Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

28 Nissan 5760 - May 3, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Rebbetzin Kela Steinhaus o"h

by Rabbi Y. Grunfeld

"Rabos bonos osu choyil, ve'at olis al kulono."

It was with a sense of deep shock that the many friends and admirers of Rebbetzin Kela Steinhaus o"h heard of her petirah.

It was so typical of her not to make any fuss, but to accept the will of Hashem calmly and to carry on her daily duties to the best of her ability until the very end. Even those who surrounded her daily in Cape Town were totally unaware of the extent of her illness, and her passing took them completely by surprise. She always shunned publicity yet the large levaya which accompanied her to her final resting place on Har Hamenuchos and the distinguished maspidim were tribute to the high regard in which she was held.

Already from her formative years, Kela displayed sterling qualities of leadership and dedication to the Torah standards she had learnt in the home of her illustrious parents, HaRav Yaakov HaCohen Salzer zt"l and his Rebbetzin shetibodel lctv"a, who were pioneers of harbotzas Torah in Johannesburg. It was in this spirit that in 1964 she took the gigantic step of becoming the first girl from South Africa to apply to the Gateshead Seminary -- which in those days meant leaving her home for three years without returning in between. She stood out as an exemplary student and set a trend for other South African girls to follow.

After her marriage she returned to South Africa with her husband, HaRav Shmuel Steinhaus ylctv"a, who became a founding member of the Johannesburg Kollel. The rest of her short life she gave selflessly to support her husband in all his endeavors in rabbonus, chinuch and kiruv rechokim, often in places lacking many Jewish facilities. It is hard for those of us who live in a totally frum environment to fully understand what it means to "do without" in order to maintain the highest standards of Kashrus. It also meant sending her children away at a tender age in order to give them the best possible chinuch. She was zoche to see all of them following in her ways.

Rebbetzin Steinhaus o"h was a dedicated, devoted and very talented teacher. In her thirty-year career she left a lasting impression, teaching all ages from kindergarten children to adults.

She will be best remembered for her last 15 years in Cape Town, where she and her husband established a spiritual oasis of uncompromising Torah values for themselves and their family. Their home was always open to searching students, visitors, and the many frum holidaymakers who constantly found their way to Cape Town.

During the shiva countless people told of the tremendous influence Kela had on their lives. In fact, during her last days, instead of focusing inwardly on her own situation, she was typically still on the phone trying to arrange accommodations in England for a student of hers.

"Meis be'erev Shabbos simon yoffe lo, shenichnas lemenucha miyad" (Kesuvos 103b). After a short but fully accomplished lifetime, Kela Steinhaus z"l returned her pure soul to her Maker on erev Shabbos Parshas Tzav just at the moment that Shabbos entered.

May she be a meilitz yosher for her family and Klal Yisroel.

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