Sarane Rochelle LOEB née STARR
September 27, 1934 Chicago - June 3, 2005 (25 Iyar) Chicago
By Rabbi Allen Kensky:
We come together this afternoon to mourn the passing of a true eshet hayil, a woman of valor, a beloved wife and devoted mother, a loving grandmother, a cherished aunt, and a good daughter of our people. Sarane Loeb lived her life with an inner strength, with courage and conviction, and she was a blessing to those touched by her. The daughter of Rabbi Selig and Pearl Starr, Sarane led her life according to Jewish values. She created a beautiful Jewish home for her family, raising sons who are actively involved in Jewish life.
Sarane's life began on the South Side of Chicago, where her father was rabbi of a small congregation, in addition to teaching at the Skokie Yeshiva. An outstanding student, Sarane's education was accelerated early on. She entered the University of Chicago as a junior in high school, and went on to earn both a B.A. and a Masters in Education from the University. She taught mathematics at the University of Chicago Laboratory School, and then wrote mathematics textbooks on various levels for Scott Foresman. Later, she helped her son Danny get his start in math, as she helped him advance beyond the courses taught in the Day School that he attended. Sarane received a good Hebrew education, spending summers at Camp Ramah, and living in Israel after graduating from college.
The center of Sarane's life always was the family. She was a strong support to her sister Jean, of blessed memory, and was especially close with Jean's son Joel Lubell, who honors Sarane and the family by having made the trip from Jerusalem to be here today. She was close with her brother Donald, and that side of the family is represented here today through Donald's children, Rabbi Yehoshua Starr, Stuart, Minda and Ellie. Sarane was, in her husband Stephen's words a "pillar of the family." She and Steve shared in a mutually supportive marriage of 44 1/2 years. Sarane was bookkeeper of the business, officially its vice president and treasurer. Sarane took care of the family's finances, and contributions to a long list of charities.
Sarane was afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis at a young age. She suffered severe pain, and could not walk. But through those difficult years she continued to raise children and run a household. When her disease went into remission, she garnered new energies. At all times, she faced the challenges of her health with courage and strength. This is preeminently how I interpret the term eshet hayil, woman of valor, in reference to Sarane. She lived her life with strength, an inner strength and courage that enabled her to triumph over pain and illness, and live a life as fully as possible despite it. When well, Sarane took art classes. She enjoyed playing bridge with her brother and sons, and through life was an avid sports fan. If Sarane couldn't do things herself, she knew exactly how to guide and direct others. Even in her recent illness, she had a full handle on her treatments and medications, and on those things that needed to be taken care of at home. Sarane had high standards for herself and for those around her, and maintained them at all times.
Sarane's greatest pride was her three sons and their families. I could hear the joy in her voice whenever she spoke of David, Bob and Daniel. She was proud at having raised three successful sons, fully involved in their local Jewish communities, and active fathers and family men. The love that the three of you showed to your mother was a true blessing to her. Without a doubt your constant visits and your phone calls were better than any medical treatment for her. Sarane welcomed Maureen, Julia and Helen into the family and was proud of them and the homes they helped create for their families. Sarane was close with all her grandchildren, despite the physical distance between them. She took great pride in Kathy's Bat Mitzvah last month, and rejoiced from afar. And the times she spent with Talia, Jonah, and Ezra; Gabrielle, Jonathan and Benjamin were truly special for her, and for them.
Sarane conducted herself with bravery through her recent illness, with the same courage that characterized her entire life. Through her illness she remained fully involved in the life of her family, and continually expressed her concerns for them. And she felt the love and support of all of you.
Sarane's suffering has come to an end. We bring this proud daughter of our people to her resting place on Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day, on this important day of our calendar when we celebrate the reunification of our beloved Jerusalem. Sarane passed the love of Judaism on to her children, who now pass it on to theirs.
The pain and loss we all feel today is great. An anchor in our lives is gone. But the bonds of family that Sarane helped plant in you are strong, and will remain so, giving each of you strength in the days and months ahead. I know that as a family you will always reamin close. I know that you will carry on the teachings of your beloved wife, mother and grandmother. And I know that you will continue to be inspired by the strength in the life of your beloved Sarane Loeb, and her memory will be a blessing for you. May the soul of Sarane Loeb, Sarah Rachel bat Harav Zelig u'Perl be bound in the bond of eternal life.
I would like to say a few words about my Mom.
I do not know if she knew how much credit she deserves for what I and my brothers have accomplished in life. As our mother and our role model she exemplified many qualities which I can only hope to emulate.
My Mom had been battling illness as long as I, as her youngest child, can remember. Her courage and tenacity in the face of her handicaps was inspirational. To use a bridge analogy, life dealt her a bad hand in many ways, but she made the best of the cards she had.
When Helen first met my Mom when she came to Chicago for Pesah 1988, physically my Mom was bed-ridden, but in every other way she was completely in command. She made my soon-to-be fiancée feel like an integral, wanted part of our family. Although trapped physically in the living room of our house in Skokie, she was the conductor orchestrating the preparation for the Seders. Although she clearly had not stepped foot in our basement for years, thanks to her extraordinary memory and organizational skills only she was able to direct our efforts and pinpoint the location of the myriad items we had to bring up. (It was under her direction that my brothers and I learned how to cook, shop and maintain the house: Skills that are invaluable to us to this day.)
Once we settled in France, we were honored and amazed by her determination to overcome the obstacles imposed by her handicaps and visit us in Toulouse and Bordeaux, for our wedding and again and again after the birth of her first grandchild Gabrielle in 1991. My Mom doted on her like the daughter she never had. She stayed with my Mom during the summers of 1993 and 1994 and they shared my Mom's passion for art, played on the computer, and had a great time.
It is true: Above all else my Mom valued family. The way she honored and took care of my Zeide, Rabbi Selig Starr, is an example to us all. (Visiting Zeide at Yeshiva Darchei Noam in Yerushalayim in 1985, I was struck by how both my Mom and my Zeide went to lengths to spare the other from worrying about their health.) She was especially close to her brother, my Uncle Donny. It was great having our cousins living nearby and my Mom encouraged me and my brothers to develop close ties with our cousins and our grandparents with frequent visits and sleepovers. My parents and Uncle Donny and Aunt Dorothy were a constant fixture in our house with their regular bridge games which Bob, David and I tried to emulate with our cousins. Her love of Bridge was never about Bridge per say. It was about having a chance to share a moment with three other people she cared about. The loss of Uncle Donny was especially difficult for my Mom since they were so close. Despite our acute sense of loss today, it is of consolation to note that Mom is reunited now with Zeide and Uncle Donny.
For many years, the highlight of my Mom's calendar has been the occasion to get my family and my brothers? families together for Pesah. Her overriding concerns were everyone's happiness and family harmony.
I owe my religious education in large part to my Mom who sent me to religious day school and above all set the standards at our home. However, it was Mom's moral sense which formed our character more than anything else. (I am told Mom put a McGovern sticker on my stroller when I was a toddler.) My Mom believed firmly in charity, equality and social justice, and I will never forget these values.
In her final days at the University of Chicago Hospital, my Mom ironized about the circle of life, for it was there at the University that my Mom had studied, met my Dad while they were in Mizrachi, and worked as a high school math teacher at the University of Chicago Lab School.
I owe my Mom, a math teacher and author of several math textbooks, credit for my passion for mathematics. In middle school, when my Mom saw that the curriculum at Hillel Torah was unable to meet my needs, she stepped into the breach and taught me Algebra and Geometry herself. This stimulated my interest in mathematics and set me along the path leading to my current career as a mathematician, and so I am forever grateful to her for this and for so many things.
Thanks to everyone for coming. We really appreciate your thoughts and your support. And thanks for listening. I can only hope that my Mom knew how much we all appreciated her. May her memory be a blessing for us all.
By her daughter-in-law Helen LOEBI met my mother in law pessah of 1988, I was just finishing my training as an engineer and came to Boston from France for an internship.
When I came into the house, I understood right away the handicap my future mother in law was facing with severe arthritis. She had been bed ridden the previous year, and could now sit, get some mobility with the Amigo, but she could not climb steps, so that she was confined in the family room of the house.
Yet she was in total command of preparing for the seder, giving precise directions to everybody. She could tell me the horseradish was in the back of the second shelf of the fridge. I was turning to Dan in awe, "How does she know?" She had not been in the kitchen for months. It looked surreal. Anyhow, I learned to appreciate her incredible will to get things done, get things done her way and I developed great respect for her.
Another memory I will keep is the smile on her face the first time she saw my baby daughter Gabrielle. We were living in France at the time and my mother in law came to visit us a couple of months after the birth. They took a plane to fly to France, then a train from Paris to Bordeaux which was due at 7 am in the station. My baby daughter was sleeping in the stroller and I left her with a friend in the apartment building we were living in. Arrival in Bordeaux was chaotic. Stepping out of the train was a challenge, we had to get the Amigo back into position. After that we had to go from quay 3 to central station, which required a special elevator. The elevator got stuck so that we had to get help. We finally arrived at the house and I went to my neighbor and friend to bring Gabrielle. When I stepped into the apartment pushing the stroller, I saw a big smile on my mother in law's face. She was ecstatic. From that time Gabby was a source of pride and happiness for my mother in law. I can still see Gabby sitting on my mother in law's lap, trying to figure the Amigo's control when we were at the mall. Since then every grandchild has enjoyed that special ride on Grand Ma's lap wherever we were going.
I also want to remember a couple of good laughs. We had a good time when my parents came to visit my in laws, spring of 1998. We were playing bridge. My mother enjoys bridge but she is very intimidated by it, always afraid to make mistakes. We were on a round of bidding that I had to translate for my mom. I was distracted as well so that the bidding started at 1 spade, then went to 1 heart... That's when my mom bid 1 diamond. My mother in law could not stop laughing. My mother was worried she had done something wrong. It was a great moment.
We had another funny episode at the Children's museum in Chicago, I still have a picture of it. Gabby was 7, she was just getting too old for the youngest section of the museum but we were having a good time there with Jonathan, 5 at the time. They had this big board with a drawing of shoes in growing order. On the floor they had a dozen shoes, the kid was supposed to hang the right shoe in the right place on the board. As a subterfuge, my mother had taken one of the shoes on the floor and replaced it with one shoe she was wearing at the time. Gabby, my little focused and logical girl could not get that one puzzle. She tried and tried, we laughed and laughed . She could not get all the shoes to fit on the board. It took her a while to look at my mom's feet and notice the bad trick we were playing on her.
My mother in law was dedicated to her family. She always asked me questions about Gabby, Jonathan, and Benjamin to make sure they were intellectually challenged. She always made sure to pick the right toy that would stimulate their math skill, art skill , spelling skill... She called me one day a few week before Gabby's birthday was coming. A new book had come out, it could be interesting for Gabby. It was the first Harry Potter, I had not heard about it yet. My mother in law was on top of it one more time.
I also want to remember those special moments of our lives. My son's Benjamin Brit Millah. I remember the joy of my mother in law when I gave her the new born baby to hold. Benjamin was named Zelig after my mother in law's father so it is a blessing she could be there for the naming.
My mother in law was also looking forward to my daughter Gabby's Bat Mitzvah, the oldest grandchild. She ordered her talit which she offered on Shabbat morning at Temple Beth Hillel Beth El Synagogue in Wynnewood. She felt so much pride in the way Gabby read Torah. Family flew from France, was reunited from the corners of the United States. It was a special day. Gabby and I played a duet on the piano. Mom felt very proud.
We'll miss her unconditional love. We'll miss her insight in politics, in finance, and of course in bridge. May her memory be a blessing. Amen.
With deep sympathy, and enduring respect, from a onetime math student (University of Chicago Lab School, 1956-57) who never forgot.
David Passman (Chicago, IL )