(updated on 3/23/2022)
Two days prior to when the Russian Macho mad man, militarily invaded the neighboring Ukraine, while deploying full might - a de-ja vu belligerent aggression, from an era believed was long gone - my beloved mother, passed away, at 99 and 2 months years old right on a Palindrome date 22/02/2022
(a number or sequence which reads the same backward as forward,)
To hers and ours own delight, 2 month earlier, the family threw a lavish party in Haifa,
(read here) celebrating her, last and memorable birthday, while recounting, all the political upheavals/changes, the medical pandemics and breakthroughs, as well as the scientific and electronic inventions/advances, that the world endured, over the past 100 years, during which she had lived through, and experienced, in the course of her long and eventful life.
Mom, who was born when the Communist Soviet Union was formed, had actually survived : the holocaust, the refugees camps and living under the communist regime in Poland, prior to her immigration to Israel in 1957,
Had it not been, the ripple effect of the stroke she suffered, followed by a short period of a medical decline, triggering her demise, the recent Putin invasion to the Ukraine, would have, most likely, be the cause of her death, had she been alive, for the additional 2 days.
So, in a way she was spared those devastating, war and media bombardments images, of human suffering.
When Mom was asked at her birthday celebration "which of the many innovations had most impacted her life", being the passionate journalist /author she was, she replied
"the "Typewriter Machin
In honor of her passion for writing, a Typewriter Machine is engraved on her Tombstone, which was unveiled on March 23/2022, a month after she sadly passed
I - her only daughter, her 2 grand daughters, and 2 great children were lucky to have her alive and lucid for so many long years, and up to 2 weeks prior to her death.
And despite my often comings and goings, I was there by her side, at her last days and minutes, making sure she had not suffered, and witnessing her final inhaled breath of air.
In comparison to her early stormy years , Mom had a much more peaceful and comfortable old age period, cushioned also for 7 years, by the wonderful most dedicated Ukraine care-worker aid, named Tania , The 2 women fend off loneliness and life hardships, by keeping each other's company, and by taking care of each other, each in her own way, and according to each, particular needs.
Mom was noble, beautiful, intelligent, kind, high spirited, and generous lady, who was loved by all who knew her, and who played a great role in all our lives.
She facilitated my sprouting solid roots and me growing wings, so I can spread them wide, letting me fly away and high, yet always anchored to the ground's important basics.
My Mom Ruth Baum of the Bekker Family.
The literary pieces she published in the "Nowiny Kurier" - a long gone Israeli Polish daily newspaper and the 4 books she wrote in the Polish language, can be found at the Israeli Yad Vashem Museum in Jerusalem, and at the "Polin" Museum in Warsaw - the city of her birth in 1922.
The Multi-Media department at the Polin Museum also made a taped copy of a
4 hours interview with her, about her life and Polish writings.
This note was sent to me from the Polin Museum
From: Markiewicz Józef Date: Tue, Mar 22, 2022 at 2:36 PM Subject: RE: Ruth Baum To: Lili Naveh Dear Lili, that’s sad news. Please, received my sincerest condolences to you and all your family. I am very grateful that I was able to meet Ruth and interview her for collection of the POLIN Museum. She will stay in my heart and memory as gentle, incredibly sensitive, courageous, and classy lady. I often think back to our meeting in Haifa – thinking about spiritual power of Ruth as a human, but also as a writer sensitive for social issues. I’m happy that Ruth’s heritage become part of Jewish history that we preserve and spread, here in POLIN Museum. Now, we feel that Ruth’s experiences, thoughts and values are more important then ever – in time when we experience return of unthinkable horror of war, also try to help those who are in need. Under following link you can download full interview that we have recorded in Haifa (link will be active for two days, so if you will not manage to download a file, please let me know, and I will sent it again):
Here also, at our You Tube channel
we published three experts from the interview in the Polish Language.
Dear Lili, tomorrow I will stay in my thought with you and Ruth. We will light a candle here in Warsaw. please let me know if happened that you will visit Warsaw – I will be very happy to meet you at POLIN Museum. I’m also sending you regards from Jagna.
Warm regards, Józef Markiewicz Specjalista ds. Historii Mówionej Dział Upowszechniania Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich POLIN ul. Anielewicza 6, 00-157 Warszawa tel. +48 22 47 10 300,
At her burial on 2/22/22, in the Haifa "Sde-Yehoshua" Cemetary , my girls shared
these Eulogies :
The first thing Safta Rutie would ask me when I walked in the door is if I had eaten. It was actually more of a statement than a question - “ בטח לא אכלת היום
It could be 8am, or 2pm, or 6pm - and she was certain I hadn’t eaten - been fed - or fed myself - since the last time I’d visited. Then we would go through the formalities where I convinced her that I had of course eaten.
The second thing Safta would say to me was an actual question - was I reading a book (the answer was always yes), and which book? Then she would listen intently and share with me what she was reading. I think her favorite genre was historical fiction - and autobiographies - but I don;t know because I’m not sure I ever asked.
Once I had children of my own, I finally understood Safta’s question about food- her expression of love, this desire to feed. Much earlier, I understood her love of literature and of books. And even before that, I understood that I had inherited from Safta a love of writing - a passion and a skill she passed on to my mom, to Keren, and to me. She was, after all, a published author and a journalist. I wish I had had her courage to walk closer to her footsteps. Maybe I will get there one day.
Safta was renowned for her cooking. My parents often told us how early on in their dating, my dad would climb the drainpipe outside of my mom’s bedroom to sneak into the house - and then immediately raid the fridge. I have my own vivid memories of sitting around her dining room table with Saba Zev at the head, his eyes twinkling at just the thought of the delicious foods she had laid out. Until just a few weeks ago - the entire family still relished at gathering at Safta’s to eat delicious things - thanks to Tanya - a statement I doubt most 39 year olds can make and for which I am eternally grateful.
Safta Rutie also passed on to me - and to my mom and to Keren - her sweet tooth. Aruchat 4 was a real thing at her house - and it was always accompanied by cake. Usually cheesecake. I always assumed she liked cheesecake but looking back, I wonder if she actually always had cheesecake at home for my dad - the only person who maybe enjoyed eating at Safta’s table more than Saba Zev.
Safta Rutie’s sweet tooth wasn’t centered around aruchat 4 though. It started in the morning where she would eat cottage and honey on a slice of bread. Today, I make this for my own kids. Safta Rutie would also sprinkle sugar on my grapefruit, and on strawberries - even if they were sweet - and always had blintzes on hand.
When I think about Safta Rutie, my memories are recent, they are fresh - and this is a blessing. From a young age, Keren and I spent every summer split between Safta’s apartment - and Saba Zev and Safta Ziona’s apartment - but Safta Rutie continued to be a central figure in my life all through adulthood - and my memories are recent, they are part of my life now. On the cusp of turing 40, I still had a Safat that imparted her wisdom on me, showered me with love, and affection and bars of chocolate and envelopes of money. Can you imagine how lucky that makes me? She shared my joy in my kids, in my love for Amit - whom she loved, and cherished and adored.
Until just a week or two ago, she remembered birthdays, new jobs, periods that were more difficult, if we were sick - did we feel better yet? She even remembered the birthdays of Amit’s sisters kids! She always asked about Amit’s family - how was his sister in Toronto, his parents in Mexico? She always asked about me. How was I doing? She never guilt tripped about short visits, she always welcomed us with loving arms, and patience, for however long we could stay, ideally to share a meal of course.
At 99, just a few weeks ago, she got into her wheel chair and invited my whole family out to lunch. There was a time when Leo was younger where he would sit on her lap in the wheel chair but the past few years she became too frail.
Safta Rutie was the picture of class, of grace, of beauty. She passed that on to my mom and to my sister. She also loved to giggle, she loved classical music. Somehow, despite immense hardship, she still found a way to love life - to enjoy it. I never understood this - I still don’t until today.
More often than one would expect, Safta used to share her regrets with me - two in particular: She regretted that she didn’t hug my mom enough, she regretted that she wasn’t able to have siblings for her. She would them share them when she saw how much my parents would cuddle us and love us, and how close Keren and I were. She shouldn’t have any regrets because she raised a perfect daughter and was the perfect grandmother.
At least a decade ago, maybe more, Safta told me that almost all her friends had died, all the friends she religiously played bridge with, her boyfriend - who she refused to move in with because she said she was done taking care of men - her neighbors - and said it was her turn. She had outlived them all. Selfishly, I of course didn’t want her going anywhere.
She was a central part of my life - even more so when I became a parent myself. Who can say their grandmother is still a central part of their life well info their 30s? But Safta was ready then. At some point she lost her ability to write, then to read books on her own - her head would hurt, her eyesight. And yet, she always welcomed us with open arms. It was Safta’s time, and she died like she wanted to, in her apartment, not in a hospital. Thank you Tanya for giving me a Safta - a perfect Safta - for as long as I have had.
Thank you all for being here to honor my Savtush.
My earliest memories in life are full of memories with my Savta. Each year my sister and I would spend our summers with her. Walking to Gan HaEm. Reading books and writing stories. She taught us how to be strong and gentle, brave yet caring.
I vividly remember how she doted on us; walking up the long hill from the bottom of Kadima Street to the very top each day to drop us off at the bus for summer camp. Meeting us at the same spot in the late afternoon – always on time – to bring us home. As we grew older and went to sleep away camps she’d cajole her friends into driving her to the camp for visitor’s days. She would do anything and everything she could to be there for us.
As adults she was a model of sophistication and beauty. Never vain but rather the consummate lady, she dressed up and prepared for our visits as though she were going on a job interview.
Even as she approached her 100th birthday, with cancer and unable to walk she would always greet us with a big smile that matched a well put together ensemble; reflecting her desire to communicate respect to those around her. She would wait for us outside of her door, making us feel like most loved, most cherished, and luckiest grandchildren of all. I remember one time our cousin Assaf from my dads side came to play with us at her house. It wasn’t long after he arrived that he turned to safta and asked - Will you be my safta too?
And it’s no wonder that one of my other memories of Savta is the long list of suitors regularly bringing her roses in an attempt to woo her.
Up until the very end she was completely lucid with a memory better than my own. She knew the details of everything I was working on, she was always up to date on what was going on in my life, and would ask insightful questions. She would share stories of the articles she’d recently read or a story from history replete with dates and facts and figures.
One of my most treasured memories was holding my wedding in her home during the middle of the Corona pandemic. We turned her home into a banquet hall and celebrated my marriage to my husband Elie. Elie also loved savtush, and made it a point to visit her with me. For his birthday this year his one request was to visit Savtush and Tanya and to eat kreplach together.
I will miss her very much but I know that the lessons she taught us and the model she was for us will be with me for all my life.
At the small quint park, next to the building she resided, and which she often frequented on nice weather days, catching up with the neighbors, a brand new wooden bench, in a shaded lovely corner, was donated in honor of her memory, a gesture the family felt, would have pleased her, had she known...
. Dear Mom - You will be terribly missed
May your soul rest in peace.. You will be remembered forever
יהיה זכרך ברוך ונשמתך ֵעדן