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I was at the gym… he had just turned 89 July 19, 2008

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Ellen Giglio, New York, NY

The first thing that I said to my husband when he told me that he had landed a new job as a Cantor was, “Ira would have been so proud of you!” Ira was aware of how much my husband struggled, in his 50’s, going back to school and trying to create a new life for himself. Ira was also very supportive of ME! He said he knew what I must be going through, with my daughter, Lina (12), my special needs son, Aaron (9), working long hours, supporting my family financially, seeing Arthur through this huge undertaking, and having basically no time for myself.

Ira cheered me on through the last 6 years, every step of the way, and literally gave me strength to continue on this new journey for my family. He talked to me about marriage and what that means, and he assured me that I was completely upholding my end of the bargain (as he said, “for better or for worse”). He also assured me that once we were through all our craziness, there would be a light at the end of the tunnel for me and my family. It looks like he was able to see what was coming for us. He was a light in my life, and I know so many people feel that way, too.

I have many fond memories of Ira, but my favorite, which is the first time I met him, was because he totally blew me away!

When Ira was sent to me for bodywork (deep tissue massage work, lymphatic drainage, shiatsu, trigger point therapy and foot reflexology are my main venues), I was told that he was in his “early 80’s,” and that he had some swelling in his ankles. I had no idea what else to expect with that little bit of information.

When Ira arrived, there was a smiling, energetic, yet to-the-point person, entering my office. I thought to myself, “This man looks like he’s in his 60’s, not his early 80’s,” and I then proceeded to take a medical history. The history only took about 10 minutes! I have clients in their 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s telling me all their physical, emotional, and medical problems, showing up with CAT scans, MRI results, long lists of medications, and many other interesting things that young people shouldn’t be facing just yet. So I asked, “Are you sure that’s all you have to tell me?” and Ira said, “Well, what else do you want to know?” “Okay then, why don’t we get started?”

Our session began with work on Ira’s feet. He asked me about each and every thing I was doing. “What’s that point pertain to?” “Oh, that’s sensitive, what does that mean?” “That doesn’t hurt at all, is that good?” And many more questions! When I began to work on the rest of his body, he said, “Now, don’t feel that you have to go easy on me, I can take a lot … no pain, no gain.” I laughed and said, “Well, let’s just work our way in slowly and see how it goes.”

When I began to work more deeply on his shoulders, which were often tight from all that reading he did, suddenly, out of nowhere, Ira began to recite complete Shakespearean sonnets, right there on the table!!! Instantly, I thought “Wow, if I weren’t married!” and I listened with awe. As Ira was about to leave, he turned to me and asked, “Tell me, am I your oldest client?” When I informed him that I had a client who was 92, Ira said, “Oh darn, she has me beat by 3 years.” I nearly fell over. That would mean he was 89 years old!!!! I said to him, “You are NOT 89! I thought you were way younger than that!” So Ira pulled out his ID to show me that he was being totally truthful.

Our first meeting left a huge impression on me, and in following years, Ira ended up being one of the most inspirational people in my life. I have looked up to him with great respect and his thirst for knowledge was exceptional.

Ira brought his wife, Ruth, to see me about a year later for her aches and pains. She was fascinating as well and talked about many things when she was being treated on the table. While seeing her out after her session, she met my babysitter, who is Polish. In an instant, Ruth and Anna were chatting away in Polish, and I looked from one to the other, wondering what they might be saying! In later sessions with Ruth, she explained to me that she had lived in Poland for about 7 years, and just “picked up the language.” I thought, “How on earth do you just pick up a language, especially Polish, which is certainly not an easy language to learn?” I was quite amazed by Ruth’s warm qualities and eagerness to discuss anything and everything, with fervor.

I feel blessed that these two people came into my life and lifted my spirits, simply by being who they were. I feel very, very lucky to have had them in my life, and I am honored to be attending this memorial.

My Uncle Ira July 19, 2008

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Hara Ann Bouganim Alexandria, VA

(daughter of Beatrice Gollobin Lowenthal & Milton Lowenthal)

My uncle Ira taught me values, by example.

JUSTICE: One family story is of Ira at three in a corner, saying “Ira bad boy.” Nobody knew why. He knew what was right, as he proved his whole life in his immigration work.

Ira & HaraBW-1LOVE: Memories of Ira hugging and dancing with Esther in the kitchen at Rockaway in the ‘50s. Much later, we all marveled at his and Ruth’s poetic vows when they wed.

LOYALTY: On Ira’s visit to me in 1995, after my losses and gall bladder operation, he made me feel protected. Then, in 1997, Ira flew to Indiana to spend hours with his sister Bea on her last day; such a gift to her. Finally, in summer 2007 he and Ruth came to Indiana for Mike’s [Lipschutz] retirement, not an easy trip.

HEALTH: Ira told me I’d have health and long life when I desired food that was good for my body, advice he lived by. Another family story tells of Ira waylaid by blackberries on bike trips with his brother Bill in the ‘30’s. Into his eighties and nineties, he’d hug so strongly he’d pick me up, saying that’s why he worked out, to hug … and carry a suitcase, and he did.

While Ira could never convince me of the centrality of dialectical materialism, he taught me much more. He was the last of his generation in my family. I can only hope his legacy will be one of health, justice, loyalty, and love.

There was to be a memorial in honor of Ruth, but Ira died days before the service, so they’re together, appropriately so. Ruth was a wonderful “second life” partner for my Uncle Ira, sharing experiences, commitment, and love. Her life was fully experienced, with passion for justice, theater, photography, art. Her last years robbed her of options, but not of her sense of humor or dignity. She made me a stronger person, and I will miss and remember her.