Anyone who remembers Williamsburg in its early days as a Jewish community has a warm spot for Reb Chaim Gelb. He was an original, a man whose love of the Creator and the Torah was matched only by his love of people and his totally unselfish devotion to their welfare. One person remembers him in sub-zero weather, dashing back and forth, bringing cake and hot coffee to shivering firefighters. Another remembers him buying hot knishes for little yeshivah students whose parents couldn't afford to give them five cents for the popular recess delicacy. Still another remembers him collecting coins and bills in his outstretched yarmulka at weddings, for distribution to poor people whose privacy and self-respect were as safe with him as the gold in Fort Knox. Behind all the sentimental Chaim Gelb stories were the man and his loyal wife, Hena. Together the built a Jewish home and played an important part in molding a neighborhood. Moreover, they did this during the years when it was so hard to be a Jew that most people despaired and hoped that their children would be good American's who wouldn't forget to recite Kaddish and Yizkor. The Gelbs were fighters. They would not give in, and they succeeded, not only for their children, but for those of all the people who took heart from them. Chaim Gelb's life was the living embodiment of kindness. The memories are still fresh, and thanks to this book, they will remain the legacy of generations that were not privileged to be inspired by him.
by Rabbi David Fisher
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