Ms. Masha Wachtfogel a”h


It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Ms. Masha Wachtfogel a”h. She was 60 years old.

Masha was a daughter of Rav Nosson Wachtfogel zt”l, longtime mashgiach of Beth Medtash Govoha in Lakewood, NJ.

Masha grew up in the home of her illustrious parents, Rav Nosson and Rebbetzin Chava, her father a famed mashgiach and her mother one of the founders of the first Bais Yaakov in America and a respected mechaneches, was the true eizer kenegdo to her husband during his decades of devotion to his talmidim, the founding of the Lakewood branch yeshivos, and the establishment of numerous out-of-town kollelim through Kollel International.

Rav Nosson was born in the small town of Kuhl, in Lita, on 9 Adar, in 1910. His father, Rav Moshe Yomtov Wachtfogel, was a talmid of the Alter of Slobodka. His mother was Rebbetzin Freida Devorah (Spitz). During his formative years, Rav Nosson learned in Kelm under the tutelage of Rav Elya Lopian.

In the early 1920s, Rav Moshe Yomtov accepted a position as the rov of Montreal, and he moved to Canada, leaving his young sons behind. As the age of fifteen, young Nosson and the rest of the family came to America, where the Mashgiach entered Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yitzchok Elchonon, where he learned under Rav Shimon Shkop. In 1929, Rav Nosson traveled to Mir, where he imbibed the Torah and mussar of the Mashgiach, Rav Yeruchom Levovitz. He learned in Mir for seven years, until Rav Yeruchom’s petirah, and then went to Kaminetz to learn by Rav Boruch Ber Leibowtz. After leaving Kaminetz, Rav Nosson returned to America, and was persuaded by Rav Elchonon Wasserman, who was in the United States at the time, to go back to Lita, to learn in Kelm.

It was after this period of time that Rav Nosson and Rebbetzin became engaged. Shortly before the tentacles of war reached Kovno, Rav Nosson, as a Canadian citizen, managed to escape from Europe in the nick of time. He traveled through Australia, making his way to Montreal, where the chasunah took pace.

Together, the Rebbetzin and Rav Nosson moved to the United States, settling in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Masha’s mother was born in 1915 to Rav and Rebbetzin Yisroel Zalman Slomowitz. Rav Slomowitz was a talmid of the Slabodka Yeshiva, a respected talmid chochom, one of the most distinguished rabbonim in Poland, and author of the seferBeis Yisroel”. Rebbetzin Chava later attended and graduated from Sarah Shneirer’s renowned teacher’s seminary in Krakow, Poland. She then taught throughout the many small towns of Poland until 1939 when she fled the death traps being laid by the savage Nazis in Europe.

Rav Nosson and the Rebbetzin were part of a nucleus of twenty gifted yungeleit who traveled to White Plains, N.Y. in 1941. A year later, Rav Aharon Kotler reached American shores and was asked to be Rosh Kollel, and he agreed, on the condition that the kollel, which was named Beth Medrash Govoha, be moved to Lakewood, N.J. Rav Aharon then founded Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood.

Rav Nosson was niftar in 1998. Rebbetzin Chava passed away in 2006.

Masha suffered from Down’s syndrome and did not merit to marry, but she taught others about simchas hachaim and how to treat people with dignity. At Camp Fayga during the summers, she was a beacon of joy to campers and staff alike.

Masha is survived by her siblings, Rav Elya Ber Wachtfogel, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Gedola Zichron Moshe of South Fallsburg; Mrs. Shainy Burstzyn, wife of Rav Yosef Tzvi Bursztyn, Rosh Yeshiva of Mesivta of Lakewood; and Mrs. Rubnitz, wife of Rav Yehoshua Rubnitz.

The levaya will be held today, at approximately 1:30 p.m., at the Binyan Herzka Building of Beth Medrash Govoha and the aron will then be flown via JFK Airport for kevurah in Eretz Yisroel.

Yehi zichrah boruch.



  1. BDE, I had the zechus to live in Williamsburg and go to Camp Faygah where I became good friends with Masha. Masha was an inspiration to all of us campers. She was always upbeat and happy and part of camp despite her handicaps. She probably was one of the most beloved campers in Camp. When I left Camp Faygah I would get a letter or two from her in the summer.
    During the winter in Williamsburg, Masha was once again an inspiration, She shopped, went out with friends, took buses, had a job. At a time when you did not see many Downs Syndrome people around, Masha was there to show us all the way.
    And thanks Camp Faygah for teaching us about inclusion before inclusion was a way of life.


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