Deaths

Miriam (Mimi) Arfin, a five-year survivor of lung cancer, passed away peacefully surrounded by family on Saturday, July 3, 2010 in Palo Alto, California. Mimi was deeply committed to her family, social justice and Jewish causes.

The daughter of Joanne and Bernard Arfin, Mimi was born in Glen Cove, NY on January 22, 1957. At the age of 2 she moved with her family to San Carlos, California, where she grew up. She was a graduate of Ravenswood High School and earned her BA degree from the University of California, Berkeley, magna cum laude.

While at Cal, she spent her junior year at the Hebrew University in Israel. She then earned both a Master’s Degree in Public Policy and a Juris Doctorate Law degree from the University of Michigan.

Following her graduation from law school, she served as a clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and practiced law in Cleveland and San Francisco. She later served as director of the innovative Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program for the Ninth District Federal Court. For her work as director, she was honored with the Robert F. Peckham Award for Excellence in ADR.

She also worked to promote ADR in Israel and was invited by the Supreme Court of Israel to speak about ADR and to train Israeli lawyers and court administrators in the subject.

She married Robert Rebitzer in 1993 and gave birth to two daughters, Elana (12) and Maya (10). After living in San Francisco, they moved to Palo Alto in 2002.

Mimi was an active community leader serving on the boards of the Redwood City Congregation Beth Jacob, the New Israel Fund, Camp Arazim and the Jewish Federation. In 2009 she and her husband were honored by Congregation Beth Jacob as a Chesed for Community Service.

Mimi had survived Hodgkin’s disease for over 30 years and was committed to helping others with cancer. Each year since her lung cancer diagnosis, Mimi led a team of riders and runners in the Livestrong Challenge Series of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Last year the foundation awarded her the Livestrong Challenge Award in recognition of her efforts.

Mimi is survived by her husband, Robert, her two daughters, Elana and Maya, her brothers, David (Madeline Chaleff), Palo Alto, and Joseph Arfin, Houston, TX. Her parents, Joanne and Bernard Arfin of Palo Alto, and her mother-in-law, Magda Rebitzer of Chicago, also survive her. She is pre-deceased by her father-in-law, Fred Rebitzer. Mimi also had many loving cousins and numerous friends who will miss her warm personality, keen sense of humor and compassion.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Mimi’s memory to Congregation Beth Jacob; the New Israel Fund, 703 Market St., Suite 1503, San Francisco, CA; and the National Lung Cancer Alliance, 222 N. Midvale Blvd., Suite 6, Madison WI 53705.

Sinai Memorial Chapel


Lorna Esther Barish

2/12/20 – 6/28/10

Lorna was born and raised on a farm in Gronlid Saskatchewan. She went to Chicago to become a Registered Nurse and eventually came to San Francisco, where she worked as a public health nurse for 24 years.

In her retirement, Lorna led Coping With Stress classes and trips to China. Lorna traveled many places, including Cuba and Russia, and was in Israel during the Six-Day War. She loved cats, quilting and Wheel of Fortune.

She will be missed by her family and friends all around the world. Lorna is survived by her nephews Michael, Balfour and David Gerber.

Services were held on July 1 and interment followed at Salem Memorial Park in Colma.

Jeannette Weiser Berger

April 5, 1918 – June 28, 2010 

“Small in stature, huge in spirit”

Born in New York City, Jeannette passed away peacefully at home at the Redwoods retirement community in Mill Valley, CA. Jeannette’s surviving family includes daughter Judy Berger of Mill Valley and son Ken and his wife Deborah Berger of Monroe, Washington, and grandchildren Anja and Noah Flower and Mark and Jenny Berger. Her beloved husband of 54 years, Leon H. Berger, predeceased her in 2001.

Born into a tightly-knit religious family of immigrants from what is now western Ukraine, Jeannette slept on a foldout cot in the kitchen. But she didn’t miss the bedroom or personal possessions, as life was exciting and there was so much to do. She described herself as a tomboy who spent a fair amount of her childhood on the streets of New York City, when she wasn’t studying or practicing the piano.

Intellectually precocious, she attended Hunter College on full scholarship, graduating with honors at the age of 20, and then went out into the toughest neighborhoods of New York City to teach practical business education skills to the poor and immigrant populations.

Over the course of her 40-year career she touched many students’ lives in public secondary schools and adult schools in New York and Los Angeles. She became so expert at teaching typing and shorthand that she could devote extra time to helping her students with personal problems.

Jeannette was a vibrant, multitalented and caring woman. A political activist and Democratic Party supporter who championed social justice and Jewish causes, she was a union organizer and an officer on the first Board of Directors of United Teachers of Los Angeles. She was also secretary of the Retired School Teachers Association of Los Angeles for many years and was active in Jewish and progressive political organizations in Los Angeles and, later, in Marin County. She was a regular at the Marin Jewish Community Center Shabbat Lunch programs and particularly admired for her vigorous outdoor swimming.

A lifelong learner, she always had a book under her arm and enjoyed discussing important social issues of the day. She loved to swim, hike and travel. With her husband she explored the U.S. and the world, often through learning or hospitality exchange organizations like Elderhostel and Servas. At the age of 89 she accompanied her daughter and grandson on a synagogue trip to Israel!

She will be missed by many, including her family and friends in Los Angeles, Drake Terrace Retirement Community in Terra Linda, the Redwoods in Mill Valley and fellow congregants at Congregation Kol Shofar. She was strong, loving, active, and she made a positive impact on this world.

Funeral services were held last week at Mount Tamalpais Cemetery in San Rafael. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. July 18 at the Redwoods, 40 Camino Alto, Mill Valley. In lieu of flowers, her memory would be greatly honored by gifts to the Jeannette and Leon Berger Endowment Fund at Congregation Kol Shofar, 215 Blackfield Drive, Tiburon, CA 94920 or to a social justice charity of your choice.


Harold Cohn

In Redwood City, June 25, 2010. Beloved husband of the late Rosalie R. Cohn. Loving brother of Jack Cohn. A devoted uncle. Age 89 years.

Funeral services were held July 1 at Oak Hill Funeral Home’s Chapel of Roses. Interment followed at Home of Peace Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to your favorite charity.

Janet Koppel Fisher was born in Palo Alto in 1923. She passed away peacefully at Stanford Hospital on May 2, 2010, surrounded by family and loved ones.

With her brothers Mel and Harold, Janet grew up in the family house on Middlefield Road in Palo Alto. Janet attended Hoover, Addison and Channing schools, and graduated from Palo Alto High School in 1941.

After high school she worked in a local cannery, followed by a World War II job at Heinz and Kaufman, where she received recognition for her leadership skills and outstanding work record.

She loved bike riding and all sports, often going to school early and playing tennis before starting her classes. After graduating from San Jose State College with a degree in Physical Education, Janet taught in Los Altos, Manteca, Los Angeles and Palo Alto. She encouraged her students with her love of teaching and enthusiasm, often devoting her own time to help those who needed special attention.

Janet and Louis Fisher first met in 1951 at a JCC singles group called the “Peninsulites.” They married two years later and remained close with many from that original group. With their two sons, Aron and Larry, they lived in the Bay Area most of their married lives. They were also active members of Congregation Temple Beth Jacob for over 50 years.

Janet’s love of nature, especially birds and flowers, was encouraged at Girl Scout Camp, and flourished throughout her adult life during vacations with Lou and the boys at National Parks and Indian reservations throughout the Southwest. This love of the outdoors was also the driving force that led her to become a member of the Environmental Volunteers, Audubon Society, Sierra Club, Palo Alto Garden Club, and a volunteer at the Gamble Gardens.

Janet and Lou were longtime devotees of local folk dance and hiking groups, and also shared a love of traveling and exploring the world, including trips to the Arctic, the Antarctic and the Galapagos Islands.

Janet genuinely loved being with people, and that love was manifested in her honesty, trustworthiness, sense of humor, generosity with her time and patience, as well as an extraordinary ability to listen and make one feel genuinely cared for. She will be sadly missed by her husband Lou, sons Larry and Aron, granddaughter Cassandre; nephew David Koppel, wife Linda, and their children/grandchildren; niece Marilyn Kalvin, husband Russell, and their children/grandchildren; Carolyn Harms-Taylor, husband Kevin; and of course by her many, many friends.


Lillian A. Green

Sept. 10, 1909 – June 25, 2010

Died peacefully at home in San Francisco at the age of 100.

Lillian was born in Poland and moved to Toronto with her family at a young age. She married Morris Green (now deceased) in New York; they came to San Francisco in the 1930s and raised three sons — Dr. Gerald (Nancy) Green, George (Karen Goldberg) Green and Herbert Green (now deceased). Lillian adored her grandchildren — Dr. Adrienne (Thelonious Johnson) Green and Steven, Andrew, Nicholas and Jacqueline Green — and her two great-grandchildren.

Lillian was an avid volunteer in the Bay Area Jewish community. While she was active in Hadassah, B’nai B’rith and the Anti-Defamation League, and volunteered at the Jewish Museum until age 92, she especially loved working with children. With her warm, gregarious personality, the Green home was always open to welcome family and friends.

Funeral services were held at Sinai Memorial Chapel in S.F. followed by burial at Hills of Eternity Memorial Park in Colma. In lieu of flowers, donations in Lillian’s memory can be made to a Jewish charity of your choice or the UCSF Housecalls Program.


Ben Jacobson

April 21, 1909 – June 25, 2010

Ben Jacobson, beloved husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and “Pop” to friends and family, died peacefully at the age of 101. He lived a long, rich and happy life and will be remembered as an optimistic and positive force by the many people who had the good fortune to know him.

Ben was born in 1909 in Des Moines, Iowa, the second of five children of Isaac and Rose Jacobson. He was attending Drake University in 1929 when his father died unexpectedly. At the age of 20, he left Drake University and agreed to run the family grocery story to support his mother and siblings.

He quickly found that he had inherited a business that had long been supporting needy families, and when the Depression arrived, the bills far exceeded the revenues. A man of his honor, Ben chose not to shirk responsibility and worked tirelessly over the next several years to pay off each of the grocery’s suppliers. Ben subsequently worked as a traveling salesman for the Diamond Match Company during the Depression.

Ben married the love of his life, Mickey Westerman, in 1934 in Des Moines, Iowa. In 1950, Ben, Mickey and daughter Sandy moved to San Francisco to find greater opportunity (and better weather!). They settled in the Marina District close to the Devonshire and Carlton Hotels that Ben managed. In 1970, Mickey and Ben relocated to South San Francisco where they continued to live independently until Mickey died in 2006 at the age of 95.

Ben loved being with people and brought a smile to the face of just about everyone who had the good fortune to come into contact with him. He could often be heard praising the work of others by enthusiastically saying “you done good.”

Ben is survived by his daughter and son-in-law, Sandy and Barry Oberstein; grandchildren, Linda and Moshe, and Jeff and Sophie; and great-grandchildren, Lily, Evan, Avi and Zev Oberstein. Ben’s family wishes to thank his wonderful caregivers, Susie and Faye, for their loving attention over the last three years.

In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Ben can be made to Peninsula Temple Sholom.


Jack Elliott Nankin

May 20, 1925 – July 1, 2010

Jack was born in Oakland, CA and spent his entire working life in the San Francisco Bay Area. After he retired, he and Doreen, his wife of 65years, moved to Rossmoor in Walnut Creek.

Jack is survived by his loving wife Doreen, daughters Marsha Clark (Dave), Linda Hansen (Mike), Cathy Scolari (Steve), his brother Gerald Nankin, and his four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Jack was very patriotic and proud of his time spent in the South Pacific during WWII.

Services were held under the direction of Sinai Memorial Chapel, Lafayette.

Lester Ralph “Les” Springmeyer 1916–2010

Lester Ralph “Les” Springmeyer, 93, of Reno, Nevada, died peacefully on July 3, 2010 at Renown South Meadows Hospital in Reno.

Les was the great-grandson of H. H. and Wilhelmina Springmeyer, an 1860s pioneer Carson Valley ranching family. Les was born August 6, 1916 in Carson City, Nevada, to Ralph Arthur and Edith Valeria (Werner) Springmeyer and grew up on ranches in Diamond Valley, Smith Valley and Carson Valley with his brothers Buzz, Albert, Robert, and sister Myra (Linscott).

Les was valedictorian of his graduating class of eight at Smith Valley High School in 1933. In 1937 he met Kathaleen Wallace of Carson City at the Genoa Candy Dance. They were married in Reno, Nevada, on September 18, 1942.

Les was inducted into the U.S. Army on March 18, 1942, and attended the Armored School in Fort Knox, Kentucky. He graduated from the Motor Mechanics School and served in the 736th Tank Battalion with the rank of Staff Sergeant. After landing at Normandy in August of 1944, he saw combat in northern France, the Ardennes and Germany. He was awarded a battlefield commission as 2nd Lieutenant, the Bronze Star, the WWII Victory Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.

Les lived honestly and truly, according to the Golden Rule. He was a devoted husband, loving father and true friend. His motto was to always do your best, and his best was a mile-high pillar. Les loved the outdoors and spent many years working outside as the owner of the Springmeyer Equipment Company, where his word was his bond and a handshake sealed a deal. His wife Kay and he kept the books in the evenings and on weekends. He was a straight arrow in his work life, family life, and with his friends and neighbors. He had a great sense of humor, an ever-present twinkle in his eye and a kind heart. As Kay would so often say, he was a “good guy.”

Les belonged to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, State Farm Bureau, Reno Executives Club, Kiwanis Club and Elks Club. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Far West Equipment Dealers Association and the Better Business Bureau.

Les enjoyed camping with his family near Lamoille Canyon in the Ruby Mountains and on the Carson River. Markleeville was also a favorite place.

In his earlier life, Les loved hunting ducks, but when his young daughter Sharry was horrified at the beautiful dead ducks he was plucking and cleaning in the garage, he gave up ducks in favor of the elusive sage hens he spent hours chasing up hills and over ridges, rarely finding one slow enough to be caught.

Above all, Les loved his family: his wife Kay (their names almost became one: KayandLes), his daughter Sharry, his son-in-law Paul, his nephews and nieces, especially Tom and Claudette.

“Love doesn’t die,

People do.

So, when all that’s left of me

Is love,

Give me away.”

–Merrit Malloy

Les is survived by his spouse of 68 years, Kathaleen, of Reno, his daughter, Sharalee Springmeyer Schwarzbart, and her husband Paul, of San Rafael, California, and many nieces and nephews. His five younger siblings all preceded him in death.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Charlotte Wallenstein, 92, died peacefully at home in Atherton on Sunday, June 27. She was born in Berlin, but in 1939 immigrated to China, the one remaining country open to Jewish refugees. She immigrated to the United States in 1947.

She was a devoted wife to Gerd D. Wallenstein, who predeceased her in 1990. She is survived by her son, Peter (Marilyn) Wallenstein of San Carlos, daughter, Claudia Wallenstein-Klivans of Atherton, and four grandchildren, Nicole Lopuch, David Wallenstein, and Ethan and Amy Klivans.

Charlotte will always be remembered as a strong, kind, caring, compassionate and selfless woman who touched many people’s lives. Services were held at Alta Mesa Cemetery in Palo Alto. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Jewish Community Federation or the charity of your choice.


Rhea Elaine Zins
, 79, died July 4, 2010. Elaine is survived by her three children, Maureen (Sandy) Backman, Karen Hidalgo and Stuart (Gail) Zins, her six grandchildren, Candace (Alan) Droutsas, Melanie Backman, Devin Hidalgo, Shaina, Marissa and Talia Zins, her two great-grandchildren, Tyler and Aubrey Droutsas, her sister, Dorothy (Mori) Huppert, and sister-in-law, Miriam Fishtrom.

She is further survived by Uncles Marvin (Faye) Eisenberg and Bernard Eisenberg, cousins, nieces, nephews, and many dear friends. She was preceded in death by her husband, Seymour, and her parents, Leah and Harry Horowitz.

She will be missed by all who knew and loved her. The family requests in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to a charity dear to your heart.