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December 21, 2014 / 29 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Naomi Klass Mauer’

So Many ‘Things’: A Personal Account of Hurricane Sandy

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

There it was, a backyard full of my basement furniture, and bags and bags of waterlogged papers. There is something very humbling about seeing your “things” laid out on the grass. Of course, my home in Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn, is just one of many in the region devastated by Hurricane Sandy. But since possessions are by definition personal, it gives one no comfort to know others have the same problem.

In my case this is just the beginning, because the water that flooded my house rose above the basement and came up to the first floor, causing major damage. So over the next few days my daily living items will also be making their way outside.

As I stood on my porch, many thoughts came to mind. Leaving aside the enormity of what I have to deal with, I couldn’t help but think of how much we accumulate over the course of years. I am not by any means a hoarder – but I was quite surprised to see how much I had saved. Whose lock of hair is that in the water-soaked bag? My sons are in their forties with children of their own, but I guess I couldn’t part with that little lock from a long-ago upsherin. Now I would have to.

The table and chairs sitting outside were connected to a chesed I had done a while back. Actually, it was only the first part of the chesed. That probably is why we are told that if one starts a mitzvah, one has to finish it. I will not be able to finish that one.

I suppose some of the things in the basement were junk, but so many others were dear to me. There was the set of my father’s machzorim with larger print for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur that my mother gave me after my father died, with a beautiful inscription that only my mother was capable of writing. I still remember what she wrote, and that will have to be the memory I hold onto now that I can no longer hold those machzorim.

As I stood there, another memory came to me. It was about thirty-three years ago that my dear Aunt Sylvia died, and while my mother sat shiva it fell to me to empty out Aunt Sylvia’s small apartment. Everything Aunt Sylvia owned was in those two and a half rooms. And there I was trying to figure out what was valuable and what was not. Then again, valuable to whom?

I picked some things I thought my mother and my sister would like and I took some of the things that had special meaning to me. Much of the rest I discarded. But it wasn’t easy. I was crying as I worked on it. And when I was finished I promised myself I wouldn’t save so many things. Now, all these years later, I ask myself how it is that I indeed saved so very many things.

I think the answer is that while we live, different things have meanings to each of us. I saved the little card my son Zevie made for me when he was three years old in nursery school because I never could forget the joy on his face when he presented it to me.

I saved my children’s report cards, from first grade on, even those of the daughters who are now grandmothers themselves because – well, just because. I saved some of the birthday cards my parents gave me over the years because, as I mentioned above, my mother had such a wonderful way with words. And the list goes on and on.

My husband’s medical school diploma and other items related to his medical achievements were in the basement along with some of his other things. In a strange way I would feel a sense of comfort in touching them. It will soon be his second yahrzeit, and I miss him very much.

My eyes filled with tears as I stared at what was in those clear garbage bags, but then I quickly admonished myself. How could I tear up over “things” when I have my life and my health? But I stopped beating myself up about it almost as soon as I started.

When Old Friends Meet

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

There is a sweetness like no other when people who have been friends for more than sixty years have a chance to get together for a couple of hours and just schmooze and catch up on life.

I recently did just that.

I was in Israel for my husband’s first yahrzeit in December. My friend Sandy arrived a week later for a short stay and that was the perfect opportunity to get together with Libby, who lives in Israel.

We met at a café in Jerusalem one morning and sat enjoying good food, and even better friendship, for about five hours.

Fortunately for us, it was one of those cafes that invite customers to stay as long as they like.

Libby Goldberg (all surnames here are maiden names) and I were born one month apart. Our parents were good friends from the Young Israel and we were wheeled together in our baby carriages on the boardwalk of Brighton Beach. I wonder if our mothers had any idea back then that they were setting in motion an everlasting friendship.

I met Sandy Singer when all of us started first grade at Bais Yaakov of Brighton Beach. After a few weeks my mother transferred me to another school, but by sixth grade I was back and the friendship that started then between the three of us has lasted all these years. My mother had a name for that. She called it a lifelong friendship. And so it is.

We have been there for each other in happy times and in sad ones. We have joined in each other’s simchas and comforted each other in times of sorrow. And then there were all the times in between.

Our old group also included Talya Cohen, who lives in Israel but was on a business trip out of the country at the time, and Lorraine Schwartz, who missed our little reunion by a couple of months.

There is so much to be said for having shared memories of long ago. It isn’t often that all three of us are in the same country at the same time, so when it does happen we try to grab the opportunity to get together.

Having such a good time with these lifetime friends made me stop and think about what makes a friendship so solid that it can last decades, especially when our chances to see each other are few and far between.

Perhaps it is having a shared past history.

Perhaps it is knowing some of each other’s vulnerabilities.

Perhaps it is always remembering everyone’s birthday.

Perhaps it is remembering each other’s parents and grandparents and sisters and brothers when so many of our newer friendships never got to know them at all.

Perhaps it is all of these things – plus a shared commitment to the same Torah values. In addition, we agree on so many critical issues of the day. We also all share a strong desire to live in Israel, though only Libby and Talya presently do.

Whatever accounts for it, I am very grateful for the gift of true, lifelong friendships and the occasional opportunities for us to meet and sit together for hours and just pick up where we left off.

What does it matter if our hair is gray now? Or if not all our teeth are our own? Or if aches and pains surface from time to time? We all still feel like those young girls of long ago. And when we look at each other, that is whom we see.

Can anyone say it isn’t so? And just maybe it is the very act of getting together whenever we can that keeps us feeling young. May it continue for many years to come.

Naomi Klass Mauer is associate publisher of The Jewish Press.

Everything I Dreamed Of In A Husband

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

My husband’s first yahrzeit is almost here and I am finally ready to write about him. The gaping hole his passing left in my heart is still there, but I have learned to fill it with the sweet memories of our life together.

Ivan was everything one could want in a mate: kind and considerate, loving and gentle, a scholar with a brilliant mind, caring and devoted. I suppose I could add additional superlatives but even then I don’t think I could do justice to all that he was.

He was a doctor – the old-fashioned kind who cared deeply about his patients and called them at home to see how they were doing. He took their troubles to heart and was never too busy to give them a listening ear when their troubles were more than just physical.

His practice included individuals who were mentally challenged, and he gave each of them the same loving care he gave to all.

I was at a pidyon haben one evening and as I sat down at an empty table, a woman came over and asked if she could sit with me. Of course I agreed. She said most people don’t like to sit with her. I smiled and told her she was most welcome.

She asked me my name. When I told her, she said, “Mauer? I once had a doctor named Dr. Mauer. I never knew anyone like him. He made me feel as important as everyone else. He didn’t know it, but I used to go to him even when I felt well, because he made me feel good. Now he died and I don’t have a doctor any more.”

I know from his office that she was echoing the sentiments of all his patients.

He was a devoted friend and called people near and far every Friday before Shabbos. More than twenty years after he left Los Angeles, he was still calling his dear friends there every week.

“That is how you show someone that you care about them,” he explained to me when I questioned him about it. And it mattered little to him where he called to reach them – whether it was Israel or any other part of the world, if it was Erev Shabbos, he was calling to wish them a Good Shabbos.

And he spoke to everyone. It wasn’t just that he said hello to the porter and the janitor and whoever else crossed his path. He asked them how they were and how their families were. To him everyone deserved to be treated with dignity. Once when we were getting our car, the garage attendant told my husband he didn’t feel well. Our evening plans were put on temporary hold as my husband listened to his complaints and checked him out. Imagine the surprise of the people who came into the garage for their cars, only to see the garage attendant being examined by a doctor.

He had a tremendous regard for the rabbinate. He valued all knowledge, but he held rabbis in the highest esteem. He might disagree with individual rabbis but he always respected their Torah knowledge.

The late Rabbi Simon Dolgin remained his rabbi throughout his lifetime. But he also considered Rabbi Maurice Lamm his rabbi, and Rabbi Eliezer Waldman of Kiryat Arba was not only his rabbi but a dearly beloved friend as well. When we discovered Rabbi Berel Wein in Jerusalem, he too became Ivan’s rabbi, and whenever we were in Israel he wouldn’t miss a single shiur. When we were in New York we played his tapes every day on the way to and from work.

The greatest present one could give Ivan was a book. He was a voracious reader and could be reading more than one large volume at a time. On occasion when we knew the author, we were offered a copy of the book. Ivan would refuse. He wanted to buy the book and only then would he bring it to the author to autograph.

As a father he tried to give his children strength. After his first wife Gail (the mother of his children) died, he was devastated but understood it would be his example that would help them move forward. It’s easy to give up. It takes work to push forward when you don’t want to. That was Ivan, moving forward and doing what had to be done, honestly and with strength. And it was that example he gave to his children together with his love and encouragement.

For me, he was everything I had dreamed of finding in a husband. His love and devotion sustained me no matter what was happening in my life. He made me laugh, he made me feel smart, he was a comfort when I cried and he valued the Torah lifestyle we led together. He treated my parents as if they were his, and they in turn loved him like a son.

In Tribute

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

On Monday November 21, the 15th day of Kislev, at 11:00pm, Mrs. Irene Klass, the Publisher of The Jewish Press and Editor Emeritus of The Jewish Press Magazine section, passed away.  At the same time, her daughter, Naomi Klass Mauer, was at the airport, getting ready to escort the aronof her husband, Dr. Ivan Mauer, to his final resting place in Eretz Yisrael.  Mrs. Mauer wrote the following hesped for her mother while on the airplane.

 

Mommy, Ivan – how could I lose you both in one day? Two mighty giants to shake the very heavens. 

 

             Oh Ma, you were the smartest woman I ever knew. I was always so proud of you. How I hoped you were proud of me. 

 

Small in stature, a giant in every other way. So before your time. When we were children, you were already into organically grown health foods. Wash your hands you would tell us. Today, everyone knows how important hand washing is to prevent the spread of germs. 

 

You and Ivan were both true intellectuals. I loved your easy banter on scholarly works. Ivan called you Mrs. Shakespeare and referred to himself as William. When you were already hardly talking you looked up at him and said “that’s Sir William.”

 

But probably your greatest midah was your tzedakah. You helped people you knew and people you never met. You were gracious and generous. Like Ivan, you saved lives. Your tzedakah saved many a family.

 

And your voice Ma, your beautiful singing voice from which a foul word never left your lips. Ah, but you were so elegant. When I was young, I knew I could ask you anything and you always told me the truth. Chesed was your first name and truth was your middle name. 

 

Your articles and poems were extraordinary. Herman Wouk and Dr. Norman Lamm called you to praise them and when you praised an article of mine, I felt so honored.

 

You were Daddy’s strength. You gave him the encouragement to start The Jewish Press. You were his helpmate in every way. The success of The Jewish Press was as much yours as it was his.  

 

Irene Klass and Rabbi Sholom Klass

at their wedding in 1940

 

 

When I was young my girlfriends used to say we won’t tell you because you will tell your mother, and I would say, yes I will but my mother won’t tell anyone. You were my best friend. 

 

Your childhood was very difficult but you overcame everything. You had an inner strength. I know what it was – it was your deep faith in Hashem. I owe you my life and my strength and my strong faith. 

 

Mommy, please forgive me for not being here. I will carry you inside me for all of my life. You and Ivan will be meileitzei yosher for all of us. 

 

I love you my sweet, special, strong mother. You were greatness personified and we were the fortunate ones. Rest in peace, you have earned every reward.

 

* * * * *

 

The following hesped was said by Shandee Fuchs, editor of the Family Issues section and Mrs. Klass eldest granddaughter.

 

It is very difficult to stand here and say goodbye to Bubby.

 

It is even more difficult to even try to begin to describe Bubby to you.

 

To me, Bubby was the most special wonderful person in the world.

 

I am sure that each of my cousins will tell you how much she loved them, but it is impossible to describe the total unconditional overflowing love that I felt from her. My Zaidy and Bubby made me feel like the most special person in the world. I knew that they would do anything in their power for me, no matter what. In a world that is slowly going mad my Bubby and Zaidy were my stability, and my anchor.

 

Bubby was a role model of bitachon in Hashem.

 

Bubby would start each day talking to Hashem. She had a favorite place by the glass sliding doors to her terrace. She said she wanted to be able to look up to the heavens when she spoke. After she recited her brachot and Shema she would actually have a conversation with Hashem, beseeching Him on behalf of her entire family and the rest of Klal Yisrael. 

 

Most of you who are gathered here probably have stories of your own about my grandmother and her amazing acts of tireless chesed. Wether it was through a monetary assistance or some “pull” or putting in a good word, or just listening Bubby was there for everyone.

 

Before Rosh Hashana I heard a shiur about our purpose in life. The speaker said that when we are born we are given a name by our parents, which is of great significance, but it is our job- our tafkid in life – to take for ourselves another name, one of the names of Hashem. We should live our lives in such a way that one of the attributes of Hashem should be attached to our name and we should be known for that. For example Avraham Avinu is known as the Eesh Chesed. In that way we will make a kiddush Hashem and know that we have accomplished what we were sent here to do. Last night I was thinking, which one of Hashem’s names did my grandmother attach to herself? What is she known for? And I just couldn’t decide. I went through all the middot of Hashem and realized that she was such a power house that she achieved all of them. Rachum and chanun- compassionate and gracious; erech apayim- I don’t think that I ever saw my grandmother be angry; rav chesed- abundant in kindness; and emet – Bubby was a person of truth, who stood up for the truth, even when it wasn’t the popular thing to do.  Together with my grandfather, through The Jewish Press, they took on many causes because they were the truth and they were just, no matter what the repercussions were. 

 

Bubby was a true eishet chayil- standing beside my grandfather all their years together. It wasn’t always easy times. And as the eishet chayil in Shlomo Hamelech’s song she never seemed to tire or stop. From early in the morning till the middle of the night and beyond- if there was something to be done or someone to help Bubby just wouldn’t stop. 

 

Bubby prepared the way for us. For me especially, she was always there. When the time came, she became mine and Meir’s shadchan and introduced me to my best friend as well. When Hashem blessed me and I became a grandmother, everyone asked me what I would be called. They were shocked when I said that I was going to be a Bubby! They were sure that I was going to choose “savta”, however I told them I have a Bubby and that is what I hope to be.

 

The Yom Tov of Chanuka is just about here. It is a Yom Tov that symbolizes hashgacha pratit.  Bubby was firm in her belief that Hashem is the One and only One Who directs everything from above. Our chachamim instituted that we light candles to commemorate for all time this belief in hashgacha pratit that was demonstrated so many years ago.

 

Bubby is my candle shinning ever so bright on the path that she so lovingly prepared for my family and me.

 

May Hashem help my family and me stay on her well-lit path.

 

I would just like to ask mechila for not being there as much as I should have.

 

Please forgive me.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/in-tribute/2010/12/01/

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