Barukh Dayan HaEmet - Blessed be the True Judge

In 1986, when I first began working for my synagogue, one of the volunteers was a teeny little Austrian woman. Ida was so little and cute, you could swear you could just put her in your pocket and carry her around.

Ida also babysat for a little girl  in our community. When I saw the two of them running around together and laughing as if they were both four, I knew that when I had kids, Ida would babysit for my kids.

In order to be sure that Ida would take care of my oldest, I told her I was pregnant at the same time I told my mother. Soon after my oldest was born,  Ida was ready. She was silly, but she was also Austrian. She had her rules.

She would care for a child only until they could walk. She felt that she was too old to chase children. She would work only twelve hours a week. The baby had to be fed, dressed and ready to go out when she showed up.

Ida's rules made sense. It taught me, and my oldest, the value of having a schedule. Ida and my oldest used to scream with laughter together. Ida taught my daughter nursery rhymes in Hungarian. When the two of them were in synagogue together they were so loud they had to be separated.

Once my daughter began to walk, she had other babysitters. But we and Ida remained close. She was very much the third grandmother in my children's lives.

Around the time that our second child was born, Ida's beloved aunts died and she fell into a serious depression. With lots of social worker help and various forms of therapy she emerged from that depression.

Ida was a favorite of my children. She was often a guest at our table. When her footing became unstable, she would ask our kids to walk her to synagogue. The four block walk took them more than 30 minutes. She was very touched that my kids, who she used to care for were taking care of her.

Over the past several years Ida's depression deepened. She began to care less and less about others and was mostly concerned about her own needs. Ida slowly closed herself off from people who had long beeen part of her life and established new relationships that suited her needs better.

I saw Ida a few weeks ago. She had suffered a stroke and despite being very weak, was happy to see me. I was happy to spend some time with her as well.

Ida died today at age 90.


  1. What a touching, sweet tribute to a special person in your life and that of your family. I'm sure your friendship brightened her life.


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