Baruch Dayan HaEmet

February 7, 2013, would have marked the 105th birthday of our dear and beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great grandmother, Ruth Blumenthal Meyberg. 

That was not to be. Mom passed away early this afternoon, Thursday, December 27, 2012, after a brief illness.

Mom, eldest of 5 sisters, was born in Stallupoenen, East Prussia (Germany). My grandfather was not pleased about not having any sons.

From a classified ad in the newspaper, Mom took a bookkeeper`s job in the small German town of Hoya. Walter Blumenthal became her employer. It was only 2 weeks after Mom began work that a proposal of marriage was made to her by Walter. Mom, a bit shocked and disconcerted, left Hoya to consider the proposal. She soon returned and Ruth and Walter were married in December, 1931.

Already in the early 1930`s, there was unrest in Germany, making this a difficult time for the Blumenthal family. My brother Albert was born in 1932, and stones were thrown at his carriage. It was only a few short years later that we found ourselves in transient and concentration camps! Mom demonstrated great courage and strength in keeping our family alive and intact during our years of incarceration in the Nazi concentration camps of Westerbork and Bergen-Belsen. 
Liberation for our family occurred on April 23, 1945, when the Russian Army liberated the “death train” in which we were traveling towards the East. My mother`s beloved husband, my father, passed away from typhus just 6 weeks after our liberation, leaving Mom a 37 year old widow, weighing just over 60 pounds.

The 5 1/2 years of concentration camp left Mom weak, stricken with typhus, penniless, stateless, and, not knowing what the future would bring. How to possibly care for 2 sick and undernourished children, Albert, age 12, and me, age 10? However, no challenge was ever too much for Mom. 

Upon our family’s return to Holland, we all learned to speak Dutch. Mom, after intensive training, became a masseuse.

Albert & I were placed in a Youth Aliyah Home (a children`s home) where we became reacquainted with life in its normal state. We began formal schooling for the first time, and prepared to make Aliyah (emigrate) to Palestine, which became the State of Israel.

However, instead of aliyah, our diminished family of 3 emigrated to the United States, arriving in Hoboken, New Jersey on April 23, 1948, exactly 3 years to the day of our liberation. Through the help of the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society, we soon found ourselves living in Peoria, Illinois. Mom made it a high priority for each of us to quickly learn English, and for Albert and me to do well in school. Mom worked early on as a day-cleaning lady for Jewish families. An added bonus was bringing home “left over” food and “hand me down” clothing.
I recall wearing one of those beautiful dresses to synagogue on Yom Kippur in 1951, where Nathaniel & I first met. I was 16; he was 19. He walked me home at the conclusion of services, and has been walking me home ever since.

From that day on, Nathaniel would call every evening on our Peoria number which was 4-6770. After talking a short period of time on the phone, Mom, in not too a low a voice would say, genauch - enough - it`s time to say goodnight to him.

When Mom realized that it was getting serious between Nathaniel and me, she contacted a cousin in Great Neck to insure that the Lazans were a reputable family in which to marry.

An excellent cook from childhood, Mom became a talented seamstress. At one point in her life, she worked for Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills, and helped alter suits and clothing for famous male actors! In our home, Mom, well into her 90`s, would sew on buttons and even threaded her own needles. She folded laundry, dried and put away dishes, and made every effort to be useful and productive. When there was something she could no longer do, Mom would say, “Old age is for the birds.”

Mom’s vocabulary was extensive and precise. When living in San Francisco some 20 plus years ago, her letters to us were so eloquently descriptive of that beautiful city on the bay that we thought she must be the publicity director for the SF Chamber of Commerce! Mom was a voracious reader - in both German and English.

We arrived in America with little money, to say the least. Being frugal, and never living above our means, Mom never asked for, nor required financial help. On the contrary, Mom graciously helped others when ever the need arose, and enjoyed giving family members beautiful presents. She always gave Nathaniel practical and useful gifts, such as a Swiss Army knife, and leather travel slippers, which both items he takes with him on our many trips.

There was never a trace of anger in Mom, but, at times, a feeling of having been deprived of a normal family life. She often reminisced of her courtship days in Hoya, where Mom met my father.

As previously related, Mom was the eldest of 5 sisters. There was my mother, of course, Bianca, Ilse, Ulla, and Annie. Ulla made aliyah to (went to) Palestine in the mid-1930`s and worked as a pioneer. Bianca emigrated to England prior to the war. Ilse, after her husband of only 8 months was shot to death, became a partisan in the woods in Poland. Annie perished in Auschwitz.
And Mom - Ruth, spent those 6 1/2 horrendous years behind barbed wire. 
After the war, Ulla lived in Tel Aviv, Bianca in London, Ilse in New York, and Mom in San Francisco. In the spring of 1967 - just prior to the 6 Day War, all 4 surviving sisters gathered in Tel Aviv for their one and only reunion since childhood. 

When Mom stayed with us for Shabbat, she was extremely careful to be quiet so as not to disturb anyone, closing doors ever so gently. Mom carefully made her own bed, and dressed herself neatly, enjoyed all the meals, and always complimented me by saying everything is delicious – but “please, don’t give me so much. This is more than enough.” Mom would even tear a napkin in half to economize, brushing off our “Mom - that is not necessary.”

Mom had a sweet tooth, and enjoyed chocolate, cake and ice cream. She actually preferred her own warm and cozy apartment, keeping it spotlessly clean, with everything neatly in place. She always made sure to be fully and neatly dressed in the morning.

Mom had quite a collection of clever and witty sayings - some in German; a few in English. One was, you should always have 10 cents more than you need
When talking about children, Mom would say, when they are young, you could eat them up. When they are older, you wish you had.
Let your children grow over you head, but not out of your hands. 
Schtutse den Baum so lang Ehr schtat - support the tree as long as it stands. 

Mom rarely went to the doctor - what an incredible blessing that was! The only medication she took was for high blood pressure. I don`t consider Tylenol medication. It was just a few years back that we finally persuaded Mom to take vitamins.

Mom loved the United States. She loved everything about this country - the people, the national parks, the democracy, Washington, D.C., Williamsburg, and especially San Francisco, where she lived for close to 20 years some 22 years ago. One would think she worked for the SF Chamber of Commerce every time she would write and tell us something new about her beautiful city. While living in California, Mom loved watching the Rose Bowl parade with its beautiful floats adorned with magnificent and colorful roses. 

While living here in Far Rockaway, when the Concord SST was still in service, Mom was thrilled to watch from her 15th floor apartment the Concords flying to and from JFK Airport. Mom knew their schedule, and would look for them at those precise times.
Mom often clipped and passed on to us interesting articles from newspapers - some dealing with health and family issues; others about Israel and the world in general. 

When our son Michael and wife Rachel were about to make aliyah (move to Israel) some 18 years ago, Mom wrote a letter to Michael, chiding him for leaving the U.S. But, she never mailed the letter to him. She just had to say what was on her mind. A very unusual and wise lady!

Mom loved the arts, architecture, music, the sea, mountains and nature, especially the change in the seasons. Mom loved to travel. She enjoyed Tauck Tours. Mom bought picture postcards of places visited, saying, why take a photo when you can get a better one on a post card? 

This was a woman who was modest, hardworking, industrious, caring, and very wise. The Serenity prayer was her guiding principle - “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference”

At one point in later life, she said she had lived long enough - time to go. But then added, the longer I live, the longer the Germans will have to pay social security and restitution to me. Let them keep on paying!For the record, for all that Marion endured, there is no continuing restitution.

We children called her our role model of role models, a true Eishet Chayil (Woman of Valor). Her 3 grandchildren and respective spouses, David & Lisa, Susan & Rob, and Michael & Rachel, cherished and adored their grandmother. Mom’s 10 great-grandchildren, Arielle & Moshe, Joshua, Gavriel, Dahlia, Yoav, Jordan Erica, Hunter, Ian and Kasey Rose, were in awe of their indomitable great-grandmother. 
And Mom’s great-great granddaughter, (our great-granddaughter), Leah Tova, received countless kisses and gentle hugs from this incredible matriarch. We are fortunate to have good photos of the two together. It was Leah Tova that made us a 5 generation family of women.

A short story of when my mother was staying for our own children in 1969 when we traveled to Hawaii. Mom, who was then living in Kew Gardens, volunteered to be their temporary guardian. Since school was in session, it should not have been a problem. But then it snowed, and snowed, and snowed some more. School was closed for almost the entire week, and the kids became rambunctious (so we were told). When we returned home and entered the house on our return home, there was Mom, with coat on and suitcase in hand, telling us - “ Please take me home, NOW!” 

Our family has had the love and support of many through the years, for which we are eternally thankful. We also need to thank a few who became close to Mom, and helped make it possible for her to live out her life in the comfort of her own apartment. Included among these were Lucy, Mom`s dear friend, companion, and loving, dedicated aide for the past 7 1/2 years; Dr. Henry Zupnick, and the fine doctors of South Shore Medical in Lynbrook; and Hatzalah - the Jewish Volunteer Ambulance Corps. who, with speed, compassion, and dedication, have been there for Mom when needed.

On a more personal level, I wish to thank 2 long-time friends, Judy Friedman and Sheila Goldberg, who have called and spoken with Mom regularly over the years.
On an even more personal level, I have to thank all our children and grandchildren for always being there when needed.

May Mom`s memory serve as a blessing to you all, and may my beloved mother rest in peace. Amen. 
With much love,

The funeral will take place at Boulevard-Riverside Chapels 1450 Broadway, Hewlett, on Friday morning at 11:30 am, with internment at Montefiore Springfield Cemetery 121-83 Springfield Boulevard, Springfield Gardens 

Shiva will be held at the home of Marion & Nathaniel Lazan, 1728 Union Avenue, Hewlett, on Saturday night after dark and from Sunday through Wednesday, 12 noon until 9:30 pm.