Reb Avraham Halpern, z”l, noted baal tzedakah who served as chairman of Keren Hashviis, was niftar in New York on Shabbos at the age of 80.
Born in Teves 5697 (1936), Reb Avraham was the eldest son of Reb Nachum Yoel, z”l, and Hadassah Halperin, a”h.
Reb Nochum Yoel and Reb Avraham’s grandfather, Reb Yaakov, z”l, were both instrumental in the building of Bnei Brak, whose legendary Zichron Meir shul, Reb Yaakov named for Harav Meir Shapiro, zt”l, with whom he had been very close. They also helped lead the founding of Keren Hashviis, and many other endeavors to establish the foundations of the Torah community in Eretz Yisrael.
The family were Chassidim of the Tchortkover Rebbes, zy”a, and other Rebbes of the Ruzhiner dynasty, a connection that Reb Avraham continued through his life in his bond with Boyan and other Ruzhiner courts.
The Halpern family’s status in the community gave young Avraham close contact with many Gedolim of the day. The Chazon Ish attended his bar mitzvah and insisted that the guests allowed Reb Avraham to complete his entire pshetel. He went on to study in Yeshivas Ponevez and later in Gateshead, England.
In 1961, Reb Avraham married, tbl”c, Leah Chana Friedman, the daughter of Reb Shulem Friedman, a prominent businessman and talmid chacham who resided on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
The couple settled near the Friedmans and became fixtures of the neighborhood’s Jewish community, known for philanthropic work on behalf of mosdos haTorah and many other needs of the klal.
Upon his father’s petirah, 30 years ago, Reb Avraham assumed leadership of the fundraising efforts of Keren Hashviis, which raises huge sums of money to supplement the income of the thousands of farmers in Eretz Yisrael who observe Shemittah.
In addition, he placed special emphasis on financing the construction of mikvaos in communities in need of them.
Through his many endeavors for the klal, Reb Avraham merited a close relationship with many Gedolei Yisrael, but considered himself a Chassid of the Skverer Rebbe, shlita, traveling to Shikun Skver each Yom Kippur and Simchas Torah.
Amid the demands of his real estate investment business and many chessed endeavors, Reb Avraham maintained unshakable sedarim for limud haTorah and was a daily presence in the West Side Kollel.
For over 50 years, he was a fixture in Khal Heichal Moshe, under the leadership of Rabbi Moshe Vorhand. Reb Avraham’s tefillos were a picture of what it means to “stand before the King.” When he was a child, a man in a shul in Tel Aviv once reprimanded him for sitting during davening and, from then on, he stood through all of his tefillos, including during his recent illness. The spot in which he stood in the shtiebel bears two worn imprints in the floor with the outline of his feet. Reb Avraham was an especially beloved person who sought out the good in others and had a natural gift for giving encouragement to those he met.
In recent months, Reb Avraham was hospitalized with a serious illness, and he was niftar this past Shabbos.
The levayah was held on Sunday morning at Shomrei Hadas chapel in Boro Park and will continue to Eretz Yisrael, where he will be buried in Bnei Brak’s Shomrei Shabbos cemetery in the Zichron Meir neighborhood.
Reb Avraham is survived by, ybl”c, his wife, Mrs. Leah Chana Halpern; sons, Reb Yosef and Reb Yaakov; daughters, Mrs. Gitty Rottenberg, Mrs. Huvi Newman and Mrs. Tzippy Berman; as well as by many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Yehi zichro baruch.
Updated Sunday, July 30, 2017 at 6:52 pm