Rebbetzin Etta Baila Teitelbaum, the Chenskowitzer Rebbetzin of Monsey who grew up in the early 20th century American culture but into the second century of her life continued with her adherence to the mesorah of her parents, passed away in Tuesday afternoon. She was 100.
“She got married 10 to 15 years before the Holocaust survivors came to the United States,” someone familiar with the Rebbetzin’s past told Hamodia, “and she was a chassidishe Rebbetzin just like in Europe.”
Rebbetzin Teitelbaum, said to be the eldest Rebbetzin in the chassidishe world, was a great-granddaughter of the Yeitav Lev of Sighet, zt”l. She was born in Elul of 1912 in Europe to Harav Arye Leibish Teitelbaum and the daughter of Harav Chaim Yonah Halperin, Rosh Beis Din in Reishe.
Throughout her long life, Rebbetzin Teitelbaum was involved in helping her neighbors, both in New York and in Monsey, and was heavily occupied with Kollel Chibas Yerushalayim of Rabi Meir Baal Hanes.
Rabbi Dr. Aaron Twerski, a nephew of the Rebbetzin, said that he recalled her as someone constantly thinking of others.
“She was a totally selfless person, she needed nothing for herself, always for her children, her grandchildren, for the balabatim,” Rabbi Twerski said. “She was a person who had no needs for herself. It was always, ‘how can I make somebody else happy?’”
The Teitelbaum family immigrated to the United States in 1920 at the advice of Reb Arye Leibish’s brother-in-law, Harav Shmuel Halperin
“There will be a time that there will be such distress in the world that people will stand at the port in America begging to be allowed in,” he said. “Listen to me and immigrate now.”
Reb Arye Leibish settled in New York, where he established a yeshivah for youths. Decades later, when Harav Shlomo Halberstam, the Bobover Rebbe, zt”l, came to the United States following WWII, Reb Arye Leibish helped him set up the Bobover mosdos, serving as administrator, treasurer and secretary in the early years.
In about 1930, Etta Baila married Harav Aharon Teitelbaum, a cousin of hers and heir to the Chenskowitzer Rabbanus. Reb Aharon’s father was then leading an impressively large Chenskowitzer beis medrash in the Bronx.
In 1961, her husband’s father was niftar. Reb Aharon took over the shul and moved to Monsey, where he led his small kehillah for decades, until his petirah about 20 years ago.
Rebbetzin Etta Baila was sick in recent years. She passed away Tuesday afternoon, survived by a daughter, Rebbetzin Yenta Halberstam, and dozens of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The levayah took place Wednesday in her husband’s shul, now led by her son-in-law.
Shivah will be observed at 3 Ralph Boulevard, between Rt. 306 and Jill Lane in Monsey, until Tuesday morning.
Yehi zichrah baruch.