lit yahrzeit candles

Deaths for the week of March 24, 2017

Natalie Berg
Natalie Berg

Natalie Berg, born August 22, 1935, in Cleveland, Ohio, died March 17, 2017. Her parents emigrated from Central Europe to Cleveland and opened a dairy where Natalie worked after school and developed her strong work ethic. At Michigan State, she met her first husband, Irving. They moved to California, where he was stationed at Fort Ord, and she graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in economics.

In 1967, Natalie began a long career in public education. She obtained her doctorate in education while raising her three children as a single mother. She held many instructional and administrative positions at City College of San Francisco, retiring as dean at the John Adams campus. Natalie was first elected to the San Francisco Community College Board in 1996, and went on to serve three terms as president. The culmination of her long service came with an appointment by Gov. Brown to serve on the California Community Colleges Board of Governors. In addition to Natalie’s commitment to public education, she was passionate about public service, mentoring young women and developing training programs in the community colleges.

Natalie’s long tenure in politics began in 1964 as a volunteer on the campaign of her neighbor Willie Brown for Assembly. She was a founding member of the Raoul Wallenberg Jewish Democratic Club, a chair of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee and a delegate to state Democratic conventions. When Natalie retired from City College at the age of 65, she began her second career in development working for Forest City. As the community liaison, Natalie was instrumental in creating the Westfield Center in San Francisco. She served on numerous boards and was selected as Outstanding Women in Business four times, and honored multiple times by many civic and political organizations, including by mayors of San Francisco.

Natalie’s greatest devotion was to her family, who surrounded her with love during the time of her passing. Natalie imparted strength, integrity, loyalty and devotion. She was predeceased by her husband Peter Finnegan (who is certainly winking that she passed on St. Patrick’s Day). She is survived by her children, Jonathan (Nicole) of Jerusalem, Joanna (Dan Finkelstein) and Jenny (Ray Plumhoff), both of Oakland, her step-children, Stephen  Finnegan (Sandy) and Allison Etchevery (John) of San Francisco, 12 grandchildren (Mindy, Eli, Aaron, Blumi, Bruchi, Akiva, Rina, Jason, Alex, Myles, Cara, Catherine), and 17 great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her sister, Esther Meckler of Cleveland, her brother, Milton Katz of San Francisco and her brother-in-law Paul Finnegan (Rita) of Carmel Valley.  She was predeceased by her sister Faye Ratner.

Natalie lived with dementia for six years and died of cancer. She always retained her intense strength, ability to direct and organize, compassion, impeccable sense of style, high and beautiful cheekbones, and her steadfast caring. She will be missed but never forgotten, her mark has been deep and broad, and will live through her legacy.

Services were held at Congregation Beth Sholom. Donations can be made to City College of San Francisco Foundation or to the National Council of Jewish Women (Center for Women and Girls).

Sinai Memorial Chapel
(415) 921-3636


With much love and deep regret, I share with you the passing of Martin Lefkovits on March 8, 2017. He went peacefully to his final rest at Alma Via of San Francisco. Born July 8, 1922, his 94 years encompassed a huge swath of American life, and in his last months he was amazed at how much change he’d seen and been a part of.

His immediate family includes his wife of 62 years, Dorothy; children Diane Harris and her husband Benjamin; David Lefkovits and wife Sandra; Nelson; and Stephen Lefkovits and his wife Ann. He was proudest of course of his three grandchildren: Alexandria Lefkovits-Callaghan (and husband Kevin), Ariel Lefkovits and Marcus Lefkovits.

Martin was born in the Bronx and was known to his childhood friends and family by his middle name Leonard. Like so many of his era, he volunteered for service in World War II and served in the Army Air Corps, with overseas duty in China. Returning to the U.S., he earned a bachelor’s degree at New York University. A career civil servant, he met his wife Dorothy while working in the Bureau of Labor Statistics in Manhattan.

Family life transformed them and they moved their small family upstate to Schenectady, New York, so that he could work for the State University of New York from 1962 to 1977. As head of student financial aid for the SUNY system, Martin was a pioneer in the drive to bring higher education to millions. He served as president of the New York and national associations of student financial aid administrators. In 1978, the family moved to San Francisco so that he could enjoy a second phase of his career as head of financial aid for the University of California.

Martin was passionate about Judaism, biographies (especially of Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant), long walks, great cities and studying his family’s genealogy. He leaves behind grateful children who shared his love of books and learning and curiosity for all things. He was interred at Hills of Eternity in Colma.

In lieu of flowers or gifts, please know that Martin was passionate about Jewish education and his longtime home Sherith Israel. Donations in his name to any of Sherith Israel’s causes will be gratefully accepted and truly in his spirit. https://www.sherithisrael.org/donate.html.

Sinai Memorial Chapel
(415) 921-3636


Mendel Lieberman
Mendel Lieberman

Mendel Lieberman, 97, of San Francisco, CA, passed away peacefully on March 16, 2017. Mendel had always been a fighter and survivor. Following his release from Nazi concentration camps in 1945, he vowed to enjoy life’s every moment on his own terms.

Mendel was the beloved husband of the late Bela, devoted father to Philip and the late Max Lieberman (Vietnam 1970), and beloved father-in-law to Philip’s wife Lori Miller.

He was born in Sosnowiec, Poland, as part of a Jewish Orthodox family of five children (he and two brothers were Holocaust survivors who settled in the U.S. and Austria). He and Bela arrived in the United States in 1948 with their son Max, and settled in New Jersey. The family moved to San Francisco in 1960 where he earned a real estate license and then worked as a salesman for Fashion Clothing on 19th and Mission.

He was a devoted congregant of Anshey Sfard from 1960 to 1968 and Adath Israel from 1968 until he passed away. He was a member of Retail Clerks Union (UFCW 5).

Mendel’s last years were spent in the company of his caregiver Janina who provided wonderful food, companionship and friendship. Jeff and Cherie (and his other neighbors) were true friends to Mendel and helped him with many of life’s challenges.

Services were held at Eternal Home Cemetery, Colma. Memorial contributions in the name of Mendel Lieberman can be sent to Adath Israel, 1851 Noriega St, San Francisco, CA 94122.

Sinai Memorial Chape
(415) 921-3636


Kenneth Roy Trigger passed away on Feb. 19, 2017, surrounded by loving family in his residence at Rhoda Goldman Plaza, two weeks before his 93rd birthday. There will be a private family memorial later in March.

Ken Trigger was born in Chicago in 1924, moving to Northern California once he graduated high school. During his military service, Ken met the love of his life, Esther Meshul, at the Hollywood USO. After the war, they were married and moved to Palo Alto where Ken pursued a Ph.D. in physics at Stanford University. He worked at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory for many years, as well as a two-year project at the Stanford Linear Accelerator.

In 1956, Ken and Esther Trigger were among the nine founding families of Temple Beth Emek, the first Jewish synagogue in the Livermore Valley. When he retired, Ken and Esther moved to Walnut Creek, where they lived for 20 years. There the couple won many local bridge tournaments; mastered the art of the road trip adventure; and nurtured a warm, loving home for their family and community. In 2014, they embarked on a new adventure, selling their home and moving to Honolulu, Hawaii, where they lived for nine months until Esther’s sudden death. Ken then decided to return to San Francisco to be closer to his family.

Ken (predeceased by his wife, Esther, and his son Victor) is survived by his children: Minette (& Isac) Gutfreund, Suzette Trigger (widow of Victor), Jeff (& Kathy Steele) Trigger and Jack (& Jenny) Trigger; eight grandchildren: Zevi & Mia Gutfreund, Kaitlyn (& Mike) Krieger, Coralee & Shannon Trigger, Matt, Kenton & Cole Trigger; and two great-grandchildren: Carter Trigger and Milo Gutfreund.

J. Staff