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

Deaths for the week of Dec. 14, 2018

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

Sarah Davis (Greenberger)

October 14, 1923–December 7, 2018

Passed away in her warm home from natural causes. Sarah was a beloved mother to Harold, Frances (Kurlan), Joel and Gary; mother-in-law to Lizbeth Davis, Herbert Kurlan, Lisa Davis and Orly Davis; grandmother to Joshua Davis, Jessica (Davis) Nguyen, Melissa Davis, Aaron Kurlan, Beth (Kurlan) Bonfiglio, Isaac Kurlan, Dean Davis, Jonathan Davis and Jadyn Davis; and great-grandmother to Madison Nguyen, Sophie, Lilly and Alice Kurlan and Ari and Emma Bonfiglio.

Born in New York to Hungarian immigrants (Adolph and Hermina Greenberger z”l), and raised in a religious household with her older brother, William Greenberger z”l and sister Elsie (Greenberger) Manson z”l, Sarah moved West as a young adult and met her dear husband, Alvin Davis z”l, in San Francisco. Together, they raised their children primarily in the Sunset District, with a three-year interlude spent in Hawaii during the early 1950s, where her daughter Frances was born.

Sarah was a great cook, baker and homemaker, and family/friends always enjoyed indulging in the treats she would make routinely. Sarah and Alvin were active members of Congregation Ner Tamid, which served as a second home for decades. Later in life, with her mobility challenged and while resting comfortably in her home, she became a huge Golden State Warriors fan. She would not miss a game on TV, and even framed a magazine picture of her favorite Warrior—Andre Iguodala—which sat proudly on her nightstand during her final years.

The world will not be the same for those she has left behind and loved her so deeply. May her memory be a blessing to us all, and may her spirit be reunited with long-lost family and friends. Donations to Congregation Ner Tamid are welcome.

(Sinai SF)

Mildred Irene Haas

October 11, 1918–December 4, 2018

Mildred Irene Haas
Mildred Irene Haas

“Mimi” died at home of natural causes surrounded by her loving family during her last few days: daughter Caroline Haas of Redwood City; son Louis Haas and daughter-in-law Cheryl of San Francisco; granddaughter Heather Trevisan and grandson-in-law Pete Trevisan of San Francisco; grandson Adam Fee of Redwood City; grandson Nate Haas and granddaughter-in-law Katie Haas of San Francisco; and grandson Ben Haas of Squaw Valley. Mimi was predeceased by her loving husband William (“Bill”), her parents Sam and Frances Kantrow, and sister Elsie Heiman.

Mimi lived a full life. While devoted first to her family, she was also a retired school psychologist for the Las Lomitas School District in Menlo Park (MA in School Psychology from SFSU), active in Democratic politics, the first Jewish woman to be elected to the board of trustees of the San Mateo County Union High School District, a chaplain volunteer at Mills-Peninsula Hospital working with professional clergy and community volunteers, and along with Bill one of the founding families of Peninsula Temple Sholom in Burlingame.

(Sinai Redwood City)

Heinz Kochman

Heinz Kochman passed away peacefully at his home in Aurora, Colorado, on December 5, 2018. He was born in Breslau, Germany, on March 3, 1922. With his father and brother, he fled Germany in 1939 and spent the war years in Beijing, China. In 1947, he moved to San Francisco and remained in the Bay Area until November 2017, when he moved to Colorado to be close to family. He was a kind, modest, hardworking gentleman who was very committed to his family and his San Francisco congregation, B’nai Emunah. He had a deep knowledge of Jewish tradition and conducted services for many years at his retirement home in San Mateo.

Predeceased by his beloved wife, Ruth, to whom he was married for 63 years, he is survived by his son Mark, daughter Anne, daughter-in-law Patti, granddaughter Gwen and grandson Eric and many good friends. We will miss him deeply.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be sent to Congregation B’nai Emunah, 3595 Taraval St., San Francisco, CA 94116.

(Sinai San Francisco)

Victor Mendelsohn

Victor Mendelsohn
Victor Mendelsohn

Victor Mendelsohn died peacefully at his home of 55 years in San Francisco on Sunday, October 7, 2018, surrounded by his family and his best friend of over 65 years.

Victor was born in Eastern Poland in 1924 to Lipa and Chaya Mendelsohn. In 1939, his town was invaded and occupied by the Russians and then in 1941 by the Nazis. Victor, his father and two brothers survived the Nazi occupation by being hidden for ten months beneath the false flooring of a chicken coop by a righteous Russian and his family. The extended Mendelsohn family continues to help the descendants of this righteous family who hid them. Of 150 close relatives, only seven survived.

Victor proudly served in the U.S. Army for three years during the Korean conflict as a quartermaster staff sergeant with the U.S. forces in Berlin. After discharge from the army, Victor took the three-day train ride from New York to San Francisco to seek his fortune.

He met Gloria, the love of his life, at the SFJCC pool and married her in 1956, and they were blessed with four children and five grandchildren.

Victor worked for the U.S. Postal Service, starting as a window clerk and rising to Station Master of Stonestown and West Portal stations.

He had a beautiful voice and for many years was a High Holiday Cantor for Congregation B’nai Emunah. He also served as principal and teacher at their Sunday school.

He was a member of the Odd Fellows, Freemasons and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Victor always said that G-d was good to him, and he appreciated every moment of his life. The family requests donations in his memory be made to the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust or the American Heart Association.

(Sinai SF)

Gerhard (Jerry) Neuhaus

Gerhard (Jerry) Neuhaus
Gerhard (Jerry) Neuhaus

Jerry Neuhaus passed away on December 6, just short of his 96th birthday. He was born and died on the fourth day of Chanukah. Jerry was a dedicated husband to Renée Neuhaus; the loving father of Sandy Edwards, Debbie (Gary) Frank, and Nancy Neuhaus; and adoring grandfather of Gabriel and David Edwards, Naomi (Brad) Chusid, Jeremy (Jenn) Frank, and Marc (Xiu) and Eric (Narita) Samuel. One of the great joys of his life was to welcome the birth of his three great-grandchildren: Noah and Hannah Chusid and Fiona Frank.

Born as Gerhard in Spangenberg, Germany, on December 18, 1922, he escaped the rising tide of anti-Semitism with his parents, Max and Flora Neuhaus, and his sister Hilde in 1937. They traveled by ship through the Panama Canal to San Francisco. It was at Lowell High School that Jerry first met his future wife, Renée Cohn (who had immigrated from Germany herself in 1939). After he served in the U.S. Army during WWII, they married, and Jerry ran the family clothing store, Neuhaus Brothers, located in the Fillmore District.

After Jerry retired, they traveled the world with their many friends. In 2007 they moved to Rhoda Goldman Plaza. Renée passed away in 2014. They had been married for 67 years.

Funeral services were held on December 9, 2018 at Sinai Memorial Chapel, followed by interment at Home of Peace in Colma. In lieu of flowers, donations to Congregation Beth Sholom, 1301 Clement St., SF, CA 94118, (415) 221-8736, would be kindly appreciated.

(Sinai SF)

Susy Raful

The Sonoma County Jewish community lost one of its best-known and most loved matriarchs on Thursday, December 6, 2018, when Susy Raful passed away after a long illness. She was 93.

Klara Zsusanna Taubner and her twin Edit were born in Budapest, Hungary, to Andor and Netka Taubner. She was preceded in death by her parents and her older sister Mary; her twin still lives in Budapest.

Susy was arrested by the Nazis in 1944 and was sent to the Ravensbrück and several other concentration camps. At the close of the war she survived a death march with her sister Mary and recovered in a hospital in a small Czech village near the German border.

During the hospital stay, she met an American soldier and came to New York in June 1947 to marry him. She is survived by her husband of 71 years, Bob; son Bruce and his wife Harriet, who have two sons and three grandchildren; and son Larry and his wife Dinah, who have three daughters and six grandchildren.

She was a lifetime member of the women’s organization Hadassah, and a longtime member of Congregation Beth Ami, and was known for her artistic talents in painting, jewelry and dress making.

Funeral services were held December 10 at the Daniels Chapel of the Roses Funeral Home in Santa Rosa followed by graveside services at Santa Rosa Memorial Park and a reception. Memorial donation tributes may be sent to North Bay Hadassah, 740 Western Ave., Petaluma, CA 94952.

(Daniels Chapel of the Roses)

Michael Roman

Michael Roman, 76, died peacefully surrounded by loving family. He was preceded in death by his wife, Kathy Roman, and his parents, Myron Roman and Naomi Papo Roman. He is survived by his son Max, his daughter-in-law Tory, and their twins Malcom and Beatrice Roman.

Michael was born in New York City in 1942. His mother Naomi was an aspiring actress and office worker, and his father Myron was a violinist and Broadway orchestra conductor. After his parents divorced in 1945, Michael moved with his mother to San Francisco and then later to Los Angeles, where he lived with his grandmother, Cecilia Papo.

After graduating from Los Angeles High School in January of 1960, Michael joined the Navy at age 17 and served as a medical corpsman, primarily at Naval Base San Diego Hospital.

Following an honorable discharge from the Navy in 1962, Michael attended the University of California at Berkeley where he earned a degree in political science, completing his B.A. in three years, and then a J.D. from Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law in 1968.

While attending law school, Michael met the love of his life, Kathleen Dentis; they were married in 1968 after Kathy graduated from Berkeley and Michael from law school. Following their nuptials, Michael took the bar exam; then he and Kathy decamped for a winter in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where they both worked at the Mangy Moose Saloon and skied almost every day of the season.

Upon returning to the Bay Area, Michael joined the Contra Costa County Public Defender’s Office (1969-1973) and then opened his own practice (1973-2011), focusing primarily on criminal defense and workers’ rights. This work was an extension of his beliefs: that justice is a right and not a privilege, and that those who are not able to stand up for themselves need someone to stand up for them.

Michael loved getting to know people, hearing their stories, and then figuring out the best way to make them laugh. He had an encyclopedic mental compendium of jokes at the ready and was always quick with the perfect joke to make someone laugh when they needed it.

He also loved spending time with his family, particularly in the outdoors. He spent countless hours with Kathy and Max in Lake Tahoe skiing, hiking, biking, and relaxing, as well as on many active vacations to Alaska and Europe.

In 2015 Michael’s beloved wife Kathy was diagnosed with ALS, and she passed away almost two years later. In grieving Kathy’s passing, Michael found great relief in family, his son Max, his daughter-in-law Tory, and then his twin grandchildren, Malcolm and Beatrice. Michael loved being a grandfather and delighted in every new word and accomplishment of the twins.

As he said in his final days, “I’ve had a good life, and there’s nothing more for me to do.” Truer words were never spoken, and although we will all miss Michael terribly, we take comfort in a life well-lived.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Michael’s memory to the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces at fidf.org/donate or the ALS Association at alsa.org/donate.

Dr. Sigmund D. Sabin

Dr. Sigmund D. Sabin
Dr. Sigmund D. Sabin

Dr. Sigmund D. Sabin, born in August 1924, passed away peacefully May 19, 2018, at the age of 92 with his wife Esther of 67 years and daughter Leslie Fellman by his side.

Dr. Sabin was born in Berlin, Germany, and escaped with his parents and two sisters to Brussels, Belgium, in 1939 after being stopped by the Gestapo and let go, and six months later with a visa traveled through mined ocean waters to arrive in New York on December 25, 1929, and from there by Greyhound bus to L.A., where his aunt lived.

Sigmund finished high school at John Marshall High and won a scholarship to Cal Tech. After two years at Cal Tech he was drafted into the U.S. Army and was sent to Germany. Because of his knowledge of the language, he was in charge of German prisoners of war and received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army. Dr. Sabin continued his education at the University of California in Berkeley, where he graduated with highest honors and received a Doctor of Optometry and a Masters.

Dr. Sabin practiced optometry for over 60 years in the East Bay. He received many professional honors. His specialty was contact lenses. He treated his devoted patients and their entire families. Dr. Sabin volunteered in Oakland at a children’s low-vision clinic and volunteered in Alameda for Meals on Wheels. Sigmund traveled over 50 countries and even did NY Times crossword puzzles in ink! Dr. Sabin leaves behind his beloved wife and two children and five grandchildren. No funeral was held. Dr. Sabin left his body to the Willed Body program at UC San Francisco Medical School, as he requested.

Allen Sommer


Allen Sommer, loving husband, father, grandfather, and uncle, passed away peacefully and surrounded by love on December 5, 2018. Born and raised in San Francisco, he went on to become a lawyer and a judge. He earned his Criminology degree at Cal. Later, he went on to earn his law degree, putting himself through school. Allen spent his lifetime trying to help others through his volunteer work and in his career.

Allen and his wife Nancy raised two devoted children, of whom he was very proud. He will live on through his family, including his wife Nancy Sommer, son Rabbi Jon Sommer, daughter Leslie Sommer, son-in-law Rodolphe Pineau, and grandchildren Julien and Anna. The family asks that contributions be made to the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center.