Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

19 Adar II 5765 - March 30, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Reb Nosson Koppel z"l of Melbourne

by Yated Australia representative

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 royally.

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 interests.

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 hearse!

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 the years.

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 "teshuva.")

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- grandchildren.

Yehi zichro boruch.


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