Rebbetzin Nachama Warshavchik

My Great-Grandmother, Rebbetzin Nachama Warshavchik A”H

 by Nechama Levine

Rebbetzin Nachama Warshavchik A”H, my paternal great-grandmother whose name I carry, was born in a small town in Lithuania.  She was the daughter of the Rav of the town, a prominent Talmid Chochom and Posek.  In her childhood, she lived in great poverty.  She had two sisters and one younger brother, the only sibling who survived the war. In 1938 she married Rabbi Shmuel Dovid Warshavchik, Z”L, one of Rav Boruch Ber Leibowitz’s Z”L closest students from the Kamenitz Yeshiva in Europe.  After fleeing with the Yeshiva during the war to Japan and then to Shanghai, China, where they lived for five years, she arrived in San Francisco in 1946 by boat via the Pacific Ocean, a boat really meant for the transport of animals.

She settled in New York on the lower Eastside where her husband, the day after they arrived, became a Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yaakov Yoseph. Her two daughters, one of whom is my grandmother, went to the Bais Yaakov of the lower Eastside.

My great-grandmother was a very learned and clever woman.  She had a dynamic and charismatic personality and great oratorical skills. She was a well known and respected Rebbetzin in her own right.  She gave weekly classes on Shabbos on the Parsha for Nshei Agudath Yisroel and spoke at Nshei functions.  It was once on Shabbos Parshas Bahaloscha, the parsha that my grandmother, who was then about 11 years old and in 6th grade, had just learned, when her mother, my great-grandmother, asked her to substitute for her and deliver the shiur. My grandmother certainly did.

My great-grandmother’s concept of chesed was unique.  When told on the night of Erev Pesach, that a certain helpless woman in the neighborhood was incapable of making Pesach, she and her upstairs neighbor, a niece of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein Z”L, went to the woman’s house and were up all night cleaning the refrigerator and stove.

She with my great-grandfather Z”L, merited having two prominent sons-in-law, both scions of famous rabbinic families in Europe. One was my grandfather, Rabbi Aaron Levine Z”L, grandson of the Reisha Rav Z”L, and the other Rabbi Eliyahu Soloveichik, great-grandson of Rav Chaim Soloveichik Z”L.