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September 20, 2002 - Image 121

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-09-20

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Obituaries are updated regularly and archived on JN Online:

Always A Helping Hand

Shalom Synagogue, National Jewish
t age 8, Hortense Falk got
Welfare Board and the Jewish
lost and bicycled into a slum
Community Center of Detroit — as
not far from her home on
as other charitable groups.
Long Island, N.Y. Appalled
of the organizations
by what she saw, she raced back to her
Mrs. Falk's volun-
mother and said she had to do some-
had grown into
thing to help the disadvantaged.
a full-time job. Her daughter,
The next day, she collected coins
Nancy Fox of San Anselmo,
from her schoolmates and donated the
Calif, said she remembers
few dollars to a charity her mom sug-
"sibling rivalry" with
Mrs. Falk, of Southfield, who friends
Mrs. Falk's volunteer work
affectionately called "Horsy," lived for
from menial tasks,
66 years in metro Detroit and became a
such as luncheon clean-up
longtime pillar of the volunteer com-
duty, to originating programs
munity. She died at age 92 on Sept. 13,
that provided stimulation for
2002, of complications from an acci-
citizens. She prided her-
dental burn.
being an organizational Hortense
. "Officially" beginning her life's work
not an officer.
in 1926 at age 16, Mrs. Falk performed
what else she was doing,
volunteer tasks for the National Council
Mrs. Falk was likely to declare, "I'd
of Jewish Women, Hadassah, ORT, --
rather be fund-raising."
Jewish Vocational Service, Temple
In 1994, Mrs. Falk received an "Eight
Israel, Allied Jewish Campaign, Variety
80" award, which cited her and
Club, United Way, American Red
other octogenarians for decades of
Cross, Junior League of Birmingham,
USO, Veterans Administration, Detroit
The State of Michigan also honored
Friends of Bar-Ilan University, Adat


her with a proclamation that cited her
remarkable enthusiasm, "whether pass-
ing out handbooks for the disabled in a
mall or listening to someone who is
Mrs. Falk received
scores of awards given
by agencies that high-
lighted her accomplish-
According to Barbara
Stone, a community
activist who helped
nominate her for the
United Way Heart of
Gold award, Mrs. Falk
was known to hitchhike
to her volunteer work
during World War II
when gasoline was
unavailable and "over the years probably
raised a million dollars for her charities
in nickels and dimes."
Mrs. Falk, whose shimmering white
hair, twinkling brown eyes and ever-
present smile were constantly recogniza-
ble by the hundreds she worked with
and helped, was also known for being a

A History Of Caring


Einstein. Rueben was a socialist who ran
for Congress against Eugene W. Debs in
the early 1900s. Her mother, Ruth, died
avid Thelen, former editor of a few months after Mazy was born.
Journal of American History,
Mary frequently traveled to Detroit to
once wrote: "The challenge
spend time with her maternal grandpar-
of history is to recover the
ents, Hattie and Rabbi Leo M. Franklin
past and introduce it to the present."
of Temple Beth El.
Maybe more than anything that is •
"My mom grew up in the shadow of
what Mary Shapero sought.
some very interesting people," said her
Fighting the cancer that robbed her
son, Rabbi David Shapero, executive
health, but not her vitality, Mrs.
director of Ohr Somayach Detroit.
Shapero, known by many for her social
Einstein, the socialist, and Rabbi
activism and fund-raising efforts, died
Franklin, the activist, poured a sense of
Sept. 8, 2002. In her 71 years, this
social justice and clarity of purpose into
ardent leader, fund-raiser, mother and
their determined granddaughter.
grandmother accomplished much.
By the time Mrs. Shapero graduated
"She had clarity of purpose and
from Lake Erie College in Ohio, then
believed in what she did," said her hus-
married her husband in 1952, her orga-
band, United States Bankruptcy Court
nizational talents had become obvious.
Judge Walter Shapero. "She could trans-
As the wife of a young attorney, she
mit that to people and they would get
founded the Law Wives Association at .
involved. She was very proud of the dif-
the University of Michigan and joined
ference she made in the many organiza-
the League of Women Voters.
tions she became involved with."
"My mom led very much by exam-
Born in Blairsville, Pa., Mrs. Shapero
ple," said her son, Rick Shapero, of
grew up under the care of her paternal
Cedarville, Mich. "She was a passionate
grandparents, Minnie and Rueben
and determined person, a champion of

Special to the Jewish News



many causes.
But, it all
came back to
being a mom
and helping
my brother
and me devel-
op a strong
sense of jus-
tice. She was a
Mary Shapero
super role
When not
joining in lively dinner table debates or
fishing with her husband and children,
Mrs. Shapero actively spent time volun-
teering for Planned Parenthood of
Southeast Michigan, Friends of the
Detroit Public Library, American Jewish
Committee, the Sanctuary (a shelter for
runaway children) and the Rabbi Leo
M. Franklin Archives at Temple Beth El.
To each she brought organization and
leadership, and her knack for raising
In these last years, though, one place,
one cause seemed to consume Mrs.
Shapero. Tucked away -among the reli-

colorful character.
As a twenty-something "flapper," she
climbed a tree in high heels; as a mid-
dle-aged mother, she'd break into song
(replete with hand motions) to amuse
all those around her; as an 85-year-old,
she had carefully collected — and
would repeat — funny anecdotes about
her friends.
Doreen Hermelin, past president of
the Women's Division of the Jewish
Federation of Metropolitan Detroit,
described Mrs. Falk in her Heart of
Gold nomination as "everybody's
Auntie Mame ... a role model young-
sters 50 and 60 find hard to live up to,
a testimonial to the truth that one
woman can make a difference."
Mrs. Falk is survived by her daughter
and son-in-law, Nancy Fox and Woody
Weingarten of San Anselmo, Calilf.;
granddaughter, Laura Schifrin and dear
friend, Elizabeth Burke.
She was the beloved wife of the late
Joseph Falk and sister of ihe late Janice
Memorial services were held at the -
Dorfman Chapel. Contributions can
be made to the National Council of
Jewish Women, 26400 Lahser,
Southfield, MI 48034, or to a charity
of one's choice. Arrangements by
Dorfman Chapel.

gious school classrooms at Temple Beth
El, the synagogue her grandfather
presided over from 1899-1941, is the
Rabbi Leo M. Franklin Archives.
Shapero fought doggedly to ensure the
archive's vitality and its perpetuity.
"She knew the archives were an
excellent resource for our communi-
ty," said Judge Shapero. "Over time,
family, Judaism and this community
became important issues to her. She
saw the need to meld the past into the
Mrs. Shapero is survived by her hus-
band, Judge Walter Shapero; son and
daughter-in-law, Rabbi David and
Helene Shapero; grandchildren:
Chaim, Shira, Yakov and Mordechai;
son, Rick Shapero and his companion,
Wendy Wagoner; her children,
Rosemary and Danny.
She was the daughter of the late
Raymond Einstein and the late Ruth
Einstein; granddaughter of the late
Rabbi Leo M. Franklin and the late
Hattie Franklin.
Interment was at Woodmere
Cemetery. Contributions may be
made to the Rabbi Leo M. Franklin
Archives at Temple Beth El or a chari-
ty of one's choice. Arrangements by
Ira Kaufman Chapel.



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