Photo Credit:
Dr. Ivan Mauer

This Friday, the 13th of Teves, would have been your 80th birthday by the Hebrew calendar. But there will be no birthday greetings because five years ago Hashem called you back to heaven. You had suffered so greatly after your stroke that you were ready –but we were not and without you I am bereft, as are your children and grandchildren.

When I talk about you to people who never met you, it is hard to encapsulate all that you were. But when I talk about you to those who did know you, I learn some stories that even I and your children never knew.

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It was so fitting for you to become a doctor. Your whole nature was to give and take care of people. You had patience for even the most difficult of patients and you would call to check up on them days after they had been to your office. You treated everyone with respect, even those patients who were developmentally disabled. No wonder they mourned your death. No one else had ever made them feel important, but you did.

I found a letter sent to you by Judith Lamm Young, a”h, written when she was 16. She wrote that she didn’t like doctors and hated having to go to them, but you were different. You listened to her worries and concerns and treated her like an adult.

I recently met a gentleman at a dinner. He came over and introduced himself as “a friend of your late husband.” I was happy to meet him. And then he told me the following story:

Many years ago when he was a 16-year-old boy on the basketball team of a yeshiva high school in Los Angeles, his parents were away one Shabbos and he was injured in a game that Saturday night. There he was on the basketball court with a twisted ankle, in a lot of pain, and with his parents away. What to do? His friend said, “Let’s call Dr. Mauer.”

And so they did. He told you what had happened but said that someone would take him home and he would wait for his parents to get home on Sunday. But as he put it, “Dr. Mauer wouldn’t hear of it. He drove over, picked me up and took me to ‘his hospital’ where he got me X-rayed.”

The ankle wasn’t broken so you bandaged him up and drove him home.

“ I will never forget that chesed for the rest of my life,” the man continued. “Your husband went beyond the call of duty even for a 16-year-old kid with a sprained ankle. I learned to try to live my life like that because of what he did. Sometimes it’s one little thing like that which can make a big impact on someone’s life, and your husband did that many times over for so many people. I am really glad to have known him.”

From all accounts this man became an exemplar of chesed, as I heard at that dinner where he was a guest of honor.

It’s no wonder my son-in-law Meir said after your death, “ They won’t be able to replace Ivan. They don’t make doctors like that anymore.”

Son Greg recently said to me you were born in the wrong era. “Dad should have been a doctor out West going from community to community treating patients and getting paid in a chicken or whatever they had.”

In a way that’s what you did in the 1970s when you became the doctor for the yishuvim (settlements)in the Shomron, Ofra and Shiloh. You went on house calls and they paid you with whatever they could, even a good meal.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. This little essay was a heartbreaker, Naomi. Ivan Mauer was a genuine mensch whose doctoring skills flowed from that. He made you happy; you made him happy; neither one of you would have ever walked away from the other in life, but death is another story. There is no consolation for this kind of loss. But I'm glad you shared this personal reflection with us because it proves that true love DOES exist in the world, that is is possible to make Dr. Mauer come to life again by writing about him, especially when including the anecdotes that people shared with YOU about him, after his death, and it proves that even after a horrendous loss, it is possible to live a productive, creative life contributing light to a pretty dark world (which it is, let's face it). Your children, watching from the side, will hold the memory of Ivan Mauer close, but will also not forget how Naomi Klass-Mauer handled grief and anguish — NOT by giving up on life, but by choosing life — writing, producing a first rate Jewish newspaper, assisting agunot trapped in marriages that are the opposite of what yours was. This is the view (it must be!), of you, from Shamayim, where Ivan Mauer watches, along with your parents, and Hashem. Again, thank you for sharing this bittersweet love story and again, there is no consolation I can think of for such a loss. Baruch Dayan HaEmet.

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