Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

18 Sivan 5763 - June 18, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Rebbetzin Elsa Cohen, Hy'd
by Y. Arielli

Elsa Cohen, Hy'd, the wife of the late HaRav Chananyoh Cohen, the former Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Bialik, was brought to rest following her tragic death in last week's bus bombing in Jerusalem.

Elsa Cohen was born in 5693 (1933) in Cologne, Germany. Her mother passed away when she was three weeks old, leaving her to be raised by her father, R' Shlomo Winter. When the Holocaust began, through a series of miracles she managed to escape to England, where she lived in her uncle's home in London. She attended the city's chareidi school and at the age of 18 began to teach at the Bais Yaakov school, where she infused her students with a Torah education and pure yiras Shomayim.

During her childhood she frequented the home of HaRav Yosef Tzvi Halevi Dunner, av beis din in London, which served at a spiritual lighthouse for many Holocaust refugees who arrived in England, shattered by the horrors of the war. Rebbetzin Cohen continued to seek HaRav Dunner's advice and guidance throughout her lifetime.

In London she worked as her a secretary for some twenty years, postponing marriage in order to attend to her aunt, the only surviving member of her family from before the war. After the passing of her aunt, she moved to Eretz Yisroel and married HaRav Chananyoh Cohen, the rov of Kiryat Bialik. In his youth he had studied at Yeshivas Pressburg, where he had the zchus to engage in Torah pilpul with the Rogotchover Rov. As Rebbetzin, many local women sought her counsel and assistance in various areas.

After her husband's passing she moved to Jerusalem for the sake of her children's education, where she continued her practice of visiting the sick and infirm to lend them encouragement. She regularly attended Torah shiurim and was on her way to one such shiur when a terrorist boarded the bus and blew it up.

Many people came to take part in her levaya in Kiryat Bialik. The first eulogy was delivered by HaRav Eliezer Halevi Dunner, a member of the Shearis Yisroel beis din, who noted her exceptional acts of chesed. With a stirred and broken voice he related her life's story based on his observations at his father's house over the course of half a century, citing the verse, Kol beromoh nishmo, nehi bechi tamrurim, Rochel mevakoh al bonehoh, mei'anoh lehinochem . . ."

HaRav Akiva Hacarmi, the rov of Kiryat Shmuel, described her tefillos and midos, for which she gained renown and called on the members of the kehilloh to follow in her footsteps. HaRav Yosef Ochana, the Sephardic Rav of Kiryat Motzkin, also spoke, describing her mesiras nefesh for the kehilloh. HaRav Dovid Druckman, Ashkenazi Rav of Kiryat Motzkin, said of her, "Eishes chayil ateres ba'aloh."

Rebbetzin Elsa Cohen, Hy'd, was buried at the Kiryat Bialik Cemetery. She is survived by a son and daughter, both of whom follow in the path charted by her and her husband zt"l.


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