Chaya Aviva Katz
Who was my mother?
We honestly had no idea until a few short weeks ago. We did know that she was part of the chevra kaddisha, a teacher, friend, counselor, Bnos advisor, and primarily, our mother. Growing up in the Kleiner house, it was the norm to have countless people staying over for just a night or sometimes much longer, whether it was for fertility treatments, hospital stays, or dating.
Our house was also command-central for 35 years’ worth of high school girls. As high school Bnos advisor, my mother stayed dedicated to keeping them busy – to giving them fun in a good, “kosher” environment. There were chol hamoed trips with boating and biking in Washington on Succos. Chanuka chagiga, Great Adventures on Pesach, ice skating, and renting out the beach on the last day of school. Whether it was Levindale on Shabbos afternoons or shalosh seudos at different girls’ houses, my mother knew how important it was for girls to enjoy themselves and each other in the right ways.
For us, Shabbos was about delivering soup and challa to specific neighbors. We made sheva brachos and supper for others. She would have us do the deliveries or bring us along, telling us how lucky we were to be a part of the mitzva. There was no fanfare – we did it because this was all just part of how we grew up. In our younger years, breakfast time was story time. There were stories of gedolim as we ate, and each day when we left for school she would say perek 19 of Tehillim with us.