As I sit down to pen some of my thoughts regarding the petirah of an individual who encompassed so much chochmah, unbelievable kishronos, super kochos and inborn creative talents, it almost defies logic that one person was capable of so much. On this cold and rainy day, I can’t help but feel that the rakeyei hashamayim are crying with us and that many bnos and nshei Yisroel are in aveilus for her. What a loss to her immediate family, to her extended family and to the thousands of generation of girls and Moros who were zocheh to be taught, to be mentored, and to learn so much from her.
This individual was our very own beloved Morah Blau, a”h
She did not need titles, she did not need accolades, the only thing she needed was TO DO. She was a diminutive dynamo who had one aim in life, to be mechanech Bnos Yisroel bederech Yisroel savah and nothing could stop her. No calling her Rebbitzin, no honorifics. Only Morah Blau. For that is what she did: teach, guide, lead, show the way. Teaching was her DNA and oh, how she taught!
She taught her talmidos, and all the teachers under her care, and anyone who had the zechus to work alongside her, much more than just Chumash and Navi. She taught us the meaning of eis laasos laHashem. For Morah Blau – time never stood still. She never rested on her laurels. She had one goal in life and that was to instill in us a mission: WE HAVE TO DO, WE HAVE TO LEARN, WE HAVE TO ACCOMPLISH.
And accomplish she did. She started the day off with her famous “Boker Tov Yelados,” greeting each and every child and staff member with her simchas hachaim and chein on her face. She made you look forward to going upstairs and starting your day. “Head for the hills,” she would call out to her teachers when the bell rang at 8:45, marshaling our kochos to head for those hills, but she instilled in us the desire to reach, not for hills, but rather to scale the mountaintops. She inculcated us with a bren for Yiddishkeit, with the love of teaching tinokos shel beis Rabban. Davening, chumash, navi, historia, dikduk and way more. She was a walking, talking encyclopedia on Tanach and of course shva nah and shva nach, m’leil and m’lrah, but she never hesitated to tell us, “I’m not one hundred per cent sure, let me call my husband and I will get back to you for sure.”
Her creativity was not just contained to the classroom. She wrote, from scratch, numerous scripts of Hebrew plays which included original songs, dances and dramatic scenes. Most of the costumes were sewn by hand by Morah Blau. With her intuitive and artistic skills, she managed to use discarded junk-worthy items and turned them into proper backdrops or props that were handcrafted to perfection. Many of the beautiful banners that bedeck the halls of BYA are the handiwork of Morah Blau.
Her legendary weekly Parsha sheets were world renowned. How many of her alumnae, who were teaching around the globe, would call and ask if they could use it? Her yearly Parsha tests on Bereishis and Shemos were taken by thousands of talmidos who went on to high schools and seminaries the world over. Morah Blau would receive phone calls from numerous principals and heads of seminaries, giving her nachas that the BYA girls were the most knowledgeable in these areas!
Her weekly Shabbos Lady and Shabbos Tishen were famous! Her award winning assemblies announcing all around excellence in Shkida Belimudim as well as for Hanhaga Vederech Eretz were eagerly awaited by one and all.
Many years ago, Morah Blau composed the famous song, “In a Little Town in Poland” heralding all that Frau Sara Schneirer had accomplished in her life and called her the “Mother of Bais Yaakov.” She even translated that song into Hebrew lyrics. She also helped compose the metaphorical song, “The Little Bird is Calling” which will live on in the hearts of so many of us for eternity.
But that is not all she taught. Mainly she taught by example; lessons of kindness, patience, diligence, persistence, and never ever remaining stagnant. “You can’t use last year’s stencil or worksheet, you have the ability do a newer, nicer and better version!” “Your plan book was great! I am so happy you taught them a new song!” Yes, in her own way she was very demanding of us. But just know – the one she was the most demanding of – was HERSELF. And that is why we revered and respected her. Not one memo or sheet that she gave out in previous years was just given out again. No, she would look it over, revamp it or create a brand new one with a whole new theme. With everything she did she was always looking for hischadshus. What was achieved yesterday was no longer sufficient for today. Do it fresh, start anew, so that it can be better than ever.
And better than ever she was. Many a talmidah came to school with a tear in her skirt. Morah Blau had no problem getting needle and thread and quickly mending the rip. Morah Blau had no problem climbing on a stepstool, hammer in hand, to fix a beautiful sign in the hallway because it was starting to come down. Morah Blau had no problem taking a girl into her office and getting out her comb from the drawer to check the student’s hair for lice, as she had just come back from Eretz Yisroel and the nit lady had checked the whole school the day before. Morah Blau was the sole reason many talmidos would come to the office complaining that their stomach hurt, knowing that they would get a cup of hot cocoa directly from Morah Blau. She had to personally attend to every need herself. She wouldn’t allow the office staff to do it. She never wanted to be matriach anyone to do anything for her if she was able to do it herself. Her warmth and kovod habrios to all was evident in the way she comported herself. The security guards and janitorial help were extended the same good morning greeting and pleasant smile as were the incoming talmidos and staff.
If something needed to be done, Morah Blau would do it, no matter if it was pleasant or not. She was a big believer in pushing the girls to achieve more than they thought they were capable of, constantly expressing her faith in their abilities. But at the same time, if a girl was struggling, she would move heaven and earth to get her the help she needed.
Morah Blau was the paradigm of Kol Kevudah Bas Melech Penima. She was a role model, always trying to elevate the level of tznius of the talmidos both in dress and in behavior. Before each class went on their annual trip, she would give them her famous speech about how their behavior reflected upon who they are, and where they come from, filling them with pride and purpose to always strive to make a Kiddush Hashem.
Morah Blau possessed a rare blend of humor and wisdom. Her witticisms and puns had us in stitches! And she just shokeled them out of her sleeve! With her innate sense of yashrus she knew when discipline was needed and she knew when love was needed. She made everyone feel beloved and valuable. Every report card that went home, from kindergarten through eighth grade was personally signed by Morah Blau with a short little note, written in the most beautiful handwriting that was quintessential Morah Blau, highlighting the maalos of the girl and wishing her “Ali Vehatzlichi”!
Morah Blau was a yechidah bedorah.
Morah Blau was a Master in Chinuch Habonos.
Morah Blau was a living lesson in Humility and in Greatness at the very same time.
The world is a poorer place without her. “Nachon oh lo nachon?”
May we continue in her ways of deracheha darchei noam vechol nesivoseha shalom. In this zechus may we merit to bring nachas ruach to her and may it be an aliyah for her exalted neshomah. With deep sorrow we acknowledge the tremendous loss to ybl”c her choshuveh husband, her bereft mishpochah and to all of us in her BYA family as well.
Morah Blau was the Mother of Bais Yaakov Academy. Morah Blau was our “MAMA RACHEL” who loved each one of us like a mother loves a child. Our “little bird” has flown to her eternal resting place, the nest of Yerushalayim. Please go before the Kisei Hakovod and be mevakah al baneha. Please daven to Hashem to end this terrible mageifah – let us see the kiyum of the posuk “min’i koleich mibechi v’einayich m’dimah……yeish sachar lefulaseich…..and let us be zocheh to greet “the Eagle is Moshiach” whom we are waiting for.”
Hamodia is preparing a unique presentation celebrating the incredible life and accomplishments of Morah Rachel Blau, a”h, planned for Inyan Magazine in the near future. Contribution are welcome and can be sent to Magazine@Hamodia.com, and may be incorporated in the upcoming feature.