Hanna Kleinberger was a member of the Jerusalem kehilla for more than forty years and contributed greatly to it. She passed away on August 6, 2012.


Hanna was born in Antwerp, Belgium on December 8, 1924. She was the firstborn of three children in a Jewish family that had immigrated to Belgium from Poland.

During the Second World War, Hanna, like other members of her family, was hidden in different houses of various religious congregations. She was even able to complete here studies as a nurse. After liberation from the German occupation but before the family was reunited, the mother of the family passed away. A few months later, Hanna and her sister were baptized.

A few years later, Hanna entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Namur and she remained a member of this congregation until her death. As a sister and a nurse, she went to Zaire and served there for 13 years. She loved Africa and the Africans.

During a brief stay in Israel, Hanna joined the Little Sisters of Jesus for a retreat directed by Father Daniel Rufeisen. During this time she sensed that it was time to ask permission to come and live in Israel. Contrary to every expectation, the response of her superiors was positive and she made "aliyah" in 1970.

After a brief Ulpan (as she had studied some Hebrew as a child), Hanna was able to work as a nurse at Hadassah Hospital. The Director of the School of Nursing, knowing that Hanna was very well formed as a nurse, asked Hanna to help in the formation of the student nurses and serve as her deputy in certain areas. When the State of Israel decided to send a doctor and a nurse to assist in the founding of a new hospital in Kinshasa, Hanna, who had already retired from active work, volunteered to go and was accepted. She was warmly welcomed by her sisters and her students there, most of whom were already mothers of families. She had the joy of working again with local staff and the Israeli doctor for six months. The director of the Nursing School gave a warm tribute to Hanna at her funeral.

During the last years of her life and especially in the final months, Hanna had to renounce much, losing everything she had once had… everything she had once known… everything that she had once been able to do. However, she preserved almost to the end her beautiful smile.

Hanna was a gift to her whole family. She was also a precious gift to the Jerusalem community and all the kehillot.

Moritz, a young volunteer at Yad VaShem as well as a nursing assistant at Saint Louis Hospital, where Hanna spent her last days, discovered the traces of Hanna at Yad VaShem. She was instrumental in the recognition of four Righteous among the Nations: Sister Madeleine Herbecq, Sister Germaine Bribosia, Sister Madeleine Moguet and Sister Emilie (Catherine) Yvens (who were instrumental in hiding Hanna and other young Jewish women). Another person, Father André Meunier, who worked with Hanna's mother to help save many other Jews, has also been recognized.

One her knew her well was Brother Yohanan Elihai, who wrote:

"In the kehilla, she brought her tranquil faith and her knowledge of the history of the Church, notable whenever she spoke out as well as in some of the lectures she gave. I can say that she was very profound and spiritual and at the same time very simple and delicate, respecting each one."

Father Francesoco Rossi di Gaperis SJ, on hearing of the death of Hanna, wrote:

“Today Hanna has left us to contemplate the glory of God which is inscribed on the face of Christ. This is a grace for the entire kehilla because the word of the Father on the identity of the Son during the Transfiguration is addressed to the disciples, who probably still doubted the divinity of Jesus.

Hanna never doubted this knowledge – I can personally testify – and I am sure that today she can confirm all of you in your faith.

She was a true Jew, a true Israeli, a true Christian and an authentic Catholic. I always thanked God for her faithfulness and her love for the Church. I always knew her like this and loved her like this. For this, praying with her and with you, I thank the Lord for having given her to us.”

May her memory be a blessing!

Hanna Kleinberger with Rina Geftman