a lit memorial candle with a Sinai Memorial Chapel logo on it

Deaths for the week of Dec. 13-19, 2020

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

Shalom Blaj

Nov. 11, 1927–Dec. 10, 2020

Shalom Blaj, beloved husband, father, grandfather, uncle, and friend, died December 10, 2020. His life and career spanned five continents. Born in Poland in 1927, raised in Israel, educated and eventually home-based in the U.S., he lived life fully and actively, engaged wherever he was. Shalom and Marilyn, wife of 67 years plus two days, took full advantage of theater, concerts, opera, and art wherever they lived and traveled. Son and daughter, Ron and Tami, were the fortunate recipients of a culturally diverse upbringing around the world.

Not just a patron of the arts, Shula and his three siblings sang together lustily. The trio of brothers performed on face cheeks, mouth air and, Shalom’s specialty, cork (for decades wowing audiences with the William Tell Overture). In Israel, the four young couples spent boisterous Friday nights together and the annual Blaj seder had neighbors begging for inclusion. In his more mature years, Shalom led countless seders with family, friends, and residents and staff at their senior residence. Shalom’s professional retirement allowed him the opportunity to express himself through delightful paintings in oil and watercolor.

A civil engineer, specializing in hydroelectric projects, Shalom was involved in the design and construction of several dams in Brazil, China, Colombia, India and numerous African countries. His knowledge and professionalism honed at Kaiser Engineers led to a prodigious consulting practice. Marilyn, Shalom’s adored and beautiful wife, was his globe-trotting partner, literally and figuratively. With friends they made Great Decisions and enjoyed multi-course sumptuous meals with the Gourmet Club. They found Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon and Ashland, Oregon.

An imposing figure, adults and children could be simultaneously intimidated by and drawn to him. Shalom was certain of his (and your) opinions! However, his integrity, sense of fairness and generosity shone through. Above all, he will be remembered as a righteous man.

In addition to Marilyn, Ron and Tami, grieving his absence in their lives are daughter-in-law Susana, grandsons Santi and León, nieces and nephews, and innumerable friends.

If you choose, rather than flowers, please honor his memory with a donation to either the New Israel Fund or American Society for Yad Vashem


Shirley Janice Kadden

Oct. 5, 1928–Dec. 7, 2020

Shirley passed away peacefully on December 7 after a short illness. She was born in Oakland, the only child of Benjamin and Gertrude Hertzberg, on October 5, 1928, and spent her entire life in the Bay Area. She was a graduate of Oakland High School and University of California Berkeley with a major in Speech. She taught fourth grade before retiring to raise her children.

Shirley met and fell in love with Paul Kadden, also a Cal graduate; the two were married for 67 years. She was a caring mother to Bruce (Barbara z”l), Mark (Michelle Lalouche) and Lori (Mark) Epstein. She was an active volunteer, serving as President of Redwood Heights Elementary School PTA, Temple Sinai Sisterhood and Temple Emanu-El Sisterhood. She was also a docent at the Temple Emanu-El Museum, the Judah Magnes Museum and enjoyed giving presentations about their exhibits. She also served as regional president of ORT. After raising her children, she did substitute teaching and vision testing for the San Francisco School District.

Shirley and Paul enjoyed playing bridge for many years with couples from Temple Sinai and with other friends they made along the way. They also enjoyed theater, opera, and traveling, attending the annual gathering of the Council of American Jewish Museums, as well as Europe and Israel. They always tried to visit ORT schools in the places they traveled, make new friends, and bring home a few pieces of art.

Shirley and Paul led a healthy lifestyle before it was popular, often walking around Lake Merritt on Sunday mornings with family. They were also devoted Cal football fans, attending most home games for many years; Shirley enjoyed reminding family members that Cal went to the Rose Bowl three times when she was in school.

Shirley and Paul were longtime members of Temple Sinai in Oakland where Shirley was confirmed. They were active members of Temple Emanu-El after moving to San Francisco and more recently Congregation B’nai Tikvah in Walnut Creek, but were often members of more than one congregation. After moving to Rossmoor, they became involved with the many activities there and made many new friends.

In addition to her husband and children, Shirley is survived by her grandchildren Alana (Jacob) Ballon, Micah Kadden, Daniel Kadden, and Sara, Julia and Hannah Epstein, and great-grandchildren Matan and Liav Ballon.

Donations can be made to ORT or your favorite charity.

Dr. Saul Wasserman

April 22, 1942–Dec. 11, 2020

5 Iyar, 5702–25 Kislev, 5781, first day of Hanukkah

Resident of Palo Alto

Dr. Saul Wasserman’s soul peacefully left this world on Friday, December 11. Born and raised in New York, Saul graduated from Bronx High School of Science and attended Cornell University, where he met his wife, Judith. They married in 1963, and he attended the University of Chicago Medical School. In 1968, they moved to Palo Alto, where he completed his residency in Psychiatry at Stanford University. Their daughter, Rachel, was born in 1970.

Dr. Saul Wasserman
Dr. Saul Wasserman

Saul worked as a beloved and respected child psychiatrist for decades, and co-founded and directed the Child/Adolescent Psychiatric Inpatient Unit at San Jose Hospital. He served on the Stanford Medical School clinical faculty and held various positions in the Regional Organization of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. In addition to his private practice, Saul was the consulting child psychiatrist for the foster care team of Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, and for many local schools. He also served on the Santa Clara County Child Death Review, working to reduce infant and child mortality.

Congregation Beth Am was Saul’s spiritual community. He was involved in the lay minyan, the Jewish book group, weekly Torah study, and he taught classes. Torah study especially was a vibrant source of spiritual and intellectual challenge.

A man of insatiable curiosity and sharp, wide-ranging intellect, Saul was also an accomplished gardener and tropical fish enthusiast. He and Judith shared a passion for experiencing new cultures, and they traveled to over 40 countries. All who knew him admired his patience, wisdom, and kind heart.

Saul was a loving companion to his wife, Judith, for over 50 years. He also adored his children, Rachel & Yehoshua Hershberg; and his grandchildren, Adina & Aviad Torati, Yosef Hershberg, Atara Hershberg, and Sara Hershberg, and visited them often in Israel.

The family requests that those who want to make charitable contributions in Saul’s honor, give to the children’s charity of their choice.

Sinai-Redwood City