Rebbetzin Tzirel Benoliel, a”h, wife of ybl”c, Harav Chaim Benoliel and daughter of the legendary Rav Mendel Kaplan, zt”l, was niftar on Wednesday, 10 Shevat. She was a true eishes chaver to her husband, Harav Benoliel, who is the Rosh Yeshivah and founder of Mikdash Melech and Rav of Khal Bnei Yosef, both of which serve the Syrian community in Flatbush, Brooklyn.
The Rebbetzin was born in Baranovitch, Poland, in 1934, where her father was a talmid in the yeshivah of Harav Elchanan Wasserman, Hy”d. Upon the outbreak of the Second World War, the Kaplans escaped together with the Mirrer Yeshivah, traveling through the frozen tundra of Siberia before arriving in Kobe, Japan, and later Shanghai. There she attended a makeshift Bais Yaakov together with the many other refugee girls.
Compounding the difficult conditions for the family in Shanghai was the fact that their mother, Rebbetzin Chaya Baila, fell dangerously ill during this period. Despite her youth, Tzirel stepped into the role of surrogate mother for her little siblings, with the signature care and sense of responsibility that would define her for the rest of her life.
In 1946, the Kaplans left Shanghai and settled in Chicago, where Rav Mendel taught at Bais Medrash L’Torah in Skokie. Family members recalled that the nifteres bore the distinctive imprint of the elevated chinuch of Rav Mendel and his Rebbetzin. The lessons of unbound chessed and caring for every individual — no matter how great or simple — coupled with a deep-seated value and respect for Torah guided her entire existence.
In 1958 she married Rav Chaim Benoliel, a Seattle native of Sephardic descent, who was then studying in Yeshivas Bais Hatalmud. The couple settled in East New York where the yeshivah was then located, later following it to Bensonhurst.
In the early 1970s the family moved to Flatbush, where Rav Benoliel founded Khal Bnei Yosef. A few years later, sensing the need for a mosad to cater to the growing community of Syrian and other Sephardic Jews in Brooklyn, he founded Yeshivat Mikdash Melech. The Rebbetzin did all that she could to foster and further her husband’s own growth in learning as well as his harbatzas haTorah.
The Benoliel home was always an open one, where the Rebbetzin strived to make the throng of family, friends, talmidim and members of the kehillah feel welcome and loved.
She is survived by, ybl”c, her husband, Harav Chaim Benoliel; a brother, Rabbi Yeruchem Kaplan; sisters, Mrs. Rochel Lopian and Mrs. Esther Hutner; sons, Rabbis Yosef, Avraham, Chanoch, and Moshe; daughters, Mrs. Rochel Shulamis Koenigsberg, Mrs. Bluma Devorah Carlebach and Mrs. Rivky Kaplinsky, as well as many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Yehi zichrah baruch.
Updated Wednesday, January 20, 2016 at 7:54 pm