Thirty years after the horrific murder of Mrs. Pesya Leah Lapine hy”d, her son Avraham, today a shliach in Columbia, Missouri, relates his memories of that day, and shares a project he is launching in her memory.
By Avraham Lapine
This upcoming Beis Adar Rishon 5782, will be my mother’s 30th yahrzeit.
I still remember that cold February day as if it were yesterday. I was 5 years old, a kindergarten student at Lubavitcher Yeshiva Crown Street, which had just opened that year. My teacher was Rabbi Smith, zal zein gezunt.
I came home from school and saw groceries sitting on the porch of our Lefferts Ave. home. I can still hear my 2 year old sister Sara Chana, crying from inside. I tried to enter our house, but the door was locked. I went around to our backyard, and saw an open window. I built a makeshift ladder with our Little Tikes seesaw, and a little table, to try to reach the window. I had no luck.
Luckily my neighbor Mrs. Tsitsuashvili saw me frantically struggling to get into my home, and asked me if everything was okay. I told her that the door was locked, and that my sister was screaming inside. Mrs. Tsitsuashvili gently lifted me up and helped me reach the window. Unfortunately, many people know what happened next. The five year old me saw a sight that no person, child or adult should ever have to witness.
Baruch Hashem, with gratitude to the Crown Heights community, and all of Anash, our family was able to make it through the years with support and friendship. During those trying times, we leaned heavily on our little Lefferts Ave neighborhood; we couldn’t have functioned without them. Our family has so much gratitude for all those who helped us.
Today, years later, we have the merit of being on the Rebbe’s Shlichus.
We have moved to the Midwest, where my father grew up. Columbia, Missouri is a small college town, with the closest Mikvah being four hours away.
After a lot of thought, our family has decided that the best way to honor my mother would be to establish a Mikvah in her memory. Building a Mikvah in Columbia, MO will give our local Jewish community access to this vital Mitzvah, the foundation of Jewish family life.
My mother devoted her life to yiddishkeit, and ultimately died Al Kiddush Hashem. I know that nothing would make her prouder than to provide a light to help others live their yiddishkeit.
Baruch Hashem, the plans for the mikvah are underway. As our students graduate and look to establish their own Jewish home, the education they receive here inspires them. For many, it is their first introduction to this beautiful Mikvah and its value to Jewish life. The community Mikvah will be a learning center for many future families, and provide an opportunity to educate many Jewish neshamos.
On my mother’s yahrzeit, Beis Adar Rishon, we will be starting a fundraising campaign to fund this endeavor. It would be an honor for our family, to have the community that helped raise us in the most trying times, partner with us now, in the creation of Mikvah Mei Pesya Leah h’yd.