The professional life of Rabbi Shlomo Schwartz (1945-2017) could not have been more different from the typical black-and-white perception of ultra-Orthodox Jews as staid and separatist. Known to a wide, cross-movement swath of Southern California Jews as "Schwartzie," Rabbi Schwartz early on doffed the black hat, black suit and white shirt of Lubavitcher men in favor of jeans, tie-dyed T-shirts, and eye-catching suspenders, the better to relate to the Jewish college students he met as a campus rabbi during the 1970s and early 80s. After promoting the Chabad brand at UCLA and Cal State Northridge for 19 years, Schwartzie struck out on a one-man quest to bring Jewish singles together in marriage and put Jews in general in touch with traditional Jewish ritual and lifestyle. His life touched thousands of others.
This memoir recounts more than the facts of Schwartzie's life and career, giving us insight into his relationship with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, his lifelong love affair with Israel, his ability to connect (and have fun) with people of all ages and walks of life, and his enormous spiritual capacity. It also captures a theme present throughout Schwartzie's life: the importance of being in the right place at the right time in order for something wonderful to happen. Along with Schwartzie's own voice, this book is filled with testimony from some of the people whose lives intersected with his, including reminiscences from his wife, Olivia, and most of his twelve children. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes heart-breaking, sometimes breathtaking, Schwartzie's stories form a colorful mural of a life filled with action and meaning.