Reb Nosson Koppel, a well known communal identity, askan,
mohel and kehilla pioneer in Melbourne Australia,
passed away suddenly Sunday 6th March at the age of seventy-
nine. He was an icon of communal activity and his legendary
enthusiasm for chesed will surely be missed.
Reb Nosson was born in Gyor Hungary in 1926, one of eight
children of his parents Reb Shloime Zvi and Rachel Koppel.
Reb Nosson and his older brother Reb Elyokim were the sole
survivors of the extended family, the rest of whom died al
Kiddush Hashem in Auschwitz. Whilst in the concentration
camp he risked his life to help others, some of whom remained
appreciative friends for life.
After the war he emigrated to the United States and then
moved to Australia, arriving in Melbourne in 1951. He
immediately embarked on a lifelong involvement in communal
work. Whilst toiling hard by day to establish a parnossoh
he worked tirelessly in the evenings to support and
develop the fledgling chareidi kehilloh, Adass
Yisroel, in Melbourne as well as to assist the stream of
newly- arriving immigrants to establish themselves.
He married his eishes chayil, the late Mrs. Zisel
Koppel o"h, daughter of Reb Chanoch and Rela Donnebaum
from Pressburg. Together with his tzadekes of a wife
Reb Nosson set up a home devoted entirely to chessed.
It was a regular occurrence for their two-and-a-half
bedroom home to host five meshulochim in addition to
their own four children. Rebbes and rabbonim were their
honored guests along with simple, and at times rather
challenging, aniyim, all of whom were treated
Reb Nosson possessed extraordinary charm and was nosei
chen in the eyes of all who encountered him, Jew and
Gentile alike. He developed close ties and contacts with
governmental authorities, using them time and again to help
Jewish people in need. It was "Noszi's contacts" that saved
countless Jewish boys from being sent to Vietnam in the
sixties, "Noszi's charm" that convinced one judge after
another to be lenient with Jewish defendants in court and it
was "Noszi's determination" that ensured Government
assistance and cooperation in areas of the Kehilla's
He managed to get government legislation passed to allow the
production of kosher milk and the operation of kosher
bakeries on Sunday.
He helped establish and was one of the main driving forces in
setting up the Adass Yisroel Chevra Kadisha, its taharoh
shteibel. He also founded the first fully-Jewish beis
hachaim in Australia, and served as its president for
many years. His involvement in the Chevra Kadisha began as a
young boy in Gyor and continued almost uninterrupted for 65
years! In the early days the taharos were performed in
his garage at home and his business van doubled as a
On countless occasions Reb Nosson used his guile,
determination and contacts to cut through red tape and ensure
that burials took place as quickly as possible after the
passing and he was also instrumental in ensuring that
autopsies were not performed on Jewish people. How fitting it
was then that his own levaya took place only some
three hours after his sudden passing, a point noted by
numerous of the maspidim.
Reb Nosson was the contact person if anything was needed from
the authorities. He wouldn't rest till the matter was
resolved. He had a very soft heart, and felt the anguish of
every individual in pain.
Reb Nosson was a regular visitor at all the local hospitals
and old age homes, and was on first name terms with all the
staff who treated him with respect and affection. In keeping
with his sympathetic and sensitive character he would
regularly visit the prisons, offering support, advice and
assistance to Jewish prisoners.
He would deliver bread, challos and other basic
necessities in the wee hours of the morning to needy people
all over Melbourne as well as being a source of financial
assistance to countless individuals who sought his help over
Reb Nosson was recognized by the Government and despite his
heavily accented English and generally rather poor grasp of
the language, he was appointed a Justice of the Peace (a
junior status judge) and sat on the bench for 15 years. (He
used to proudly declare that throughout that time he never
found anyone guilty, just got them to do
Despite the untimely passing of his wife some twenty-five
years ago, he continued to host meshulochim in his
home, personally cooking a hot meal for them daily as well as
providing for all their needs. Reb Nosson maintained this
practice throughout his life until he was in his late
seventies, and at all times, including during family
simchas, bereavements and the busiest periods of his
life both communally and personally. Guests were simply part
of the family.
Reb Nosson had a tremendous ahavas Torah always
sharing a good vort, repeating divrei Torah
from his Rebbes the Gymori Rov and Shimoni Rov. His
attendance at the daily Kollel Baalei Batim shiur was
the mainstay of his day after retirement. He actually
smuggled himself out of hospital once when he was
hospitalized for a few days for a procedure, attended the
shiur and smuggled himself back in afterwards. His
greatest simcha was to see his grandchildren in
yeshivos, seminaries and then kollelim, developing
into true bnei Torah.
He was the president of the Adass Israel Kehilla for many
years and was instrumental in raising funds and getting the
building projects off the ground. He had the great nachas
to see his children continue in his communal involvement
with his son Reb Shloime a well known communal askan
and his other son Reb Binyomin the Rosh Hakohol of the
Adass for the past decade.
Australian Jewry has lost one of its true builders and one of
its most outstanding personalities.
Reb Nosson leaves behind four children: Mrs. R. Klein, Mr.
Shloime Koppel, Mr. Yumi Koppel (the current president of the
Adass Israel Kehilla) and Rebbetzin B. Abraham the wife of
Dayan Abraham of the London Beis Din, grandchildren and great-
Yehi zichro boruch.