Rebbetzin J. Ehrentreu lived almost a century, one more
turbulent and with more change, perhaps, than any previous
one. With immense bitochon and strength of character
she remained steadfast to the dignity, integrity and
discipline of earlier times.
She was the daughter of Abraham Heckscher, the venerated
parnes of the Hamburg kehilla. Early in life
she dedicated herself to be a teacher of Torah and mitzvos.
She traveled to Berlin for this purpose and received
certification from some of the leading German rabbonim, a
rare distinction in those years. She took up teaching and was
also highly regarded for her youth leadership activities.
She married HaRav Jonah Ehrentreu, the son of the Munich Rov,
the Gaon HaRav Chanoch Ehrentreu. Upon his death, only months
after her wedding, the mantel of Munich Rebbetzin fell on her
shoulders and she was immediately involved in giving
shiurim and guidance to the ladies of the
But this idyllic life did not last long. Even before the
Nazis' rise to power in 1933, HaRav Ehrentreu was brutally
attacked in his own home, an event then reported in the
London Times. Despite repeated physical persecution,
deserting the kehilla by leaving the country was an
option he did not consider. No one would have come to take
After Kristallnacht there was no alternative. That morning he
raced to the burning shul to save the sifrei
Torah, but was immediately arrested. Rebbetzin Ehrentreu
risked her life to take along his tefillin whilst he
was in Gestapo custody on the way to Dachau Concentration
Camp. Eventually released, disheveled and wounded he, with
his Rebbetzin and with the help of family and friends, was
able to escape to England.
Here again he faced problems, being interned on the Isle of
Man as an "enemy alien" and later dispatched to Australia. To
be spared the heavy bombing of London, Rebbetzin Ehrentreu
settled in Cambridge and, with amazing courage, took care of
her family single-handedly for the next six years. She also
provided meals and board for Jewish students who were
evacuated there and also for some British and American
servicemen stationed in the area. Many are the stories of
these people relating how much she managed to inspire them
and keep up their morale in the very trying circumstances.
Despite this heavy schedule, she made sure always to be
available for her own children.
When the war was over the family was reunited, and they moved
to London, where HaRav Ehrentreu established what has now
grown to be Bridge Lane Beth Hamedrash. Rebbetzin Ehrentreu
took up teaching in the Garden Suburb Cheder and, long before
the teshuva movement had taken on its momentum, she
helped many ladies return to their roots. Later, she joined
the SEED team of teachers and, well into her 90's, taught
several of its "students." One "returnee" lady telephoned
from abroad during the shiva to say that as a result
of Rebbetzin Ehrentreu's inspiration her family now numbered
27 fully observant souls.
Although very knowledgeable, Rebbetzin Ehrentreu made a point
of attending all possible public shiurim. She also
regularly called on several ladies in need of visitors, both
at home and in hospital. In her own three twilight years she
enjoyed the very pleasant atmosphere of the Schonfeld Square
Home and its wonderfully devoted and caring staff. Here, too,
she was admired for her regular, modest and kindly
Rebbetzin Ehrentreu is survived by her sons and daughters and
merited to attend the chuppah of all her many
grandchildren and, indeed, one great grandchild.