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Nomi Isenberg


Dear Rock Family,

I write this short tribute in memory of my beloved teacher, Avigail, z”l, your wife and mother.

She was the consummate educator – and I say that as someone who has been in the field of education for 40 years – but way beyond that, she was a role model, and a friend.

I learned Torah with her for the past eight years: the five megilot with parshanut, Shivat Tzion, the Akeida, Sefer Daniel, The Apocrypha Literature, Bamidbar, Yirmiyahu, and Tehillim, amongst other topics. In short, I was an Avigail “groupie”. Whatever shiur she gave would be the one I would sign up for. The spiritual boost I got from that one shiur gave energy and meaning to the other days of the week and carried me from week to week.

At last year’s yom iyun shiur at Herzog College during the nine days, Avigail gave a shiur on Nechama Leibowitz’s z”l teaching and methology. She said that Nechama’s personality made her the teacher she was, that she was one of the top teachers and contributors to Tanach, Jewish history, and women’s learning. I feel the same could be said about Avigail and her contributions to the world of Torah learning. One can only imagine how much more she would have impacted upon the world had she been granted more time.

I loved Avigail’s rich and wide command of sources, both parshanut and poetry. She accessed the arts, literature, secular texts – all spheres of knowledge – to illuminate and deepen appreciation for Torah. Her love of Torat Eretz Yisrael, and Am Yisrael was very apparent and inspiring. It was clear that she inherited this from her parents and grandparents, whose Torah she often quoted.

When Avigail would read or quote a phrase that had a message that she was particularly moved by, tears would well up in her eyes, and in turn, they would in mine. Because I was moved, not only by the beauty of the sources that she brought, but also by the sensitivity of her soul. (She was also very funny in class!)

The Shavuot night she gave the shiur on David Hamelech, Tehillim, and Yerushalayim Shel Zahav of Nomi Shemer at Ohel Yona Menachem was one I will never forget. I was so excited that my husband would finally get to hear her brilliance. Indeed, it was an outstanding shiur and my husband concurred that it was the best we attended that evening. Avigail and I were walking out of the shul at the same time and we were chatting. I asked her about the family and she told me what everyone was doing. It was clear how proud she was of all of you.

I will continue to learn Torah and will, bli neder, redouble my efforts in Avigail’s memory. I’ve already read through my notebooks twice of all the shiurim I took with her over the years and I’ve also watched some of her shiurim online. B”H, we can keep her legacy alive with her shiurim and her sefarim.

Avigail once said in a shiur on Kohelet, “Life that’s just ‘you’ is really meaningless. A life of giving to the “אחר” gives meaning to life.

Avigail gave so much to so many people in her short life. She lived such a meaningful life that we all benefitted from. She made a huge impact on this world. She was loved by all and will be sorely missed by all.

May her memory be for a blessing, and may you be comforted amongst the mourners of Tzion and Yerushalayim.

Nomi Isenberg