That Tap On The Shoulder

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That Tap On The Shoulder

By M. Lowinger

You know that charismatic guy, the one who captures everyone’s attention as soon as he enters the room?  The fellow with the dynamic personality?

Well, that wasn’t Rabbi Meir Schuster.

Reb Meir wasn’t someone you’d call the life of the party.  He was an ordinary Jew, like countless others who walk the streets of Yerushalayim every day.  And he wasn’t exceptionally gifted with clever oratory talent. But he had a heart that encompassed the whole Jewish world and he single handedly created an outreach revolution.  In his own simple and sincere manner, he touched the lives of thousands of people, one shoulder tap at a time. And therein lies his greatness.

The story of Reb Meir Schuster is being celebrated in an original new Tisha B’av film by Project Inspire called “The Man at the Wall.”  The film, which can be viewed on Tisha B’av at, is hosted by Rabbi Yoel Gold.  The story explores the life of this unassuming gentle giant and his incredible achievements. It’s a compelling and riveting film that you won’t want to miss.  

Rabbi Schuster was a true hero.  He overcame his own natural shyness and reticence in order to become a kiruv powerhouse.  His story is relevant to all of us who need to push ourselves to pursue a mitzvah, even if it means coming out of our own personal comfort zone.

Meir Schuster moved to Eretz Yisroel in 1968, months after the Six Day War.  One day he and his friend Chaim met a young American student at the Kosel. The youth was visibly touched by the holiness of the place.  They asked him if he would like to learn about his Jewish heritage and he seemed interested. Thus did he become the first of thousands who would eventually be touched by the famous Schuster ‘tap on the shoulder’.

For close to forty years, Reb Meir was an iconic presence at the Kosel, scouting the crowds, tapping the shoulders, inviting the Shabbos guests. He would walk up to someone and ask:  “Are you Jewish?” “Have you ever experienced a Shabbos meal?” “Would you like to meet a wise man?” “Do you want to visit a Yeshiva?” and so on. No bells and whistles. No thundering rhetoric.  But people recognized his genuine sincerity and his selfless determination. And he changed thousands upon thousands of lives.

According to Rabbi Yossie Friedman, Managing Director of Project Inspire, “We are working on this amazing historic film in order to drive home the message of Ahavas Yisroel.  Each of us has within us the ability to make that huge difference if we only cared enough to love every Jew.”

The story of Rabbi Schuster is uniquely appropriate on Tisha B’av.  Here is a man who spent countless hours at the Kosel Plaza approaching the crowds, one individual at a time. His goal?  To break down the walls that divide us, to create a vibrant and powerful ba’al teshuva movement, and ultimately, to rebuild the Beis Hamikdosh in all its glory.

He serves as a sterling role model for all of us.

Project Inspire is a movement dedicated to awakening and empowering the Torah community to reach out to their fellow Jews.  Project Inspire believes that our vibrant and flourishing kehilla can serve as the best advocates for our own lifestyle. For more information about the Tisha B’av film contact Project Inspire at 646-291-6191.