Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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11 Tammuz 5764 - June 30, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Mrs. Chanah Perlstein, o"h
by Betzalel Kahn

Mrs. Chanah Perlstein o"h, a tzadeikes and the wife of HaRav Yaakov Perlstein ylct"a, passed away in London on Sunday 8 Tammuz at the age of 80.

The deceased was the daughter of HaRav Shlomo Engel, one of the heads of the kehilloh in Jerusalem's Bayit Vegan neighborhood. After surviving the horrors in Europe he made concerted efforts to maintain Jewish tradition and buttress the walls of religion.

When World War II broke out, Chanah Perlstein set out for Belgium with two of her sisters in search of a safe haven far from the European inferno. But when they were prevented from boarding a ship together they decided to send her, the oldest sister, ahead reasoning that she would best know how to earn a living and rescue them.

When she later learned they had been murdered al Kiddush Hashem on the shore she was devastated. For the rest of her life she mourned the loss of these two sisters, her mother and her other siblings who were killed sanctifying Hashem's name during the Holocaust, Hy"d.

She arrived in England with a group of orphaned girls who gathered under the wing of Rebbetsen Siemiatycki, the daughter of HaRav Moshe Schneider, who made great efforts to rescue and rehabilitate the young war refugees. There the deceased worked to set up shiurim for the other girls.

She was married off by Rav and Rebbetsen Siemiatycki to Yaakov Perlstein, one of the group of orphans they had been taking care of. Together the Perlsteins built a home of Torah and extraordinary mesirus nefesh. For years the deceased sewed uniforms for the army day and night in order to sustain the household.

Throughout these years she tried to gather bits and pieces of information about the fate of her parents and family. When the dreadful news arrived she girded her strength and showed great moral fortitude. Not allowing her spirit to fall she dedicated herself to her husband's and sons' Torah study.

Their doors were wide open to guests and many roshei yeshivos stayed in their home. For many years she discreetly sewed burial shrouds and engaged in extensive activities to promote taharas hamishpochoh.

Many people were on hand at the levaya, which set out from her house in London on Sunday night. Hespeidim were delivered by HaRav Yisroel Meir Erlanger and the Admor of Lezha, who spoke of her inner nobility and her dedication to her husband's and sons' Torah learning.

Before the grave was covered over she was eulogized by her sons. HaRav Shlomo Zalman spoke of his mother's greatness as an ishoh kesheiroh under all circumstances. Citing the Medrash that recounts how Eliyohu Hanovi once met a man who had lost his assets yet his wife remained an ishoh kesheiroh he said the deceased remained an ishoh kesheiroh both in times of joy and sorrow. Her son HaRav Mordechai recalled the deceased's boundless dedication, saying she never spared any effort to do whatever possible to allow her husband and sons to engage in Torah undisturbed.

Mrs. Chanah Perlstein o"h is survived by her husband, HaRav Yaakov Perlstein, her sons HaRav Shlomo Zalman Perlstein, the moro d'asro of Ramat Beit Shemesh, and HaRav Mordechai Perlstein, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Shaarei Binoh, and grandchildren and great-grandchildren following in her path of Torah and yiroh.


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