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Bryna Franklin 1932-2018

Bryna Franklin presented student Turu Tagao with an ESRA scholarship award in November 2017.

It's a daunting task to write Bryna's obituary. She had so many friends who could do so. Why me? It's just coincidence that I was asked, but after more than thirty years of friendship, I hope I can do her proud.

Bryna came from Saint Louis, Missouri, USA. Born in 1932 in a place and at a time that certainly had their formative impact upon her, I believe that it was from her aliyah to Israel in the mid-1980s that she truly blossomed and became the Bryna whom so many of us loved, appreciated, admired and connected to.

In her earlier years in Israel, she lived in an absorption center in Ramat Aviv, and then in an apartment in Ashdod, though she regularly travelled the length and breadth of Israel to attend events, see old friends and make new ones, to learn and contribute. For a while, she was involved in politics, heading up the English-speaking campaign efforts for Meretz, and chairing the Democrats Abroad, Israel.

In Ashdod, she annually hosted a Thanksgiving open-house to which people would come from far and near. Bryna cooked the turkey, guests brought the trimmings, and over the course of an afternoon and an evening, more than a hundred people came, went and enjoyed a feast including interesting company, stimulating conversation and eclectic décor in her modest, one-bedroom apartment.

Friend to so many people, Bryna was known for being positive, strong, calm, modest, independent, charitable, amusing, innovative and inspiring. While it is unusual for me to have a friend who is thirty years my senior, I know that this was not unusual for her. Many of us will miss her hand massages, offered so lovingly. Differences of opinion on matters never stood in the way of friendship. Giving to others and supporting causes that made Israel a better place was an essential part of who she was. As she herself connected to people, Bryna also connected people to each other, encouraging them to help each other.

Bryna sought new experiences and personal growth, going to China for four years to teach English and to India to pursue spiritual development. She regularly visited the Ascent Institute in Safed for holidays, learning, relaxation and reflection; and she would attend the Jacob's ladder Music Festival where she camped out on the shores of the Kinneret.

Eventually she moved to Jerusalem. Her involvement with people, organizations and activities there made her something of a local celebrity. Bridge, swimming, ESRA, AACI, synagogue, and so much more.

The last time I saw Bryna was in December. Over lunch she told me of one of her new ventures. She wanted to donate a Sefer Torah to an army base. Not having the means to fund such a project on her own, she decided to try modeling in order to earn money for it. A number of people had recently told her that she was beautiful, and she thought that she just might, possibly, be able to be a senior model. She got so far as to have professional photos taken so that she could approach modeling agencies.

Bryna – your sudden departure from this world will leave gaping holes in so many lives. In the name of your many, many friends, I thank you for your friendship, and will cherish memories of you. May you rest in peace.

Hollie Moscovitz

Last year I met Bryna on a visit to Sderot with a group from Naamat Jerusalem. She wanted to introduce me to people she thought could help our Ethiopian project. So typical of her to want to help. I didn't realize that it would be the last time I would see her.

In 2013 when the people of Sderot were suffering rocket attacks Bryna contacted me via ESRA. She said she wanted to cover the expenses for performances of the Two Worlds Group of Amnon and Jill Damti here in Sderot. Little did I know how uplifting their performances would be. They gave one performance for youngsters with disabilities, and the second performance was for volunteers and a club for the elderly. I was so impressed by her initiative with the dancers and her warmth that we became friends.

Bryna has also contributed scholarships at a center of the Gvanim NGO.

Bryna, you will be missed

Adele Rubin

I met Bryna through Adele Rubin when we trying to get a dance performance together for The Two World's group who had performed in Sderot. We never did manage to do this but in the process Bryna and I discussed our Students build a Community project in Netanya. Bryna, who had been donating monthly sums to ESRA for a long time, decided that she wanted to start a fund in memory of her friend Ann Sculley Williams and collect money for scholarships for our students. The first award ceremony she came to was in one of our student's apartments - and so began an eight-year love affair. Bryna faithfully donated and collected money into her fund and every two years joined our awards ceremony donating a 10.000 shekel scholarship to one of our students. Bryna always came to Netanya from Jerusalem by bus for the ceremony and was always so filled with joy to be able to participate. She made her students feel that the privilege was Bryna's and not the students. Bryna has left us with the memory of a true philanthropist and a Zionist. We will miss her. 

 

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Wednesday, 10 August 2022

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