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Sandy Kaye

Sandy Kaye with her granddaughters, Ariana and Talia

It has taken me almost two years to finally sit down and compose this memorial to my beloved mother, suddenly taken from us on the 20th day of Elul 5772. I approach this task with trepidation as I realize words cannot properly portray the specialness of my darling mother. My mom was a woman of many talents and many careers. My earliest memories of Mom are of her songs. Mom knew every show tune and popular song and would sing and dance around the house and just about everywhere else.

Sandra Kaye (nee Hoch) was born in Newark, New Jersey and grew up in the suburban town of Belleville. She was part of the first graduating class of the Jewish day school today known as Joseph Kushner Hebrew Day School in Livingston New Jersey, also attended by both Sandy's granddaughters before they moved to Israel.

From an early age, Mom appreciated the beauty in everything. She admired and collected art, jewelry, and antiques ranging from furniture to Wedgewood. She dragged me to every antique show and remote locale to buy and admire rare gems and rare pieces of art until I finally developed an appreciation for all she loved in this world.

One of my mom's earliest jobs was as a performer and singer. She joined many famous performers on the stages of the Catskill Mountains and sang her heart out.

After marrying my dad, Mom began another career as an educator. She taught in inner city schools, to students desperate for her special mix of compassion with her passion to educate. Her students came to love her and escorted her through the halls as if escorting a queen. She did not stop at secular subjects but chose to educate the youth about Judaism in Hebrew Schools located throughout northern New Jersey. She taught them Hebrew as well as Torah. Thousands of Jewish and gentile students benefited from her warm and loving approach to education.

Space limitations prevent a complete discussion of all my mom's careers but I will endeavor to summarize them here. She was a teacher, a principal, an inhalation therapist, a cooking teacher, camp director, actress, and a leader for doing good.

My mom, an ardent Zionist, volunteered in many Jewish organizations, including Hadassah, United Jewish Appeal, and Freedom for Soviet Jews, shuls, and much more.

During the Six Day War, Mom and Bubie knitted pincushions and sent all the neighborhood kids hawking the cushions to raise money for our Israeli army. Mom began going to every store asking for clothing donations for our soldiers, which she continued doing for many years. Mom always knew who was travelling to Israel and made sure they took a bag or suitcase full of clothing and other stuff for Israel's soldiers. Upon making aliyah, Mom continued her lifelong pattern of good deeds. She stood on Route 4 in a booth and prepared sandwiches for hungry soldiers. Mom always looked for opportunities to help others.

Mom was a self-taught expert on jewelry, antiques, architecture, design, financial matters, investments, horticulture, golf, orchids, and, last but not least, poodles. She always had a poodle by her side and sometimes up to three of the smart, furry creatures. From the moment a cousin of my mom gave her Aryeh, she had at least one poodle friend whenever possible. As one would expect, Mom adopted a sabra poodle and trained him to do the most amazing things and was rarely seen without her poodle. They were quite a pair.

My mom increased the small, 75-member Jewish Fellowship of Lords Valley in the Pocono Mountains into a flourishing Fellowship of over 400 members. She did this by her sheer tenacity, joie de vivre, and leadership skills. Mom was inclusive and vibrant. She taught prayer, Torah, lifecycle, Yiddishkeit, and all that is needed for a Jew's self- expression. She was always available at any hour to assist and comfort any of the members as well as anyone in the community. Mom served on the Board of the Fellowship for many years and served as president for five years. Her presidency saw a massive growth in membership, programming and outreach. She planned and presided over the construction of a beautiful new building, expanding the Fellowship to a building three times the size of the original. She interviewed rabbis and inspired many to take the journey of a lifetime; the greatest journey possible, the journey of discovery of Torah and Hashem.

As I was her only child, Mom dressed me in the finest clothing she could afford, exposed me to the many wonders the world, and showered me with her special kind of attention and affection. Mom spoiled me. As a child, I remember trying to get up from the kitchen table for a bottle of ketchup but she said, "Why are you getting up? I will get it".

Thanks to her, I had the most beautiful school projects. It was as if a professional graphic designer had been hired by an elementary student. In university, Mom insisted that I bring her all my laundry for her tender, loving care. In law school, I could expect a monthly "care package" which included my favorite rugelach. Her delicious blintzes were always available upon request. We cry each Pesach that we are denied Bubie's matza brei which cannot be duplicated.

Another result of being an only child was we only had each other for much of our lives and grew very close, much closer than most. I received her loving and sagacious advice whether I sought it or not. It was always given with love and my best interest at heart. Upon hearing the first cry of her first granddaughter, she instantly bonded with her and equally so with her second granddaughter. It was inevitable that when I made aliyah, Mom would join her only child, darling granddaughters, and daughter-in-law. Making a dramatic lifestyle change at a later stage in life was a challenge, which she did with style and panache.

Two articles were written about Mom: one in The Jerusalem Post by Gloria Deutsch and one in Haaretz about her orchids. Mom had created a garden fit for a queen and Gloria Deutsch's article described this mini-palace Mom had created in a little corner of Raanana. She had designed a custom pool and planted gardens with twelve different varieties of fruit trees and innumerable flowering trees. We enjoyed non-stop fun in her pool and gardens. She was never happier than when she was entertaining; with her beautiful blend of warmth, love, and hospitality. Mom could also whip up a mouth-watering feast in no time at all.

Somewhere near the gates of heaven, we are shown a film of our life. At that place, a decision about the progress of our soul may be made. I could imagine my mom asking "Should I be scared?" The only possible response from the accompanying angel would have to be "Not a woman like you, darling".

Submitted by Sandra's only child, Mordechai Mendell Kaye and endorsed by her loving family who miss her terribly. 



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