Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

19 Av 5761 - August 8, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Rebbetzin Alta Faiga Teitelbaum, A'H
by Moshe Rockove

Rebbetzin Alta Feiga Teitelbaum a'h, the wife of HaRav Yoel Teitelbaum, the former Satmar Rav, was known throughout the Jewish community as a beacon of chesed and ahavas Yisroel. Throughout her 89 long and productive years, she touched thousands of people in her unique and intimate way.

Rebbetzin Alta Feiga was born in Czestorkowa, Poland in 1912, to a distinguished Chassidic family known for its acts of tzedokoh and chesed. She was descended from the Sanzer Rov and the Me'or Voshemesh. Orphaned at an early age, she learnt from personal experience how to react positively to unfortunate circumstances, a lesson she carried with her throughout her lifetime.

In 1937 she married the Satmar Rov, who was a widower at the time. After their wedding, which took place in Tchebin, they moved to Satmar where she immediately involved herself in community affairs.

The Rebbetzin dutifully tended to the Rov's special needs. She would prepare foods that met the specific needs of the Rov's sensitive digestive system. The Rebbe frequently fasted and would not eat until late at night so this required great skill, patience and care.

Involved in the Community

The Rov and Rebbetzin miraculously survived the horrors of the Holocaust, enduring the rigors of the concentration camps with their emunah, bitachon and yiras Shomayim as strong as ever. (The Rov was on the famous "Kastner train" that ultimately ended up in Bergen Belsen.) They immigrated to Palestine in 1945, determined to revitalize and rebuild the remnants of the community that survived the Holocaust and help them begin their life anew.

During their two-year stay, the Rav started the Torah Veyirah boys school and the Rebbetzin started two girls schools: Bais Faiga Bnos Yerushalayim and Bais Faiga in Bnei Brak.

They left for America in 1947 where they dedicated the remainder of their long and productive lives to nurture, build and maintain the Satmar kehillos in Williamsburg and later in Monroe, NY.

While the Rov was busily building yeshivos for the boys, the Rebbetzin was instrumental in starting girls schools and keeping a motherly eye on the day-to-day operations of the school. Many people attest to her knowing each child individually, and looking out for those who needed special care and making sure they received it.

Bikur Cholim

Perhaps her greatest contribution to the Jewish community at-large was her great devotion to the mitzvah of bikur cholim. She would stand for hours on end preparing food at home for the needy, then travel to Manhattan (by train, in the early days) to personally deliver the food to their patients and their families staying in the hospitals, cheer them up and wish a refuah sheleimoh. Eventually, her one-person operation grew into the world-renowned Satmar Bikur Cholim of today where hundreds of women stroll the hallways of the hospitals helping those that are in need.

The Bikur Cholim today provides three nutritious meals to patients and their families. As an indication of their yearly expenses of this operation alone, consider the transportation expenses to bring the meals to the hospital and back: paying the drivers, gas, tolls, and maintenance costs $70,000!

The Bikur Cholim maintains two apartments in Manhattan, one near Beth Israel Hospital and one near Mount Sinai Hospital, to accommodate members of patients' families who wish to stay close to their loved ones. The apartments are always stocked with food, clean bedding and other amenities, all free of charge. Anyone who unfortunately had to spend time in a hospital knows the invaluable chesed this service provides.

A referral service is available for those who need to find out about doctors and in case of emergency, try to arrange that all-elusive appointment with a specialist. They also provide medical coverage to those who don't have adequate insurance coverage.

These services are available to anyone who may unfortunately need them, regardless of their affiliation to the Satmar Kehilla.

One Modern Orthodox woman was bedridden in Columbia Hospital for a few months. She obviously did not look like a Satmar women and was surprised when members of the Satmar Bikur Cholim came into her room and took a devoted interest in her well-being. They even made sure to bring her special food in accordance with her dietary needs. She was amazed at the total selflessness of these women who stayed at her side for months, giving her physical food and spiritual nourishment, all for a woman they didn't know and who was not a member of their Kehilla. This is testament to the Rebbetzin's total dedication to the welfare of other Jews.

Later Years

The Satmar Rov suffered a stroke in 1968, and although he recovered he remained a semi-invalid. The Rebbetzin fastidiously took care of his demanding needs until his petiroh on 26 Av 5739 (1979).

Although the light of her life was extinguished with the Rov's passing, she continued on with her holy work the rest of her lifetime. She opened the Yeled Sha'ashuyim Center -- a convalescent home for new mothers, in the home that was built for the Satmar Rebbe.

She passed away on 11 Sivan, June 2 without meriting to have children of her own, yet many of her dedicated followers felt as though they lost their mother.


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