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The Maharam Schick - 100th Yahrzeit


By Dr. N. Rosenstein; author of "The Unbroken Chain"

This article originally appeared in The Jewish Press, February 16, 1979, p.23, and is reprinted here with their permission and the permission of the author.

One day, in about 1891, Leopold Klein, a businessman from Chicago, bade farewell to his wife, Fanny, daughter of Rabbi Joseph Schick, son of the Maharam Schick. Little did the couple realize it would be their last farewell as the boat departed New York harbor with their two young daughters. His wife was on her way to attend the wedding of her sister Regina who still lived in Hungary. But an unexpected death in the family cancelled the wedding, and after a short sojourn with her European family, Fanny and her daughters returned to New York on board one of the vessels of the Hamburg-America Line.

At that time (1892) Europe was struck with a Cholera epidemic, and as fate would have it, in her noble efforts to help those afflicted with the disease, Fanny succumbed and was burned at sea, leaving her governess to care for the children. At New York harbor, on the ship's arrival, Leopold saw the ominous sign of the black flag, signaling a ship in quarantine. Finally, after learning of his dear wife's death, he was able to welcome his daughters and their governess. The family was sent back to Chicago, while he immediately left for Europe to break the tragic news to the Schick family. For, besides Fanny being his wife, Leopold had received his "smicha" from the Maharam Schick and thus had known the family a long time. Therefore it was not surprising that while in Hungary, Leopold remarried to Regina, his sister-in-law who was still single, and the newlyweds returned safely to the U.S.A. In the course of time the couple had five sons, who were affectionately raised by their mother, as were the two niecestep-daughters, one of whom is today ninety three years old, living in Chicago. She was married to Moritz Rooz, a cousin, the first. grandson of the Maharam Schick to bear his name of Moshe. Members of this family included two prominent lawyers. One of the sons is General Julius Klein, who served the U.S. during World Wars I and II. He retired from service as a Major-General in 1951 and was one of the founders of the Jewish War Veterans and was its national commander from1934-39.

It was their grandfather, Rabbi Joseph Schick, who published the Rabbinical responsa "Maharam Schick" in 1881, and it was also their grandfather who bequeathed a Sefer Torah to his son-in-law Klein, which until last year was in the family's possession, and is now in a Chicago Jewish Self Help Home. This Torah was originally given by the famous "Chatam Sofer", Rabbi Moshe Sofer of Pressburg, Hungary, to his favorite student and pupil, Rabbi Moshe Schick, who first went to study under him in 1821. It was Rabbi Sofer's suggestion that led Rabbi Schick to become Rabbi of the nearby Vergin community until 1861, when Maharam Schick became Rabbi of Khust. Here he established a Yeshiva which eventually became the most famous in Hungary, and Rabbi Schick the leading Hungarian orthodox Rabbinical authority.

Maharam Schick was born in 1807, son of Rabbi Joseph Schick, and married his own cousin. The Schicks were descended from Rabbi Hanoch Heinich Schick of Shklov who is said to have married a daughter of. Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Rivlin. This Shlomo Zalman had a first cousin of the same name, who was the father of the Gaon of Vilna. Although various book sources give variant genealogies of Rabbi Hanochs' ancestry, there is no doubt that he was descended from two famous scholars, Rabbi Yomtov Lipman Heller, the "Tosfot Yomtov" and Rabbi Meir Katzenellenbogen of Padua, the "Maharam Padua." (The best constructed tree is given in the accompanying table.) In fact there are two explanations for the name Schick taken from each of the first letters of the words spelling "Shem Yisrael Kodesh" or "Shmuel Yuda Katzenellenbogen" - son of Rabbi Meir of Padua.

Reflecting back over the last hundred years since the Maharam Schick's death on Rosh Chodesh Shvat, 1879, his numerous descendants who number into the hundreds, be they of his rabbinical descendants such as the Feldman family, or of the judicial and military descendants of the Klein and Rooz family, remain mindful of their heritage. It is no wonder that in every generation Schick cousin marriages occur until today.

(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Tzemach Dovid)

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