yizkor—minyan remembrances

We dedicate this project to the memory of those who are no longer with us; may they rest in peace. And may they be remembered by those whose lives they touched.

 

Kimba  (November 1985—November 19, 2011)

David and Kimba

It might seem strange to have a kaddish for a dog, but she really was a part of the family. For more than 15 years, she was my companion. I lived with her longer than anyone except my mother and Kimba saw me through the heartache of three relationships as well as the death of both my parents and my former partner. For a dog that didn’t like to cuddle, she always knew when someone was down and would come to them for “pets” as if she knew that doing so would cheer them up. And it usually helped.

Kimba was a dignified “lady” – we would call her the Queen of the Backyard but woe to any rodent that crossed her path! I rescued her off the streets when she was just over six months old and it was clear that she’d survived on her own for some time as on our first walk, she brought down a duck! She’d been physically abused by her former owner, including two bullets in the chest, but after a short time together her fear of humans evaporated, replaced by separation anxiety when I’d leave the house! Meanwhile, as a puppy, she learned from the cat in the house and grew up with many cat-like tendencies, including the cold-shoulder when she was mad.

When she was about a year and a half, we moved to a new house which I encircled with a four foot fence to keep her in. The next week she showed me otherwise. I’d been entertaining and she scratched to get out. I did so and went back to my friends. Then over the din of the gathering, I could hear animals fighting on the side yard… I was concerned, as we had planted a vegetable garden and we were getting regular raids from the local raccoons; I was afraid my “creampuff” of a dog would be torn to shreds and I half-expected to find her with an eyeball hanging out. But she was nowhere in the yard! I got concerned and called and called to her, a little panicky — I know dogs hide when they are ready to die. Then I saw a large, white blur in the alleyway beyond the fence. I started and got ready to face some wild animal. Like a shot, Kimba (all 65 lbs) bounded to the TOP of the four foot fence and landed briefly on TOP of it with all four paws (like a cat) before bounding gracefully back down to the ground inside the yard. She had a content look on her face that said, “I’ve taken care of those silly raccoons, Dad. Oh, and that’s a nice fence; what’s it for?” She never hopped it again (that I knew of) though it was always clear that she could. Heck, she completely knew the property lines of that house and would walk JUST to the edge before turning back. Except for our friends across the way, if any of the neighbors (or their kids) would call her, she would walk to the boundary, look at them, and then look back at me as if to say “do they know the rules?”

Kimba responded to voice commands and I would often walk her off-leash where I could. Or we would race along with me on my bike and her running (and pulling me!), a throwback to her sledge-dog ancestry. She almost never barked and actually the first time I ever heard her it was when we had a burglar several years later. She was fierce but not combative; she’d play with dogs of any size, including a friend’s 100 lbs Rottweiler, but she’d never let herself lose. The closest she would come would be to just sit down and ignore the other dog. Invading rodents, however, were another matter and like a cat she’d leave “offerings” at the back door for me. A possum once surprised and scared my friend when in emerged from the wood pile. His scream brought Kimba the defender leaping to his rescue and with a single chomp she killed the beastie. She used to try to chase the cows on a friend’s property as well, although when we ran into the mountain lion, she was quiet.

For all her ferocity, she was amazingly patient with children and those afraid of dogs. When my godkids stayed with us for a month, they would pull her tail and ears, but the most she would do is yelp and run to hide behind my legs, even though her wagging tail was enough to topple them. She would stay with and almost guard the baby, licking him when he fell or was done eating (he was a messy eater 8-). If someone was afraid of dogs, she was quietly sit and watch them; a friend’s husband had been bitten as a child, but he learned to trust and even be comfortable about my “white lioness.” My mother used to really enjoy it when I brought her to the nursing home for a visit and the other residents would come to pet Kimba.

I have a million more stories because my Puppy Princess had such a personality. Her black-ringed brown eyes and serene look exuded an air of nobility, like an Egyptian pharaoh. If she were a person, she would be a Victorian aristocrat…that knew how to hunt, fight, and handle “the boys” but preferred to be demure. She hated the water and the only time she wouldn’t come when called was if I was in the pool. Yet when I would take my nephews to the lake, she would whine and watch us, coming as far in as her belly “in case we needed her.”

Kimba I will miss you. You will always have a place no other dog can share in my heart.

— David Mohr

Hy Glantz (February 22, 1924 – July 2, 2011)

Hy Glantz

Here is the speech we read at Grandpa Hy’s funeral.  Hy (his full name was Herman) Glantz was born February 22, 1924 and died July 2, 2011 of mesothelioma. Most likely due to asbestos exposure while working in the Brooklyn Navy Yards in the 1940s.

In the Glantz family there is a tradition started by Grandpa Hy. The tradition is that at each grandchild’s wedding, Grandpa would choose a word that is representative of the couple getting married. Each letter of the word would stand for a trait the couple shares, or wish for the couple in their lives together. Keith and Laura were given the word LOVE. Danny and Erika, was SMILE, Brooke and David was HAPPY, and recently grandpa gave an award winning speech at our wedding and our word was FOREVER. Grandpa also possessed Love, Smiles, Happiness and he will be Forever remembered. We thought it would also be appropriate to provide a word to celebrate Grandpa Hy.

Hy is the abbreviation for his given Hebrew name Chaim, which means Life. So today, as we all gather here to remember Grandpa Chaim, we celebrate his life.

C is for Charmer.   He had a contagious smile, twinkling blue eyes, and groovy dance moves.

H is heart, for he was full of heart and passion in every aspect of his life.

A is for Always giving waiters and waitresses a hard time.

I is for In Love.  In love with Hilly, his wife of 61 years, in love with his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, in love with his friends, playing bridge and golf.

M is for money.  For the dollar bills he gave us when he taught us how to play poker, but really for making our lives richer and more valuable just by knowing him.

I will miss grandpa dearly and I will always think of him when I drink lemons in my water, scoop out my bagels at breakfast, comb my hair, make fresh orange juice, drive past golf courses, play poker, wait for elevators, have terrible service at restaurants, and pretty much all the time.

— Alana Glantz Zussman and Michael Jacob Zussman

 

Randall (Randy) Lee Glover (1958 — June 19, 2011)

A good friend died this week. He took his own life. We are all shocked and saddened by his passing and we are all asking ourselves – why?

Which is to say, we are having the normal human reaction to such an unnecessary loss.

I am not going to praise him here, you did not know him. For those who did, we will find the time and place to share our memories. Today I do something in his honor.

This kaddish is in memory of our lost friend.

If you read this website and you have my phone number then I ask should you ever feel so lost, so alone that you consider leaving us, I beg you to use that number and call me. If you read this and you don’t have my phone number then I ask you to call that one special person today; the one who you talk to when times are darkest. Call them today and agree that should you ever walk too close to the edge, you will reach out to them. You must make this promise in the light of day, when you are well and fine. Truly promise you will cry out past the darkness. Make that promise, make it today.

I know one response to suicide is to believe that in these cases we really couldn’t have done anything. We are just self-flagellating when there is nothing else to do but cry. I will strongly suggest that doesn’t matter; because sometimes, even just one time, we can help someone step back from the brink, but only if they will reach out. That is why we make the promise in the green fields, so we might remember them in the parched, desolate and dry times.

My dear friend called me when he brushed against his demons and we would look at the world in ways only two friends in trusted conversation could, I believe it helped. This time he didn’t call and all of us are left to ask – why.

Rest in Peace Randy, we will miss you for a long, long time.  — Tim Lavalli

 

Ruth Leavitt Kadish  (May 11, 1917 – September 19, 2010)

Ruth Leavitt Kadish

It’s been 7 months since my mother’s passing on September 19, 2010. At 94, she’d been relatively healthy and able-bodied (save for Dementia and moderate-severe hearing and vision loss), taking hardly any meds and using only a four-pronged cane to get around. As she’d begun to fall more frequently, we tried in vain to get her to use her walker (we’d given up on her getting a hearing aid long before).

She had fallen again 6 days prior to her death; it was a Monday. The staff at her Assisted Living got her to the ER, where my sister met her. Nothing broken but she got banged up; plus, they discovered some pneumonia, most likely because we started having her taken around in her wheelchair a couple of weeks prior – she even warned us herself: “Then I’ll never get any exercise!”. So she was put on antibiotics and returned to her apartment.

I visited her that night. We talked about random things. And – thank the Goddess – as she stood there saying goodbye, she spoke what turned out to be her last cogent words to me that will forever ring golden in my heart and soul: “Thank you for being my friend.”

The next time I saw her was on Wednesday night, when my sister and I struggled to get her into the car to go to the ER, as the AL staff was unable to handle her: She’d become combative, refusing to eat or drink or take any of her meds; she seemed to be checking out on all fronts. They kept her overnight, and my sister returned early the next morning.

I wasn’t able to get to the hospital until 1:30 Friday morning, but was thrilled to be there; in the throes of a beyond-ugly break-up, the timing of her demise had saved me from having to be alone with my ex-partner for an extended trip, thereby enabling me to avoid having to experience even more hell than I was already going through. My sister and I were able to get her into a wonderful Hospice late Friday afternoon, where she died Sunday evening as we chanted, read the Kaddish and excerpts from The Tibetan Book of the Dead, and held a holy and loving space for her from which she could depart this plane.

The other blessing of my mother’s timing was that her life insurance policy (that I’d previously thought of as fairly meager) was a perfect amount that arrived promptly enough to enable me to move into my next home with relative ease.

My little Mama. I completely believe that her spirit was protecting me, looking out for me, even while her dying body-mind was usurped by Dementia. She wasn’t able to do as much as I know she wanted to for me in her final months, but by the grace of the gods, she pulled some strings and helped me get through hell and beyond.  — Lori Goldwyn

 

Karl Savage (1969–2010)

For Karl

Today is the one-year anniversary of the untimely, unexpected, too fucking early death of my dear friend Karl. I met him when I was 21 years old. He thought I was a freaky über-Mormon (I was actually being a smart ass by using an R.E.M. song in a devotional at the Missionary Training Center). My memories of Karl include long arguments and discussions about Iron John and what it would mean to be a man and a feminist; crying together when his wife had a miscarriage; sitting on rock formations on the Navajo reservation; the birth of his oldest son (and later being traumatized while babysitting said son); dressing in drag and acting out the French scene from Henry the Fifth in our Shakespeare class; a lot of tears and laughter. Karl introduced me to Kabbalah, Levinas, Tom Waits, Nancy Griffith, Joni Mitchell, and carrot soup.

Karl showed me that I could let me guard down, feel strongly, love and build relationships at a time in my life when I didn’t think it was possible. I know the years and life experiences led us down different paths, but I am the man I am today because of the man you were. I think you’d love the kookiness of the fact that your old friend, now an ex-mormon agnostic humanist, is observing a yiddishe yahrzeit in your blessed memory. —Todd Ormsbee

Grendel P. Slippersbane Fields (–22 July 1995)

On July 22, 1995, around 11:40 am, my beloved Grendel left her body, and this world is much poorer for the loss.

She had fortunately only been ill for three months, and even during this time she had phases of down and up. Two weeks earlier, for example, we camped out in Oregon and northern CA, and she waded in a river, begged for food and chased squirrels—you know, did ordinary dog stuff. She even walked a good number of miles, all the way around a beautiful lake (we went slow), and had a great time.

In her last week though, after returning to the city, her health took another downturn. She had difficulty walking far, and seemed to have developed more tumors which could be felt. I took her to the dog beauty parlor the other day for a bath, brush and de-stickering—her last car trip, to my shame. Our little home mountain proved to be too much of a walk for her this week, so we stuck to the flattish (in every way) streets. And she was invited somewhere indoors on her last day, but was too sick to even move.

She suffered quite a bit physically throughout the night before her death—difficulty breathing, and restlessness. In the morning she was really hurting—for the first time, she would not eat, and her left hind foot was paralyzed as well, and she could not get comfortable. Also, she would not move out of the hot sun, which is a bad sign for someone so very furry, so I had to pull her. Looking back, her body seemed to go through the elemental stages of death just exactly as spoken of in the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

Yet in the end, her death was a good one. She walked inside (with help), and laid down. I went back outside to fetch her water and upon coming back in found her face in rictus: she had passed away. My keening roused her, though, and she actually returned to her body, complete with resuming heartbeat and opening her eyes, for a last moment before leaving for good. I had told her earlier that morning that it was all right with me for her to leave if she needed to—but that acceptance does not lessen my great loss.

She was my spiritual teacher; the most aware and developed master of compassion I have ever met. I adored her without measure since the minute I first laid eyes on her; in the days when she looked like Fizzgig (a furry ball with double rows of sharp teeth). For twelve and a half years, I based every life decision on whether it would be good for her. Being around her was nothing but beneficial. Her depth of loving understanding and acceptance could be seen reflected in how she met with beings and situations, and in her deep, wide-open gentle eyes and constant serene smile.

Part wolf, she contained both wildness and a knack for being in community. Being her life-companion really brought home to me how humans ridiculously try to run the entire world. Grendel taught me about interdependence and how to joyfully be with other, very different, beings; all of us wild and free and ourselves together. She also forged deep in me understanding about the necessity for wild places (which are in essence free, species-diverse communities). The focus of my PhD program, ecopsychology, was largely due to Grendel’s influence: she woke me up.

Grendel was well-travelled and enjoyed many dear friends; her life was interesting. And she deserved it: she had an exceptionally beautiful spirit. Even her extraordinary physical beauty was outshined by her inner beauty. Other animals—such as cows—also recognized her specialness, even coming en masse to be near her. I truly believe that she was an almost fully realized being; a bodhissatva, come here to teach and heal the rest of us. May her task not go undone; may all of us who knew her try to remember her ways, even without her physical presence around, and keep our hearts open to clarity, gentleness, loving fun and awakening.

How I loved her. —Tina R. Fields

Mark de Lemos, Mordechai ben Avraham v’Sarah (4 Sep 1957–6 Sep 1989)

I met Mark at Scottish country dancing, but we grew close because of Judaism: I had become a Jew-by-choice years before, and he was becoming a Jew-by-choice in order to marry his fiancée Margot. And we laughed about mathematics: I was working with mathematicians at MSRI in Berkeley, and Mark had been a grad student in math at MIT before leaving academia. Mark had acting in his blood: he loved both the ‘real’ stage as a performer with the Dunsmuir Scottish Dancers and the intimate stage of a ceilidh [pronouced “kay-lee”, a Scottish impromptu “talent show”. They’re hard to describe. Ask a Scot or Scottish dancer about them]. At a ceilidh he might read a scene from a Tom Stoppard play, or sing a song from “Annie Get Your Gun”. He famously once did a handstand *in his kilt*, showing off a colorful undergarment. On Halloween at Asilomar he once appeared at the Friday night dance in full drag: a lovely pink dress complete with matching hat and feather boa.

Shortly after becoming Jewish but a few months before his wedding, Mark died of complications of a bone marrow transplant (he had been diagnosed with adult-onset leukemia a couple of years before). Mark would have been the best man at my wedding the following June. His funeral was a day of unwanted firsts for me: the first time I had ever sat shomer with a body, the first funeral I had ever attended, the first time I ever gave a eulogy, the first time I was a pallbearer. I spoke to a funeral hall stuffed with over 200 people, standing-room only. I’m sure I was like a deer in the headlights.

Each year on Mark’s yahrzeit (6 Elul) I leyn Torah or lead services in his memory. I keep in touch with his parents, who are now too frail to visit his grave every Sep 6th, as was their custom. I visited his grave a few weeks ago, and the stone looks as clean and fresh as if it all happened yesterday. “Adonai, teach us to use all the days of our lives.” —David Mostardi

Thank you, David—I wish I’d met him. Today’s Kaddish (kaddish_2010.12.09_mark) is a special twist for Mark, who sounds like someone who might have enjoyed this: it’s in retrograde inversion. That’s a fancy way of saying I turned the page upside-down and played it backwards. I read it in bass clef but up an octave to keep the range reasonable, and the sharps were mostly confusing—as was seeing dynamic markings above the staff! —Erin

Tania Forte (12 April 1959 – 17 November 2005)

Tania Forte died in hospital in Minneapolis (where she was on sabbatical) as the result of a massive cerebral aneurysm. She suffered from high blood pressure, and her ex-husband’s interminable suing for custody (in Israel) of their two sons (who were with their mother) very likely contributed to Tania’s physiological collapse.

Tania’s grandparents came from Gaza, Turkey, Iraq, and Italy, and her Egyptian-born parents were forced from Egypt in 1956 during the Suez War. Tania herself was born in London and held a British passport, though she lived mainly in France, the Netherlands, the USA, and Israel. I had sponsored Tania for a Lady Davis Postdoctoral Fellowship at The Hebrew University and later we became fast friends. Tania was a true intellectual who soaked up and lived through ideas, a brilliant scholar who questioned everything constructively, a creative being who intuited worlds of living that most of us sense only vaguely. Her Ph.D. in Anthropology was from the University of Chicago, based on fieldwork in a Palestinian village in the Galilee that focused on transaction practices, land, the  daily lives of women, and archival research on land settlement during the Mandatory period. Tania then taught at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, in Israel. From 2002 until her death, Tania did path-breaking fieldwork on the production by a number of TV networks of news video footage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

A citizen of the world, she devoted herself to the well-being of her family, giving her academic career secondary importance for many years. She had returned to intensive intellectual endeavors when her brilliant brain collapsed, her loving heart burst, and her infectious laugh was silenced.        — Don Handelman, Jerusalem

Chuck Stine (1936–11 June 2010)

May G-d remember forever my dear husband Chuck who has gone to his eternal rest.  May he be at one with the One who is life eternal.   May the beauty of his life shine forevermore, and may my life always bring honor to his memory.  May he rest in peace.

Chuck was more than just my husband.  He was my soul mate, the father of my daughter, and my trumpet duet partner!  We spent almost all of our time together and did practically everything together, with the exception of golf.  He liked to play a round of golf in the early morning while I liked to sleep in!  Many other couples couldn’t understand how we could be together 24 hours a day, but but we loved being together and shared so many interests aside from music, like photography, woodworking, playing racquetball, studying foreign languages, and travel.

Not everyone knows that Chuck designed and built a cabin with his own hands, which is still standing and in good shape after 40 years.  He built it by a lake as he loved to swim and to fish.  Our daughter shared his love of fishing and spent countless hours on the lake with him.  He liked to play board games with family and friends and we had many a good laugh over a game of Pictionary!  He also loved gardening and did a beautiful job designing and maintaining our yards.  I am trying to keep things up.

He was a very good cook and liked to experiment.  He always came up with great tasting dishes.  (He also liked washing the dishes!)

I feel blessed to have known him and doubly blessed to have been married to him. —Sharon Jacobson Stine, Chicago

share your remembrances

We invite you, our readers, and members of our virtual, asynchronous minyan who have asked to join us in listening to the daily “Kaddish” recordings, to share your memories of those whose absences you grieve. Please either email us your thoughts and a nice photo, if you have one, or else add them in the comments below (and email a photo).

We’ll transfer your memorials to our minyan yizkor page, and Erin will record Kaddishim for them.

photos

There are two ways to get us a photo: email it or link to it (e.g. if you have it on a publicly-accessible Flickr account, web page, or similar).

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