At approximately 7:00 on Sunday morning in Israel, Sgt. Shlomo Zalman Rindenow, a 20-year-old volunteer lone soldier from Passaic, NJ, was killed when a hand grenade exploded outside a military post in the Golan Heights. At the time, he was not far from a Druze village located in the foothills of Mount Hermon.
Hours later in Passaic, Rabbi Mordechai and Mrs. Mindy Rindenow received a visit from members of the Israeli consulate bearing the horrific news.
The rest of the family was notified, and, together, they made their way on Sunday to Eretz Yisrael to prepare for Shlomo Zalman’s burial the following day, Monday, July 18, 12 Tammuz.
Thousands gathered at the funeral, which was held outside of the communities of Yesodot and Netzer Hazani. Shlomo Zalman’s family spoke lovingly about their brother and son, as the sun beat down. At the same time, people in Passaic echoed those sentiments from across the ocean. Nobody in Passaic could refrain from mentioning the chesed that is both the creed and overriding trait of the Rindenow mishpacha.
At the funeral, Sgt. Shlomo Rindenow’s brother, Boruch Rindenow, said, “The brother I knew was awesome in just so many ways that I could never be. He was so talented. He could do things, and he knew that he could do things. Things that he had no reason to know that he could do. Like… you know whenever anything needed to be fixed. Whether it was a pipe, he could suddenly, he could turn into a plumber. He’d be, like, ‘Don’t call a plumber, I’ll fix it.’ How does he know how to fix it? I don’t know. ‘I’ll figure it out.’ He was awesome.”
Later, his brother recalled Shlomo Zalman’s plans to come to Israel. “When he said that he was going to come to Israel, he didn’t even know how to speak Hebrew at that point. He says I’m going to come to Israel. I know exactly what unit I want to go into. My plan is, I’m going to come to Israel. I’m going to learn Hebrew and then I’m going to use that skill to get into the unit I want to get into. And he did exactly that.” Shlomo Zalman was based on Kibbutz Sde Yoav and served in the Engineering Corps Battalion, a combat unit.
His sister, Yocheved Rindenow, said of her brother or, more correctly, to her brother, “Shlomo baby, you were all of our baby, but somehow you were more mature than all of us put together. Shlomo, Shlomo, Shlomo.” She chanted through her tears. “Shlomo the wise, Shlomo so wise beyond his years. And what a heart. Shlomo, what a heart. You loved us all so much and so fully.” Further on in her eulogy, Yocheved continued, “Shlomo is a majestic person, a majestic human being. He knew exactly who he was and where he stood. He was very clear and very honest and true, and so giving and so dedicated and so reliable. The truth is, even though he was in the army, we didn’t worry about him as much as you would, in general, because he was so responsible that you just felt like he was going to be safe whatever he was doing. And so independent.”
Yocheved ended her praise with a message of thanksgiving, “You have so much passion. And, wow, did you know how to control yourself. You were always so chill, and we love you so much, and you’re such a part of our heart. And you will always be a part of our heart. Because I don’t know what my heart would be without you. Thank you, thank you for being my little brother. Thank you so much.”
Another sister, Bayla Rindenow Clement, said of her brother, “Before he left last time, he bought me an art kit because he told me that art makes you happy and you have to do more art. And he even called to ask me if I’m making more art.”
Shlomo Zalman was the youngest of the 10 Rindenow children, referred to as “the baby” of the family whose wisdom was beyond his years.
The Passaic community is devastated by the news of Shlomo Zalman Rindenow’s passing. It is trying to organize and to figure out how best to support the Rindenows when they return home. Family and friends spoke lovingly about Shlomo Zalman and his family.
Rebbetzen Ita Singer reminisced, “Years ago, when they first moved to Passaic, before they owned a house, they had a two-bedroom apartment. The Rindenows were always able to make room for guests in this small apartment. They slept in the living room, pulled out couches, gave up their children’s rooms. Mindy Rindenow is so energetic,” she continued, “always with a smile, always managing to do 100 things at the same time. A loving family. They love people. Nothing is too much for Rabbi Rindenow to do for others.”
Shlomo Zalman’s father, Rabbi Mordechai Rindenow, is a prominent rabbi in the Passaic community. He serves as a mentor to many, part of the staff of the Passaic Torah Institute, and the rabbi of the Carlebach minyan. Rabbi Rindenow and his wife, Mindy, come from a long line of Chassidic rebbes, including the Chernobyl Rebbe and the Twersky family. It seems, from all accounts, that the family has inherited the traits of their lofty ancestry.
Another family friend, Dvora Krevat, said of Shlomo Zalman, “He wanted to know everything. He was so fun to be around. Such a light unto this earth. A player. A honey. He was a doll, just a doll.”
By Alissa Paige Joseph