Over 1,200 people from Staten Island and beyond attended the levayah of a true eishes chaver and an eishes chayil, Rebbetzin Miriam Libby Weiss, a”h, wife of Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss, ybl”c, Rav of the Agudas Yisrael of Staten Island. Rebbetzin Weiss was niftar at the prime of her life, at the young age of 54.
Known throughout the entire Staten Island as a baalas chessed, and ishah tzenuah, Rebbetzin Weiss, who always asked everyone to simply call her Miriam Libby, was not just the Rebbetzin of her husband’s shul. She was beloved by the entire community, who adored her for her smile, gentle sense of humor, and her constant desire to help others.
Before her illness, which began over two years ago and ultimately claimed her life, she could be seen around the neighborhood delivering packages of food, funds, and a good word to people in need. Rebbetzin Weiss excelled in the mitzvah of bikur cholim. She often visited patients in nearby nursing homes, and traveled to hospitals far and near to encourage people and bring food and gifts. Even when she herself was a patient undergoing treatment, she would leave her room to give chizuk and lift the spirits of other patients.
Rebbetzin Miriam Libby Weiss was born on the Lower East Side to her parents Rabbi Aaron and Mrs. Devorah Gelbtuch, z”l. Rabbi Aaron was a Chassid of Kopyczynitz and Boyan, who had lost his first wife during the Holocaust. He remarried and had three daughters. Miriam Libby was the bas zekunim; she was born when her father was 59 years old. Her older sister, Mrs. Breindy Reiss, was niftar this year.
Thirty-four years ago, she married Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss, and they settled in Staten Island, where he became Rav of the Agudah. She was the quintessential Rebbetzin for almost all of her married life.
Her devotion to her husband and his harbotzas haTorah was legendary. When Rabbi Weiss would give shiurim on WNYM and WVOS radio, Rebbetzin Weiss came along many a time and answered calls at the station, even though it was late at night. It was Rebbetzin Weiss who duplicated millions of tapes and CDs of her husband’s shiurim and labeled them, packaged them, and mailed them out to subscribers each week.
A tribute to her total involvement was paid one Erev Yom Kippur when the phone rang in the Weiss home. Rabbi Weiss’ young daughter answered. “Rabbi Moshe Sherer is on the phone,” she told her mother. “So quickly call Tatty,” her mother responded. The little girl passed the receiver to her mother. “No, he wants to speak to you.”
“Rebbetzin Weiss,” Rabbi Sherer said, “your husband gives two shiurim in two different Agudah shuls — one at 8, and another at 10 p.m.”
“That’s right,” she responded.
“So your husband is pretty much out of the house from 8 p.m. until 12 a.m.”
“That’s right,” she responded, wondering where this was heading.
“Well, you’re the mother of young children and it can’t be easy for you. On behalf of Agudah, we want to thank you for your sacrifice for Torah. Please wish your husband a good year from me, but this call is for you.”
Rebbetzin Weiss had no concept of “zich;” it was all about “yenem.” If someone complimented a picture in her home, she would take it off the wall and give it to them. She smiled at everyone and cared for everyone, no matter their type or level of frumkeit.
For over 20 years, she ran a Tehillim group in her home, eschewing publicity, in her usual modest manner. She guarded the confidentiality of the recipients of her tzedakah zealously, so as not to embarrass them. Everything she did was done in a way as to make her recipient feel that it wasn’t a big deal for her.
Rebbetzin Weiss bore her final illness with a gevurah and inner strength that belied her warm nature. She was mekabeles her yissurim b’ahavah, and constantly thanked her family, medical personnel, and members of the community who were involved in her care. The community rallied around her, not leaving her alone in the hospital for even a moment.
In her final message to her children, she exhorted them to remain b’shalom with, and look out for, each other, and to offer help to others before they request it.
The levayah took place on Sunday at the Young Israel of Staten Island, in order to accommodate the huge crowd. Maspidim included Harav Reuven Feinstein, shlita, Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshiva of Staten Island; Rabbi Yaakov Lehrfield, Rav of Young Israel of Staten Island; Harav Gershon Weiss, Mashgiach of Yeshiva of Staten Island; Harav Tzvi Pollak, shlita, Rav of Khal Agudas Achim D’Grossvardein; her physician, Dr. Azriel Hirschfeld; Rabbi Yosaif Asher Weiss, editor at ArtScroll; and her husband, Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss, Rav of Agudas Yisrael of Staten Island, and her sons and sons-in-law.
Some of the many dignitaries who attended the levayah were Harav Chaim Mintz, Mashgiach at Yeshiva of Staten Island and founder of Oorah; Rabbi Beryl Isaacson, Rav of Congregation Beth Shloime; Rabbi Yaakov Ettinger, Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshiva Zichron Paltiel; Rabbi Shmuel Strickman, Menahel at Yeshiva Darchei Torah; Rabbi Mordechai Jungreis, Nikolsburger Rebbe; Rabbi Meir Friedman, dean of Merkaz HaTorah; Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America; and Rabbi Chaim Yehudah Pollak, Rosh Kollel of Willowbrook Community Kollel; among other Rabbanim and dignitaries who gathered to give this ishah chashuvah the kvod haacharon she deserved.
Kevurah took place at United Hebrew Cemetery on Staten Island, where she was escorted by over 100 people. Rebbetzin Weiss is survived by, ybl”c, her illustrious husband, her sister, Mrs. Hindy Rosenfeld of Har Nof, and her six children: two sons, Rabbi Nechemia and Rabbi Yaakov, and four daughters, Mrs. Chani Feldman, Mrs. Devorah Rosenberg, Mrs. Rina Tzivya Zucker, and Mrs. Yocheved Ingber. The family is sitting shivah until Friday at 151 Rupert Ave, Staten Island.
Yehi zichrah baruch.