps were gathered and provided for in DP (Displaced Persons) camps. The Klausenberger Rebbe Zt’l acted as both a father and a Rebbe to many of the Jews there, constantly providing them with material and spiritual chizuk.
There was a young man in the DP Camps, who grew up in a religious home who now refused to have anything to do with the Yeshiva that was set up or anyone in the frum community. In spite of all of the pleading and cajoling of his friends, the young man would not respond to them at all. The exasperated bochurim decided to speak to the Rebbe to see if he could impact this fellow.
The Rebbe summoned the young man to his temporary residence. The Rebbe said to the man, “I know why you’re upset. It’s because they took the best ones and they just left us.” The Rebbe again said, “They took the best ones and they just left us.” The Rebbe held the young man in a tight embrace and together they sobbed and cried and repeated over and over, “They took the best ones and they just left us.” The fellow left a changed man. His friends had spoken to his head but the Rebbe spoke to his heart.
Yesterday, Klal Yisroel, the Staten Island community and the Kiruv world lost one of it’s best, R’ Dovid Winiarz. R’ Dovid, the man with a perpetual smile, word of chizuk, whose entire essence was kiddush Hashem, was tragically killed in an automobile accident on the way to the AJOP convention. He died on the way to a Kiruv – Jewish outreach convention – how fitting. His whole life was dedicated to Kiruv.
Though he was a businessman, it seemed as though he was a full time Mekarev. He engaged hundreds in shiurim, chavrusas, online learning, etc. He spent hours with people on social media educating, engaging and debating. His facebook profile, ‘The Facebuker Rebbe,’ reached thousands.
R’ Dovid once took his family on vacation to Niagra Falls. At the Falls he met a couple whom he engaged in conversation. They were secular Jews who showed some interest in Judaism. R’ Dovid learned with them for a year and a half afterward. Stories like this were commonplace with him.
He regularly engaged Jews on Facebook who had left the fold. While he always debated with a smile, some of those with whom he engaged were not quite so nice. Yet when one of them lost her job, he was the first to help her find another one.
R’ Dovid was a chessed – kindness – leader. He was heavily involved in organizations like Tomchei Shabbos and Bikur Cholim of Staten Island. To him, chessed was quite personal. When someone posted on facebook that her mother was sick in the hospital, he was the one who actually went to visit her. He made a point to take the train and not drive, so that he could give two of his business cards with Jewish resources for secular Jews – one for the Jewish person he met on the train and one for that person to give to another Jewish friend. He gave out one hundred cards going to and from the hospital visit.
R’ Dovid left behind a wife and ten kids. While one would think that someone so utterly dedicated to klal yisroel would not have time for his children, quite the opposite was true. His daughter had seven notebooks full of poems, quotes, letters and messages that he would write to her. One of his final facebook posts was a picture of him and his son at Motzai Shabbos Avos Ubanim.
There is a campaign online to help the family. One can be sure that R’ Dovid would be the first to donate to such a campaign.
On Sunday, Hashem took the best one and He just left us….
Rabbi Meir Goldberg is the Director of Meor Rutgers Jewish Xperience at Rutgers University. He can be reached at [email protected]