On the 29th of Shevat (February 4, 2008) Reb Nesanel Halton
passed away at the ripe old age of ninety-two.
The deceased was born in Berlin on Shabbos the eighth of
Cheshvan 5676 (October 16, 1915). His father was HeChover Reb
Yonah Hakohen Halberstadt, who was the head of the Orthodox
community of Adas Yisroel in Berlin, a descendent of a
prominent family of distinguished Kohanim who were steadfast
in their commitment to the authentic Jewish heritage despite
the spread of the Haskalah movement.
His grandmother was the niece of the famous scholar Rabbi
Akiva Eiger. The deceased's mother was the daughter of Rav
Nesanel Deutschlander, rabbi of the Ahavas Re'im congregation
in Berlin and the principal of Adas Yisroel's community day
school. Her grandfather was Rav Shmuel Deutschlander, the
Rabbi of Pochof, author of Mar'eh HaLevanon on Shir
Hashirim. She was also the sister of the well-known
Agudas Yisroel Activist Rav Shmuel Deutschlander, one of the
founders and leaders of the Bais Yaakov movement and the
Administrator of Keren Hatorah in Vienna a fund which
supported Torah education in Europe. Her brother in-law was
Rabbi Dr. Chaim Biberfeld of Beis Medrash Hayoshon
congregation in Berlin.
Reb Nesanel grew up in a home known for its kindness and
dedication to the Orthodox Adas Yisroel community which at
the time numbered about two thousand (among the broader
Jewish community there of approximately two hundred
thousand). When the great Torah leaders, Reb Elchonon
Wassermann Hy"d and the Ponovezher Rav, Rabbi Yosef
Shlomo Kahaneman zt"l came to Berlin, they were warmly
invited to stay at the Halberstadt home, and were generously
helped in many ways.
In this home which excelled in Torah and kindness, he grew to
maturity. His father hired private tutors to teach him Torah,
one of whom was Rabbi Avraham Wolf, later the famous founder
and principal of the girl's seminary in Bnei Brak.
With the rise of the wicked Reich in Germany, Reb Nesanel
emigrated together with his parents to Switzerland. They were
allowed entry thanks to their coat factory which they
relocated from Germany to Switzerland thus providing jobs to
many local residents. They had to live in a town that was
isolated from the Jewish community but even there they made
sure to have a Minyan at least on Shabbos, with the
deceased reading the Torah Parsha.
When the Nazis captured most of Europe, even in Switzerland
they felt threatened. They escaped to the U.S. via war-torn
France to sail from Spain. The deceased got the last spot on
a ship to the U.S. while his parents escaped to Cuba.
In New York he married his wife, may she live and be well,
Judith Ellen, the daughter of Dr. Meir Weil of Strasburg and
Paris who also fled to America.
The deceased excelled in honoring his parents, taking them
into his house when they arrived in New York from Cuba. After
they settled in Kew Gardens he visited them weekly.
In Forest Hills he organized a gemara shiur given by
Reb Shmuel Lerner. At first he sent his sons to the local
Jewish day school, but when he saw one of his son's
classmates riding a bike on Shabbos he realized this was not
how he wished to educate his children. He immediately
arranged for his sons and a few others to travel to Yeshiva
Chasan Sofer even though it was quite a distance.
Coming from a family of Agudah activists and being close to
Morenu Rav Yaakov Rosenheim zt"l and Rabbi Moshe
Sherer zt"l, he considered it his obligation and
privilege to found a branch of Agudas Yisroel and Torah
shiurim when he moved to Baltimore. In Baltimore
Cholov Yisroel milk was not available in the stores so
he made sure to buy milk from a fine Jewish farmer, Mr. Ernie
Guttmann. He felt privileged to drive Rabbi Dovid Kronglass,
the Mashgiach of Ner Yisroel Yeshiva, to the Catskill
Mountains for the summer weekends.
He continued the family tradition of deeds of kindness and
charity. In his later years he merited to live in Jerusalem
and have nachas from his children, grandchildren and
great-grandchildren learning Torah and teaching Torah and
going in the way of Hashem.