A Morah for Life

September 8, 2022

A Tribute to Mrs. Shulamis Rozsansky A”H

Elisheva Braun

From a teacher in one of Lakewood’s first girls’ schools to founder and menaheles of Tiferes Bais Yaakov, the sensitive and gentle Mrs. Shulamis Rozsansky was a beloved role model for thousands of girls and adults alike.

She was a dedicated morah at Ahavas Torah (pre-cursor to Bnos Yaakov) for many years. Then, she and her husband, Rabbi Yitzchak Asher Rozsansky z”l, a well-known talmid chacham, yerei Shamayim, ba’al middos, and askan who passed away in 2019, saw a need for a girls’ elementary school, and they accepted upon themselves the monumental task of filling it.

At the levayah, Rav Ahron Zuckerman said, “Mrs. Rozsansky was moser nefesh to create a school on the old standards of kedushahtznius like it should be, chinuch like it should be. She never gave in to the ways of today, and we see the fruits of her labor.”

The students clearly felt Mrs. Rozsansky’s love and pride. Mrs. Rozsansky had every student’s Tehillim name, and she davened for them all. Always hands-on, she connected with students both outside and inside the classroom, teaching a special subject in each class. Each girl was called to Mrs. Rozsansky’s office on her birthday and given a gift.

“Everything came with warmth and love,” one mother remembers. “As a parent, I felt I could call her about anything in the world.”

When she had to tell a student off, the girl knew Mrs. Rozsansky loved her; she knew that she was being corrected because she had made a mistake. Mrs. Rozsansky never pushed or pressured the girls; she wanted every student to excel on her own level and do what was best for her.

It is well-known that Tiferes Bais Yaakov students enter high school with stores of knowledge on the tips of their tongues. “Everything was taught in song so we could remember it. Mrs. Rozsansky wanted us to know everything,” one student relates.

It wasn’t just the students who loved their legendary principal.

At Tiferes Bais Yaakov, “the typical PTA has a water bottle and a Danish prepared for each teacher,” one longtime employee relates. “In Tiferes, there were homemade chocolate chip cookies, lovingly baked by Mrs. Rozsansky. Before Rosh Hashanah, each teacher received a honey cake. In fact, Mrs. Rozsansky, knowing she would be out this year, baked the cakes in the summer. Letters, platters, gifts…the thank-yous didn’t end; there was no end to her hakaras hatov. When I booked Tiferes Bais Yaakov’s hall for a simchah, I got a call from the person in charge: ‘We’re not taking money for the hall. Mrs. Rozsansky says we owe you too much.’”

“As a secretary in the TBY office, I worked closely with Mrs. Rozsansky for the last five years,” says Sori*. “As soon as I joined, I felt like I had become part of a warm family. My simchos were hers, and it was clear that her happiness for me was genuine. Mrs. Rozsansky was always one of the first people I called after I had a baby, and I know my coworkers called her when they had news to share, too. She bought us gifts not because she had to but because she wanted to.

“Each year, I put together a video production for graduation. And each year, Mrs. Rozsansky would call me right after it played to tell me that the video ran smoothly and that everyone loved it. I waited for that call every year; it felt so good to know how much she cared.

“Before Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, she would ask the secretaries for mechilah.‘It gets so busy in the office; I don’t always give every secretary what she needs,’ she’d explain. We would always laugh and tell her there was no reason to ask forgiveness. It was the greatest privilege to work with such an extraordinary woman.”

Another secretary adds, “I never called Mrs. Rozsansky my boss, I called her the principal. Mrs. Rozsansky’s persona was a warm, loving presence, not a boss.”

Her caring extended to those outside the school as well. Yocheved* shares, “When my oldest daughter applied for elementary school, Mrs. Rozsansky met with me and explained that there was simply no room in the classes for another girl. I was moved by how deeply and obviously it pained Mrs. Rozsansky to tell me that she couldn’t accept my daughter.”

At home

“The Rozsansky home was open to everyone at all hours of the night and day. Their small three-bedroom yeshivah apartment was the center of all the action,” Rav Shmuel Blech said in his hesped.

Blimi*, Mrs. Rozsansky’s niece, often spent Shabbos at her aunt’s house. “The house was so much fun,” she remembers. “She never told me what to do unless I asked for her advice. She was always interested in me, asking what was happening in my life. When she was in the hospital, she wanted to hear all about my boys’ rebbei’m and our upcoming simchah.

“Besides being a favorite aunt, Mrs. Rozsansky was also my principal,” she adds. “She wasn’t the stern, scary type of principal; she was so loving.”

How did Mrs. Rozsansky care for her family, run a school, and still have time to give every person what they needed?

“My mother was always working on herself, becoming greater and more tuned in to others. She was the real thing,” a daughter shares. “She got up in the morning and just did and did until late at night. She never stopped working, giving, doing, but it didn’t seem like hard work. It was a joy for her to give to others. There was no ‘I,’ only ‘you.’

“She was always there, with gifts, a smile, a phone call. She never stopped giving. There were times when I saw her sleeping with her head on the table, exhausted from a day without pause.”

…and in the hospital

Even in the hospital, she didn’t stop. At the levayah, Rav Blech related, “My young granddaughter sent a letter to the Rebbetzin. From her hospital bed, Mrs. Rozsansky wrote back to little Rochella.”

While hospitalized, “my aunt was always dressed and working, making calls and giving to others,” Blimi relates. “Her doctors wanted to know who the patient was. After the petirah, I was given her bag. Inside was a mazel tov card for a secretary who had a baby. Each line was handwritten in a different colored ink. There was a present for the secretary in the Rozsansky home, waiting to be delivered with the letter.”

May Mrs. Rozsansky, who loved and cared for all Yidden, be a melitzas yosher for us all.

*Name has been changed