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Nine Decades of Kindness

Machla Abramovitz

Rebbetzin Nechama Horowitz a”h survived Auschwitz and went on become the rebbetzin ofStrasbourg,France, before making aliyah to Eretz Yisrael. Whether she was preparing a Yom Tov meal for many guests or davening to her Creator, she never cut corners. On Rosh Chodesh Elul, she passed on, leaving behind hundreds of mourners — and a rich legacy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

pictures “I have no taanas on HaKadosh Baruch Hu,” Rebbetzin Nechama Horowitz a”h told her children during her final days. “Ninety-one is a good age.” There was calmness, serenity.

The esteemed rebbetzin passed away on Shabbos morning. Her petirah occurred five days short of the yahrtzeit of her husband, HaRav Avraham Dovid Horowitz ztz”l, who was niftar eight years earlier — connecting them in death as they were in life.

“As rav and rebbetzin of Strasbourg, France, they together created a home that served as an example of yiras Shamayim and ahavas Yisrael for the entire city,” says daughter Rebbetzin Faigy Schneebalg. “In her own quiet way, our mother took on the entire burden of the household, so as not to disturb our father, who was totally immersed in learning, day and night.”

Born in 1921 in Sachel, Transylvania, Nechama was the daughter of the Sacheler Rav, HaRav Yechezkel Weidman ztz”l and Machla Appel a”h. Her idyllic childhood came to an abrupt end in May 1944 when her family, together with the entire Sachel community, was transported toAuschwitz. She and her sister — my mother, Henia Sochaczewski — were the sole survivors of their immediate family.

My mother vividly recounted her sister’s extraordinary generosity and protectiveness during those dark months inAuschwitz. “I was lying in the ‘infirmary,’ sick with hepatitis. Nechama would visit me daily and bring me her one piece of bread. I would beg her, ‘Nechama, you see I don’t have any appetite; please take it back with you.’ But she never did. Every time she left, I found another slice of bread somewhere close at hand.”

Upon liberation in April 1945, the two sisters moved to Romaniaunder the care of a surviving aunt. Not long after, the Vizhnitzer Rebbe, the Imrei Chaim — who was close with my grandfather — proposed a shidduch between Nechama and Rav Avraham Dovid Horowitz, who was rav of a DP camp in Limburg, Germany at the time. Rav Horowitz was enthusiastic about the recommendation: Having personally known my grandfather, a man renowned for his brilliance, profundity of thought, and piety, Rav Horowitz was eager to be meshadech with his daughter. My aunt was 24 years old when they married.

Two years later, in 1947, the position of rav of the Adas Yisroel synagogue inStrasbourg,France became available. HaRav Horowitz applied, and his application was eagerly accepted. At the time, the bulk of theStrasbourg Jewish community consisted of Polish and German Jews.  These demographics would change beginning in 1954 when North African Jews began immigrating to France, many moving toStrasbourg.

Once settled in Strasbourg, HaRav Horowitz was offered the position of Av Beis Din. It didn’t take long for him to leave his mark. “Our father, we were told, raised the bar in regard to kashrus and in all other matters. His hechsher was accepted by everybody,” says daughter Rebbetzin Sora Eichenstein. 

 

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