Dreams and Dignity // Visions of her grandmother pushed Chana Leah Schlisselfeld to make sheitels affordable

By Revaya Bochner

Women in Business:
Chana Leah Schlisselfeld

When Chana Leah Schlisselfeld saw an ad for wigs from China, she figured it was worth a try. Where else could she get a sheitel for only $400? The wig was good enough to gain the interest of friends and relatives, who asked Chana Leah to order for them. Soon enough, she was contacted by many women who needed access to very cheap sheitels. Now she had to decide—should she expand?

Around this time, Chana Leah started having vivid dreams of her grandmother. Her grandmother Shaindel had been born in Tishevitz, Poland. When she realized what the Germans were doing to the Jews, Shaindel urged her family to leave Poland. It was not easy to convince them to uproot; one of her sisters stayed behind with her husband, who refused to go (sadly, they were killed by the Nazis). However, Shaindel, her husband, her mother and two brothers escaped to Russia and were sent to a work camp in Siberia, where they survived the war before coming to the US.

Later in life, Shaindel lived two blocks away from Maimonides Hospital, where she delivered fresh chicken soup each week to patients in the hospital, and she opened her home to patients’ families.

“My grandmother was the epitome of the principle that chesed starts at home,” Chana Leah said. “Every Yom Tov, she made hundreds of kreplach by hand; every family got a huge bag of them. She was a completely selfless person. We always knew that no matter what we needed, Bobbie would be there for us.”

Chana Leah’s dreams of her grandmother were so incredibly vivid, it felt as though her grandmother were still alive. “I dreamed that we were on the way to visit her, but we never made it there,” she recalled. Knowing the importance of doing mitzvos l’iluy nishmas the deceased, Chaya Leah saw a message in these dreams. She officially opened Shaintels, named after her grandmother, where women can get brand-new wigs and falls at cost price, plus a requested donation of $50 to subsidize free sheitels for kallahs (with some exceptions).

“Once I started Shaintels, the dreams stopped,” Chana Leah said. “So I feel like it’s a zechus for her.”

An askan in Monsey, where Chana Leah lives, helped raise enough money to subsidize wigs for 100 kollel wives.

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