Esther Kelman, a longtime resident of Bridgeport and Fairfield, Connecticut, died peacefully in San Rafael, Calif. Born in Bridgeport on May 30, 1920, she lived there till 2006 when she moved to San Rafael to be near her children and grandchildren (and great-grandchildren).
She was the daughter of Celia and Rubin Levin and part of the large Bridgeport-based Levin family. A graduate of Central High School, she married Wilson (Winnie) Kelman shortly after graduation. They made their home in Bridgeport and raised two children, Stuart and Patti Beth.
Starting as a bookkeeper, she became the Executive Director of Congregation Rodeph Sholom, a position she served until her retirement. Her prodigious memory for people and the minutiae of synagogue life was greatly respected and praised. She was widely known and loved in the community for her graciousness and friendliness.
Her husband, Winnie, and her daughter, Patti, predeceased her. She is survived by her brother Ben Levin of Fairfield and her son Rabbi Stuart and his wife Vicky, her five grandchildren and their spouses: Navah and Michael Becker, Ari Kelman and Eva Jordan, Etan and Ali Kelman, Elana and Adam Naftalin-Kelman and Yoni Mintz and his wife Julie. She is also survived by 10 great-grandchildren: Eliana, Yair, Yoni, Nevo, Dena, Bella, Etai, Yael, Avital and Malachai.
The family is hugely grateful to Manny and Cary Kopstein of L’Chaim House in San Rafael for providing a loving and caring home for Esther these past seven years. Their staff of caregivers (Lita, Gladys, Maribeth, Joy, Patricia, Andrea, Dominique, among others) were amazing. Into her final months, Hospice by the Bay provided additional support and care.
The funeral was held at Congregation Rodeph Sholom in Bridgeport on Oct. 1 followed by burial at Rodeph Sholom Memorial Park.
Her memory may be honored by contributions to:
Congregation Rodeph Sholom, the Kelman/Mintz Fund, 2385 Park Ave., Bridgeport, CT 06606;
Congregation Netivot Shalom, Kelman Liturgy Fund, 1316 University Ave., Berkeley, CA 94702;
The Gamliel Institute, 8112 Sea Water Path, Columbia, MD 21045;
L’Chaim House, 777 Montecillo Road, San Rafael, CA 94903.
May her memory be for a blessing.
Obituary from the “J” – October 4, 2013