.…When they returned, Bentzion (her son) said that all they had left were a few potatoes. Mother decided to plant them in the yard, hoping to use the produce both to eat and sell. Nearby, the wife of the shul caretaker also planted potatoes in her own patch of the yard. The two women carefully tended the green shoots pushing up from the earth.
Around this time, they learned that the authorities planned to confiscate the shul and destroy the Torah scrolls and holy books. Although this was the only place she could call home, Mother was not worried for herself, but only about the holy books.
She approached an elderly man who lived alone near the shul who had a shed for firewood, and he agreed to conceal the holy objects in the shed. Later that night, Mother stood at the second-floor window, passing the holy books down to my siblings.
Meanwhile, the wife of the caretaker stood guard over her potato patch, warning us not to step on her precious potato shoots. Holding the holy books, my siblings were exposed to anyone passing by. The most discrete route was through the potato plot of the caretaker’s wife. Mother offered to exchange her potato patch with the neighbors one.
“To save the books, I can give up my potatoes,” Mother declared. The woman agreed and by morning, all the books and Torah scrolls had been transferred out of the shul.
When the potatoes were ready to be harvested, Mother harvested her patch and as agreed, gave all the potatoes to the other woman.
She then went to harvest the other plot, where the young shoots had been trampled on. Amazingly, the potatoes were unusually larger and better than her first patch. Mother felt that G-d had surely blessed the crop in merit of saving the holy books.
The harvest provided enough potatoes to feed not only our family but also a neighbor’s. Mother sold the rest on the black market, making a handsome profit.
On her way back home, she met the caretaker, who breathlessly told her that because of the leaky roof, the authorities were coming to condemn the shul and board it up.
“That’s the end of our shul!” he gasped.
Mother calmly asked how much was needed for the repairs. From the money she had just made from selling her potatoes, she handed him the full sum, instructing him to immediately fix the roof.
Hashem was always helping Mother survive in spite of the tremendous challenges because her faith in G-d was unshakeable.
Excepted from the upcoming book – “The Queen of Cleveland” to be released, G-d willing, very soon.
For more stories about Bubby Maryashe please visit: www.chabad.org/maryashagarelik by Henya Laine
*Bubby Maryashe – 1901-2007
Bubby Maryashe managed to escape communist Russia with her daughter and family shortly after WWII and settled in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York. She was tireless and immediately began seeking ways to help others.
Bubby Maryashe was the embodiment of Chassidic spirit and a source of inspiration to all who knew her. She left a lasting impact on her family and community. Many, many stories abound about her kindness to others and exuberance for life and tradition. She spent her days and nights working hard to raise money for charity to help the fledgling Oholei Torah Yeshiva for boys established by the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
(see article by Minna Solomon, a great granddaughter, titled, Bubbe Maryasha Garelik at Chabad.org.)
She passed away in Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York, and is buried close to her beloved Rebbe, Rabbi M.M. Schneerson zt’l. She left behind generations of Torah-observant children and many hundreds of grandchildren and great grandchildren. Many are leaders of Jewish communities around the world following in her footsteps.