A Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in Manchester, England, lost a month-long battle for her life Sunday, leaving family and friends straining for answers just six weeks after celebrating the birth of her son. A mother of six children, Esther Aidel Cohen was 33 years old when she passed away.

Born and raised in Albany, N.Y., Cohen’s middle name was given to her in memory of her great aunt, who perished as a young girl in Slonim, Belarus, during the Holocaust. Her parents, Rabbi Israel and Rochel Rubin, directors of Chabad-Lubavitch of the Capital District in Albany, said that the name reflected their daughter’s character.

“Like the Yiddish word aidel, Esty was refined and sensitive, genuine and very modest,” said Israel Rubin. “Bright and learned, she loved deeply appreciated learning both in school and in her married years.”

In Manchester, Cohen was known for her dedicated support to her husband, Beis Menachem Chabad director Rabbi Mendel Cohen, and their shared communal work, and for her constant devotion and care in raising their children in the proper ways of Torah and Chasidic life. Her passing struck both her local Jewish community and the wider family of Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries particularly hard.

People around the world, many who didn’t know Cohen or her family, rallied to her support, reciting Psalms and donating money to help her husband with childrearing costs.

“This is a terrible tragedy,” said Rabbi Yitschok Sholom Klyne, a spiritual adviser of the Lubavitch yeshiva in Manchester who worked with Cohen’s husband.

Sara Rosenfeld, a Manchester native and friend of the Cohen family who co-directs Chabad-Lubavitch of Eastern Shores in North Miami Beach, Fla., said that going into last week’s holidays of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, people were hopeful that Cohen would recover.

Rosenfeld’s husband, Rabbi Eli Rosenfeld collected donations on behalf of the Cohens through a charity he established 18 months ago, The Shluchim Fund. He said that the news of her passing was unexpected.

“There’s a newborn son who will never know his mother,” sighed Rosenfeld. “It’s such a sudden, tragic thing.”

Esther Aidel Cohen
Esther Aidel Cohen

According to the Rubins, whose sons operate Chabad Houses in New York, their daughter shined from an early age. As a young teenager, they noted, she addressed the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Women Emissaries.

“I’m just a young girl, but I’m old enough to know that shlichus is not just a bed of roses,” a 13-year-old Cohen said at the time, using the Yiddish word referring to the institution of Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries stationed in communities across the globe. “It isn’t all that easy, and there are always new, hard challenges every step of the way.”

The statement revealed a wisdom admired by those who knew Cohen.

“As a student, Esty kept detailed diaries and notebooks, which the family hopes to eventually publish in her memory and as a legacy,” said her father. “Her lively sense of humor and practical, perceptive insight are expressed through her fascinating anecdotes and descriptions [of life] in Albany, Brooklyn and Israel.”

Esther Aidel Cohen will be buried in Manchester. She leaves behind her husband, Rabbi Mendel Cohen, director of Bais Menachem Chabad in Manchester; and their six children: Moishe, 10, Mushka, 9, Rivka, 7, Chana, 4, Yechiel, 2, and six-week-old Avraham Tzvi.