Monday, January 23, 2017

Faith and Action

Faith and Action

Rabbi David Novak
20 January 2017

One day an old Jewish man from Tiberias went out of his home and began to dig a hole.  

Next to him was a seedling for a fig tree, a tree that is known to give shade and fruit when it matures, a time well into the future.  

The Roman king was passing through Tiberias and noticed the old man.  

Seeing him digging, the king stopped his horse and said:   

“Old man.”

Startled, the old man looked up and saw the king.

“Why are you planting this tree?” the king asked.  “Surely you won’t be around when it gives its shade and its fruit.”

The old man took a moment and replied:  

“My ancestors planted for me and I reaped the benefit of their foresight.  Now I am planting for the future generations that I will never see who will benefit from me.”

Satisfied with the answer, the king continued on his way.

A new seed was planted at 12:01 this afternoon as our country
inaugurated our 45th president.  

Like past inaugurations, our incumbent president peacefully passed the highest office in our land to the new president.  

The pride of American democracy is that power transfers from one person to the next with an oath, not by overthrowing the government, not by dictatorial takeover.

The presidential inauguration is our country at its best.  

In times of trial and tribulation, after wars and assassinations, our country shines in how power transitions.  This is how our country works,  even in the aftermath of a brutal campaign, even when the outlook of a new president is vastly different from his predecessor.  

Like the old man in the story, all of us hope that our new president will plant wisely for our future, to use the powers that he now possesses for the good of everyone in our country.  Many hold this aspiration knowing that our new president has never held elected or appointed office before.  We do not know what seeds will be planted and what the offspring will look like.   

Still we all share the hope that our new president will reject the worst aspects of last year’s campaigning that gave raise to public expressions of anti-Semitic behavior in our country.  These behaviors reflect what happens in other places in the world, not the United States.  

The United States is historically the most stable democracy and among the safest places in the world for Jews.   Our American Jewish community has prospered in the United States since the first Jews arrived in New York City from Brazil in 1654 even in the face of individual and institutional anti-Semitism.  The seeds that our predecessors planted reflect their names, the institutions they created set the foundation for our extraordinary Jewish experience.

As a small minority, we Jews have greatly benefited by this freedom.  We hope that our new president will act as his predecessor George Washington did in 1790 when he wrote these words to the Touro Synagogue in neighboring Rhode Island:

For happily the Government of the United States gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.

Our question now is where do we grow from here.

Rabbi Leo Baeck said:

Religion embraces both faith and action.  The primary quality is action, for it lays the foundation for faith; the more we do good, the more readily do we grasp the meaning of duty and life, and the more readily do we believe in the Divine from which stems the good.

Faith and action.

For the majority of Jewish existence Jews have lived in the Diaspora, outside of Jewish sovereignty.  The early sages condoned this by ordaining that Jewish life and Jewish prayer could be done anywhere Jews found themselves.

Wherever Jews found themselves, they always prayed for the welfare of the leaders of the civil government: kings, queens, presidents, prime ministers.   

We do this to express our aspirations for the success of the leaders of the countries in which we reside.  These prayers are often done when the Sefer Torah is out of the ark, a time thought to be especially propitious.

On this day of the inauguration, with the Torahs in the ark behind me, let us take a moment to uphold this noble tradition and offer this prayer together:

God of holiness, we hear Your message:
Justice, justice you shall pursue. (Deut. 16:20)
God of freedom, we hear Your charge:
Proclaim liberty throughout the land. (Lev. 25:10)
Inspire us through Your teachings and commandments
To love and uphold our precious democracy.

Let every citizen take responsibility
For the rights and freedoms we cherish.

Let each of us be an advocate for justice, an activist for liberty, a defender of dignity.
And let us champion the values
That make our nation a haven for the persecuted,
A beacon of hope among the nations.

We pray for courage and conscience
As we aim to support our country’s highest values and aspirations:
The hard-won rights that define us as a people,
The responsibilities that they entail.

We pray for all who serve our country with selfless devotion --
In peace and in war,
From fields of battle to clinics and classrooms,
From government to the grassroots:
All those whose noble deeds and sacrifice
Benefit our nation and our world.

We are grateful for the rights
Of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness
That our founders attributed to you,
Our Creator.
We pray for their wisdom and moral strength,
That we may be guardians of these rights for ourselves,
And for the sake of all people,
Now and forever.

(CCAR Rabbi’s Manual)

“Pray as if everything depended on God.  Act as if everything depended on you.”

“Pray as if everything depended on God.  Act as if everything depended on you.”

A wonderful sentiment found before the Amidah in the new Reform prayerbook.

We have prayed:  Now we turn to action:

What seeds we will plant.  Remembering our old man:  In digging the hole and in planting the seed, the man is acting in a way where he knows that the benefits will be derived down the road.  He is performing an act of lovingkindness for those who follow him.

All of us have the opportunity to take inspiration from this man’s sagacity.  

Ask yourself:  

What are the seeds that you are able to plant, right here, right now?  

What are you willing to plant in the days and weeks to come?  

What will be your commitment to ensuring that people’s basic needs for food, heat and shelter are met?

As you leave Beth Elohim this evening and in the days and weeks to come, please think about these words and consider what your action will be.

Recommit to making the social safety net as strong as possible for the most vulnerable.

Know that even if you do not personally see the benefit of what your seed turns into, one seed many blessings may grow:

shade, food, wood, sustenance, even support to the other trees around them.

Let us use our humanity to seed a future where we pray that those who come after us will derive great benefit.

Friday, July 3, 2015

America's First Jewish President?

delivered by Rabbi David Novak
Israel Congregation of Manchester
Manchester Center, Vermont
June 2015

Bernie Sanders D’var Torah

Just imagine if America has a breakthrough in the 2016 election.

Just imagine.

Imagine if, for the first time, ever, in our over two hundred years of democratic government

we, the United States electorate, elect our first


President of the United States.

Yes, that would be Bernie Sanders, our state’s junior senator, the man everyone here knows as “Bernie.”  

Of course a man who has made his career as a socialist mayor of Burlington, then member of the United States House and now junior senator from Vermont, running for president on the Democratic ticket and always speaking his mind is once again running on a platform that could only be called “Bernie-esque” We all know what that means.

It’s the kind of straight talk you’d expect from Bernie, and when you are talking about Bernie, that is probably the one thing that all of us can agree upon.

Still, this is not a campaign ad for him.

After all, it is not my job to advocate for any one candidate from the bimah of this congregation, nor would I do so.

What is interesting, though, is the fact that Bernie is Jewish and the campaign is getting some surprising traction in the national media because of his being part of the Jewish People.  

The attention to Bernie is showing up in interesting ways for him and for the Jewish community.

First is what happened to him a little more than a week ago.

Bernie was on the nationally syndicated public radio Diane Rehm show,  produced at WAMU in Washington, DC and heard in our region on New Hampshire Public Radio.  

The Rehm show’s website says that it is heard by more than 2.4 million people weekly.  

Before discussing what happened, just a word on how Diane Rehm sounds on the radio and in-person.  Because of an illness that afflicted her, spasmodic dysphonia, a neurological voice disorder that causes strained, difficult speech, it makes her sound elderly,and strained.  On first hearing her one might think that she is doing the show well into late life.  That, however, is not the case.  

Her show attracts national figures, including Senator Sanders.  The day he appeared on her program it went like this:

Diane Rehm: Senator, you have dual citizenship with Israel.

Bernie Sanders: Well, no I do not have dual citizenship with Israel. I'm an American. I don't know where that question came from. I am an American citizen, and I have visited Israel on a couple of occasions. No, I'm an American citizen, period.

Rehm: I understand from a list we have gotten that you were on that list.

Sanders: No.

Rehm: Forgive me if that is—

Sanders: That's some of the nonsense that goes on in the internet. But that is absolutely not true.

Rehm: Interesting. Are there members of Congress who do have dual citizenship or is that part of the fable?

Sanders: I honestly don't know but I have read that on the internet. You know, my dad came to this country from Poland at the age of 17 without a nickel in his pocket. He loved this country. I am, you know, I got offended a little bit by that comment, and I know it's been on the internet. I am obviously an American citizen and I do not have any dual citizenship.”

Notice how Rehm persisted, first stating factually that Bernie had dual citizenship, then asking if there are members of Congress with dual citizenship.  

For a woman who has been hosting a radio talk show from Washington these are some naive accusations to make, falling right into a worn-out trope that was once used on Roman Catholics Al Smith and John Kennedy that they would answer to the pope.

The ADL’s Abe Foxman, on the eve of his retirement, said in a statement:

“Diane Rehm’s questions were inappropriate, insensitive questioning without any minimal journalistic checking of claims. Such a statement is not only factually incorrect, but has no place in such an interview.

“It is deeply troubling to think that a well-respected media outlet like NPR would apparently rely on unsubstantiated information from the Internet in its preparation for a guest.

“Ms. Rehm’s description and follow-up question about whether other Senators have dual citizenship with Israel play into classic anti-Semitic charges of dual loyalty. Such charges have been leveled for centuries and have been a catalyst for scapegoating and vilifying Jews.
“Senator Sanders deserves a public apology, as do NPR listeners.”

Rehm published an apology the next day on her website and issued one on-air:    “. . . instead of asking it as a question I stated it as fact. That was wrong. He does NOT have dual citizenship and Senator Sanders immediately corrected me.

“I should have explained to him and to you why I felt this was a relevant question and something he might like to address.

“I apologize to Senator Sanders and to you for having made an erroneous statement. However, I am glad to play a role in putting this rumor to rest.”

Interesting apology:  she raised the dual citizen canard as a fact to put it to rest.  

Foxman added after seeing Rehm’s statement:

“Her mistake was to not research it before she even stated it as fact.  She shouldn’t have asked the question, period.  Had she researched it, she wouldn’t have raised it at all.  Because her question challenges not only his loyalty, but also Jewish loyalties to this country.

Insulting it was to state it to Senator Sanders as a fact.  And it was stupid for it not to be flagged by a woman of Rehm’s considerable talent.  She should have better producers, at a minimum, and enough judgment to have asked the Senator off-air about the allegation before stating it as a fact on the air.   

My hope is that this is the last we will hear on this subject, but I’m not holding my breath.

Then there’s Israel and where Bernie stands on Israel as a member of the United States Senate and over the length of his political career.  

Most people with Bernie’s political proclivities are known for their less than firm support for Israel’s right to exist.  

Which is why news coverage is beginning to examine Bernie’s relation to Israel as he is being taken as a serious candidate for president.

To know Bernie is to know that after college he lived on a kibbutz.  To know Bernie is to also know that the majority of his father’s family were killed in the Shoah, and as above, his father came to this country, penniless, when he was 17.

Bernie’s politics vis-a-vis Israel were raised in an article in this week’s Forward.  On his website under “Israel and Gaza” was this:

Sen. Sanders is deeply troubled by the outbreak of violence in Gaza. It is extraordinarily depressing that year after year, decade after decade, the wars and killing continue without any apparent progress toward the creation of a permanent peace. While the summer of 2014 was a particularly contentious time in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, Sen. Sanders’ hope is that the United States will, in the future, help play a leading role in creating a permanent two-state solution. To achieve that outcome the U.S. must work with the international community to support a settlement that respects the legitimate claims and grievances of both sides, lifts the blockade of Gaza, resolves the borders of the West Bank, and allows both the Israeli and Palestinian people to live in peace.

“The bottom line is that Israel must have the right to exist in peace and security, just as the Palestinians must have the right to a homeland in which they and they alone control their political system and their economy.”

The article in the Forward cites a town hall meeting in Cabot last summer, available on YouTube.  

First came a question about Israel’s ongoing bombings in Gaza; then an interruption from audience members angry at Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. Another interruption followed. And then, onstage, Senator Bernie Sanders, sleeves rolled to his elbows, shouted at a constituent to shut up.

But Sanders’ annoyed shut-down of the critic of Israel, and pieces of his lecture on the dangers of Hamas that followed, may mask a deeper trend in Bernie’s thinking: the asymmetrical nature of war between Hamas and the IDF meant that, at least at the time, it seemed that more damage was being done to Palestinian civilians under Hamas rule than to Israelis.

It was not for lack of Hamas’s trying.  Israel benefited greatly from Iron Dome, Israeli-invented and American funded, to intercept many of the rockets that threatened Israeli population centers.  

In the video of the August 2014 town hall, at the height of the Gaza conflict, Bernie asserted that Israel had “overreacted,” and that the bombing of UN facilities was “terribly, terribly wrong,” while also noting that Hamas was launching rockets from populated areas.  In other words, yes, bombing of UN facilities is wrong, but, without saying it, what was Israel to do?

Throughout much of his political career Bernie has avoided talking much about Israel.  Aaron Keyak, a Democratic political consultant and the managing director of Bluelight Strategies said, “I know he’s often rated as the most liberal senator, but when I see Senator Bernie Sanders, I see someone who is a typical pro-Israel Jewish Democrat.”

The article’s author searched the Congressional Record, finding very few statements about Israel by Sanders on the floor of the House or the Senate. In 2002, during the debate over the resolution that authorized President George W. Bush to use military force in Iraq, Sanders, then a House member, asked whether an invasion of Iraq would worsen the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And in 2008, Sanders was one of 100 co-sponsors of a Senate resolution to recognize the 60th anniversary of Israel’s founding.  He also boycotted the Prime Minister’s recent address to congress.

Faced with what a somewhat enigmatic positions on Israel, I turned to Yoram Samets, a pro-Israel activist from Burlington.  I asked him about his opinion of Bernie and Israel.

Samets wrote back saying:  “He [Bernie] is a strong advocate of Israel.  And [he is] deeply challenged by the Prime Minister and the right leaning government.  But from my perspective he would be better for Israel than our current President.  Bernie has a deeper understanding of the challenges Jews (Israel) face in the world. And he is very aware and concerned about what is taking place in the neighborhood.

“His Israel issues are about politics, economics and the impact on family.  His American issues are about politics, economics and the impact on family.”  

In other words, Bernie is being consistent in his criticism of the Israeli and the American governments about the issues that matter for people who may not be enfranchised in government.  That’s Bernie.  

So for Bernie the question is:  Does what he advocates for us here at home differ from what he would advocate for Israel if he became president for  United States?

I will give Aaron Keyak, the political consultant quoted above the last word:  

“I think the people who find it surprising that Bernie Sanders is pro-Israel are some of the same people who are quick to paint progressives as anti-Israel. He prefers for Israel to have a left of center government, but he still fundamentally supports Israel.”

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Remembering the Life of Doris Bass

With Doris Bass you knew who she was because she always laid it out, and spoke exactly how she felt about any situation.  This pattern of being carried Doris from her earliest days until Monday evening of this week when she left the world in exactly the way she had wanted to.  

Unwilling to live in pain, unwilling to be restricted from the activities that were her life’s passions, our Doris said goodbye to the people whom she loved and died on her terms, in her own beloved Bondville home.

Doris began her life in Chester, Pennsylvania in 1928, the second child of Sarah and Nathan Lubin.  Doris’s brother Hillard was born about four years before.  That made the Lubin family of Chester complete.  

There were one of the only Jewish families there, which was difficult for Doris.  

Early in life, when Doris was 12, she lost her father to cancer.  After this tragic loss for the family, Doris’s mother Sarah became a restaurateur.   She soon remarried, to a lovely man named Joe Sharpe, who became Doris’s beloved stepfather.

You might think that Doris came to her activism later in life if you’ve known her from her Vermont years:  you would be mistaken.  

It was already during her teenage years that Doris was quite involved in the local Communist Party and social activism.  One law in Pennsylvania struck her as particularly unfair:  it allowed an African-American to have a seat at a restaurant only if he or she was accompanied by a Caucasian.  Otherwise they would be denied a seat.

So Doris let it be known throughout the community that she was available to be the Caucasian that would take any African American to be seated at any restaurant.

After growing up in Chester Doris left for college, to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.  What a huge difference from Chester.  Up in the gorges of Cornell she found other Jewish people!  A revelation!  

There she met many lifelong friends, including Audrey Bloch, Barbara Howland, and many others.  It was only last week, while a parade of people were visiting Doris, that Audrey and Doris reunited for what the last time.  They hugged, they talked, they sang the Cornell Song Far Above Cayuga’s Waters:

Far above Cayuga’s waters,
With its waves of blue,
Stands our noble alma mater,
Glorious to view.

Without missing a beat, Doris and Audrey launched into the spoof version penned by folks at University of Pennsylvania, Cornell’s archrival in sports:

High above Cayuga's waters
There's an awful smell;
Some will say it's Lake Cayuga,
Others say Cornell.

It was a beautiful moment for two dear old friends.  In one moment there was a beautiful tableaux, Doris holding court in her chair in her living room, while Audrey, having difficulty with her mobility, finally reached the position next to Doris as Doris, all 85 pounds of her, reached around to help steady her for a final photograph.  There was not a dry eye to be had.

At Cornell, Doris met her future husband, Donald Bass of Brooklyn, New York.  The day after Doris was graduated from Cornell in 1950 she married Donald in a ceremony back in Chester at her family's restaurant.  By age 25 they had three children: Robin, born 1950, Steven in 1954; and Jonathan in 1956.

It was also in 1950 that the family house purchased a home on Lake Oscawana.  It was at that house that the family spent many, many years.  

You might not know this but while it looked to be happy on the outside, these years in the so-called “perfect” decade of the 1950s were personally taxing on Doris on many levels.  On the outside she was playing the part, living in Queens, raising her family, trying to make her marriage successful. On the inside, though, she felt trapped by her in-laws and her life situation overall.

In the early 1960s, in response to Doris’s reflection on her life since marriage and children, she made an important decision that would determine the future contours of her life.  She chose to go back to school to get a Masters' in Library Sciences at St. John's in Queens.  Of course the decision was easy for Doris as she recounted to Working Women magazine in 1986:  “It could just as easily have been secretarial school. I chose library science only because they would accept me immediately without a transcript.”  

With her masters in hand, she went to work as a librarian in the Brooklyn Public Library as coordinator of young adult services.  This was a natural fit for Doris, given how much we all know she loves books, reading and literature.  She advocated this her entire life.

In 1974 her husband Donald died suddenly.  Another loss, another change in her life’s situation.

Doris, now 46, made a major move:  She high tailed it out of Queens to Manhattan where she really knew she belonged.  She found an apartment on East 63rd Street and lived there until her move to Vermont full-time in the 1990s.

Those work years were happy and productive for Doris on so many levels.  Once in Manhattan, the publishers came knocking.  They were looking for a trained librarian to expand into the world of libraries. They wanted her skill set. Known for her commitment and unwillingness to take “no” for an answer, Doris was recruited in 1971 Random House to be director of library promotions. It was the perfect complement to her brains, her abilities, and what she loved.

In 1978 she moved to Bantam Books as director of school and library marketing and sales, where her career grew to include Doubleday, Dell, adult titles, supermarkets and airports.  She then joined Scholastic in 1991 as director of marketing in the trade book group, where she worked until retirement.

Doris made an enormous impact on the people with whom she worked. Since Doris’s left us, Robin and Steven have been receiving emails from Doris’s former colleagues in New York who sing Doris’s praises:

Dear Robin and Steven,

Doris was my boss during the 1990s at the School and Library Department at Bantam Doubleday Dell, and she was an amazing leader. She had pulled an extraordinary group of people together on her team, and she got us to work hard, work smart, and have a fun time promoting and selling the books. She was a great teacher to me; she earned my admiration and my respect. I learned so much from her and will miss her very much indeed.

A wonderful side of Doris.

There was another side, one that many of us also know.  This one we can charitably call polite irreverence.  

Robin shares a story of a bracelet that was found in her mother’s bedroom.  She did not know where it came from until she received this email:

“Dear Robin and Steve,

I was saddened to hear about your mother's passing.  She was one of a kind! Elegant, feisty, acerbic, and she knew how to laugh.

I have a favorite Doris story. I design jewelry, and among  my pieces was a sterling silver bracelet. Most people ordered them with children's names. I made a few pieces that were irreverent and funny. One of them had the letters WTF. Doris bought it immediately!!

She was a special lady.”

All of us marveled at Doris’s athleticism, how she pushed her body, especially on the ski slopes.  The family started skiing together back in the bad old days of skiing, in the 1960s.  Then the equipment was horrible: the days of the lace-up boots, and skis that were sky high.  In order to get your money's worth you needed to be at the slope at starting time and ski the whole day.  Getting to and from the ski areas was not a pleasant experience, either.  Still, the family loved to ski.  Doris took to skiing...Doris and Donald traveled through Europe to ski.

Ultimately she made skiing one of her main activities so she relocated to Vermont.  Upon Doris’s retirement from the publishing world she had to make a decision when she couldn't afford New York and Winhall.  She would try living in Vermont to find out if she liked it.  She said she'd give it a year, and she moved up here full time and fell in love.  

She had a friend named Amber who started coming up with her quite often, and a great deal of Doris’s initial time was spent easing into Vermont because of Amber’s presence.   Once Amber found herself in a relationship she stopped coming as much, but by then, Doris was firmly rooting herself in the community.  

She made friends here, at Israel Congregation of Manchester, she started working on the mountain, she had met Fred Richter, and Norma Rosenblatt. She found her way to Trailblazers, a group of people over 50 who enjoy skiing and have other social functions.  At one time she was an officer and on the board of the Trailblazers, contributing her time, effort, and good thinking on the mountain.  She loved the Stratton Mountain community so much that she even worked there for many years.    Her Vermont community increased exponentially over time.  

Doris loved her community here, as we loved her.

Doris had other good experiences with male companions.  
First was Al Solomon with whom Doris bonded over their shared dislike of Donald’s father.   They, too, were together for many years: traveling and skiing together.  They shared a house in Jamaica, VT, skied on Stratton, and were together for at least ten years before he, too, died.

She then met Fred Richter, a jeweler.  Because of Fred Doris met another strong male presence in her life, Al Feldan.  Doris and Al Feldan also had a nice relationship.  When Fred was dying, and Doris was simply wonderful to him, Fred left Al a sizeable collection of jewelry to donate to charities in our area.  Fred died in July 2006.   At some point after Fred died, and the collection of jewels was growing low, Al Feldan said to Doris to go out and meet another jeweler.  She replied, in typical Doris fashion:  “Sure, Al.  I will get a sexy new dress and take care of it right AWAY.”

Tragedy again struck Doris’s life in 2006 as her youngest son, Jonathan, died of cancer.  He was first diagnosed while living in Paris in his late 20s.  He moved back to New York with his then wife MaiLoan.  For 17 years, Jonathan lived cancer free.  Once it reappeared he lived another six years with second wife, Inez.  When he died, in November 2006, it was devastating to Doris.  He was Doris's baby.  

Despite those tragedies Doris continued to press forward with her life.

As a lifelong traveler,  Doris’s constantly curious mind meant that she loved being exposed to all the myriad of cultures that exist in the world.  One famous picture of Doris shows her on her Africa trip in a Dashiki.  On another trip to Scotland she said she was going to make sure to sample each pub with her six year old grandson with her!

Robin and her mother loved to travel together. . .including a special trip taken last summer, just before Doris’s health began its decline.  This trip to Alaska with Robin was a bucket list trip.  Not only did they make the trip, Doris hiked three miles in Alaska, and went kayaking.  Robin expresses that it was such a special memory and how much Doris loved that trip.  Robin treasures they were able to do that together.

As Doris' middle child, Steven was adored by his mother.  She depended on him and knew that his special talents helped her navigate her life; always looked forward to his visits here and the time that he spent with her.

Doris also loved Steven's wife, Nancy, who became very close, and spent much quality time this past years here and in Maine when they drove back and forth to visit Doris' brother, Hilly.

Doris adored her grandchildren. . .Diana, Paul, Deborah, Donald, and Brett as her God-grandson.  Each of them remembers stories about their grandmother; one as late as last week when Paul and his grandmother were having some scotch on her bed, and she quipped, "What are you doing getting an old lady drunk?"  

Also late last week, when Diana crawled into bed with her grandmother, just to hold her as they both fell asleep.  A moment.

Robin speaks of her special ed students from Brooklyn who grew-up knowing Doris, calling her "Grandmaw Bass."  They learned to snowboard with the CHILL program.  For five years, Doris would invite them up for the US Open Weekend stay with her for a long weekend of snowboarding.  For many of these kids, it was their first time out of the mean streets of Brooklyn; for some, it was a life altering experience.  That's our Doris.

Then there were Doris’s four-legged friends:  Sasha, Joey and Samantha.  Her two living dogs, Joey and Samantha, have found new homes.  Samantha is now living with Steve and Nancy at their home.

Fortunately Doris received a great gift when she turned 85: a birthday party, put on at the home of Drs. Marisa and Allan Eisemann, with her great pals Al Feldan and Norma Rosenblatt.  It was at this party, surrounded by family and friends that Doris was feted, each of us telling her what a tremendous person she is.  Doris loved that party.  She was the belle of the ball, in good health.  It as a Doris-fest where all of the people who populated her life could be there and fete her and love her while she was healthy and in life.  She quipped that it was better than attending your own funeral!  

Marisa has been a close friend and confidante to Doris for many years.  They shared a wonderful relationship.

Al Feldan calls Doris his "mountain wife" because they were always carousing around the mountain and throughout town.

And Norma always phoned Doris or Doris phoned her every morning for eight years to go over their days.

Other close friends include Jeannie and Lee Nemlich and Marilyn Rice who drove Doris to Bennington for her final hospitalization.

Being part of Israel Congregation was a huge part of Doris’s identity.  She served on our board, and chaired our library and programming committees.  She was a force of nature in ensuring that the library was organized as a true lending library, not a morgue for your old Uncle Max’s books.  Her programming committee found ways to bring the community into the ICM building with many activities, including the winter film festival.   Her publishing skills were legendary as she reviewed our newsletter and weekly publications.  Her loss leaves a large hole in our congregation.

In recognition of Doris’s immense contribution to our synagogue community, the Board of Directors of ICM voted to rename our library the Doris Bass Library.  I was able to tell Doris about this while she was still alive.  This pleased her greatly.

To know Doris was to understand how hard she pushed her body.  Two hips, two knees, a hip revision:  she was bionic.  She would always bounce back from any procedure until late last summer.

Over the last six months of her life, it became clear to Doris and many around her that her quality of life was deteriorating; it was under these circumstances that Doris made the decision to go home, be in home-based hospice, and begin the process of dying in earnest.  

Many people captured a sentiment expressed by Wendy Bloch, Audrey’s daughter, who said that Doris shows us how to live and Doris was showing us how to die.

In Doris's last days, she enjoyed a parade of people who she loved and they loved her.  

Doris, of course, was sitting up in bed one day and quipped, "What if it doesn't work?"  We knew that Doris would never be happy as an invalid, that she expressed her desire to have her life end if she could no longer live the life she wanted.  

Doris's leaving of us is what she wanted.  She is at peace.  For us, though, there is a large hole in our lives that Doris once filled. It will take many days, weeks, months, and years to begin to adapt our lives to a world without our Doris.