When the 8th yahrzeit for Rebbetzin Chana Baras fell out on Shabbos, her family and shul weren’t sure how to properly commemorate the date. What ended up happening was a true salute to her life and leadership.
By Eliyahu Ezagui
This past Shabbat, the 22nd of Av, was a very significant and memorable Shabbat in the Plainview Chabad Synagogue. On this day, much honor was attributed to Rebbetzin Chana Baras a”h, the co-founder of this shul.
This year Rebbetzin Baras’s 8th yahrzeit coincided with Shabbos. For this significant Shabbos, special delicacies and meals were served. Women came to share their heartfelt memories and conveyed the remarkable impact Rebbetzin Chana had on their lives. Some attendees told stories never shared before, encouraging others to come forth with their impressive experiences and unique involvement with the rebbetzin and said they feel her influence still continues.
Rabbi Gutman Baras, together with his wife Rebbetzin Chana, made the move to Long Island by the request and directive of the Rebbe.
They were the first couple sent out to Long Island to rekindle the hearts and souls of the Jewish population there. First in West Hempstead, and later in the sixties expanded to Plainview. They made lasting favorable impacts on the people enhancing their lives.
I met families who told me that the Baras couple inspired them to begin coming to shul every day, leading them to totally transform their lives and to becoming fully Torah observant.
Today, over 50 years later, the synagogue in Plainview and all its outreach activities still continue to serve as a source of love and light for all Jews.
Rabbi Shmuel Shmueli, a granchild of Rabbi and Rebbetzin Baras is a 3rd generation rabbi of the Plainview Chabad Synagogue. Rabbi Shmueli told me that because this year the yahrzeit concurred on Shabbost they were not sure how to go about it. Do they make a gathering before or after the Shabbos? After much deliberation, he decided that honoring the Rebbetzin on the Shabbos day would be most fitting and respectful, after all, Shabbos was her highlight. The Rebbetzin embodied the Shabbos with her warm meals that she served and sent to families who so appreciated them.
The Rebbetzin regularly attended Shabbos prayers even when it was hard for her. Her attendance encouraged women to come to shul and share the day with her. Some stayed for meals, sharing stories of their lives and received helpful advice. I too enjoyed spending this Shabbos there and was fortunate to meet with the second generation rabbis, Rabbi Benyamin Baras and Rabbi Sholom Baras.
Rabbi Gutman and Chana Baras considered the congregation as their family and were very involved in the lives of the people. This synagogue, congregation, and rabbis are very welcoming.
Rabbi Shmuel Shmueli of the Plainview Chabad Synagogue is friendly, amiable and has strong leadership qualities. He is a true shliach of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. I look forward to visiting again soon.