Wednesday, June 18, 2003

IN MEMORIAM: My nanny, Meira Mizrahi, passed away yesterday. Meira was a small woman (4 foot something) with a very big heart. She hailed from Israel and never married or had any children. In a sense, however, all of her charges were "her" children. Meira lived in my hometown of Kew Gardens and served as the nanny and mother's helper for newborns of many -if not most- of Kew Gardens' Jewish families for over forty years. In many cases, such as my sister's, she served this role for two generations of babies. All told, Meira gave the first bath -and had the pictures to prove it- for approximately six hundred newborns. Meira's profession didn't bestow upon her material wealth of any kind and she had a simple ceremony for her funeral last night. My understanding is that anonymous donors in the community handled the financials of returning her remains to the Holy Land as she wanted. Most touching at her service last night, which took place on the lawn of a local synagogue in Kew Gardens, was the community turnout. People from far-flung locales in the tri-state region moved mountains to arrive on time and on very short notice. All told there were approximately two hundred people present, astonishing for someone without any immediate family (I suspect there were even more than that who came and went during the services.) Meira touched all of our lives and was a part of our family as much as any of our biological relatives. To this day, she would call me "my Yaakov" and ooh and ahh over how cute I was as a baby. While I would like to think I was unique -and have anecdotal evidence to support that claim- I imagine there are many of Meira's babies that feel the same way. Meira, z"l, you will be missed. Baruch Dayan Emet.

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