Deaths for the week of December 16, 2016

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Edward Uri Ben-Eliezer

Died peacefully Dec. 7, 2016, at the Jewish Home in San Francisco at the age of 86. Born in Baghdad, Iraq, in 1930, he was one of 10 siblings. Edward was the beloved husband to Jacquelyn Ben-Eliezer for 51 years and is survived by his three children, Daniel, Deborah (Noor Adabachi) and Hagar Ben-Eliezer.

Edward served in the Haganah underground army, escaped a concentration camp, finally emigrating to Israel in 1950 where he was active in the kibbutz movement and served in the IDF. Edward came to California in 1963, met his wife, graduated from SFSU and worked as a general building contractor for over 35 years. A devoted Jew, Edward studied at yeshiva in Baghdad and served as rabbi for Congregation Beth Am in Walnut Creek.

Sinai Memorial Chapel

(415) 921-3636

Jonathan Michael Bernbaum

June 17, 1982–Dec. 2, 2016

Jonathan Bernbaum died tragically and much too soon in the Oakland Ghost Ship Fire at the age of 34. At the time of his death, Jonathan was a world-renowned visual projection artist in the world of electronic dance music.

Born in Berkeley, Jonathan graduated from Berkeley High School in 2000 and from Brandeis University in 2004, earning highest honors as a history major and minoring in film studies. He went on to earn his MFA degree from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts in 2008, focusing on film editing.

After several years of work editing films, he became disillusioned with the corporatization of the film industry and discovered a unique avenue for applying his film skills in the creation of multimedia video art. He was eventually able to parlay these new skills into an international career, touring the world with the electronic music duo Knife Party and with VSquared Labs, among others. At the time of his death, Jonathan was widely considered one of the world’s foremost artists working in his field.

Jonathan was a passionate participant in the Oakland arts community, donating his visual art to countless events throughout the Bay Area and elsewhere in California.

There has been a huge outpouring of tributes to Jonathan. Friends and relatives recall his love of social justice, his razor sharp mind, his debating skills and his creativity as a visual performer.

The funeral was held on Dec. 11 at Congregation Beth El in Berkeley. The burial was held the following morning, Dec. 12, at Gan Yarok Cemetery in Marin County.

Jonathan is survived by his parents, Edwin and Diane Bernbaum, his brother, David Bernbaum, his grandmother, Miriam Lowe, and his aunts, uncles and cousins.

Tax-deductible memorial contributions can be made to the Civic Foundation earmarked for the Jonathan Bernbaum Memorial Fund, c/o Rosalyn Weinstein, 200 W. Washington Square, Apt. 3406, Philadelphia, PA 19106.

Sinai Memorial Chapel

(925) 962-3636

Roman A. Braunfeld

Oct. 1, 1925–Dec. 10, 2016

Roman was born in Stary-Sanch, Poland. When he was a young boy his family moved to the resort town of Rabka-Zdroi. His life changed forever when the Germans invaded in 1939. Almost immediately he was used as a slave laborer. Eventually he and his family were separated. His family was taken to Belzec where they were murdered. He was sent to the Krakow Ghetto. From Krakow he was transferred to another forced labor camp called Krakow-Plaszow to work on building barracks for the inmates.

In 1943 Roman was sent from Plaszow to Ostrowiec, Poland. There he was forced to work in a factory for a year until he was transferred to Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was tattooed with the number B 4776. In January 1945 he was part of the infamous death march to Gleiwitz. From there he was transported by open railroad car to Buchenwald. He was one of the few who survived the journey that began in Auschwitz.

On April 11, 1945, Roman was liberated by the American Army. He weighed 60 pounds, had contracted tuberculosis and was barely alive. He was sent to sanitoriums in Germany to begin his recovery. In early 1946 he went to Davos, Switzerland, where he spent the next two years continuing his journey back to health.

After Roman’s recovery, he began school in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1950 he met his future wife, Mimi. They were married in 1951 and their daughter Danielle was born in August 1952. With hope for the future, his new family emigrated to the United States and in 1954 his son Michael was born.

From 1953 to 1970 Roman worked as a dental technician for a large dental laboratory. In 1970 he opened his own business, Far West Dental Laboratory, where he had a long and successful career until retiring. Roman is survived by his wife of 65 years, Mimi, his daughter Danielle, son-in-law Eddie, son Michael, daughter-in-law Gretchen, grandchildren Sean, Noelle, Nathan, great-grandson Redd, and many friends.

A private burial was held. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Holocaust Center of San Francisco.

Sinai Memorial Chapel

Rabbi Sholom Groesberg

Jan. 11, 1920-Dec. 10, 2016

Rabbi Sholom Groesberg, 96, passed away peacefully on Dec. 10, 2016 in Walnut Creek, California.

Sholom Groesberg was born in Brighton Beach, New York, on Jan. 11, 1920. Educated in New York City schools, he earned his Master’s Degree in mechanical engineering from Columbia University and his Ph.D. from Stevens Institute of Technology. After working some years in the profession, Dr. Groesberg became a professor at Widener University and advanced to become Dean of the School of Engineering of that institution.

He then embarked on a new career, becoming ordained as a rabbi at the age of 60. Rabbi Groesberg became the pulpit Rabbi of Congregation Anshai Emet in Dallas, Texas, then Congregation Beth Emunah in Irving, Texas, and then Congregation B’nai Torah in Antioch, California. After “retiring,” Rabbi Groesberg created and led Shir Neshamah, a congregation without walls in Contra Costa County.

Rabbi Groesberg was an academic, a religious and spiritual leader, an author, a philanthropist, an artist, and a musician. To so many, he was a mentor and a unique and dear friend.

Rabbi Groesberg is survived by his brother Al and his nephew Henry.

Donations in his memory may be sent to Camp Tawonga and/or URJ Camp Newman.

Sinai Memorial Chapel

(925) 962-3636

Renee Lewin died comfortably and at peace on Nov. 27, 2016, at the age of 85 in San Francisco. She faught a gallant and brave battle against colon cancer almost three years ago and continued the fight this year with spleen cancer, along with the colon cancer returning with a vengeance. Although she fought hard with chemotherapy, her body just said, “Enough is enough.”

Renee was born in Danzig, Germany (now known as Gdansk, part of Poland). She fled Danzig (from the cruelties of Nazi Germany) at the young age of 8 with her immediate family for a better and safer life in the United States, arriving via the Queen Mary on May 9, 1938. Growing up in Oakdale, California, where her parents (Alfred and Meta) settled was a total change from Danzig, where her father Alfred Weinkrantz (name changed to Wilkins by immigration) was an executive with the Deutsche Bank. He became a theater owner in time, with Renee working there as a teenager. She later worked for Levi’s and JCPenney in San Francisco as an adult.

Her real passion though came out in her early ’60s, and that was writing. The classes she took over the years paid off and her short stories and poems were published.

Renee lost her husband, Jack, on Dec. 19, 1980, at the young age of 50 from a massive coronary and stroke. She is survived by her sister Herta and her sons Bruce and Walter.

Renee had one son, Richard, a retired federal government supervisor who is married to daughter-in-law Magdalena. She was also a canine grandmother to two adoring dogs Nishi and Taz, now aged 11, that absolutely adored her, giving her the will to live after the cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatments.

A private burial was held at Salem Memorial Park. Donations in Renee’s name can be made to City of Hope.