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

Death announcements for the week of Nov. 10, 2023

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

Edwin Lionel Berkowitz

Edwin Lionel Berkowitz
Edwin Lionel Berkowitz

Edwin Lionel Berkowitz passed away at the age of 89 on Sept. 22, 2023. He was surrounded by his family at his home in San Francisco, the city where he and his wife, Patricia Bransten Berkowitz, have lived since the beginning of their 63-year marriage. Born in Guatemala City, Guatemala, he studied in the United States from the age of 14. After graduating from Kentucky Military Institute, he obtained his B.S. degree from Purdue University and his M.S. degree from MIT, both in chemical engineering.

In 1961, Ed joined the family firm of MJB Company, where he served as executive vice president until its sale to Nestle in 1985. Later, he became enthusiastically involved in the Asian Art Museum, serving on its board of directors. In that capacity, he served on the New Asian Project Committee, overseeing the conversion of the old main library building into the Asian Art Museum at Civic Center, which opened in 2003. For many years, until the time of his death, he served on the Asian Art Commission of the City of San Francisco.

Additionally, Ed lent his considerable experience to numerous businesses and organizations, serving on the boards of Rolling Stone magazine, the San Francisco Jewish Community Center, where he was its president, the United Jewish Community Centers, Congregation Emanu-El and the Concordia Argonaut Club. In later years, he focused on investing in early stage companies with The Angels’ Forum of Palo Alto.

Ed was an adventurous traveler along with his wife Pat, sharing a special interest in global art and culture. He was also an avid reader who enjoyed an expansive range of genres. He was known for his wide-ranging intellect, business acumen, forthrightness and wisdom. He always said, “It’s not what happens to you in life, it’s how you deal with it.”

In addition to his wife, Ed is survived by three children, Leslie van der Wal (Pete), Kay Berkowitz, Edwin Isador Berkowitz (Maryann) and seven grandchildren: Louis van der Wal, Lia Ramey, Summer Dow, Jasmine Dow, Maya Dow, Allison Berkowitz and Jack Berkowitz.

Private funeral services have been held. There will be a celebration of Ed’s life in the coming months. For details, please send an email to [email protected].

Memorial donations may be made to the Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin St., San Francisco, CA 94102, or the charity of your choice.

Sinai Memorial
(415) 921-3636

Jeanne Debs Dinkelspiel

May 29, 1933–Oct. 27, 2023

Jeanne Debs Dinkelspiel passed away on Oct. 27 after a brief illness. She is survived by her two daughters, Kim Johnson and Patsy Dinkelspiel, and three grandsons, Ryan, Drew and Troy Johnson.

She is predeceased by her husband, Lloyd Dinkelspiel.

A private service was held for the immediate family.

Sinai Memorial
(415) 921-3636

Hedy Durlester

Hedy Durlester
Hedy Durlester

Hedy Durlester, passed away peacefully in Morgan Hill, Calif., on Friday, Oct. 27, 2023, with her two daughters by her side. Hedy leaves behind many bereaved generations who will miss her one-of-a-kind humor and uncompromising nature. Hedy was born the only child to Fritz and Margaret Hyde in Vienna, Austria, in 1935. In 1938 at the outbreak of the Holocaust, Fritz and Margaret sought an escape from Europe and were successful when Margaret was able to secure visas to immigrate to Shanghai, China from Dr. Ho Feng Shan, a diplomat from China who was stationed in Vienna. Dr. Ho would go on to write life-saving visas to deliver thousands of Jews out of Vienna, despite it costing him his career. The family rerouted their destination, immigrating to the Philippines, where Hedy spent her formative years and where her parents and grandparents ran a small restaurant.

In 1950, the family immigrated to the U.S. and arrived in San Francisco. Hedy graduated from George Washington High School and met Mervyn Durlester soon after. The two wed in 1957 and shared 65 happy years together. Hedy and Merv moved to San Jose, Calif., where they raised son Barry and daughters Nancy and Laurie. Hedy was a stay-at-home mom in the early years and later worked in retail and in the insurance business. Hedy and Merv were long-time members of Temple Emanu-El in San Jose, and Hedy was active with the synagogue’s Sisterhood, where she formed lifelong friendships with many including “The Kugel Eaters,” who became extended family.

When Merv retired, he and Hedy moved to Santa Rosa, Calif., where they worked at Congregation Shomrei Torah for many years to help strengthen the Jewish community in Sonoma County.

Hedy will be remembered for her fierce love and loyalty to her family, her wonderful sense of humor, her passion for playing mahjong, her love of See’s chocolates, and her gumption to support the things and people in which she believed.

Hedy is preceded in death by her parents and husband Mervyn, and survived by her sister-in-law Barbara (Michael) of Foster City, Calif., brother-in-law Wayne (Evelyn, BDE) of San Mateo, Calif., children Barry (Sheila) of St. Louis, Mo., Nancy (Vanessa) of Port Angeles, Wash., and Laurie (Chris) of Morgan Hill, Calif., grandchildren Jordan (Abby) of St. Louis, Mo., Evan (Dana) of Coconut Creek, Fla., and Sam of Austin, Texas, and great-grandchildren Sasha, Aurora, Joseph, and Hannah, and many cousins, nieces and nephews.

A celebration of life for Hedy (and Merv) will be planned for the extended family in the near future. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that any contributions be made to the Susan & Charles Berghoff Foundation (berghoff-foundation.org) to help fight Lewy body dementia.

Dr. Elaine Ehrman


Dr. Elaine Ehrman
Dr. Elaine Ehrman

Elaine Ehrman, Ph.D., passed away Saturday, Aug. 5, 2023 at the Vi retirement residence in Palo Alto, CA surrounded by family.

Elaine was born to Joseph and Theresa Wertheimer in 1926 in Cleveland, Ohio. She had an older brother, Irwin, and later, Bruce and Bill. The family moved to the Chicago suburbs in 1933. Elaine played violin as a child and attended summer music camp in Interlochen, Michigan. After her junior year, Elaine left high school and started at Mills College in Oakland, California, and was given her high school diploma with college credit in her first year at Mills. There, she was a music major during WWII.

Elaine left Mills her senior year to marry Harold Graham in 1946. The couple settled in Highland Park, Illinois. The following year, they welcomed daughter Cynthia. Elaine finished her bachelor’s degree in music education at Northwestern while carrying her second child, David, born in 1950. Elaine and Harold ended their marriage four years later.

Elaine met Seymour Fried while visiting her parents in Florida. She moved with her children to Palm Beach, Florida, where they married early in 1957. She and Seymour welcomed baby Leslie late that year. In 1960, Elaine and Seymour ended their marriage, and the following year, she moved with her children to Palo Alto.

She worked at and later entered graduate school in counseling and guidance at Stanford. In August of 1963, after finishing her studies, Elaine took her family to Stanford Sierra Camp in Fallen Leaf Lake. There, she met Donald Ehrman. Three days later, he told her they were engaged. They were married four months later in December of 1963, one day after she finished her master’s degree.

Elaine , Don and family welcomed baby Richard in February of 1965. The family lived in Palo Alto for several years and then moved to Atherton. They built a beautiful home in Menlo Park and moved there in 1979. Elaine and Don moved to the Vi in Palo Alto in 2015.

Elaine had several careers over her life, including musician; music teacher; marriage, family and child counselor; and clinical psychologist. She helped found the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology (now Palo Alto University) and was their first graduate, earning her Ph.D. in 1979 and getting licensed as a psychologist in 1980.

She had a private practice, first as a marriage and family counselor, and later as a psychologist. This included individual, family and group therapy in addition to consultation and training. She and her husband Don were both on the clinical faculty of Stanford Medical School Psychiatry Department, and they ran clinical training groups for psychology and psychiatry trainees at the V.A. and Stanford Hospital.

Throughout her career, she was also very supportive of Congregation Beth Am as well as several philanthropic causes, notably the Technion in Israel. After she retired at age 83, Elaine volunteered at the Jewish Home in San Francisco for several years.

In addition to her work, Elaine loved playing tennis and bridge, reading, entertaining, and being with her children and grandchildren. Elaine is survived by her four children Cynthia Graham, David Graham (Karen), Leslie Behar and Richard Ehrman(Lindsay), stepson Rusel De Maria (Viola), grandchildren Joseph Behar, Jacob Behar, Daniel Behar, Peter and Michael Ehrman, and brothers Bruce and William Wertheimer.

Her care, love and enthusiasm will be deeply missed by family, friends, colleagues.

Samuel B. Greiff

Aug. 3, 1927–Oct. 6, 2023

Samuel B. Greiff
Samuel B. Greiff

Sam Greiff passed away in San Mateo County. He was born and raised in San Francisco by his parents, Henriette and Bernie Greiff. He had one sister, Miriam, who predeceased him in 1993.

He went to high school at George Washington. He would frequently socialize at the JCC on California Street, where his longest friend of 90 years, Hugh Schraeger, gave him the green light to date Lucille Cohen.

xIt was love at first sight. They married in February 1950.

Sam and Lucille were “made for each other.” They moved to Westlake and raised  daughters, Susy Hansen and Linda Ehrlich.

Sam worked hard all his life to build and sustain the family business (Pioneer Home Supply) that has thrived for 73 years.

Throughout their lives, they traveled all over our country and abroad.

Sam dearly loved and enjoyed all his brother-in laws and sister-in-laws, and all the Cohen family children.

He had a love for life and could meet any stranger and turn them into a good friend.

His grandchildren and great grandchild were so important to him.

He always put his wife, children and grandkids before himself. Always concerned that the ones he loved were healthy, happy and safe.

He never stopped trying to impart knowledge and life lessons to us all. Always saw the bright side of things.

A very giving, loving and unique man.

He leaves his wife of over 73 years, Lucille; his children Susy (and Mark Hansen)

Linda Ehrlich and (Jim Lysgaard); his grandchildren Amie Hansen, Alena Hansen,

Tracie Ehrlich and Keith Tocci; and his great-granddaughter Liora Hansen.

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal.

Love leaves a memory no one can steal.

We love you forever!

Lillian “Lily” Jade Leah Hanan

May 11, 2022–Oct. 2, 2023

Lillian “Lily” Jade Leah Hanan was a bubbly, loving, curly-haired 16-month old, shockingly pronounced dead at 9:55 a.m. on Oct. 2, 2023.

Lily Jade was a miracle baby for Josephine and Scott Hanan after more than 15 years of trying. She was born in Savannah, GA, and openly adopted at birth. She was born with a cleft lip and gums, and had reconstructive surgery at 6 months.

Lily started traveling at the earliest age you can fly (14 days on Southwest) and had been to Georgia, Chicago, San Jose, Disney World and Israel.

Lillian "Lily" Jade Leah Hanan
Lillian “Lily” Jade Leah Hanan

Lily knew Baby American Sign Language and her first signs were “light on” and “light off.” She routinely used “lights off” to request her parents to “turn off the sun.” She was estimated to be just a few weeks from speaking verbally.

She thought it was funny when Mommy tried to swat flies with a flyswatter and Daddy spun her in circles until she was dizzy.

She loved lounging on her Lily-monogrammed couch, snuggling in her favorite blue crocheted blanket, wearing other people’s shoes, pulling off people’s sunglasses, playing peekaboo, singing “Wheels on the Bus” with her cousins Maya and Dev, and laughing at her cousin Jack’s funny faces.

Lily was always the first to put things away during clean-up time and loved watching videos of herself over and over.

She spent time at Little Gym, Kindermusik, zoos, parks and had just started a Spanish immersion music class.

Her favorite foods were milk, purées, Cheerios, teether crackers, yogurt, pasta and blueberries.

Lily Jade also loved the songs “Mr. Sun,” “Open Shut Them,” “Baby Shark,” “The Family Madrigal,” “Pineapple Princess,” “Vamos a la mar,” “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” and “Hello Hello! Can You Clap Your Hands?”

She loved “meow” kitties and “woof woof” doggies, and books that doubled as songs — especially “Baby Beluga.” Her parents were planning to dress up as a family of Beluga whales for Halloween. Instead, Lily was buried in a Beluga onesie, tutu and whale socks.

In the spirit of her bedtime lullaby: “May there always be sunshine, may there always be blue skies, and may there always be” … Lily Jade honored in our minds …

She will be missed by “Amma” Carol Hanan; “Papa” Ira Hanan; “Purple Grandma” Chris Pinsky; Aunt/Godmother Julie; and Uncle Santosh Reddy, Aunt Sandra and Uncle Steve Pons; Godmother Vanessa McDaniel; Cousins Jack, Maya and Dev; birth parents Mark and Marla Ward; birth sister Arielle Mehne, and extended family and friends in Florida, Texas, Illinois and California.

In loving memory of Lily’s affection for animals — and as a tribute to adoption— the family is requesting donations be made to the Humane Society Silicon Valley (hssv.org).

To learn more about Lily Jade, check out her everlasting obituary and video slideshow at tinyurl.com/bddjrs3j.

Roean Iscoff

Oct. 25, 1928–Oct. 24, 2023

Roean Iscoff
Roean Iscoff

Roean Iscoff, a loving wife, mother and adored grandmother, passed away peacefully on Oct. 24, 2023 surrounded by her family. She was born in S.F. on Oct. 25, 1928 to Annabelle and Albert Norwitt. She attended Lowell High School and was a member of the Beta Tau sorority, through which she made many lifelong friends.

Roean met her husband, Marvin Iscoff (deceased in 1991), in 1946 at a holiday dance at the JCC in San Francisco. They were married for 43 years, lived in San Francisco, and raised two daughters, Pam and Dana.

Roean was a consummate volunteer who worked tirelessly on a number of organizations and boards in the Jewish community: Jewish Community Federation, Hebrew Free Loan, Institute on Aging, AIPAC and many others. Roean oversaw the very successful JWF fundraising telethons during the month of February for a number of years. She was well known for her amazing ability to do seating for tables for special events for these organizations.

Roean was a strong matriarch of her family as she organized celebrations for Jewish holidays, Thanksgiving, family dinners, Lake Tahoe vacations, birthday celebrations and Sunday brunches. Her family was extremely important to her, especially her five grandchildren. She spent special time with each of them, attended their school events, musical performances, athletic games, their bar and bat mitzvahs, graduations and weddings.

For the last 15 years, Roean lived at the S.F. Towers. Roean is survived by her daughters Pam Schneider (Michael) and Dana Iscoff (Michael); her grandchildren David Schneider (Aimee), Jeffrey Schneider, Adam Daigian, Emily Iscoff-Daigian (Essam) and Matthew Schneider.

Our family is extremely grateful for Roean’s caregivers, Lourdes Castenada and Athela Campenero, who took exceptional care of her these past seven years. We appreciate the care of the ANX Hospice nurses that she received in the last months. If you wish to donate in memory of Roean Iscoff, please do so to the Institute on Aging or Hebrew Free Loan.

Vladimir Kaplan


Vladimir Kaplan
Vladimir Kaplan

Vladimir Kaplan passed away on Oct. 18, 2023 in San Mateo County, California.

Vladimir was born in Minsk, Belarus, in 1937. During World War II, his entire family was displaced and evacuated east of the Urals, finally reuniting and returning to Minsk after the war.

Vladimir graduated university with an engineering degree and went on to obtain a Ph.D. in thermodynamics. He was an authority in the USSR in the field of wood drying, working at the Belarusian Academy of Science and obtaining 10 patents.

Vladimir married Tamara in 1964; they were inseparable from the day they met. Living in an environment of rampant anti-Semitism, both Vladimir and Tamara were determined to leave the USSR and seek out better opportunities for themselves and their two young children. They were allowed to emigrate in 1978 and settled in the Washington, D.C. area.

Vladimir switched careers to designing industrial air conditioning, and once again rose to be an expert in his field, earning six more patents over the course of his career.

Vladimir and Tamara lived in D.C. until 1997, when the first of their grandchildren was born. They promptly packed up, moved to San Mateo and helped raise all four of their beloved grandchildren, becoming an integral part of their lives.

Vladimir and Tamara are longtime members of Peninsula Sinai Congregation in Foster City, and consider it their second home. Vladimir had a steadfast love for Israel, staying in touch with his many relatives there. A voracious reader with a special interest in all things Israel and the Jewish people, Vladimir was vastly knowledgeable on everything from home repair to modern history. A prolific writer to a variety of newspapers, his name is well known to readers of the J., where his letters to the editor were frequently published.

Vladimir is survived by his wife Tamara, his daughters Elina (Daniel) and Irene (Stephen), and his grandchildren Jacob, Avi, Yossi and Galit. Tzedakah in his memory may be given to Friends of the IDF and Peninsula Sinai Congregation.

David Mendelsohn

Dec. 14, 1931–Oct. 21, 2023

David Mendelsohn
David Mendelsohn

David Mendelsohn passed away on Oct. 21, 2023, in Napa, California. He was born in San Francisco to Lillian Zimmerman and Felix Mendelsohn and spent his early life in Fresno. He and his mother moved back to San Francisco, where he attended Lowell High School, class of 1949.

David graduated cum laude from San Francisco State University in 1954 with a B.A. in broadcasting and advertising. He was an active member of the ROTC until 1952, serving as an Air Force reserve captain until 1969.

David’s early career started as program director of the JCC of the Peninsula in Palo Alto. In 1957, he began a 15-year career at Bank of America as a research analyst, assisting in the development and launch of BankAmericard, the forerunner of VISA. He progressed to vice president in the bank’s national division. Recruited by World Airways in 1972, David served for five years as vice president-SFO, then director. In 1975, he helped with relief efforts to airlift children from Vietnam at the end of the war.

Turning from the corporate environment to entrepreneurship, David founded Telecheck Golden Gate in 1978. He then spent three years at U.S. Rail Services as president, after which he accepted the position of managing director and executive V.P. of BASS tickets, where David worked closely with Bill Graham on many large events. He assisted in negotiating the company’s sale to Advantix. In 1997, he retired to Napa, CA.

During his retirement, David was an active member of Congregation Beth Shalom and a counselor for SCORE, offering free business mentoring to veterans and others. He was a board member of the historic Uptown Theatre Napa and a member of AIPAC (American Israel Political Action Committee), for which he was a leader in their Bay Area activities. In 1988, he volunteered for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. David loved boating, and was a member of the Napa Valley Yacht Club and the Sea Scouts.

David met the love of his life, Donna Dover-Lowitz, in the late 1970s. They married in 1980 and enjoyed 43 fabulous years together, visiting seven continents and making a difference wherever they could.

David is survived by his wife Donna Mendelsohn; son Howard Mendelsohn (Kate); daughter Debi Mendelsohn; granddaughter Alissa Holmberg; and great grand-daughters Addison and Lilliana Holmberg; stepdaughters Robin Lowitz (Ned Hoffman), Lezli Lowitz-Barranco (Ovidio) and Leza Lowitz (Shogo Oketani); step grandchildren Shaviv Hoffman-Lowitz, Skyler Stanford and Yuto Oketani; as well as many cousins and a large community of friends.

The family would like to express appreciation to Carmen, Rafael, Albert, Sarah and Minerva among others at Nazareth Classic Care, as well as his special trainer and friend, Autry Morris, and the Healing Threshold Singers.

Donations in lieu of flowers may be contributed to Congregation Beth Shalom of Napa, the Alzheimer’s Association and the Jewish Community Free Clinic of Santa Rosa.

A private family service will occur at the Hills of Eternity Memorial Park in Colma City. Shiva and a memorial service will be held later at Congregation Beth Shalom.

Sinai Memorial
(415) 921-3636

Ruth Nadel Schafran

Dec. 17, 1936–Sept. 14, 2023

Ruth Nadel Schafran
Ruth Nadel Schafran

Ruth Nadel Schafran, a longtime Bay Area resident who grew up in San Francisco, passed away in September at 86.

As she was fond of telling people, Ruth was born in Hollywood on Dec. 17, 1936 — the same day as Pope Francis, a fact she was also happy to tell anyone who would listen.

She grew up in the Sunset District, where her family helped found Congregation Ner Tamid, and graduated from Lincoln High and San Francisco State. She moved to New York in 1962, where she taught school, became a part of the downtown art scene, and eventually met and married her husband of 51 years, Warren Schafran, who survives her and is still upset she’s gone.

She came back to California after getting married, and eventually settled in San Anselmo, where she raised her son, Alex Schafran (this obituary’s writer), worked for years as a publicist in the performing arts and published six letters to the editor of this fine publication.

Her final professional work came as the Rabbi’s Secretary (her term) at Congregation Kol Shofar. Her retirement years were spent realizing her true calling as a collage artist, and she was an avid member of San Francisco Women Artists.

She is survived by her husband Warren, her son Alex and daughter-in-law Nina, her sister Isabel Hogan and niece Kerri Hogan Sattler, and many friends, relatives and Sasha the cat.

She was a kind and interesting woman who lived a good life as a mother, wife, sister, daughter, teacher, arts professional, shul maintainer, avid gardener and ultimately an artist, and surely the only person to be memorialized in the J. with a reference to the Pope. A celebration of her life in art will be held in 2024, and donations in her honor can be sent to Doctors Without Borders or East Bay Sanctuary Covenant.

Judith Ann Williams

Judith Ann Williams
Judith Ann Williams

Judith (Judy) lived in San Francisco throughout her life, born to beloved parents Rochelle (Resnick) and Gerald Garber. Judy was preceded in death by her devoted husband, Bob Williams, of 51 years.

Loving mother to Jennifer Williams and Anne (Tim Quaintance), and cherished Nana to Paige Quaintance. Loving daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, aunt, and cousin in the Williams and Davis families.

Judy lived an epicurean lifestyle and appreciated the finer things in life, from food to art to fashion. Judy was humble and open-minded. Judy was a longtime member of Concordia Argonaut Club, Lake Merced Golf Club and Congregations Sherith Israel and Emanu-El.

Judy’s daughter, companion and best friend, Jennifer Williams, shared that Judy will be remembered by her beautiful smile, her love of being with family and friends, her generosity and capturing the moments with photos.

A private funeral service was held for family and close friends.