I had the privilege of knowing Rebbetzin Leah Breslauer a”h, who was niftar on erev Rosh Hashanah at the age of 83, ever since I was a student at the Ohel Rochel seminary, in Monsey, where Rav Breslauer taught halacha. Over the years, whenever we’d meet, Rebbetzin Breslauer would greet me, young enough to be her granddaughter, like a long-lost friend.
The last time we met was on August 1, 2012, at the siyum hashas, three summers ago. We were standing in an endless line for security to enter the Met Life Stadium. It was late, the program was about to begin, and rain was hovering in the air, but all Rebbetzin Breslauer cared about at that moment was making me feel like a million dollars. She came over to me, her eyes shining, as she gushed about how much she enjoys reading the Yated, especially the Magazine articles. Rebbetzin Breslauer was a big fan of the Yated and would frequently write complimentary letters to the editor, whom she knew since he was a very young boy.
“I don’t know how you do it, with your kinderlach and your other obligations,” she said, repeating it twice for good measure.
At the end of that brief encounter, I stood a little straighter. Rebbetzin Breslauer knew exactly what to say to make everyone feel special.
“When she spoke to you, whether on the phone or in person, you sensed that you were the most important person in the world,” said a family member. “The rebbetzin didn’t believe in ‘call waiting.’ Who could be more important than the person she was speaking to?”
As I was working on this article, speaking to the rebbetzin’s granddaughters, I was to hear that same line multiple times. “Oma always made me feel like a million dollars,” said one einikel. “Whenever I needed a boost, I would call her, and she would make such a big deal of my accomplishments. ‘You made an extra kugel? I don’t know how you do it all, with your large family k”ah,’ she would say. ‘I could never do what you’re doing.’”
“Don’t tell anyone, but I think I was her favorite granddaughter,” echoed another.
That line was later repeated by another few granddaughters, all of whom were convinced they were her favorite! For Rebbetzin Breslauer, lovingly known as Morah Leah, everyone was her favorite. She loved people, she loved nature, she loved waking up in the morning and embracing the Ribono Shel Olam’s world with passion and enthusiasm. As her daughter, Mrs. Devorah Wosner, related while speaking to the girls at Bais Rochel High School, “If you knew her, you loved her; and you can be sure she loved you too.”
The rebbetzin was so much larger than life.
“My mother was a doer, a workaholic,” said her daughter in an emotional tribute. “From early in the morning until her day ended, she didn’t stop. She was not one to push things off; if it had to be done because it was the right thing to do, she did it right away. ‘Who knows if I’ll get to it tomorrow?’ she’d ask herself. She made sure to pay back any money that she owed right away. So many times I’d call her and say, ‘let me do this for you…or deliver that,’ but I was too late. It was already done.
“My mother loved Hashem, and felt that Hashem was taking care of her. Her eyes were always open to see the yad Hashem and His tremendous chassodim. She was so excited about these loving pats that she shared them with everyone. And when she spoke about these chassodim, it caused others to open their eyes and see the chassodim happening to them.”
The Rebbetzin’s niece, echoed, “She was blessed with tremendous energy and spirit, always one step ahead. Tante Leah’s house was spotless, her freezer filled with carefully labeled food, and she was always focused on what others needed. She would quietly go to Williamsburg, to her brother, Uncle Yoni, to spend time with him and cook his meals, all after a full day of work. She filled up each day to the brim with so many accomplishments, yet nothing was haphazard. There was no cutting corners or doing a second-rate job. Everything was done to perfection.”
She recalled her stay in the hospital after having a baby while her parents were in Eretz Yisroel. “I was all alone, wishing someone would take care of me, when Tante Leah showed up, all smiles, with a delicious hot meal. ‘I’m your next of kin,’ she said, in that special way she had of expressing her emotions. For many years, that phrase, ‘I’m your next of kin,’ became our catchword; whenever I’d call her, I would say, ‘This is your next of kin’ and we’d both start laughing.”
“Rebbetzin Breslauer was a passionate person, with such a love of life,” recalled Mrs. Miriam Lapides, who taught in Bais Yaakov, where the rebbetzin was the beloved secretary for so many years. “Her simchas hachaim was palpable and contagious. She had a witty sense of humor that managed to turn even a serious situation into something upbeat and doable. The rebbetzin had the kochos hanefesh to conquer her challenges, both great and small, to turn each day in her life into an incredible adventure.”
Mrs. Lapides (nee Shapiro), who grew up in the house next to the Breslauers on Route 306, recalls Morah Leah filling the role of a second mother. “When my mother, who was older than Rebbetzin Breslauer, had her tenth child, she went to the Breslauer home to recuperate, as her own mother lived far away. Morah Leah took care of her with such TLC. She didn’t let us come and disturb my mother while she was resting. I thought this was so normal, but later I realized how unusual it was.
“For many years she was the only babysitter in Monsey. Everyone sent their children to Morah Leah. She took care of the babies with incredible patience and devotion, keeping them clean, fed, and happy. And she was so yashrusdig; if you brought your baby at 10:23, she would charge you from 10:23. She never wanted to take a nickel that belonged to someone else.”
Mrs. Lapides worked as her playgroup assistant in the playgroup that operated downstairs for the older toddlers. “When I came back from seminary, I became the playgroup morah. It was such a pleasure to work for Morah Leah. She was so cheerful, warm and genuine. She appreciated everything I did for the children, and would constantly shower me with presents. My two years as the playgroup morah created such beautiful memories that I still cherish. She wore her heart on her sleeve; you could sense her emotions, her simchas hachaim and the vibrant ratzon to add a bit of sunshine to everyone’s day.”
Rebbetzin Breslauer was a whirlwind of energy, even in her golden years. As Mrs. Chany Landau, the office manager at Bais Yaakov, recalled, “She was in school every morning at ten to eight, but her day had started many hours before. She would wake early, daven, cook up a storm, go brisk walking with her walking partner, and then get into her car and come to school to open the building. She would stand at the window as the girls came inside, and would personally tell them good morning, waiting for their good morning in response.
“Rebbetzin Breslauer wasn’t just a beloved secretary, who learned computers in her sixties and mastered her job with the finesse and skill of someone many years her junior. She was a mother and an Oma to many of the students, taking them under her wing. She taught the canteen girls how to be efficient and organized with the money, how to conduct a business responsibly, and then bought them presents at the end of the year!”
Hakoras hatov was one of her trademarks. As her daughter related, “It was nearly impossible to do anything for my mother. She was the world’s biggest giver and a very difficult taker. But if someone managed to do something for her, her appreciation was beyond. Most of the time, a verbal thank you wasn’t enough; she would write a letter or give a gift. So often, the einiklach wanted to help their Oma before Pesach, on erev Shabbos, shovel the snow, built the sukkah, etc. She… would shower them with appreciation and presents.
“She thanked doctors, nurses, cleaning ladies, the mailman, bus drivers…she became their friends. The lady in the cleaners recently asked, ‘How’s your mom? I miss her.’ Why did they love her? Because she really and truly cared about their lives.”
On her fridge was a list of errands and things to accomplish: Invite Mrs. Ploni (an almonah) for a Shabbos meal. Deliver a present to so-and-so. Make dinner for a family whose parent is in the hospital. Whenever she had a few moments, she would call the regulars on her list, people who needed a pick-me-up, who were waiting to hear a caring friend’s voice.
Rebetzin Breslauer instinctively saw the good in everyone, and people gravitated to her orbit. They sensed something genuine and rare in her relationships. She had a large circle of close friends whom she kept in touch with on a regular basis.
She was straight as an arrow, with a passion for emes and yashrus. She didn’t mince words. Her word was her bond. If she told you she’d do something, the rebbetzin would move heaven and earth to accomplish it.
Rebbetzin Breslauer’s unique personality, combining effusive joy with ehrlichkeit, were nurtured during her earliest childhood by her parents, Rav Eliezer Lipman and Mrs. Reinchin (Ruth) Spitzer, nee Strauss.
orn in Vienna in 1932, the fourth of six siblings, young Leah Spitzer and her family escaped from war-torn Europe in 1939, through Belgium and France, one step ahead of the Nazi murderers. There were numerous miracles along the way, including a brief period when her father was arrested by the Germans. As they were fleeing Vienna, the guard at the border glanced at the children and asked in wonder, “Vi fiel kinder hobin zi? How many children do you have?”
He was so taken aback by the family of six small children that he neglected to check their papers thoroughly, letting them pass. The rest of their journey was turbulent, and filled with miracles. They were about to board the ship to America, when an official noticed that young Malka (later to become Rebbetzin Wolfson,) had a rash on her face. He decided the child had measles and refused to allow the family to board. The boat was later torpedoed and sank in the Atlantic Ocean. The family made the journey on the next boat and arrived safely, settling in Williamsburg.
Rav Eliezer Lipman was an oveid Hashem whose tikun chatzos during the nine days was an example of true mourning. Young children would flock to the Viener Shul to watch Rav Spitzer sitting on the floor and crying bitter tears over the churban.
On one occasion, Rav Aharon Kotler was on a fundraising mission with a young bochur, named Mordechai Sussna. They stopped to daven in the Viener Shul, and saw a man davening Mincha with tears resembling the Mincha of Yom Kippur. The man was Rav Eliezer Lipman Spitzer, a rosh hakahal in Vien. “If there’s a Yid like this today, it’s worth getting to know him,” Rav Aharon told the bochur. Young Mordechai Sussna absorbed this piece of advice, and later became Rav Spitzer’s son-in-law, marrying his daughter, Golda.
Mrs. Spitzer, beloved by the old-timers in Williamsburg, was a one-wOman dynamo who lived and breathed to help those less fortunate. In those early, turbulent years after the Holocaust, Mrs. Spitzer would tirelessly pound the pavement, going from door to door collecting funds for her newly founded organization, the Viener Bikur Cholim, still in existence today.
“I remember Mrs. Spitzer, who had young children at the time, walking with her well-worn shoes in our bungalow colony, knocking from door to door for hours, raising money for the Bikur Cholim,” recalled Mrs. Judith Fischer of Monsey. “It was very hot outside, and she must have been exhausted, but she never gave up.” She would sell bottles of honey before Rosh Hashanah and olive oil before Chanukah to raise money for the fledging organization.
Mrs. Spitzer didn’t just finance the Bikur Cholim. She was the Bikur Cholim. As Devorah Wosner recalled, “She would personally go to people’s houses, cook suppers and wash their toilets, all on her own. She would spend hours visiting the sick and lonely, those whom other people had forgotten about or given up on. Nothing was beneath her dignity or too difficult.”
Young Leah attended the Bais Yaakov in Williamsburg, where she was remembered for her alacrity and her desire to learn, which remained with her throughout her life, and her eagerness to help others, no matter how difficult or inconvenient. In 1953, she married Rav Shlomo Breslauer, a brilliant talmid chochom then learning in Bais Medrash Elyon of Monsey. Though her husband came from a Yekkish background and her family was more chassidish, the adjustment was no big deal for Leah.
As a relative remarked, “For the rest of her life, even in her eighties, she referred to her husband, Rav Shlomo, as her chosson. They forever remained a newlywed couple who spent quality time with each other. In fact, we all knew that when the rov and rebbetzin were eating dinner, there was no disturbing them. If the rov needed anything, that always took priority over her other responsibilities. “
In 1954, just a year after their marriage, the Breslauers moved to Monsey, then a rural village out in the middle of nowhere, with just a few bungalows surrounding Bais Medrash Elyon. For a while they lived on Main Street, next to the famous Tabak, Wachsman, Jacobs and Shulman families. It was in those years that Rebbetzin Breslauer’s close friendship with Mrs. Chana Tabak was cemented.
During that era, the Breslauers forged a close connection with the Schustal, Ungarisher, Taubenfeld, Mendlowitz, Mashinsky and Rosengarten families, who are today leading Torah families, impacting American Jewry on a large scale.
A few years later, when the apartment became too small for their four young children, Rabbi Breslauer found a lot for sale on Route 306 in Monsey, purchasing it for a mere three thousand dollars. Monsey was so small in those days that his wife didn’t even know where Route 306 was!
Since building a house from scratch was a substantial undertaking, Rav Breslauer purchased an army barracks from Guttemberg, NJ, and arranged for it to be transported in the middle of the night to his newly purchased property. As Devorah Wosner related, “My mother woke up in the middle of the night and heard the rumbling of the truck bringing our house down the street. Bright and early in the morning she ran to our new lot, and there it was!”
The army barracks was laid upon a newly built foundation, and served as the Breslauer home for many years. The home was kept meticulously clean and organized. Every year, another room in the house was renovated and modernized, yet it still retained its historic look. The house is still in existence today, though the Breslauer family later moved to Hilltop Lane.
s mentioned earlier, for 25 years, while raising her four children, Morah Leah ran a babysitting service and playgroup in her house. For a time, it was the only babysitting service in Monsey. The young children were upstairs, while the preschoolers had a play area in the basement, with their own teachers. The babysitting service was open from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. to accommodate working mothers with varying schedules.
Many distinguished rabbonim and talmdei chachomim started their careers in Morah Leah’s playroom. Rav Dovid Schustal, Rav Shlomo Feivel Schustal and Rav Eli Yagod were among her early students. She loved young children, and took care of them with motherly warmth. Eventually Morah Leah was forced to close down her day care, and became the beloved secretary in Bais Rochel School. Two years later, she was invited to run the office at Bais Yaakov High School, a position she kept until just a few months before her petirah.
“My mother was devastated when she had to close her day care, but it was a blessing in disguise,” Mrs. Wosner recalled. “She wasn’t just a secretary, but an educator. She taught the girls so much about menshlichkeit, about being on time and appreciating what you were given.”
Bais Yaakov students recall being called to the office to pick up the lunch their mothers had dropped off if they’d forgotten it at home. “If a girl neglected to thank her mother, she would receive a stern talking to from Rebbetzin Breslauer,” one student recalled. “It bothered the rebbetzin if the girls didn’t realize or appreciate how much their parents did for them.”
When a student forgot to bring her report card on time, she would remind her that there was a late fee. “We don’t want your money, we want your achrayus,” she would stress.
Rebbetzin Breslauer’s job was running the office, a task she completed with yashrus and efficiency, but at the same time she was also the heart and soul of Bais Yaakov. She took the girls under her wing, developing close relationships with many of them, adopting them as her own granddaughters.
She raised thousands of dollars, for struggling bnei Torah and for families of Bais Yaakov girls who couldn’t afford to pay tuition. The Rebbetzin ensured that the girls would continue thriving in school, covering the tuition costs for many years.
“She was able to teach the girls so much because she wasn’t a teacher,” said one teacher. “She expected them to say please and thank you, to pick up their garbage and look like a mentch. She taught them how to appreciate things, whether it was a teacher going the extra mile, or their mothers driving them to play practice… Her word was a word, and she would go to the other end of the world to fulfill it.”
“She had a drawer in the office filled with magic markers, colorful papers and treats,” recalled Mrs. Lapidus. “If a teacher needed to bring her child to school for whatever reason, Rebbetzin Breslauer would bubby-sit. She would have the child laughing and playing happily under her loving care.”
Rebbetzin Breslauer grew up in the pre-computer generation, but that didn’t stop her. When the Bais Yaakov office became computerized, she simply went back to school to learn computers in her late sixties. She took a comprehensive computer course and diligently applied herself until she mastered the intricacies of computer graphics, spreadsheets, and Excel.
“Her sheets and handouts weren’t just to be yotzei; they were neat and organized, and so beautifully presented,” said Mrs. Chany Landau, the office manager. “…She brought a tremendous simcha into the school, which filtered down to the girls. Rebbetzin Breslauer rejoiced with every teacher’s mazel tov and would hang up adorable signs celebrating their simchos. Sometimes, if she missed a simcha, she would take the ba’alas simcha by the hand and make a rikud, dancing with us down the hallway!”
When a teacher had a baby or her child became engaged, Rebbetzin Breslauer would hang up special signs in the office with original, spunky mazel tov wishes that had the teachers’ room in stitches.
Mrs. Shaindi Friedman, who worked in the Bais Yaakov office, looked forward to Friday, because that was the day she shared the same office with the rebbetzin. “Spending a few hours with Rebbetzin Breslauer was a special treat,” she recalled. “She may have been the oldest member of the office, but in spirit, she was the youngest by far. No matter what happened in her life, even when she got bad news about her health, she would be filled with incredible gratitude. ‘I have no complaints to Hashem; He has given me so much,’ she would say again and again.
“What I remember most about the rebbetzin is the little things. I spell my name, Shaindi, with an I, which is hard for most people to remember, but the rebbetzin never misspelled my name. She would order special sticky notes, which I needed for my job, and keep them in her supply closet. The supply closet was organized to perfection; no one was allowed to help themselves unless they got special permission. A few weeks ago, I got permission to open the closet, and in the corner, I found a pile of sticky notes, and a reminder in her beautiful handwriting: ‘These are for Shaindi Friedman only.’ I knew she was still looking out for me, as she did for everyone else.”
Rebbetzin Breslauer infused Camp Tee-Noke, located on the premises of the Bais Yaakov school, with her special spirit. “One summer there was a mock wedding. The rebbetzin dressed up in a curly sheitel and outlandish costume, singing and dancing with the children. She even wore the costume home, to bring simcha to her husband!”
hough a large portion of her day belonged to Bais Yaakov, that was only a fraction of her life. Rebbetzin Breslauer, the matriarch of a large family, filled so many other roles. For over forty years, she was the rebbetzin of the Bais Tefillah shul, where her husband is the mara d’asra, having been given the hachtarah by Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky who davened in the shul.
Rebbetzin Breslauer was the heart and soul of the kehillah. She served on the chevrah kadisha and patiently accommodated the many callers that came to consult with her husband at all hours. The hundreds, if not thousands, of shiurim the rov delivered over the years, the shailos that came erev Pesach, the emergency meetings at their home – the Rebbetzin enabled them all. The kollel for advanced yungerleit, led by Rav Asher Dovid May, which uses Bais Tefillah as their headquarters, owes a lot to her support and encouragement.
Despite it all, she refused to let anyone call her by her honorary title. “If you call me Rebbetzin Breslauer, I won’t be your friend anymore,” she would joke.
She was a devoted daughter, who invited her mother to live with her in her final years, hovering over her, seeing to her every need. “The rebbetzin once told me she had no guilty feelings after her mother was niftar,” recalled a relative. “When I recalled what she did for her mother, I understood why.”
She was an eishes chover, incredibly devoted to her husband; Rav Shlomo’s needs always took precedence. Upon his urging, the rebbetzin learned Chumash with Rashi every week. She took care of the rov through seven strokes, encouraging him to continue exercising and regaining his health, to continue leading the kehillah.
She raised four exceptional children: two sons, Rav Dovid, rosh kollel in South Fallsburg; Rav Eliezer Lipman, rosh kollel in Passaic; and two daughters, Mrs. Devorah Wosner of Monsey and Mrs. Ruchy Leeb of Eretz Yisroel.
As the matriarch of many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, the rebbetzin didn’t just sit back and enjoy the nachas. She made a determined effort to forge a personal relationship with every grandchild and great-grandchild.
“These connections didn’t happen spontaneously, by accident. Oma made them happen,” said one of the Wosner daughters interviewed for this article. “I remember our Shabbos morning routine. We would wake up early, there was no sleeping late,and run to Oma’s house to pick her up and go with her to shul. Oma would give us breakfast, a slice of delicious cake waiting under a tray with a glass dome, prepared especially for us.
“Oma was an early riser, and went to shul early in the morning, in time for korbanos. In fact, we’d sometimes arrive at Bais Tefillah before the rest of the minyan! We would walk down the street, hand in hand. My sisters and I were outfitted in matching trench coats that Oma had bought for us in Loehmann’s. Our grandmother, who was always impeccably dressed, wanted her granddaughters to look beautiful lekavod Shabbos.
“Watching Oma daven was a lesson of itself. She would quietly sing the words, injecting them with life and joy. It was literally like watching a daughter talk to her loving Father, thanking Him and asking for more. After davening we would go to Oma’s house for Kiddush, and one lucky girl would stay for the meal, on a rotating system. Eating with Opa and Oma was the highlight of our week.”
The table was set beautifully, the food was delicious, and the ambience was otherworldly.
The Shabbos guests would be invited to say a dvar Torah and share whatever they had learned that week. They would have to eat everything on their plate; no ba’al tashchis, “Which wasn’t too difficult, after all, because Oma was a great cook.”
“She taught us how to eat with a spoon like a lady, without slurping, and how to set a table properly,” recalled another granddaughter. “We would sing songs and spend time together talking about whatever interested us. We sensed how much Oma loved us and wanted us to be happy.”
She would tell the children stories to entertain them, acting them out with motions, song and dance. Whatever Oma did was sure to be fun, memorable, and teach an important lesson at the same time.
Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren waxed nostalgic about the interactive bedtime tapes Oma made for the children, back when cassettes were still in vogue.
“Oma took a story, such as Hillel Hazokein, and asked Zeidy to tell her all the details. Then she would act out the story on a tape, with voice change and dramatic special effects. The tape would start by reminding the kinderlach that they had to be tucked into bed to listen. From time to time she would pause the story to ask the children a question. ‘Kinderlach, what do you think Hillel loved the most? See if you can guess before Oma tells you. If you think you have the answer, call me tomorrow and tell me.’ The next day, Oma would eagerly listen as the children shared their answers, and send them fruit leather or some other nosh as a special prize! This was one of the ways she developed a relationship with her great-grandchildren.
“She yearned for a relationship with the older boys who were away in yeshiva. Oma accomplished this in a very wise way. She asked the bochurim to call her every week, even from Eretz Yisroel, and share a dvar Torah, which she would write down carefully and share at the Shabbos table. In return, she would send the einiklach money, for as she said, ‘You enhanced my Shabbos table; I can’t take something for nothing.’ Oma filled up five notebooks with these treasured divrei Torah!”
On one occasion, she was staying at her daughter Devorah’s house on yom tov when one of the children began acting cranky, wanting her favorite cereal, which had been finished. “Oma took the child’s hand and embarked on a ten minute walk to her house, where she served her ice cream and schmoozed a bit, making her feel so special,” a granddaughter recalled. “When she returned, the child’s little sister was crying because she was jealous of the special treatment. Without missing a beat Oma turned back on her walk, taking the second child to her house and repeating the process!
“Once, when I was very young, my parents went away for Shabbos, and we were supposed to stay at Oma’s house. This took place many years ago, but I remember how Oma was waiting at the door, smiling from ear to ear, filled with joy. ‘I’m so excited you’re here!’ she said, taking my hand and skipping through the house. She brought me to the kitchen, where there was a beautiful glass bowl filled with every type of nosh I could ever dream of. Oma planned this especially so that I shouldn’t feel homesick for a minute.”
The grandchildren and great-grandchildren looked forward to the annual Chanukah mesibah, when Oma would unveil her famous bucket filled to the brim with coins. Every child would have a turn to stick their hand into the bucket, fill it with coins, shake it three times, and take as many coins as fit into his or her palm. Oma’s face would shine with excitement as she shared the children’s joy at this annual treat.
Esty Hamburger, a great-granddaughter who attended Bais Yaakov, recalled the special TLC her Omi (great-grandmother) lavished on her. “In tenth grade, I was scheduled to deliver a small speech to my classmates. Omi made sure to find out when I would say the speech, and showed up to listen, glowing with nachas. On the days that pizza was sold in the lunchroom, she would slip me $2.50 and whisper, ‘Don’t tell anyone. This is a treat just for you.’ Sometimes my friends and I would leave our books in Omi’s car and walk to school. Omi was so proud of me that I walked, making such a big deal about it.”
Said a granddaughter, “When I had a baby a few years ago, my parents were unable to host me as they just had a devastating fire. Oma begged me to come stay with her, telling me what a treat it would be. Oma loved babies, she loved hosting her children and grandchildren, and we loved coming to her. When I came ‘home’ to Oma, the kimpeturin room was beautifully decorated, with gedolim pictures around the crib. The house was stocked with my favorite treats and enough reading material to keep me busy for a while. Oma waited on me hand and foot, and sang to my baby. My stay at her house was a dream come true.”
Another granddaughter recalls her effusive gratitude for even the slightest favor. “I once hosted Oma for one night. She didn’t stop thanking me for weeks and bought me an expensive set of linen for my guest room.”
She didn’t only share her time and resources, but whatever made her happy, from a new recipe to a creative house-cleaning tip or a nugget of inspiration.
“Every time she would read a beautiful article, she’d clip it and call one of us to share what inspired her. ‘You have to read this,’ she’d say. ‘I know you’re going to love it.’ If she heard a shiur on Dial-A-Shiur at night, she’d call one of us in the morning and ask us to listen, and discuss the insights with so much enthusiasm, as if she was still in seminary! I used to call Oma my therapist. I’d call to discuss whatever issue I was having with my children, and she would commiserate and advise me. My favorite line was, ‘Oma, how much do you charge?’”
Her grandchildren remember the backyard shed, piled to the brim with toys and games for all ages. “Every time one of our children had a birthday or special occasion, Oma would take her key, go to the shed, and come back with the perfect gift. It’s hard to say who was more excited, the recipient of the gift or its giver!”
She loved life, and took incredible pleasure in ordinary things such as reading a good book, going for a refreshing swim, writing poetry and watching a beautiful sunset. Every day was a rare gift to be savored.
As one of her granddaughters quipped, “Oma is probably loving it in Gan Eden, and eager for us to join her in this incredible experience. Uh-oh.” But then she continued, “If we do mitzvos and ma’asim tovim in her memory, we will bring Oma nachas ruach… and we will have a share in her olam haba.”
ebbetzin Breslauer remained active and vigorous well into her eighties, even after being diagnosed with the dreaded machla twice, and undergoing grueling treatments. “She never had any complaints, only gratitude and appreciation for every day of life,” family members recall. “She would say, ‘I love Hashem and Hashem loves me, and I’m mekabel besimcha. I had such a good life, look at my nachas, and I should complain?’
“Even later, when she was unable to speak, if we asked how she was doing she would point upwards with a smile, as if to say, ‘He’s taking good care of me!’”
The rebbetzin continued working until last year before Sukkos, when she became frail and weak. She was awake and conscious until Chanukah of last year, and remained peacefully asleep until her petirah on erev Rosh Hashanah, on the last day of the year, at the age of 83.
The rebbetzin’s levayah took place just hours before Yom Hadin at the Bais Tefillah shul. Short hespeidim were delivered by her husband and son, Rav Dovid. She was laid to rest in the Bais Tefillah chelkah in the Monsey Bais Olam.
Rebbetzin Leah bas Rav Eliezer Lipman is survived by her choshuve husband, Rav Shlomo Breslauer; siblings, Rebbetzin Malka Wolfson, Rav Hershel Spitzer, Rebbetzin Golda Sussna, and Rav Yonah Spitzer (Her brother, Rav Uri Shraga Spitzer zt”l, was niftar a few days after Rosh Hashanah); and her children, Devorah, married to Rav Yochanan Wosner of Monsey; Rav Dovid, a rosh kollel in South Fallsburg; Rochie, married to Rav Shlomo Yitzchok Leeb; and Rav Eliezer Lipman, rosh kollel in Passaic. She also leaves numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren who follow in her lofty ways, and thousands of students whose lives she impacted over the years. May her memory be a blessing.