Happy 102nd Birthday, Mom

 It is difficult to believe, but marvelous to know, that this Sunday, February 7, 2010, Mom will celebrate her 102nd birthday. Through the long years of Mom’s life, she has experienced suffering, pain and grief, but in later life, enjoyed much happiness, contentment, and smachot (joyous occasions). Mom, to this day, exhibits a serene feeling of tranquility.

Mom, the eldest and only surviving sister of 5 daughters, grew up in a family where the father wanted only sons. Little did he know at the time that it was he who was responsible for having daughters!

Mom has lived through 2 world wars, but it was World War II and the Shoah – the Holocaust, that defined her great courage and inner strength. Upon liberation, on April 23, 1945, after 6 ½ years of concentration camp life, Mom was soon to become a 37 year old widow, and weighed barely 70 pounds. She was weak, sick with typhus, penniless and stateless, with 2 young, sick children. We were repatriated back to Holland, where Mom began to recuperate, learn Dutch, and study to become a masseuse. Albert, my 2 year older brother, and I, were placed in a children’s Youth Aliyah home, in preparation to immigrate to what was then still Palestine.

The British, who were governing Palestine in the early 1940’s, had imposed a quota on the number of Jews permitted into the land. They were intercepting the refugee ships, and interning the survivors on the island of Cypress, and danger once again loomed over us.
In 1947, one year prior to Israel becoming a state, Mom made arrangements for our family of 3 to emigrate to the United States. 

Mom quickly learned English, and her vocabulary soon became extensive and precise. She first worked as a “day worker” in homes in Peoria, IL. The bonus was bringing home left-over food, and second-hand clothing. I wore one of those beautiful dresses to synagogue on Yom Kippur in 1951, the day Nathaniel & I first met. 

Years later, when Mom lived in San Francisco, her letters were so eloquently descriptive of that beautiful city on the bay, that we thought Mom was the publicity director of the SF Chamber of Commerce.

When staying with us for Shabbat (the Sabbath), she is careful to be quiet so as not to disturb us, closing doors gently. Mom still dries the dishes, folds the laundry, and helps wherever possible. 
Mom enjoys her meals, and is particularly fond of chocolate, cake, and sweets in general. She is grateful for everything that is done for her and with her, never failing to say “thank you.” And there is that extra smile whenever she sees her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

No doctor’s appointments. Just some back pain once in a while, but I don’t consider the ibuprofen Mom takes a medication.

Mom always loved art, nature, the sea, mountains, and the great outdoors. She has always been self-effacing, modest, hardworking, industrious, caring and wise.

Mom, you have been the role model of role models. A truer Eishet Chayil (Woman of Valor) has never lived.

We love, admire, respect and think the world of you. May HaShem continue to grant you good health, contentment, and peace of mind, in a world filled with love and peace.

Your devoted children - Marion & Nathaniel and Albert & Diane
Grandchildren - David & Lisa, Susan & Rob, Michael & Rachel 
Great-grandchildren - Arielle & Moshe, Gavriel, Joshua, Dahlia, Yoav, Jordan Erica, Hunter, Ian & Kasey Rose 

Dear Grandma Ruth, 
Happy 102nd Birthday from your grandchildren and great-grandchildren in Florida! Thanks to Mom, our friends here have learned all about your trials and tribulations, strength and courage over the years, providing them -- and us! -- with more will to succeed in our lives. Though we can`t be there with you this year, we will all be thinking of you on this, and we hope, many more happy and healthy birthdays to come. 
David, Lisa, Jordan Erica, Hunter, Ian and Kasey Rose

Dear Grandma
Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means. And it is by your example that we, your grandchildren and great grandchildren live our lives. Your tenacity and persistence gives us the strength and resolve to attain our goals. You have never taken anything for granted and we, in turn, appreciate and value all that we have. But most importantly, you have taught us the importance of family. This strongest of all bonds is a gift to cherish. It is a link to our past and a bridge to our future. All that we have learned from you will, in tern, be learned by our children`s children. You are a true matriarch! We love you so very much. 
Happy 102nd! 
Susan, Rob, Arielle, Moshe and Joshua

Dear Grandma,
Happy Birthday from your Israeli grandchildren and great grandchildren.
We’re sorry that we won’t all be able to be with you on your birthday, but are happy that at least Michael will be with you.
We are in awe of the courage, strength, and fortitude that you have demonstrated for over a century. You are a tremendous source of inspiration to us as well as to many others.
We wish you many more years of health and happiness.
Michael, Rachel, Gavriel, Dahlia, and Yoav

Dear Grandma Ruth,
Thank you for giving us the gift of life. Although you have sacrificed and suffered so much in your life, you have given us many great moments and memories with you. 
I remember when I was younger how I used to come over to visit, and you would give me your delicious jello with fruit inside. You would also tailor my clothes to perfection.
Your continued inner strength and natural beauty are an inspiration to us, and to all who know you.
Moshe and I are honored and blessed that you were able to attend our wedding this past June, and hope that we will share many more smachot with you.
We love you, and wish you continued good health.
Your great-grandchildren,
Arielle & Moshe