Memorial Program In Loving Memory Of Sarka Friedrichs A"H
January 1, 2001
Young Israel of New Rochelle
Tributes To Sarka
Additional Tributes Submitted Later
David, Jessica, and Bryan Friedrichs
On behalf of the Young Israel, I would like to thank you all for coming tonight to share in a community memorial for Sarka Friedrichs.
I would like to thank the members of the committee who helped plan this evening with Walter’s direction:
**Ilana and Bruce Benet
**Sandra and Chaim Fuhr
**Helene and Benny Meghedesc
**Debbie and Gene Wilk
I would also like to thank all those who have spent the last few weeks learning Mishnayos in Sarka’s memory. This has allowed us to make a Siyyum Ha-
Mishna this evening in memory of Sarka.
There is much pain, grief that we all feel. Many people will be speaking this evening to pay tribute to the life of Sarka.
As a community, it was decided that there are two things that we could do to preserve Sarka in our memory. The first is that we will be naming the Shul’
s Chesed fund the “Sarka Friedrichs Chesed Fund.” This fund is used anonymously to provide money and sustenance to those in our own community
who are in need for one reason or another. As you’ll hear throughout the program, Sarka was a woman of Chesed – befitting this community gesture.
The second act of the community involves performing an act of Chesed in Israel by continuing to contribute to two charities close to Sarka’s heart:
? The first, a food kitchen in Netanya
? The second, a supplier of food to needy families of Bnei Brak
We are committing to make annual contributions to these charities from the “Sarka Friedrichs Chesed Fund.” In lieu of making other types of
contributions, Walter and his family have asked that the donations in memory of Sarka be made to the “Sarka Friedrichs Chesed Fund” and sent to the
Before I start, I would like to thank all of you for coming today. I also wish to thank everyone who was involved in organizing today’s program in Sarka’
The children and I have been simply overwhelmed by the support and comfort that we have received from the entire community and all our friends and
family. It is really a wonderful feeling that we have so many people supporting us.
At this time, I can’t simply thank everyone by name who went out of their way to help us personally, but I do want to take this opportunity to thank
Rabbi Fink, whose advice was just what I needed during a very critical time while I was in Israel, and for the many other ways that he helped us.
Now a few words about Sarka.
The State of Israel was founded in May of 1948 and exactly ten months later Sarka was born in Israel. Like the State of Israel, the beginning of Sarka’s
life was not easy.
Both her parents had very traumatic experiences as teenagers due to the Holocaust. Sarka’s father Yaacov was taken away to a forced labor camp at age
13-1/2, where the conditions were very harsh. When World War II ended, still a teenager, he managed to get to Palestine all by himself.
Sarka’s mother, Rachel, lost her father at age 10 and her mother at age 11 in 1939. She was then separated from her sister and left with some relatives
during the war. They made it very clear to her, while trying to survive as Jews in Romania, that they resented being stuck with her. Right after the
War, Sarka’s mother was able to reunite with her slightly older sister and the two teenage girls fled to Palestine alone. They were not as lucky as Sarka’
s father, and were captured by the British. The two sisters spent 18 months in a prison camp at Cyprus before they finally made it to Palestine.
Very shortly after the sisters arrived, Sarka’s parents met at an orange grove, where Yaacov worked. Within a few weeks, they were married and less
than one year later Sarka was born. When Sarka was born, her parents were 20 and 21 years old and Sarka’s father was a soldier in the War of
Independence of Israel. When Sarka’s father returned from the army, the three of them lived in a one-room cabin without any indoor plumbing.
With this background, it is easy to understand that both parents had a lot of emotional baggage to overcome during their first years together and Sarka
was right in the middle of it. When Sarka was about two years old, her parents were granted a tiny two-room house with a kitchenette and bathroom in
the small town of Even Yehuda. The whole house was the size of most of our living rooms. It was not until Sarka was 14 or 15 that her father started to
enlarge this house.
When Sarka was six, her brother was born. This was also when Sarka was in school. She was a very precocious student, and could read and write
Hebrew perfectly at a very young age. Because of this and due to the fact that she was very big for her age, her parents and others would impose on her
to read and answer their business mail. Years later she would recall this as a very heavy burden for such a young child.
When she was about 10, her brother, who was 4, became very ill and had to be rushed to a distant hospital. Their mother went to stay with him. Sarka’s
father was working in Elat that time and could not be reached. So Sarka was left home all alone. Her parents supplemented their very meager income
by raising chickens in their backyard. So on top of taking care of herself, she was responsible for feeding the chickens. Most of the chickens did well
under her care, except for those in the highest coop. Sarka didn’t realize that the water feed was not working correctly and some of the chickens died,
which she felt very guilty about.
In elementary school Sarka was very frustrated, mostly because academically she was far ahead of most of her classmates, so that she found school
boring. As she was so much taller than all of her classmates, they treated her like an older child and not a classmate.
As school ended at 1 p.m. and Sarka could finish her homework in a very short time, she had plenty of spare time. The small town of Even Yehuda had
almost no traffic and Sarka would play throughout the town. She developed an everlasting love for her town and the country of Israel.
When Sarka reached the high school level, because of her good grades, she got into a high school in a nearby larger town that only accepted the best
students. There too Sarka was frustrated by the level of work and found the teachers lacking. While at high school Sarka who was now 5’10” tall was
asked to play in the National Basketball League. Although not a natural athlete, Sarka, as always, became an excellent player and made the starting
five of her team.
When Sarka completed her army duty, she was still not sure what she wanted to do, but having enjoyed playing basketball, decided to enroll in a two-
year program to become a high school gym teacher. After completing this program, she was a high school teacher for one year, which she enjoyed.
But Sarka wanted to do better and at that time there were no advance degrees in physical education in Israel as we have in the United States. So Sarka
managed to work out a deal with an Air Force attaché being transferred to the United States. She would take care of their two children, with the clear
understanding that she would be given time to go to college.
Sarka arrived in the United States in September 1973 just before the Yom Kippur War. Shortly after coming here, Sarka found that the attaché’s
family was not going to give her free time that she needed to pursue her studies. Sarka being Sarka, then left this job and proceeded to find two jobs as
a waitress. She supported herself and paid for all her college tuition. By taking a heavier than standard course load, received her Bachelor’s Degree at
the University of Maryland at Silver Springs in two years.
Just before Sarka was to complete her last term at Maryland and had already been accepted for a Masters Program, Sarka met me in New York City.
Time doesn’t permit me to go into all the details, except to say that when we started to talk about marriage, this meant that Sarka would have to live in
the United States and she agreed to that, but I know with a very heavy heart. It always was her hope that some day she would be able to return to Israel.
After we got married, we started out by living in a very rundown, 5th floor walk up in the Lower East Side, then briefly in a nice apartment in Forest
Hills and then we purchased a standard split-level house in Cortland Manor in northern Westchester.
While we lived there, both Daniel and Rachel were born and we made a number of new friends. Sarka also had a number of part-time jobs teaching in
Hebrew Schools. During most of the 9-1/2 years that we lived there, Sarka was happy in many ways, but still felt that something was lacking her life.
This was to change dramatically during Thanksgiving week of 1984 when Sarka attended a lecture organized by a religious group from Israel. Overnight
Sarka started to study Torah very seriously. After a few years of learning, she realized that we would have to move to an Orthodox community. So we
ended up moving to my hometown of New Rochelle in the summer of 1987. Here for the first time since Sarka came to the United States, she was really
happy with the community that she lived in and the greater opportunities that it gave her to study the Torah.
But her life was not limited to that: at the Young Israel of New Rochelle she made many new life-long friends, a few who will speak here tonight. Nor
did Sarka limit her quest for more education to religious studies. While living here, Sarka received a Master’s in Special Education and a Master’s in
Business Administration; in both programs Sarka maintained better than a 3.8 average.
Whatever Sarka set out to do, it would be done very well. She could knit beautiful sweaters, and make excellent clothes for Rachel and herself. And as
most of you know, she was an unbelievable cook. Sarka was a good friend, who was always willing to help friends when called upon.
Sarka’s love for Israel never diminished and her support for Israel was continuous. Our life now reached the point that it became clear that we could
soon spend much more time in Israel. So Sarka wanted to start looking for an apartment there. It was for this reason, and because of the recent
troubles in Israel, that she wanted to show her support for, that on the spur of the moment, she flew to Israel. While there she went back to the old
house in Even Yehuda to conduct some minor business. It was while she was there that she collapsed, and never recovered. Just like her mother who
collapsed at the same house and died at almost the exact same age.
But during Sarka’s whole life, the most important thing that always came first was the children and myself. No matter what she was doing, we were her
highest priority. When we needed her help she was there for us.
During my business career Sarka was very supportive in each new undertaking and my biggest fan. In my life, there were many things I found difficult
to do, but Sarka was always willing to assist me to make things much easier for me. But more important, Sarka was a wonderful and an extremely
interesting companion, nobody could ask or expect more. Sarka was an extraordinary person and I shall miss her terribly.
Everyone sitting this room knows how special my mom was, that is why you are all here. I, however am not just the friend, neighbor or family member
of Sarka Friedrichs, but I am lucky enough to be her daughter. And so I have the privilege of really knowing what a wonderful person my mother was.
I think that one of the most striking things about my mom was her fierce and unmatched passion to make her life and the life of everyone she cared
about better. It was utterly unyielding, her desire to achieve more, she simply had to get it done, and with this energy and drive she not only managed to
earn 2 masters degrees and often maintain a full time job, but in addition she made her family her first priority.
I remember once a friend came over for dinner after school one day, and after we sat down for dinner my friend whispered to me, "do you eat like this
all the time?" That was my mom always trying to give us the best, even if it meant spending another hour in the kitchen -- I used to tease her about how
much food she would always serve on Shabbos, I would joke: "you have been cooking for over 20 years, haven't you learned when you should stop?" But
she couldn't stop because she just wanted to give a little bit more.
Other examples of how my mom would be willing to help me:
***When she spent hours helping me edit my 15-page Hebrew paper, to ensure that it was the best quality paper that I could write.
***The time that she offered to drive the 3 hours to Boston just to return to me my student ID card which she accidentally took home with her.
She would simply stop at nothing to make sure that I had the best of everything – for that I am forever grateful.
Another thing about my mom that I always found so admirable and special was her religious conviction and deep and unwavering faith in G-d. Many
people in this room know the sacrifices that my mom made in order to pursue her religious beliefs, giving up a lifestyle that she was familiar to and
moving her family in order to raise them the way that she believed was best.
A major part of her religious practice was her love and study of Torah, attending the Rabbi’s classes, always eager to discuss the parsha with me, or hear
about what I was learning in Yeshiva – she could never get enough, and it was clear that her passion never faded.
Her faith in G-d was also admirable. I was once recounting a difficult babysitting experience to my mom and I said, "G-d was really smart when he made
babies so cute, otherwise who would be able to put up with all of the work that they require", my mom just smiled and said "does G-d do anything that
Now that she is gone, I often wonder how will I manage without her. Without her as a role model, who will help me make important decisions? Or give
me an extra little push when I need it?
I once heard a line:
“Those that have passed cannot steady the unrest of those who come to follow”
I have thought about this quite a lot and I have decided that I do no think that it is true. I believe that everyday my mother will be able to help me make
decisions and to solve problems and overcome obstacles – because she is such a strong role model for me, she will forever be a part of my life and who I
become. I will always be able to look back on the choices that she has made and the things that she has done and use her life to help me guide mine.
During this time I try to remind myself of two things: the first is, as I have mentioned above, knowing that a part of my mother will always be here with
me. And the second is that I know that she is now in a much better place. I think of these things and try and take comfort and I hope that you will too.
I am Martin Friedrichs, the youngest of Walter’s four siblings. We come from a large, close family and I am speaking for all the family members who
are not able to speak here today. I will also be trying to talk about Sarka from our family’s perspective.
Family was very important to us. Few if, any events brought more joy to our family some 25 years ago than when Sarka first joined the family. You see,
the four younger siblings were already married and on their way to starting families. Walter, the oldest, however, had not yet found his partner for life.
My mother especially, being a good Jewish mother, was getting a little concerned. So when Walter found Sarka it was as if our family was now finally
complete. You see, from my mother’s point of view, a life without a partner and a family was not really a life at all.
There are two ways to approach life: as an observer or as one who is fully involved. Sarka approach was one of complete involvement; She was totally
engaged in life. She always had an idea, or an opinion, often a strong opinion, sometimes a very strong opinion, but she was always ready to commit her
time, her efforts, her wonderful creativity, and her boundless energy.
Energy was one of Sarka’s standout characteristics. She brought energy to everything, to every task, big and small. Recently for example, to Walter’s
60th birthday party , which was so beautifully arranged, but also to the simple act of cutting up a carrot. Watching Sarka take out a giant chef knife
while she was talking on the phone, directing two others to set the table and watching a pot on the stove and then rapidly cut up a carrot could be a nerve-
wracking but wondrous thing to observe. However, she did have a few scars to show for all this energy.
She was in this way different from our family who, with their German background, was so restrained and controlled in most things. It took some getting
used to. Our family was particularly restrained in displaying our feelings and emotions. Here Sarka was also very different. She had to show her
emotions. When she was happy or joyous everyone knew it and she fully expressed it. But when she was sad or hurt she had a need to show that also.
Once she expressed it, it was behind her. But she could not simply let it pass, as Walter so easily could. To me, this was a level of emotional honesty that
all in our family could learn from.
And learning was also one of Sarka’s most compelling characteristics. She went through many professions: catering, legal aid, business, as well as many
courses of study. It might seem that she lacked commitment, but rather it was always a need to learn something new. This too was different from our
family where most members had chosen one field and then spent their life pursuing it. Sarka was always interested in learning, searching for, and
tackling something new.
In the early years I knew Sarka she seemed to be searching, but not fully content with her circumstances or those surrounding her, and I was not always
sure if she was fully happy with herself. When she made the commitment to a religious way of life, our family was concerned that this might separate
her more from us. But none of us could fully appreciate how much this commitment would impact her and what it would do for her. She was so much
more satisfied and at peace with her surroundings and with herself. The result was that the relationships with our family got closer, not more distant.
This gave us all great pleasure to see and experience.
We will all remember Sarka in different ways:
? As a loving partner for my brother who, because she was so different from him, exposed him to so much he would not otherwise have experienced;
? As a loving mother to my nephew and niece who set high expectations but also had high hopes for them that I know they are clearly meeting;
? As an energetic, emotionally honest, interested and committed human being whom we will all miss very dearly.
We are here tonight to remember Sarka and share a few words about our great loss. I know that we all shared a special bond with Sarka. Sarka was a
very special woman she was able to develop different relationships with each one of us here tonight.
Sarka was a woman who wore different hats. She was wife to Wa1ter, a mother to Daniel and Rachel, and a sister to her brother Ofer. She was a
student, a teacher and a scholar. She had just completed a second master’s this summer. Sarka loved to learn -- she was involved in many different
I would like to share a few words about my friendship with Sarka. I first met Sarka 12 years ago when Rachel and Grit were in second grade. I knew
Sarka as Rachel’s mom. We spoke from time to time, as all mothers do, when their children get together.
It was not until we moved to New Rochelle, seven years ago, that my friendship with Sarka really began. Over the past seven years we became very
close. One day last year Sarka and I were standing in my living room -- I don’t remember exactly what happened... I must have been upset about
something -- Sarka gave me a hug and said to me that we were like sisters as she comforted me. Sarka and I shared many roots. We were born in
Israel; we both became Bal-Teshuva and moved to the same community.
I believe things don’t just happen. There is always a reason we just don’t always understand.
Sarka and I used to walk on Shabos afternoons. It was our special time to talk about everything. It was our time to catch up on all that happened to us
during the week. As we walked we discussed many topics. Some of the discussions were private just between the two of us. The stories were like secrets
that two sisters might share. Our conversations were very unique; we spoke a mixture of English and Hebrew. We became so comfortable speaking both
languages that at times we would switch from English to Hebrew without knowing it.
Sarka and I also shared the struggle with our weight. We tried Weight Watchers a few years ago but that did not go to well. I remember that as we
walked one morning, we talked about the Suzanne Somer’s diet. As soon as we came to the house, we went on line and ordered two of her books. We
were so excited about our new adventure --behaving just like two children with a secret. A week later the books came, and the rest you know. We both
were able to achieve our goal, losing weight and helping each other to maintain our weight.
Our families shared many holidays. Sarka and I liked sharing the meals, we would plan the menus together not to duplicate them. This past Rosh
Hashanah, Sarka and I sat in my kitchen and looked up recipes in my new cookbook. We chose recipes that were new to both families. Sarka and I
enjoyed preparing new foods. Sharing meals with people was one of her favorite things.
Sarka had a special interest in yoga; she always made time to go to her favorite spa called the Apollo. She always wanted me to go with her; I never got
the chance. However, I have this story to share with you. The week that Sarka left for Israel, one of my friends at work went to the Apollo spa. My
friend did not know what happened to Sarka during her vacation. On Wednesday just about an hour before Rabbi Fink called at work, my friend at work
gave me a gift; it was a CD that she brought for me at the spa. The name of the CD is Rikkud Haneshamah; it is a CD that Sarka would have liked. I
feel that there is a connection between Sarka, the CD and me. I wonder what made my friend buy me this gift at this time.
As I stand here with you tonight, I need to share with you how much I miss Sarka... the emptiness I feel within me as I think about Sarka. The pain is
so great at times that I find myself crying. I find preparing for Shabot very difficult, because that was the time Sarka and I spoke on the phone.
Everywhere in my house there is something to remind me of Sarka. That is good because she will always be in my thoughts. Walking to Shul on Shabot
has been painful -- I find myself looking for Sarka. When I sit in Shul in our bench, I find that praying brings me to a special closeness with Sarka,
because I’m doing something that we both shared.
It is my hope that with time the pain will be less, but the memories will be great. There are things that we can do to help us with our loss and remember
Sarka. We can follow in Sarka’s steps: learn some Torah, do some Chesed and give some Tzdaka.
The first time I met Sarka was in the social hall 13 years ago. I was standing with my daughter Sara and there she was with her daughter Rachel next to
her. I told Sara to go introduce herself to Rachel. Little did I know that Sarka and I would become such good friends.
Sarka and I got along right from the start. We had similar life experiences and therefore it was easy to relate to her. She was very honest and forthright
and I liked that about her.
She lived life to the fullest. She tried to achieve everything to 100%. When she decided to become observant, there was no halfway. When she went to
school, it was for the best degree she could get. And when she was your friend, she was the best friend you could have. She would always be happy for you
or comfort you when you needed it.
The phone would ring…it was Sarka. Vous Hect Sech? What’s new? Even before I had a chance to answer her, she had so many things happening to
her. She had a paper to write, the computer was down and she had to make dinner…but she wanted to go to the movies. That was her big escape. You did
not have to check with the critics, just ask Sarka. She saw them all.
If I wanted to go to Brooklyn or anywhere else, she knew that I didn’t drive on highways, we would go together and she made me feel like she wanted to
go anyway. Nothing was a big deal for her. Everything was easy and we always had a great time together.
On Friday night, my son Yoel gave this vort at the table and I thought it would help describe my true feelings about Sarka. After Yosef interprets
Pharaoh’s dream, he says in the Pasuk that Pharaoh should find an Eish Navon V’Chacham – an understanding and wise man -- to take charge of the
food in Egypt. This man will have to deal with the years of plenty and famine. The question is, what do you need such a smart person for?
The answer is that it’s really hard during the 7 years of plenty to see the future…not just know it. It takes a smart person to really be able to look at the
7 years of plenty and know that there are 7 years of famine coming up and how this should be dealt with properly. This man will need to keep food for
the future. Another way to see this idea is through Shabbos. We cannot cook on Shabbos and therefore we need to prepare all of our Shabbos food in
advance. You have to make sure that you make enough food to satisfy everyone for an entire Shabbos.
This idea can be applied to Olam HaZe (this world) and Olam HaBa (the world to come). Olam HaZe correlates to the 7 years of plenty. There are plenty
of mitzvoth to do. We need to take advantage of this opportunity and do them now. Olam Haba refers to the 7 years of famine. In Olam Haba, you can’t
do mitzvoth anymore. You have to rely on all of the mitzvoth done in Olam HaZe. Prepare now for the future…like Sarka did. She did many Mitzvoth.
She was a generous person by nature. She was involved in many charities, she helped her family, etc.
She was a great friend and I’ll miss her dearly, but I will always have the wonderful memories…Shalom Chavera.
Sarka was my dearest friend. Never in the deepest recesses of my imagination did I ever think that I would be addressing you all for the purpose that we
are gathered for. A significant light has gone out! In New Rochelle and elsewhere, people are sitting in the darkness. My deepest sympathy goes to Sarka’
s dear family, Walter, Daniel and Rachel. In addition, my heartfelt empathy to her brother and her multitude of friends all over the world. Sarka
Friedrichs meant more to me than my mere words can ever express. Most days Sarka’s voice was the first one I heard--on the telephone, of course. I
would call her while drinking my first morning cup of tea. We never stood on ceremony as to who called first. Very often, it was her calling me. Of
course, sometimes I could not get her. She was already out doing her thing. Often enough, it was her work with the Chevra Kidusha early in the day.
Our relationship was unique, considering the difference in our age. There was a mutual respect and perhaps even some admiration between us. I’d like
to think that we were close. We seemed to be on the same “wavelength”, most of the time.
Although being a good Jewish wife and mother was her primary focus, her range of interests ran a very wide sweep. It ran from her deep devotion to
spirituality and learning Torah to practicing yoga and being a devotee of mystery stories. Her activities encompassed a very wide area.
Her last few years were dedicated to acquiring her MBA. There was no more serious, conscientious student and motivated, determined worker than
Sarka. We often discussed what she would do with it. She was ambivalent about getting a job and starting a new career. She didn’t have time in her busy
life for such nonsense. I learned a great deal from every course she took. She would talk about them and I would read and edit her papers (never for
content, but for her English and for the grammar). She knew her work well, but sometimes had a little trouble expressing it, on paper that is. Naturally,
she got all A’s.
Sarka was one of the greatest conversationalists of the day. She was also one of the great listeners. We had many a talk sprinkled with a good deal of
controversy and disagreement, plus some compromise and concession. I believe that we enjoyed each other. Mainly, I think that we “listened” and
“heard” each other. We shared great many laughs and even some tears. Only recently did I become aware that I was among her few close friends unable
to speak to her in her beloved Hebrew.
Sarka was a “FORCE”. When she was with you, She was present. A force to be reckoned with. No shrinking violet was Sarka. She was larger than life.
Not only because she was tall. She, herself was very exciting and interesting and also, curious about everything in this world and other worlds. She was
exceptionally bright. She had an insatiable thirst for both knowledge and activity.
Her interests were so broad that it was almost impossible to keep up with her. I know because on some level I tried. Her range of activities was so broad
and carried out with such energy that it was sometimes contagious. It tired me out, thinking about the many things she had accomplished on most days
She seemed never to stop, even to the point that often during a phone conversation, I could hear that she was washing dishes, chopping vegetables or
She was never boring. We could never run out of things to do (mostly her ideas) or subjects to talk about. I can only hope that regarding the warmth,
caring, friendship, stimulation I that I received, I gave back a portion of what I got.
Sarka was not only my dear friend, but also a sister and daughter and even a mother to me.
I’m sure that I am not alone here tonight with my feelings of profound sadness. I know that my life was affected most positively by knowing Sarka, and
having her friendship. I thought it would never end, but now I have only the memories and the memorabilia. Now there is a hole in my heart and a void
in my life. I know that it will never be the same without her.
Tonight we have come together to pay tribute to Sarka Friedrichs, a wonderful friend and worker for the kehila (community). This is truly a great loss
for Walter, Daniel, Rachel and the family.
She was taken from us at an early age still trying to fulfill her potential in life, always striving for improvement. She had high expectations for herself
and was never satisfied. She just received her MBA and was ready to venture into a new career. I was very proud of her accomplishments.
She also had a thirst for Torah study and was always going to classes, be it the Rabbi’s classes for women, or the class we attended together with Rabbi
Cohen at the Chernoff’s.
She was also a member of the chevra kedisha (burial society), always willing to serve in this difficult task.
The first time we met was 13 years ago. They had just moved into the neighborhood and I invited them to our sukkah. The Friedrichs family came along
with her father Yaakov, and her brother Ofer. Hence, every year on the first night of Sukkoth it was a tradition that they came to our sukkah. From
then on, our families bonded, and our friendship grew.
On Pesach we celebrated the Seder together. Cooking for Pesach is an arduous task, but Sarka had special culinary skills that were able to rise to the
Sarka was like a member of the family. When she went to Israel, my sister-in-law helped get her an apartment and stacked the refrigerator with food
She was a very special friend. For example, when she heard that I had hurt my back, she came over with meals for the family and offered any assistance
she could. When I had a surgical procedure done, she stayed with me in the recovery room, took me to her house, fed me, and took me home. It was
such a relief to know that I could always rely on Sarka’s help.
When my daughter Chaya was Bat Mitzvahed, Sarka catered a sumptuous meal that was enjoyed by everyone. It was a great source of comfort knowing
that Sarka was in charge.
I will miss our excursions to the Lincoln Center, museums, and other cultural events. Most of all I will miss her smile, her laughter and jokes, our lively
conversations and phone calls.
Sarka was a name of endearment for Sarah. Sarah actually means “princess.” Sarka Friedrichs Zichronah livracha was truly a princess and a role model.
As long as Sarah was alive, a lamp burned in her tent from one Sabbath eve to the next, her dough was blessed, and a cloud hung over her tent.
When asked to speak tonight, we were faced with a blank page and we didn’t know what to write. Sitting together around the table we began to talk
about Sarka and we all know what gets accomplished when we get to talking (pause) absolutely nothing. Then, we realized that so many of our memories
brought laughter and that these were the happy memories we wanted to share. Throughout the conversation, there were certain images that kept
reappearing in our minds. We kept remembering how it felt to walk into the Friedrichs’ house and to see a welcoming Sarka cooking in the kitchen or
reading a book on the couch. We never felt that we had to knock on the door - it was always open, literally and figuratively. There were even times when
we were playing in the park and came over to get a drink, knowing that Sarka would be there to chat with us about the latest movies and to let us taste
her latest gourmet creation.
We remember her delicious poppy seed cake, the way she said Rachel’s name with her Israeli accent (“Rachel, telephone”), the red glass objects she
loved, the way she would laugh out loud out of nowhere about something she’d read, her refrigerator notes, beautiful photograph albums she personally
created and decorated for each of our Bat-Mitzvahs, the catering she did for our family occasions, graduation parties, shul kiddushes, and even just for
Shabbat afternoon! We remember helping her set up for those kiddushes, and how she drove us to the movies, wrote up menus of what she was cooking
(that week), and yet always forgot to serve something at the meals she made, introduced us to new foods, excitedly shared her decorating ideas with us
for the house, and always passionately declared her newest argument or point — whether it was about the Pesech seder or stock trading on the Internet.
I personally remember how caring and thoughtful she was. When I was in third grade, the bus would pick me up from her house and she welcomed me
into her home with a kind heart and of course food. And more recently when I hurt my back in November, she lent me a suit because I couldn’t go
shopping and I had an upcoming simcha. There are few people in this world who have her level of generosity.
Rachel, your mother was an extremely kind, and generous woman. Her constant hospitality and warmth always shone through. We always admired her
dedication to furthering her knowledge and bettering herself and the world around her. She was devoted to Judaism, to our shul, to our community and
to you and your family. We always appreciated the way she cared for us as if we were her own daughters. We will miss her passion for life and all that
she added to our lives.
Tributes submitted later
DAVID, JESSICA, AND BRYAN FRIEDRICHS
It is very difficult to come to terms with the fact that Sarka is no longer with us, in part because she was such a vivid presence in any gathering, so full
of energy and life. Sarka surely lived very intensely, felt very strongly about things, and expressed herself on almost any subject in a colorful and
forceful way. "Unbelievable!" was one of her favorite expressions, in response to any number of occurrences in life that made no sense to her.
When Sarka came into our family she brought with her a whole range of experiences, and an outlook, quite foreign to that of any of the rest of us. She
embraced interests and beliefs with immense enthusiasm and conviction, sometimes to a degree somewhat mystifying to other members of the family.
For many years she seemed to be engaged in a search for a way of living that would be entirely fulfilling to her, and in line with her early aspirations.
We all felt that, especially in recent years, she had realized many of these hopes and expectations, and she often radiated happiness and joy. She
certainly accomplished much in her endless pursuit of knowledge, both in the religious realm and in the secular realm. Her will power, when she set a
goal for herself, was quite formidable.
We will remember Sarka for the warm hospitality with which she welcomed us into her home many times over the years, her generosity on many
occasions, her abiding love for her family, and the many good times and happy occasions we shared with her. She was a wholly memorable personality,
and she will never be forgotten. We will miss her presence in our lives from here on out.
Now that Sarka is no longer with us it is the memories that matter. Sarka’s larger-than-life, infectious, felt-from-the-toes laughter; her endless
searching; her acts of kindness and generosity and of course, her gift of love through food—all that delicious food—which she generously cooked and
cooked and cooked…
Sarka and I had some parallel aspects of our lives and some divergent ones. When I first met her at 24 Lester Place at a holiday gathering of the
Friedrichs family, I too was not yet a Friedrichs. David and I married the same year as Sarka and Walter. She and I were both estranged from our
families, in part. She, more so by geography and a need to leave Israel to find the education and fulfill the ambitions she knew she could not if she
stayed. We both found an anchor with our soon-to-be spouses and a warm welcome in the Friedrichs family. For Sarka, who had volitionally separated
from her homeland and her immediate family to pursue a life in America, her search for an elusive contentment was to be a long one, although she
clearly experienced much happiness along the way.
As a sister-in-law, I was witness to many happy times: her marriage and the birth of her two children, Daniel and Rachel. Sarka often remarked, and it
was clear to all, how totally, gurgling-happy Daniel (with a strong accent on the first syllable) was as a two-year old. I remember Sarka feeding Daniel in
his infant seat, while propped on the dining room table in the house in Cortland, NY and how utterly delighted Sarka was to be with her cheerful baby.
We visited much over those years, as the next generation of children was born, and we women helped each other out with childcare, cooking and other
household tasks. Later, when “baby Rachel” was born, Sarka delighted in her little girl as well. She knitted, sewed, fussed and cared for her daughter
with boundless love and energy. We met at “Turtle Trickle” to enjoy summer days and swim in the pond with the children.
Ofer, Sarka’s brother, often visited and worked in the US for protracted periods of time and became part of Sarka and Walter’s extended household. I
remember Sarka and Ofer preparing meals in the small kitchen together. Sarka would designate Ofer to chop the salad because she trusted that he
knew how to do it “right” – that is chopping everything in small, diced pieces. Whether it was her sewing, her shopping for bargains (and haggling
Israel style at the 14th Street markets), her cooking or her educational pursuits, Sarka had clear ideas about how she wanted to pursue life, and she was
not one to compromise.
One weekend we decided to visit, only giving Sarka short notice of our impending arrival. When we arrived, well past the regular dinner hour, she had
prepared a very succulent and delicious meal of her paprika chicken. I marveled at her speed and how she could make even the simplest dishes taste so
especially wonderful. She introduced me to Middle Eastern foods, always prepared in the authentic and most delicious ways. Sarka could cook or bake
anything, and she did. One particular sherry-laced poppy-seed cake was her trademark dessert. Anyone who tasted that cake wanted to make it. She
gladly shared her recipe and it has been passed on to many, many others. It stays in the family and extends beyond the family as a metaphor for the
good life, the simple but happy memories and the nurturing and giving aspects of Sarka’s life. She truly cared. She was a very intense and volatile
personality; you always knew what was on her mind and where you stood with her. She also shared what she had –- gifts, money, enthusiasm for a new
movie or book and her spirit of living. She replaced her sewing machine one year to “upgrade” to one that would allow her to do more complex sewing
and quilting, and without thinking twice, gave me her “old” one, which I still use to this day (and it has never needed a single repair.) Sarka’s knitting,
sewing and other craft projects were beautifully done, and she was fast!
Sarka told stories – many stories. She especially enjoyed recounting the Biblical stories of her childhood and her adult studies. She would narrate full
story lines of movies and books, seemingly re-living the author’s narrative. There was darkness and sadness along the way, as with most lives, her’s was
not without its worries. But what many of us remember about Sarka was her laughter… it is what my own children associate most about their aunt.
There were many years as the children grew older that we had less and less contact with Sarka, Walter, Daniel & Rachel, due to Sarka’s need to
establish a home in the Orthodox community of Young Israel in New Rochelle. This was a foreign and mystifying decision from the perspective of the
non-religious and non-Jews of the family, such as myself. Even when the rituals and rules of the Orthodox lifestyle caused confusion or strife among the
family, it soon became apparent that this choice was a necessary and beneficial one for Sarka. Whether it would prove to be the right choice for the rest
of her family was less clear. Over time however, as everyone settled into our middle years, it all seemed to work out just fine.
Sarka and her family clearly derived much benefit and satisfaction from being a member of this tight-knit community and the Friedrichs family at-large
remained in a peripheral but accepting posture. What was imminently clear was that Sarka had found a good measure of the elusive happiness and her
spirit was lightened. As a family we had the opportunity to participate in some of the celebrations of her community, including Daniel’s Bar Mitzvah,
Walter’s recognition dinner, and the lovely, spirited and festive 60th birthday party, which Sarka made for Walter in the Fall of 2000. None of us could
know that this would be the last family gathering that included Sarka. May she remain in the hearts and souls of her family and friends, with the
exuberance she exemplified in life and may she rest in peace.
I first met Sarka in December 1975; I saw her for what turned out to be the last time in August 2000. In that quarter of a century a lot changed -- and I
think that when we remember Sarka's life across that period of time, we think particularly about the changes. Above all, of course, we think of what
Sarka's religious commitment came to mean for the whole shape of her life, but we think, too, of the growth and development that are part of family
life, and which bring change to the adults as well as the children. Sarka changed the course of her career plans several times as well, and each time she
acquired the education that was needed -- for physical education, for teaching, for marketing, for small business. She ended up with an impressive
collection of degrees. Not many people would have had the energy, the enthusiasm, the application, and the sheer strength of will that it took to make
all those twists and turns off the straight path— but with Sarka, none of us were surprised. For despite all the changes in Sarka's life, profound or
fleeting, the essential Sarka remained the same person I met when she was twenty-six, and I suppose the same person she had always been from the
To think of Sarka is immediately to think of boundless energy and boundless enthusiasm. Whatever she did, Sarka did to the fullest, with her whole
focus and her whole self. The results could be amazing. I remember that first holiday season when I met Sarka —while we sat chatting on the couch
knitting needles flew in her hands, and as we talked woolen hats appeared for little nephews and nieces whom we all already guessed would soon be hers
as well as Walter's. But watching Sarka knit was nothing compared to watching Sarka cook-- a truly humbling experience for those of us who move with
less than the speed of light, or who don't usually whip up five or six dishes at, apparently, the same time. That same focus, that concentration, that
vehemence was in everything she did, in every staccato conversation, in every opinion, in every passing interest -- and of course, it was there for all the
people and things she cared about. And Sarka had the ability, the gift, of caring about so many of us, and making us feel it. Her commitment to family
was absolute, and that meant the extended family as well as the immediate one. All of us who have enjoyed Sarka’s and Walter’s warm and welcoming
hospitality know her generosity with her home, with her time, with her care and concern. She was always someone you could rely on to be there, to help
and to care through thick and thin. It was always good to know, to have that certainty, that Sarka was there to be counted on. I loved and cherished her,
and I assumed that the twenty-five years we had been sisters-in-law were not even half of the time we and the family would share. But she has touched
my life, our lives, deeply and basically, and the imprint of her life will remain with us and in us.
My last memories of Sarka are her telling us of her upcoming trip to Israel. She was like a small kid looking forward to her first big adventure. Sarka
always put all of whatever she was into at the movement. She would always be interested in doing anything new as long as it did not conflict with her love
of G-.d and her beliefs in Judaism. I remember I convinced her to join a stock-investing group so I would no longer have to go alone. She not only learnt
all she needed to become a valuable member, she invested so much of her time in personal investing and then went back to school for a degree in
business, so she had to give up the club as she had no more time. When Sarka started to teach Hebrew conversation and newspaper reading to another
friend and I, we not only learnt to speak and read better under her guidance we also learnt about the world around us and the current events in Israel.
Sarka knew the fleeting of time and used it well for her friends, for Israel and for all those in need with joyous enthusiasm.