Professor Helped Fill Void After Loss of Dad, Family

We had just begun ‘Wednesdays with the Professor ‘ when we lost Professor Letiche.  See transcripts


Professor Jack Letiche going over one of his books with wife Emily in background, circa 2000s


Professor Helped Fill Void After Loss of Dad,


September 7, 2017


When my dad passed away nearly five years ago, just short of his 98th birthday, it was important for me to continue our friendship with Professor Letiche, whom I had met through Dad and had gotten to know with the three of us going out for frequent lunches in later years prior to Dad’s passing.  Since Dad passed, Professor Letiche became another father figure, as well as a friend and teacher (though he never acted like one, often more interested in my well-being than his own.  )

Initially, when just the two of us started going out for lunch together I felt a little intimidated. Not that Professor was uncomfortable to be around but quite the opposite.  Here was this world reknown educator from U.C. Berkeley having lunch with little old me. How would I keep up with the conversation?  Could  I say the right things so as not to embarrass myself?  Without Dad I had the full ‘burden’ of carrying on the conversation alone.  But, I quickly learned that it was no burden whatsoever. Professor Letiche always made me feel most comfortable and even like an equal.  Even  though  I had but a fraction of his knowledge or life experience, Professor made me feel like my limited knowledge on economics and other subjects we discussed was just as important as his own.  This encouraged me to ‘bone up’ on topics of discussion so I could be well-versed as I learned and WAS eventually able to hold my own,  which made me feel like I DID have something to say – and our get-togethers became that much more interesting and enjoyable –for me, anyway, and hopefully for Professor.

Though Professor was quite well-spoken, he didn’t use big words to impress, but , rather spoke in everyman’s language we could all understand. I also found this to be true in his writings, such as his memoir, ‘Crisis and Compassion –from Russia to the Golden Gate,’  which was a wonderful read that provided Dad and me many hours of enjoyment reading it together; through this memoir  I gained  further insight into Professor Letiche, the man,  and  the  amazing, full life that he  led.



When Dad was alive, Professor Letiche was the only one who would call nearly every day to check up on him and when the two of us got together the first thing he would always ask  about  were my beloved cats –my lone remaining family members   .  Professor realized how important the cats were to me, especially after losing all my family members.  Few others showed me such a  caring nature.


It became a real treat  for me to go out with Professor Letiche for lunch at one of the finer restaurants in town, such as Skates on the Bay or Bette’s Oceanview Diner.  I would pick him up at his beautiful home in the Berkeley hills and we would venture out to one of a half dozen favorite restaurants we both seemed to equally enjoy.  With my advertising background, It was a pleasure – and challenge –  to help Professor ‘market’ his memoir.  (I remember the wonderful discourse he gave at the University bookstore when the book first  came out as my Dad , still around at the time, and I listened in awe.) The book was a   true Five Star gem with great reviews one can still see on Amazon or at the the book website

Professor would continue to write articles and had   working on yet another book  that , I believe , dealt with the historical relationship between  unemployment and  the economy, more specifically, trade in light of the possible dissolving of NAFTA .  This was also the topic of one of our last discussions, which  I found very interesting .

After Professor Letiche had a major setback  earlier this year , and was hospitalized for several weeks , he bounced   back, so to speak , and was working on the new book.  However, now he was on oxygen full time and our lunches were at Professor’s house.  Yet, he proclaimed it would only be a matter of time until he got stronger and we could go out to restaurants again.  And I believed him.  Much like my own Dad, Professor had the drive and will to go on.  I even watched as he did some light exercises at the table.   Now that Professor was  in a wheelchair , one day recently I   was in for an even bigger surprise when he asked me to help him stand , which I did, reluctantly at first, and with the help of Arthur  carrying the oxygen, he would walk all the way to his bedroom on his own, this only several weeks ago.  There, he would continue to do light exercises from the side of his bed while I read him the day’s news from the New York Times. (Professor’s eyesight had deteriorated and enjoyed hearing the news – as did I enjoy learning the latest from none other than the New York Times.)

And to everyone’s surprise – maybe not – Professor DID get stronger and  we would continue our now weekly Wednesday afternoon discussions at his dining room table.  Elvie, Professor’s wonderful caregiver, would whip up food that was better than the restaurants’, and I would bring  dessert.   So, I didn’t miss going out to the restaurants , what with Elvie’s restaurant (I was not surprised to learn that she is a noted cook who had planned to open her own restaurant; hopefully one day she still will) and the beautiful view overlooking  the Bay from the Letiche dining room table.  We would now have even better discussions on economics, politics or the topic du jour in this nice, quiet environment. What an enjoyable experience it was for me getting together with Professor, Elvie and Arthur each week.

I already miss Professor Letiche very much. Yesterday was the first Wednesday in some time we didn’t meet. But, I am lucky to have been able to be in his presence a full five years after Dad’s passing. I admired everything about Professor Letiche   – especially his optimism . good nature and  common sense.   Without it , he might not have lived as long as he did.  I remember on one occasion months back he told me about when he wasn’t feeling well. It was a Friday and he couldn’t get into his doctor’s office until Wednesday.  Professor Letiche checked himself into emergency that weekend and it’s a good thing he did, because  the doctors there told him he had a major health issue and if he hadn’t come right in he wouldn’t have made it through the weekend.

Unlike my Dad, Professor was able to live out his live in his beloved home of over 50 years. Though he had outlived most of his contemporaries,  he still had many who cared about him , like Linda   , a former  neighbor who dropped by  during one of our afternoon discussions and it was fun to have her participate. Then there was Cheryl (sp), Professor’s long time next door neighbor , who I had met at Professor’s wife’s remembrance some years ago;  she was good enough to call me that Tuesday morning , September 5, 2017 at five in morning to share with me our loss of Professor.  It was good to have someone to talk to – and then Elvie would call me later.  I’m sure these good friends helped Professor keep going   many more years after losing his beloved wife, Emily.   And,  there were so many others , including Professor’s son, Hugo and his extended family , from whom members would always be coming out from the Netherlands to visit Professor , some as recently as two weeks ago.

Just as when I lost Dad, there will be another big void in my life with the passing of Professor Letiche. But, this time there is nobody left like Professor to help fill the void. I really thought he might just keep on keeping on, but we can’t be greedy. Ninety-eight years isn’t bad, and, again it’s interesting how he made it to almost the exact age as Dad.   I am grateful for having known Professor Letiche, who helped keep me going , so kind and compassionate himself after the loss of my last family member.

Thanks so much to Professor for everything as well as the ‘supporting cast’ in his life who made things work so well for all of us.

With cares and prayers, in living tribute,



Letiche Memorial

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National Friendship Week third week of August nice sendoutA friend sent this to me and I liked it so much I wanted to share it with you.

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Joan The Talented Artist – We Had Many Bloodline Similarities


Bottom drawing by Joan I have no details on, but top is her portrait of beloved Roscoe, her last dog (with Pucky) -the sweetest dog ever who I was lucky to care for his last three years

joan sketch of two figures

Once again on this first day of summer I’m thinking of  sister Joan, born on this day, JUNE 21 .

I remember her everyday but this is a special day I share memories of her, once a year.

Joan was multi-talented. Along with music, teaching, English literature and math, She was a talented amateur artist and I’m hoping to scan and share some more of her artwork soon in these pages and on website . We shared a lot of similarities via bloodlines or otherwise but she was ahead of me in most areas, eg both played piano -she took lessons for about 15 years and we loved the same music, food , movies – you name it, and she was a much better artist.


We always got allergies of the same nature at the same time and were able to share symptoms to make sure they were ONLY allergies. This year I had some real strange allergies (?) and had to go to the doctor instead of asking Joan to make sure they were only allergies since no Joan to compare with. In the past we figured that if both of us had the same thing at the same time they WERE only allergies. (The doctors weren’t even sure about my medical issue this time, so, yes, Joan was a better doctor than the actual doctors in this case). This is just one little vignette that comes to me today – and much of the spring/summer when allergies (or whatever it is) gets bad. Happy Summer to Joan wherever you are and everyone one else.

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kaufmans cropped

Sister Joan pictured in center surrounded by loving family members no longer with us, clockwise, from top Juicy cat, Dorian, Max(?temporarily forgot name), Mikee, brother Don, Roscoe. Not pictured here Pucky dog and folks Pauline and Jerry nor Joan’s earlier dogs including Aretha, Saphire, Mahalia.

THE PAST WEEKEND MARKED THE 17th Anniversary Passing of my dear sister Joan. As  before, I/we like to especially remember Joan and family members on on these days.

From Joan’s (and my) good friend, HELEN:
Some memories about things Joan and I shared:   I was active in going to workshops etc at JFK then in aboutrinda and invited Joan to go with me to drum with other drummers.  She seemed so excited about drumming and went out and bought a drum for this event.  We both had such a good time and did a little drumming after that event.    She loved the paintings at the Legion of Honor museum and she drove us to see some French Impressionists.  I know she enjoyed surrounding herself with art.  A book that stands out is by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, a Jungian analyst and story teller:  Women Who Run with the Wolves.  Its theme is that both women and Wolves have that deep need for freedom and exploring their inner untamed, unspoiled depths.  Estes uses folktales from around the world to explore using this theme of finding power through our creative self and not settling for society’s rules.   This book set off many discussions about our wise woman within.   She and I both loved travel and she told me about her experiences in Jerusalem.  We spent many days at dog park at Pt. Isabel with her dogs Pucky and Roscoe and mine Zuni.  We loved to go to the pool and hot tub and had conversations about each others’ lives while sitting at poolside.  Joan enjoyed meeting these 2 visiting scholars from Spain who were staying at my house for awhile and asked them about their lives in Barcelona.  She was so curious and interested in everyone’s stories.      Burt, these are a few of my many memories and they bring back the beauty of Joan and her warmth

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Saying Good-bye to one of the Real Good Guys, Uncle Len Rosenthal


transparent x


When Uncle Len Rosenthal came into the world he broke the mold. He was/is the ultimate ‘good guy.’  As everyone seems to note, he never had a bad word to say about anyone, and, if he did he kept it to himself. And, I found Len to have a lot of GOOD, interesting words about people and  various topics  on which he was able to expound.  Whether it involved his hobbies such as bridge, books, music and tennis/sports   (to name but a few) or politics and world events, it was always interesting to hear his thoughts and share views with him.

      I found Uncle Len to be one of the easiest people to be around. There was no ‘PC’  with him  and he was open to all comers with differing viewpoints, and, as noted, the word ‘negative’ didn’t seem to exist in his dictionary. In a fast changing world, Uncle Len was right up on the latest developments but, as a person, he never seemed to change with his ‘old school’ values when it came to respect, manners and the way he treated  people.

Uncle Len was fun to be around. I can still picture the original Rosenthal home near Piedmont/Oakland, going back to the 1960s and then one or two other homes before they moved into their current  El Atillo  ‘dream home’ where they’ve reveled some thirty years.  I enjoyed our visits to see Aunt Pearl and Uncle Len there, as did Mindy and as the Kaufman family, before. Uncle Len and I  had several common interests  including  music and sports. We would talk about the latest Neil Diamond or Roy Orbison album, how the Giants and A’s would do as well as more serious issues; and once we even attended a Neil Diamond concert together .  Uncle Len   went out of his way to ask how we were doing and  would often ask about my music  and inquire about ‘my’ backyard wild turkeys, with a laugh .

      We spent many memorable times with Uncle Len and Aunt Pearl, too many to mention here. When it became too difficult for them to venture far, it was just nice to have lunch with them at their friendly local deli or  in their welcoming Los Gatos home.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see Uncle Len the last planned visit on MLK Day when he had an unexpected doctor visit. What else?  Uncle Len certainly had to endure too many  such visits in the last months, perhaps, but they resulted in more days we got to spend with him, and, like the trooper he was, Len courageously accepted    the frequent medical visits and associated tests and nuisances.  Uncle Len and Aunt Pearl are amazing testaments to what taking good care of oneself can do if longevity means anything. I think it does – even if one , at times, feels like calling it quits. Len was able to spend his last days as he always had, in the comfort of his home rather than some assisted living/ nursing facility.

In the end, Len got back at least some of the good karma he gave the world including being there to witness the arrival of three great-grandchildren  during his 94 well-lived years.

          Yes, I/we will miss Uncle Len very much. There’s nobody to replace somebody like him. The world will be  less well off without him but I will always be grateful for  the many times I DID  get to spend in  his company and call him my Uncle. He will live on in our hearts and minds

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Remembering Pauline on Her Birthday -Her Restored Hotel Now an ‘Historic Place’

mothers day card framedIt is with much happiness I/we remember mother to Joan, Burt, Don and wife to Jerry, Pauline on her birthday January 27.

The years may seem to fly by but her presence is still felt and her memory honored. Today we look back at some of Pauline’s (mom’s) wonderful qualities and memories, particulary on this occassion  her winning  ways  as owner-operator, along with husband (Dr.) Jerry, of the old Coit Hotel in Oakland.  We just learned today that , likely due to their reign, the Hotel was named an ‘Historic Place’  in 1996/ 

Pauline was a strong, friendly and generally happy person-despite her share of sadness including the loss of daughter, Joan before her own medical troubles– and who did much for the world during her 75 years on earth. Though she might have lived longer, during her shorted life  she accomplished much and was known for fighting hard for others and what she believed was right, and, finally, who fought hard for her own life after having lived some 32 years (longer than all others, according to doctors) with pre-Leukemia blood disease which eventually would turn into Leukemia in her last years. Over the age limit for bone marrow transfers at most hospitals, Pauline was accepted at MD Anderson in Houston her last year. We visited her seven times that last year, 1999, holding out strong hopes for another miraculous victory but , alas, it wasn’t meant to be. As with the case of daughter and sister Joan, the blood marrow transfer didn’t take. Blood marrow transfers have since been less regarded as before with the success rate much lower than originally expected when they first became prominent a few decades ago. It was certainly worth the effort, and as with Joan, brought the family closer during those last years with mother when we fought together for her life.



Coit Hotel Oakland, CA One of the last remaining artifact from the halycon days, probably circa 1940s

Coit Hotel Oakland, CA circa 1930s


As we think of Pauline, what first comes to mind this day, her 90th birthday, was how she cared about doing things right, whether it came to people or projects. She was a very popular figure at the hotel she owned, along with husband  (Dr.) Jerry, in Oakland. Unlike the many ‘slum lords,’ Pauline with Jerry restored the Hotel Coit in the late 1960s to it’s old charm from Oakland’s ‘golden era’ of the 1940s and 1950s. For a time, before it became a government-subsidized apartment house, some well-heeled transients would stay at the hotel as they did years earlier, what with it’s new splendor and new five-star restaurant, the Red Coach, which had been a Chinese Restaurant, Cock of the Walk, thirty years earlier. We remember one such visitor, blues singer ‘Little Junior Parker’ and his band, who drove him in their 10-door limo one evening when I was working maintenance. But, the hotel was mostly home to a live-in cast of characters who lived permanently at the Coit – many storied seniors from ‘Old Oakland’like the Goldmans (a fiery matronly woman named Goldie and an unrelated man whose first name we do not recall; both were quite the characters who held fort most nights in the front lobby regaling the ‘lobbyists’ with colorful tales of Old Oakland and beyond. We know. We were often there listening intently) .Mr.Westergreen was just the opposite, a quiet, even timid man who stayed in his room but was friendly to me; he, too, had some great stories too. He once gave me an original picture Of Amelia Eerhardt getting her last haircut at the nearby Hollywood Barber just before her ill-fated flight around the world.
The hotel even had an old-fashioned switchboard-no longer operational- at the front desk, where operators used to sit and transfer calls to the rooms


little junior parkershowcase lounge oakland BB King dining after a 1971 show

LITTLE JUNIOR PARKER, left,  famed blues king from Texas , stayed at the Coit Hotel in the late 1960s during the Kaufman reign   while performing at the famed Showcase blues club in Oakland  .   At right is the great BB King having an after-show meal at the Showcase in Oakland


These folks and others loved staying at the Coit Hotel, largely because of Pauline and her caring ways. Unlike your average landlord, Pauline went out of her way to take care of her tenants, who became more like family. Besides being assistant maintenance man to Mr. Burns, yours truly was the house entertainment/piano player for approximately weekly concerts (if you will) on the mezzanine near the old Scimitar social club (another relic from bygone days). Afterwards, we would often stay for dinner at the Red Coach which was a real treat for me and everyone else. The restaurant was so good that many friends would venture into downtown Oakland,which was not the safest place at the time just to dine at the Red Coach. After several excellent chefs, Pauline and Jerry had to finally close the restuarant, despite yours truly’s best marketing efforts. Oakland just wasn’t a nighttime restaurant destination in those days.

match book cover coit ramsey

Pauline and Jerry had poured a lot of blood , sweat and tears into that hotel and came up empty- at the time. The restaurant was half filled as was the hotel – until it was later turned into the HUD location, which turned around my parents fortune for the better. (The folks had sold the hotel for a loss in the late 1960s but they lucked out when the new owner, surprisingly, couldn’t make his payments after turning it into a cash-flowing  HUD enterprise.

I just remember Pauline being so engaged with the Coit Hotel and everything eventually coming together. Even during the hard ,early years it was quite an experience being a part of the hotel, working with a great team, including all the characters – like the funny, head maintenance man Mr. Burns. For a time while Pauline and Jerry ran it, the Coit Hotel was the only classic hotel in downtown Oakland. The building remains to this day, as a resident apartment, still resplendent from the Kaufman ‘makeover.’   Proud to say that it was probably because of Pauline and Jerry’s restoration of the Coit that it was named an ‘Historic Place’ in 1996 . (Just learned of this today, too late to tell Dad or other family members, but nice to know the Coit will live on as a legacy project of the Kaufmans).


national historic place small


Whatever projects Pauline took on she carried them through as best she could. During her life she studied real estate, which came in handy at the Coit. She also tried to rekindle piano but decided it was not for her. Pauline was also a great hostess and cook, known especially for her apple pies- none like them with perfect crust. As noted before, Pauline took on issues she believed in, including ‘undergrounding’ of telephone lines in her neighborhood, which eventually happened but, sadly, after Pauline was around to see it. She cared for many others, and took them under her wing if she could help; we remember one  young chinese woman who was desperate to gain weight;remember  mom feeding her cans of Franco American sphagetti and Chef Boyardee Raviolis. Those are just some off the cuff thoughts of Pauline ( mom) on this, her  90th birthday birthday. 

cock of othe walk official oakalnd 1950s

Placemat from old ‘Cock of the Walk’chinese restaurant at the Coit Ramsey Hotel, circa 1950s before it was upgraded by the Kaufmans into the wood-grained Red Coach in the late 1960s. We were there and remembering the remodeling during which we found some of the old plates and artifcats which we still have to this day. Sadly, nothing remains from the Red Coach.


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Kaufman Kronicles: BUGS IN OMAHA, Happy 101 to Dad

11-27-15 Thanksgiving


Well, Thanksgiving came and went fairly quickly for me this year. Hope yours was a good one. If I didn’t get to say ‘hello’ I hope to soon… Here’s a brief tribute to Dad on his 101st birthday and a ‘Kaufman Kronicle’ ‘BUGS’  that ‘came to me’ the other day; perhaps some of you may remember hearing of this, though nothing on the Google wires that I could find. 

Take care and talk soon
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Memories and Thoughts of Don and Pucky Remain Strong 11 Years Later

It’s been a bittersweet weekend with the 11th anniversary passing of Don.

It seems like yesterday I drove Don to   attend
religious services not long after the passing of mother (Pauline). Don was
already in the throes of  his cancer treatments, yet he was
able to hobble down the isle and sit with me as we prayed for Mom and
sister Joan, who had passed two years earlier.
I remember Don having a really good spirit that night, as he did most of the time,
even despite his serious illness. Despite grieving for our family members
there was the strong hope  in both of us that Don could beat his illness and that positive attitude would give him more time that most. I remember that night, again, like yesterday,
hoping beyond hope that Don could beat the odds; if anyone could he could.
The other thing I remember  especially well during the time when Don was going
through his illness and treatments was that he continued to put others ahead of
his own problems.  Every time I would talk to him he wanted to know how
Pucky was doing.  Pucky was Joan’s dog for whom I took over guardianship after
Joan passed in 1999. Pucky, a chihuahua-fox, had that same indomitable spirit like Don
and was going through her own tough times with kidney failure
Sadly, she would pass this same week as Don,11 years ago, after her own long struggle.
It was certainly a double blow to lose both Don and Pucky at the same time , while
Dad was beginning to experience his own medical problems; it was certainly no easy feat
for Dad, who had been looking after Don, daily, the past years, after losing his wife
and daughter. Words don’t come to describe the empty pit-in -your-stomach feeling losing your closest people/pets (I had lost Joan’s older dog, Roscoe, just two years earlier,
not long after four cats in their infancies).
I learned a lot from both Don and Pucky, and TRY to live by the qualities they
showed me, especially in their later years as I got to know them better.
 I still miss them a lot, and always will.
While Pucky had a full life, for a dog (18 years)  I always feel especially bad
for Don, who spent so much of his time caring for others in his short-lived medical profession as well as being a dedicated father and friend of many-some of whom may not always have been there for him, especiailly when he was in need . Don did live longer with
his cancer than the great majority of people with  his kind of cancer.  I just hope he got more than a little back in his shortened life; for sure two great kids that will
perpetuate his legacy.  We know he was appreciated by many, including his co-workers at Kaiser Hospital who  awarded him Doctor of the Year. Dad and I went to accept that award in Don’s posthumous honor. As they say, Don was  ‘chip off the old block,’ much
revered by his patients as was Dad.  If Don had any enemies I never heard of any.
but lots and lots of admirers. 
I like to recall certain memories and ‘living thoughts’ of Don (and others no longer with us) that inspire if not daily then at least once or twice a year on these notable days. And, I always enjoy hearing stories about Don and my other family members which keeps them ‘alive;’  I cherish my brother Don, Pucky along with all my family members; just because they may not be so-called ‘active’ participants in society today they remain very ‘active’ in my hearts and thought processes, and , hopefully, some of yours’.
Thanks for caring and sharing,
With Love,
Burt K.
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Caring and Sharing the New Year with Some Fun, Crazy(?) Thoughts


Caring and Sharing – Don’t mind me if you prefer not to read this. Just wanted to reach out in my way and say hello with a few  crazy thoughts for the New Year.


So, summer is over and the New (Jewish) Year 5776 has begun for Jewish folks.


Now it’s time to say ‘where did the summer go?’ ‘Summer went so quickly this year.’ But, they said the same thing last year and the year before.


Well, remembering from previous years and now wanting to have to say that this fall,
I went out and had good, long summer. Not what some people would call real exciting.
I don’t travel except in the Bay Area. But I enjoyed my summer and can say I did
a lot, got out and about exploring the Bay Area Backroads, attending various events
and seeing some friends. And I hope you had a good, long summer , too. But, if you
didn’t it’s not too late to change your way.


I was just listening to a New Year’s sermon online from Rabbi David Wolpe of
Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and he was telling how his last child was going off to college and with a twist, she told him not to be too sad; afterall, she was
giving him food for a sermon, maybe even two sermons, joked the Rabbi. Then he made reference to the ’empty nest,’ saying it wouldn’t be totally empty since he would still be there – and it would a cleaner nest.


Then, he said that he hoped the next four years of his daughter’s college wouldn’t go
too fast, not that he didn’t want to see her. But there’s a tendency for us to look
ahead too far at goals, i.e. in this case college graduation rather than to focus
more on each day , getting the most out of them along the way – and for his daughter
to enjoy the process. You only go to college once. (Well, I added those last two lines).


Yes, I can say that the last few decades of my life have gone by fairly quickly
and I’m determined now to follow Rabbi Wolpe’s advice (which I’ve been doing anyway0 and get the most out of each day. In a article from our own local Temple Sinai Rabbi Mates-Muchin, she asked us to note the best three days of the past year and the worst three days and let those be a lesson. I couldn’t come up or remember three
bad days or three really good days. Everyday is generally good, within reason.
Sure, there’s a certain void of loss I always carry with me but try to turn that into positive energy (without going into detail). ‘Stop the Clock’ was one of my favorite stores in Berkeley that had a lot of nostalgic artifacts;maybe it was the name I especially liked – and I do try to ‘stop the clock’ or, at least slow it down. There are ways.


Instead of being too goal-oriented, it’s important to live in the moment, as Rabbi Wolpe says. Sure, one should be able to look back – I do it all the time – but in the context of today,bringing the past forward, such as honoring those who have passed in a current context.Each day should offer memorable moments we should enjoy, share and discuss.


That last word
is key – discuss. I think that’s something that’s lacking today in this world of digitalmedia where texting and email has replaced a lot of personal interaction- even phone calls are down. I have friends and relatives in the area I have hardly talked to this year.
Sometimes I’ve made the effort, but then maybe not enough, thinking that everyone’s so busy and they don’t really want to talk to me – maybe they don’t want to talk to anyone.But, this year, I’m going to at least make more of an effort to try. I feel it’s importantto SHARE things before too much more time goes by.


And, when it comes to the New Year, reminds Rabbi Wolpe it’s not for just one day we say
‘Shana Tova,’ but for an entire year. Yet, after the actual day is over, most of us forget
that we’re supposed to continue to have a good year EVERYDAY. So, after one day goes by
remember to celebrate the next day and the next day and the next day for the whole year,
trying to get something positive out of everyday.


When I wish people ‘Happy Birthday’ (or in my case, Happy Burtday) I try to tell people I’m wishing them
not just ONE great day but 365 days. Why not celebrate EVERYDAY? Of course, without getting older.(Ha!)
No doubt this all sounds corny to some – and that’s fine.I’m just
sharing thoughts, which I like to do- perhaps a lost art these days.
And, I’d like to hear your thoughts on the subject- or other subjects


So, back to Rabbi Wolpe. His daughter’s off in college. The tendency
for the parent is to tell the kid to study hard so they’ll graduate
and get a good job and get married. But, in Rabbi Wolpe’s case
I think he’d tell his daughter to enjoy the experience of college,
and please call or come home to visit from time to time , hoping
he sees her before the four years is up.


No doubt there are such goal-oriented families that sometimes overlook
the process for the goal and DON’T see each other -or little-
in that intervening period. Next comes the job, and the kid is
busy being a doctor or lawyer or whatever
with little communication back home…
or little or no fun along the process of working.


When you’re young you’re always looking ahead, which at the time
seems so far in the future. In retrospect, I wouldn’t have minded
a few more comments from the elders telling me to ‘enjoy it now’ –
‘don’t put off for tomorrow what you could do today.’ I think more
young people today do honor these words by taking time off from
school or work to travel or whatever, even if , perhaps, they
don’t see their folks and family as much as they might. I was mostly happy
to live in the same area as my parents most of my life. No regrets
of not seeing my loved ones enough, or helping them out when
they got older. That goes for my siblings, too. (Of course we all got
sadly short-changed there, and I think about that daily and try
to honor them or even communicate with my family somehow)


So, back to the kids. They graduate college and there’s a big
celebration and you might not see them again until -parents holding
breath- they get
married or until their new jobs slow down a bit.
So, for many people life is a series of goals and they’re missing out
a lot when they don’t live in the moment, but instead wait years for
the next goal to be reached before they really ‘celebrate.’
Why can’t celebrating be done often, even without a great reason
other than life itself. I like to look back often at the past
and sometimes look ahead to the future but, now I’ve learned
it’s about RIGHT NOW, enjoying the present. So what if the world’s
a little or a lot screwed up. One can still make a good life for himself or
herself. Probably most of us do, but still there’s a tendency as a kid
or young adult to
take things for granted. I don’t – and havent’ for years.
I remember going to services with brother Don, not long after mother
and sister Joan had passed from their medical illnesses. Now,
Don had cancer, himself, but he was able to attend services, limping
badly but still vibrant and I cherished that moment in time with him. All during the service,
held at the Paramount Theater in Oakland, I thought positive that there
would be more with him , but then there was the realistic voice telling
me that this could be the last religious experience I’d ever have
with Don. And it was. In fact, it was one of the last services
I’d go to with my family members; after Don, only Dad was left
and he’d given up on organized religion after losing two children
and a wife. However, I did get Dad to one or two more high holy days after
Don left us. I’ve thought time and again of quitting organized religion
myself but there’s something about the continuity that keeps me going-
and the beautiful liturgy and calming factor.
But, with all of my family there was always hope until the very end.
And, we hung onto that hope. I was so proud of Dad, in the end,
not having to go on hospice when granted that last surgery.
Nothing wrong with hospice for some, but for Dad there was still
a chance of prolonging his life with the ‘baloon-ectomy’ and
was tired of having unknowing aids lecturing us about going
on hospice. All of my family members hung on for a long time, Don for
three years with gioblastoma, when most people barely make it for
three months. Joan and Mom lived with their cancers for several
years. I was the lucky one, getting out of mine alive, and that’s
probably another reason I cherish everyday, having been given
that life ‘BONUS.’
And that brings up one very sad day I can point to this year, when
we lost one of the most vibrant, wonderful people so dear to our extended
family. One of the really inspiration people who always showed up
for ocassions, flying out from Denver for every wedding, Bat Mitzvah
or just to visit. If you knew her you know who I’m talking with.
She lived life to the fullest, especially helping others
while working with charitable organizations,
despite the tragic loss of her
doctor husband at an early age.
I certainly was inspired by her, wishing I could contribute to ‘
society a fraction of what she had done. It was about six months ago
-maybe more- I remember picking her up at the airport and taking
her down to have lunch with relatives. Who would have thought then
that would be the last time we would have ever see her, one of the most
vibrant, giving people you could imagine.
With all the above in mind, I/we enjoy each day now and it does go fast.
This is certainly not meant to be a lecture but my own thoughts
now having put a few miles on this car, having gone through a lot
and doing a lot of thinking.
And, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject, too. I don’t know if
anyone is going to take the time or want to read this but if anyone
reading this would like to call or write to share some thoughts I
would love that. In this technology age we really don’t have direct
communication as much as we did.


One of my favorite family memories was from 1961, I believe -or maybe 1962- when all the relatives were over at the Kaufman house on Hillwood Place listening to the latest thing on record – ALAN SHERMAN, that hot new Jewish kid who did great musical parodies who had just came out with his album ‘My Son The Folksinger.’ We were all gathered around the cardtable LISTENING to strains of ‘Sarah Jackman’ (Frera Jacqua) and ‘Streets of Miami’ (Streets of Loredo) and ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic ‘ with the great line ‘where the Drapes of Roth were stored’ and ‘My Zelda’ (Matilda) who ran with the tailor to Venezuela, or something like that. (‘Hello Muddah Hello Faddah’ didn’t come out until the following year.)  I had no idea what most of the lyrics meant as young kid but I loved the music and seeing family visiting and having a good time.


In any case, Happy New Year, Happy Yom Kippur to my Jewish friends
and relatives and I hope to talk to you more in the New Year,
sharing some interesting conversation again like I remember years

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Tribute to Pauline and Jerry from Carolyn Friedman;Remembering Sandra Vinnick

As an aside, Following the sad, recent passing of our dear relative, Sandra Vinnick, I received this kind tribute from Carolyn Friedman re my parents which we can include with many others:


‘I remember your Mom and Dad as some of the kindest, sweetest people I have ever known They were very good to me when I lived in San Francisco from 1965 to 1968.  I spent a lot of weekends with you, your sister and brother at your family’s home.  I think of all of you often.  What was “unfair” were the deaths of your brother and sister at such early ages.’

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