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Tribute To The Life Of Rhoda Gebiner

   I thought she would be with us forever. My beloved aunt Rhoda was 101, 102 or maybe 103 when she passed. Aunt Rhoda was one of the first people to see me when I was born and I was one of the last people to see her before she passed away.

 

   Raisel Sprintzer was born in the early years of the 20th century and lived with her parents, Kalman and Tzeril Katz in Mielec, Galicia (now Poland) along with her brothers and sisters. The children, for the most part, arrived in New York on the Kaiserin August Victoria, in April 1914, and were greeted by the parents who had arrived earlier to prepare for the family.

 

   They lived on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and during those years, she became known as Rose. Some years later she became Rhoda. My aunt was an outstanding student, attending P.S. 91 and going on to the East Side Evening High School for Women located on Rivington and Forsyth. Her older brother, George, encouraged her to attend (and graduate from) the Drake Business School and it was there that she excelled at bookkeeping, stenography and typing.

 

   Aunt Rhoda was known as my second mother. She joined Mom and me for my visits to the pediatrician. Once she couldn’t be there and the nurse asked where my “other mother” was. Rhoda and Uncle Misha (known later as Michael) schlepped me to lots of cultural events – the old Metropolitan Opera to see Carmen, the Brooklyn Museum, concerts, the Botanic Garden, the zoo, the aquarium, Brooklyn College for square dancing with Fred Berk, a master teacher.

 

   Rhoda held a variety of jobs. Her very best was at Kuroris Dental, where she managed the office, and helped in the dental practice, as a non-certified assistant when the dentist’s nurse wasn’t there.

 

   Family meant everything to Rhoda, and Mom and she were more than best friends. Rhoda, who never had children of her own, also enjoyed spending time with her siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews and then with their kids and grandchildren, and some great-grandnieces and nephews. She relished hearing about their accomplishments.

 

   When Mom was recovering from major surgery, she did so at Aunt Rhoda’s house. During that time, Raymond Gebiner (he was a cousin of her late husband, Michael, to whom she was married for 40 years) called and he and Rhoda arranged to have dinner at Rhoda’s home, Mom being the “chaperone.” A few years later Raymond and Rhoda married and my aunt acquired a bonus family, Raymond’s daughters, Raye and Lee, their daughters Jodi, Stacey, Jackie and Mary Sue (a.k.a. Miriam) and their children.

 

   Rhoda attributed her longevity to healthful eating: nothing with oil, no fatty foods, etc. Her favorite foods were boiled, broiled, steamed or stewed … veggies, fruit, chicken, etc. as well as good soups (not too thick). And she loved vegetable farmer cheese, hot water with lemon, as well as dark toasted bread (very dry). Honey was also preferable to granulated sugar. I got her to enjoy ginger ale in the last few years, but her discerning palate enjoyed only Canada Dry.

 

   Later in life, when Rhoda had to move to a senior home, she arrived with her furniture, paintings, objects d’art and handiwork. Rhoda was able to visit Mom very often because mom was in a nursing home on the same complex.

 

   She adored going to the art classes, and she loved to crochet (she crocheted many red scarves for women’s heart month and Afghan squares for blankets) and taught some of the aides and residents to do the same, while a couple of aides taught her how to make rosettes out of the yarns. Rhoda also encouraged others to attend lectures, listen to concerts, participate in discussion groups, play Jewish bingo, or work on some project.

 

   Aunt Rhoda distinguished herself by becoming an ambassador (official greeter/sunshine committee), selling ice cream in the café (she was the only resident who had the key), and keeping perfect records of sales; when she collected a minimum of $10.00 she’d hand in the cash.

 

   Her love for Israel and Judaism was self-evident. Not only was she saluted and honored as a woman of achievement by the Shalom chapter of Mizrachi/Amit Women (a life member) but she was journal chairperson and guest of honor at events relating to Israel bonds.

 

   A few months ago, Aunt Rhoda mentioned to me that she had no regrets and that she lived by her decisions happily.

 

   Rhoda was predeceased by her brothers Sam, George and Joe, sisters Shirley, Bertha and Raye, as well as by her loving husbands Michael, Raymond and Sidney Targov. She was also predeceased by several nephews and nieces, Alfred, Jeanne, Kenny, Ken, Gilbert and Keith.

 

   Donations may be made in her loving memory to Young Israel of Brighton Beach, Hadassah, Jewish National Fund or any other Zionist/Jewish organization as well as the American Heart Association or the American Cancer Society.

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I thought she would be with us forever. My beloved aunt Rhoda was 101, 102 or maybe 103 when she passed. Aunt Rhoda was one of the first people to see me when I was born and I was one of the last people to see her before she passed away.

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