Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

20 Teves 5763 - December 25, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Mrs. Rivkoh Rotzeh Klein, a'h
by Betzalel Kahn

Mrs. Rivkoh Rotzeh Klein of New York, the noted widow of R' Chaim Shlomo (Stephen) Klein who served as chairman of the American Committee for Chinuch Atzmai and a leader of rescue activity in the US following the Holocaust, was laid to rest last Wednesday at the age of 95.

Mrs. Klein was born in Turena, Poland, the daughter of R' Avrohom Abish Monheit of Chassidei Belz, and was raised in a home of ahavas Torah and ahavas chesed. After marrying in Vienna she and her husband immigrated to the US in 5698 (1938). R' Klein soon became a central figure in matters affecting observant American Jews.

As a prominent businessman and owner of Barton's candies, he sanctified sheim Shomayim in public when he set a precedent by locking the doors of his 60 candy stores on Shabbos and chagim. In the 1940s Mrs. Klein helped her husband carry out rescue activities in cooperation with gedolei Yisroel--particularly HaRav Aharon Kotler, zt'l-- and continued to provide support when he became chairman of the American Committee for Chinuch Atzmai. As deputy chairman of Torah UMesorah, R' Klein set up a number of chareidi schools for girls. He worked simultaneously to sustain and strengthen the foundations of major Torah centers set up in the US after the War and supported them with all of the means at his disposal.

Torah faithful Jews expressed deep feelings of fondness and appreciation for the Kleins during the large funeral held in Boro Park. During the course of the levaya passionate hespeidim were delivered by the Novominsker Rebbe, rosh of Agudas Yisroel, USA, and a member of the Council of Torah Sages; Rav Simchoh Bunim Ehrenfeld, av beis din of Tressdorf and a member of the Council of Torah Sages; HaRav Malkiel Kotler, rosh yeshivas Lakewood; Rav Yosef Boimel, a prominent elderly rov in the US; Rav Yechezkel Besser, a member of the nesi'us of Agudas Yisroel, USA; and Mrs. Klein's distinguished son, R' Avrohom (George) Klein of New York.

On Thursday afternoon her coffin arrived at Ben Gurion International Airport, where her son stood waiting beside the cargo ramp with a delegation comprised of heads of Chinuch Atzmai and Agudas Yisroel. A distinguished group of rabbonim and public figures then accompanied the coffin from the arrivals terminal. Hespeidim were given by Chief Rabbi Meir Lau, who spoke of a life filled with kiddush sheim Shomayim and extensive work for the sake of Torah, education and Yiddishkeit.

At the Eretz HaChaim Cemetery in Beit Shemesh, Mrs. Klein was eulogized by Rabbi Menachem Porush, chairman of Agudas Yisroel in Jerusalem, who acclaimed the unique greatness of the Klein home as the main address in the US decades ago for every matter of kedushoh and for both material and spiritual rescue efforts. He said the family's crown jewel was its dedication, under the guidance of gedolei Yisroel, to the establishment of Chinuch Atzmai in Eretz Hakodesh.

Rav Akiva Ehrenfeld, president of Kiryat Mattersdorf in Jerusalem, described the deceased's contribution, driven by pure faith and Jewish pride together with her late husband, toward establishing Torah life and Jewish education during a very turbulent period of spiritual desolation in the US. Then he expanded on the eminent family's outstanding traits and endeavors, which received the accolades of gedolei Torah.

Rabbi Avrohom Yosef Lazerzon, one of the heads of Chinuch Atzmai in Eretz Yisroel, said the Klein family's virtues were etched in the pages of history of Klal Yisroel during the last generation and expressed hakoras hatov on the part of the Chinuch Atzmai administration and thousands of talmidim across the years, saying together with her late husband, she erected the foundations and laid the infrastructure that served as a dwelling place for the Divine Presence in the cities of Israel upon the opening of Chinuch Atzmai institutions under the direction of the luminaries of Am Yisroel.

All of the eulogizers noted Mrs. Klein's success in raising hallowed successors to inherit their parents' great legacy, notably her son, R' Avrohom Klein. Finally R' Avrohom Klein offered impassioned words of parting, stressing his unequivocal conviction that in the World-to-Come his late father was uttering the words of R' Akiva: Sheli veshelochem sheloh hu.

The deceased was then laid to rest beside her husband in the Agudas Yisroel section of Beit Shemesh's Eretz Chaim Cemetery.


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