Sherry Dimarsky Memorial Lecture
About the speaker:Rabbi Mordechai Yaroslawitz from St. Louis. Affectionately called 'Yari' by all, he is well known throughout United States for his talents in kiruv and chessed. Whether a shabbos meal of 30 or a convention of 800, Rabbi Yaroslawitz always knows how to capture the moment and inspire people of all ages and from all backgrounds.
15 years ago Rabbi Yaroslawitz started famous Russian Shabbatons. They attracted people from all major cities of USA and Canada, young and old. Sherry met Rabbi Yaroslawitz at one of the first shabbatons when she brought first group of Russian students from Chicago. Since then their connection continued from year to year with increasing number of students attending St. Louis shabbatons.
Rabbi Yaroslawitz and his wife, Zippora, have 8 children: Rivka Serel, Simcha Hillel, Esther, Matti, Sholom Yechezkel, Avraham, Rochel Shaindel and Chaya Sara.
About Sherry Dimarsky:
Sherry Dimarsky, nee Berliner, daughter of Holocaust survivors Nate and Betty Berliner, was raised in Cleveland. After receiving a law degree from Northwestern University in Chicago, she worked to provide indigent clients with adequate legal representation. That career, however, was short-lived. The Jewish community always came first in Sherry’s life. When she was approached to help a number of Jewish women experiencing domestic abuse, she responded by founding one of the first organizations in the Jewish community dedicated to helping such individuals. Shalva (Safe Home Advice and Legal Aid for Victims of Abuse) grew to offer counseling, emergency housing and assistance, and educational programs to help prevent domestic abuse. As Executive Director, Sherry was instrumental in ensuring broad-based support of Shalva’s aims as well as the financial ability to carry out its mission.
After leaving Shalva for the health reasons, Sherry together with Rabbi Eliezer Dimarsky founded Heritage Russian Jewish Congregation and began serving the needs of Russian Jews in the Midwest. Sherry became a tireless educator, organizer, and listener to hundreds of Russian students and young professionals seeking more meaningful spiritual lives. She applied her many talents to helping reach Russian Jews through classes, outreach activities and personal contact. The telephone was never far from her ear as she made Shabbos arrangements, arranged
shidduchim, or comforted fellow Jews in times of trouble. And her hachnosas orchim was limitless.
Sherry was able to bridge the cultural gap and connect with the Russian community. All acknowledge the social difficulties encountered by foreign immigrants as they try to adapt to the American lifestyle. But through her talent and devotion, she was able to succeed in the reverse. As a Midwestern American woman, Sherry developed the ability to truly relate to and empathize with local Russian immigrants on their terms, a difficult feat in today’s kiruv atmosphere. She could reach out to them and enjoy a reciprocal response in return.
During her illness, Sherry’s energy seemed to actually increase. She involved herself with full heart and soul into even more community projects to increase her zechuyos. She volunteered her time for the Chicago Chesed Fund and Camp Nageela Midwest among numerous other projects. With oxygen tank in tow, she would shlep to the food distributions centers, picking up groceries and household staples for those in need. Her only request was to be accompanied “just in case I stop breathing.”
And when Sherry’s energy finally started to wane, her faith never did. When she was so week that she could hardly take any food by the mouth, she still sat up - with great difficulty - and made her brochos so loudly and clearly, they could be heard in the next room.
On 29 of Teves, 5768 (Jan. 7, 2008) Sherry could hang no longer. She who had so valued every day of life ran out of days. She who had doggedly believed in hope ran out of hope. Yet she who had adamantly believed in gratitude even on her deathbed found something to be grateful for. She turned her face heavenwards and recited the blessing thanking G-d for creating her a Jew. Those were her last words. She was 46 years old.
יהי זכרה ברוך