When Liba Ettel Zilberstein was born in 1917, she would have been lucky to make it to 60 years of age. She passed away March 20 at 102 as a result of complications due to COVID-19.

Before her passing, Zilberstein was in good health; she would walk unaided and enjoyed spending time with her 1,200 descendants: children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. She passed away on Shabbat surrounded by her family.

Born in pre-war Hungary, she was the sole family survivor of the Holocaust; her parents and nine siblings were killed by the Nazis.

In 1946, she married Rabbi Nosson Dovid Zilberstein, of Krakow, Poland, a fellow survivor. They had eight children together.

Years ago, Zilberstein fell ill with cancer. Her husband approached his friend and study partner—the Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum—to beseech him to bless his wife.

The Rebbe was hesitant, explaining that it was a harsh decree from heaven, and he could not intervene. The Rebbe’s wife, Rebbetzin Alte Faige, heard his pleas and begged her husband to grant the poor man a blessing for his wife. The Rebbe pondered the matter briefly and acquiesced. “May she have a complete recovery and live many long years!” he pronounced.

Indeed, Zilberstein had a full recovery, living on for many more years.

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