Lillian Freeman, past Hadassah president, dies

In addition to her involvement in Hadassah, she held various positions in the women's division of Israel Bonds, including the presidency. A San Francisco native, she also served as president of the sisterhood of Congregation Beth Sholom in San Francisco, following in the footsteps of her mother, Rose Schneider, who had served in the same capacity.

In the early 1990s, after moving to Rossmoor in Walnut Creek with her late husband, Bernard, she became active in Congregation B'nai Shalom, where her son Gordon is the rabbi. She took many courses there. She also made weekly trips to the Byron Boys' Ranch to tutor troubled youngsters.

"She felt you can't just keep taking from the community. You have to give back," said her son Gary Freeman, an owner of Oakland Kosher Foods. "She taught us very high morals with regard to that."

Those who knew Freeman say her leadership style was characterized by warm-hearted hospitality. She opened her home often, treating guests to superb cooking and baking.

"She brought an extremely personal touch to her leadership skills," said her son Rabbi Gordon Freeman. "She had a wonderful sense of humor. Between the humor and her graciousness, she didn't keep anything back."

An ardent Zionist, Freeman entered the travel business while still living in San Francisco and specialized in trips to Israel.

"She was hired to do Israel trips because she knew Israel so well," Rabbi Freeman said. "The clients became family members. She really got involved with their lives."

Her own family recall her as a fiercely devoted mother who loved to tell stories to her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and friends.

At age 80, she published a children's book, "Why Willie Wouldn't," a "funny monster book," according to her son Gary. At the time of her death, she was working on a mystery and a cookbook.

"She was always questioning," Gary said.

Freeman is survived by brothers David Schneider of Santa Rosa and Sanford Schneider of Berkeley; son Gordon and wife Susan and son Gary and wife Helene, all of Walnut Creek; and son Marc and wife Marci of Fairfield, Iowa. She is also survived by nine grandchildren.

Funeral services were held June 11 at Congregation B'nai Shalom. The family requests that donations be sent to the Freeman Youth Fund, c/o B'nai Shalom, 74 Eckley Lane, Walnut Creek, CA 94596. The fund supplies scholarships for Jewish summer camps, Israel trips and attendance in Contra Costa Midrasha.

Leslie Katz
Leslie Katz

Leslie Katz is the former culture editor at CNET and a former J. staff writer. Follow her on Twitter @lesatnews.