Ohr Sameach = Rabbis Nachman BulmanZT”L, Chaim RothmanZT”L And Me


I personally knew Rabbi and Rebbetzin Bulman, and felt it only right to include a personal story or two about the Bulmans. They both played a major role in the founding of Yeshiva Ohr Sameach.  Rabbi Chaim Rothman, who was a strong Ohr Sameach supporter and died 11 months after being severely wounded during the Har Nof massacre, must have known Rav Bulman and the Rebbetzin much longer than myself.

Part of my story regarding the Bulman’s appears on the bottom of Page 102, in the book titled “Tea With The Rebbetzin” by Shaindel Bulman published in 2007. Rebbetzin Bulman’s main focus on my three “melachim” who hijacked me, and her mention that this was a clear signal to make Aliyah for myself and family, really impressed me how Rebbetzin Bulman was able to see G-d’s message in this incident.

There are many stories that remain untold about the Bulmans which will give readers a good idea of why I strongly feel that Chaim Rothman would have been attracted to Ohr Sameach due to their presence. Those stories paint a clear picture about the type of person Chaim Rothman was.

A few stories follow-

After our wedding in Johannesburg, our first apartment was right next door to a very nice older lady named Mrs. Katz whose son married one of the Bulman’s daughters.  My wife and I became very friendly with Mrs. Katz.

I never met Rav and Rebbitzin Bulman in Johannesburg, but  my first encounter with Rav Bulman would be when we were living on the Absorption Center in Mevaseret Zion just outside of Jerusalem.  We were invited by a very nice family to spend Shabbat in Telz-stone, a bit further away from Jerusalem on the main road leading to Tel Aviv.

It was Friday night and I remember going to a house which served as a Shul and Rav Bulman was the Rabbi. It seemed that he was given an opportunity to become the Rav in the Shul or Telz-stone itself. I was told he was a very popular speaker as I remember the Shul was packed. He came across very strongly as a person who was serious about his role as Rav and he had a strong voice to match his personality.

We left the Absorption Center and began living in Neve Yaakov, a Jerusalem suburb to the North. It was a few years later, that I would again see Rav and Rebbetzin Bulman. One day we heard that Rabbi Bulman was interested in coming to Neve Yaakov to start a Shul. And that Shul ended up to be in the downstairs apartment behind the same building we lived in.

There was a family downstairs named the Kirmaiers, who were very helpful to our family when we moved into the neighborhood. One day, I spotted Rabbi Kirmaier walking to the apartment next to theirs with Rabbi Bulman to obviously check on new premises for his Shul. Rabbi Bulman must have been very happy with it, because shortly thereafter news spread that Rav Bulman would be establishing a new Shul in our building, and Rabbi Kermaier played a major role in the daily running of the Shul.

And to make this story more interesting, we also were invited to spend Shabbat in Neve Yaakov by a very hospitable family when we lived in the Absorption Center. The apartment that Rav Bulman chose to house his new Shul was the same apartment that we spent our first Shabbat in Neve Yaakov.

As an added bonus, the Bulmans found an apartment to live in right across the street from our building. So not only did I have the pleasure of getting to know the Bulmans personally but also a Shul right downstairs in which he served as the Rav. I can tell many stories which resulted in our living so close to Rabbi Bulman and his Rebbetzin, such as the one that I refer to when I began this Blog, but I feel it important to stress a few things resulting from my getting to know the Bulmans.

Firstly, not coming from any background in having a Rav to talk to when I was growing up, I found it quite difficult to ask any Rav simple questions that many religious men with Yeshiva backgrounds would have already learned. But for me, I needed to know certain questions which arised regarding Torah law, and it was such a pleasure to be able to have a Rav right across to street to consult with. In addition, since we were newcomers in Israel, I did not have to search for someone who would understand my simple Hebrew.

I also made contact with many other Ravs while I was there, with Rabbis Scheinberg and Kaganoff being very helpful. Many other Rabbis answered my questions, but the complex questions I left for the English speaking Ravs.

One story that sticks out in my mind is when a new Torah was brought into Rav Bulman’s Shul. There was a major ceremony, as is the custom is Israel, where a van with flashing lights and joyous music leads the parade with a Chupah complete with pole holders follow.

The person holding the new Torah walks under the Chupah and many dance around him. On this night Rav Bulman followed right behind and I was walking a few feet away from him, when the Rav suddenly approached me to hold his hand walking right behind the Torah.  Imagine me, a simple Jew escorting Rav Bulman to his Shul, with a new Sefer Torah. He had the choice of all those people instrumental in establishing the Shul to walk beside him, but gave me the honor to walk with him a good portion of the way. Eventually as we came close to the Shul, someone else took over from me, but it was quite an experience to be part of.

My contact with the Bulmans really never ended when we moved from Neve Yaakov, because only a few years ago, our upstairs neighbor came to tell us the good news that their daughter had become a Kallah and invited our family to the Lechaim. I went upstairs to say Mazel Tov and meet the Chasan. It turns out that his name is also Katz, and yes, you guessed it, he is Mrs. Katz’s grandson whose father married Rav Bulman’s daughter I refer to earlier.

So as I said, I knew Rav and Rebbitzen Bulman quite well. And that is the major point I want to make. I did not know Chaim Rothman, but knew one of the Ravs who most likely had a major influence on Chaim Rothman’s life. It is easy for me to see why Chaim Rothman was attracted to Ohr Sameach and became one of its strongest supporters and students.

It also gives me a good idea of who Chaim Rothman really was without having to read all the testimonials about him.  He must have been just a nice, down to earth person who did anything and everything for his wife and family that he could.

And he must have been a very special husband and father. Shortly before the Har Nof attack, I understand Chaim Rothman and his wife became grandparents for the first time. He never got to see his new grandchild or the many grandchildren that most probably were born since that time.

As a grandfather myself, that really hurts to think that Chaim Rothman never had the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of his labor and seeing his grandchildren and possibly great grandchildren. All of that was taken from him with the Har Nof attack.

This is something all Zaidy’s wish to see one day, and Chaim Rothman was robbed of that opportunity by “some people who did something” who his daughter described as being  “animals lacking humanity”.

On a personal note, I suspended my Blogging over the past few weeks because this past Shabbat Parshat Shemot our second oldest grandson Akiva became Bar Mitzvah.  I was a proud Zaidy standing next to my grandson as I was given the honor of an Aliyah and after saying the brachas over the Torah, I listened to my grandson read from the Torah scroll.

I was shedding tears as he was reading, because I also thought about Chaim Rothman while my grandson was reading the Torah. And I also thought about a song that the group Megama sang titled – “My Zaidy”.

I will close this Blog with some lyrics of that song which I changed slightly to honor the life of Rabbi Chaim Rothman ZT”L and for all grandchildren everywhere who lost their Zaidys as a result of terrorism.

These lyrics are meant to be coming from one of Chaim Rothman’s grandchildren who Chaim never had the opportunity of meeting-

And they spoke about the terrorists who beat him
And they laughed at him as Zaidy suffered blow after blow
And they spoke about the Haf Nof synagogue where this took place
And the rivers of red blood that started to flow.

I am sure he knew much Torah
And I am sure he would have taught me so carefully
And I wish I could have heard him speak about our slavery in Egypt
And how G-d took us out to make us free.

And many Winters will go by
And many Summers will come along
And now, my children sit in front of me
And who, will be the Zaidy of my children
Who will be their Zaidy – if not me?

Who will be the Zaidy’s of our children
Who will be their Zaidys – if not we?

I know that Zaidy would have made us laugh
Zaidy would have made us sing
And I can imagine Zaidy made a special Kiddush – Friday Night
And Zaidy oh my Zaidy – how I would have loved to meet him just once
So that Zaidy could teach me wrong from right.

About the Author
Born and raised in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park. Married to a South African, we lived in Johannesburg from 1979 to 1996. Made Aliyah with our seven children on Parshat Lech Lecha. BSB Accounting Degree from the University of Minnesota. Investment Portfolio Manager /Fundamental And Technical Analyst. Wrote in-depth research on companies, markets, commodities for leading financial publications. Served in the US Army Reserves Semi Retired spending quality time with my wife, children, grandchildren and attend Kollel while analyzing current events as they relate to Torah and Mitzvahs.
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