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Vignettes of Ira, Characteristic of Ruth July 19, 2008

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Freda Birnbaum, New York, NY

Vignettes of Ira

Ira was a man of many quotations. He would sprinkle them through a conversation to light up a subject or clarify a point in a rather impressive way. I relished the way he dipped into his memory bank and came up with an apropos quote.

Sometimes Ira would take off on a subject about which he was passionate and go on and on and on, little tuned in to the capacity of his listener to grasp what he was expatiating upon or promulgating. It was all so clear to him, and I could be left behind befuddled in the intellectual dust clouds he had bestirred.

Ira and I talked every day in the last couple of months of Ruth’s life. When I asked Ira one evening how he was doing with sleeping, he said that if he had any trouble falling asleep he recited the Gettysburg Address to himself. Before he reached the end of it, he’d be asleep.

A Characteristic of Ruth

People talk at funerals about “a woman of valor.” I think of Ruth as “a woman of fervor.” She was fervent about what she didn’t like as well as what she did like. Often her warm excitement about a musician or a political commentary was contagious so I’d find myself wanting to hear the artist play or to read the brilliant analysis of the admired thinker. Her eagerness to share her experience was intense.


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