Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

15 Adar I 5768 - February 21, 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Reb Nesanel Hakohen Halton-Halberstadt z"l (Mr. Theodore Halton)

By Rabbi Moshe Leib Halberstadt, a grandson

On the 29th of Shevat (February 4, 2008) Reb Nesanel Halton passed away at the ripe old age of ninety-two.

The deceased was born in Berlin on Shabbos the eighth of Cheshvan 5676 (October 16, 1915). His father was HeChover Reb Yonah Hakohen Halberstadt, who was the head of the Orthodox community of Adas Yisroel in Berlin, a descendent of a prominent family of distinguished Kohanim who were steadfast in their commitment to the authentic Jewish heritage despite the spread of the Haskalah movement.

His grandmother was the niece of the famous scholar Rabbi Akiva Eiger. The deceased's mother was the daughter of Rav Nesanel Deutschlander, rabbi of the Ahavas Re'im congregation in Berlin and the principal of Adas Yisroel's community day school. Her grandfather was Rav Shmuel Deutschlander, the Rabbi of Pochof, author of Mar'eh HaLevanon on Shir Hashirim. She was also the sister of the well-known Agudas Yisroel Activist Rav Shmuel Deutschlander, one of the founders and leaders of the Bais Yaakov movement and the Administrator of Keren Hatorah in Vienna a fund which supported Torah education in Europe. Her brother in-law was Rabbi Dr. Chaim Biberfeld of Beis Medrash Hayoshon congregation in Berlin.

Reb Nesanel grew up in a home known for its kindness and dedication to the Orthodox Adas Yisroel community which at the time numbered about two thousand (among the broader Jewish community there of approximately two hundred thousand). When the great Torah leaders, Reb Elchonon Wassermann Hy"d and the Ponovezher Rav, Rabbi Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman zt"l came to Berlin, they were warmly invited to stay at the Halberstadt home, and were generously helped in many ways.

In this home which excelled in Torah and kindness, he grew to maturity. His father hired private tutors to teach him Torah, one of whom was Rabbi Avraham Wolf, later the famous founder and principal of the girl's seminary in Bnei Brak.

With the rise of the wicked Reich in Germany, Reb Nesanel emigrated together with his parents to Switzerland. They were allowed entry thanks to their coat factory which they relocated from Germany to Switzerland thus providing jobs to many local residents. They had to live in a town that was isolated from the Jewish community but even there they made sure to have a Minyan at least on Shabbos, with the deceased reading the Torah Parsha.

When the Nazis captured most of Europe, even in Switzerland they felt threatened. They escaped to the U.S. via war-torn France to sail from Spain. The deceased got the last spot on a ship to the U.S. while his parents escaped to Cuba.

In New York he married his wife, may she live and be well, Judith Ellen, the daughter of Dr. Meir Weil of Strasburg and Paris who also fled to America.

The deceased excelled in honoring his parents, taking them into his house when they arrived in New York from Cuba. After they settled in Kew Gardens he visited them weekly.

In Forest Hills he organized a gemara shiur given by Reb Shmuel Lerner. At first he sent his sons to the local Jewish day school, but when he saw one of his son's classmates riding a bike on Shabbos he realized this was not how he wished to educate his children. He immediately arranged for his sons and a few others to travel to Yeshiva Chasan Sofer even though it was quite a distance.

Coming from a family of Agudah activists and being close to Morenu Rav Yaakov Rosenheim zt"l and Rabbi Moshe Sherer zt"l, he considered it his obligation and privilege to found a branch of Agudas Yisroel and Torah shiurim when he moved to Baltimore. In Baltimore Cholov Yisroel milk was not available in the stores so he made sure to buy milk from a fine Jewish farmer, Mr. Ernie Guttmann. He felt privileged to drive Rabbi Dovid Kronglass, the Mashgiach of Ner Yisroel Yeshiva, to the Catskill Mountains for the summer weekends.

He continued the family tradition of deeds of kindness and charity. In his later years he merited to live in Jerusalem and have nachas from his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren learning Torah and teaching Torah and going in the way of Hashem.


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