Sgt. Shlomo Rindenow, a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen from New Jersey killed in a grenade explosion in the Golan Heights on Sunday, was a “wonderful, funny, sweet kid who was always smiling,” according to a family friend.
David Curwin, who lives in Efrat, said that Rindenow “was very proud that he came back here to serve in the army.”
Rindenow was the youngest of five sons in his New Jersey-based Orthodox family to volunteer for combat service in the IDF. Several of his siblings live in Israel, including a brother who is currently serving in the Israeli military.
Rabbi Mordechai Rindenow and his wife Mindy live in Passaic, New Jersey, where Rabbi Rindenow is the spiritual leader of the Carlebach Minyan of Passaic/Clifton as well as a psychologist and professor at Baruch College.
Curwin said he has known the Rindenow family since he was a young man and student of Shlomo’s father at the Hebrew Academy of San Francisco. Curwin became close to the family when they lived in California in the 1970s and 80s, and subsequently when they came to Israel lived here in the 1990s.
Shlomo was born in Israel during the family’s time in the country, Curwin said, but the family returned to the United States fifteen years ago and he was raised in New Jersey. Like his brothers, he came to Israel as a lone soldier, and was based on Kibbutz Sde Yoav while serving in the Engineering Corps Battalion.
Rabbi Rindenow, according to Curwin, is a respected rabbi known as a "dynamic speaker" who is related to the famous chassidic Twersky clan, descendants of the Chernobler rebbe. Throughout his career has been involved in a combination of teaching, rabbinic work with a special focus on religious outreach and as a private therapist.
“They are one of the warmest families, generous with their home, their time and their hearts,” said Curwin, who said the Rindenows had been like a “second family” to him when he was a teenager in San Francisco and later when Curwin himself was a lone soldier in Israel.
Family members in the U.S. told the Israeli media that they were informed of Rindenow’s death four hours after it occurred by Israeli embassy officials. His parents boarded a plane for Israel to attend their son’s funeral, which is set to take place on Monday.