Rebbitzen Chana Blau, a”h, the almanah of Harav Ben Zion Blau, zt”l, passed away this week in London. She was 85 years old.
Rebbitzen Blau’s father, Reb Sheya Badner, was a distinguished talmid chacham, her mother a descendent of a prestigious family which traced its lineage to many tzaddikim, including the Ropshitzer and Yismach Moshe, zy”a, The family arrived in Vienna after WWI fleeing Galicia. Despite Reb Sheya’s background, he was attracted to the famous Schiffshul which followed the minhagim of Oberland as opposed to those of his own roots. He remained devoted to the Schiffshul, and was later actively involved after the war in establishing Eitz Chayim (69) in London, which was viewed as a successor to the Schiffshul.
When WWII broke out, the Badners fled to England, and they spent a short time in London before moving to Leeds, a city with many Jews but few religious ones. With overwhelming mesiras nefesh, they kept the mitzvos in an scrupulous manner; they brought a shochet to their home, shomered their own milk , and produced their own butter. Their mesiras nefesh became ingrained in their young daughter as she developed tremendous yiras Shamayim and her meticulous dikduk b’mitzvos.
Although there were no mosdos hachinuch in Leeds, she eventually attended Gateshead Seminary, after which she began teaching in the Yesoday Hatorah in Stamford Hill and Pardes School in the Golders Green section of London. Harav Chuna Halpern, zt”l, suggested Harav Ben Zion Blau as a shidduch, and despite the different backgrounds, she readily agreed because of her determination to marry a true talmid chacham.
Harav Ben Zion, a seven generation Yerushami, and descendant of Rav Yosef Chaim Sonenfeld, was serving as Rosh Yeshiva in the yeshiva in Wilrijk, Belgium. After living there for a while, they moved to London, where Rav Ben Zion served as a Rosh Yeshiva in Belz and Yeshiva Haramah of London. He also served as the Rav and Dayan of the Grove Lane Kehillah and was Nasi of the Agudah.
Twenty five years ago, Rav Ben Zion suddenly collapsed while speaking at the European Agudah Convention. For the past twenty five years, Rebbitzen Blau displayed her tremendous commitment to the highest standards of Torah observance with true simchas hachayim, as she continued guiding her chashuve family. She leaves behind doros of talmidei chachamim, marbitzei Torah and yerei’im usheleimim.
Tehi zichrah baruch.
Full obituary to follow