Grateful thanks to Rabbi Axler for conducting and speaking at the funeral service. He performed wonderfully and I know Molly would have appreciated it. A very special thanks to Rabbi Brief, who having known Molly and family for decades spoke words that were both heartfelt and moving. Both Rabbis provided the appropriate remembrance and prayer that Molly deserved. Also much thanks to my cousins David & Ben Friedman for flying in and who, along with other family members, assisted in the burial and who are saying daily Kaddish for Molly (Malka Henna). And thanks to my cousin Alan Rosenfeld, for flying in with Aunt Ev, Molly's last surviving sibling. All contributed to the warmth and affection felt and much needed at this time. Read some eulogies below the photo album.
Many thanks to those that made contributions in Molly's name to EH-NTJC (and elsewhere): Zev & Gail Cohen, Mickey & Phil Gordon, Marsha Yelen, Shirley & Marty Lubowich, Madeline Shiffman, Aileen Cornbleet, Ada & Beryl Rabinowitz, Joanne Stein, Marsha & Richard Newman, Linda & Mitchell Wexler, Irene Goren, Mayer & Diane Zimmerman, Diane Aidem, Elaine & Ed Bogetz (NTJC & Trees for Israel), Jean Best (JUF Coat Club), Bertha Gimbel (Trees for Israel), Elaine & Hubert Frank (JCC Camp Scholarship), Yoni & Julie Kutler and Noam Kutler & Stephanie Schwartz (Edible Arrangement).
Over time, I hope to add more pictures. I also plan to add descriptions for as many pictures as possible. If you have any pictures you would like added, please send them to me. Eventually I will add a link to the family tree I am building.
A Eulogy to Molly Sweet
As I started to write this eulogy, I had to ask myself, “Who really was My Mother?” As children, we never think to ask our parents how their day was, what’s on their mind, or what’s going on in their lives – let alone tell them what’s going on in ours.
It’s not until we’re adults and they’ve grown old that we begin to care about the stories they have to tell. Until I was much older I never thought about the courage it must have taken my Mother to leave her strongly orthodox home, family and familiar surrounds to venture to the bustle and diversity of the big city. To leave Minneapolis behind and head to Chicago. My Dad liked to tell the story of how the two of them met on Oak Street Beach, but I’m sure there were many more tales from those days. I saw it as I went through her photo albums this week. There were dinners, interesting outings and ballroom dancing at The Vogue, but I never asked for the stories. So I’ll tell you what I do know.
Married in 1949, their anniversary would have been this month. Molly & Irv seemed perfectly paired. My Dad worked hard to bring home a paycheck. While my Mom kept the books, paid the bills and managed the house. She put up with his business schemes and he relied on her to raise three kids and maintain all social connections (and this was before Facebook.) It wasn’t until I had a child of my own that I realized what all that really meant. Even getting us up for school every day was no easy task. There were Dr. appointments, parent/teacher meetings, the piano lesson & swimming lessons, and breaking up fights over the bathroom and the TV… Until I signed Jessie up for Indian Guides and dad & daughter programs at the Y, I didn’t realize what it meant that my Mom was Den Mother to my hyperactive Cub Scout Troop. Helping us build pie tin banjoes and earn our many badges.
In the early 60’s we moved to Skokie, but it’s only in the last year – some 50 years after the fact - that I learned how nervous my Mother was about moving to the suburbs and making new friends. I always assumed she was a social butterfly. Active in the Synagogue and the Sisterhood. Honored by the March of Dimes. Hosting numerous relatives and guests as they came to the states… Keeping in touch with family around the world. Coordinating dinners and high holiday celebrations. Always wanting to recognize birthdays, weddings and bar mitzvahs with gifts for the children of friends and family. Always concerned that if she had guests over there were sweets or food to offer them.
And the friends kept coming. Even as she was slowing down and unable to keep in contact with everyone, they still came to visit her. There were her friends from Niles Township, from her first days in Chicago and from back in Minneapolis. She even met one of her girlfriends from summer camp living at Lincolnwood Place. There were relatives and friends, in-state and out, who regularly called to check in with her or came to visit her. I want to thank all of them for the joy these visits brought Molly and to know their kindnesses were much appreciated.
Who would have guessed she was really working at it? It was only upon the passing of one of her friends from Lincolnwood Place, that she confided to me how hard it was for her to make new friends. Unbelievable when I think of all the friends she had. Even those that originally came to work for her, then stayed for decades. Laura May back in the day, Jean Best and Genna, all became her close friend and I want to personally thank them for all they did for my Mom and our family over the years.
When my Dad passed away, this same time 8 years ago, I eulogized that as much as I tried to blaze my own path, in the end I followed in his footsteps. Sharing his interest in property management and his entrepreneurial spirit – not to mention moving back to Skokie. Only in my later years do I realize that I also drew a lot from my Mother. Her temperament, strength of spirit and that dichotomy between appearing outgoing, while at the same time really feeling shy & nervous.
I wish I had gotten to know her, and all her stories, better at an earlier age. I also urge everyone to share more personal stories with their children. (Though its okay to skip the stories from college.) And every so often children should ask their parents what's happening in their lives. But this is what I know about my Mother and I’m glad for many of the memories that I do have and I will now hold onto them for comfort. I hope all of you can do the same for my Mother. Much love and Thank you all for coming today.
Shalom -My relationship with the Sweets began with their visits to our grandparents in Minneapolis with whom we shared a duplex for my entire childhood. Chicago and Minneapolis were only a day's drive apart, but as I recall they used to fly. Molly & Irv split up to fly with the children in groups in order to avoid a possible disaster which might wipe out the entire family. When I first came to Chicago for a camp reunion in the winter of '61-'62, Uncle Irv picked me and a friend up from the train downtown and treated us to a soda at a soda counter downtown. I remember him paying someone to wash the windows with a shpritz bottle when we stopped at a traffic light on a gritty winter afternoon. I stayed over in the apartment on Glenlake and then your Mom dropped me off at a camper's home Friday afternoon for the Shabbat activity portion.
In Sept. '64 I began my three years of high school at the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie (10th-12th grades). Your parents aleihem-hashalom, took on the full-fledged role of parents-away-from-home and made their house mine. They picked me up and dropped me off every Sunday afternoon - when we had 4-5 hours off. Your Mom bought kosher meals for me and did my laundry while I maintained my '60's TV upbringing in the den. Sometimes your Dad took me along to his properties which I always found interesting, coming from a family business myself and having ridden along with my father since I was very young. One T-giving my parents and siblings flew in and we all went to a Hotel which was featuring a kosher T-giving dinner. I think it was near the Lake in a northern suburb? Your Mom came down to West Rogers Park for my initiation into the National Honor Society and took me to the Dr. when I needed to go. She did not miss a beat.
The biggest excitement of my HS career was when my father let 17 year old me drive his rented Hertz Ford with Bonnie and I think three of my friends downtown to my HS graduation at the Prudential Bldg. Some guy hit his brakes in the middle of the Edens and came to a full stop. I had a full car and not quite enough distance, so I hit him lightly from behind. Then I heard brakes behind me and WHAM we got hit but good from behind. I think it threw us into the car in front, again. The whole Edens slowed to a crawl, as we were in a middle lane. The guy in the car behind me showed me skid marks from a tractor trailer that was behind him and swerved to avoid really creaming us again. The Lord had mercy, I'll tell you. Your parents were following us in the your Mom's Ford Falcon wagon and when they came to the accident site your Dad spotted us and said, "hey, it's David". My Dad had been sitting quietly looking down and he said "I know", as if he had a premonition. Probably was nervous about having giving me the car; rightly so. I came up on stage in the middle of the graduation. Interestingly enough, to the best of my knowledge we never heard a word from Hertz about the car, unless my Dad didn't want to say anything - which I don't think was the case.
One Purim on a wet and gloomy night, your Mom let me use her wagon to take a load of boys to our Rabbi's house for a Purim Party; another big ego trip for a 17 year old. The windows were so fogged-up that I could barely see. Shelby, Jerry Kramer and Bonnie kept me up to date on current fashions. (I had a nice chat with Jerry at the Shiva house - it's really amazing to talk to someone whom you last saw in 1968, 48 years previously.) The house was always very nicely appointed-tastefully and comfortably furnished with all of the current styles and 'in' things. Molly & Irv bought into the lovely, classic suburban neighborhood of Skokie right on time and rode it out all the way in grand style. Irv's Checker was the exception. Solid as a tank and just as boxy. He loved it.
Molly did the books for Irv in the tidy office off the front hallway. That was a solid partnership. She grew up in a home from which a family business was run and it was natural for her. They used to go out to his ballroom property Saturday nights to mind the store. I was surprised when she told me that your Dad and she did not dance much themselves, as he felt she was not relaxed enough as a dancing partner. That was in response to my comment that they must have danced a lot since they went to the ballroom regularly.
We shared a nice visit in Israel when I was a volunteer there in 1970. The Sweet family was on tour in Israel. I joined you in Beer Sheva, and we went on a day a trip to Masada. The Sweet family also came to Winnipeg for my wedding in 1974, following through for me once again. We passed through Chicago on our way to making Aliyah to Israel in 1977 and then saw everyone again for family occasions when we returned in 1984, until we moved to Baltimore in 1988. We saw Molly and Shelby at some of our family occasions in Baltimore and I was in Florida with Bonnie for Uncle Perry's funeral. We sat Shiva with all 4 sisters when my Father Hy alov-hashalom passed away in 1994. Molly had to go to the hospital with Aunt Libby who turned out to have a hard-to-detect appendicitis in the middle of the Shiva.
Molly made it obvious that I remained special to her and our family felt the warmth. She kept in touch with us by cards and calls and we sent her pix and called her during the year. Sandra (Serky) adopted my warm feelings towards Molly and they got along famously. It was therefore natural that when our daughters Chedva and more recently Atara and their families moved to Milwaukee that they would come to visit her and give her the nachas which she and Irv deserved for all they had done for me. I had spoken to her not long before her passing and visited her recently as well. It was amazing how she carried herself so smartly the whole while, in keeping with her class of a lifetime. She saw life positively and dealt with difficulties with grace and forbearance.
Molly came from a transitional generation; the first one to be born in America from "old country" parents. It was not an easy time, with culture clashes and the old meeting the new creating a lot of upheaval and generational differences. Irv did as well. They were Depression kids, WWII young adults, baby boomer parents, etc. It was quite a life and they lived it well, doing nicely and traveling widely. It was my privilege to be their nephew and to be able to follow through for my dear Aunt Molly on her final day on this earth, as well as continuing on with the Kaddish in her memory, just as she followed through for me all the way. With warm regards and best wishes that you all be comforted - may her memory be for a blessing.
David Friedman, January, 2017
We were truly touched by your note and kind words. Indeed whatever pleasure we brought to your Mother on our visits, we took away much more. She was truly a special person who gave our children the opportunity to experience a "Great Grandparent" figure as we had none living of our own. Whenever we drive by either the house on Kenneth or the assisted living in Lincolnwood we think of her and miss being able to just pop by and visit. I'm sure that she is watching from above and praying for happiness of everyone.