Malka Brayer, a U.S.-Israeli matriarch to a prominent Hasidic dynasty, died in Jerusalem last Friday at the age of 89, following a prolonged illness.
Malka Brayer was the daughter of the late Rabbi Mordechai Shlomo Friedman, who led the Boyan Hasidic sect for more than 50 years until his death in 1971.
Brayer lived in Jerusalem's Geulah neighborhood next door to her son, the American-born Rabbi Nachum Dov Brayer, who assumed his grandfather's position in 1986.
"She was the ultimate 'rebbetzin' who was able to connect to many diverse communities and spanned multiple generations," said Brayer's daughter, Dr. Nancy Block, of Teaneck, New Jersey. "She taught by her example and deeds how to treat every individual with the utmost respect. In her quiet demeanor, she had a tremendous impact on everyone she encountered."
Brayer was buried on the Mount of Olives. Her service was held one hour before the onset of the Sabbath.
An estimated 2,500 visitors attended the shiva for Brayer this week.
"She loved life and always saw the positive in everything," said Faige Freudenberger, who arrived at the shiva with her two daughters, 11-year-old Miri and 9-year-old Perl, and whose grandfather had been a Hasid, or disciple, of Brayer's father.
Scores of well-wishers streamed into the room where Rabbi Brayer and his brother, Dr. Yisrael Abraham Brayer of Los Angeles, sat shiva. As the rabbi spoke, visitors leaned forward, eager to catch the soft-spoken sect leader utter an anecdote about his mother and maternal grandfather.
Brayer was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1923, and moved to New York City in 1927 with her mother, Chava Sarah Friedman, and her two brothers. Her father, a descendant of Rabbi Yisrael of Ruzhin (1796-1850 ), had moved his Hasidic court to New York's Lower East Side several years earlier.
Brayer attended Brooklyn College and earned a master's degree in chemistry. In 1952, she married Dr. Menachem Brayer, a professor at Yeshiva University in New York. They lived in New York City's Washington Heights; in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York; and for 55 years in Sackett Lake, New York.
In 2002, the couple immigrated to Israel. "Her aliyah to Israel was the fulfillment of a dream," said her daughter-in-law, Efrat Greenstein Brayer.
Dr. Brayer died in 2007. In addition to her sons and daughter, Brayer is survived by 15 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now