On Shabbos, Parshas Chayei Soroh (22 Cheshvan 5765),
Gateshead lost one of its most beloved and dear members, Mrs.
Irene Falk, known to all as Aunty Irene. She spent the last
sixteen years of her rich, full life in this wonderful
community earning admiration, respect and love from young and
Born almost 99 years ago in Germany, her parents were
Hechover Dovid Heinemann and his wife Esther. She grew up in
the town of Ludwigshaffen near Manheim. There was very little
formal Jewish education available to her but she was deeply
imbued with the Jewish masores from the chinuch
she received in her wonderful home. The yiras
Shomayim, the dikduk bemitzvos and the obedience
to daas Torah remained with her throughout her life
and wherever she found herself. Till her last day, her father
was her role model and guide.
In her late twenties she married Reb Yitzchok Uri (Eugen)
Falk and settled in Breslau near the Polish border. At the
outbreak of the War they fled on foot over the border to
France and from there by ship to South America. Indeed theirs
was the last ship whose passengers were given permission to
They settled in Montevideo, Uruguay, overcoming many initial
hardships and earning a living by any method available as
long as it was honest.
With time, as they recuperated physically and learned the
language, Mr. Falk z"l resumed his life's work of teaching
Torah on all levels to young and old. He was a great
talmid chochom and highly respected by talmidei
chachomim and laymen alike. Mrs. Falk resumed her
profession as an English teacher and prepared many young men
and ladies who wanted to leave for North America to attend
yeshiva and seminary. Wherever you go in the world today you
meet past students who owe their roots in Yiddishkeit
and in general education to Mr. and Mrs. Falk, a"h.
After the war, Mrs. Falk's father z"l joined them in
Montevideo, having suffered greatly in the camps. She nursed
him back to health with great devotion and he became the
focus of her life until he passed away at a ripe old age.
Mr. and Mrs. Falk were unfortunately never blessed with
children and as they grew older they heeded the requests of
Mr. Falk's brother in Manchester to move nearer and have
family around them. About thirty years ago they moved to
Manchester, where they were warmly welcomed by the Falks and
all the Machzikei Hadass community.
This was no small adjustment, both in culture and
Yiddishkeit, but always wanting to learn and improve,
they not only adopted but soon really appreciated their new
environment. Mr. Falk found learning chavrusas and
took an active part in the shiurim he joined. Mrs.
Falk's wonderful personality helped her make many new
She had an extraordinary joy in life, finding happiness in
each day and sharing it with those around her. Although she
never had a personal simcha of her own, she showed
great joy when participating in the simchas of her
friends and family.
A few years after her husband's petiroh, as family
circumstances altered, she finally moved to Gateshead, where
her nephews and nieces felt privileged to open their homes
and hearts to her.
As she grew older, her innocent personality shone through for
all to admire. Children felt drawn to her and came to her
home to be treated and be made to feel special. Yeshiva
bochurim who slept in rooms upstairs of her house were
told by her how lucky they were to be learning Torah. People
who came to visit found a listening ear and left feeling
She had a wonderful middoh of hakoras hatov and
would constantly express her thanks to Hashem and those
around her. She would say "I thank Hashem that I am so well
cared for by my family; I thank Hashem that I am healthy; I
thank Hashem that I enjoy the sunshine; I thank Dr. Cope for
looking after me day and night and I thank all the little
children who visit me every week."
Her middoh of viewing everything with an ayin
tovoh did not allow her to find fault with anyone and one
certainly never heard loshon hora from her.
The levaya in Gateshead set out from the home of Rabbi
Simcha Bamberger. Hespedim were said by her nephews,
Rabbi Simcha Bamberger and Rabbi Eliyohu Falk, and by her
great nephew Rabbi Yaakov Yehuda Salomon.
The levaya proceeded to Manchester, where they were
met by more family and friends. Hespedim were
delivered by the rav of Machzikei Hadass, Rav Schneelbalg and
her nephews, Dayan Aron Dovid Dunner and Rabbi Yaakov Yehuda
Rabbi Matisyohu Salomon, who flew in specially from America,
delivered the final hesped at the bais olom.
Her parting has left a great void and Aunty Irene will remain
an inspiration to her family, friends and the kehillos
of Gateshead and Manchester.
Tehei Zichroh Boruch.