In memory of my mother-in-law Edith Klausner z”l

ברוך דיין אמת

My mother-in-law Edith in 2008

My mother-in-law Edith Klausner z”l passed away on Thursday כ”ו טבת תש”פ, (26th Tevet 5780), 23rd January 2020, just two years after her husband, my late father-in-law Menny passed away. The levaya in Segula, Petach Tikva, was attended by around 100 people or more, a testament to the esteem and love that people felt for her.

There were beautiful hespedim (eulogies) given by her son (my husband) Henry, Rabbi Moshe Lifschutz of our shul, Rabbi Nechemia Taylor, previously of our shul and a close family friend, and also by two grandchildren: Evelyn’s daughter Yael, and our son Zvi (whose hesped was mostly written by our daughter Hadassah).

I filmed all the hespedim on my phone but I have not yet had time to upload them. I will update this post or create a new one when I have done so.

Menny and Edith at our son’s wedding

I don’t know where to begin to describe Edith. No mother-in-law jokes will be tolerated here. I loved her like a mother, and could always turn to her for sage, level-headed advice, as well as delicious recipes or simply a sociable chat.

The word that always comes to mind to describe Edith is “a lady”. She was the epitome of ladylikeness, but not in a false, vain way. She was simply naturally elegant, and always knew how to do the right thing, the right way at the right time. She would be dressed beautifully and correctly without overdoing it, she could – and did! – throw together a reception for VIPs and diplomats and host them in her own home without losing her cool, always working behind the scenes and never demanding attention, thus enabling her husband Menny to continue his own work for the good of the British Jewish community and the State of Israel.

She was also an extremely devoted daughter and daughter-in-law, there are few people who were as dedicated as she was to the older generation.

She was born in Leipzig, Germany and escaped with her parents via Switzerland just before the war to England. There they were evacuated from London to Harrogate during the Blitz.

Edith was extremely talented, she could cook, she sewed beautifully, and unusually for her time, she was a photographer. Being married to my father-in-law, and he being so involved in the establishment of the State of Israel, Edith would be asked by various unnamed persons to photograph secret documents which helped in the struggle for the newborn State of Israel.

But mostly she was a portrait photographer, and one of the most famous portraits, that of Chief Rabbi Isaac Herzog, was taken by her while still known by her maiden name, Edith Hepner. In fact that Chief Rabbi and his wife waited until Edith returned from holiday for the official photograph to be taken by her, such was the esteem in which she was held.

My mother-in-law was a devoted mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Our children and grandchildren loved going to her house where they would be spoiled with chocolate and cocoa and other “good stuff”.

Sadly in her later years she suffered from Alzheimer’s but she never lost her beauty or dignity until the end. She was cared for by several caregivers whom I consider angels, the last and best being Sonal, without whom none of us could have coped.

We have missed Edith for some years now, but now that she is gone forever we can allow the beautiful memories to resurface.

Rest in peace Edith, my dear mother-in-law, join with Menny to be a מליץ יושר for your family and for all of Israel.

תהיה נפשה צרורה בצרור החיים.

I would like to take this opportunity to present here the hesped written by Hadassah which I have translated below. I was so touched and so grateful that Hadassah, her siblings and her cousins still remember the good times with Grandma Klausner despite her later illness. I think she has captured some of the essence of her beloved grandma.

ספר מיכה נאמר:
הגִּיד לְךָ אָדָם מַה טּוֹב וּמָה יְהוָה דּוֹרֵשׁ מִמְּךָ כִּי אִם עֲשׂוֹת מִשְׁפָּט וְאַהֲבַת חֶסֶד וְהַצְנֵעַ לֶכֶת עִם אֱלֹהֶיךָ.

גרמה יקרה,
כשאני חושבת עלייך
נזכרת בך
זה לדעתי המשפט שכל כך מסמל אותך.
״עשות משפט
ואהבת חסד
והצנע לכת עם אלוהיך״

גרמה שלנו,
בחייך היית דוגמה ומופת לעשיית חסד, עזרה לזולת, עמידה איתנה על עקרונות-
אבל הכל בצניעות, בשקט, מאחורי הקלעין.
תמיד תמכת בגרמפה קלאוזנר ז״ל בכל הפעילויות שלו,עזרת מהצד, בשקט, שלא ידעו האנשים מה עשית ואיך, תמיד הולכים שניכם יחד יד ביד לכל מקום.
את שייכת לדור הנפילים, אלו שברחו מגרמניה מפחד הנאצים, שעזרו ככל יכולתם להקים לנו מדינה.
מספרים עלייך שבצעירותך עבדת כצלמת, ואפילו עזרת ל״הגנה״ וצילמת עבורם מסמכים.
כבר אז- כשעזרת ועשית- הכל היה בשקט, בצניעות.
זוכרת אותך עובדת עם גרמפה במפעל- תופרת ומגהצת, מקפלת ואורזת,
זוכרת אותך עומדת ליד גרמפה בכל מיני אירועים עם אנשים חשובים- הנשיא, ראש הממשלה, אפילו מלכת אנגליה, ואת תמיד ברקע, ליד גרמפה, נותנת לו את הבמה בחוץ, עומדת יפה ומטופחת- איפור ועקבים חובה!
מתוך ידיעה ברורה שבבית תגידי את דעתך והיא תישמע.

זוכרת אותך גיבורה! עושה עלייה לארץ בגיל 70+, למרות ששינויים אף פעם לא היו קלים לך.
נוהגת לבד מפ״ת לירושלים, למרות שפחדת מאד מהנהגים הישראליים.
המשפט שאמרת כל הזמן-god helps those who help themselves,
ולא ויתרת לעצמך.
זוכרת אותך לוקחת אותנו הנכדים לימי כיף בערב פסח- כולנו ביחד! 8 ילדים מתחת לגיל 12.

גרמה היקרה,
נזכור אותך תמיד כאשת חיל,
כסבתא אוהבת ומפנקת,
שתמיד הביאה את המתנות הכי טובות,
האוכל הכי טעים.
תמיד דאגת שיהיה בבית שוקו בקרטון ושוקולד טעים, שיהיה לנו כיף לבוא אליכם.

נזכור אותך הסבתא הצדיקה שתמיד הגיעה לתפילות בבית הכנסת, גם כשכבר לא יכלו לך כוחותייך, דאגת שיקחו אותך לתפילות לשמוע קול שופר בראש השנה, ותפילת מוסף ביום כיפור.

נתגעגע אלייך גרמה, זה בטוח.
מבחינתנו תם עידן.
תהיי מלחמת יושר עלינו בשמים גרמה, אנחנו כל כך צריכים את זה עכשיו.

אוהבים ומתגעגעים,

The book of Micha says: Man, you have been told what is good and what G-d demands of you: only do justice and love kindness, go modestly with your G-d”.

Dear Grandma, when I think of you, when I remember you, this in my opinion is the sentence that so represents you. “Do justice and love kindness, and go modestly with your G-d”.

Our Grandma, in your lifetime you were a shining example of doing kindness, helping others, standing strongly on your principles, but all with modesty, quietly, behind the scenes. You always supported Grandpa Klausner z”l in all his activities, helping from the side, quietly, so that people didn’t know what you did and how, always the two of you walking everywhere .hand in hand

They tell us that in your younger days you worked as a photographer, and even helped the Hagana and took pictures of documents. Already then, when you acted and assisted, it was all done quietly, modestly.

I remember you working with Grandpa in the workshop, sewing and ironing, folding and packing.
I remember you standing next to Grandpa at all kinds of events with important people – the President, the Prime Minister, even the Queen of England. And you were always in the background, next to Grandpa, giving him the stage outside, standing beautiful and elegant, makeup and heels a must! All in the clear knowledge that at home you can express your opinion and it will be heard.

I remember you as a hero! Making aliya at age 70+, despite the fact that change was never easy for you. You would drive alone from Petach Tikva to Jerusalem despite being terrified of Israeli drivers. The words you said all the time: God helps those who help themselves – You didn’t make any allowances for yourself.

I remember you taking us grandchildren for fun days out on Erev Pesach – all of us together! 8 children under the age of 12.

Dear Grandma,
We will always remember you as a woman of valour, as a loving and pampering grandma, who always brought us the best presents, the tastiest food, and who always made sure that there would be cartons of chocolate milk and tasty chocolate, so that we would enjoy coming to you.

We will remember you as the righteous Grandma who came to daven in shul even when your strength was failing. You made sure to be taken to hear the Shofar on Rosh Hashana and Musaf on Yom Kippur.

We will miss you Grandma, that’s for sure. For our part, an era is over.

Be a stalwart defender for us up in Heaven Grandma, we need it so much now.

Loving you and missing you,

The grandchildren.