Friday, August 1, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Tireless work for the welfare of all

By
May 10, 2011 |

By Michael Bartolic

Hannah Biberstein, age 82, passed away at her home in Davis on the last Tuesday in April, and was buried here on Thursday, April 28. It is the end we all come to; that dark angel will not pass over us infinitely.

On some intellectual level, we accept that we all depart this life. Yet when somebody’s death truly reaches us, when we can’t ignore that a person of incredible warmth, light, grace and giving is gone from the reach of our sight, hearing, touch — gone except in memory from the paths of our days — then how do we encompass it? How do we turn our hurt to joy for Hannah having given and shared so very much with us?

In “Invisible Cities,” a 1972 novel by Italian writer Italo Calvino, Marco Polo describes a bridge, stone by stone.

“But which is the stone that supports the bridge?” Kublai Kahn asks.

“The bridge is not supported by one stone or another,” Marco Polo answers, “but by the line of the arch that they formed.”

Kublai Kahn remains silent, reflecting. Then he adds: “Why do you speak of the stones? It is only the arch that matters to me.”

Marco Polo answers: “Without stones there is no arch.”

Let us count the ways Hannah won our admiration, our gratitude and most all, her place in our hearts.

Hannah, with her husband Ernie Biberstein, was among the founders of Davis’ first synagogue, which grew to become Congregation Bet Haverim. This certainly evidences her strong faith, which carried her as a child through the Nazi terrors of Kristallnacht, and sustained her passage to a new life in the New World.

Yet as Rabbi Greg Wolfe so well phrased it at Hannah’s funeral, her commitment to her faith was most fully expressed not in doctrine but in her actions of compassion, mercy and social justice. Hannah’s whole life, in fact, can perhaps best be understood as an expression of her Jewish faith through her selfless practice of tikkun olam (“repairing of the world”).

And by the strength of her faith so expressed, Hannah found a key to engage others of like mind from all faiths to act together for the benefit of the hurt, infirm and needy, for the whole community — indeed, for the world.

From Hannah’s efforts sprang Davis Community Meals, which she served as board member and officer. Likewise, she served as a mediator in the original city of Davis mediation program, and chaired the city’s Social Services Commission, as well as serving on the Affordable Housing Task Force.

Somehow Hannah also found time, between raising a family and all which that involves, to be active in a variety of interfaith groups, including Care for God’s Creation and the Yolo Interfaith Immigration Network. Her passion for social justice, combined with a quiet fervor for more than mere coexistence with other faiths and cultures, culminated with the creation of the Celebration of Abraham, which brings together Jews, Muslims and Christians in mutual endeavor to make the world more humane.

For these selfless acts, involving thousands of hours of volunteer effort, in 2002 the board of directors of Congregation Bet Haverim, the Jewish Fellowship of Davis, established the Biberstein Social Action Fund to honor Hannah and Ernie, a gentleman equally wonderful in his own right. The goal of the annual awards reflects the Bibersteins’ efforts to help support projects addressing poverty, discrimination, abuse and neglect in Yolo County.

Out of similar respect for her tireless devotion to community service and social justice, Hannah was a recipient of the city of Davis’ Brinley Award for community service in 1998 (again with her husband Ernie), the Thong Hy Huynh Memorial Humanitarian Award in 2005 and the Peace Force Award by Teach Peace in 2007.

I would only add that by her actions even more than her generous words it always seemed to me that Hannah had no enemies, only friends she hadn’t gotten a commitment from quite yet. But, that was tempered by an equal willingness to speak truth to power, and never was that more in evidence perhaps than on Oct. 11, 1998, when she visited Rome for the canonization of Ernie’s aunt Edith, murdered in the Shoa/Holocaust.

There, she had audience with Pope John Paul II, sharing her thoughts to him on how his effort to acknowledge Catholic complicity in failing to assist the Jews in their time of horror at the hands of Hitler as strongly as need demanded was doing so much to repair the good will between people of all creeds, which war had torn asunder. We can only smile in humble appreciation of small, white-haired Hannah sharing faith with the towering Pole!

But in all seriousness, recalling her own tireless work for the welfare of all, Hannah’s words to the pontiff on that occasion might well be said of herself: “You have changed the climate from one of residual fear, suspicion and confrontation to one inviting mutual acceptance and fruitful interaction.”

— Michael Bartolic is a Davis resident.

Comments

comments

Special to The Enterprise

.

News

What’s the buzz?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1

 
Davis Reads book project focuses on veterans

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1

Carbahal and Company celebrates 30 years

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1

 
UCD chancellor is coming up for five-year review

By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

A week of groundwater news in the Year of Groundwater

By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Candidate goes homeless to showcase economic gap

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Increase in health plan costs is slowing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Kashkari’s campaign coffers depleted

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Parents can learn all about IEPs

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

10 essential herbs are focus of Davisite’s talk

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Bee beard photo wins award

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Need a new best friend?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Businesses can learn about PR strategies

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Enjoy films, beer at benefit Friday night

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Target hosts National Night Out celebration

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Digital device use is up among school-age children

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
 
Backpacks for Kids launches annual donation drive

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

Seniors share homes for savings, companionship

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
City of Davis recruits for its advisory commissions

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

Farmers Market shoppers can pick up free reusable produce bags

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
.

Forum

It’s not what they thought

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Protect and expand Medicare

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

It’s insurance against extremes

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Political cartoon was offensive

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

Let’s gas up for TAPS

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Railroads, listen up and respond

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A8

 
Treat children as refugees

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
.

Sports

Swimley recalls a budding star in Giants’ Susac

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

 
Nick Watney leads Barracuda Championship

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Stuart named to outstanding placekicker watch list

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Going, going, gone: A’s trade Cespedes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Safety Bethea finding a groove with new 49ers team

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
UCD women’s golf tees up tough schedule

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B8

.

Features

.

Arts

‘Guardians of the Galaxy’: Droll sci-fi hijinks

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
Barnyard Theatre adds ‘Pinky’ performance after sold-out opening night.

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery

WOH to hold auditions for ‘Zuccotti Park’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
‘Tunes on Tuesdays’ come to Freeman Park

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A12 | Gallery

.

Business

Grand Cherokee: A grand, and long, ride

By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

Patricia Eileen Hershberger

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
John Vernon McLane Wayland

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

Don Fife

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Nancy Jane Fife

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

Clara Meyerhoff

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
.

Comics

Comics: Friday, August 1, 2014

By Creator | From Page: A6