Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

28 Ellul 5763 - September 25, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Mrs. Anne (Chaya Leah) Cohen o"h
by YC

The 25th of Elul marked the Sheloshim of Mrs. Anne (Chaya Leah) Cohen, the widow of the late Mr. Sam (Shmuel Aryeh) Cohen z"l, who was blessed to see all her descendants build Torah homes here and in Israel. Her son, Reb. Arnold, and her son-in-law, Rabbi David Davis, both playing important roles in the UK community.

Born in the East End of London to her parents, Reb. Avraham Yeshaya and Brina (nee Ogus) Sperling, both of Lithuanian origin, she was orphaned at the early age of eight. Nevertheless, before his petiroh her father had succeeded in imbuing the family with a love of Torah and mitzvos and this ethos was continued by her mother who reared her and her only sister at a time when Yiddishkeit in London was largely on the decline.

One of the few memories she had of her father was watching him learning late a night. Her mother always used to tell her that when walking with her husband past the Eitz Chaim Yeshiva he used to say, One day our sons-in-law will come from this place," -- and that indeed came true. Although not having the advantage of the same intense religious education as the present generation, nevertheless both daughters married bnei Torah: the late Rabbi Harvey Ritvo and the late Mr. Sam Cohen, zichronom livrochoh.

She always told how she was asked to meet Rabbi Elia Lopian zt'l, her late husband's rebbe muvhak, to receive his approval in order for their engagement to go ahead. From the moment she did become engaged, her dominant aim was to carry out the wishes of her husband. In this she was following the example of our matriarch Soroh. As Chazal point out, when the names of Avraham and Sarah were changed, his numerical value went up by five and hers went down by five. She too was content to descend in order that her husband ascend, allowing him time for regular shiurim and an active communal role within the Orthodox Anglo Jewish Community.

After spending the war years in Luton, the family returned to Stamford Hill where they became regular mispalelim in the Grove Lane Shul and forged a close bond with the then rov, Rabbi Shmuel Yosef Rabinov and his Rebbetzin z'l. After the death of Rabbi Rabinov, her husband was one of the founders of the Kollel which bears the Rov's name and she enthusiastically supported him in that endeavor. Until the very end of her life, she was active in helping organize events to raise funds for the Kollel.

Mrs. Cohen was hit by three great tragedies, yet she was never bitter but focused on the good. Always grateful for all that Hashem bestowed upon her, she used her experience of tragedy to listen to and help others who were also suffering. Her wise advice, emunah, and total trust in Hashem brought comfort to all who sought solace.

As events unfolded and close families were reconstructed, she treated the new members of the extended family as her own, setting a shining example to other people who unfortunately found themselves in similar positions. She was much loved by all, especially the grandchildren who found in her a sympathetic listener in whom they could safely confide. On her part, she made an effort to maintain a vibrant relationship with each of them.

She was wary of troubling others, even her own children and Hashem ensured her levaya took place on a Sunday afternoon at a time which caused the least inconvenience to others. At eighty-seven years of age (Paz), she merited to see five generations.


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