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

Deaths for the week of May 14, 2021

Obituaries are supported by a generous grant from Sinai Memorial Chapel

Robert H. Alfandary

Oct. 3, 1929–May 6, 2021

Robert H. Alfandary
Robert H. Alfandary

To tell the story of Robert Alfandary, one needs to go back a few centuries.

The Alfandary family are Sephardic Jews. When Spain expelled its Jews in 1492, the Alfandary family settled in what is now Istanbul.

Salomon Alfandary, Robert’s grandfather, and his brothers left Istanbul in the 1890s to seek their fortune in Western Europe. They succeeded. They built a multinational Oriental carpet business, with branches in London, Paris, Milan, Berlin, Brussels and even New York, each headed by an Alfandary.

Robert’s father, Albert Alfandary, was born in Berlin. As a Turkish citizen (albeit one who had never been to Turkey), in the early 1920s, Robert’s father learned that Iranian citizenship was available for a price. He paid the price.

Robert was born in Brussels in 1929 to Albert and Luiza (nee Guerson) Alfandary. The family lived in comfort until the German invasion, in 1940. They fled Brussels, eventually landing in the Belgian countryside. They obtained false papers that said Albert Alfandary was Muslim and Luiza Alfandary was a Copt. Robert had a “private” bar mitzvah in 1942. He read his Torah portion in French, since his Hebrew tutor had been deported.

As Iranian citizens, the Alfandary family was nominally off-limits to the Nazis. Nonetheless, each week, the Gestapo called Albert Alfandary in for a meeting. Each week, the Gestapo advised him that they knew the Alfandary family was Jewish and intended to deport them. After the Liberation, the family learned the Nazis had scheduled their deportation for June 6, 1944.

In 1947, at 18, Robert Alfandary immigrated, alone, to the U.S. He attended state college in Utah. Eager to hasten his U.S. citizenship, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. The U.S. was at war in Korea, and Robert expected to be sent there. Nope. The U.S. Army sent his unit to Germany to join the occupying U.S. forces.

Robert finagled a transfer to Paris. He worked in the office of SHAPE Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower. He and his French cousins socialized with other young Sephardic Jews in Paris. In 1953, Robert Alfandary and Renee Passy were married in Paris.

The couple settled in Berkeley, California, so Robert could pursue a Ph.D. in political science. Robert decided academia was not for him and became an insurance broker. He later founded A-C (for Alameda–Contra Costa) Insurance Agencies in Pleasant Hill, California.

Robert and Renee had four children together, Aileen, Viviane, Isaac and Francine. All four children were called to the Torah at Temple Isaiah in Lafayette.

Robert and Renee eventually parted ways. In 1978, Robert was fortunate to meet Susan Nurock, a professor at Diablo Valley College. The couple enjoyed a long, happy and harmonious marriage. They traveled widely. They were serious bridge players. They were members of a chavurah. Most of all, they enjoyed time with family.

(Parenthetically, Renee Passy also happily remarried, to Irving Zale (z”l), a fellow European Jew and survivor. Renee and Irving met through a singles ad in this very publication.)

Robert Alfandary passed away peacefully, following a very short illness. He is survived by his wife, Susan Nurock; children Aileen Alfandary (Steve Rosenbaum), Viviane Alfandary (William Dunaway), Isaac Alfandary (Lisa Alfandary), Francine Alfandary (Laurent Nahon), Wendy Nurock and Doug Nurock; grandchildren Leah Krugman (Sonny Smart), Jamie Dunaway (Tara Bartlett), Marco Rosenbaum Alfandary (Emma Indursky), Rain Dunaway, Natalie Rosenbaum Alfandary, Maya Alfandary, Louis Nahon and Raphael Nahon; and great-grandchildren Bennett Smart and Mason Dunaway; and by his brothers Ramon Alfandary and Philip Alfandary (Linda Alfandary). He is predeceased by his grandson David Rosenbaum Alfandary (z”l).

For more information, please see Robert Alfandary’s oral history interview, available on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum website: collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn518323.

Robert Alfandary donated generously to a variety of charities. In particular, he supported:

Berkeley Individuals Living with Disabilities (BuILD), buildhouse.org, and the Lafayette Public Library, lllcf.org.

S. Robert Freedman

Sept. 18,1944–May 12, 2021

S. Robert Freedman, Eminent Bay Area Pathologist, Dies at 76

S. Robert “Bob” Freedman, an eminent and internationally known pathologist, died at his home in Palo Alto on May 12 after a yearlong struggle with brain cancer.  He was 76.

Dr. Freedman spent most of his medical career in pathology and nuclear medicine at Regional Medical Center (San Jose) and Los Gatos Community Hospital where he directed the laboratory for many years. Generations of the doctors he supervised over the decades, notably including many physicians surmounting barriers of race and gender, warmly describe his mentorship with terms like “singular influence,” “unlimited generosity” and “one in a million.”

He served on the Governing Boards of Los Gatos Community Hospital and the Santa Clara County Red Cross, lectured in the joint UCSF-UC Berkeley medical program and at San Jose State, and served as President of the California Society of Pathologists. Nationally, he was on the Board of the College of American Pathologists (CAP), and is credited with influencing his colleagues to adopt Bob’s signature bow tie.  He served on over 20 CAP committees, chaired CAP’s California Delegation, and led and participated in over 90 laboratory inspections for the CAP accreditation program in the U.S. and around the world.

He volunteered with Pathologists Overseas, including monthlong stays at hospitals in Nepal, Kenya, Malawi, Ghana, Zimbabwe, and Cameroon.

A “Renaissance Man” in the best sense, Bob was curious and knowledgeable about tropical reefs and volcanoes, aviation and world history, world cultures and exotic cuisines.  When he traveled he diligently studied the local language — especially colloquial expressions of gratitude and appreciation. He was known for his wit, warm personality, genuine interest in others, and his playful and gracious manner.

S. Robert Freedman was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the first of two children of Herbert Freedman, an appliance salesperson, and Shirley (Winkelstein) Freedman, a homemaker and clothing salesperson. His first academic love, chemistry, began at age 10 when his parents bought him a chemistry set. The boy was intrigued by the pyrotechnic potential of chemicals, and later shared with his grandchildren the science and entertainment potential of creating small detonations, much to the discomfort of other adults.  A first-generation collegian, Bob majored in chemistry at St. Joseph’s College before acceptance to Jefferson Medical College (now Sidney Kimmel Medical College), where he received his M.D. degree in 1969.

After an internal medicine internship at the University of Illinois Chicago, he served as a Naval medical officer 1970-72.  Much to his surprise, the newly commissioned M.D.’s assignment as battalion surgeon for a Marine Expeditionary Force based in Okinawa required a stint of Marine Corps basic training, complete with muddy crawls under barbed wire with live machine gun fire overhead.  His final assignment to  Alameda Naval Air Station introduced Bob to the California outdoor life, contributing to a decision to complete a pathology residency at San Francisco’s Mount Zion Hospital in 1976.

Freedman was an avid hiker and lover of nature. His exploits included climbing to Everest Base Camp, scaling Mt. Whitney, and communing with the world’s oldest trees at Patriarch’s Grove and the world’s tallest trees at Redwood National Park. As an avid scuba diver he explored reefs, marine life and sunken wrecks across the Pacific, Caribbean and Red Sea; as a lover of the arts, he enjoyed classical music and opera; as a lover of volcanoes, he led less adventurous companions on mountainous treks to view active eruptions.

Through this past year, he was sustained by many kinds of music, especially livestream opera from the Met and ballads of Leonard Cohen. He remained enthusiastic and engaged, reminiscing with friends and family members and warmly recounting what they meant to him. He was an incredibly devoted and supportive husband, father, and grandfather. Bob connected with people of all ages and all parts of the globe. His uplifting perspective, warmth, kindness, and wit endeared him to strangers, friends, and family.

Dr. Freedman is survived by his wife, Sarah Warshauer Freedman, a  professor at the University of California, Berkeley; his daughter, Rachel, and her spouse, Carl Berg; and grandchildren Emma, Eric, Adam, and Alex Berg.

In lieu of flowers, the Freedman family suggests donations in his memory to the Metropolitan Opera Association online at metopera.org/support or by mail to Office of Planned Giving, Metropolitan Opera Association, 30 Lincoln Center, New York, NY 10023; or, to the Peninsula Open Space Trust, online at openspacetrust.org or by mail to 222 High St., Palo Alto CA 94301; or to the College of American Pathologists Foundation online at: capfoundation.thankyou4caring.org/rwd/donate.

Sinai-Redwood City

Hyman Mitchner

Nov. 23, 1930–May 7, 2021

Hyman Mitchner
Hyman Mitchner

Born in Vancouver, Canada, to parents who immigrated there from Ukraine. Hy was a champion chess player and amateur photographer in his youth, as well as being an outstanding student. He married Myrna Toban, the love of his life, in 1953 and celebrated 65 years of marriage before Myrna’s passing. The desire for a postgraduate education led Hy and Myrna to immigrate to the U.S. after they married, and Hy earned a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin.

After a brief stint as an Assistant Professor, Hy worked in quality control at Miles Labs, Barnes-Hines, and Syntex. Hy and Myrna moved to Los Altos, California, in 1962. His brother Mort also settled in California, in Menlo Park, and the brothers stayed close until Mort’s death in 2002. After retirement, Hy became a member of the board at the Gideon Hausner school in Palo Alto and raised money for Technion University in Israel. In 2010 the Technion University honored Hy with an honorary Ph.D. Hy loved travel and with Myrna went to all the continents except Antarctica.

Beloved father to Leslie, Seth (Nancy), Laura, and Zale (Chloe), and super granddad to Jacquie (Gregg), Shannon, Megan, Daron and Brynna.

The family requests that donations in memory of Hy Mitchner be made to Mitchner Family Fellowship Fund at American Technion Society. ats.org/mitchner

Roger Shatz

October 1, 1929–April 15, 2021

Born to the late Lionel and Anna Shatz. Roger was raised in San Francisco, met the love of his life, Leslie, in the Spring of 1959 and married five months later.

Settled in San Rafael where they raised their two children, Steven and Robin.

Roger was an avid golfer and domino player. He loved his Bay Area sports. Roger discovered a new happiness when he became a grandfather. They were his pride and joy.

Roger is survived by his wife of almost 62 years, Leslie, his son Steven (Heather), daughter Robin Gold (Sol), and his three grandchildren, Michael Gold, Rachel and Emily Shatz.

Roger was truly one of a kind and will be missed by all of his friends and family!

At his request, no services will be held.