Eulogies

05
Dec
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In Memory of Jewel Capeluto

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Mrs. Jewel Jacquline Capeluto was born on February 24, 1932.  She leaves behind her beloved sister Ina Willner, husband Morrie Capeluto, son Ralph, daughter Linda and her husband Leon, daughter Wendy and her husband Stan, grandchildren and great grandchildren.  Jewel was predeceased by her sister Geraldine and by her parents, Fanny and Abe Danz.

Needless to say, the immediate and extended Capeluto family and our entire community is trying to come to terms with the sudden loss of Jewel. Today, the fifth day of Hanukah, we are in a unique situation: At one and the same time, we are pulled in two opposite directions: We want to show our utmost respect to Jewel and eulogize her on her passing. At the same time, Hanukah is a joyous holiday, and as Jews, we are bidden not to engage in the same level of public mourning as we would during the rest of the year. So if you detect a difference in the nature and the length of our words today, we do not mean, G-d forbid, to detract from the honor we wish to show to Jewel’s memory; we are all just trying to carefully balance the Jews’ national celebration of our miraculous history, with the intense mournful feelings of Jewel’s grieving family and community.

Before I offer various members of the family and a friend an opportunity to speak, I would like to offer a few words of reflection:

Early on in the book of Bereishit, the Book of Genesis, G-d observes that Noah is a wholly righteous person; of all mankind, only Noah and his family are therefore be spared from the desolation of the impending flood.  Essential to the atmosphere in the ark is the “Tzohar”.

G-d commands Noah: צהר תעשה לתיבה  - “Make a Tzohar for the ark”

Rashi cites two approaches as to what this “Tzohar” is:

יש אומרים חלון – there are those that say it was a window

 ויש אומרים אבן טובה המאירה להם – and there are those who say it was a precious gem that lit up the ark for them.

The approach that says that it was  a precious gem suggests that even if there was little or no light coming in from the outside – which was being pelted by the storm – internally…inside the Teva, the ark, there was a self-generating light.  A Tzohar, a precious gem, a sparkling Jewel that lit up the ark.

Some commentators ask: How could one gem, one Jewel, light up this vast area?

There are those that respond: The Torah uses concise language.  In fact, they say, there were many such stones around the interior of the ark and they jointly illuminated the area.

The plain meaning of the text seems, though, to indicate otherwise.  There seems to have been just one Tzohar.  Sometimes a single light source can give off a disproportionate amount of light.

In keeping with the spirit of Hanukah, I would like to suggest that Jewel Capeluto had just this kind of impact. Walking into Jewel and Morrie’s home, you instantly feel a warm glow, the warmth of a self-generating light; a shiny countenance that both came naturally – but make no mistake about it – was also consciously cultivated by Jewel throughout her lifetime. The warmth and the light were contagious, with Jewel’s family and community the beneficiaries of this light. It was a light of confidence. It was a light of clarity of purpose. It was a light of pure kindness.

There is a debate in the Talmud on the manner in which we are to kindle the Hanukah Menorah. One view, that of Bet Hillel, says   מוסיף והולך…we add candles each successive night of the holiday; another approach, that of Bet Shammai, says פוחת והולך…we subtract candles each night.  In the broader Jewish world, this week of Hanukah is joyous – it’s one of מוסיף והולך, of adding light.  For us here today, for her loving family and community, there is one less gem, one less precious light; together, this Hanukah, we are   פוחת והולך: we are jointly experiencing a loss of that light.

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21
Sep
0

Eulogy for Judy Menashe z"l

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Today, we pay our respects to Mrs. Judy Menashe. Judy is survived by her husband Victor, children Phillip, Shelly and husband Paul, David and wife Shannon, grandchildren Sarah and husband Tygh, Jamie and husband Chris, Jeff, Jacob, Josh Jesse, Kelly, Jamie Marie and great grandchildren Ashton and June.

On the Jewish calendar, we find ourselves in the Aseret Yemei Teshuva, the tens days of repentance.  It is an intensely reflective time of the Jewish year. Just a few days before Yom Kippur, our holiest day - we've come together to share our reflections on the life of Judy of blessed memory. Judy’s children Phillip, Shelly, and David helped me put together these thoughts:

Judy was an outgoing person.  From a very young age, Judy was undoubtedly THE most popular girl in her social circle.  She was also a superior athlete: In fact, many of her contemporaries remarked that when it came to sports, there was no real point in attempting to compete with Judy...Her love of sports continued into her adulthood and married life - she was an avid golfer and tennis player...the list goes on.   Judy successfully passed on her enthusiasm for sports and athletics to her children and grandchildren, it was from Judy that her kids learned the ropes of football, baseball and basketball... A devoted mother and grandmother, she could always be counted on to attend various sporting events, gymnastics competitions and the like...

Judy was also a very talented singer, channeling her love of singing primarily to her grandchildren, whom she treated to a regular medley of folk songs.

These are just some of the reasons those that knew Judy used to say that if they had to live life again, they would love to "come back as Judy"...

Her children recall that the kids playing on the back porch would wait for the honk of Judy's horn so they could help her take in the groceries – their help was not totally altruistice; it was in exchange, of course, for Judy’s generous allotments of popsicles and fudgicles. 

Family was Judy's top priority, and life had taught Judy that  her kids' well-being would be enhanced by a rich circle of friends and social connections. 

The most fascinating aspect of Judy's vivacious personality seems to have been her unique ability to straddle two worlds.  Rooted in the values and customs of her Rhodesli Sephardic heritage, she simultaneously reminded people of an elegant, cosmopolitan Jewish Jackie Kennedy.  While comfortable with the traditional role as wife, mother and homemaker who consistently deferred to her dear husband of 60 years, Dr. Victor Menashe, Judy developed a keen sense of her own place in an ever-evolving American society; she independently acquired the skills to navigate that culture, directing her family accordingly.   In a nutshell, Judy was a paradox: as comfortable on the golf course as she was in formal attire, with meticulous attention to the way she presented itself....At ease as a supportive wife, mother and grandmother, but with a dynamic and inquisitive eye to the broader culture..

I think it's safe to say that those who have come together today to honor Judy understand those who, if they could have a second go-round, would love to "come back as Judy."  Judy Menashe was  truly a complex woman who lived life to the fullest, with no regrets.  And during this time of the Jewish year, we Jews place great value on living a life of no regrets.

Menuchata B'Gan Eden

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19
Sep
0

Eulogy for Dave Agoado z"l

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As we prepare ourselves to usher in Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, one theme that appears in the Musaf Prayer on Rosh Hashana day is Zichronot: Memories.  In that section of the Musaf, we concentrate on how G-d remembers all that we did, said, and even thought.  Before G-d, nothing is hidden  - everything is revealed. The slightest nuances of both thought and deed go into His calculation, His final Judgment of each and every one of us.

Two short days ago, none of us imagined that we would getting together to compose our own Zichronot our own memories of a man who was a real legend in the Seattle community, Dave Agoado.  I had the privilege of spending some time last  night, after Shabbat, with Dave’s family – and they helped me compose their Zichronot, their memories of their beloved father, grandfather and great grandfather.

The great Ribi Akiva declared that “Va’ahavta Lere’acha Komach” – love your fellow as yourself – is the most all-encompassing mitzvah of the entire Torah.  Dave Agoado excelled at this mitzvah.  He literally loved all people.  This love expressed itself in many ways – from social interactions with visitors to the Summit, where he was the keeper of the keys in the foyer, to his 17 years of volunteer work at the Kline Galland, where his concern for others triggered the famous Shmoozers program. His dedication to Kline Galland  complimented the hard work of the Home’s leadership, as it became increasingly known over the years as a first class, premiere organization, a home for elderly people that cares for and ensures the integrity of its residents.  

If you were fortunate enough to be a recipient of one of Dave’s Keshes – his love barbs – it just meant that he had a special fondness for you.

Dave’s love for people expressed itself in a more concentrated form in the case of his family. 

As the only grandparent Amy and Jennifer came to know, Dave was the quintessential Grand Papoo. He took on this role with great enthusiasm. Oblivious to the aging process, Dave – at the time I think in his 80’s -  was on time for a party for Amy and Jennifer’s friends – who were 60+ years his junior – donning a the garb of a youngster – including wrap-around sunglasses and a tacky purple shirt.   His joy with his great grandson Solomon knew no bounds, peppering the unsuspecting tike with kisses at every opportunity.  

Dave was a proud, supportive and loving father to Joe.  Dave was a very active father, always looking out for Joe’s best interests.  When it came to his son’s welfare, Dave was an out of the box thinker – he founded a Jewish Cub Scouts pack Ezra Bessaroth back in the early 1960’s.  In the 90’s, when Joe sought his Dad’s advice on whether to take on the position as President of EB, Dave told him he was crazy for considering it.  Once Joe took the position, Dave would walk into the sanctuary on Shabbat mornings, gaze proudly at his son, and give him two thumbs up.  Dave had an unshakable connection to EB – helping youngsters, including three year old Stanley (donning an oversized Tallet up the many steps into the old EB synagogue building some 70 years ago) to serving as a chauffeur, ensuring the continuity of the Kehilla’s daily minyan.  Joe’s love for Ezra Bessaroth to this day flows from his father Dave’s lifelong devotion.

These are the Zichronot, the memories of Dave as an engaged father and grandfather and member of the community.

The strongest theme running through many of the anecdotes, the zichronot of Dave, is that he was a nurturer.

There is a Talmudic principle that asserts Mitzvah Bo Yoter M’beshlucho – it is preferable to perform a mitzvah yourself than to do so by way of someone else.  Dave’s character as a nurturer meant that when he had the opportunity to give to someone else, to care for someone else – he would do everything within his power to give himself, instead of assigning another person to do so on his behalf.

This came out most clearly when his wife, Joe’s mother Anita, became quite ill. For over six years, Dave steadfastly took care of Anita himself.  Only when it became very clear that Anita needed assistance that he could not provide, did Dave agree to have his wife move to the Kline Galland home. But even after Anita entered the Kline Galland, Dave continued his nurturing by visiting with her all the time, every day; he would not leave at night until he gave his wife a kiss.

A similar pattern – of engaging personally in the care of others – characterized Dave’s care for his daughter Joanne; A devoted father, Dave insisted on taking care of Joanne’s every need until the law changed, and her needs could be provided for by Kline Galland, even though she was under the age of 65. Dave’s sensitivity to Joanne’s emotional well-being prompted him to set up regular social outings with Joyce, Amy and Jennifer.  Mitzvah Bo Yoter M’beshlucho – at every turn, perform a mitzvah yourself if at all possible. That was Dave’s guiding principle.

On the eve of Rosh Hashana, as we pray that G-d remember, attend to our mitzvot, our positive thoughts and actions, we ask that G-d take note of our Zichronot of Dave Agoado.

For sister Francis Salzberg,

Children, Joe and Joyce Agoado

Grandchildren, Amy Agoado, Jennifer and Max Strassberg  and Dave’s great Grandson Solomon Strassberg, and for all Dave’s extended family and friends, this is a painful loss.  Dave Agoado will be sorely missed by us all.

Menuchato B’Gan Eden

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