Mrs Devorah Steinberg O"H
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Obituary – Mrs D. Steinberg
Written by past Beis Yaakov students
London, and particularly the many alumni of Beis Yaakov Grammar school, has been deeply saddened by the Petirah of Mrs Devorah Steinberg on Yud Gimmel Nissan, 5780.
Mrs Steinberg led Beis Yaakov for over 30 years until her retirement in 2014. During these years Mrs Steinberg infused in us, her precious Talmidos, the meaning of a true Bas Yisroel and how to lead our lives just as Soro Schenirer had envisioned at the founding of Beis Yaakov. As a paragon of Tznius and Yiras Shamayim, all Beis Yaakov girls felt the Emes with which all her important teachings were conveyed.
At the very start of Beis Yaakov when the school consisted of just thirteen girls, Mrs Steinberg showed motherly care to all her students, taking a personal interest in each one and cherishing them on an individual level. As the school continued to grow and flourish, she continued to invest her heart and soul into the wellbeing of each student, in all areas.
Every girl knew from the day she started school that Mrs Steinberg would teach her for Chumash in year nine. Until she reached that stage it was hard to picture being taught by the Headmistress herself, however this did not last past the first lesson. The lessons were filled with interaction, energy and a positive atmosphere.
All Beis Yaakov girls will agree that Mrs Steinberg was an awe-inspiring figure who embodied Yirah and Gevura combined with her unrelenting principles. We trembled when we saw her, out of the deep respect we each felt. However, what was unique about Mrs Steinberg was how every student sensed her Ahavah through the Yirah. This combination is what made her the beloved Headmistress that she was. Her love was so real that everyone felt it.
Another very important message that she imparted to all Beis Yaakov girls was the beauty of Tefilla. Mrs Steinberg herself not only taught this to the older classes in the classroom, but also taught it by example to the whole school during the unforgettable daily Mincha. The pin-drop silence in a hall full of students and teachers alike, both before and during davening, is an experience that Beis Yaakov girls continue to treasure for years after they have left the school.
Davening in Shul on Shabbos was another topic to which Mrs Steinberg gave a great deal of value. The power of an Amen, Amen Yehei Shmei Rabbo and answering Kedusha with the Tzibbur was impressed upon us. When she spoke about the Malachim during Kedusha and how valuable each word is to Hashem, her excitement was palpable. A Midda to which Mrs Steinberg gave continuous attention was Tznius. This lesson was conveyed with immense passion and sensitivity to every single student. She showed her clear displeasure towards ‘cheering or jeering’ from her girls at either performances or Chasunas, stating that such behaviour is not the way of a Bas Yisroel.
Mrs Steinberg would often describe Beis Yaakov as “One big happy family.” The warm and welcoming atmosphere was felt by students and staff alike, in addition to visitors from outside school. A Beis Yaakov student wasn’t just a ‘Beis Yaakov student,’ but a daughter of Mrs Steinberg. She has many children all over the world.
Mrs Steinberg’s incredible patience came across to both students and staff. Any student who deserved a punishment would know that Mrs Steinberg would never issue it immediately; rather she would wait until the next day, saying, “I never punish when I’m angry.” She also approved any absences for family Simchas, always with a smile, saying that family is the most important. The deputy head who worked alongside Mrs Steinberg for many years commented, “Mrs Steinberg always had the right thing to say at the right time.” This was true to every member of staff, regardless of their position.
The words “Everything you do makes a Roishem in Shamayim” reverberates in the ears of all Beis Yaakov girls as Mrs Steinberg empowered us with the knowledge that every single one of us has tremendous Chashivus. She often explained how each seemingly insignificant action down here, makes a huge impression up there.
“You see what you want to see” was another key quote of Mrs Steinberg in the name of R’ Dessler, showing us that we are able to choose our perspectives.
Beis Yaakov was such an intrinsic part of Mrs Steinberg’s life that many of us wondered how she would manage without her beloved school after she would leave. Yet her genuine contentment and Simchas Hachaim came through for all to see as she continued learning from home and showed that all she needed to lead fulfilling days, was to simply live with Hashem.
We have learnt so much from, and continue to learn from our dear Mrs Steinberg. Her legacy lives on in the minds of her many Talmidos whose lives she has impacted so greatly, and we will forever treasure the aristocratic image of this Isha Chashuva in our minds as we continue to try and emulate the shining example she has set for all of us.