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Deaths for the week of Oct. 11-17, 2020

Obituaries are supported by a generous grant from Sinai Memorial Chapel. This page will be updated throughout the week. Submit an obituary here.

Marian Jane Arnold Goldeen

Jan. 1, 1919–Oct. 13, 2020

Marian Jane Arnold Goldeen passed away at 101 years young. Born in Portland, OR, to the late Harry and Gertrude Mendelsohn, she is also predeceased by her cherished sister, Doretta Eisenberg, and her beloved husband, David Goldeen. She is survived by her loving children, Marilyn Stiller and Kathleen Derrick; adoring aunt of Susan Weiner.

Marian retired from the San Francisco School District, after 22 years of touching young people’s lives and hearts. She taught Language Arts to gifted elementary school students, a job she dearly loved. Marian was also a gifted writer of poetry and rhyme. She will be deeply missed by all who knew her, but she will remain in our hearts forever.


Leonard Louis Greendorfer

Oct. 11, 2020

Leonard Louis Greendorfer passed away peacefully on October 11, 2020, at age 92, leaving this earth to join the souls of his loved ones on the joyous Simchat Torah holiday. Len was raised in the Richmond District of his beloved San Francisco and spent much of his young life working at the family’s used furniture business on McAllister Street. When San Francisco razed the traditionally Jewish neighborhood of the Fillmore District in favor of redevelopment, the city lost its Jewish core. Len always enjoyed telling his family, friends and anyone else who would listen about the rich Jewish life that used to exist in San Francisco.

Len spent most of his career after the destruction of the Fillmore District in the tobacco industry, but his passion in life was family, friends and faith. Though he was raised in an Orthodox family, attending Congregation Chevra Thilim, a short walk from his childhood home on 27th Avenue, the family gradually drifted towards Conservative, then Reform Judaism. After marrying the love of his life, Hannah (a Holocaust survivor who grew up in what was Czechoslovakia until narrowly escaping the Nazis to arrive in the United States in the mid-1940s), Len and Hannah moved to Daly City, where they raised their three children Samuel Henry, Marc Arthur and Lynne Michelle and attended Congregation B’nai Israel. Temple life was always the center of the young Greendorfer family’s focus and Len became fast, lifelong friends with many of his fellow congregants. Len was an active and devoted member of the Odd Fellows, Masons and Jewish War Veterans and Veterans of Foreign Wars (Len served under General Douglas McArthur as part of the Army of Occupation of Japan at the end of World War II).

Without pulling punches, Len had disdain for the dramatic changes taking place in local politics and religion. After a brief experiment with a Reform temple, Len and Hannah found a new religious home, as well as a physical home, when they left Daly City to move to Pleasanton. Chabad of the Tri-Valley restored Len’s faith in faith, and the election of President Trump gave Len hope that the American republic would be saved. Len was an ardent Zionist as well and took delight in seeing the re-establishment of the Jewish homeland of Israel as well as its growth into a modern Jewish nation. As proud as he was of the accomplishments of his people in Israel, he was just as shamed at the conduct of progressives who abandoned the Jewish faith for the religion of the Democratic Party. The highlight of recent years for Len was President Trump’s courageous and unprecedent support of Israel and the President’s strong actions to confront progressive anti-Semitism in the United States.

Len is survived by his wife, Hannah, sons Sam (Cathy Greendorfer), Marc (Lauri Moss) and daughter Lynne Greendorfer-Castillo, his granddaughter Lee Ann Greendorfer and grandsons Joshua David Greendorfer (Chelsea Greendorfer) and Michael Castillo, as well as his beloved sister Gayle and numerous nephews, nieces and cousins.

A family service was held at Eternal Home in Colma, in defiance of the politically motivated lockdown that likely shortened Len’s life. In lieu of flowers, Len would appreciate everyone reading this obituary to vote to re-elect President Trump. In lieu of that, Len’s family suggests charitable donations to Shurat HaDin (Israel Law Center), an activist organization that combats anti-Semitism throughout the world: israellawcenter.org/donation or Chabad of the Tri-Valley.

Joseph “Joe” Koerpel

March 6, 1929–Oct. 5, 2020

Joseph “Joe” Koerpel passed away at the age of 91. Born in Germany to the late Martin and Erna Koerpel, Joe is also predeceased by the love of his life, Annabell Koerpel.

The proud father of Philip Koerpel and Dena Koerpel Hein; adored grandfather to Elise Annabella Hein; beloved brother to Mervin Koerpel; loving uncle to Steven Koerpel and Karen Nelson; cherished father-in-law to Chuck Hein.

Joe was proud to serve the community as a pharmacist for 48 years. He was a very loved and respected family man and community member. He will be remembered as a blessing of a man full of integrity, intelligence, with a zest for life, a great sense of humor, and a love of learning.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations in Joe’s name to: The Fromm Institute, 2130 Fulton St, San Francisco, CA 94117, (415) 422-6805, fromminstitute.org.


Ellen Stern

June 3, 1924–October 9, 2020

On Friday, October 9, 2020, Ellen Stern, loving mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, passed away at age 96. Ellen was born on June 3, 1924, in Cologne, Germany. During her teenage years, she fled Germany and moved to Shanghai, where she married her late husband, Kurt Stern. After eight years, they made the journey to the United States and settled in San Francisco. From San Francisco they moved to Burlingame, and after the passing of her husband, Ellen moved to the Regent in San Mateo.

Ellen is survived by her two daughters Vivian Stern Turner (Tim Turner) and Joyce Stern Polonsky (Richard Polonsky), three grandchildren Scott (Meagan), Grant and Sheree (Jeremy), and great-granddaughter Addison.
We will miss her greatly.

Contributions to Jewish organizations would be appreciated.

Ellen Rubin

June 2, 1943–Oct. 8, 2020

Ellen Rubin of Oakland, California died peacefully on Oct. 8, 2020. Ellen was born June 2, 1943 to Eileen (Waisman) Pachefsky and Samuel Pachefsky in Milwaukee, Wisc., where she was raised, graduated from Washington High School and then from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee with a degree in education, specializing in special education for hearing impaired children. After a year, she realized that her lack of fluency in American Sign Language was a significant barrier to her efforts to communicate with her classes, so she moved to teach regular classes in elementary grades. She then returned to UWM to earn her master’s in library science, and dedicated her career to helping foster a love of reading in young children.

Ellen married Allen Rubin in 1967. Their first date had been their high school senior prom, which led to 53 years of devoted marriage. In 1978 Ellen and Allen followed Allen’s career to the New York area, where they lived first in Englewood, then Ridgewood, N.J. Their daughter Abby was born in Englewood, then son Steven (adopted from Korea) joined the family several years later. When Steven was in elementary school, Ellen resumed her career as a children’s librarian, first at the Bede School, then the Elisabeth Morrow School, both in Englewood, N.J. Her former students fondly recall the cocoa parties she gave in the library and the annual book fairs she helped to organize.

Ellen is survived by her husband, Allen, children Abby (Ross Davisson, San Francisco) and Steven (Tucson, Ariz.), her beloved grandsons Sam and Max Davisson, her sister Sandy Ansfield (Oshkosh, Wisc.) and niece and nephew Judy Hebert and Joel Ansfield, both of Oshkosh, and many cousins scattered across the country.

A service will be conducted on the internet on Monday, Oct. 12 at 1 p.m. PDT. with a private interment at Home of Eternity Cemetery in Oakland, California. For more information, Sinai Chapel in Lafayette, California, sinaichapel.org. In lieu of flowers, donations in Ellen’s memory may be made to the Oakland Literacy Coalition at oaklandliteracycoalition.org.


Lila Devore Wahrhaftig

March 23, 1934–Sept. 28, 2020

A creative spirit who danced throughout life. Wife, mother, artist, friend.

Lila Devore Wahrhaftig, a native of El Paso, Texas, died in comfort at the age of 86 on Yom Kippur, Sept. 28, 2020.

Lila is survived by her adoring husband of 65 years, Jack, her children Lynn O’Connor (Terry O’Connor), Peter Wahrhaftig (Rena Dorph) and Marc Wahrhaftig (Liz Struble), and her grandchildren Laurel O’Connor, Ayelet Wahrhaftig, Naia Wahrhaftig and Ari Struble-Wahrhaftig.

Lila attended Washington High School (San Francisco), UC Berkeley and Holy Names College (Oakland).

A longtime resident of Oakland, Lila was an accomplished artist who worked in various media as a printmaker, a maker of handmade paper, and as a creator of personal amulets and several artists books. She incorporated natural and everyday found objects, poetry, paper quilt elements and Hebrew calligraphy into her work. She was inspired by the duality of Judaism and nature from a view of “what is man’s (or woman’s) relationship to God, to what that relationship is to nature.” The ineffable qualities of nature, the mysteries of ancient petroglyphs, the beauty of Hebrew letters, the teachings of Torah, an ironic sense of humor, as well as assorted chickens, all informed her creations. Her works have been shown internationally and are in many museums and private collections.

Lila enjoyed many camping trips with her husband and children throughout the West, often in her tent trailer, as well as camping in the Sinai desert, and other trips with Jack. She greatly enjoyed spending time with her family, and was always the last person to leave a family event, savoring every moment.

She was an active member of Temple Sinai in Oakland, and enjoyed dancing at any event she could, not letting her walking poles slow her down. She was an avid reader, requesting until her final days that “someone bring me some good books.” She held passionate political beliefs, and believed that everyone deserves equal opportunities for education, opportunity and advancement.

Suggested donations in Lila’s memory may be made to Temple Sinai in Oakland, the Alameda County Food Band, Bend the Arc or a favorite charity.