May 19, 2010

Remembering Charisse

I always think of my dear friend, Rabbi Charisse Kranes z"l, on the eve of Shavu'ot. I remember that evening in 1989 too clearly. My roommate and I had just finished a delicious dinner when the phone rang. It was a friend of Charisse's from California, calling to say that she had died that afternoon. (Of course, it was three hours later back east due to the time zone difference.)

Charisse had been diagnosed with cancer four years earlier. Despite her advanced cancer, she continued to live life to the fullest. She started her first job as a congregational rabbi and was the first female rabbi on a pulpit here in Seattle. She married her grad school sweetie and they moved to California. When she could no longer work full time, she led services for the high holidays at various locations and later took on a part-time position.

We grew up together in the Zionist youth movement Young Judaea. In high school Charisse flirted off and on with increased religious observance. She used to bring a plastic toy Jeep to regional YJ conventions. During one particular weekend, she took the wheels off the Jeep so that we couldn't "drive" it and thus violate Shabbat while we played with it on Saturday afternoon.

Zichrona livracha: may her memory be a blessing.

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