1940 - 2004
We are here not to mourn but to farewell Naomi -- to complete a long and poignant leave-taking.
As a wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend she was ever the well-named Naomi / ימענ: "pleasant to me", "my pleasantness", "the pleasantness of my life".
Naomi was a beautiful child, a graceful young lady, a woman of wisdom and judgment, of radiant tenderness and quiet strength.
She should have lived to be a serene and wise old woman, a mother-elder of her camp and tribe.
She, and we to our great loss, have been deprived of that.
She was, as we all knew her to be, far more than her modesty and diffidence permitted her own estimation to acknowledge.
She was in all things, as she was most evidently--both personally and professionally--with her words, in her use of language: precise, subtle, fastidious, ever thoughtful.
Not much more than that really needs to be said. To attempt to say more would be both inadequate and excessive, futile and diminishing.
And we all--husband, son, brother, family, friends—we have all seen her too much diminished lately to do that.
So pleasant, graceful and gracious a person deserved a gentle end.
But that [with the notable exception, thanks to the wonderful people at Clare Holland House, of her last 24 hours], that--a gentle end--she did not have.
Yet, right to the end, her going was her own project, her final work, undertaken in full character: work that she did, as always, well--with clarity and insight, discernment and courage, with will (understood not as "willfulness" but a finely focused intentionality) and dignity.
" ... םענ יכרד היכרד"
: םולשל וישכע "הביתנ ךרדו ..."
[Proverbs 3: 17 & 12:38]
All "her ways were the ways of pleasantness", and "her path", after great travail, has now led her to peace.
18 Adar 5764/23 Adar 5764
It is my sad duty to inform you that Naomi Kronenberg (Kessler) passed away mercifully and gently on March 11, 2004 at 6pm.
Naomi's funeral was held on Tuesday 16th March, 2004, at the Woden Cemetery [Canberra, ACT].
A wonderful person no longer with us.
We wish Vernon and family 'long life'.
Sue Doobov in Israel March 11, 2004
For your information, below [and attached] is the text of the brief remarks I made at Naomi's funeral in Canberra yesterday.
As I have noted elsewhere, "the funeral, at long last, was yesterday. [I have just returned to Sydney.]
"A very large and diverse crowd was there, a great tribute both to her range of acquaintances and activities and to the depth of Naomi's impact on and contribution to them, their human indebtedness to her.
"It was done well.
"People stayed, didn't want to leave, and we all felt greatly consoled.
"Given what she was facing and we we told to expect, her affliction could all, quite easily and awfully, have gone on for another 6 hours, or 6 days, or 6 weeks, or 6 months--or more.
"All she would have had from that was more pain, more distress, more humiliation, more impairment and loss of dignity.
"She had passed lately beyond the point where even she could any longer make any good, humanly resourceful use of her time.
"It was a blessing and a mercy that she was able to get out when she did.
"That is my consolation."
Some of you [especially some overseas family and friends] may be puzzled or troubled trying to understand the nature of the funeral itself.
First, it was unusually delayed.
Naomi died on Thursday evening, too late for a funeral to be arranged according to custom/law for the following day, Friday, before Shabbat/the Sabbath. And it was also a holiday weekend in Canberra [the Monday being the Canberra City anniversary day], so the break extended for 3 days from Saturday to Monday. The cemetery and its staff were not operating over that period.
Apart from the timing, the character of the service may seem odd to some of you. It was not an orthodox or even traditional or conservative funeral.
In Canberra there are no full-time Jewish clergy of any kind.
The service was conducted by an old friend of Naomi, Vernon and myself named Raffi Lehrer, who on a part-time basis serves as the principal officiant of Canberra's "liberal" and "reform" Jews.
You should all note: it was held on a beautiful, sunny day under the broad and high Australian sky.
It was as much an Australian as a Jewish occasion. While the local Jewish community was there in strength, so many of those attending were from her public service, academic and other diverse community networks built up in Canberra over nearly 40 years. [Many old personal and family friends and professional associates also came from Sydney for the day.]
Because of the "non-orthodox and "non-traditional" nature of the occasion, there as no customary "hesped" delivered by others addressing Naomi's family.
Instead, I was asked to speak.
Naturally this was not easy for me.
Also, I did not want to say very much.
And I did not want to say anything that would have offended Naomi--with her keen distaste and sharp eye for any hint of sentimentality, self-pity, futile reproachfulness or maudlin cant.
So, as you will see, what I said was quite basic.
Whatever my own, or Vernon's or Adam's special feelings and quite particular perspective and distinctively individual loss, I felt that what I should say should be fully and equally true for all her many relatives and friends who were there.
That simplified things greatly, and enabled me to reduce the task to the essential elements and to very tight proportions.
To those of you who were there, thank you; to those who were not, we all thank you for your thoughts and support, in recent times and throughout this long impending loss.