Reflections in a mirror

The Place of Sorrow, the Sorrow of that Place by Craig Taubman

When my in-laws Charlotte and Dr. Eli Brent passed away last year, these words by Marsha Falk became a comfort.

“All things are born small and grow large –

except grief, which is born large and grows small”

A year later, these words still resonate – and yet, the loss continues to loom large. We know our grief will soften with time and we also understand that time is not in our control.

Initially, I found comfort in honoring their memory by embracing their life lessons. They were lessons modeled every day while they were with us, and lessons that still resonate in their absence.

 “What’s your price?”

“When a door is shut, open a window.”

“Don’t extinguish flames, light lights.”

As time slips away, I now hear their voices at unexpected times, like Wonder Woman. I’ve never seen a super hero movie, but when Gal Gadot’s mother Queen Hippolyta tells her daughter the following, all I could think of, was my wife

“You have been my greatest love.

Today you are my greatest sorrow”

I saw them in this season’s House of Cards episode 6 when President Underwood turned to the camera invoking these words by Professor Batty to Goofy on how to flip a coin for life’s most important decisions:

“Life is but a gamble.

Let flipism guide your ramble.”

I’m not sure if life’s a gamble, but this past year has certainly shown me that life is fragile, and death is the reminder.

I even saw Eli and Charlotte in a recent article about the terrorists who killed Israeli soldier Hadas Malka. One of the killers, posted a tweet stating: “We are all temporary. The world is not ours. We just walk in it and leave everything behind. God, assign our lives some good for which we shall meet you.” How a person can use this as justification to murder another is beyond me and yet, I heard Eli’s query, “So Craigo, what’s it all about? And I would answer, “I’m not sure.”

This I know. It’s good to still have them in my life in these unexpected moments. It affirming to know that the values they received from their parents to make the world a better place and pursue justice, have been passed on to our generation. It’s comforting to see our children embrace these same values as generous and kind people. I also know that life is fragile and death but a reminder.  I have not figured it all out, but I do know that love is the way in.

It always has been, it always will be.

Craig Taubman has left an indelible imprint on the Jewish American experience through his original compositions and live performances. His songs bridge traditional Jewish themes and ancient teachings with passages and experiences from contemporary Jewish life.

Craig has also enjoyed a successful career in television and film composing music for Disney, Fox, HBO, and PBS series. He wrote the theme music for the Coca Cola Olympic Pavilion, as well as the feature films Andre, Pinocchio, and Disney’s Toontown.

Having traveled for years meeting people from communities large and small, Craig – a natural “connector” – became passionate about bringing diverse people and cultures together. He branched out to plan and oversee the production of community building projects, including Friday Night Live, The Celebrate Series, Jewels of Elul, and in 2013 the Pico Union Project, a multi-faith cultural arts center and house of worship.

Craig recently released 30 Days, a Journey of Love, Loss and Healing, a unique package of thirty introspections from poets, faith leaders, artists, healers and authors, to help people on their journey toward hope and healing.

 Craig Taubman

Get Inspired!

“love your neighbor as yourself”


Craig Taubman

Craig Taubman




The Gamliel Institute will be offering course 2, Chevrah Kadisha: Taharah & Shmirah, online, afternoons/evenings, in the Fall semester, starting September 5th, 2017. This is the core course focusing on Taharah and Shmirah, ritual, liturgy, practical matters, how-to, and what it means.


The course will meet online for twelve Tuesdays (the day will be adjusted in any weeks with Jewish holidays during this course).

There is a Free preview/overview of the course being offered on Monday August 14th at 5 pm PDST/8 pm EDST. Contact or for information on how to connect to the preview webinar.

There will be an orientation session on how to use the platform and access the materials on Monday, September 4th, 2017, also at 5 pm PDST/8 pm EDST online. Register or contact us for more information.

Information on attending the online orientation and course will be sent to those registered.


You can register for any Gamliel Institute course online at A full description of all of the courses is found there.

For more information, visit the Gamliel Institute website, or at the Kavod v’Nichum website. Please contact us for information or assistance by email, or phone at 410-733-3700.



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If you have an idea for an entry you would like to submit to this blog, please be in touch. Email We are always interested in original materials that would be of interest to our readers, relating to the broad topics surrounding the continuum of Jewish preparation, planning, rituals, rites, customs, practices, activities, and celebrations approaching the end of life, at the time of death, during the funeral, in the grief and mourning process, and in comforting those dying and those mourning, as well as the actions and work of those who address those needs, including those serving in Bikkur Cholim, Caring Committees, the Chevrah Kadisha, as Shomrim, funeral providers, in funeral homes and mortuaries, and operators and maintainers of cemeteries.



Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to new dads, old dads, estranged dads, moms who are also dads, dads who are also moms, men about to be dads, and dads who have passed away.

I miss my Dad.


All day long.

I hope you all have a wonderful Father’s Day and may you all be happy, healthy, kind, blessed, and appreciated.

Keep the faith.

When Did You Lose Yours?

This article is dedicated in memory of Rabbi Shlomo Schwartz Aka Schwartzie (May the Schwartz B W U)

When did you Lose yours?

Was it the first time you heard the whisper of death creep into your wake?

Did you lose yours upon seeing illness?

Or was it upon feeling betrayal?

Did you lose yours the first time you lost love or the moment you noticed shame?

Mine was lost as a child, then again as an adult.

I’m sure you can remember the exact day you lost your innocence.unnamed

The exact moment you no longer saw the world with the same black and white colors. Like a baby adjusting to the light, as the tinge of grey began creeping into your vision, when you suddenly saw that veil lift as a crystal clear unblemished truth began to change you. Not at first. But soon. And the truth invaded your body with realism and cynicism and confusion. Not right away. But eventually.

Some lose their innocence when they are children.  As time moved forward I began to understand how the impact of loss was informing my decisions and my fears.

When my father passed away, my innocence crept away completely. Gone forever like a shadow muttering my name before I even had one. That impact made me remember how my innocence was something I wished I could hold onto. I began to resent my innocence and looked at it with distrust. I used to close my eyes and pretend I was preserving my innocence longer, wondering what it might feel like if it stayed in tact. If I had lost my innocence older, would it have  mummified inside, making the ability to see truth that much more burdensome? Would truth have been more difficult to recognize? Or would it have been easier to adjust to?

We are fortunate to have Marianne R. Klein’s artwork included in this essay. About the artist- A holocaust survivor, Marianne was born in Budapest, Hungary. Her art collection is a series of acrylic on canvas impressionistic and figurative works that depicts a symphony of colors. She also enjoys experimenting with different mediums and techniques. Her screenplays are currently under consideration. When Marianne is not painting, she is busy writing. Her recently published book entitled “All the Pretty Shoes” is now available on and can be viewed at Marianne’s artwork will be exhibited on February 4th-15th 2017 in Santa Monica, California at the Bergamot Station, Building G – Room G#8 starting @ 5:00 p.m to 9:00 p.m.

We are fortunate to have Marianne R. Klein’s artwork included in this essay. About the artist- A holocaust survivor, Marianne was born in Budapest, Hungary. Her art collection is a series of acrylic on canvas impressionistic and figurative works that depicts a symphony of colors. She also enjoys experimenting with different mediums and techniques. Her screenplays are currently under consideration. When Marianne is not painting, she is busy writing. Her recently published book entitled “All the Pretty Shoes” is now available on and can be viewed at Marianne’s artwork will be exhibited on February 4th-15th 2017 in Santa Monica, California at the Bergamot Station, Building G – Room G#8 starting @ 5:00 p.m to 9:00 p.m.

Learning truth after innocence fades feels like squinting at first, like the light is so large and so colossal our brains are unable to interpret the full scope of the information pounding down the pavement.  I wish I could look at truth with a sort of unadulterated awe. Instead it has become quite loud and colossal and very disruptive. I have a hard time accepting truth. It is not a construct I like very much. Yet it is necessary. It is affirming yet alarming. Discerning yet indifferent.

We are very crafty. We can look at the large mountain of truth and still find a way to completely avoid it’s rearing head. For years we can pretend reliable information is false. We can build strategies that allow truth to lie under the bed just a little while longer. We can even become brilliant at alternate reality storytelling, because the hurt, the betrayal, the realness of it all is just too much to bear. It is just too much.


As we get older new stories, new revelations, new shocks can seep into our system. And one day we finally look into the mirror, like deeply look, and really stare and suddenly our own truth looks foreign to us as well. We do not know our own truth anymore, so we begin wearing other people’s eternal verities. We adopt new garments of information that become our own and fixate our bodies into these threads of perceivable isms until we forget who we are completely. We can’t even feel our bodies anymore. I have done this quite brilliantly. Ignoring body parts, suppressing pain became a habit I had not even recognized I was doing until it became too difficult to rely on any longer.

We can do pretend for many reasons, but mainly because truths, which become to difficult to swallow has the ability to prevent us from feeling everything and gives us permission to go on autopilot. The danger in this mechanism is that it can allow illness take over, because the blocks in our bodies become huge gaping  holes for the feelings of dis-ease to settle into. Discomfort, disbelief, and our own disconnection with power can become unrecognizable and alien. Our voice is lost at sea, our consciousness asleep, our bodies rejecting truth becomes the exercise we cannot stop without intervention.

But imagine if we stopped that train from heading down the reckless path before the illness set in. How do we stop it?

By asking questions of ourselves. By noticing the patterns, how losing that innocence has affected our daily living routines.  By feeling ourselves suppress our convictions and emotions hiding behind the decay. By noticing our bodies and how our bodies are reacting to the loss. By seeing, not just looking. By feeling, not just touching. By listening, not just hearing. By literally smelling the damn roses for once. For just once.

Before we become too despondent maybe we can reawaken that glimmer of hope that still simmers on a low flame. Before it leaves us slowly extinguishing into a prolonged termination.

Before we layer. Layer with outside labels and immerse ourselves with exterior stereotypes. Before we create ideas that become more external ideas so as not to have to face the person who lives under the truth. The person who hides behind the realism that relies on falsehood as a mechanism to find truth. It is quite startling, really, that we have the audacity to  search for truth using pretend. As if the pretend wills the truth away.

Truly, we don’t want her to leave,  the hope. If we are honest with ourselves, we want her to stay, to re-infuse our souls and re-install our vibrancy. We want her to bathe our cynicism  and doubt into submission. But in order to do that, we must have  enough trust in ourselves, in our voice, in our power to will that into being.

If we are honest with ourselves, do we not want to get to that place where truth lives and thrives? Where the veil is no longer casting that shadow only to find us awake? Not the awake where we tease ourselves into a living that looks pretend, but the sort of living that is rooted in the deepest layers of soul. Because our soul, the instrument that keeps us awake and opens our heart, refuses to live in falsehood and has been catching us from the beginning.  It has been activated and operates on unwavering authenticity- and paradoxically on loss of innocence.

And while there are still moments we catch ourselves still aching and longing for that time of falsehood when innocence still lay intact, we are better for all of our innocence finally leaving on the whisper she flew in on. Yes, truth is more complicated, yet it is also more defining and the birthplace of creation. The creation of our new  more powerful, more beautiful, more compelling, persuasive intact new self we have finally allowed ourselves to meet.


Loss has no closure

I was just listening to the news about, Lane Grave, the 2 year old boy that was dragged away, by an alligator at Disney World in Florida.

The horror happened in front of his parents. As it was reported, the authorities had given up on finding the child alive, but according to the newscaster, they were continuing their search to find the body in order to bring “closure “ to the parents. 

I have heard the word “closure” used countless times over the years, and as a long time psychotherapist specializing in helping victims of crime and trauma, it is my firm opinion that using this word in this context should stop. In my years of working with those who have had their lives torn asunder, there is no closure to the tragic grief that comes with unexpected loss. It is that road which has no end and in the case of the missing toddler, finding this body will not alter or diminish the devastation this family is just beginning to understand. 

People want to believe that many of life’s tragedies can be tidied up, that wounds can be mended, and that peace and order can be restored. As other people’s misfortune reminds us, we too are vulnerable to the vicissitudes of life. We feel threatened when we see how fragile life can be, and to rid ourselves of our anxieties, we make up a story of an ending called “closure” to make us feel better. 

In fact, we do get better. Wounds do improve, but the road back is often long and circuitous. The use of the word closure is an indicator of wishful thinking and it is infuriating to those of us who know the truth and treat those pained people who have been sold this easy ending to tragic circumstances.

My wonderful father was murdered almost eight years and the murderer has never been arrested. It is easy to imagine that if only they could find the bastard, then maybe, I and my family could finally have “closure” and be freed from the profound pain and ache in our hearts. I would love to see this person found and convicted. I would love to see justice on behalf of my father. But, my father is never coming back, nor is this two year old child who lost his life at Disney World. I don’t write this piece in anger, I simply want others to understand the gravity of loss and know that life is often more complicated than trying to simplify it with one word.

Lin Manuel Miranda, the author of the Broadway show Hamilton, wrote the best words I’ve ever heard about loss. The song “It's Quiet Uptown” captures perfectly the pain Alexander and Angelica Hamilton feel after the death of their son Phillip. “There are moments that words don’t reach—There is suffering too terrible to name—you hold your child as tight as you can and push away the unimaginable—The moments when you’re in so deep it feels easier to just swim down” 

Rick Shuman, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist in Los Angeles.

Hundreds turn out for Israel funeral of ex-Hasid who apparently killed herself

Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral of a formerly haredi Orthodox Israeli woman who was found dead in what is believed to be a suicide.

Esti Weinstein, 50, was buried in Petach Tikvah on Tuesday, the Times of Israel reported.

Weinstein’s body and a suicide note were discovered in her car at a beach in Ashdod on Sunday, a week after she went missing.

“In this city I gave birth to my daughters, in this city I die because of my daughters,” Weinstein wrote.

Six of her seven daughters had refused contact with their mother after she left the Gur sect of Hasidic Judaism eight years ago.

Tami Montag, the daughter who stayed in touch with Weinstein and who also left the haredi Orthodox community, gave a eulogy at the funeral in which she said, “You were everything to me, a friend and mother.”

According to Haaretz, Weinstein wrote a short memoir titled “Doing His Will” about life in the Gur community, her decision to leave it and the pain she felt after her daughters severed their relationships with her.

Weinstein, who married at 17, also wrote about her unhappy marriage in which she was required to follow numerous strict marital guidelines that are unique to the Gur sect. According to her memoir, the guidelines restrict couples to having sexual relations only twice a month.

In the book, Weinstein wrote of her ongoing pain at being cut off from her daughters.

“I thought it was a temporary matter, but the years are passing and time isn’t healing, and the pain doesn’t stop,” she wrote.

Estranged family members also attended and spoke at the funeral, according to the Times of Israel.

“It’s hard for me to speak about you. For me, you will always be like your first 43 years, when you were pure,” said her father, Rabbi Menachem Orenstein, according to Ynet.

Weinstein’s boyfriend also spoke at the funeral, The Times of Israel reported, but did not identify him.

“At the heart of every religion is a kernel of unity, and that’s the source of life. But unfortunately it’s turned into ideology,” he said. “Don’t let any rabbi lead you to hatred and to alienation. The pain from being cut off by your kids is massive.”

How Jewish ritual helped me find my way through loss

I had to press my lips closed, the day after it ended.

The ritual was no longer mine. My duty was complete. But the words, with their cadences and rhythms, their alliterative twists — yitgadal v’yitgadash — had become my anthem. For 11 months, I had owned these words, claimed them like land, their cries and God-calls had become, for me, a visitable place. 

How could I now forsake them? 

The last day I said it, my hands trembled. Deep, heavy breaths rose and fell in my chest. The room felt hot. I’m not ready, I thought to myself. I’m not ready to leave this place — hamakom — the place of consolation. When my heart first tore, like the dress I wore to her funeral, the words of Kaddish were what daily sustained me. 

Magnified and sanctified … Magnified and sanctified …

These words were my poetry, the only sustenance for a soul in retreat, for a child who felt like an orphan. I needed these words, in their mystical, mysterious Aramaic, like food.  

May his great name be … in the world that he created … as he wills …

How could I stop mourning my mother? I still needed her. I still needed this.

Y’hei sh’mei rabba m’varach l’alam ul-al’mei al’maya …

In the Talmud, Kaddish is likened to Yom Kippur, described as a prayer of atonement on behalf of the dead. One source even tells us that when a child says Kaddish for a parent, “Any decree against them will be torn up and the Gates of the Garden of Eden opened.” 

Is it possible that my mother needed these words, too?

It has been more than a year since I buried her. She was 61 when she died. “Young,” everyone said. She would have loved that. She also would have loved that the coroner’s report began, “The body is that of a 5-foot-5-inch, 127-pound white female appearing younger than the given age of 61 years.” It is true that she was very devoted to proper skin care.

Her official cause of death was blunt head trauma — from a series of falls — leaving her with more than one “dark red subgaleal hematoma.” But that only tells you how she died; it doesn’t begin to suggest the preceding years of decline, the crusade her body launched against itself, or the wrenching struggle of her soul to find some kind of peace. I want to believe she found that peace in death, and that her pain ceased. But the end of her pain meant the end of her life, and, therefore, the beginning of my pain — a pain my family, as her survivors, has to live with every day.

At a shivah minyan for Sheryl Berrin-Klein, from left: husband Donald Klein, son Frank, daughters Jessica and Danielle, and their father, Larry Berrin.

The last time I saw my mother, she lay on a hospital bed at South Miami Hospital, pink-lipped and auburn-haired, her alabaster skin flushed with the final trickle of blood ever to flow through her veins. On life support, she looked just like John Everett Millais’ Ophelia — painterly, peaceful, floating gently down some endless stream. The air in the hospital room was so thick you could choke; a disconsolate quiet punctuated by enormous eruptions of grief. I can still hear my sister screaming.

The next week was a dark fairy tale. A funeral. Bereaved children. Devastated spouse. Eulogies. The pounding dirt on her grave. Shivah. Platters of food. A greenhouse of flowers. So many people. Noise. Rupture. Alienation. Angst. The phone didn’t stop ringing.

When I arrived back in L.A., just before Shabbat, it was as if her death had not happened. No one I’d met in the seven years I’d lived in California was among the nearly 500 people who attended her funeral. Miami was too far, and it had happened too quickly, and I hadn’t had the courage or the time to invite anyone. I flew to Miami, put her in the ground, and then returned to everything as it had been, while my world had unalterably changed.

That first afternoon, I sat on my couch, blank and full of dread. What should I do with myself? Shabbos was coming, and I was alone. Everything was disorienting. The air was hot, humid. I felt dizzy. Services seemed like the safest, most tranquil place to go. So I stumbled, as if drunk, to Temple Beth Am’s Kabbalat Shabbat, the service that welcomes the Sabbath. I had never been there before, but it is just around the corner from where I live, and, at the time, there was nowhere else for me to go. Saying Kaddish would ground me, I told myself. It would force me to stand still in a spinning world. 

At this time, we invite all who are mourning to please rise …

At the end of the service, Rabbi Ari Lucas looked around and kindly asked new people to introduce themselves. He looked directly at me. He knew he had never seen me before and invited me to declare myself. But I lowered my head, wishing to remain silent. Death had rendered me closed. I wanted to be alone, anonymous and far away. Loss had diminished me, my spirit shrunk from grief and pain. 

But I had a duty. For much of Jewish history I probably wouldn’t have been allowed to fulfill this mitzvah, but fortunately I am a Jewish woman living in the 21st century in Los Angeles. Kaddish was mine to claim. As Rabbi Daniel Landes, director of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, reassuringly writes in “The Puzzling Power of Kaddish”: “No one is beyond sanctifying God’s name.”   

Kaddish wasn’t a choice. It was my reveille call back to the world of the living. I’d learned of the ritual not in religious school, but from Leon Wieseltier. I devoured his book, “Kaddish,” on the plane ride home from my mother’s funeral. “Help me, Nachmanides. Help me,” Wieseltier wrote. I wasn’t entirely sure who Nachmanides was, but that became my prayer, too. 

When I walked into Beth Am’s daily morning minyan 36 hours later, I wanted to do what was required of me, then disappear. I didn’t want pity; I didn’t want friends; I didn’t want food. I wanted to be an island. 

But community, just like family, it turns out, is not about what you want but what you need. 

Kaddish knows this. It’s why a minyan is required to say it; it demands a communal response. And that response, Landes teaches, “interrupts every other prayer, for Kaddish is beyond all prayers.”  

And so began my ritual of rising to say Kaddish. Each day, I would wake at an ungodly hour to go and do the godly thing, and each day, it hurt like a hangover. At 6:30 a.m., I’d shove my cats from on top of me, roll out of bed, throw on whatever clothes I had worn the night before, grab my tallit and walk out the door. And almost every morning on the way to shul, my sister would phone, and I’d say, “I’m late for minyan!” 

“You say that every day,” she’d tease. 

I still don’t know how to daven the early morning prayers. “If you don’t know Kaddish D’Rabbanan,” one of my teachers recently chided about the rabbi’s Kaddish, said after completing a passage of study, “that means you get to shul more than seven minutes late. That’s the early-bird prayer.” As he well knows, I am no early bird, but it is my firm belief that one should always have something to aspire to. Most days, anyway, the whole service felt to me like a prolonged prelude to the Kaddish, as if all the other liturgy existed as an elaborate exposition in service of this sacred supplication. In the Talmud, Wieseltier reminds us, it is said that the whole world is sustained in existence by the utterance of “Y’hei sh’mei rabba m’varach l’alam ul-al’mei al’maya (May his great name be blessed …).” Long before Kaddish became a full prayer, that line appeared in early Jewish literature — not quite verbatim, but close — in Daniel, which was written around 500-160 B.C.E.

One of the Kaddish platitudes people often refer to is that there’s nothing about death in the prayer. It is, instead, explicitly praiseful, a proclamation of God’s greatness. This is a favorite conundrum of the rabbis who love to answer complicated questions: In the face of loss, when you might be doubting the existence of God, how can you praise God? How can there be eternity when death brings finitude? Why believe in something when death brings nothingness? And who decided it would be a good idea to commemorate the end of life with an affirmation that life goes on? For a while, my thoughts were more in line with Nietzsche than Nachmanides.

Then I realized that Kaddish depends on that convergence. “It is about the meeting place of two worlds, human finitude and God’s eternity,” Rabbis Lawrence Kushner and Nehemia Polen point out in Volume 6 of “My People’s Prayer Book.” “It brings us out of our sadness and anger by having us utter appreciation and praise just when we are tempted to deny the importance of both,” Rabbi Elliot Dorff writes in the same book.

Something extraordinary happens when you force yourself to perform a ritual. In high school, when I was competing in the speech and debate club, my mother noticed that the more my partner and I performed — up to six times each day at some tournaments — a mastery began to develop, a perfection of the text, which then enabled this transcendent, creative magic to happen. And so it was with Kaddish: I doubted it would transform me at first, but I did it anyway. And at the moment I least believed, God showed up. 

God first came in the form of Mike Harris. A white-haired, quietly devout Jew with a gentle soul, Mike knew me no more than a few days before showing up at my doorstep — with his wife, Bev, and two grandkids in tow — offering food and care and a year of free synagogue membership. (I would later joke that the worst part about finishing Kaddish was that now I’d have to pay to join the congregation.) Over 11 months, Mike invited me to Shabbos dinners, taught me how to garden and bought me my first siddur, from Jerusalem, with my Hebrew name inscribed on it in gold. When I first saw my name combined with my mother’s — Leah bat Zalman Leibel v’Sara — I realized she wasn’t lost; she was my link to the world.

Morning after mourning, I felt God’s presence through the people praying around me. Through Teri Cohan-Link, who unfailingly greeted any new person who walked through the door, who saw other people’s pain and was kind; who blessed me with holiday meals, gave me greens from her garden and hugged me when I cried. And Roberta Goodman-Rosenberg, who for months mourned her own mother by my side, and even included my siblings at her holiday table, throughout the year offering tips on the business of mourning, the ordering of footstones and planning for the final Kaddish Kiddush. 

And the rabbis, Adam Kligfeld and Ari Lucas, were often present at daily minyan, quietly davening alongside us, elegant in their warmth, gentle in dispensing wisdom.

At minyan, there were all these Jewish angels everywhere, and Kaddish made me see them. I saw how the minyan gabbai, David Kaplan, diligently performed a million tasks, visible and invisible, every single day, to make it possible for Jews like me to do my duty — to mourn, and magnify and sanctify. 

And then there was Sam Tuchband, who noticed I walked to Starbucks every morning after prayers and brought me his empty coffee bags to exchange for free drinks at the store. And the adorable Nate Milmeister, the nonagenarian neighbor I never knew I had, whose effervescent Yiddishkayt brought levity and light to the austerity of the prayer service. On my birthday, Nate bought me cake; he kept my kitchen stocked with lemons from his yard and never missed an opportunity to practice his old-fashioned coquetry: “You’re a sweet bunch of onions!” he’d flirt. Admittedly, I haven’t received many compliments like that one.

The truth is, I could write at length about each person in the minyan — because it was with these souls, in that space, through the words of our tradition and in the presence of our Torah, that I found my ethereal mother.

Every morning I could see her out the window, in the skies, in the trees, even in the traffic. And through the words of Kaddish, I could speak to her. Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach taught that Kaddish is what the dead would say to us, could we hear them. It’s a gorgeous thought, and I often prayed, “Let it be: Let it be that my mother exists in a place so wondrous only praise would spill from her lips could she speak.” But what if that isn’t so? What if she exists in a perfect, wondrous place but still cries out because she misses her children?

I’ve come to think of the prayer more as literary manna, a fungible fugue that supplies the seeds for a sublime conversation. Kaddish contains the question and the answer. And, like Shabbat, it is a profound gift to the Jewish people. When we are left to wallow in death’s silence, Kaddish may be the only conversation left. 

A few weeks before my 11 months of recitation would end, I became very nervous and couldn’t sleep. What would I do when it was over? When there would be no more mornings of promptness, of purpose, of complaining to my sister, “I’m late for minyan!” Who else in my life but my fellow “minyanaires” had I let see me so raw? Fresh out of bed, hair unwashed, not a stitch of makeup, dutifully wearing the same things day after day feeling not fashionable, but threadbare. How true are the words of the customary phrase, offered by the congregation to a Jew in mourning — “Hamakom yenachem etchem …” May the place comfort you. My hamakom was the Temple Beth Am minyan, where the only expectation was my presence, not my performance; where I was allowed to simply be, just me. 

Hard though it was, the last day of Kaddish turned out to be the best day. It was filled with family and friends — my father, sister and brother, who were here from Miami; my “fellow fellows” from American Jewish World Service, who had made a minyan for me so I could say Kaddish during the 10 days we traveled through Mexico; and my best rabbi friend from another shul, who even led davening. 

Before davening started, one of the daily minyanaires offered me a blessing. “I hope you found some comfort here,” he said. But that last day, I couldn’t stop trembling. 

My teacher recently taught that Kaddish is like a punctuation mark. Its various iterations — half Kaddish, rabbi’s Kaddish, Mourner’s Kaddish etc. — bookend each part of the prayer service: After Birkat Hashachar, Kaddish; after the Amidah, Kaddish; after Torah service, Kaddish; after Aleinu, Kaddish; and so on. It’s a sign of completion. And it is yet more evidence of the brilliance of Jewish tradition: At the moment of loss, our tradition offers us a prayer symbolic of wholeness.

The loss of my mother has circumcised my heart with an irreparable wound. It is still impossible to fathom that for a time she was here, and now she is not. It is harder still to contemplate all the things she’ll miss, all the years I’ll feel deprived of her presence, her wisdom, her counsel, her love. Should I be blessed to marry and have children, they’ll never know her. For every simcha and every sadness, she’ll remain a ghost.

But from all of those losses, Kaddish brought gain. 

“You’ve added many dimensions to this minyan in ways you don’t even know,” one of the minyanaires said to me on my last day of mourning. “One is, we all know we can get written about at any moment, so we’re on our best behavior!”

If best behavior means being committed Jews who are kind to the core and religiously competent, then he was right. (I, on the other hand, still can’t make it through the whole Amidah with this group of NASCAR daveners.) As I told them on the last day, the Temple Beth Am minyan taught me not just what community is — but the highest levels of what it is meant to be.

Several weeks ago, when my childhood friend Steven Sotloff was killed by ISIS militants, I returned to minyan to say Kaddish for him, as well as for my stepfather, simultaneously. That day, my recitation reeked of rage. As our Miami rabbi, Terry Bookman, asked at Steven’s funeral, “Is there any sorrow greater than this?” 

And yet, even when confronted with profound anguish and despair, Kaddish remained the manna: Kaddish doesn’t tell us God is good or fair; Kaddish tells us God is great — big, mighty, inscrutable. Jewish tradition, thank God, knows better than to promise a life devoid of pain. Instead, it offers us the tools — God, community, ritual — to help bear it. 

Yit’barakh v’yish’tabach v’yit’pa’ar v’yit’romam v’yit’nasei …

Rav Kook, the first chief rabbi in Palestine, was once asked how he, a devout Jew, could associate with secular Israelis. And he answered: First comes yitgadal — magnification. You have to expand your prayer, your soul, your circle. Then comes yitgadash — sanctification. Only once you have broadened yourself, and left that narrow place, can holiness emerge.

The Temple Beth Am daily minyan made it possible for me to yitgadal and yitgadash — magnify and sanctify — to emerge from a cocoon of grief and enlarge myself through the presence of community, the presence of my mother and the presence of God.


Israel falls in world lacrosse quarterfinals

Israel’s debut in the World Lacrosse Championships ended in the quarterfinals with a 9-8 loss to Australia.

In Wednesday night’s game near Denver, Israel nearly tied the score with five seconds remaining and a one-man advantage, but a shot by Matthew Cherry was turned away.

Ari Sussman tallied three goals and Cody Levine had two for the Israelis.

Israel, which formed its lacrosse team just four years ago, will still play a meaningful game Friday against England. An Israeli victory would clinch a top-six finish in the tournament and placement in the elite Blue Pool for the 2018 world tournament in England.

In Thursday’s semifinals, third-ranked Australia will face the top-ranked United States, with Canada opposing the Iroquois Nation. The championship game is scheduled for Saturday.

Against Australia, Israel jumped to a 4-1 lead in the opening quarter and held a 5-4 edge late in the third period. Australia gained the lead to stay in fourth quarter.

Israel, with a roster about evenly divided between American immigrants to Israel and U.S. residents, had outscored its first five opponents by a combined 88-18.


How to comfort and be comforted

Consoling people after they’ve suffered a loss, especially when it’s the death of a loved one, is never easy. No matter what we say, we can never bring back the beloved to this world. How often do we sit by the mourner’s side in awkward silence, feeling completely impotent in our inability to remove the pain.

Tisha B’Av is the day that commemorates not only the destruction of the two ancient Temples in Jerusalem, but also all our people’s national tragedies throughout Jewish history. The Shabbat after Tisha B’Av is called Shabbat Nachamu, because we recite the words of the prophet Isaiah (40:1): “Nachamu, nachamu, ami….” (“Be consoled, be consoled, my people….”) There will come a time, the prophet says, that your exile will end, and your future will once again be bright.

The seeming paradox is that on the very same Shabbat we read about the prophet’s consolation in the haftarah, we also read in the Torah portion about Moses’ personal tragedy, which seems to have no consolation. God tells Moses that although he’s faithfully led His people through the desert these past 40 years, and although the Jews are now standing at the very border of the Holy Land, Moses himself will never be allowed entry, and will die and be buried outside of Israel.

How is God’s refusal to Moses consistent with the theme of consolation on this Shabbat of consolation?

Moses was teaching the people a new form of consolation: Know, my brethren, that sometimes the answer will be “no.” Sometimes, God, in his infinite wisdom, must say no to our petitions. We may not understand how this can possibly be good, but I, Moses, assure you that it is ultimately for our benefit.

(Indeed, our sages on this passage go to great lengths to explain why it was in the Jews’ best interests for Moses not to gain entry into the land, which is a discussion that requires a separate essay.)

An additional lesson is contained in Moses’ words: When I asked God to enter the land with you, my brethren, it was because I had just succeeded in my latest mission of defeating those nations just east of the Jordan River. Perhaps, I reasoned, since we are so close to our goal, God will allow me to see it to its final stage and let me enter the land. But alas, even though I was so close, it was not meant to be. Sometimes, it may appear that we are so close to our goals, and then, at the last moment, our hopes are dashed and tragedy strikes.

Devastated though I may be, Moses continued, God did console me with one last wish: He is allowing me to go up to a mountain top where I will at least be able to see all of the Holy Land that you, my disciples, children and brethren, will inherit and enjoy. This, too, is consolation indeed.

In this light, Moses’ tale of tragedy is consistent with the consolation of the prophet. Sometimes, God’s answer must be “no.” But even when it is, God will find a way to give us a glimmer of hope for the future, that life will go on, our people will live on, and there will be a brighter tomorrow.

We have experienced, in our long national history, many misfires of messianic redemption and have heard “no” many times bellowing from heaven. We have witnessed, in our own generation, great hopes for peace in Israel, only to see those hopes dashed to pieces a short time later. But we mustn’t lose sight of the consolation contained therein: God is watching from heaven, and even when the answer is “no,” we are still provided with a vision, with a glimpse of what can yet still be. Imagine when the answer finally will be “yes,” how beautiful that “yes” will be.

There is no such thing as hollow consolation. The answer to one’s prayers might have been “no.” But when the mourner is embraced by his friends and family, when he or she is reassured that no one is ever alone and that life will go on with joy amid the pain, this is truly consolation.

Rabbi N. Daniel Korobkin is rosh kehilla of Yavneh Hebrew Academy and director of synagogue and community services for the Orthodox Union’s West Coast region.


Maury Abrams died March 12 at 80. He is survived by his wife, Francine; sons, Judd (Nicole Sassman) and Gregg; daughter, Glennis (Jim) Malcolm; and four grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Nancy Alspektor died March 2 at the age of 85. She is survived by her sons, Allan, Stan, and Arthur; daughter, Roseann Alspektor-Schalker; and grandchildren. Sholom Chapels

Sarah Berman died March 12 at 86. She is survived by her daughter, Honey; and son, Rube. Hillside

Dr. Julius Steve Brodie died March 19 at 86. He is survived by his wife, Gloria; children, Karen (Bill) Michiels and Betty (Ross) Winn; four grandchildren; brother-in-law, Arthur Lackman; nieces; and nephews. Hillside

Beverly Brukman died March 18 at 80. She is survived by her husband, Jack; daughters, Kubda (Robert) Brown and Debra (Gary) Pancer; and three grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Goldie Chernick died March 11 at 82. She is survived by her daughters, Dina and Nina; and son, Paul. Hillside

Robert Chisling died March 11 at the age of 85. He is survived by his daughter, Lois (Bruce) Sklar; grandson, Michael. Sholom Chapels

Robert Michael Cohen died March 12 at 78. He is survived by his daughter, Myla (Bruce) Kramer; sons, Randy and Evan; seven grandchildren; and sisters, Dorothy (Marvin) Waller and Rose McArthur. Mount Sinai

Chaja Dunkelman died March 13 at 88. She is survived by her husband, Luzer; daughter, Aviva (Leon) Biederman; son, Daniel (Noemi); three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Elaine Epstein died March 20 at 80. She is survived by her daugher, Nancy; son, Steve; grandchildren, Rachel and Adam Levine; great-grandchild; and sister, Shirley Bass. Hillside

Martha Finkle died March 16 at 89. She is survived by her daughter, Paula (David) Hand; son, Robert; grandchildren, Dr. Lisa (Richard) Engel and Alan (Jana) Hand; and niece, Penny Salomon. Hillside

Senta Fox died March 16 at 86. She is survived by her husband, Dave; daughter, Rabbi Karen; son, Rabbi Steven; four grandchildren; and brother, Rudy Salomons. Malinow and Silverman

Shirley Flacks died March 15 at 80. She is survived by her sons, Martin (Leigh), John (Bobette) and Steven (Lois); daughter, Paula (Jim) Sheftel; seven grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. Mount Sinai

Beatrice Silver Gendel died March 14 at 97. She is survived by her son, Neil. Hillside

Natalie Joyce Greene died March 6. She is survived by her daughter, Michele; and one grandchild. Groman

Leroy Helfman died March 8 at 87. He is survived by his wife, Linda; sons, Ivan, Waterford and Michigan; daughter, Joan (Bill) Strigler; stepdaughters, Brenda Bernhard and Lisa (Douglas) Schwab; and six grandchildren. Chevra Kadisha

Mary Hollander died March 20 at 88. She is survived by her son, Michael; daughters, Suzanne and Janie; eight grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. Groman

Jules Jacob died March 14 at 94. He is survived by his sons, Richard (Kaythi) and Theodore (Julie); daughter, Ann Goodman; 10 grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Gerda Singer Josovicz died March 12 at 77. She is survived by her husband, Philip; daughter, Miriam Josovicz Lebental; grandchildren, Dana and David Lebental; brother, Joel Singer; and sister, Linda Berke Singer. Chevra Kadisha

Kefayat Turan Kasher died Feb 2 at 87. She is survived by her sons, Iraj (Soraya) Parviz and Ferdows (Yafa); daughter, Fereshte (Mansur); seven grandchildren; and sisters, Malek, Pari and Nazi. Chevra Kadisha

Selma Konitz died March 14 at 82. She is survived by her sons, Russ and Jack (Leslie) Kavanaugh; four grandchildren; and sister, Toni Green. Mount Sinai

Mildred Kraus died March 12 at 89. She is survived by her daughters, Elaine Rosenson, Roberta (Richard) Bernstein and Julie Weiss; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Joan Kurz died March 14 at 75. She is survived by her husband, Murray; son, Larry; daughters, Gayle and Nancy; nine grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Groman

Jacob Leventhal died March 20 at 92. He is survived by his wife, Shirley; son, Robert (Cornelia Pachmann); and granddaughter, Erica Mount Sinai

Daniel Levy died March 19 at 87. He is survived by his daughter, Benay (Stanley) Mayer; son, Charles (Jody); and seven grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman

Rabbi David Lieb died March 8 at 65. He is survived by his wife, Estelle; daughter, Amy Knobel; sons, Jacob and Adam; four grandchildren; and sister, Marilyn Price. Malinow and Silverman

Evelyn Lieber died March 11 at 74. She is survived by her husband, Harold; sons, Shawn, Jeff (Gloria) and Mark (Debby); and six grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Joseph Lipson died March 17 at 69. He is survived by sister, Jane Stiglitz; nieces, Diane (Scott), Ellen (Ian); nephew, Steven; and extended family. Hillside

Myra “Mickey” Litman died March 13 at 69. She is survived by her husband, Richard; sons, Jeff, Adam and Daniel; and five grandchildren. Hillside

Jack Lorell died March 13 at 91. He is survived by his wife, Doris; sons, Kenneth (MaryAnn Champagne) and Mark (Mary Chenoweth); and four grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Dr. Leonard Loren died March 11 at 73. He is survived by his wife, Bracha; and son, Yoeli. Mount Sinai

Lucille Markowitz died March 16 at 78. She is survived by her husband, Eli; and daughter, Robin. Malinow and Silverman

Lillian Miller died March 18 at 93. She is survived by her sons, Alan and Kenneth; three grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. Mount Sinai

Robert Neuhaus died March 15 at 79. He is survived by his children, Shelley (Marc Weiss), Mark and Eric; and three grandchildren. Hillside

Louis Nissen died March 15 at 94. He is survived by his wife, Frances; son, Steven (Lynn); daughter, Donna (James) Hayostek; six grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Beatrice Olivestone died March 5 at the age of 86. She is survived by her husband, Joseph; son, Michael (Pari); daughter, Rachelle (Mark) Berger; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Sholom Chapels

Patti Perlstein died March 19 at 49. She is survived by her mother, Aida; and brother Dan. Malinow and Silverman

Sylvia Reiss died March 17 at 86. She is survived by her son, Robert (Janet); daughter, Diane Reiss-Drexler (Stuart); and two grandchildren. Sholom Chapels


Eliezer Benjamini died Feb. 14 at 79. He is survived by his wife, Leslie; son, Ethan; daughter, Lori; stepdaughter, Carrie Bullock; stepson Jeff Bressler; grandsons, Joshua and Matthew; stepgranchildren; brother Eddi (Dorit); and brother-in-law, Bruce Hackel. Hillside

Lawrence Howard Beylen died Dec. 30 at 77. He is survived by his wife, Joan; daughters, Karen Rice, Andrea (Nathan) Gardner and Margo; and two grandchildren. Groman

Ann Gertrude Blaine died Dec. 24 at 87. She is survived by her nephew, Robert James. Malinow and Silverman

Beatrice Budnick died Jan. 4 at 89. She is survived by her spouse, Frank; daughter Heidi Goldberg; and two grandchildren.

Arnold Burton Cane died Jan. 30 at 84. He is survived by his wife, Ann Carter; three daughters; one son; two sisters; three grandchildren; and several great-grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman

Russell Chase died Jan. 22 at 83. He is survived by his sons, Philip and Douglas; daughters, Susan Levine and Marjorie; eight grandchildren; and friends. Pierce Brothers

Ann Davis died Dec. 26 at 81. She is survived by her sons, Steven, Joseph and Samuel; daughters, Diana, Rhonda and Miriam; 13 grandchildren; and one great- grandchild. Groman

Barry Herbert Gertler died Feb. 15 at 77. He is survived by his wife, Hope; daughters, Nan and Robin; son, Gary; son-in-law Michael; daughter-in-law, Robin; five grandchildren; sister, Illa; and siblings-in-law, Stanleyand Bert. Hillside

Lawrence Merrill Greener died Feb. 22 at 89. He is survived by his wife, Rosemary; son, Gary (Mallory); daughter, Lynn (Marvin); four grandchildren; sister, Faith Pearlman; nephew, Charles Pearlman; and niece, Penny Pearlman. Hillside

Morton Grossman died Jan. 5 at 84. He is survived by his wife, Zelda; daughter, Rachel; and two grandchildren. Groman

Anne Kanner died Feb. 16 at 93. She is survived by her sisters, Helen Samples and Iris; and nephew, Mel (Stella) Samples. Mount Sinai

Asir Kharitonov died Feb. 16 at 68. He is survived by his wife, Maya; son, Alex (Mariana); daughter, Natalia (Yahouda) Zarrabi; and five grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Catherine Leon died Jan. 28 at 95. She is survived by her daughter, Roberta; and sister, Rosa (David) Amato. Malinow and Silverman

Evelyn Maletz died Jan. 6 at 80. She is survived by her husband, Harold; son, Lloyd; daughter, Sherri; and five grandchildren. Groman

Constance Corinne Martel died Jan. 31 at 93. She is survived by her friends, Susan Connelli and Sylvia Lecher. Mount Sinai

Helen Montrose died Jan. 31 at 79. She is survived by her brother, Rabbi Lawrence; and nephew, Rabbi David. Malinow and Silverman

Nejatollah Nejat died Dec. 31 at 79. He is survived by his wife, Parvaneh; son, Albert; daughters, Rosette Younesi and Mahnaz Kohanchi; and five grandchildren. Groman

Dr. Peter B. Neubauer died Feb. 15 at 94. He is survived by his sons, Joshua and Alexander; and grandchildren.

Marjorie Oberman died Feb. 17 at 87. She is survived by her daughters, Lynn (Richard) Kravitz and Judy (Barry) Wechsler; son, Dennis (Deedy); eight grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren; and sister, Joan Waldman. Mount Sinai

Ethel Reader died Feb. 15 at 91. She is survived by her daughter, Judi Chauncey; four grandchildren; and friend, Arne Wynner. Hillside

Cecile Rivkind died Feb. 1 at 85. She is survived by her daughter, Diane (Bill) Brinson; son, Steven; four grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and brother, Morton Newman. Malinow and Silverman

Mildred Schiller died Feb. 14 at 90. She is survived by her daughter, Adrienne; and four grandchildren. Groman

Freda Schlesinger died Dec. 26 at 89. She is survived by her friends. Groman

Ralph Segalman died Jan. 12 at 91. He is survived by his wife, Anita; sons, Robert and Daniel; daughter, Ruth Ancheta; four grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. Groman

Samuel Sideman died Feb. 12 at 79. He is survived by his wife, Naomi. Sholom Chapels

Joseph Simpson died Dec. 22 at 88. He is survived by his son, Myles (Gail); daughter, Joyce (Andrew) Edelson; and three grandchildren. Groman

Dr. Jacob Somerman died Feb. 3 at 90. He is survived by his son, Marnin. Sholom Chapels

Goldie Cooper Sonkin died Dec. 25 at 92. She is survived by her son, Julian (Pamela) Bieber; brother, Melvin Cooper; and two grandchildren. Groman

Roselle Helena Stein died Feb. 15 at 81. She is survived by her children, Bill, Gary (Ricki) and Hal (Joan); four grandchildren; sisters, Edith Zimbler and Judith; and brothers, Hyman and Jack Seiden. Mount Sinai

Kate Stone died Jan. 27 at 99. She is survived by her sons, Jerry (Donna) and Frank Stone; three grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman

Arlene Tarr died Feb. 14 at 81. She is survived by her daughter, Stephanie (Steve) Slater; grandchildren, Jessica Rembert and Scott Slater; and sister, Debbie Radwin. Mount Sinai

Mina Tsukerman died Jan. 31 at 88. She is survived by her sons, Isaac (Sofia) and Ilya (Zina) Zukerman; and five grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman

Fredrick Yamron died Feb. 18 at 76. He is survived by his sons, Bernard (Jennifer) and Todd; sister-in-law, Roberta Giller; and two granddaughters. Malinow and Silverman

Michael Zeitlin died Jan. 6 at 88. He is survived by his wife, Martha; son, David; nine grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and sisters, Ruth Resnick and Ethel David. Groman


Dr. Steven Abrams died Jan. 8 at 80. He is survived by his wife, Mardy; son, Alan (Sheana); daughters, Tami (John) Loew and Debra; 10 grandchildren; one great-grandchild; and sister, Charlotte. Mount Sinai

Harriet Ash died Jan. 7 at 89. She is survived by her brother, Joe Elisha; sister, Helen Lelah; and nieces, Lois and Joan. Mount Sinai

Rita Aronson died Jan. 9 at 67. She is survived by her sister, Marcia (Richard) Ehrlich. Mount Sinai

Susan Ann Baker died Jan. 7 at 93. She is survived by son, Barry; daughter, Cheryl Sindell Heller; granddaughter Chelsea Heller; and brother Joseph Sadacca. Hillside

Edna Baruch died Jan. 11 at 85. She is survived by her daughter, Barbara (Jeff McKay); son, Michael (Jeanne); and brothers, Bill (Doss) and Abe (Bertha) Marinoff. Mount Sinai

Beatrice Bass died Jan. 11 at 76. She is survived by her life partner, Ciro “Jerry” Lucci; sons, Bill, Dan (Kathy) and Howard (Michelle); and five grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Aldean Bayer died Jan. 5 at 76. She is survived by her daughter, Darice; son, Lance; and daughter-in-law, Cathy. Hillside

Leah Besanty died Jan. 10 at 92. She is survived by her daughter, Sally “Cookie” (Arthur) Becker; son, Chuck (Barbara); and grandchildren, Steven and Shari. Mount Sinai

Helen Abrams Belshaw died Jan. 7 at 87. She is survived by her sons, Jay and Robert. Hillside

Isadore Berkovitz died in January. He is survived by his wife, Beatrice; daughter, Ardyce Lebewitz; sons, Alan and Rick; grandchildren, Danny and Paige; brother, Martin (Marlene) Berkovitz; and sister, Rose Kaplan.

Judith Brill died Jan. 12 at 87. She is survived by her sons, Anthony (Julia) and Peter; and grandsons, Ryan and Brandon. Mount Sinai

Leon Blank died Dec. 23 at 99. He is survived by his wife, Rita; daughter, Jeannie (Hal) Murray; son, Jonathan (Rochelle); seven grandchildren; one great-grandchild; and sister, Betty Loterstein. Mount Sinai

Eileen Bushman died Jan. 6 at 71. She is survived by her sons, Robert (Joni) and Michael (Stacy); daughter, Sheryl (Scott) Aldrich; seven grandchildren; sister, Deanna Morris; and brother, Richard (Mei) Price. Mount Sinai

Irwin Buter died Jan. 7 at 76. He is survived by his wife, Shirley Buter; daughter, Lisa (Neil) Blatt; sons, Scott and Glen; four grandchildren; brother, Michael (Debbie); mother-in-law, Gertie Tennenbaum; and brother-in-law, Mel (Myra) Tennenbaum. Malinow and Silverman

Brian Cherbo died Jan. 7 at 49. He is survived by his son, Jack; sister, Meradith Cherbo; and stepmother, Elaine Hoffman. Hillside

Eve Chervin died Jan. 5 at 51. She is survived by her husband, Charles; and mother, Ann. Hillside

Marilyn Cohen died Jan. 3 at 74. She is survived by her daughters, Rhonda Rubenstein and Barbara (Stan) Richman; son, Alan; brother, Martin Farash; and four grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman

Bernice Diamant died Jan. 5 at 84. She is survived by her husband, Emanuel; daughters, Susan (David) Feinstein, Diane (Earl) Quick and Belinda (Michael) Border; stepdaughters, Adrienne (David) Weil and Melissa (Doug) Moss; 14 grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and brother, Herbert Rosenheck. Mount Sinai

Arnold Eckerling died Jan. 12 at 86. He is survived by his wife, Selma; daughters, Sheri (Robert) Simon and Sally (Neal) Cohen; son, Dr. Gordon (Cheryl); 10 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman

Samuel Mitchel Fischer died Jan. 6 at 50. He is survived by his sister Keri (Stan) Hauser; nieces, Danielle and Lauren Hauser; and nephew Michael Hauser. Hillside

Leslie “Les” Frank died Jan. 7 at 61. He is survived by his daughter, Lisa (Robert Morton); sons, Adam and Michael Frank; grandchildren, Madeline and Charlotte Morton; brothers, Steven (Renee Lonner) and Paul (Suzi). Mount Sinai

Lillian Friedman died Jan. 7 at 96. She is survived by her son, Jerry; daughter-in-law, Judith; grandchildren, Greg and Vernon; brother, William; and many friends.

Johanna Gelles died Jan. 3 at 85. She is survived by her sons, David (Patricia) and Jim (Susan); three grandchildren; and companion, Dudley Meyers. Mount Sinai

Marilyn Rae Ginsberg died Jan. 6 at 70. She is survived by her children, Shari (Marshall), Jack, Michele and Marty; and six grandchildren. Hillside

Michael Gottesman died Jan. 5 at 71. He is survived by his wife, Sonia; son Howard (Sara); stepsons, Daniel Heath and Gary Krause; and grandchildren, Jillian and Jordan. Mount Sinai

Ruth Celeste Hoffman died Jan. 6 at 90. She is survived by her granddaughters, Jennifer and Lori; sisters, Lois and Betty; and four great-grandchildren. Hillside

Peter Kinsler died Jan. 4 at 48. He is survived by his father, Jerry (Phyllis); brother, Brian (Janis); nephew, Jonah; and cousins. Hillside

Ruth Kopf died Jan. 12 at 84. She is survived by her brother, Hal (Gita) Moskowitz; sister-in-law Ida Grobman; nieces; and nephews. Hillside

George Michael Lewis died Jan. 7 at 80. He is survived by his sister-in-law, Doreen Berman. Malinow and Silverman

Carol Lopez died Jan. 11 at 61. She is survived by her husband, Rigoberto; son, Brian Winkour; and brother, Sheldon Schneider. Hillside

Alan Maler died Jan. 3 at 62. He is survived by his wife, Meryl; children, Zachary, Jeremy and Hilary; and brother Lewis. Hillside

Bert James Mallinger died Feb. 23 at 75. He is survived by his sons, Menachem and Lev; daughter, Mollie Helfand; eight grandchildren; and sister, Ethel Ann Delawie. Groman

Ruth Marilyn Mizrahi died Jan. 2 at 80. She is survived by her husband, Jack; and sons, Robert (Lois) and Steven. Hillside

Sidney Muskin died Jan. 4 at 84. He is survived by his wife, Eve; son, David; daughter, Beth Reid; and brother, Albert (Thelma) Mosgin. Mount Sinai

Esther Noodleman died Jan. 8 at 78. She is survived by her husband, Ben; daughter, Judith (Robert) Jason; and three grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Hedy Oppenheimer died Jan. 11 at 93. She is survived by her daughters, Susan (Richard) Jolson and Helen Dixon; four grandchildren; and sister, Erica Haines. Mount Sinai


Leah Benjamin died Dec. 30 at 96. She is survived by her nephews, Sid (Linda) Silverman and Neal (Marlene) Brostoff; niece Sandra (Harold) Vellins; and great-niece, Aliza Silverman. Mount Sinai

Annette Gershuni Bergman died Jan. 2 at 76. She is survived by her sons, Gregory and Alex Gershuni; stepdaughter, Melinda; and six grandchildren. Hillside

Irving Bornstein died Dec. 26 at 96. He is survived by his daughter, Marian Diller; son, Dr. Kenneth Greenbaum; six grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Irving Chait died Dec. 31 at 83. He is survived by his wife, Madelyn; children, Kimberly (Rob) Frankel, Michael (Susan) and Laurie; and seven grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Bessie Cherroff died Jan. 2 at 100. She is survived by her daughter, Ruthe Newmann; son, Bill (Diana); three grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and brother, Dr. Leon (Olive) Newman. Mount Sinai

Donald Denbo died Dec. 25 at 77. He is survived by his sister, Enig (Bernard) Wizig. Hillside

Jack Fast died Dec. 26 at 73. He is survived by his wife, Sandra; son, Adam (Marilyn); and grandchildren, Alexander and James. Mount Sinai

Allan Faye died Dec. 27 at 74. He is survived by his wife, Thalia; son, Scott (Ilise); and three grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Shirley Fishkin-Azaren died Dec. 25 at 84. She is survived by her husband, Harold; daughter, Nettie (Harvey) Lerner; son, Jerome (Lindsay) Fishkin; 10 grandchildren; and 25 great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Barbara Frank died Dec. 25 at 65. She is survived by her sons, Aaron (Karin) and Bill (Heather); daughter, Stephanie (Rob) Cornick; grandsons, Gavin and Jared; brother, Stan (Judy) Smith; and former husband, Steven. Mount Sinai

Edith Orenstein Freedman died Dec. 25 at 90. She is survived by her daughter, Brenda (Harold) Weinstein; grandchildren, Marcie (Luis Martins) and Gregory Weinstein. Mount Sinai

Dr. Alexander Gans died Dec. 30 at 86. He is survived by his niece, Janet Gans-Epner; and nephew, Theodore Wolfberg. Hillside

Amy Garvin-Milstein died Jan. 1 at 59. She is survived by her husband, Hyman; daughter, Maggie; mother, Ruth Ellen King; brothers, Dr. James (Dana) and Gary Garvin; and sister, Diann Turner. Mount Sinai

Muriel Gimpelson died Jan. 2 at 85. She is survived by her daughters, Alyce (Alex) Calder, Carol (Chuck) Comley and Sharon Ashcraft; grandchildren; and sisters, Adrienne Wollenberg and Elaine Socolow. Malinow and Silverman

Evelyn Gittleman Barenfeld died Dec. 25 at 81. She is survived by her husband, Charles; daughter, Marilyn (Sheldon) Weiner; sons, Steven and Bruce Gittleman; four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren; and brother, Manny (Judy) Stein. Hillside

Jayne Heisler died Dec. 25 at of 47. She is survived by her husband, Mark; children, Joshua and Ashley; sister, Nancy (George) Acs; and brother, Mark Brooks. Mount Sinai

Mae Hershon died Jan. 2 at 94. She is survived by her husband, Ving; daughter, Anne; son, Mark (Susan); and brother, Albert (Leah) Agron. Mount Sinai

Joe Himel died Dec. 31 at 84. Hee is survived by his daughter, Susan (Bob) Bassett; grandchildren, Greg and Michael; and great-grandson, Joshua. Mount Sinai

Arnold Kalmick died Dec. 27 at 85. He is survived by his sons, Jeffrey (Cathy) and David (Lois); three grandchildren; and brother, Alfred (Sunny). Hillside

Rheta Kanter died Dec. 26 at 72. She is survived by her daughter, Wendy (Russell) Reinoehl; sons, Michael (Sarah) and Richard (Ikumi); brother, David Swiryn; and two grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman

Mildred Kaplan died Dec. 30 at 87. She is survived by her daughter-in-law, Sheila; three grandchildren; sister-in-law, Dora Ackereisen; nephew, Allen Ackereisen; and niece, Linda Renner. Mount Sinai

Harold Kayl died Dec. 25 at 67. He is survived by his wife, Susan; sons, Bradley and Michael; brother, Jerry; sisters, Linda Steinhauser and Barbara; and sister-in-law, Marlene Schancupp. Mount Sinai

Ronnie Kreeger died Dec. 30 at 56. She is survived by her mother, Muriel; sister, Patti Kreeger-Wakefield; and significant other, Hal Teich. Mount Sinai

Kenneth Lever died Jan. 1 at 77. He is survived by his wife, Beverly; daughters, Denise, Deborah and Brena and their spouses; and three grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Anne Louise Licht died Jan. 2 at 59. She is survived by her husband, Dr. James; daughter, Jaime; son, David; and brothers, William and Robert Raphael. Malinow and Silverman

Marcia Marks died Dec. 31 at 94. She is survived by her sons, Kenneth (Sandra Ruben) and Richard; grandchild, Murray; and sister, Esther Aliber. Mount Sinai

Abe Nagel died Dec. 31 at 88. He is survived by his daughter, Heather (Ken) Schweibish; grandchildren, Scott and Erin Schweibish; and great-grandchildren, Jasmine and Jacob. Mount Sinai

Sophie Parsons died Dec. 26 at 94. She is survived by her daughters, Dorene Lehavi and Rachelle Katz; four grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; sister, Rebecca Nelson; and brother, Max (Ceil) Knell. Mount Sinai

Longina Postal died Dec. 28 at 72. She is survived by her daughter, Mara; and son, Henry Gruszniewski. Malinow and Silverman

Lillian Press died Dec. 26 at 94. She is survived by her son, Howard (Ellen); and grandchildren, Matthew and Meryl. Hillside

Max Rincover died Dec. 30 at 89. He is survived by his wife, Tilly; sons, Neil (Silvana), Larry (Wanda) and Arnold (Joan); five grandchildren; and sister, Babe Meyers. Mount Sinai

Betty Rolbin died Dec. 25 at 94. She is survived by her, son, Terry; three grandsons; and two great-granddaughters. Mount Sinai

Sarah Rockov died Dec. 29 at 91. She is survived by her son, Robert; son-in-law, Barry Klatzker; four grandchildren; and seven great- grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman

Gertrude Saiger died Dec. 29 at 99. She is survived by her niece, Frances Ann Abrams; and nephew, Larry Goldman. Malinow and Silverman

Linda Stein died Dec. 30 at 67. She is survived by her husband, Leonard; son, Jason (Keri); two grandchildren; sister, Faith Rafkind; brother, Charles Rafkind; and brother-in-law, Robert Stein. Mount Sinai

Gloria Sturm died Dec. 31 at 79. She is survived by her sons, Martin (Penny) and Brad Sures; daughter, Allison (Ralph) Hensley; grandsons, Dylan and Jason; sister, Arlene Pacht; and brother, Howard Burstein. Mount Sinai


Maxine Andron died Dec. 19 at 83. She is survived by her daughters, Debbie (Todd) Kopit and Judy (Dave) Snavely; six grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and sister, Helen (Leo) Seidner. Mount Sinai

Rosalie Aronoff died Dec. 18 at 81. She is survived by her husband, Gilbert; daughters, Laurie (Nancy) and Sharon; grandchildren, Lilia and Emma; and niece, Moreen (Robert) Ohs. Mount Sinai

Bernard Axelrod died Dec. 18 at 93. He is survived by his daughter, Melissa; sons, Steven (Resa) and David; and one grandson. Malinow and Silverman

Arthur Alan Batansky died Dec. 6 at 65. He is survived by his daughter, Alexandra; mother, Mary; sister, Lorraine (Larry) First; and brother, Norman. Groman

Dorothy Bershin died Dec. 13 at 89. She is survived by her son, Allen (Lenore); grandchild; and two great-grandchildren. Hillside

Henrietta Block died Dec. 9 at 88. She is survived by her son, Steven; and granddaughter, Rina. Hillside

Jack Bronner died Dec. 13 at 61. He is survived by his sons, Sean (Dawn) and Evan; daughter, Teisha; father, Stanley (Regina); brother, John; sister, Cys (Dave Rittenhouse). Mount Sinai

Fay Rasp Brown died Dec. 9 at 79. She is survived by daughters, Carolyn Maginot and Gina; and granddaughter, Marlene Maginot. Hillside

Marhamat Delijani died Dec. 8 at 88. He is survived by his wife, Habibollah Nazarian; sons, Houshang (Tita) and Feridon (Jila); daughters, Nahid (Nasser) and Simin (Jamshid); eight grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. Chevra Kadisha

Irwin Esko died Dec. 8 at 87. He is survived by his daughter, Anita (Jack) Pinsker; and two grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Abe Feedman died Dec. 12 at 84. He is survived by his children, Roberta (Richard) Handel and Marc Feedman; grandchildren Ryan and Rory; brother, Sam (Barbara); cousins; nieces; nephews; and friend, Marty Newstat. Hillside

Sylvia Feldman died Dec. 18 at 87. She is survived by her husband, Sol; children, Howard and Marilyn; and grandchildren, Lizzi and Jill. Hillside

Harold Friedman died Dec. 12 at 91. He is survived by wife, Gayle; sons, Bob (Nancy) and Neil (Piri); and grandsons, Matthew and Sam. Hillside

Toby Friedman died Dec. 15 at 95. She is survived by her son, Raymond. Hillside

Harvey Geist died Dec. 17 at 65. He is survived by his daughter, Gail (Sam) Silver; son, Neil (Lisa); four grandchildren; and brother, Gary. Sholom Chapels

Rosalyn Gerber died Dec. 13 at 71. She is survived by survived by daughters, Sharon and Beth; and brother, William. Hillside

Alice Gerstman died Dec. 8 at 70. She is survived by her son, Clifford (Laurie). Malinow and Silverman

Dr. Erwin Goldberg died Dec. 18 at 80. He is survived by his wife, Beatrice; son, Mchall; daughters, Andrea (Christopher Hvalka) and Mimi; and granddaughter, Lena. Mount Sinai

Rosalind Gordon died Dec. 16 at 91. She is survived by her daughter, Georgia (David) Capo; grandson, Bradley; great-grandchildren Chris, and Emily; sister-in-law, Marge Stein; and caregiver, Bing Ogata. Mount Sinai

Morris Graff died Dec. 8 at 87. He is survived by his wife, Hetty; daughter, Helen Sherman; son, Terry; four grandchildren; and brother, Michael. Malinow and Silverman

Dorothy Grau died Dec. 10 at 88. She is survived by her friends, Leah (David) Granat and Barbara Levy; and cousins, Fron and Irene. Mount Sinai

Herman Greenspon died Dec. 19 at 98. He is survived by his daughters, Nancy Maniscalco and Judith Fidler; grandchildren; and great-grandchildren. Hillside

Jack Gross died Dec. 14 at 78. He is survived by his wife, Joan; and son, Josh.

Lucille Hazan died Dec. 14 at 80. She is survived by her brother, Benjamin; and cousin, Sharlene. Hillside

Vera Ishmayeva died Dec. 10 at 89. She is survived by her husband, Iosif Lantsman; daughter, Lidiya; grandchildren, Karen and Boris; and one great-grandchild. Sholom Chapels

Helen Tiep Jamieson died Dec. 16 at 94. She is survived by her son, Stephen; daughter-in-law, Erica; grandchildren, Nathan and Haley; sister, Beverly (Allen) Jacobs; and brother, Joseph Tiep. Hillside

Shelia Kantrowitz died Dec. 12 at 75. She is survived by her daughter, Melanie Klein; grandchild, Gabriel; and sister, Doris Jean Goldberg. Mount Sinai

Dorothy Labowe died Dec. 10 at 100. She is survived by her daughter, Linda (Alan) Smaul; one grandson; and two great-grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman

Leone Laken died Dec. 18 at 89. She is survived by her husband, Gilbert; daughters, Vicki and Marta; and grandchildren, Marissa and Michael. Hillside

Jay Levy died Dec. 8 at 85. He is survived by his wife, Charlotte; son, Marc (Susan); stepson, Ronald (Nancy) Delia; and granddaughter, Sarah. Mount Sinai

Yulia Lyubchanskaya died Dec. 18 at 83. She is survived by her brother, Igor Khodakov. Sholom Chapels

Leonard Howard Marcus died Dec. 12 at 66. He is survived by his life partner, John W. Boyle; sister, Harriet Lazaros; niece, Tami; and friend, Jodi. Mount Sinai

Sara Medwed died Dec. 10 at 92. She is survived by her daughter, Iris Becker; son, Alan; brother, Sam (Shirley) Polisky; four grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman

Barbara Medziak died Dec. 5 at 60. She is survived by her friends. Malinow and Silverman

Jeremy Brandon Paster died Nov. 23 at 36. He is survived by his wife, Bethleigh; mother Sherry (Tom Gallloway); father, Michael (Laura Wine); brother, Josh Kilvington; sisters, Ilana (Adam) Horn and Shoshana; and grandfathers, Irv Schwartz and Max.

Murray Alfred Pollack died Dec. 13 at 88. He is survived by wife, Beatrice; son, Neal (Tish); daughter, Gale Russell; and sister, Naomi Reich. Hillside

Robert Rappaport died Dec. 12 at 80. He is survived by his children, Barbara and David; and daughter-in-law, Elizabeth. Hillside

Jay Raven died Dec. 18 at. He is survived by his wife, Regina; daughter, Sandee; son, Kenneth; brother, Bertram; sister, Frances Sieman; brother-in-law, Harry Winter; sister-in-law, Celia Raven; nieces and nephews.

Edith Frances Reich died Dec. 18 at 92. She is survived by her daughter, Judith; and son, Eugene. Hillside

Barbara Rosenbaum died Dec. 16 at 56. She is survived by her children, Andrew and Erica Sklar; parents, Samuel and Shirley Cheresnick; siblings, Nita Metz, Jay (Teri) and Joel (Becky) Cheresnick; and five nephews. Mount Sinai


Shirley Bass died Dec. 1 at 83. She is survived by her daughters, Wendy Davaris and Barbara; son, John; foster son, Drew Byrnes; three grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and brother, Arnold (Greta) Wermes. Mount Sinai

Samuel Beber died Dec. 1 at 85. He is survived by his wife, Shirley; daughters, Diane Abergel and Nan Darham; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. Groman

Helen Behman died Nov. 25 at 90. She is survived by her sons, Peter (Jayne) and Larry (Gloria); daughters, Lesley Neiman, Barbara (Ken Meshke) Sprenger, Miriam (Steve) Brody and Harriet; 14 grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; sister, Lee Malkin; brother, Bill (Bernice) Malkin; and sister-in-law, Annette Malkin. Mount Sinai

Harry Berger died Dec. 6 at 89. He is survived by his wife Iris Victor-Berger; sister, Dorothy (Herman) Goodman; and brother, Raymond (Frances). Sholom Chapels

Helene Brandon died Nov. 28 at 98. she is survived by her brother, Max (Ruth) Friedman. Sholom Chapels

Sarah Caston died Nov. 26 at 80. She is survived by her husband, Isaac; daughters, Anne Caston-Balderrama, Susan and Cathy; sons-in-law, Michael and Armando; and one granddaughter. Malinow and Silverman

Jeanne Chimes died Nov. 30 at 95. She is survived by her cousin, Heather Cohen. Hillside

Grace Collins died Nov. 29 at 82. She is survived by her daughter, Elizabeth Danziger; sister, Muriel Pinkus; and brothers, Jerome Horowitz and David Brenner. Hillside

Shari Arlene Davis died Dec. 7 at 43. She is survived by her husband, Robert John; mother, Lynne Reinschreiber; and brother, Mark Reinschreiber. Mount Sinai

Ruby Delinko died Dec. 3 at 87. He is survived by his wife, Yetta; and son, David. Malinow and Silverman

Larry Dersh died Nov. 27 at 72. He is survived by his wife, Ruth; sons, David, Steven and David (Michelle) Jacobs; daughters, Sheri Abraham and Lisa; brother, Bob (Anita) Krietzman; 11 grandchildren; and sisters, Marcia (Jerry) Osbaum and Eileen (Jerry) Kaplan. Chevra Kadisha

Vernon Dorn died Dec. 6 at 70. He is survived by his wife, Arlene; sons, Alan and Robert; mother, Helen; sister, Joy (Mal) Brook; and friend, Jack Shanow. Mount Sinai

Barney Feldmar died Nov. 30 at 93. He is survived by wife, Harriet; daughters, Linda Jones and Nancy Meller; grandchildren, Tracy Kleinberg and Scott Meller; great-grandchildren, Lili and Noa Kleinberg; and sister, Janet Rose. Hillside

Arnold Feuerlicht died Dec. 5 at 87. He is survived by his son, Daniel (Mary); and daughter, Amy (Harry) Fisher. Hillside

Robert Fink died Dec. 6 at 81. He is survived by his wife, Doris; children, Karen, Paul, and Eric (Rhonda); and three grandchildren. Hillside

Jack Marvin Fireman died Nov. 26 at 81. He is survived by his daughter, Marjorie; and brother, Philip. Malinow and Silverman

Milton Freedman died Dec. 5 at 91. He is survived by his sons, Robert (Sonia), Larry (Mary) and Bill (Marlene). Hillside

Rose Fried died Dec. 2 at 91. She is survived by her daughters, Susan (Philip) Flame and Marcia (Bernie) Berkowitz; three grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Michael Galinsky (a.k.a. Moysha Galinsky) died Nov. 27 at 78. He is survived by his son, David. Malinow and Silverman

Rachael Ganzfried died Dec. 6 at 78. She is survived by her daughters, Randi (Albert) Alfasso and Debbie (Robert) Fell; son, Ron (Jane); four grandchildren; and brothers, Moche and Isadore Komsky. Mount Sinai

Ruth Golob died Nov. 28 at 84. She is survived by her son, Ron; daughter, Karen; and sister, Edith (Leo) Levin. Chevra Kadisha

Josef David Golowinski died Dec. 6 at 79. He is survived by his wife, Malka; daughters, Evelyn (David) Mantel and Naomi (Allen) Babani; four grandchildren; and five siblings. Mount Sinai

Mary Hall died Dec. 1 at 96. She is survived by her husband, Peter; children, Richard (Susan) and Lani (Herb); four grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and siblings, Sally, Evelyn, Frieda and Irving. Hillside

Ruth Hamermesh died Nov. 28 at 82. She is survived by her sons, Scott (Julia) Ashdow, Mark (Kelleen), Eric (Terry) and Steven (Rose); daughter, Susan (Sandy) Saemann; and 11 grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Al Jacobson died Nov. 27 at 96. He is survived by his daughter, Carol Yakerson; son, Shael (Sandy); five grandchildren, five great- grandchildren; and brother, Albert (Coleen). Mount Sinai

Bella Jacobson died Dec. 5 at 94. She is survived by her son, Irvin (Caroline) Jacobson; grandchildren, Doreen (Bruce) Sanfelici and Mark; two great-grandchildren; and sisters, Kay Gintel and Ann Cantor. Mount Sinai

Abraham Martin Kahlenberg died Dec. 5 at 93. He is survived by his wife, Celia; sons, Edward (Deana), Robert (Janice) and Sherwood (Rita); daughter, Ruth (Jacob); and sister, Rose Lewis. Hillside

Rozalia Konig died Dec. 4 at 90. She is survived by her sons, Peter (Susan) and Thomas (Jeri); six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Norma Lipp died Dec. 4 at 77. She is survived by her sons, Mark and Howard; and three grandchildren. Hillside

Beatrice Lowenthal died Dec. 4 at 94. She is survived by her daughters, Sandra (Philip) Firestone and Aylene (Phillip Moser) Kovary; three granddaughters; and three great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Helen Solis Nave died in Dec. at 63. She is survived by her sisters; friends; and family.

William “Bill” Neuser died Dec. 4 at 63. He is survived by his daughter, Julie (Dave) Silverberg; son, Scott; four grandchildren; sister, Ellie (Richard) Simon; nephews; and great-nephew. Crawford Mortuary

Shirley Newman died Dec. 5 at 79. She is survived by her stepdaughter, Leslee; and friends, Don and Lois Hoffman. Mount Sinai

Richard Martin Ogner died Dec. 2 at 54. He is survived by his parents, Barbara Straus and Irving; daughter, Natasha; brothers, David Straus, Robert and Joshua; and sister, Melissa. Groman

Marilyn Padow died Nov. 24 at 65. She is survived by her sons, Jeremy and Charlie; and sister, Sarah Schwartz. Chevra Kadisha

Patricia Dooley Pincus died Nov. 25 at 80. She is survived by her daughter, Corinne (Jory) Schulman; and son, Michael. Malinow and Silverman

Doris Olden died Dec. 7 at 98. She is survived by her daughter, Elinor Caplan; son, Alvin (Marian); three grandchildren; and two great-grandsons. Malinow and Silverman


Abraham Balaban died Nov. 23 at 85. He is survived by his sons, Gary, and Jeffrey. Hillside

Dr. Leonard Breslaw died Nov. 1 at 83. He is survived by his wife, Elayne; daughters, Donna (Brian) Jones, Amy Louise Goldberg, Robin (Scott) Weisbond, Iris (Gary) Spiegel; nine grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Dr. Joel Lawrence Herskowitz died 22 Cheshvan (Nov. 3) at 71. He is survived by his wife, Carol; sons, Jeffery (Sherry) and Dr. Marc; grandson, Jackson; and sister, Edith (David) Goldstein. Groman

Selma Tracer Goldman died Nov. 23 at 87. She is survived by her sons, Ken and Gerry; daughters-in-law, Sue and Vera; grandchildren, Stephanie, Jason, Heather, Michael, Brian; and sister, Charlotte Goroff. Mount Sinai

Bernice Gordon died Nov. 22 at 86. She is survived by her husband, Arnold; sons, Bob (Chris) and Harvey (Jeanne); daughter, Yocheved (Chuck) Novack; 13 grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and sister, Helen Bergtrom. Mount Sinai

Carol Jaffe died Nov. 23 at 69. She is survived by her husband, Jack; son, Jack; daughter, Dara (Jeff) Tillotson; and sister, Connie (Bernie) Schneider. Mount Sinai

Arthur Klapper died Nov. 22 at 87. He is survived by his wife, Betty; daughter, Zina; and son, Doug. Hillside

Nettie Mislove died Nov. 23 at 94. She is survived by her sons, Michael and Steven; and daughters, Linda Donnelly and Eileen. Hillside

Edward Mohilef died Nov. 23 at 55. He is survived by his life partner, James Cramer; brothers, David (Monica) and Paul (Diane); nieces; great-nephew; and great-nieces. Hillside

Shirley Shuman died Nov. 22 at 85. She is survived by her son, Charles (Deborah); three grandchildren; brother, Sidney (Carole) Meltzner; and sister, Rena Goodman. Mount Sinai

Eva Ruth Steinberg died Nov. 24 at 86. She is survived by her son, Hal; daughters Harriet Moncrief and Marilyn Manset; 10 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. Groman

Jerome Lester Tannenbaum died Nov. 22 at 87. He is survived by his wife, Beverly; daughters, Leslie (Mark) Van Houten and Julie (Gary) Lobel; sons, Steven (Beth) and David (Russ); seven grandchildren; sister, Toby (Fred) Meyer. Malinow and Silverman

The Journal remembers some of the men and women from our larger Jewish family whom we lost in 2007. Although they are gone, their legacies will continue through their movies, television shows, plays, music, books and good works.Joey Bishop, last surviving member of the Rat Pack, died Oct. 17 at 89.

Art Buchwald, humorist and columnist, died Jan. 17 at 81.

Abe Coleman, professional wrestler during the Great Depression era, died March 28 at 101.

Hal Fishman, KTLA Prime News anchor since 1975, died Aug. 7 at 75.

Edwin “Ed” S. Friendly Jr., creator of “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” and “Little House on the Prairie,” died June 17 at 85.

David Halberstam, 73, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, died April 23 at 73

Joe Herzenberg, first openly gay elected official in North Carolina, died Oct. 28 at 66.

Teddy Kollek, mayor of Jerusalem (1965–1993), died Jan 2 at 95.

Arthur Kornberg, recipient of the 1959 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, died Oct. 26 at 89.

Ira Levin, author (“Rosemary’s Baby,” “The Stepford Wives”) and playwright (“Deathtrap”), died Nov. 12 at 78.

Itzik Kol, Oscar-nominated Israeli film producer (“The Policeman”), died July 8 at 75.

Liviu Librescu, professor of engineering at Virginia Tech who was killed saving his students’ lives, died April 16 at 76..

Norman Mailer, 84, Pulitzer Prize–winning author (“The Naked and the Dead,” “The Executioner’s Song”), died Nov. 10 at 84.

Marcel Marceau, French mime artist, died Sept. 22 at 84.

Judy Mazel, cookbook author (“The Beverly Hills Diet”), died Oct. 12 at 63.

Grace Paley, short story writer (“The Little Disturbances of Man”), poet and political activist, died Aug. 22 at 84.

Stuart Rosenberg, “Cool Hand Luke” director, died March 5 at 79.

Avraham Shapira, Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel (1983–1993), died Sept. 27 at 93.

Melville Shavelson, film director and screenwriter (“The Princess and the Pirate”), died Aug. 8 at 90.

Sidney Sheldon, author and TV producer (“I Dream of Jeannie” and “Hart to Hart”), died Jan. 30 at 89.

Joel Siegel 63, film critic for ABC’s “Good Morning America,” died June 29 at 63.

Beverly Sills, 78, award-winning soprano and humanitarian, died July 2 at 78.

Mel Tolkin, 94, head writer for “Your Show of Shows” died Nov. 26 at 94.

Rabbi Sherwin Wine, founder of the Humanistic Judaism movement, died July 21 at 79.

Hy Zaret, lyricist and co-author of the 1955 hit, “Unchained Melody, ” died July 2 at 99.

Paulene Weinstein Ledeen, ‘Bubbe Teresa,’ died Nov. 27 at 97.

Pauline Weinstein Ledeen, retired attorney, community activist and life-long member of Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park and Eagle Rock, died Nov. 27, 2007, from congestive heart failure brought on by pneumonia. She was 97.

Ledeen was active in the synagogue her entire life, serving on the board until her death. She attended Shabbat services regularly, except when she was ill or out of town, and had her own designated seat with special back support.

“She was the soul of the congregation,” according to Temple Beth Israel president Bill Fishman.

Ledeen presented what Fishman believes is her first drash ever in August 2006, at age 96.

“As a little girl I was not allowed to have a bat mitzvah,” she told the congregation before expounding on the Ten Commandments in Parshat Va’etchanan.

Ledeen, who was born on July 28. 1910, in Boston and moved to Highland Park at age 12, graduated from Southwestern University School of Law in 1933. She first worked as a legal secretary and then opened her own office in El Monte, where she specialized in contract law and estate planning. Later she joined the family business, Ledeen, Inc., an engineering firm. She is the first life member of the Criminal Courts Bar Association.

Retiring after 39 years in the legal field, she began a career visiting incarcerated Jewish prisoners, offering comfort, contacting their families and bringing Passover dinners. This work, which earned her the nickname, “Bubbe Teresa,” was an outgrowth of her involvement with the Jewish Committee for Personal Service (JCPS). She explained her work to family members by saying, “They’re just people who made mistakes.”

H.O.P.E. for the bereaved, even years later

Four years after Shirley T.’s husband died, the anniversary of his death was more painful than she could have anticipated. She spent the day before cooking the foods he loved and somehow navigated emotionally through the anniversary itself.

The following Thursday evening, she was quick to share that experience with other members of her grief support group.

“Thank God for this group and these friends,” she said, referring to the H.O.P.E. Unit Foundation for Bereavement Loss and Transition, the oldest and largest grief support organization in the Los Angeles area.

For people like Shirley T., whose spouses have been deceased for two or more years, the gut-wrenching grief has mostly dissipated. But an anniversary or holiday, or the death of an elderly parent or relative, can often blindside them, triggering familiar feelings of loneliness and sadness.

What Shirley T. has found comforting, as have other widows and widowers who have participated in the H.O.P.E. Unit Foundation’s weekly grief support groups for two or more years, is to continue meeting monthly as an alumni group, convening at Valley Beth Shalom or Wilshire Boulevard Temple’s Irmas Campus.

“Grief shows up when it shows up,” said Dr. Jo Christner, a licensed clinical psychologist who facilitates the Valley Beth Shalom alumni group of 18 people in their late 50s to late 80s.

Christner explained that many people need more time to rebuild their lives in a caring and comfortable environment, especially as well-meaning friends and family members suggest that they need to “get over” their spouse’s death.

As Marie K. told the group about the “little crying spells” she has even five years after her husband’s death, “It’s not just the person who you loved who is gone but your whole life.”

H.O.P.E. Unit Foundation (which stands for “hope, opportunity, participation and education”) was founded in 1970 originally as a nonprofit cancer support group for patients and their families. Now it is primarily a grief support organization for widows and widowers and other family members.

For those in the first two years of mourning, groups meet weekly at Valley Beth Shalom on Thursday evenings and at Wilshire Boulevard Temple’s Irmas Campus on Tuesday evenings. Alumni groups meet monthly at both locations. H.O.P.E. also sponsors parent loss groups.

Although H.O.P.E. is nondenominational, approximately 90 percent of the participants are Jewish, representing 23 different synagogues in the Los Angeles area. They come from as far away as San Gabriel Valley and Orange County.

The foundation helps people whose lives were shattered by the death of a spouse to regroup and rebuild, according to Dr. Marilyn Stolzman, H.O.P.E.’s executive director and co-author, along with Gloria Lintermans, of “The Healing Power of Grief” and “The Healing Power of Love” (published by Sourcebooks, Inc.).

“Our goal is to help people come back to life and heal,” Stolzman said.

She added that while she and other therapists previously thought that two years in a bereavement group was sufficient, they are finding that many people need more time not to grieve but to transition back into the community in their new role.

What makes H.O.P.E. unique, according to Stolzman, is that licensed therapists with additional training in bereavement issues facilitate the groups.

Plus, the groups of 10 to 15 people are organized according to months of mourning, enabling the participants to experience similar concerns as they move unevenly through Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ five stages of mourning: shock, denial, anger, depression and acceptance.

For this last stage of acceptance, however, Stolzman substitutes the words adjustment, transition and integration. “I think those words more aptly describe what people go through,” she said.

And it’s the work of this final stage that is done in the alumni group as they move into what for them is the “new normal.”

After 24 months of grieving, the issues change. While the participants in the alumni group continue to process the memories and sadness triggered by anniversaries and holidays, more often the discussions focus on such issues as adult children, health, elderly parents, traveling and, yes, dating and sexuality.

“It’s connection. It’s a place to process ongoing life problems,” alumni group therapist Christner said.

Part of the growing now includes mentoring the newcomers, a new program that came out of the participants’ desire to give back to others by welcoming the newly widowed and encouraging them by sharing their experiences. The alumni are in the process of preparing a booklet, titled, “We Have Walked in Your Shoes,” which describes their own pain, as well as how the group bereavement experience helped mitigate it and move them forward.

The group participants almost invariably become close friends, going to dinner on a weekly basis, socializing on the weekends, attending religious services together and calling each other, sometimes when they’re crying hysterically at 2 a.m. They also understand one another in ways their family and couple friends can’t.

Geri M., who joined H.O.P.E. in October 2003, several weeks after her husband’s death, views the group as a crucial part of her new life.

“For me, the most important thing was making single friends. Before, all our friends were married couples and I felt very sad,” she said. Geri plans to remain in the alumni group and is working as one of the inaugural mentors.

H.O.P.E. is a nonprofit organization, funded by a suggested fee of $27 per person per session, by small grants and private donations and by occasional fundraisers. But the fees and donations don’t cover operating expenses, mostly for modest staff salaries and insurance. And while Stolzman would like to maintain the current level of service, she admits that “this has been the worst year ever” in terms of contributions, which she attributes to the sagging economy.

“It’s a great mitzvah for the Jewish community to be able to provide this,” said Valley Beth Shalom’s Rabbi Ed Feinstein, who refers many people to H.O.P.E. He added that after the death of a spouse, especially if you’ve been married a long time, “You don’t know who you are in the world anymore or where you belong.”

This was certainly true for Shirley T., who contemplated suicide after her husband died. She recently marked the fourth anniversary of his death and credits H.O.P.E. with literally saving her life.

“I don’t think I would be alive if it weren’t for this group,” she said.

For more information or to make a donation, call (818) 788-4673.


Dorothy Shaffer Schatz, Established Shelters to Help Survivors of Domestic Violence

Dorothy Shaffer Schatz, noted Jewish community leader, died Nov. 15 in Los Angeles. Born and raised in Chicago, she moved to Los Angeles in 1947, where she met her husband, Mickey.

She worked as an executive secretary/office manager for 44 years at International Hospital Supply. Active in the Family Violence Project of Jewish Family Service since 1987, Dorothy was instrumental in establishing the Hope Cottage and Tamar House shelters for domestic violence survivors.

A lifetime member of Valley Beth Israel synagogue, Dorothy served on the sisterhood and temple boards for more than 20 years, and was recognized as one of the leading fundraisers for the annual Israel Bond Appeal.

Dorothy was also an active member of the Pacific Southwest Branch of the Women’s’ League of Conservative Judaism, where she served on the board for 20 years. As chair of the Mitzvah Program for four years, she helped coordinate the Sunday meals for Jewish AIDS patients through Project Chicken Soup.

She is survived by her daughters, Ilana (David Lingren) and Marcy (Dwayne Ciurleo); grandson, Michael Ciurleo; and sister, Lila Shaffer Weinberg.

Donations in her memory can be made to Family Violence Project of Jewish Family Service, Valley Beth Israel or Project Chicken Soup.

Francis Sarko Adler died Oct. 17 at 83. She is survived by her son, Alan; daughters, Gayle Faso and Andrea; and four grandchildren. Groman

Lillian Rosenbaum Axelrod died Nov.11 at 100. She is survived by her sons, Sheldon and Jerry; daughter, Sharlene (Edward) Balter; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Sholom Chapels

Mildred Berger died Oct. 18 at 84. She is survived by her sons, Ronald and Jeffery. Groman

Goldie Benjamin died Nov. 7 at 89. She is survived by her sons, Bruce and Jeff; daughter-in-laws, Patti and Laura; grandchildren, Brian and David; sister, Sarah; nephews; nieces; grandnephews; grandnieces; and friends. Hillside

Linda Cheryl Birnbaum died Oct. 13 at 56. She is survived by her sons; Kevin, Jeffrey and Eric; parents, Rae and Eliot Kontoff; one grandchild; brother, Rob Kontoff; and sister, Michelle Rindler. Groman

Sallie Block died Nov. 8 at 97. She is survived by her daughters, Ronnie (Jack) Bruker and Gail (Andy) Pacifici Mathes, four grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. Chevra Kadisha

Linda Bloom died Nov. 11 at 64. She is survived by her husband, Ben; sons Larry (Dana) and Daniel (Melodie); four grandchildren; and brother, David Stoll. Hillside

Mildred Bloom died Oct. 18 at 96. She is survived by her son, Harold Juster; sister, Ruth Kaplan; four grandchildren; and eight great -grandchildren. Groman

June Blumenstock died Nov. 11 at 86. She is survived by her son, Ed (Marilyn); daughter, Karen (Marshall); and grandchildren, Tiffany and Risa. Hillside

Betty Klein Bohr died Nov. 9 at 84. She is survived by her husband, Benjamin; sister, Gertrude (Irvin) Kipper; two great-nephews; and two great-nieces. Malinow and Silverman

James Dreyfus Bronner died Nov. 10 at 99. He is survived by his son, Philip; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Groman

Sol Crespin died Oct. 14 at 76. He is survived by his wife, Ruth; son, Robert; daughters, Mandy Green and Debra; and four grandchildren. Groman

Albert Cohen died Nov. 8 at 92. He is survived by his daughter, Sandy (Marty) Baren. Malinow and Silverman

Helen Davis died Oct. 12 at 88. She is survived by her daughter, Rae Dammer. Groman

Myron Erdmann died Nov. 9 at 86. He is survived by his wife, Edythe; daughter, Lori Clement; son, Ira; two grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

David Erlich died March 1 at 83. He is survived by his sons, Victor, Harvey and Greg; daughter, Nan (Marc) Smith; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Home of Peace

Roslyn Foier died Oct. 21 at 80. She is survived by her daughter, Laurie Allen; one grandchild; brother, Albert Cooper; and sister, Grace Danaher. Groman

Marsha Friedman died Nov. 8 at 67. She is survived by her husband, Arnold. Malinow and Silverman

Arnold Goldstein died Oct. 7 at 68. He is survived by his friends. Groman

Bud Allen Grossberg died Oct. 14 at 74. He is survived by his wife, Phyllis; sons, Scott, Steven and David; daughter, Sherri Williams; and two grandchildren. Groman

Irving Gutstein died Oct. 20 at 94. He is survived by his son, Martin Goodwin; daughter, Janice Roth; seven grandchildren; seven great- grandchildren; and sisters, Goldene Strauss and Estelle Goldberg. Groman

Faye Kay died Nov. 9 at 88. She is survived by husband, Jack; sons, Michael (Ellen) and Allen; grandson, David Thomas; and brother, Rabbi Paul Dubin. Mount Sinai

Susan Elaine Klein died Sept. 29 at 51. She is survived by her daughter, Ava; and brother, Bruce. Groman

Sara Koenka died Nov. 10 at 77. She is survived by her sons, Joseph (Elena) and Albert; five grandchildren; and sister, Alexandra Haritopoulos. Mount Sinai

Samuella Guttman Koslow died Nov. 8 at 82. She is survived by her sons, Ronald, Robert, and Kenneth; daughter, Judith Zweig; four grandchildren; and sister, Roberta Lederer. Hillside

Dr. Peter David Landres died Nov. 10 at 77. He is survived by his wife, Renata; son, Shawn (Zuzana Reimer); nephew, Marc (Monica Oldmen) great-nieces, Phoebe and Isabel; and cousins. Hillside

Lenore Alexyne Levinson died Nov. 9 at 96. She is survived by her daughter, Devora Patterson; and son, Sanford. Malinow and Silverman

Seymour Mestman died Nov. 10 at 81. He is survived by his brother, Victor Avers. Malinow and Silverman

Lilian Moskowitz died Nov. 5 at 92. She is survived by her children, Susan (Alan) Raphael and Harvey (Linda); five grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. Groman

Faye Newman died Nov. 9 at 92. She is survived by her daughters, Sandra, and Alice (Elliott) Levin; sister, Belle (Jack) Gilder; and one granddaughter. Malinow and Silverman

Renee Paper died Nov. 8 at 49. She is survived by her father, Harry (Norma Smith). Mount Sinai


Francis Sarko Adler died Oct. 17 at 83. She is survived by her son, Alan; daughters, Gayle Faso and Andrea; and four grandchildren. Groman

Gilana Alpert died Nov. 3 at 26. She is survived by her parents, Rabbi Alan and Anna; sister, Aleza; and brother, David. Mount Sinai

Mildred Berger died Oct. 18 at 84. She is survived by her sons, Ronald and Jeffery. Groman

Linda Cheryl Birnbaum died Oct. 13 at 56. She is survived by her sons; Kevin, Jeffrey and Eric; parents, Rae and Eliot Kontoff; brother, Rob Kontoff; sister, Michelle Rindler; and one grandchild. Groman

Mildred Bloom died Oct. 18 at 96. She is survived by her son, Harold Juster; four grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; and sister, Ruth Kaplan. Groman

Sonya Sybil Cohen died Nov. 7 at 69. She is survived by her daughters, Laura and Mindie; and son, David. Malinow and Silverman

Laura Elayne Cowan died Nov. 6 at 46. She is survived by her husband, Robin; children, Alex and Adam; parents John Leritz and Pamela Sorapure; and siblings John (Michelle), Amy (Patrick) and William. Hillside

Sol Crespin died Oct. 14 at 76. He is survived by his wife, Ruth; son, Robert; daughters, Mandy Green and Debra; and four grandchildren. Groman

Helen Davis died Oct. 12 at 88. She is survived by her daughter, Rae Dammer. Groman

Myrom Dushkin died Nov. 7 at 90. He is survived by his wife, Betty; son, Mark; and daughter, Nancy. Groman

Diane Epstein died Nov. 4 at 83. She is survived by her sons, Albert, and Reuben (Jody); three grandchildren; and sisters, Ida Akman, Dorothy Marvin, Ruth Ellen and Lola Mendelson; brother, Herbert Vool Malinow and Silverman

Abram Eskin died Nov. 5 at 88. He is survived by his daughter, Bronislava Cherches. Chevra Kadisha

Gertrude Fein died Nov. 4 at 86. She is survived by her son, David; daughter, Bettyann Sherrell; two grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. Groman

Aline Fink died Nov. 5 at 80. She is survived by her daughters, Debra (Andrew) Perkins and Cathy (Marcy Marxer); sister, Samita (Howard) Jacobs; and grandson. Malinow and Silverman

Bernice Fitch died Oct. 30 She is survived by her husband, Irving; brother, jack; nephew, Stephan; and niece, Karla.

Roslyn Foier died Oct. 21 at 80. She is survived by her daughter, Laurie Allen; grandchild; brother, Albert Cooper; and sister, Grace Danaher. Groman

Sonya Gelfand died Oct. 30 at 95. She is survived by her daughters, Rita Rosenbaum and Judy Sherman; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Groman

Arnold Goldstein died Oct. 7 at 68. He is survived by his friends. Groman

Bud Allen Grossberg died Oct. 14 at 74. He is survived by his wife, Phyllis; sons, Scott, Steven and David; daughter, Sherri Williams; and two grandchildren. Groman

Irving Gutstein died Oct. 20 at 94. He is survived by his son, Martin Goodwin; daughter, Janice Roth; seven grandchildren; seven great- grandchildren; and sisters, Goldene Strauss and Estelle Goldberg. Groman

Sander Herzfeld died Sept. 15 at 73. He is survived by his friends. Sholom Chapels

Bernard Kaufman died Nov. 4. He is survived by nieces; nephews; and extended family members. Hillside

Susan Elaine Klein died Sept. 29 at 51. She is survived by her daughter, Ava; and brother, Bruce. Groman

Helen Kornhauser died Nov. 4 at 87. She is survived by her son, William. Malinow and Silverman

Betty Krohn died Nov. 2 at 97. She is survived by her daughter, Evelyn (Lawrence) Cohen; stepchildren, Rae Beckson and Gene; seven grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. Hillside

Dr. D. Arnold Loel died Nov. 2 at 71. He is survived by his former wife, Gail; daughter, Brandi (Luke) Stern; sons, Grant (Michelle) and Ross; grandchildren, Brooklyn and Dax; and cousin, Ray Asher. Mount Sinai

Daniel Meyerowitz died Nov. 5 at 87. He is survived by his sons, Allan and Bradley (Sandy); daughters, Fran Layton and Diane (Barry) Buner; and seven grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Leonard Montag died Nov. 1 at 94. He is survived by his wife, Ann Kugler; sons, Kenneth and Warren; daughters, Martha Kugler Brown and Alison Woods; nine grandchildren; and brother, Martin. Hillside

Mitchell Porter died Oct. 17 at 54. He is survived by his son, Jesse; daughters, Jennine and Jillian; three grandchildren; and brother, Cary. Groman

Frances Rabinowitz died Nov. 7 at 97. She is survived by her friends. Mount Sinai

Douglas Rosenthal died Nov. 5 at 34. He is survived by his parents, Harris and Joan; sister, Debra (Dave) Shackelford; brother, Dave (Heidi); two nephews; uncles and aunt, Burt (Emily) Silver and Michael; cousins; and good friend, Robert Martin. Mount Sinai

George Saldin died Oct. 20 at 77. He is survived by his wife, Patricia; sons, Rick and Randall; daughter, Tracie Garfinkle; and three grandchildren. Groman

Lillian Saltz died Oct. 11 at 95. She is survived by her sons, Harvey, Phillip and Irwin; daughter, Thelma; nine grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. Groman

Natan Saltzman died Nov. 6 at 89. He is survived by his wife, Sara; daughter, Pnina (Moshe) Sharf; and sons, Samuel (Diane) and Joshua (Sofia). Hillside

Rosalind Cecile Scherer died Nov. 7 at 61. She is survived by her husband, Ronald; and son, Robert. Malinow and Silverman

Edward Shutman died Nov. 7 at 83. He is survived by his wife, Natalie; sons, Gerald (Feodossia) and Bernard (Joan); daughter, Laura Filatoff; six grandchildren; and caregiver, Francis. Mount Sinai

Tillie Somers died Nov. 2 at 94. She is survived by her brother-in-law, Julius Shanker; and three nieces. Mount Sinai

Florence Tobor died Nov. 6 at 80. She is survived by her daughters, Cheryl (Bryan) Gagnon and Judy; five grandchildren; sisters, Marlene Stern and Mitzi (Jack) Wilkin; and brothers, Fred (Susan) and Bob (Lisa) Selan. Mount Sinai

Gerald Turkus died Oct. 20 at 81. He is survived by his wife, Sandra; daughter, Robyn; five grandchildren; and sister, Florence Freiberger. Groman

Manuel Udko died Nov. 6 at 92. He is survived by his son, Richard (Billie); daughter, Terri (David) Blumgarden; and four grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Transcendence — a true story for Yom Kippur

Phil and Laura both look a lot like their mom, in different ways,” remarks Abby Leibman, Philip and Laura Donney’s legal guardian.

Abby was trying to explain that for her, Phil and Laura evoke the presence of her twin sister, Nina Leibman, who 11 years ago was murdered by her husband, the pair’s father.

But Philip, 19, and Laura, 16, can’t resist the perfect set-up for one of their frequent humorous jousts.

“Yeah, I have her legs,” boasts Phil, unfolding from under him a long, tanned leg, bony all the way to the barefoot end.

“Excuse me, I do,” Laura responds theatrically, pointing her toes and modeling her leg above the couch, her short shorts showing off long appendages that haven’t quite yet reached the proportions of her mother, who was a leggy 5-foot-7.

What is striking is that Phil and Laura are able to tenderly joke about the mother they so tragically lost. That rather than becoming a sacred and somber memory, not to be mentioned except in hushed tones, their mother remains a natural and everyday part of their lives.

The atmosphere of openness that Abby has established for her family is one of several elements that have allowed Phil and Laura to become, by all indications, not just well-adjusted and happy kids, but in many ways exceptional — socially, academically, artistically — despite a past that could have understandably lead them to dysfunction.

Phil was 7 and Laura 4 when their father, Ken Donney, stabbed their mother more than 20 times while the children were in bed down the hall. Phil heard his mother’s screams and saw his father covered in blood, holding a knife. Laura has vague memory snapshots from that night. Their father is now in prison, serving a sentence of 16 years to life.

The family was dealt another heavy blow less than four years ago, when Marjorie, Abby’s younger sister, who Phil describes as sort of the noncustodial parent, died of malignant melanoma.

And yet, despite this extraordinary load of loss and trauma, it takes only a few minutes to be pulled in by Phil and Laura’s charisma and candor, and by Abby’s astute forthrightness. Phil was voted class clown and prom king when he graduated from Hamilton High School in 2006. Laura, an exceptional student with an interest in drama, like her mother, draws people into her warmth.

Both kids immediately impress as articulate, genuine, fun and mature, sharing a huge store of gratitude where one might expect to find bitterness.

Three Sisters
Abby, left, says the two people she was closest to were her sisters Nina, center, and Marjorie, right

How is that possible?

What is it that allowed this family to stay whole and renew the life in themselves when fate, or God, or a violent man, dealt them unimaginable grief? In this season of renewal and introspection, of fate and faith, what can others facing obstacles of any degree learn from this family’s remarkable ability to transcend the unthinkable?

Abby, Phil and Laura don’t claim to have all the answers, but they know what worked for them — what is still working for them. From the beginning, Abby made sure their family would remain communicative with each other and with others, so that no topic is taboo. She set a precedent of drawing on all the resources available to them — psychological help, strong friendships, communal support. And each of the three seem to have an inner strength and a positive outlook that those resources and openness have helped keep alive.

“I just always felt like I was really appreciative of everything,” says Phil, draped over a comfy chair in the den of their Beverly Center home, where family photos, many with his mother and Aunt Marjorie, smile from shelves and walls. “This might sound corny, but after losing so much and having everything change and everything in my life just completely fall away, I grew this appreciation of everything else that I have…. I think when you give those feelings off, those feelings are returned to you.”

With sun-bleached curls falling in long ringlets around his sharply defined face, he looks and talks every bit the California guy, easy and relaxed, looking forward to an evening out with old friends before he returns as a sophomore to UC Santa Barbara — his mother’s alma mater.

What he doesn’t possess is the mumbling nonchalance of his cohorts.

“By no means am I glad that all this stuff happened to me in my past, but if I hadn’t moved to L.A., I wouldn’t be living in the best neighborhood, I wouldn’t have the best friends in the world, I couldn’t have gone to the best high school in the world,” Phil says. “A lot of me misses what is gone … but I love my life. I really do.”

‘I Don’t Want to Die’

Phil’s sentiments are words Abby thought she might never hear when she brought Phil and Laura from their brick home in Santa Cruz to her two-bedroom Wilshire District condo two days after her fraternal twin was murdered.

“I remember saying to Phil’s therapist, right in the beginning, ‘I just want them to have a happy, normal childhood.’ And she looked at them and she said, ‘It’s too late for that.’ And I said ‘Oh my God.’ It was just a breathtaking moment for me,” says Abby, who is a consultant focusing on leadership and organizational development, particularly with regard to discrimination issues.

The day after her sister died, Abby took temporary custody of the kids, and later permanent guardianship. Nina Leibman had been an up-and-coming professor of communications who taught at UC Santa Cruz and at Santa Clara University; her specialty was how female characters were depicted in the early days of television. She had published a book on the drama that underlies the happy veneer of sitcom families, and was finally ready to get out of the harsh reality of her own family.

Ken graduated from UCLA Law School and worked as a prosecutor at the Federal Trade Commission. But for most of their 10-year marriage, he bounced around between jobs and writing a novel, before he ended up in an administrative position at the University of Santa Clara Law School.

Farewell, my beloved Mom

My mother’s body laid lifeless in front of me, wrapped thickly in a sheet and resting on a table in plain view. Her head and her feet were nearly indistinguishable.

I approached the rabbi to perform the traditional keriah, the ritual tearing of a mourner’s garment. He cut a small piece of my shirt with a blade and instructed me to rip it further. The sound was jarring, and it echoed throughout the crowded chapel at Eretz Hachayim, a cemetery just outside of Jerusalem.

Choking back tears, I approached the lectern to deliver my eulogy, one of several that day. After the eulogies, we said the Kaddish prayer and my Mom’s body was lifted by the men of the chevrah kadisha, or burial society, and carried in a somber, solemn procession to the gravesite she selected several years ago.

It was a mere 13 hours after she died at Hadassah Hospital following a three-week coma.
In Israel, burials happen quickly. They are stark, intimate, raw affairs. There is no casket, no hearse, no funeral-goers in fancy outfits; rather, everyone desses simply. The sheet-wrapped body of the deceased is within sight of everyone, and at the conclusion of the service it descends straight into the earth with no protective casing.

Just three weeks earlier, a call came in the middle of the night that my ailing 91-year-old mother had a seizure and fell into a coma. I took the first flight out from Los Angeles and was at her bedside every day throughout her coma, along with my three siblings who live in Israel.

Mom lived in Israel for 12 years, moving there at 79 after my father, Rabbi Benjamin Groner, had died. For Rebbetzin Frances Groner, living in Israel was a lifelong dream come true. She thrived and flourished in the Holy Land, making new friends, creating a wonderful community, and volunteering and fundraising for numerous causes like Amit Women, Hadassah, Herzog Hospital, Bikur Cholim Hospital and the League of Special Children, to name a few. After more than 50 years serving alongside my father at pulpits in Chicago, Windsor, Omaha and New Orleans, she had finally come home.

I visited her often in Israel, and watched her grow older and frailer over the years. She had suffered a stroke in late 2004 and subsequently declined in health, particularly in the last few months. It was sad to watch such a formerly vibrant woman full of energy and life — a woman who thrived on doing good deeds for others, especially hosting countless guests for Shabbat and holidays — looked after by a caretaker.

Suddenly, Mom’s life was but a memory as her body was swiftly lowered into the ground and shovelfuls of earth were placed upon her. We, the mourners, said Kaddish again, then turned and walked away to begin shivah, the week of intense mourning.

Several hundred people visited during the shivah — friends and relatives, neighbors and acquaintances, even several Los Angeles friends who were visiting Israel. It felt as if the entire nation was mourning with us. Everybody knew just what to say.

In Israel, visiting a shivah house is commonplace and everyone experiences it. Large posters in big, bold type announcing a person’s death and surround a shivah house, so it’s impossible not to feel the loss.

The shivah visitors shared their poignant stories and wonderful memories of Mom. Although I knew about her many admirers and how people adored her, I didn’t know how many lives she’s touched.

“I really want to emulate your mother, her kindness and her concern for others,” said one 19-year-old fan who just began his service in the Israel Defense Forces.

The shivah experience was draining at times, exhausting on occasion, but also invigorating — it was, essentially, a celebration of Mom’s life. Then suddenly, when the shivah ended, we were all thrown back into the real world. Of course, life will be rather atypical this year, as I’ll be saying Kaddish during morning, afternoon and evening services at synagogue every day in memory of Mom.

After returning from five weeks in Israel, I’m grateful for many things, including the caring, professional Hadassah Hospital staff and fellow hospital visitors — Jews, Arab and Christians — whom I befriended. We shared similar fears and concerns about ill family members, and we supported one another. I’m thankful for all the chessed, or lovingkindness, bestowed upon us by volunteers who provided complimentary daily and Shabbat meals.

I’m also indebted to many caring friends, acquaintances as well as my fellow congregants at Young Israel of Century City and Rabbi Elazar Muskin, all of whom supported me during this crisis. They shared their concern and offered much-needed hope and sustenance during some very bleak days. Every e-mail and call I received lifted my spirits and consoled me in the midst of much difficulty and pain.

Finally, I’m grateful to the Almighty for having given me such a remarkable mother who, by example, taught her many offspring about the beauty of Judaism, how to lead meaningful lives and how important it is to do chesed for others. May her memory be a blessing.

Lewis Groner is director of marketing and communications at the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles. He can be reached at


Genelle Altman died Feb. 21 at 84. She is survived by her son, Jeff. Malinow and Silverman

Ben Berk died Feb. 21 at 99. He is survived by his daughters, Harriet (Arthur) Kohn and Marlene Safer; five grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Eugene Merrill Brown died Feb. 20 at 77. He is survived by his wife, Andrea Harris-Brown; sons, Brian (Yumiko) and Lance (Masako); and four grandchildren.Leana Kate Burkardt died Feb. 8 at 16. She is survived by her parents, Randy and Juergen; brother, Harrison; and grandmother, Ruthe Hirschfeld. Groman

Jay Barry Edelman died Feb. 20 at 54. He is survived by his father, Norman. Malinow and Silverman

David Flushman died Feb. 19 at 91. He is survived by his children, Bruce (Bette), Nancy (Bob) Eagleton and Phyllis (Ira) Klein; nine grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. Hillside

Marilyn Jussim died Feb. 20 at 71. She is survived by her husband, Jared; sons, Noah (Andrea) and Roderick (Tova); grandchildren, Eva and Solomon; stepmother, Hilda Blumberg; and cousin, Barbara Haar. Mount Sinai

Murray Kimmel died Feb. 21 at 88. He is survived by his wife, Gloria; and sons, David (Dina) and Joshua. Malinow and Silverman

Karen Anne La Casse died Feb. 18 at 52. She is survived by her husband, Bryan; sons, Adam and Michael; daughters, Tina Gonzalez, and Nicki Volkmar; six grandchildren; parents, Eliot and Rae Kontoff; sisters, Linda Birnbaum and Michelle Rindler; brother, Rob Kontoff. Groman

Henry Solomon Lager died Feb. 17 at 85. He is survived by his wife, S. Bernice; daughter, Eve (Joe) Schleich; sister, Thelma Heubsch; and three granddaughters. Malinow and Silverman

Arnold Laykoff died Feb. 11 at 79. He is survived by his wife, Celia; son, Richard; and two grandchildren. Groman

William Lerner died Feb. 17 at 83. He is survived by his wife, Florence; son, Jeffrey; daughter, Linda Oppenheim; sister, Doris Leibers; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Groman

Evelyn Henrietta Mayer died Feb. 18 at 89. She is survived by her son, Joel; six grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and sister, Sylvia Setless. Groman

Victoria Moin-Amini died Feb. 16 at 85. She is survived by her sons, Sambiz (Vicky) and Kambiz (Jacqline); daughters, Shirin (Bijan) Kohan, Rana (Youseph) Sakhai, Mina (Shahim) Elihu and Ziba (Parviz) Amini; and 18 grandchildren. Groman

Jeanette Rosen died Feb. 21 at 90. She is survived by her son,Philip; daughter, Wilma Maxine Linsk; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Groman

Marshall Siff died Feb. 11 at 86. He is survived by his wife, Helen; son, Matthew; daughters, Susan Caldwell, Karen Ehrenberg, Victoria Russell and Jeny; and six grandchildren. Groman

Rose Sino died Feb. 13 at 89 She is survived by her son, David Swartz; and two grandchildren. Groman

Sylvia Slade died Feb. 20 at 87. She is survived by her son, David; daughters, Gayle Chamberlain and Shelly; and seven grandchildren. Groman

Madeleine Thompson died Feb. 21 at 65. She is survived by her husband, James; daughters, Victoria Ginsburg, Debbie (Robert) Miles and Jacqueline Godfrey; and five grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Hymen (Michael) Winn died Feb. 21 at 85. He is survived by his wife, Margaret; children, Shana (Marshall) Mintz, Sheree (Michael) Marx and Ross (Betty); stepchildren, Tony and JoAnna (Doug Levin) Price; nine grandchildren; and sister, Doris Cheston. Hillside

The Jewish Journal publishes obituary notices free of charge.Please send an e-mail in the above format with the name, age and survivors of the deceased or fax it to (213) 368-1684 — Attn: Obituaries.Deadline for publication is Monday at 9 a.m. Longer notices will be edited. Thank you for your understanding.

‘Tragic Loss’ documents Israeli astronaut’s ill-fated flight

Space escapades have been filling the news of late, from the tale of a jealous NASA astronaut stalking her rival to Virgin Galactic’s 99-minute trek into space for $200,000. But it is all a far cry from the devastating turn space travel took four years ago, when the space shuttle Columbia broke apart midair over Texas just minutes from landing in Florida.

One of the astronauts on that ill-fated mission was Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli in space. His journey on Columbia is documented in heart-breaking detail in “Columbia — The Tragic Loss,” an Israel-based TH production, which will be shown at UCLA Hillel on March 14.

A true Israeli hero, Ramon was the last of the eight pilots who bombed Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981. As the last in the formation, he held the most perilous position during a mission in which up to three of the pilots were thought likely to die. He did not hesitate to take that assignment, nor did he hesitate to serve as a member of the Columbia crew.

“I’m a very cynical guy. I don’t believe in human heroes,” director Naftaly Gliksberg said in a phone interview from Israel.

Gliksberg has made documentaries about searing political topics, ranging from the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin to global anti-Semitism to an upcoming film about Israel-Iran relations in the 1990s. When the filmmaker first met Ramon in Houston before the flight, he joked to the astronaut, “You are a nonstory; you have no prostitute sister; you are from a very well-off family.”

A clean-cut, handsome mensch, Ramon lacked the stereotypical cockiness of most combat pilots. As another astronaut says in “Columbia — The Tragic Loss,” Ramon was much “more of an artist” than the other crewmembers. The 60-minute documentary, which was released in Israel in 2004, shows a serene man, whose poetic sensibilities are revealed through his diary entries, which were retrieved from the wreckage.

This is perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the story, the way that the individual scraps of charred, torn paper survived the disintegration of the space shuttle and were reconstituted like missing pieces of a puzzle. A forensic expert finds the letters kof, dalet and yod, which seem to form a word, but she later discovers missing letters that spell out the word kadima.

This diary entry refers not to Ehud Olmert’s political party, which did not even exist in 2003 at the time of the Columbia disaster, but rather to the launch of the shuttle. Ramon wrote those words on the first day in flight. He also headlined another diary entry, “Kiddush,” and we see him speak to his family from space while holding a Torah rescued from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

Like that relic from the Holocaust, the footage of Ramon fills us with melancholy. No one is massacred in this film, but there is a tremendous sense of loss, made all the more poignant because of the beauty of Ramon’s letters to his family.

At one point in the flight, which lasted about two weeks, he wrote in Hebrew of “a halo of green light emanating from the earth.” He also wrote about how the Earth appeared from space as one “borderless” sphere where we can all “try to live as one, in peace,” quoting from John Lennon’s song, “Imagine,” one of the last tunes the former Beatle wrote before he was gunned down in 1980 by Mark David Chapman.

The documentary provides lengthy criticism of NASA for mismanagement of the shuttle program and its failure to rescue the astronauts when it became evident early on that foam on the exterior of the space shuttle had eroded and become debris.

Gliksberg said that NASA “lost many points [in Israel] after the crash and after the movie” came out. “I can not see that Israeli people will support a new pilot” in space.

He added that he was “shocked” that “two or three weeks after” the tragedy, NASA had already introduced literature with the tagline, “Focus on the Future.”

“Where are they running to?” Gliksberg asked. “Hold on! Look at the past!”

As valid as is the criticism of NASA, the strongest parts of the film come from hearing Ramon’s diary entries read aloud to his family and to us. When we see the reaction of his family and when we listen to this uncommonly modest and loving man write to each of his children and his wife about his devotion to them, we cannot help but be moved.

It doesn’t matter much that the opening credits run against the backdrop of an amateurish rendering of the solar system, nor that the melodramatic score accompanying those opening credits seems recycled from any Hollywood thriller of the past few decades. What matters in the end is, as Lennon said, the power of imagination, the power to move beyond individual hatred and to see the one unifying globe before us.

Tough neighborhoods, hard times feed cycle of poverty

Briefs: Palestinians riot near Jerusalem dig; Brandeis threatened with loss of donations

Palestinians Riot Around Jerusalem

Palestinians rioted at entry points to Jerusalem to protest a ban stemming from previous riots over an Old City dig. Police banned Palestinian males under age 50 from attending Friday prayer services at mosques on the Temple Mount, and extended a ban on Raed Salah, leader of Israel’s Islamic Movement. Police arrested 15 people in scuffles in and around the city. Worshipers have rioted in recent weeks to protest a construction project near the Temple Mount.

Israeli authorities say the renovation of a staircase leading to the Temple Mount does not threaten the integrity of the site, but Salah, who has frequently concocted imaginary Jewish plots against the Temple Mount to incite his public against Israel, has led protests at the site and scuffled with police officers. Last Friday, he called for a Muslim intifada to “save” the mosque from the Jews. The Israelis “want to build their Temple while our blood is on their clothing, on their doorposts, in their food and in their water,” Salah said.

Israeli Public Security Minister Avi Dichter asked the attorney general to investigate whether Salah’s comments constitute incitement and sedition.

Brandeis Threatened With Loss of Donations

Mideast scholar Daniel Pipes called on donors to reconsider their support of Brandeis University. In an op-ed published Tuesday in the Brandeis student newspaper, The Justice, Pipes claimed that his planned appearance at the university had been put on hold pending approval from a new committee created to vet potential speakers on the Middle East.

The committee also reportedly is holding up an appearance by Norman Finkelstein, a noted critic of Israeli policy who has argued that the Jewish state exploits the Holocaust for political purposes. Evidence that pressure on the university may be intensifying came from a report Friday in the New York Jewish Week that “more than a handful” of major donors told Brandeis they would no longer contribute following a recent controversial visit by former President Carter, who discussed his book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” which is harshly critical of Israel. A Brandeis spokeswoman told the Jewish Week that she wasn’t aware of any communication from donors.

Hezbollah Seen Expanding Arsenal

Hezbollah aims to stockpile more weapons than it had before last year’s war with Israel, a top Israeli intelligence analyst said.

Brig. Gen. Yossi Baidatz, chief of research in Israel’s Military Intelligence, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in a briefing Monday that the Lebanese terrorist group was smuggling in rockets to replace the thousands it lost fighting Israel during the summer war. Once it receives new shipments from neighboring Syria, Baidatz said, Hezbollah will have a larger rocket arsenal than it did before the war.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz interjected that this should not be a gauge of the threat posed to Israel by Hezbollah. Peretz noted that Hezbollah deprived of its border positions was in far less of a position to launch attacks.

Hezbollah admitted it has resumed stockpiling arms on Lebanon’s frontier with Israel.

“We can reveal that we have arms, and of all kinds,” Hezbollah chief Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said last Friday in a speech. “We move them covertly, and Israel does not know about it.”

Nasrallah said the smuggling would continue in defiance of Israel, foreign peacekeepers and the Lebanese army, which deployed in southern Lebanon as part of the U.N.-brokered cease-fire that ended last year’s war.

“We are not a burden to the Lebanese army but rather a supporter of its mission,” Nasrallah said.

Iran Defies U.N. Demands

Iran signaled that it will not honor a demand by the United Nations to halt sensitive nuclear projects. The Foreign Ministry in Tehran announced Sunday that Iran has no intention of meeting a Feb. 21 deadline set by the U.N. Security Council for suspending uranium enrichment. Under Security Council Resolution 1737, which was passed in late December, Iran was subjected to limited international sanctions that could be expanded if it defied the 60-day deadline on uranium enrichment, a key potential process for making nuclear bombs.

While China and Russia surprised other Security Council members by backing the original resolution, it was unclear whether they would support further sanctions given their robust trade ties with Tehran and public skepticism over whether the Iranians are seeking nuclear weapons.

Feinstein Reintroduces Cluster Bomb Bill

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein cited Israeli cluster bombs left behind in Lebanon in introducing legislation to restrict the sale of the devices.

“What gives rise, in part, to my bill are recent developments in Lebanon over alleged use of cluster bombs by Israel,” Feinstein, a Jewish Democrat who is seen as strongly pro-Israel, said last week in introducing the legislation with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). Israel dropped some 4 million bomblets in southern Lebanon during last summer’s war with Hezbollah, and 1 million failed to explode, she said.

“As Lebanese children and families have returned to their homes and begin to rebuild, they have been exposed to the danger of these unexploded bomblets lying in the rubble. Twenty-two people, including six children have been killed and 133, including 47 children, injured.”

Israel said it used the weapons in areas where civilians had already fled, and says the postwar casualty rate is due to U.S.-made bombs that have a high rate of delayed explosion.

Human-rights groups have noted that Hezbollah also used cluster bombs during the war, firing them directly into Israeli cities. Feinstein and Leahy introduced similar legislation immediately following the war, but it failed.

Jerusalem Opens Alcohol-Free Bar

An alcohol-free bar opened in Jerusalem with municipal funding. Lugar opened its doors in central Jerusalem on Monday with a teetotaling format geared toward minors.

The initiative was conceived by Mayor Uri Lupolianski following growing evidence that youths in Jerusalem, including many foreigners on study visits, were increasingly abusing lax controls on alcohol consumption in public places.

Lupolianski said he hoped other cities in Israel would emulate the Lugar pilot.

Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency

New approaches in Iraq could <I>help</I> Israel

For Israel and its American supporters, the Iraq War has scrambled the Middle East in ways that are difficult to navigate.

Once people hoped that the Iraq
War would make Israel safer. The neocons, who cooked up the invasion and sold it to a president desperate for historic glory that would surpass his father’s, considered Israel’s security to be an excellent side benefit of their splendid little war.

For those who missed the first part of this seemingly endless movie, the immensely popular invasion of Iraq would spark a democratic and moderate upsurge in the Middle East. Regimes would be toppled by popular revolts, whose leaders would have Bush’s name on their lips as they called simultaneously for democracy and accommodation with Israel.

Soon the rulers of Iran and Syria would fall and would be replaced by pliant, pro-Israel regimes. Even moderate Arab governments would be rejuvenated by democratic reform from within. Peace would surely follow, for which American military intervention would receive history’s credit.

We can put aside for now the question of how people who believed this nonsense ever came to lead the greatest nation on earth — and, in fact, still run it — are apparently going to blow off both their recent electoral defeat and the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group and “double down” their bet by increasing U.S. military forces in Iraq.

But because of their strong rhetorical support for Israel, the damage done to Israel’s regional interests by the Iraq War was masked. Israel is still America’s most ardent admirer and loyalist. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert recently extolled Bush’s leadership, and Israel may be one of the few places left on earth where Bush is popular. But has the war made Israel safer?

Several outcomes have emerged from the Iraq War. One is that as long as Bush is president, the United States is politically radioactive in the Middle East. The other is that Iran, Israel’s most formidable foe in the region, has been strengthened. No longer facing a hostile Iraq and profiting from America’s unpopularity, Iran has greater freedom of action than before.

America’s allies in the region are confused and alarmed. Saudi Arabia fears that Americans may withdraw quickly from Iraq, leaving their fellow Sunnis to annihilation by the Shiites allied with Iran. The Saudis recently summoned Vice President Dick Cheney to Riyadh to hear their concerns and have suggested that they would use military means if necessary to protect the Sunnis in Iraq.

Meanwhile, someone in the Bush administration implied that the United States is considering picking the Shiites in the civil war in Iraq in order to crush the Sunni insurgency. That plan could place the United States on a collision course with all of its Arab allies in the Mideast, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.

One casualty of even speculating about picking sides is the loss of trust in the steadiness of American foreign policy. Of course, that very steadiness is what the Bush inner circle has long detested, seeing themselves as visionaries eliminating a “false stability” in the Middle East. As George Will acidly noted, at least that goal has now been achieved.

The antics of the Bush administration have motivated all sorts of experts and advisers with plans to help him gracefully exit from his Iraq fiasco. James Baker, an unpopular figure among many friends of Israel from his days as the first President Bush’s secretary of state, took charge of the salvage effort called, the Iraq Study Group. Among its recommendations were that the United States talk with Iran and Syria.

But the report also suggested that a deal on the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria could help build a better framework for peace. Pressure on Israel to make deals with Syria in order to help the United States exit Iraq may be asking a little too much.

Israel is now stuck between Iraq and a hard place; those in the administration who most uncritically support Israel don’t know what they’re doing, and those who have better ideas are more critical of Israel.

And so, we are left with what to do about Iran. The Bushies long felt that they could defeat Iran in the same rosy scenario they used with regard to Iraq. In their heady early days, they saw the Iraq War as a precursor to regime change in Iran and Syria (along with their other nemesis, North Korea).

They are dealing with Iranian exiles who tell them that we would be greeted as liberators. At the least, they are certain that an air strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would be a great and easy success.

Given the failure of this group to execute even the most basic elements of any of their policies, it is hard to have a lot of faith in that confidence. Finally, they presumably believe that Israel will deal with Iran if America can’t.

Every one of these scenarios with Iran is based on the absolute certainty of military success. No political or diplomatic concerns are raised or respected.

Yet Carl von Clausewitz provides several useful cautions. He once wrote, “No one starts a war — or rather, no one in his senses ought to do so — without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war and how he intends to conduct it.” And, “War is not a mere act of policy but a true political instrument, a continuation of political activity by other means.”

The argument for engaging our toughest enemies in the Middle East is plain to just about everybody except the Bush inner circle. They have long seen diplomacy with opponents in parent-child terms, a carrot given for good behavior and a stick for being bad. Why get dessert if you haven’t eaten your vegetables?

Political engagement and diplomacy, however, do not preclude military action as a last resort. They do assure that war will indeed be a last resort. And they offer possibilities for long-term change, such as strengthening the hand of domestic reformers.

A date for three

I’m always hearing about a surplus of widows and divorced women, but recently I realized that I have been meeting widowers.

I got a call from my photographer
who asked if he could fix me up with one of his actor clients, “Moe,” who had spotted my photo and wanted to contact me. The last time I’d seen him was several years ago, and he was married then. Now he was a widower. I spotted his picture in the photographer’s sample book and kept flipping the pages. The photographer was pleased — he thought he was making a shidduch (match) and was surprised when I told him I’ve known Moe for years.

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Moe, acting like he didn’t know me, sent me an e-mail, containing a few silly one-liners — and he asked me to call him. I told myself I have nothing to lose — if nothing else I’d get a lunch out of it. I played it straight. I wrote back and asked him to tell me about himself and what it was about my headshot that caught his eye. He responded that it was the sparkle in my eyes, and he asked for my phone number.

He called and we arranged to have lunch on a Tuesday. At lunch I saw a totally different Moe. He was a little more serious. He talked about himself, and about his late wife, which brought tears to his eyes. She had died of a brain tumor, and he was her caretaker. He has grown children from a previous marriage. And, of course, we talked about our careers and how we keep busy between auditions.

Although we are both in a good age category, neither of us gets many auditions, but we keep plugging. We parted with “let’s stay in touch.” I called him about a week later, and we had a friendly chat and left it at that.

In 2003, I got a call from a friend in Chicago telling me that a mutual friend in Maryland had died of a brain tumor. I sent her husband “Joe” a condolence card. In 2004, as I usually do, I sent a Rosh Hashanah card. Then I get a phone call from Joe. A weekly call turned into a daily call. We reminisced about the old days and caught up with the present. He was still hurting after his wife’s death (it was a 45-year happy marriage). Our phone conversations cheered him up. Joe decided he wanted to visit Los Angeles. He had been stationed at Camp Pendleton in the Marines in the 1950s and had not been here since. I had not seen him since I left Maryland 30 years ago.

When I met him at the airport he looked the same — a few wrinkles, a little gray hair. Then I noticed a shaky hand (an uncontrollable tremor), and he had problems with his dentures. The two weeks in January that he stayed in my guestroom were the rainiest in Los Angeles. In between the raindrops, I tried to show him the sites. We did see a lot of movies, and ate out.

He hated to leave: He was having a good time and it was cold and snowy back East. Joe beamed when his flight was delayed by two days. Before he left, he accepted a wedding invite in May in San Francisco and invited me to go. His unmarried adult daughter was also invited.

When they came in May he rented a car, and was planning to do some of the driving. But once was enough for him, and L.A. traffic was not his thing. His daughter was no help, so he handed me the keys and I drove the entire trip up the coast. We stopped at all the famous sites. Having lived in the Bay Area for many years, I was familiar with the area.

During one of our phone conversations we had talked about what I would do if I had lots of money — my response was to travel. Well, he asked me if I wanted to go to Israel (the rabbi from his temple was going to lead a mission at the end of June 2005) — something I wasn’t expecting. Of course, I said yes.

He paid for the entire trip including separate rooms. Jerusalem was our home base and we were kept busy from morning till night. We took lots of day trips from the Golan Heights to the Dead Sea — including what seemed like every Israeli museum. I had a wonderful time and made 30 new friends instantly. As much as we both enjoyed the trip, it felt like his late wife was with him in spirit the entire time. Bottom line: we still talk twice a week. I’ve seen Joe a few times when I’ve gone to Washington, D.C. to visit my kids.

I feel sorry for both Moe and Joe. Although they say they are healing, I don’t think either one will get over the loss of their wives. The jury is still out. And, yes, I do feel somewhat cheated — maybe the next time I meet a widower I should give him a questionnaire asking “how far along are you in the grieving process?” before I date him.

Esther W. Hersh is an actress who lives in Los Angeles.

Woman’s cathartic memoir focuses on Hobson’s Choice — mom or dad

Devyani Saltzman sat frozen over her math homework as her parents screamed at each other one evening at the Cannes Film Festival in 1992. Her mother, the Indian-born filmmaker Deepa Mehta, had come to Cannes to premiere her first feature, “Sam & Me,” about the unlikely relationship between an elderly Jew and his Indian caregiver. Devyani’s father, Canadian-Jewish producer Paul Saltzman, had joined her to celebrate.

Instead, their own relationship unraveled that evening in what was to be the last fight (and, essentially, the last day) of their marriage. When the argument subsided, they turned to 11-year-old Devyani and asked her to choose whom she wanted to live with. A few minutes later, the stunned girl left the rented French apartment, holding her father’s hand.

“With a child’s instincts, it felt only natural to choose him over my mother,” the now 26-year-old author explains in “Shooting Water: A Memoir of Second Chances, Family and Filmmaking.” “I felt safe with him, while my mother’s pain and anger sometimes scared me. The court decreed I could choose to live with whom I wished, and I spent the following eight years visiting my mother sporadically. Our time together was painful and always haunted by my choice.”

In “Shooting Water,” Saltzman says her decision, in fact, haunted every aspect of her life. She recounts feeling torn between two people and two cultures, belonging nowhere; repressing her anxieties by burying herself in her studies, only to suffer a depressive breakdown at Oxford University; quarreling with her mother, who traveled extensively to make controversial, feminist films, and reconciling on the set of Mehta’s 2006 film, “Water” (now Canada’s Oscar submission).

The book also describes Saltzman’s Ukrainian-Jewish bubbie, who became a Communist after Bolsheviks saved her from a pogrom, and how young Devyani celebrated both Passover and the Hindu New Year before her parents divorced.”Filmmaking was the common culture my parents raised me in, beyond being Jewish or Indian,” the quietly intense author said in a phone interview from her Toronto apartment.

But after the divorce, she said, her mother remained bitter that she had decided to live with her father. When Saltzman had a problem, Mehta sometimes angrily suggested that she call her father, since she had chosen him. Or she seemed inaccessible while reading scripts or chain-smoking Rothman’s cigarettes.

When Mehta asked her to work in the camera department on “Water” in 1999, Saltzman seized the opportunity.

“The three months of production would have been the most time we had spent together in eight years, and I viewed it as our second chance together,” Saltzman said. That December, the then 19-year-old Saltzman arrived on location in Benares, India, a holy city on the Ganges River, where political strife helped bring her closer to her mother.

Hindu fundamentalists in Benares were already wary of Mehta. In 1996, extremists had attacked theaters showing her film, “Fire,” about lesbian sisters-in-law trapped in oppressive, arranged marriages. They were equally suspicious that “Water” – about Hindu widows forced into poverty to atone for their spouses’ deaths – might vilify their faith.

Saltzman helped ensure accuracy by visiting such widows. As her mother prepared to shoot on cremation grounds that descended into the Ganges, Saltzman descended a staircase leading to a widows’ ashram in the cellar of a hotel. In the freezing, dust-filled room, she met elderly women who wore filthy saris and subsisted on one meager meal per day. She learned that even child-widows could be forced into such an existence (although child marriage is now illegal).

“I was shocked, but proud that my mother’s film would help expose this way of life,” Saltzman said.

Yet the production wasn’t to be — at least, in Benares. The government shut down the shoot after protesters rioted, burned her mother in effigy and telephoned with death threats. (When Saltzman once picked up the phone, a voice hissed that Mehta was a “whore” and that she had better leave town.)

The movie was put on hold for five years until Mehta received funding — and permission — to finish the project in Sri Lanka. Because of the fear of Hindu extremists in that country, the set’s location remained secret, and the director had no guarantees she would be able to finish her film.

In Sri Lanka, Saltzman cared for Mehta when she fell ill and told her mother how proud she was of her socially conscious movie. By the end of the shoot, her mother had forgiven her for the choice she had made long ago at Cannes.The experience also gave Saltzman the idea for her first book, “Shooting Water.””But I didn’t want to write just an Oprahesque, growing up, teary thing,” she said. “I tried to express myself by balancing cinema and politics with the personal journey.”

Even so, the memoir proved cathartic for both mother and daughter.”As I read her book, I alternately smile and feel perturbed,” Mehta wrote in the memoir’s afterward. “Perturbed by her pain — because as parents we let her down; smile, because her honesty and courage made this redemption possible.”

Devyani Saltzman will speak Nov. 28 at 7:30 p.m. at Temple Beth David in Temple City.

Devyani Saltzman will speak Nov. 28 at 7:30 p.m. at Temple Beth David in Temple City, as part of the Jewish Book Festival presented by the Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys. For information, call (626) 287-9994 or (626) 332-0700.

Bittersweet symphonies: the Pearls struggle to find life after Daniel’s death

Eight days after Yom Kippur, Judea and Ruth Pearl will commemorate what would have been the 43rd birthday of their son, Daniel. As on every Oct. 10 for the last five years, it will be a day of intensely personal reflection and remembrance by the couple and their daughters, Tamara and Michelle, intensifying their emotions of the other 364 days.
By contrast, the date also will be marked by public worldwide concerts celebrating the life of Daniel Pearl, an accomplished violinist, equally passionate about the classical, jazz, country and bluegrass musical idioms.
As of a week ago, the master calendar showed 166 different performances scheduled in 24 countries — from China to El Salvador and Kenya to Egypt — on and around Oct. 10. It is expected that the numbers will reach last year’s record of 300 concerts in 41 countries.
Music was Daniel Pearl’s avocation, but journalism was his profession. In pursuit of a story on Al Qaeda’s financial ties, the then-38-year-old Wall Street Journal reporter was kidnapped in early 2002 in Pakistan and beheaded by Islamic extremists.

The life and death of Daniel Pearl on HBO
It has a handsome, brilliant, fun-loving reporter, who kisses his beautiful, pregnant wife goodbye as he goes off to track down an Al Qaeda financial network in Pakistan. His nemesis is Omar Sheikh, a man not unlike Pearl in background — intelligent, well educated, but who has become a fanatical terrorist.
Sheikh lures Pearl into a trap, where kidnappers abduct The Wall Street Journal reporter and withhold news of him for almost a month, while Pearl’s parents and wife, and much of the rest of the world, hold their breath.
The Pakistani police search everywhere for Pearl, while the same country’s intelligence service apparently shields the terrorist. Finally, the kidnappers release a grisly video in which Pearl is decapitated by a sword.
No wonder four different film projects on the case have been announced, although only one is actually ready for prime time.
On Oct. 10, the day on which Pearl would have celebrated his 43rd birthday, HBO will air “The Journalist and the Jihadi: The Murder of Daniel Pearl,” a 90-minute documentary, which will be hard to beat for drama and intensity by subsequent movies.
The film was produced and directed by Ahmed A. Jamal, a Pakistani, and Ramesh Sharma, an Indian, with the full cooperation of Pearl’s wife, Marianne, and his parents, UCLA professor Judea Pearl and Ruth Pearl, both raised in Israel. It is narrated by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
What gives the film much of its emotional impact are lovely home videos of Pearl’s childhood in Encino, his passion for music, a makeshift seder conducted on a trans-Siberian railroad train, and the joyous wedding joining him to his Cuban Dutch wife.
The life of the secretive Omar Sheikh is, of necessity, less well documented, and at times the directors have to stretch quite a bit to force the two protagonists’ backgrounds into parallel lines.
There remain a number of yet unanswered questions, both in the film and in the actual investigations:

  • Did Pearl’s kidnappers sell him to an Arab gang that then murdered him?
  • What was the role of the Pakistani government?
  • Why has the death sentence, imposed on Sheikh by a Pakistani court in July 2002, never been carried out?

Until such questions are answered, the documentary serves as a riveting history of a case that has gripped the world’s attention.
“The Journalist and the Jihadi” airs at 8 p.m. on Oct. 10. It will be repeated on various dates in October on HBO and HBO2.

Check for details.
— TT

Yet the wake of this tragedy is an extraordinary story of renewal in itself. Ruth and Judea Pearl are both high-achieving professionals. He is an emeritus professor of computer science at UCLA and internationally recognized for his pioneer research on artificial intelligence. She is an electrical engineer and for years was a highly paid industry consultant. Although quieter than her more exuberant husband, in the immediate days after the tragedy, “she was the captain and ran a tight ship,” her daughter wrote.
Both parents cherish their privacy and still shudder each time an inquiring reporter thrusts a mike in their face and asks, “Well, and how did you feel when you first heard that your son had been murdered?”
But on the day before Rosh Hashanah this year, sitting in the living room of their pleasant Encino home, they agreed to talk openly about their agonizing experience and how they transformed their lives by transmuting private grief into public good.
The story begins on the morning of Jan. 23, 2002, an ordinary day when life seemed especially good for Daniel Pearl. He was a highly respected and popular foreign correspondent for a leading American daily, married to fellow journalist Marianne, and the couple were expecting their first child.
That evening, Daniel went to a restaurant in the Pakistani port city of Karachi to meet a supposed source who could provide a break for his investigative story on the financing of the Al Qaeda terrorist network.
That was the last time his family saw Daniel, except for videos released by his shadowy captors, one showing the journalist in chains with an unknown hand pointing a gun at his head.
It was the beginning of 28 days of hope and despair for the Pearl parents, and their six new houseguests from the FBI.
Repeatedly during that period, the Pearls were informed their son was dead and his body had been found, and each time the report turned out to be wrong.
Throughout the ordeal, Daniel’s colleagues and editors at The Wall Street Journal were in touch with the parents, lending moral support and advice. One of the editors’ main concerns was that other media might leak the fact that both parents come from an Israeli background, thus increasing the threat to Daniel’s life.
Judea was born in suburban Tel Aviv in the fervently Orthodox enclave of B’nai Brak, co-founded by his grandfather, and he had served in the Israeli army.
Ruth was born in Baghdad, when one-quarter of the Iraqi capital’s population was Jewish, and emigrated with her parents to Israel in 1951. She and Judea met as college students at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.
In a rare display of professional solidarity in the competitive media, no one raised the Israeli angle until after Daniel’s death.
During the torturous waiting period, Barney Calame, a Wall Street Journal editor, phoned the Pearls daily with a situation report. “He was a slow, deliberate speaker and each time our hearts kept sinking until, at the end, he would report that there had been no new developments,” Judea recalled. “We finally taught him to open each conversation with the sentence, ‘I have no news.'”
In the last days before Daniel’s death, the Pearls were fairly hopeful.
“Danny was a careful professional, not a Don Quixote type, and he had always gotten himself out of any trouble before,” his mother said. “Besides, his goodness shone through, and we couldn’t believe that his kidnappers could live with him for weeks and not be affected by it.”
Adding to the hopefulness was the history of other journalists abducted in Parkistan previously, who had always been returned after a few days in exchange for enemy prisoners or ransom.
On the morning of Feb. 21, 2002, the last glimmer of hope was extinguished. “We were having breakfast when three FBI agents, two women and a man, walked in,” Ruth remembered. “One woman had tears in her eyes, and she asked me if I had anything cooking on the stove. Then she told us that she had bad news and that Danny had been killed.”
After the previous false alarms, the Pearls refused to believe the report. They phoned the American consul in Karachi, who confirmed that he had seen the gruesome video showing the decapitation of their son.
Pakistani police did not find Daniel’s mutilated body until May 16, and it took another three months until the remains were returned to the United States. Hours before the funeral, the FBI stopped the proceedings on the grounds that the agents needed four more days to perform an autopsy.
Finally, after the burial and the memorial service, the Pearls were left to ponder their loss and their future.
“I felt that my life was over,” Ruth said. “We would never again have a normal life. I still cannot comprehend it; I try not to comprehend it; there’s a mental mechanism blocking it.”Added Judea, “As human beings, we don’t have the software, the computational machinery, to comprehend the logical contradiction that such a beautiful person, who tried so hard to explain the Muslim world to the West, would be killed by people who elevated their grievance above all norms of civilization.”
But rather than the sad ending that might have happened, this is where the story takes a surprising turn. The Pearls faced three obvious options. One was to retreat into their private grief, another to resume their professional lives as best they could, and a third to do whatever they could to exact revenge on their son’s murderers.
They chose a fourth way. “We refused to accept the idea that Danny’s contributions to the world as a journalist, as a musician, as a gentle human being was ended forever,” Judea said.
“We decided on a different kind of defiance,” he added. “We would fight hatred with everything in our power, but we wouldn’t seek physical revenge — that’s what his murderers wanted.”
The parents found the vehicle to turn thoughts into action a few days later, as a steady stream of condolence cards, flowers and envelopes with $20 bills and other small donations arrived at the house.
“We didn’t know how to cope with all that,” said Ruth, so The Wall Street Journal arranged for a team of lawyers to advise the family.
The first decision was to set up a trust fund for Marianne and her soon-to-be-born son, Adam. As the discussions continued, all agreed that the most relevant way to honor Daniel’s life and death was to establish a foundation to perpetuate his work and ideals.
Exactly one week after the FBI agent reported Danny’s death, the legal papers establishing the Daniel Pearl Foundation were signed by Judea Pearl as president and Ruth Pearl as chief financial officer.

Three Generations of Pearls

Three Generations of Pearls. back row: Tosha Pearl (center) is flanked by her daughter-in-law, Ruth, and son, Judea, during a Tel Aviv family reunion. front row: Tamara Pearl and her brother, Daniel Pearl. Photo courtesy Ruth and Judea Pearl

“We wanted to fight the tsunami of hatred engulfing the world and we had a powerful weapon — the memory of Danny, respected by millions of Muslims, Christians and Jews, and through the three fields in which he excelled, journalism, music and dialogue.”
Working with a miniscule staff and a $400,000 annual budget, raised mainly through small contributions (“We don’t get any celebrities,” Judea said), the foundation has transformed Daniel’s legacy and the parents’ vision into reality.
In journalism, reporters and editors from Muslim countries annually travel to the United States for six-month working fellowships on American newspapers, including The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles.
Through the Web-based World Youth News, students at 20,000 high schools in 109 countries develop professional skills, unbiased reporting and respect for cultural differences.
In music, World Music Days will be celebrated this year Oct. 6-15. Among the hundreds of performers and performances will be Sir Elton John, world premiere of Steve Reich’s “Daniel Variations,” symphony orchestras in five different countries, neo-soul artist Nya Jade, Bo Diddley and Friends, Hollywood Interfaith Choir and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass.
Judea Pearl and professor Akbar Ahmed, a leading Islamic scholar from Pakistan, have engaged in dialogues before multiethnic audiences throughout the United States and in the British House of Lords.
“We have only two rules,” Pearl said. “No topic is taboo and both speakers and audience must maintain civilized tone.”
The foundation has promoted publication of books of Daniel’s own writings and about his beliefs. Among a number of projected films, HBO will air “The Journalist and the Jihadi” on Oct. 10.
Somewhat to their own surprise, Judea and Ruth have become accomplished and passionate public speakers and are constantly busy promoting and running the Daniel Pearl Foundation.They have also evolved into skillful interviewees, with Judea as the more animated and gesticulating responder, while Ruth is quieter on the surface and occasionally corrects her husband’s recollections.
But, Judea said, “I resist the idea that I’m doing all this for therapeutic reasons. If I didn’t believe that our work makes some difference, I would quit tomorrow.”Added Ruth, “Some days we are encouraged and on other days we are down. But we are doers and we don’t quit.”

Daniel Pearl


Joanna Black died May 2 at 17. She is survived by her mother, Suzanne; sisters, Danielle and Rebecca; and many friends.

Marriage Conversion Rate Proves Low

Low conversion rates among intermarried Jewish families continue to plague those working to reverse the demographic downtrends in American Jewry.

Fewer than one-fifth of non-Jews who marry Jews convert to Judaism, according to a new study distributed by the American Jewish Committee.

The “Choosing Jewish” report, which interviewed 94 mixed-marriage couples and nine Jewish professionals in the Boston and Atlanta areas, also painted a bleak picture of Jewish involvement for those who do convert.

Many converted Jews — 40 percent — are described as “accommodating Jews-by-Choice.” They come to Judaism because they are asked to do so, and allow others to determine their level of Jewish observance, the report said. Jews in this category often have profiles of Jewish involvement similar to moderately affiliated born Jews.

Another 30 percent of converted Jews are identified as ambivalent Jews — they continue to express doubts about their conversion and feel guilty about beliefs or holidays left behind, according to the report. Their children mirror this ambivalence by thinking of themselves as half-Jews.

The report qualified only 30 percent of converted spouses as “activist Jews,” or those who identify deeply with the Jewish people and Israel. These Jews often are more committed to Jewish practice than are born Jews, and their children are virtually indistinguishable from children whose parents were born Jewish.

The findings, compiled by Brandeis University professor Sylvia Barack Fishman, have widespread implications for a community grappling with the reality of mixed marriages.

According to both the 2000-2001 National Jewish Population Survey and surveys by Gary Tobin, president of the San Francisco-based Institute for Jewish & Community Research, the U.S. Jewish intermarriage rate is between 40 percent and 50 percent.

The American Jewis Committee (AJCommittee) hopes the new data will create a road map for greater Jewish involvement among converts and intermarried families.

The breakdown of converted Jews by category shows that we should “not treat converts as an undifferentiated mass,” said Steven Bayme, the AJCommittee’s director of contemporary Jewish life.

Instead, he envisioned a sliding scale of Jewish involvement, ranging from those with a low level of affiliation to those who are highly involved.

“We should not see conversion as the end of the story,” he said. “What we’re really aiming for is converts who enrich the Jewish community through Jewish activism. We need to enlarge the pool of activist converts.”

But that requires a proactive approach.

First and foremost, Jews need to “wave the banner of inmarriage,” advocating Jewish partners whenever possible, he said. In cases of intermarriage, Bayme described conversion as “the single best outcome.”

“We need to be up front about our preference for conversion,” he said.

To that end, he talked about the role of rabbi as the “nurturer of would-be converts” and the need for Jewish family members to “be clear about values and objectives.”

In addition, Bayme advocated raising children in an exclusively Jewish household, because attempting to combine religions would be “a disaster Jewishly.”

Edmund Case, publisher of, which encourages Jewish connections in the interfaith community, took issue with several of these premises.

“I think there is a real danger in promoting conversion too aggressively,” he said. “If we stand at the door, a lot of people might not come in.”

Case said that accepting intermarried non-Jews who don’t convert — not just those who do — should be paramount.

“The way to have more Jewish children is for interfaith couples to get involved in Jewish life,” he said. “It’s important to see intermarriage as an opportunity and not as a negative or a loss.

“I think its important to communicate a message of welcome,” he continued. “The message we need to send to [intermarried] non-Jews is, ‘We’re grateful to you and happy to have you just as you are.'”

Case criticized the lack of money allocated to such interfaith outreach — less than $3 million a year between Jewish federations and family foundations, he said.

Bayme said “it’s a bit premature” for the AJCommittee to recommend any policy changes based on the report but that the group will discuss the findings at several upcoming meetings.


Comforting Mothers Without Mothers

“My childhood skidded to a stop on a Tuesday afternoon in the middle of my 15th year, with my mother’s first mammogram results,” writes Hope Edelman in her moving new book, “Motherless Mothers: How Mother Loss Shapes the Parents We Become” (Harper Collins). For Edelman, her mother’s illness and subsequent death from cancer two years later in 1981 were the beginning of a journey of loss, self-exploration and eventual emotional redemption that has spanned nearly a quarter-century and spawned three well-received books on the subject.

“I wanted to find ways to help women cope, and even thrive in the absence of a mother,” says Edelman from her home in Topanga Canyon.

A native New Yorker who graduated from the Northwestern School of Journalism, Edelman first explored “mother loss” while studying creative nonfiction writing at the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop in the late 1980s. She discovered that, other than a few pieces of clinical work gathering dust in university archives, women seeking guidance and reassurance had few resources.

Her first book, “Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss,” published in 1994, fused her own experiences with research and with excerpts from interviews with hundreds of women. She received thousands of letters from women who heard their voices expressed in her pages. The book became a New York Times best seller that sparked dialogue and helped pave the way for a more open discourse on the subject.

In the midst of this success, her own life was about to change dramatically — a seismic shift that would inspire her next major book project.

Edelman was living in New York in 1996 when she began dating Uzi Eliyahou, an Israeli high-tech executive based in Los Angeles. Seven months into their whirlwind long-distance relationship, she discovered she was pregnant. Within the year, she was married, living in Los Angeles and the mother of Maya, now 8 (Eden, 4, followed a few years later).

Through this experience, Edelman became convinced that as a motherless daughter, she faced a unique and different set of challenges that she wanted to share with both laypeople and medical professionals.

She was motivated in part by a disturbing interaction with the first gynecologist she saw after becoming pregnant. When faced with Edelman’s particular concerns about coping, as a pregnant woman, with the loss of her own mother, the doctor just wasn’t interested.

“Let me know when you get it figured out,” he told her.

She later heard similar tales of insensitivity from other women.

Edelman hoped that in her book she could help doctors and psychologists develop empathy for the experience of the motherless mother.

“As with most of the women I interviewed, the big question that arose was, ‘How will I know how to be a mother?'” Edelman says.

Other issues that loom large for soon-to-be or new mothers include the fear of dying young, the anxiety of losing a loved one and the desire to give their children an emotional security they did not have themselves.

“I’m about to reach the same age my mother was when she died,” Edelman says. “And that looms large.”

In the course of her research, Edelman discovered that becoming a mother often brought the pain of her mother’s passing into the forefront, but that the process of pregnancy, birth and childrearing can be healing. Even so, there’s a multigenerational effect to account for.

Since most women keep photographs of their late mothers prominently displayed in their homes, the pictures spark curiosity, and discussion.

“We talk about my mother often and openly,” Edelman says.

Another unexpected result of motherhood has been reconnection with faith.

“My mother was the center of Jewish identity in our house,” Edelman says. “When she died, our family’s connection to Judaism loosened.”

According to Edelman, the mother typically serves as “kinkeeper,” the one who brings friends and family together for holiday meals and rituals.

“When a Jewish woman loses her mother, she loses the most important role model for how to sustain a Jewish home.” Edelman says. “You are suddenly without the person who is primarily responsible for cooking Shabbat dinner or preparing the seder. We became religious orphans when my mother died.”

It was her older daughter, Maya, named for Edelman’s mother, who helped bring the family back into the Jewish fold. Edelman and her husband enrolled Maya in school at Chabad of Topanga. Maya soon came home bursting with knowledge about all of the holidays. “She wants to observe all the holidays,” says Edelman. “It’s a connection I only recently made,” she added, explaining that the process of Jewish ritual and community has helped heal the wounds of her mother’s premature passing.

Edelman is pursuing a variety of writing projects, but doesn’t want to overlook a main theme of her work: the importance of spending meaningful time with your family.

“There were far too many 14-hour days in the past three years,” Edelman says. “I’m enjoying spending more time with my husband and children.”

Hope Edelman regularly holds one-day Motherless Daughters writing workshops For more information, visit