AMrs. Hannah Levy, o.h., passed away in Bnei Brak last
week at the age of 93.
Although residents of Tel Aviv and Bnei Brak knew her mainly
in her later years, members of London's Jewish community
whose memories go back to the forties, fifties, sixties and
early seventies recall "Miss Kohn" -- as she was called
before she married -- as one of the community's leading
Mrs. Levy was born in Ansbach and her father, Rav Pinchas
Kohn, was one of Germany's greatest rabbonim and a founder of
He showed tremendous mesiras nefesh for the Aguda
movement and invested much effort in resolving differences
between the different sections of the community. At the First
Knessia Gedoloh he was one of the first speakers. Rav Yaakov
Rosenheim often mentioned how thankful he was that he had
Rabbi Kohn as a co-worker.
According to a story his daughter often related, when he
escaped from Germany he was already quite an elderly man, but
he nevertheless jumped over the German border together with
his son-in- law Reb Efraim Stefansky, after having made a
Gorol HaGra that gave the message that he could not
escape Germany in any natural manner.
The ambition the young Mrs. Levy (Miss Kohn at the time) had
was to become a fully trained teacher, something that was not
fashionable at the time. She studied in Cologne and then went
on to Cracow where she taught in the seminary under the
guidance of Soroh Schenirer. She often recalled the time she
worked there and spoke fondly of all its founding teachers --
Rabbi Orlean and many others.
After she had been in Cracow for some time, Soroh Schenirer
sent her to Vienna to set up a Bais Yaakov there. Her
students in Vienna included some of the great teachers and
dignitaries of the past and of the present. She subsequently
returned to Germany, to Berlin, where she taught at its Adas
The then-Miss Hannah Kohn managed to escape from war-torn
Germany to England, where she directed a home for refugee
children, mothering the youngsters there and helping them
through their difficult teenage years, including the times
when they had to face the news that their parents and other
members of their families were lost. She helped youngsters
from less observant backgrounds draw closer to
Yiddishkeit, but she refused to forgo any mitzva
observance, not allowing them, for example, to eat the treats
brought by visitors where there was doubt as to their
Her subsequent posts include serving as headmistress of the
Yesodei Hatorah Girls School and also teaching high school
girls in the afternoons. There were no Jewish high schools at
the time and girls attended non-Jewish schools during the day
and went to Hebrew classes in the afternoons.
Her former Yesodei Hatorah pupils have fond memories of her
assemblies and Chumash lessons, during which they were
mesmerized. Her striking personality was unforgettable.
Her final public position, the one for which she is probably
best remembered, was as headmistress of the Avigdor Primary
School, in which capacity she served for close to 20 years,
starting in the mid- fifties. During her years at the Avigdor
School she instilled into her pupils and their parents a
strong striving for truth and the Torah way of life.
She gave up her position in 1972 when she married Dr. Yeshaya
(Fritz) Levy of Tel Aviv, who was a widower. She cared
attentively for her husband's needs and adopted his children
and their progeny as her own.
Mrs. Levy's former pupils and their descendants, continued to
visit her when she was living in Israel, first in Tel Aviv
and later in Bnei Brak. She remembered her pupils well,
inquiring about their parents and siblings by name. They were
all close to her heart.
She greeted everyone in the most exceptional way, introducing
each guest to her other visitors. Even when she was sick she
would extend a friendly thank-you to each visitor, often
saying the words of Bircas Kohanim when they left.
They found her fascinating to talk to. "She had stories about
everything. She had a fantastic memory. It was so interesting
to sit there and listen to her talk," said one young man, who
might have been forgiven for being bored since he was close
to 70 years her junior.
Hundreds of people, former pupils, family and friends,
attended Mrs. Levy's main levaya which left from Bnei
Brak. Scores more assembled in Jerusalem to bid her a last
farewell. Maspidim spoke of her yiras Shomayim,
of the respect her pupils had for her, and of her
HaRav Eliezer Dunner mentioned how her father had said of her
that if she'd been a boy "she'd have been a rosh yeshiva,"
but, he continued, her life attested to "what a rosh yeshiva
she was." One member of her family said of her: "Whatever she
did, she did 100 percent."
Mrs. Levy was buried next to her mother, in Jerusalem's Har
May she be a melitz yosher for all her former pupils
and for Klal Yisrael.