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
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.