Monique Joseph was a devoted J. reader.
Monique Joseph was a devoted J. reader.

Death announcements for the week of Sept. 15, 2023

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


Monique Joseph

By Donna Rosenthal

Monique Joseph, 99, a French Holocaust survivor who escaped from an internment camp and then hid in France during the rest of World War II, died Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023, in Berkeley, California.

Articulate, passionate and courageous, she went to Düsseldorf in person to argue for reparations for her family and last year condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and bombing of Babi Yar.

“As a Holocaust survivor, I feel pain and anxiety ever more deeply,” she wrote in a J. opinion piece. “The images I see remind me of the vivid scenes of Nazi terror and occupation. I was handcuffed and then imprisoned in an internment camp in Nexon (France) in the winter of 1941. There, too, I saw people dying as their persecutors laughed.”

She died an hour after Zooming in from her hospice bed to a pre-Rosh Hashanah celebration for Holocaust survivors run by Jewish Children and Family Services in Palo Alto. Each week, Joseph and a group of fellow survivors shared memories, dreams and fears and celebrated Jewish holidays together. The volunteers, many Israeli, nurtured the group of survivors and gave them iPads, laptops and Zoom help.

Born Helga Irene Kaufmann in Cologne, Germany, in 1924, to ardent Zionists who owned a burlap bag factory and auction house, she attended a public Jewish school.

Like many Jews, she used to say, hers was a “story of playing cat and mouse with the Nazis, of aid from righteous French Gentiles, of luck in making it out alive.”

In April 1932, when her father learned he and his business were targeted by local Nazis, the family fled to Strasbourg, France, in the Alsace region. But soon, Nazis expelled German Jewish refugees from Alsace. While her father searched for a safe haven in France, she returned to live in Cologne with her grandparents. She witnessed all Jewish children forced out of public schools. Her relatives were deported to concentration camps.

The family fled to Tours and her father volunteered in the French Army. She was imprisoned briefly for delivering currency to her father in the Free Zone.

On July 16, 1942, many Jewish families in Tours were deported to concentration camps. Miraculously, Joseph’s mother managed to convince German soldiers not to arrest them that day.

After swimming across the Cher River into the Free Zone, they hid near Limoges until Nov. 16, 1942, when police arrested Joseph, her mother, and cousin and took them to nearby Nexon internment camp. The 1,600 internees — mostly political prisoners —  were surrounded by barbed wires and guarded by four watchtowers. The 450 Jews, including 68 children, were sent to Auschwitz and gassed.

Because she spoke both French and German, Joseph was sent to work in the Nexon camp office. She met a French guard who was secretly working for the Resistance. On New Year’s Eve, while other prison guards were drunk, the guard helped her and her mother escape from Nexon. They got false identity cards. (Her name was “Monique Colin.”) They took a train to  Valence where her father was hiding.

For the rest of the war, the teenager hid under her false identity on a farm owned by a French aristocrat with 12 children. Although a neighbor denounced the family for hiding Joseph, the aristocrat bravely smuggled Joseph to her parents. They hid in an unoccupied house until liberation in August 1944.

After liberation, Monique and her family returned to Tours. She also worked in Paris with the American Office of Liquidation.

In 1947, soon after immigrating to the United States, she fell in love with fellow Holocaust survivor and French resistance fighter whom she’d met in Tours after the war. She married Théophile Joseph in 1948. They lived in New York where she was president of Hadassah in Queens.

In 2000, they moved to Nice, France,, where she gave talks to French groups about her Holocaust experiences. Yearly, she hiked on the “Marche de la Memoire” in the Alps where French guides smuggled Jewish children to freedom in Italy. In 2012, they moved to Berkeley to live with their daughter, Nadine, and son-in-law Neil. They attended Temple Beth Abraham in Oakland. Her husband Theo died in 2019.

She is survived by her daughter Nadine (Neil Goteiner); grandchildren Nicole Lopez (Morgan), Maya Joseph-Goteiner (Michael Courvoisier), David Joseph-Goteiner (fiancée Asli Kimya); and great-grandchildren Jackson, Max, and Emmett.

Donations can be made to J.


Sheila Reitman

Sheila Reitman was born in Bronx, New York on Dec. 5, 1937. She met Melvyn Reitman when she was just 14 years old — and 19 years old when they married. They will have celebrated 67 years of marriage this year. Together they raised a loving family, strongly connected to Jewish life and community. The family lived in Daly City, Pacifica and then Foster City, where they lived for 35 years. Sheila and Mel retired to Sun City Lincoln Hills in 2002 to enjoy their retirement years.

Sheila attended Flushing High School in New York. When her children were able to take care of themselves after school, she worked as an office manager for several companies. Sheila was very involved in Jewish organizations such as Pioneer Women, B’nai Brith Women and Peninsula Temple Beth El.

Sheila loved outings with her synagogue havurah, playing Mahjong, cards, games with family and friends, going to movies, casinos and especially family get-togethers.

Sheila is survived by her husband, Melvyn, and her children Steven (Shari), Mitch (Lisa), Andrea (Murray), and Jeffrey; grandchildren Jeremy, Adam, David, Rena, Spencer, Abigail and Daniel; and great grandchildren Jordan, Noah and Aliyah.


Brett Raymond Dick

Oct. 18, 1945–Aug. 27, 2023

Brett Raymond Dick
Brett Raymond Dick

Brett Raymond Dick passed away on Aug. 27, 2023, at the age of 77, surrounded by his family. He is survived by his wife, Molly, his three children, Jennifer (Andrew), Jonathan (Astrid) and Andrew (Estelle), and seven grandchildren, Marley, Eli, Chloe, Ezra, Peder, Leo and Samuel.

Brett was born on Oct. 18, 1945, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Jerome and Zelda Dick, although the San Francisco Bay Area was the place he called home for over 50 years. A loyal Michigan Wolverine and passionate college football fan, Brett earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Michigan as did his father before him.

Brett’s professional journey led him to San Francisco, where he became the youngest lawyer to make partner at Pettit & Martin. His expertise in tax law was unparalleled. Throughout his decades-long career, he navigated the complexities of international tax codes with finesse and provided guidance to corporate clients, from venture capital firms to sovereign wealth funds. Brett’s professional impact went beyond his legal prowess; he was known for his mentorship, nurturing the growth of young lawyers and ensuring the well-being of his team. When the venerable law firm of Heller Ehrman collapsed in the 2008 financial crisis, at which Brett was a longtime partner, he steered his colleagues to a safe haven at Jones Day, where Brett eventually retired. In the words of one of his partners, “Brett was loyal to his team, not only when it was convenient but when it mattered most.”

Following a family tradition, Brett felt a deep commitment to the Jewish community both at home and abroad. He created the Attorneys Division of the Jewish Community Federation in San Francisco as well as chairing Super Sunday with his twin brother, Randall Dick.

While Brett was dedicated to his profession, his heart belonged to his wife, Molly. In a marriage that spanned 46 years, they built a life filled with a love of hiking, tennis, travel and golf; and they cherished the moments with their children and grandchildren at their home in Napa. He was a loving husband, a doting father, and a steadfast friend. Brett served as president of the Kentfield School District for six years, helping to steer the district out of financial woes. He coached his sons’ Little League teams and drove them to tennis tournaments all over California. He was always there for his family and once remarked, “You don’t get those moments back.” His legacy of intellectual curiosity, professional excellence, and the profound love he had for his family left an indelible mark on all who knew and loved him. He exemplified the importance of dedication, integrity, and the lasting impact one can have on the lives of others.

Contributions in his memory can be made to the Grove Preschool at Congregation Kol Shofar.

Sinai Memorial
(415) 921-3636


Lucille (Lucy) Milgram

Lucille Milgram
Lucille Milgram

Lucille Milgram passed away peacefully amidst family on August 18 after a three year struggle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). She was 80 years old.

Lucy was born in the Bronx to Benjamin and Estelle Stein. She was a precocious reader, graduating from children’s books to Mailer by sixth grade. Lucy skipped 8th grade and a year of high school, entering CCNY at age 15.

A self-described “grind,” she majored in American History but joined the Socialist Workers Party. After graduation, as a licensed substitute, she taught math in the South Bronx, learning to duck behind the desk when necessary.

At a Shabbat dinner with family friends, she met David, then a student at NYU Courant Institute. They started dating and two years later got married. She was 21, he was 22.

Chasing the Zionist dream, they settled in Jerusalem. Lucy taught English for the Histadrut and took courses at the Hebrew University while David worked in the Computer Lab. However, soon after, the US Draft invited David home for a physical. On the cruise back, Ethan was conceived. Settling in Silver Spring, MD, Lucy became the youth advisor to the Temple Sinai confirmation class just as civil rights and anti-war became rallying cries across America. At the Reform Religious Action Center, she organized teen participation in rallies, sit-ins and demonstrations. Lucy shifted from there to the Maryland JCC, where she helped launch the Northern Virginia JCC. During this period, Daniel was born, Lucy earned her Masters from the Baltimore Hebrew College, and David received a PhD in CS from the Univ. MD.

In 1979, Lucy and family moved cross-country to the Bay Area. Lucy became Secretary at Congregation Beth Am and joined the active community of South Peninsula Hebrew Day School parents. Eventually Lucy’s skills at connecting with people put her in the Beth Am Executive Director’s chair. She discovered that her planning talents were just as valuable to Silicon Valley. After two years, Lucy joined the Hi-Tech world and picked up database knowledge at Sun Microsystems, ASK, and Oracle. Capping Lucy’s 26-year Hi-Tech career, she became Principal Analyst at Ernst & Young and Deloitte & Touche, an expert in corporate reengineering and supply chain management. Post-retirement, she joined SCORE sharing her wisdom with budding entrepreneurs.

Lucy kept active in the Jewish world: volunteering for the Palo Alto JCC, Congregation Kol Emeth (where she served as President), and many other Jewish community causes.

Lucy enjoyed worldwide travel vacations, hiking with friends, and family dinners. She was the sparkplug for her entire social circle.

In 2020, her speech started to slur and swallowing was impaired. Doctors first called it a mini stroke but it was bulbar ALS, a fatal neuromuscular disease. Lucy fought the loss of speech, joined a drug trial, and focused on enjoying each day’s activities and every social interaction. Lectures, symphony, ballet remained part of her life even after a wheelchair replaced walking. She continued to engage with her friends via home visits, email, text, and online mahjong. Her last days were in home-hospice with 24 hour care. No longer able-bodied, she remained able-minded to the end, informed, sharp, with abundant humor and love for family and friends. Her bravery without bitterness in the face of ALS is a testament to her thirst for life and is an inspiring memory to all who knew her.


Janet Weinstein

Feb. 6, 1932–Aug. 31, 2023

Janet Weinstein
Janet Weinstein

Janet Weinstein (formerly Danziger) died peacefully on Aug. 31, 2023, in Oakland, California. She was born on Feb. 6, 1932 in Elizabeth, New Jersey. During the 91 years between, she brought immense joy to her family and a gigantic number of friends. Janet was keenly intelligent and quietly strong. She was curious with a clever sense of humor and had genuine warmth. Her zest for life was contagious, and she could tell stories about her daily activities like no other.

Janet also was versatile — a three-sport athlete (field hockey, basketball, softball) in high school at Vail-Deane in Elizabeth, followed by a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Skidmore College in 1953. She began her career as a registered psychiatric nurse at Bellevue Hospital in NYC and Langley Porter at UCSF. After getting a master’s degree in behavioral science, Janet became a licensed psychotherapist, a profession for which she was very well-suited. For over a decade, Janet saw patients at the University of Medicine and Dentistry at Rutgers University and later in private practice in Cranford, New Jersey. She was also an active member of Temple Emanuel in Westfield.

After moving permanently to Berkeley, California, in 2011 to be near her daughter, Sarah, and grandson Sammy, Janet volunteered at the Center for Creative Wellness, the Berkeley High School library, and the San Francisco opera, ballet, and symphony. She also audited numerous political science classes at UC Berkeley and characteristically became friends with many of its undergrads. Janet had an affection for animals, books, and music. She was a member of Temple Sinai in Oakland, where she sang in the choir.

Janet was predeceased by her dear sister Barbara and loving significant other, Jerry Brodesky, with whom she shared many years of fun outings, laughs, and travel. Neither Janet’s life nor her death were ordinary. She exemplified and modeled resilience and had a way of making those around her feel deeply loved, particularly Sarah and Sammy, by whom she will be profoundly missed.

A private service will be held at Home of Eternity Cemetery in Oakland. Donations in Janet’s memory may please be made to an organization of your choice that supports animals, affordable psychotherapy, or women in need of financial assistance.

Sinai Memorial
(415) 921-3636


Ruthgrace S. West

Aug. 10, 1923–Aug. 9, 2023

Ruthgrace S. West
Ruthgrace S. West

Ruthgrace S. West died on August 9, 2023, the day before her 100th birthday. She was born Ruthgrace Schachter in Reading, Pennsylvania, on August 10, 1923, the daughter of Abraham and Golda (Sattenstein) Schachter. She had four siblings: Alyce, Vivian, Bernard, and Marvin, all of whom predeceased her. She is survived by her three children: Vivian Kremer (Robert Rudeen), David Kremer (Marla Miller), and Matthew Kremer (Barbara Craig); four grandchildren: Michael Kremer (Turia Lahlou), Margaret Kremer (Gregory Swiatek), Caroline Kremer, and David Kremer (Paige Kremer); and two great-grandchildren: Ruthgrace and Clark Kremer. She had two marriages, first to Dr. Howard Kremer and then to Sidney West.

Ruthgrace S. West
Ruthgrace S. West

High spirited as a child, she loved sports, especially baseball, and harbored the dream of becoming a sports writer. Unfortunately, the times did not permit such aspirations, and she chose nursing as her career. She received her school of nursing diploma from the Philadelphia General Hospital and her bachelor of science in nursing from the University of Pennsylvania. She had several nursing positions in the Philadelphia area and was most proud of her two decades of work at Cheyney State Teachers College and in the Philadelphia public schools.

After living in the Washington, D.C., area for several years, she moved to San Francisco in 1991 to be closer to her growing San Francisco family. She quickly embraced her new home. She worked for many years as the activities director at The Sequoias, a retirement community in San Francisco. She also worked at the San Francisco Institute on Aging and for KGO’s “7 On Your Side” program. Her volunteer activities included serving in the “Kosher Kitchen” program at the Jewish Community Center and as a docent at the Strybing Arboretum. She was an avid gardener and had a prodigious knowledge of plants and flowers. She was also a familiar and friendly face to all on Sacramento Street and in Laurel Village.

Her spirit is best captured in a slightly revised version of a poem written by her daughter on the occasion of her 95th birthday celebration:

Ode to ‘The Gram’

She was one in a million, she truly was: That Gram.
Born and raised in Reading, PA, the youngest of five was she;
Trained in Philadelphia, a future nurse to be.
With starched nurse’s cap in hand,
A lifetime of service she began.
High school nurse, camp nurse, college nurse to name three.
For a child with a splinter, she was the one to see.
Marriage, three children, a few bumps in the road,
Then two daughters-in-law, one Robert and four grandchildren enriched the fold.
Did someone say baseball? A true sports fan was she,
Go Giants, Go Phillies, Go Michael and Davey.
Hot dogs with garlic fries, and for dessert could there be any doubt,
It was Krispy Kreme donuts, or baby you’re out.
Doing crossword puzzles, collecting baseball cards, Wheaties boxes galore,
Postage stamps, US coins, she never was bored.
Homemade cards and wrapped presents elevated to a fine art form –
(“How can I open it?’, ‘It’s too beautiful,”) –
Many a recipient knew her gifts were not the norm.
Consumers took heart, Ruth was on their side,
At KGO she battled corporate giants for the little guy.
And last but not least our Mom would insist,
We mention her love of books or we would be quite remiss.
Her bookcases were truly filled to the brim,
And returning from Books Inc. empty-handed she considered a sin.
So here’s remembering The Gram, Grandma Baseball, RG,
We certainly loved her, our Mom, Grandma P.

A burial service was held at Home of Peace Cemetery with Cantor Arik Luck of Congregation Emanu-El officiating. Ruthgrace would have appreciated that donations in her memory be made to Jewish Family and Children’s Services of San Francisco (jfcs.org), 2150 Post St., San Francisco, CA 94115, or to UnCommon Law, an organization helping incarcerated individuals navigate California’s discretionary parole process (uncommonlaw.org), 318 Harrison St., #103, Oakland, CA 94607.


Joan Wieder

Joan Wieder
Joan Wieder

Joan Wieder, 83, was born in Pearl River, NY, and passed away peacefully at The Bluffs in Novato, CA, on Aug. 26, 2023.

Joan grew up in various areas of the country, primarily on the East Coast. After high school graduation, she attended Grinnell College in Iowa and subsequently the School of Law at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. Her love of the law initially led her to a position with the Interstate Commerce Commission in Washington, D.C. She then relocated to San Francisco to accept an appointment with the Department of Labor. She completed her 40-year career with the National Labor Relations Board as an Administrative Law Judge, hearing cases throughout the Western states.

Joan had many interests and passions in life. She became an Expert Marksman as a Richmond Rod and Gun Club member and participated in several competitions. She also traveled the world for many years, often on safari and scuba diving expeditions, furthering her great appreciation of nature and the outdoors.

Joan loved animals and was particularly fond of the Miniature Schnauzer breed. She was an active member of the Miniature Schnauzer Club of Northern California for over 30 years and served as the Club’s Parliamentarian. Joan had many Miniature Schnauzers over the years and even traveled to Denmark to pick up one of the final dogs Joan would own. In her later years, she was a big supporter of breed rescue. Locally, she served on the Dangerous Dog Committee in her community.

After retiring in 2001, Joan enjoyed many years of classes at the College of Marin, painting and sculpting, including photo editing, art, filmmaking, adaptive PE, and yoga.

Joan was preceded in death by her parents, Sam and Ann Wieder, and her brother, Michael Wieder, and is survived by her nephew Darren Wieder and niece Candice Adler.