lit yahrzeit candles

Deaths for the week of March 17, 2017

Donald B. Constine
Donald B. Constine

Honorable Donald B. Constine of San Francisco passed away peacefully on March 13 surrounded by family. Son of Louis and Isabelle Constine and preceded in death by loving wife June, he is survived by daughters Dana Evans (Jarrett) and Julie Shapiro (Robert). He is also survived by grandchildren David Levin (Shelly), Rachel Levin, Michael Shapiro, Amy Almany (Tal), Courtney Butler (Shale) and Brian Evans. He adored and was adored by his great-grandchildren Noah, Hannah and Devon Almany; Sophie and Hayley Levin; Zoe and Max Butler.

After graduating from Hastings College of Law he started his career in the U.S. Attorneys office and eventually became a United States Magistrate. He was later appointed as a Judge of the Municipal Court and then elevated to Judge of the Superior Court of San Francisco where he served until his retirement from the bench. He then became one of the first judges to join Judicial Arbitration Mediation Services where he got great pleasure resolving complicated disputes.

Always a high achiever, he was very active in the Scottish Rite Masonry — achieving the 33rd degree at a very young age — and was awarded the Grand Cross for exceptional service.

A devoted husband and father, he loved being surrounded by his children. He loved cruising and spent many vacations with his family. A pillar of the family, he was always helpful with sage advice and reassurance. Generous of heart and a having a wonderful sense of humor, he will be sorely missed by his family and friends.
The family is extremely grateful to Zen Villaluz, his devoted caregiver who gave him much comfort during his illness.

Sinai Memorial Chapel
(415) 921-3636


John Felstiner
John Felstiner Jr.

Louis John Felstiner Jr. died on Feb. 24, 2017, at the age of 80. Professor Felstiner was a translator, literary critic, teacher, poet and ardent environmentalist. He is survived by Mary Lowenthal Felstiner, his wife of over 50 years, their two children, Sarah and Alek, and two grandchildren, Brayden and Asa.

Professor Felstiner was born in Mount Vernon, New York, in 1936. He attended Exeter Academy and Harvard University, then served for three years as a naval officer on the USS Forrestal before returning to Harvard to earn a Ph.D. He taught at Stanford University in English, Jewish Studies and Comparative Literature from 1965 until his retirement in 2009. Through translations of poets such as Paul Celan and Pablo Neruda, Professor Felstiner pioneered a critical approach to literary translation that incorporates history, poetics and self-reflection. His books “Translating Neruda: The Way to Macchu Picchu” and “Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew” fused literary criticism and biography, while exposing readers to the art and mechanics of translation.

Professor Felstiner augmented his scholarly pursuits with political activism. He organized support for oppressed poets and academics abroad, and in later years devoted himself to environmentalism and the nexus of literature and ecological awareness. His other works include “Can Poetry Save the Earth?” “Selected Poems and Prose of Paul Celan,” “The Lies of Art,” “The Norton Anthology of Jewish American Literature” (co-ed.), “this dust of words” (now a documentary by Bill Rose), and numerous essays on literature and translation, as well as his own poetry. In 2010 he established the Save the Earth Poetry Prize, an annual high school poetry competition for poems that “evoke humankind’s awareness of the natural world.”

In addition to teaching at Stanford, Professor Felstiner taught at the University of Chile, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Yale University and Stanford’s programs in Oxford and Paris. He received the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism, as well as honors from the Modern Languages Association, PEN West, the National Book Critics Circle, and the Commonwealth Club of California, among others. Professor Felstiner held Guggenheim, Rockefeller, NEA and NEH fellowships. He became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2005.

Professor Felstiner was a lifelong athlete and music lover. He played varsity soccer and lacrosse at Harvard, and continued to swim every day until shortly before he died. He also performed in amateur singing groups from high school through college, and up until retirement. Professor Felstiner and his wife were devoted patrons and fixtures in attendance at Stanford’s Lively Arts programs. He often brought musicians and recordings into his classrooms to draw connections between music and poetry. As an active and committed Jew, Professor Felstiner served on the board of Hillel of Stanford, participated in services, offered courses in Jewish Studies and helped organize events and bring speakers to campus.

A private memorial is planned for later this spring. In lieu of any memorial gifts, the family suggests donations in Professor Felstiner’s memory to the Sempervirens Fund (sempervirens.org) or the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment (asle.org).


Rabbi Donald Heskins, on March 7, 2017. Of Buffalo, N.Y. Husband of the late Jane Selya Heskins. Brother of Patricia (Jack) Gumbiner, of Los Angeles, CA. Also survived by nieces and nephews. Graveside burial service was held in Sharon Memorial Park in Sharon, Massachusetts, on March 10; a memorial service was held at Congregation Shir Shalom in Williamsville, New York, on March 14. In lieu of flowers, memorials are to be made to the charities of the donor’s choice. Arrangements entrusted to Amherst Memorial Chapel LLC. Family guestbook available at www.amherstmemorialchapel.com.

J. Staff