lit yahrzeit candles

Deaths for the week of Dec. 8, 2017

Bari E. Brenner passed away in Seattle, Washington, on Nov. 20, 2017, at age 70. She had been the recipient of a heart transplant one year earlier.

Gdeaths-bari
Bari E. Brenner

Bari was born to Sam and Annette Brenner on Feb. 4, 1947, in Seattle. A short time later, the family moved to Oakland. In 1970, Bari graduated in Journalism from California State University, Hayward. She moved to Castro Valley and became a reporter and editor for 11 years at the Daily Review, Hayward, and at The Argus, Fremont. In 1977, she advanced her career at the Oakland Tribune (now East Bay Times), becoming a fashion editor, travel editor and columnist for 30+ years. As “The Travel Tipster” columnist, her sense of humor shone through. How could you see a column titled “Who wants to cook when on vacation? My hand isn’t raised!” and not want to read it?

In addition to her love of traveling, shopping was her passion. She loved Nordstrom shoes, warm sweaters and a good nonfiction book (probably in that order!).

Bari was preceded in death by her parents, Sam and Annette Brenner of Oakland. She is survived by her brother Daryl Brenner of Redmond, Washington, her sister Marilyn Brenner Poleschuk (Ilya) of Issaquah, Washington, and her sister Arlene Brenner of San Jose. She was the aunt of Michelle Kulp (Bryan) and Steve Poleschuk and great-aunt to Stella, Noah and Maya Kulp. Donations in Bari’s memory may be sent to the University of Washington Medical Center in support of the Heart Transplant unit.


Maxine Cohen Sigel passed away peacefully in her sleep on the morning of Dec. 3, 2017. A San Francisco native, Maxine was born Oct. 21, 1924, and was the adored daughter of Augusta and Max Sobel and sister of Stanton (Corinne) Sobel.

Maxine Cohen Sigel
Maxine Cohen Sigel

Maxine attended Lowell High School; married the love of her life, Joseph B. Cohen, in 1943; and raised their two children, Joannie Liss and Steven Cohen, in San Francisco. She was a Mount Zion Hospital volunteer and served on the Floral Committee at Congregation Emanu-El.

Maxine spent many summers with friends and family at the River Ski Club and weekends at Tinsley Island. She was a longtime bridge player and in her later years played duplicate daily and became a Silver Life Master. Traveling for bridge tournaments, collecting art and spending time with friends and family were Maxine’s passions. She lived her life “Mackie’s way,” and friends will recall Maxine’s sharp wit, directness and incredible memory. She didn’t mince words and always told it like it was.

After Joe passed away in 1988, Maxine married Al Sigel in 1990 until his death in 2012. She was a devoted Nana to Rob (Amy) Liss, Anne (Mark) Soloman, Ashley (Matt) Hunter, Courtney (Kevin) Benson and Stephanie Cohen and a loving great-grandmother to Mia, Max, Hayden, Eloise and Logan. She is also survived by her nieces Sherri (Charlie) Sugarman, Cindy (Craig) Morris and Vicki (Paul) Klapper.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Sunday, Dec. 10 at 12 p.m. at Congregation Emanu-El, 2 Lake St., S.F. The family requests that donations be made to the UCSF Foundation.


Kaaren Friedman-Levins-Staschower (Devorah bas Aharon), born and raised in San Francisco, was nifteres on Shabbos Parshas Vayeitzei, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017.

Born on Jan. 23, 1940, to Aaron (Aharon) Friedman and Beatrice (Bracha) Friedman-Presant, Kaaren was raised a Reform Jew, yet at a young age, she gave herself a Hebrew name and refused to fully assimilate. Driven by an inner passion for knowledge and truth, she independently carved out a Jewish identity and successfully adopted an ever-increasingly observant lifestyle, keeping a fully kosher home and educating her children in Orthodox Hebrew day schools.

Kaaren wore many hats. She was a selfless and devoted wife and mother who built a warm and nurturing home, a businesswoman who ran a successful property management company, and a humble but ardent supporter of many worthy national and local Jewish causes, including the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation, Amit Women and Bay Area Torah Institute (BATI).

Kaaren is survived by her four devoted children and son-in-law, Jennifer and Yechiel A’H Waizman, Marilyn and Yisroel Levovitz, Leslie Bensimon and Greg Levins, along with her eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Donations in memory of Kaaren Staschower may be made to Congregation Adath Israel, 1851 Noriega St., S.F., CA 94122 and Jewish Study Network (JSN) of Palo Alto.

Sinai Memorial Chapel S.F.


James David Water, known at Berkeley Chabad as James, Hebrew name David, was deeply immersed in Torah and planning to attend a Yeshiva in Crown Heights, N.Y. His life was cut short at age 45 by as-yet unknown causes.

Gdeaths-water
James David Water and family

James was my son, a beautiful soul, and I will miss him forever.

James’s father was Edward Cerny, a writer and a pilot at the Red and White Fleet in San Francisco. James, who was known as Eddy Cerny in his youth, attended the Hebrew Academy and the High School of the Arts in San Francisco. We were partners in our artworks; he was in music, a guitarist and composer, and I painted the huge canvases that he designed. He had just finished his first music album and I’m so sad that he isn’t here to share it with everyone. He needed to know how good he was. It was hard to tell him how much he was appreciated. You can see his videos on YouTube, meditation and other songs, under the name James Water. His first recorded album, “Thirteen Trees, From Strength to Strength,” will be sold separately.

James left his daughter, Freya Cerny, age 18; me (his mom); and his sister Marenka Cerny, MFT. James was buried at Sinai Memorial in Lafayette on Dec. 1.

He is already missed by all the Torah students of Rabbi Yehuda Ferris at Berkeley Chabad.

May he rest in a higher place in the afterworld and transcend to a “higher, exclusively spiritual form of existence.”