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Obituaries for the week of Dec. 10, 2021

Obituaries are supported by a generous grant from Sinai Memorial Chapel.


Helen Ducoff

Dec. 19, 1929–Nov. 12, 2021

Helen Ducoff
Helen Ducoff

Helen Ducoff (neé Wohl), a Jewish educator and innovative creator of multimedia Jewish learning material, died Nov. 12 at age 91. Mrs. Ducoff was an adventurous traveler with her husband and had a great passion for beautiful crafts she collected from all over the world.

Born in New York, she lived in San Francisco for 30 years, where she earned a Master of Education and worked as Director of Hebrew Programs for the Bureau of Jewish Education, creating the first community Hebrew High School.

Mrs. Ducoff moved to West Orange, New Jersey, in 1978, where she led a Jewish education agency in West Caldwell. Mrs. Ducoff was the author and creator of the innovative book and video “How to Read Hebrew and Love It,” the creator and star of a cable show about Jewish culture which won a cable TV award and the author of a coloring book featuring the Hebrew alphabet, pages of which can be found colored and displayed in preschools everywhere.

Mrs. Ducoff was predeceased by her beloved husband of 62 years, Rabbi Bernard Ducoff, who was also a leader in Jewish education. The couple traveled extensively, especially in retirement, when they led Jewish holiday celebrations on cruises. She is survived by her daughter Miriam (Gerald) Smolen of Fairfax, VA; son Daniel (Ronni) Ducoff of Cleveland, OH; sister Roz (Martin) Abramov; and five grandsons. Contributions are suggested to Capital Camps at capitalcamps.org.


Frieda Reitman, Ph.D.

Sept. 19, 1928–Nov. 11, 2021

Frieda Reitman
Frieda Reitman

Frieda Reitman, age 93, died on Nov. 11, 2021 at Asbury Village in Gaithersburg, MD. Frieda Chaleff Reitman, née Nassau, was born Sept. 19, 1928 in Manhattan, N.Y., the daughter of Sadie (Blatter) and Robert Nassau.

In 1948, at age 19, Frieda graduated from Hunter College with a B.A. in Economics, magna cum laude. She married Arnold (Arnie) Chaleff a year later. She also earned a M.A. in Economics from New York University and worked as an economic analyst for Standard Oil for six years until the birth of her first child.

Frieda and Arnie lived in the Bronx, NY until 1963 and then moved to Northern New Jersey. After Arnie died in a car accident in 1965, Frieda started teaching at Fairleigh Dickinson University. In 1973, she married Harold Tishkevich; they had only one year together before he succumbed to melanoma. In 1975 she married Julian Reitman and moved with her three children to Stamford, CT, where Julian and his two children resided.

In 1977, Frieda received her Ph.D. in Economics from the New School for Social Research. She continued teaching, first at the University of Connecticut in Stamford and then at Pace University in New York, where she was professor, Management Department chair, and Associate Dean of the Business School. Her major research was on the effect of gender on business managerial career paths and she particularly enjoyed teaching econometrics. Frieda loved words: books, crosswords, the New York Times and the New Yorker.

For those who had the privilege of knowing her, Frieda exemplified celebration of happy times, generosity of spirit, integrity, fairness, intellectual honesty and a commitment to finding pragmatic solutions.

In addition to her husbands and parents, Frieda was predeceased by her half-sister Lillian (David) Ray. Survivors include her children Norman (Annelyse) Chaleff, Marc (Ann Ginsberg) Reitman, Beverly (Richard) Rudman, Randa (Jean Noel) Reitman and Madeline (David Arfin) Chaleff, and grandchildren Michael, Aaron, Amanda, Nadine (Justin), Ethan, Ezra, Avi, Lauren (Jouke), Jason, Joshua, Nathan and Jeremy, and one great-grandson, Oane. If desired, donations in Frieda’s memory may be made to AAUW or HIAS.


Anne Zeman Strauss

July 26, 1928–Nov. 17, 2021

Anne Zeman Strauss 
Anne Zeman Strauss

Anne Zeman Strauss died peacefully at home on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. Though she struggled with heart failure and progressive macular degeneration for many years, she lived a proud and independent life with alacrity, grace and indomitable courage. In her own words, she suffered from “too many birthdays.”

She was surrounded by her four daughters, Sandra, Debra, Susan and Laura. She is also survived by 11 grandchildren: Jared, Joelle, Isaiah, Kevin, Brett, Aaron, Eli, Hanna, Libby Rose, Samara and Tory; four sons-in-law: Jon, Craig, David and Jim; sister-in-law Margie; and niece and nephew Ellen and Paul.

Anne, daughter of Leonard and Rosetta Zeman, grew up in Chicago, Illinois. She graduated from Hyde Park High and Western Michigan University. In 1951, she married Sherman Strauss in Chicago, and shortly thereafter they journeyed to San Francisco and started their new life together.

Anne was a devoted daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother and dear friend. Her daughters were the center of her world. She was a homemaker extraordinaire and generously dedicated time to her communities. She was always game for adventure, traveling with Sherman to places both near and far. In her later years, she and Sherm moved to San Rafael, where she devoted herself to the Smith Ranch community that she so loved and which sustained her.

Contributions in Anne’s name may be made to Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, Hebrew Free Loan of San Francisco, Macular Degeneration Association or any organization that is important to the donor.

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