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An Enduring Melody
A Creative Life
"You told Lee and Simon that you
were going to God and that you
would watch over them," he said.
"And they held your hand as you
he beautiful melody of her
took your last breath."
inspired, inspiring life will
Neither English nor Hebrew was
forever resonate for all
her native tongue, but she eagerly
who knew Zinaida "Zina"
learned both as gateways to a life as a
Shaykhet — Shabbat and wedding
Jew in America. In her West
pianist, bar and bat mitzvah tutor,
loving wife and mother, kind and car- Bloomfield home is the piano she
brought with her from Moscow — an
Through her gift of music, a love of enduring reminder of her ethnic
Judaism and awesome courage in the
Rabbi Loss tells of how she would
face of death, she made other lives
leave her hospital bed to
richer and more meaning-
be in her familiar spot at
the temple piano on
She and her husband,
Shabbat. She would pray
Lee, came to Detroit from
for the strength to stay
Moscow; via Vienna and
the whole service. "She
Rome, in 1979. That was
loved being there," the
a time of social upheaval
rabbi said. "This was her
when many Russian Jews
were fleeing state-spon-
"I do not believe that
sored bigotry in search of
Zina's melody has been
a better life. Detroit was a
lost forever," said Temple
safe haven for refuseniks
Israel Rabbi Paul Yedwab.
looking to nurture their
Zina Shaykh et
"It lives on so clearly in
her family, especially
A chance audition at
through son Simon, her greatest lega-
Temple Israel, then in Detroit's
cy, and yes, through relationships
Palmer Park area and now in West
with us, her family and her friends."
Bloomfield, led to 25 years of loyal
Simon was a special light in his
service. She was a friend to clergy and
mother's life.. She yearned to see him
graduate May 2 from Michigan State
Buoyed by her beloved Dr. V —
University and enjoy the family din-
Vainutis Vaitkevicius — she battled
ner afterward — and she did both.
pancreatic cancer with the uplifting
Simon, pursuing a career in TV
help of her husband and their 22-
broadcasting, began a news internship
year-old son, Simon.
at Channel 7 in Southfield on May
"They nursed and nurtured Zina
13. "She wanted everything good for
through a living hell for twice as long
me," he said. "She wanted me to be
as the usual run of this horrible dis-
happy. There were no limits to her
ease," said family friend Lloyd
capacity to give of her heart and her
"Zina viewed life as an empty can-
The day after the funeral, Simon
vas and during her years on Earth,
shared memories of his mother and
although too few, she filled it well,"
the sweep of her positive imprint.
said Temple Israel Rabbi Harold Loss
"She was my closest friend," he said
in eulogizing her Sunday at Hebrew
Memorial Chapel in Oak Park.
The family requests that contribu-
Ms. Shaykhet, 47, died June 7,
tions be made to Temple Israel, 5725
2003, at home in West Bloomfield.
Walnut Lake Road, West Bloomfield,
She was comforted knowing her hus-
band of 26 years, a law enforcement
Ms. Shaykhet is survived by her
consultant, and son Simon still had
husband, Leonid (Lee); son, Simon;
mother, Albina Pekker of California;
"Zina, the painting you leave
and mother-in-law, Rena Shaykhet of
behind is a masterpiece, a true work
Moscow. Her father was the late
of art," Rabbi Loss said. "It contains
Semon Pekker. Burial was at Beth El
the love of family and devotion to
Memorial Park Cemetery, Livonia.
Arrangements by Hebrew Memorial
The rabbi admired her courage
when the end was near.
temple to survive during difficult times."
In the art world, Mrs. Velick and
Borruso were on the BBAA exhibition
committee. "Suzanne was the maven
aracterizing his wife, Suzanne
(Sherman) Velick, Harry Velick when it came to installing art," said
Borruso. "She had an impeccable eye for
aid proudly, "She never did
placement. I held hammer and nails,
anything that wasn't artistic."
and Sue pointed."
In a life filled with creative achieve-
Another friend, teacher Leslie Masters
Villani, said Mrs. Velick "had a wonder-
• She was a former president of the
ful sense of design, which is why she was
Birmingham Society of Women
so good at arranging these BBAA shows.
Painters, and she won numerous awards
She always pushed the
and exhibited work in a vari-
ety of media.
In spite of developing a
• She and Elaine Borruso
brain tumor abOut seven
co-organized and upgraded
years ago, her ability to
the annual Holiday Market
paint was never jeopard-
art sale during 14 years at
ized. Mrs. Velick was
the BBAA (today's
pleased to exhibit a paint-
ing this past year at the
Michigan Fine Arts
• She donated painted
screens showing symbols of
To cheer her friend,
Humanistic Judaism to the
Masters Villani organized a -
project to make a thousand
• She painted her chil-
paper cranes. A Japanese children's story
dren's faces and arranged fun, artistic
says doing this can make someone well
projects for them to do.
"We set up a table and taught BBAA
When Mrs. Velick, 73, died of a brain
students and faculty to fold cranes," she
tumor on June 3, 2003, she Was at rest
said. The origami cranes became a hang-
in the couple's one-of-a-kind Oak Park
ing sculpture in Mrs. Velick's bedroom.
home. Each room displays her collec-
Friends want to arrange a retrospective
tions of tin advertising art, vintage toys,
showing of her work at the art center.
cobalt glass, match strikers, shorebird
"She was best known for her paint-
carvings, baskets, Crayola-themed items,
ings, but she liked to make construc-
pill boxes, mermaid art and much,
tions, too," Masters Villani said. "She
had a series of chairs with different
"She had a very good eye and collect-
objects on them. One was a chair with a
ed all her life," said Borruso.
cow's 'nest' — black and white eggs in it.
Born in Detroit to Latvian Jewish
That was typical of her humor."
immigrants who had met in Bay City,
Mrs. Velick was "a person of very high
Mich., Mrs. Velick graduated from
and strong opinions," Masters
Wayne State University. Harry met his
Villani said. "She didn't follow trends,
future wife through his brother and her
didn't care about public opinion. Art
was her life. She influenced a lot of peo-
The newlyweds started married life in
Highland Park, then moved to Oak
Mrs. Velick is survived by her husband
Park. "She set her own art aside while
of 51 years, Harry Velick; son and
the kids were young," Harry said.
"Mom was my first teacher," said their daughter-in-law, Henry and Elizabeth
Velick of Ann Arbor; daughters and
daughter, Nancy Smith, an artist who
sons-in-law, Nancy and Danny Smith of
spoke at the June 5 service.
California, Sarah Jane and Terry Allin of
Harry, who says he is mechanical,
Ann Arbor, Deborah Velick of New
rational and logical, said the key to
York; grandchildren, Kenneth and
meshing with his "intuitive and artistic"
Sherman Smith, Joseph Velick, Ryan
wife is that they remained friends
Velick; brother and sister-in-law, D.
throughout their marriage.
Larry and Jane Sherman.
One of their achievements was help-
Contributions may be made to
ing organize the Birmingham Temple in
Birmingham Temple, Birmingham-
1963. He was the congregation's first
Bloomfield Art Center or the
president; she was its first secretary.
Birmingham Society of Women
Rabbi Sherwin Wine, a friend for 45
Painters. Arrangements were by Ira
years, said Mrs. Velick's "strength, cre-
ativity, integrity and courage enabled the
ROBERT A. SKLAR.
ESTHER ALLWEISS TSCHIRHART
Special to the Jewish News