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Deaths for the week of Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2020

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

Lillian S. Benson

May 8, 1929-Nov. 28, 2020

Lillian Benson
Lillian Benson

Lillian Benson peacefully passed on Nov. 28. She is survived by her sons Paul and Mark (Laurie), and her daughter Janette, along with her four grandchildren, Ashley, Taylor (Brett), Marisa and Andrew (Lauren).

Lillian was a proud native San Franciscan who walked across the Golden Gate Bridge the day it opened. She graduated from Balboa High School and a few years later met Leon, a Holocaust survivor, to whom she would be married for almost 50 years. Together, they built a life that focused on creating opportunities and experiences for their children that far exceeded their own humble beginnings.

After her children were established in school, Lillian worked part time for the state of California until she joined Leon in retirement. During retirement, they enjoyed travel, the San Francisco Symphony and Opera, walking around Lake Merced and, most importantly, time spent with each grandchild, whether it was babysitting, attending soccer matches or baking cookies, always making each feel special. Lillian was known for baking apple pies, needlework, solving the Jumble word puzzle, watching Jeopardy and she never missed an opportunity to vote, often serving as an election official. If worrying about her children was an Olympic sport, Lillian would have all the gold medals.

Although petite in stature, Lillian had the strength and determination of a giant, and a heart that overflowed with kindness and generosity. After losing Leon in 1999, Lillian volunteered for over 15 years in a kindergarten class at a nearby elementary school. As she would walk across the schoolyard during recess, older children would run to give Lillian a hug, remembering her as their kindergarten helper.

Even though she was shy and unassuming, everyone who met Lillian remembers her warm smile and kindness that will remain forever in our hearts and thoughts.

Donations may be made to the Leon S. Benson Holocaust Memorial Fund at the Denver Public Library. Please indicate in memory of Lillian Benson in the “Leave a comment” section.

Lawrence (Larry) Cahn

Nov. 5, 1943-Nov. 20, 2020

Lawrence (Larry) Cahn
Lawrence (Larry) Cahn

Lawrence (Larry) Cahn of Walnut Creek, California, passed away suddenly, of a heart attack, on November 20, 2020, at age 77. Larry was born November 5, 1943 in Chicago, moving to Southern California at age 13 with his family. He attended high school in Beverly Hills, college at UCLA, and received a Masters in Finance and Real Estate at USC. In 1978, Larry began investing in real estate, starting small in Oakland, and together with wife Barbara grew his entrepreneurship into a multi-state portfolio of apartments.

Larry brought his commitment to social betterment to his business endeavors, priding himself on building relationships with his tenants and developing a sense of community in his buildings, forming such a bond with his tenants that, years later, those who moved away and later returned would seek him out, hoping for an available vacancy in one of his buildings. Dedicated employees have remained with him for decades.

To friends and family, he was a loyal and affirming presence, taking time to visit and engage in deep conversation, giving counsel, and offering his assistance. Larry was also a man of grit and determination with a never-ending curiosity for learning. He was active in the community, teaching courses at Golden Gate University, serving on the board of the Oakland Zoo, the American Jewish Committee, Temple Isaiah, and Rossmoor, where he began the Financial Forum Club which, in 5 years, has grown to over 300 members.

In retirement, he and his wife traveled the world together, exploring over 60 countries on nearly every continent. In recent years, they alternated their time between California and New York City where they maintained a residence and where their daughter, Melissa, resides.

Larry’s generosity, compassion for others, and creative mind will remain key contributions of a life well lived. He was a devoted, warm, and loving husband and father and a cherished friend. He is survived by Barbara (Graddis), his wife of 44 years, his beloved daughter, Melissa, and many lifelong friends. He will be sorely missed by those he touched.

Donations may be made to Camp Tawonga or a charity of your choice.

Hershel Z. Herzberg

Feb. 4, 1934-Nov. 20, 2020

Hershel Z. Herzberg

Passed away on 11/20 after a long cancer battle, but surrounded by love. Hershel Zelig Herzberg was born in San Francisco, CA, to parents Samuel and Eva Herzberg and had two older brothers, David and Mendel. He graduated from Lowell High School and served in the 287th Field Artillery Unit of the U.S. Army in Germany from 1957-59, was stationed in Munich calculating the trajectory of big guns should Russia invade, and lived in the SS Headquarters in Dachau. He served in the U.S. Army Reserves from 1959-1963.

After serving his time in the U.S. Army, Hershel joined the first volunteer group of the Peace Corps in 1961 in Nigeria where he taught history, English, and literature to Nigerian high school students. He met another Peace Corps volunteer, Dorothy Crews, whom he married and had three children in San Francisco. He trained future Peace Corps volunteers at UC Berkeley and Morehouse College.

Hershel received his BA in Political Science at UC Berkeley, an MA in History from San Francisco State, a General Secondary Teaching Credential from San Francisco State University, and an Educational Credential from UC Berkeley. His teaching career in the San Mateo County School District spanned almost 50 years, including 34 years at Crestmoor and Capuchino High Schools and 15 years in the School District as a Substitute Teacher. An impassioned high school teacher, he taught multiple subjects (Modern World History, U.S. History, Geography, Government, Economics, Model UN and Advanced Placement U.S. History and American Government).

As a mentor teacher in the School District he developed workshops for teachers about how to teach history and social science curriculum such as: World War II and the Holocaust, Multi-Cultural Curriculum (African, Asian, Latino, and Native Americans), Cooperative Learning, the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Cold War, and Teaching History Through Drama. His workshops were highly rated and deemed extremely valuable by the participants. The teacher participant left the workshops with a variety of lesson and unit plans which they could apply to their own curricula.

He wrote educational curriculum for the School District and the State of California: Plays about History – 18 Plays and Lesson Plans about World and U.S. History, Multi-Cultural Curriculum: The Experience of African, Asian, Latino, and Native Americans, Earth 2020: Population Growth and Ecology, Worksheets and Dictionary for an Army of Principles: A History of the American Revolution, Nigeria: Nationalism and Economic Development, Studying the Ibo Language of Nigeria Through Pictures, and Lesson Plans for Plays about Black History. He also assisted the Northern California Holocaust Center to develop curriculum on how to teach about the Holocaust in High Schools.

His students came from a variety of social and economic backgrounds and he was able to help them learn and enjoy the subjects he taught by inspiring them to creativity and excellence by providing them opportunities to express their individual differences.

Hershel was the School Improvement Program Coordinator, which led to Capuchino’s Distinguished School Designation, which is awarded to only a few schools in California. He also served for four years as Assistant Principal at Capuchino, while serving as Department Head of the Social Sciences Department.

Hershel spent the last five years living independently at the Elms in San Carlos. He enjoyed eating out at Chinese restaurants, watching Warrior’s games, participating in singalongs, and spending time with his family and friends. He loved attending Peninsula Sinai Congregation High Holiday and Shabbat services with his family.

Hershel is survived by his three children, Samuel (Leslie), Laura and Daniel (Remedy), four grandchildren, Aliza, Talia, Isaac, and Marcus, as well as his niece, Carol Kelso (John), and nephews Larry (Cheryl) and Steve (Nancy).

Hershel’s Plays About History (with lessons plans) can be found at Amazon.com.

Donations in honor of Hershel’s memory can be made to Peninsula Sinai Congregation in Foster City.

Ilene Weinreb

Nov. 9, 1931-Nov. 22, 2020

Ilene Weinreb
Ilene Weinreb

It is with great sadness that we mark the passing of Ilene Weinreb on November 22, 2020.

Ilene was born on November 9, 1931 in Kansas City, Missouri, the eldest of three daughters of Henry and Mary Spack. She was a good student and quickly became an avid reader, a hobby she enjoyed throughout her life. Encouraged to continue her education and seek a profession, Ilene found meaning and fulfillment through her political career, volunteer work and philanthropy.

Ilene earned a Master’s degree and teaching credential in American History from The University of Chicago, where she met her future husband, Marvin S. Weinreb, a medical student. They married in 1951 in Chicago and had three daughters: Rachel, Deborah and Judith. In 1957 the Weinreb family moved to Hayward, California, and Ilene called the Bay Area home for the rest of her life.

Initially, Ilene sought out intellectual engagement and community service activities through the League of Women Voters, who assigned her to observe Hayward City Council meetings in the 1960s. Through this experience, she gained an appreciation of local government and decided to run for city council. She was elected to the city council in 1968, and in 1974 became the first elected female mayor of Hayward. During her two terms as mayor she focused on affordable housing and social services. While in government she served on the California Coastal Commission, Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Association of Bay Area Governments.

Beyond her political life, Ilene was active on the boards of numerous local organizations and nonprofits, such as the Jewish Federation of the East Bay, the Alameda County Medical Center, and UC Berkeley Hillel, where she started the Friday night Shabbat meal program. She founded the MOMS (Maximizing Opportunities for Mothers to Succeed) Project, which provides supportive services to incarcerated mothers seeking to be reunited with their children. Ilene was a founding member and longtime board member of Eden Housing.

She was a member of Temple Beth Sholom in San Leandro for over sixty years, where she became Bat Mitzvah in 1996. Her love of learning continued throughout her life, shown by her attendance at many classes, particularly related to Torah study and Jewish philosophy.

In the late 1980s she fulfilled her longtime vision of providing mixed-use housing neighborhoods by developing a project in Hayward that became known as Tampa Square. In 1991, Ilene and Marvin lost their newly remodeled home in the Oakland Hills Firestorm. Ilene was closely involved in all of the details required to rebuild the home that she lived in the rest of her life.

Ilene loved the arts, especially the opera, chamber music, ballet and theatre. She was also a very accomplished cook and enjoyed hosting family celebrations and weekly Shabbat dinners in her home. Along with her husband Marvin (prior to his death in 2000), Ilene traveled widely, visiting all seven continents. They lived in Tanzania for six months while on a medical mission.

Ilene is survived by daughters Dr. Rachel Weinreb and Deborah Weinreb Jacobsen (Thomas), sister Bari Winchell, granddaughters Sara Jacobsen, Hilary Jacobsen (Noah), Dr. Hannah Archibald, and Abby Archibald, and son-in-law Michael diRubio. She was predeceased by her husband of forty-nine years, Dr. Marvin S. Weinreb, daughter Judith Weinreb, sister Barbara Spack, son-in-law Richard Archibald, and companion Samuel Mesnick.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations to either Eden Housing Tenant Relief Fund or the Jewish Family & Community Services East Bay for Older Adult Services, or a charity of your choice.

May her memory be a blessing.