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
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
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.
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
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.
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.