Stories about my friend, Lisa. Baruch Dayan HaEmet. Lisa, of blessed memory, died last night, finishing second day Passover, almost Erev Shabbat, April 10, 2009, 15 Nissan 5769. 6:40 PM. Counting of the Omer, Day one, Chesed she b'Chesed. Lisa, 28 years my senior, was my friend for about 25 years, living two houses away, down the hill. We laughed alot together, and I will miss her. Lisa is now with her beloved Joe, z'l, and her parents, z'l whom she respected and loved so very much...

Saturday, April 11, 2009


~ Joy Krauthammer

Aug. 30, 2007 and 89* air temperature at 9 AM.

In Lisa's pool this morning, as Lisa and I are swimming in 84* water (Lisa floats, being supported on a long, narrow, tubular blue styrofoam 'noodle' that opossums like to chew on and destroy at night when left out), and we are avoiding the actively moving, lady bug-shaped, mechanical pool cleaner, which gets in my way--obstructing my path from doing laps, and hearing the noisy filter jets spouting loud water from the open mouths of two lions, I spot a little lizard who I was sad to see in the pool floating on top of the water.

Aha, the lizard is alive! With ER (emergency room) speed, quickly I grab a pink noodle to be able to gently lift the little baby lizard out of the pool to freedom. Success! I put the lizard in the garden greenery far from the pool. I had to assure Lisa that it was not a worm because worms really scare this otherwise very brave and muscular (from exercise at the 'Y') 88-year-old woman with a heart Pacemaker.

Moments after the emergency 'freedom story', Lisa gets a cramp in her foot, as she does many days while swimming--er--floating. She drinks quinine water to try to avoid this medical situation. Quickly from the middle of the large pool, I swim to Lisa, and begin to push her in the water to the far shallow side to the steps where we could work, with pressure and massage, to get out the unwanted nasty painful cramp.

"Don't drown me!", Lisa scolded as I quickly pushed her in the water from behind.
Don't insult me," I retorted. "I'll get a speeding ticket, I'm going so fast."

Our hour-long summer swimming sessions are usually filled with laughter between two good friends for 25 years. Lisa (28 years my senior and thinks of me as the sister she never had), shares her fascinating long-term memory stories mostly about growing up in Amstetten, Austria and Cochabamba, Bolivia); memories from eighty years ago. Today, stories ended early as Lisa disembarked from the pool steps to work out the cramp which like others, she probably won't remember later.

Now 97* in the shade at 11:30 AM and 120* in the sun (Lisa should live this long in good health) and rising, I hope that Lisa and I, G*d willing, can swim again today in her pool around 5:30 PM as the setting sun is going behind the tall green pine trees, making a little shade for us. Or maybe from the pool, we can catch a glimpse of the full-ish moon later at night. How romantic to swim in the dark moon-lit sky.

I gladly give up all other joyous activities, just for the wonderful (it's a machaiyah) opportunity to swim with Lisa in her pool, to listen over and over again to her amazing childhood memories, and I thank Lisa and G*d for this blesSing. I know that by the time the High Holidays roll around, our days for swimming and floating in the sparkling warm water are numbered, just as are the hand-full of fresh lush figs that I bring each day to share from my summer fruiting tree.

P.S. Rising 109* at 3 PM in the shade.


It was 7 pm and Lisa and I were swimming already for an hour tonight (with no cramps) in 87* warm water (with peculiar pockets of chilly water until I stirred up the whole pool). The water sometimes is like oreo cookies, black and white, with warm and cold spots.

In response to my telling Lisa that I had just made an appointment for a halachically correct Chabad mikvah ritual right before Yom Kippur in three weeks, Lisa shared with me one of her amazing stories about her mother, Rosa, z’l and life.

I did not even get a chance to explain to Lisa, that because I had turned 60, I wanted as part of my SIMCHAT CHOCHMAH celebration / Joys of Wisdom, a formal Jewish spiritual purification, a water immersion ritual to record my transformation for renewing and re-birthing myself into a Sage-ing and Age-ing ‘elder’. Within nature--water, this ritual integrates my physical being with my spiritual being. A year ago, when I had just entered my 60th year, and I needed to acknowledge where in life I was, and wanted a transformational ritual to help me transcend, to move forward following six months of deep mourning, I had a mikvah. Renewal style, my mikvah was in Lisa’s pool, and my sister, Faye, witnessed me and signed the Immersion Certificate that I created for myself. Faye's presence pleased me especially because my sister witnessed my Chabad mikvah prior to my chuppah, my wedding, thirty two years earlier.

Lisa told to me the following story:
While in Cochabamba (I love saying that name and Lisa loves it that I always remember it), where Lisa’s parents had escaped to (Lisa and her brother Henry were in England for two years in between countries.), fleeing from the Nazis in Austria, her mother, Rosa, built a mikveh with help from her father, Maximillian Fialla.

There was a young religious bride to be, marrying the young cantor, and the couple was sad because they could not be married because there was no mikvah. Rosa felt for the needy couple and decided to help them reach their chuppah by creating a mikvah. (Rosa never had to do this in their Austrian town because there were only 5 Jews.) Rosa found out the halachic details about pipes and water, and so it was.

There was a waterfall coming down from the mountain and Rosa created a system to divert the water for the outdoor mikveh, and her husband constructed it. The kalah and chatan / bride & groom were married. Rosa also helped build a synagogue for the 600 Jews in town. Rosa worked with the Chevre Kadisha / burial society and learned to make the tachrichim / the burial shrouds with her small hand-run sewing machine. Rosa made crepe paper flowers for brides to wear on their heads, and Rosa made the wedding dress for her own daughter, Lisa. Rosa gave her own large pots and pans from Austria to a family who wanted to start a restaurant in a town where everyone had to start over again after escaping the Nazis.

There are stories for each of these themes. And this is how it goes during our daily swims; lots of inspirational stories, Torah, and laughter between loving friends.

The next morning, August 31, I called at 8 AM to swim, but instead went to sit with my friend, Lisa, while she was experiencing another of her recent, scary "feeling weak" episodes.

May our swimming in Lisa's pool, be like a mikvah, and help renew Lisa back to full health and laughter.

With love, JOY

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Joy Serves G*d in Joy as a passionate performing percussionist, poet, publisher, photographer, publicist, sound healer, spiritual guide, artist, gardener and Gemini. "Ivdu Et Hashem B'Simcha" -Psalm 100:2 ....... Joy Krauthammer, active in the Jewish Renewal, Feminist, and neo-Chasidic worlds for over three decades, kabbalistically leads Jewish women's life-cycle rituals. ... Workshops, and Bands are available for all Shuls, Sisterhoods, Rosh Chodeshes, Retreats, Concerts, Conferences & Festivals. ... My kavanah/intention is that my creative expressive gifts are inspirational, uplifting and joyous. In gratitude, I love doing mitzvot/good deeds, and connecting people in joy. In the zechut/merit of Reb Shlomo Carlebach, zt'l, I mamash love to help make our universe a smaller world, one REVEALING more spiritual consciousness, connection, compassion, and chesed/lovingkindness; to make visible the Face of the Divine... VIEW MY COMPLETE PROFILE and enjoy all offerings.... For BOOKINGS write: joyofwisdom1 at, leave a COMMENT below, or call me. ... "Don't Postpone Joy" bear photo montage by Joy. Click to enlarge. BlesSings, Joy